Jan 23, 2007

The Real Weapons of Mass Destruction?

I've seen places like this from 35,000 feet, but seeing them up close has a greater impact. These photos of moth-balled, obsolete military aircraft were taken by a fellow on a low and slow cross-America flight in a gyroplane:

That's a fascinating story in itself, but these photos of aircraft graveyards raise some serious questions.

If you look, and count, and reflect for a few moments that each of those aircraft represents multiple millions of the gross national product of the USA over just the past few decades, do you start to wonder? These are not old aircraft. In one photo there seems to be a half-dozen or so C5-A Galaxies - Jumbo Jets... at what? about $100,000,000 (one hundred million!) per copy originally? And B-1 bombers? The marvels of the fleet just a few years ago...

So many questions arise it's hard to know where to begin. Why so many airplanes? What is the complete tally of all the mothballed planes in the USA and the rest of the free world? They were built to protect us from the threat of the old Soviet Union during the arms race of the 1950s to 1980s. So, presumably those nations also have similar fleets rusting away?

And then I wonder about ships -- I've seen acres of mothballed warships in the harbours around San Francisco and Oakland, and Norfolk. How much does an average warship cost?

Add to this, the things we don't see -- mothballed missiles and missile silos, and their warheads. And bombs - atomic and otherwise. I imagine these would cover acres as well.

By comparison, how large is the active fleet today? At what rate are these being mothballed and replaced? And how much money is being spent researching yet even better weapons? And who are these new weapons protecting us from? Terrorists armed with suicide bombs constructed in caves?

And while I’m at it, I wonder about a lot more of our other technological ‘stuff’ that becomes obsolete amazingly fast in our accelerating push to go further, faster for ever-less urgent reasons. I would include civil aircraft - there are huge graveyards of those around too - and of course acres and acres of rusting automobiles and who could measure the mountains of obsolete computers the world has produced in just over two decades.

How much raw material was consumed? How may hours of human labor and effort went into building all this? How many lives used up?

I find myself wondering what an economy might look like where there were no arms and no factories mass-producing soon-to-be-obsolete 'stuff'? Such a world couldn't happen overnight -- imagine just the unemployment. But then, imagine how much constructive work might be achieved instead... Enough to seriously change the world I bet.

But this is all clouds-in-my-coffee musing, unless we change something fundamental in the core of who we are as people-groups and as nations. And that's a whole other story....

For a long time we've believed that knowledge and reason would solve our problems. So, we've concentrated on education as a way to improve ourselves and education is a good thing. But guess what? We're still pretty much the same people morally as we ever were. Why? Isn't 'knowing the facts' enough? Why does evil remain so strong? So strong in fact, that more people have been slaughtered by wars in the twentieth century than in all previous nineteen combined.

I just keep coming back to the same conclusion. The evidence is everywhere from the graveyards of our technologies, to the unknown graves of the 30,000! children who will die today and everyday, from a lack of life’s basic needs such as clean drinking water, nutrition, simple medicine and security. There’s a deep-seated madness inherent in our civilization -- heck, maybe all civilizations. But the madness in our dominant western consumer-driven culture is most apparent because the magnitude of our madness can be measured in acres.

Could it be that this madness, as revealed by these acres of obsolete technology is the real Weapon of Mass Destruction we should be concerned about? And isn't it ironic that these rusting hulks spell destruction by our own hand -- for surely any world this crazy is doomed.

That is, unless something changes.


Chris said...

That's all very true. It's amazing what they can keep in the desert and still have the large active force they do.

Aluwings said...

It's kind of like the "what we don't know won't hurt us..." mentality isn't it? I think I'm going to start a Google air-search for some of these sites... might be 'fun'...