Quill and Quire

REVIEWS

« Back to
Book Reviews

Planet Earth: The Newest Weapon of War

by Rosalie Bertell

With the election of George W. Bush provoking renewed international concern about plans to launch a Star Wars military program, Rosalie Bertell has produced a timely call to action on the dangers the military poses to the delicate balance of life on Earth.

Bertell is a nun and cancer research scientist whose ground-breaking 1985 work, No Immediate Danger: Prognosis for a Radioactive Earth, sounded the alarm on the understated problems associated with the nuclear fuel cycle. With Planet Earth, she has again unearthed a wealth of disturbing, almost unbelievable information on the ways in which war and military testing are disrupting natural patterns both on the earth and in the protective layers of the atmosphere. Dramatic changes in the global climate, as evidenced by a rash of violent storms, intensive droughts, and dangerously shifting weather patterns, are linked not only to carbon dioxide emissions, but also experimentation with electromagnetic weapons, nuclear weapons testing, and the high-tech nature of warfare itself.

A no-nonsense writer who presents stark facts in an accessible fashion, Bertell builds her compelling case with the care and solid methodology that are the hallmarks of good science. Her findings run from terrifying – the strategy of U.S. Space Command to fight in space – to the outright bizarre – the U.S. military tossed 350 billion copper needles into orbit to create a “telecommunications shield” in the early 1960s , and they’re still rotating around the planet.

Bertell admits that much of her research may sound depressing, but she manages to provide a fairly hopeful prognosis based on a change in thinking that would eliminate the military as an institution, concurrent with the development of civil society institutions under an Earth Charter. Planet Earth deserves a wide audience as we begin a make-it-or-break-it century for the third rock from the sun.