From Syria to Sunshine

And so we find ourselves, once again, on the brink of sending our military to attack another country, about which, again, we seem to know pathetically little.

Will it be possible to perform a “surgical strike” in Syria, preventing the government armed forces from using chemical weapons without actually taking sides in the civil war?

To what extent have the “rebel forces” been infiltrated by radical Muslim fighters coming over from Afghanistan and Iran?

What are the motives of the shadowy big players looming in the background—China, Russia, Saudia Arabia, Iran, Israel?

Why has the United Nations been so silent?

But here’s the big question that no one is asking: why aren’t we working like banshees to reduce our dependence on Middle East oil?

The fact is that the sheikdoms of the Persian Gulf were insular, off-the-the-beaten track kingdoms until the advent of the modern Western addiction to oil.  It’s all about resources.

If humans replaced our dependence on fossil fuels with a dependence on the mother fuel of it all, the Sun, we would be so much better off.

The Sun is one of those resources, like air, that is free and available to all.  Every tree, every blade of grass, every phytoplankton, benefits from the sun.  The sun plays no favorites, though sometimes clouds intervene.

If we put anything near the amount of dollars we currently put into weapons development, production, and the waging of war, into research & development of solar energy capture, storage and distribution, we would suddenly find ourselves accelerating into a whole new era of human civilization, as dramatic as the shift from coal to oil, or from horsepower to steam.

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The Middle Eastern nations, being naturally sunny, would do fine in a new solar-based economy.

But there’s no part of our globe that is cut off from sunshine.

In fact, the sun shines in my backyard just as brightly as it does in yours.

Exxon/Mobil/BP and all the rest couldn’t lay claim to a monopoly on sunshine, although I am sure they will try to control the storage and distribution networks.

But solar is naturally inclined to egalitarian distribution.  Just as every daisy in the field and every apple on the tree has an equal claim on sunshine, so every human being is also entitled to soak up those rays.

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Photo by Eric Hernandez

Wake up, humanity!  Wake up, Americans!  Understand that we do not have to spend our hard-earned tax dollars on war instead of peacetime priorities like education, health and social security.

Understand that the same forces that want to wage war are the ones that want to frack and drill and build pipelines to Kingdom Come.

Gone is the time when oil came gushing up out of the wells, black gold that would make us all rich.

Now oil is a fool’s gold, bankrupting the majority even while it enriches the few who control the wells, the refineries and the gas stations.

Another world is possible—a world that looks to the sun to warm us and the wind to cool us, at a fraction of the cost of the 21st century extraction of oil.

When we think about intervening in Syria, or Iraq, or Iran, or Afghanistan, or Colombia, or Venezuela, or Ecuador—understand that whatever the stated moral goal, the real reason is a very simple three-letter word: O-I-L.

To which we can respond with some very simple words of our own: S-U-N, W-I-N-D.


Leave a comment


  1. Carole Spearin McCauley

     /  September 3, 2013

    Yes, the much-awaited strike on Syria will just kill more civilians and probably further enrage the leadership. As a commentator said about Israel this morning, the reason that Israeli attacks work is that they don’t announce them ahead of time.

  2. Show people where they have their heads

  3. Robert D. Ludden

     /  September 4, 2013

    Thank you, Jennifer. Accurate and to the point, always!

  4. I love your focus on climate change, which I agree is one of humanity’s most pressing problems. Probably the most pressing of all. But I also wish you had stuck to the issue of Syria in this blog entry. The fact that our government is pressing us to strike Syria, so soon after the debacles in Iraq and Afghanistan, is beyond horrific. The impossibility of a “surgical strike,” the dangers of US troops on the ground in yet another country, the suspect nature of many of the rebel forces, and the plain fact that we have no business invading other nations, are only a few of the aspects of this macabre plan that demand open debate. Will the US never learn?

    • Jennifer Browdy de Hernandez

       /  September 5, 2013

      So true! Will the US never learn is right! My point in this post is that if we weren’t so addicted to oil, we would never even consider military action in Syria. So doing the right thing politically and doing the right thing environmentally amount to the same thing. Sunlight is where it’s at!

  5. Robert D. Ludden

     /  September 5, 2013

    “What ifs” of course, are useless. I don’t think, Jennifer, that not being addicted to oil would assure anyone that our government would not act foolishly, but that doesn’t matter. Your essential point, I am sure, is that we seem always to act MINDLESSLY, and are determined to do that because “we are the world’s greatest nation.” LIttle by little, we are still trying, and
    failing , to demonstrate its falsity.

  6. Jennifer Browdy de Hernandez

     /  September 5, 2013

    Yes I just have less and less patience for those who get so wrapped up in the trees that they lose sight of the forest. We need to keep our focus on the big picture now, and act out of that planetary awareness.

  7. Right on target. By the way, I mentioned your blog in my blog today.

  8. This is a water war. The whole Euphrat/Tigris basin is drying up and the aquifers are being depleted by agricultural irrigation.
    Israelis use an average of 5 liter water a day, Palestinians 1.5 liter. Do you think, that Palestinians are just little piggies?
    The water of Gaza is running out, is contaminated and unsafe for human use by WHO standards. 1.6 million Palestinians have to drink it.

    Click to access health-risks-contamination-of-water-in-the-gaza-strip.pdf
    The deserts in Syria, Iraq, and Iran constantly expand. Israel and Turkey need more water for their agricultural export business.
    Israel has already annexed Syria’s Golan Heights, which are one of the eminent water sources in the region, but it needs also the water of Southern Lebanon (Litani River).
    Hezbollah is in the way, and it’s ally Syria is in the way.
    Turkish dam projects threaten the water supplies in Syria and Iraq.

    Click to access IraqSyri.pdf

    You write: “Every tree, every blade of grass, every phytoplankton, benefits from the sun.”
    This is so true, but without water, nothing will grow. And, btw, who would finance the solar economy? Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, the World Bank, IMF loans? (Creating more debt slaves).
    Why are Coca Cola, Nestle, Unilever, banks, corporations, and everybody else who has some billions to spare buying up water sources around the world?
    S-U-N, W-I-N-D. N-O-W is a nice slogan. You only forgot the water.

    • Jennifer Browdy de Hernandez

       /  September 17, 2013

      True that, Mato. Indeed, living in such a wet part of the world, I do tend to forget how precious and rare water can be. Thanks for the reminder–

  9. I think water shortages, droughts, desertification, etc. put our planet in great peril. I don’t know why it doesn’t get more notice in the U.S., but I can guess that it has something to do with profit. From my perspective privatization of water is the worse thing that can happen and it is happening right now.
    I try to draw attention to it in my novel I Call Myself Earth Girl and so has William Hathaway in his latest, Wellsprings.
    We need to get a very large group of people concerned about this and soon.


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