Operation "Hello Eden"
By Fionn Byrne
Since the 1970s our planetary environment has been characterized as being in a state of crisis so profound as to challenge our very survival. NASA’s release of the Apollo mission images of Earth from space galvanized a fear of impending environmental doom due to nuclear warfare, overpopulation, and pollution.1 Today this sense of crisis has shifted away from destruction by military means towards economic causes. Our unabated consumption of natural resources which drives global markets has given rise to the universal threat of climatic change. The fear of instant destruction has been replaced with a sense of chronic environmental weakening with localized system failures.
Instead of acting as protagonist, the modern military has increasingly been responsible for responding to environmental crisis. Perhaps the most telling example was the response and ensuing criticism at the lack of response of the American military following the breaching of New Orleans’ hydrological infrastructure system as a result of pressure placed upon it by Hurricane Katrina. The military was called upon to repair damaged infrastructure (hydrologic, transportation, energy), provide medical aid and logistical support. This role of the military in responding to environmental crisis is projected to increase in the future as global warming forces the failure of ecological systems to operate within predicted parameters, resulting in the failure of infrastructural systems upon which they are built or vice versa.