A recent vacation trip to Colorado, Aug. 13-20, by two PeaceWork-KC Board members, Kristin Scheer and Ann Suellentrop, offered opportunities for contemplation on why they care about saving this beautiful world. They said it was an amazing trip, filled with breathtaking vistas in Rocky Mountain National Park and other beautiful places in colorful Colorado. The trip also gave the travelers opportunities to connect with other activists.
“While we travelled by car, we caught up on the news of the day,” Kristin said. While they remained masked throughout their trip, they listened to the daily University of Kansas Medical Center broadcasts about the Delta surge bringing our health system to the brink of catastrophe. Climate news was also troubling. The fires in California continued to burn largely uncontained. They witnessed the evidence of disastrous fires in the Rocky Mountains last year. And they saw the haze of the fires burning in California, spewing yet more carbon into our already inundated environment and the otherwise beautiful Colorado skies. At the same time, rain fell for the first time at the summit of Greenland. An extreme rain event dumped billions of tons of water on the ice sheet, melting large amounts of ice mass, according to CNN.
And the IPCC report (from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) came out Aug. 9. “This report is a reality check. … There is hope that deep cuts in emissions of greenhouse gasses could stabilize rising temperatures … but there is no time for delay and no room for excuses,” the report concludes.
While in Boulder, in one of the high points of the trip, Kristin and Ann met with anti-nuclear activists from the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center (RMPJC) in Boulder, CO. Ann said, “We had a great conversation over dinner about the Kansas City Plant and Rocky Flats, where plutonium pits were made for decades near Boulder.” RMPJC has a paid full-time and part-time staff of young activists, supported by donations and grants. They work on a variety of related issues: nuclear weapons, nuclear energy and the climate crisis. Kristin said, “We discussed the link between the military’s prolific use of fossil fuels and the climate crisis.”
Against the backdrop of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, an article from Z Magazine Dec. 19 was cited. The evidence it poses leads to these statements:
- “The Pentagon is the single largest institutional consumer of fossil fuel in the world.”
- “Military operations leave a toxic legacy in their wake.”
- “Wars ravage fragile ecosystems, crucial to sustaining human health and climate resiliency.”
- “Militarized state violence is leveled against communities resisting corporate-led environmental destruction,”
- “The Pentagon monopolizes the funding that we need to seriously address the climate crisis.”
- “Climate change and nuclear war are both existential threats to the planet.”
“Many of the dire crises we face today are intricately linked,” Giselle Herzfeld of RMPJC said.
“Peace must be the solution to the climate crisis,” Kristin suggested. “We need big answers, and we need them fast. World peace has to replace our cultural story of world domination to change the tragic stories of environmental degradation that loom too large in the news today.”
The Colorado activists gave Ann and Kristin a generous donation of yard signs, “Climate Action Not War.”
Kristin and Ann brought PeaceWorks-KC’s yellow “Nuclear Weapons Are Illegal” banner with them. They unfurled it at the Royal Gorge and Bridge south of Colorado Springs, and a passer-by unexpectedly voiced his approval. They posted a pic on Facebook, and it has had almost 100 “likes.” Later, in Grand Lake, they met a fellow ICAN (International Coalition to Abolish Nuclear Weapons) supporter by chance at the dock area, and again they held up the yellow banner for photos! Jasmina Bhattacharya is a Soka Gakkai Buddhist from Denver. She said she was involved in activities last year as the Nuclear Ban Treaty went into effect.
Kristin and Ann stayed three days at Shadowcliff, a lodge in Rocky Mountain National Park associated with a Kansas City sustainability organization, Bridging the Gap. There they met an artist, Julia Del Rosario, who took them to an exhibit about the forest fire last October that destroyed much of the nearby forest and area homes. The following day, after a mountain shower, Julia took a photo of a rainbow that connected adjoining burned forest area with an untouched, green forest area. The scene was uplifting. They said it seemed to validate all their hopes for peace to restore the damage of the ravages of war and “nuclear violence in all its manifestations” (a phrase from Ray Acheson’s book Banning the Bomb, Smashing the Patriarchy).