Organizing Notes

Bruce Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. He offers his own reflections on organizing and the state of America's declining empire....

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Location: Bath, Maine, United States

I grew up in a military family and joined the Air Force in 1971 during the Vietnam War. It was there that I became a peace activist.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Op-Ed in Local Paper


Sustainable Energy to Ensure Future Generations

By Bruce K. Gagnon

Recently, a man in Bath who currently works at Bath Iron Works (BIW) told me, “We can’t afford to keep building these expensive Zumwalt destroyers.” The ships are now coming in at more than $4 billion per copy. He later told me that he no longer knows whom to believe as he watches Trump and the Democrats battle with one another. I told him he isn’t alone and is smart to mistrust all that is going on in Washington these days. The corporate oligarchies internal power struggle is not considering the well being of the public. We the people have got to come together and fight for our children and grandchildren who are being left with an economic and environmental mess to handle.

In early March I had to leave our Bath "Zumwalt 12" trial a day early to attend a conference in Sweden. After that event I did a speaking tour throughout Scandinavia and ended it in Copenhagen, Denmark. I was quite impressed to see the many offshore wind turbines in the waters between Sweden and Denmark as I rode a high-speed rail system over a bridge connecting the two nations.

My mind flashed to our own Gov. LePage who, soon after taking office, moved quickly to kill any chance of a Norwegian energy company building an offshore wind farm in the Gulf of Maine. (Experts say that the Gulf of Maine has the greatest wind power potential in the US.)

Very recently I read an article that reported on Gov. LePage’s failure to create more energy for our state and to lower our energy costs.

The governor’s plan to expand natural gas capacity in Maine has stalled, a good thing considering the fact that we must move away from fossil fuels if we hope to successfully deal with global warming.
LePage’s wrong-headed stands against rooftop solar and against greater statewide emphasis on energy efficiency is a direct threat to our future generation’s chances for survival.

From what I can see, the governor has also done little or nothing to promote public transportation across Maine. A commuter rail system from Portland to Bath would go a long way in reducing our state’s carbon footprint.

Studies from UMASS-Amherst Economics Department have long revealed that building a commuter rail system at BIW would double the existing work force. The cost of one Zumwalt-class destroyer could surely build a world-class commuter rail system for Maine. And shouldn’t creating clean energy jobs be a priority in our state? I don’t hear any of our elected officials pushing for that. If Sens. Collins and King really wanted to create jobs and deal with global warming this would be the way to go.

On April 1 there will be a christening at BIW as another destroyer (outfitted with missile defense interceptors) is commissioned. Peace groups from across Maine will once again hold a non-violent protest at the shipyard gates demanding that we end our wasteful addiction to militarism. We will call for the conversion of BIW to building commuter rail, wind turbines, solar and tidal power systems.

My son recently got married and he and his wife are likely to have children in the near future. I am focused like a laser beam on wanting to ensure that my descendants, and all future generations, have a real chance of survival on our Mother Earth.

Building more warships, which dramatically contribute to the Pentagon’s number one global carbon boot-print, won’t cut the mustard.

We should all care about preserving life on this fragile planet. Thus we must continually demand an immediate switch from endless war making to sustainable production that helps us deal with our real enemy today – climate change.

Bruce K. Gagnon is a member of PeaceWorks and lives in Bath, Maine

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