Maine Peace Walk – Militarization of the Seas
Impact on the Oceans
Maine to Portsmouth, New Hampshire
The Pentagon has the largest carbon footprint on our
Mother Earth. Waging endless war
consumes massive amounts of fossil fuels and lays waste to significant
environmentally sensitive places on the planet – particularly the oceans.
The oceans are inhabited by a multitude of different
life forms, from microorganisms to whales, many of whom are able to sense sound
and use it to find food, navigate, communicate, and avoid predators. Navy sonar blasts wreak havoc on these creatures, disrupting their lives,
leaving animals more susceptible to disease and lowered reproductive success,
and sometimes injuring and killing them.
Because Navy sonars are extremely loud, depending on
ocean conditions, that noise can travel at harmful levels for tens or even
hundreds of miles, impacting huge numbers of animals. By the Navy’s own
estimates, sonar noise can still be as high as 140 decibels 300 miles from the
source, a level that is a hundred times more intense than the level known to
result in behavioral changes in large whales.
Some of these exercises will even take place inside
designated critical habitat for the already endangered right whale, frequenter
of Maine waters. In fact, the Navy is now constructing a 500 square mile
instrumented range off the coast of Georgia where it intends to conduct 470
sonar exercises annually - the Navy chose this site just offshore of the only
known calving grounds of the right whale! In March 2015 Navy sonar testing near
Guam led to the stranding of three beaked whales.
Impacts in Maine
Pier-side testing of sonar occurs at Bath Iron Works
(BIW) and at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery which results in
significant fish kills. Navy off-shore weapons testing exercises puts toxic
chemicals and hazardous materials and waste into Maine’s marine environment.
The Kennebec River that BIW fronts is often dredged in
order to allow the deep hulled destroyers built there to get into the
ocean. Dredging takes a heavy toll on aquatic
The Portsmouth Naval Shipyard has caused serious
pollution of the local environment. The shipyard is on an island that the
Pentagon considers as one of their facilities most vulnerable to climate change,
particularly their dry-dock facilities. Rising sea levels could affect shipyard
toxic waste sites which are now mostly right on the shoreline and would seriously
impact water quality and sea life.
Since the beginning of the industrial revolution in
the early 1800s, fossil fuel-powered machines have driven an unprecedented
burst of human industry and society. Ocean acidification is the ongoing
decrease in ocean pH caused by human fossil fuel emissions. Oceans currently
absorb approximately half of the CO2 produced by burning fossil fuel. An
estimated 30–40% of the carbon dioxide released by humans into the atmosphere
dissolves into oceans, rivers and lakes.
Militarization Due to Climate Change
In early 2014 Maine’s Sen. Angus King went on a
nuclear submarine ride under the Arctic Sea ice which is now melting due to
climate change. Admiral Jonathan
Greenert, chief of naval operations was on the sub and said, “In our lifetime,
what was [in effect] land and prohibitive to navigate or explore, is becoming
an ocean… We need to be sure that our sensors, weapons and people are
proficient in this part of the world,” so that we can “own the undersea domain
and get anywhere there.”
When Sen. King returned from the trip he told his
constituents that there has been "a 40% reduction in ice as a result of
global warming." He reported that "previously
inaccessible" gas and oil reserves were now going to create "new opportunities". King concluded, "I am convinced we need to
increase our capacity in the region, something I intend to press upon my
colleagues on the Armed Services Committee as we work on our military
priorities for the coming years."
Rather than drill for more fossil fuels in the Arctic,
and create a new arms race in that environmentally sensitive region, the US
should be working to convert our military industries to build offshore wind
turbines, rail, solar and tidal power.
According to studies done by the UMASS-Amherst
Economics Department shipyards in Bath and Portsmouth could
nearly double their number of jobs by building rail or wind turbines. The Gulf of Maine has more wind power
generating potential than any other place in the US.
Save Our Seas
If the seas die so do humans on Earth and much of the
wildlife. Now is the time to speak out
for ending the massive military impacts on the world’s oceans and for
conversion of our fossil fuel dependent military industrial complex to
sustainable technologies. We will walk to bring attention to these crucial
issues. Please help us carry this
message to the public by joining with us.
Walk for Peace is sponsored by: Maine
Veterans for Peace; PeaceWorks; CodePink Maine; Citizens Opposing Active Sonar
Threats (COAST); Peace Action Maine; Veterans for Peace Smedley Butler Brigade
(Greater Boston); Seacoast Peace Response (Portsmouth); Global Network Against Weapons &
Nuclear Power in Space; (List in formation)