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World must work together for future needs

On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month the guns stopped firing. It was the day of the peace deal, Armistice day, a good holiday to remember, a good holiday to repeat.

Peace is necessary for commerce. We are part of a worldwide economy. The cotton in the shirt you bought at Target was grown in India. It was spun and woven in Singapore and sewn together in China.

Look at the phone in your hand. It has parts from all over the planet. It is connected to the satellites whizzing around lower earth orbit and it depends on people all doing their jobs all over the world. War gets in the way of all that.

When we think about the causes of war we can see they are as varied as the causes of peace. What makes two people sit down and talk to each other instead of using force? In their book “Getting to yes, negotiating agreement without giving in” Roger Fisher and William Ury make the case that agreements last when all sides have good reasons to keep them. Building those reasons into negotiations will lead to success.

If we look at our beautiful fragile planet from space we can see we live in a small closed system. Everything we breathe out we will eventually breathe in. There is no “away” to throw things to. Carbon dioxide has built up to the point rain water changes from a pH of 7 (neutral) to a pH of 5 (acid). Anyone can put a cup outside and collect rain water. Take some pH paper (you can get it online) and measure it. I predict that in Western New York the pH of rain water will be at least between 5 and 6 and sometimes down to 4.

Acid rain causes all kinds of problems. It can kill the microflora in the soil, the very bottom of the food chain. It can weaken the bark on trees and make them more susceptible to drought and pests. It strips minerals from the soil and impacts calcium in water. It can erode stone and dissolve concrete.

As a country we need to put money into researching and developing nonpoisonous ways of creating and storing energy. Right now we need the wind turbines and lithium for our batteries. There are problems with any kind of energy system. Lithium is a good example of something we have the power to regulate right now before we start mining it in a big way.

The only way to develop a secure source of lithium is to have a mine in the U.S. itself. Most likely it will have to be an open pit mine covering several acres.

Naturally we will not look for rare earth elements at old industrial sites or where there are a lot of people. A rural location will be found. The environmental work that land is doing for us, the forest taking up carbon, the streams producing fish, the farms producing food will be lost while the mine is running.

We are learning that we can not live without these things. We can look around and see if there is any degraded land that can be rehabilitated. From fertile field to parking lot is a common transition. From parking lot to farm is a harder feat. Right now it isn’t economically feasible but what if we said part of the cost of the lithium mine is the millions it would take to rewild a place like Jamestown. There are empty factories near the water that could be demolished. We could make it safe to eat the fish again. There are whole neighborhoods of condemned and decaying houses with huge old trees. The houses can be taken apart and forest plants brought in.

The final stage of the lithium battery’s life is the disposal. We can set up factories to take them apart so that the elements can be reused. We live in a closed system. We need to develop a circular economy.

Where are we going to get the money for this? Our defense budget is over $800 billion. Securing a domestic source of lithium is vital to our economic and military security. Investing in rehabilitating our decaying landscape is vital to our emotional well being.

Before you recoil in horror at touching the military budget think of all those weapons, we know there are some, that are just not that hot but we keep making them anyway because the factory is in someone’s district and they make sure it stays open.

Let’s look at this weapon and think what else could this factory make? Water scarcity is becoming the biggest source of conflict. By making something that can gather water out of the air we promote peace and our own security at the same time.

Marie Tomlinson is a Fredonia resident.

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