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Re: P2 and National Security

I can't help weighing in with what's on my mind. I believe an angle on
the P2 and national security that hasn't been mentioned is international
development. Burt, you're probably more experienced with it than many of

It's obvious to me that our national security would be strengthened if
we help Afghanistan develop (and other breeding grounds for terrorists
around the world) using P2/sustainability as the central organizing
themes. We had the wisdom to support rebuilding Europe after WWII under
the Marshall Plan instead of repeating the mistake of post-WWI; allowing
Germany to fall into a poverty so dire, its citizens cleaved to Nazism
and the order it imposed on a poor and desperate populace. I'm really
glad to read that this administration is committed to rebuilding
Afghanistan so as not to allow a repeat of the chaos wrought by the
Northern Alliance in the early 1990's that lead to the advent of the
Taliban in '96.

But how will we do that? Will we apply the same failed development
models we employ elsewhere throughout the world - an oil dependent
economy based on large, centralized power generating systems and a
vehicle-based transportation system like our own?

If P2 and sustainability were earnestly applied to trouble spots like
Afghanistan, we would help them build a limited number of oil-fired
power plants, but only to supply power to "green factories", a national
train system, hospitals and schools. The "green factories" could then
make cheap, roof top mounted hot water heaters for hot water
heating/space heating, electric trains, solar arrays and wind turbines
for decentralized energy systems, and a dizzying array of cutting edge
P2 gadgets (aqueous cleaning units, efficient paint sprayers, etc.) that
could provide thousands of jobs to poor, desperate people otherwise
vulnerable to the simplistic ideologies of evil megalomaniacs.

Why would this work better than the usual approach? It feeds itself.
Afghanis will use what resources they have or can make for themselves,
not be perpetually dependent on foreign technology and material they
can't afford on their own. They will become dependent on the sun and
wind power they produce, not oil from other countries (and the IMF/World
Bank money to buy it). They will make things that the rest of the world
might be willing to pay decent money for, instead of toiling away
endlessly at low pay to make cheap junk for foreign markets. What they
have is people, sunlight and wind, not oil - their economy should be
based on those resources.

I'm sure the greener heads at IMF/World Bank have data and examples on
the benefits of sustainable development. I am no expert, but something
tells me the developing countries that are doing it well aren't breading
grounds for terrorists that threaten our national security.

We must recognize oil as the evil it truly is, and limit everyone's
dependence on it.

Season's Best...

Leif Magnuson
Pollution Prevention Coordinator
U.S. EPA Region IX, WST-7
75 Hawthorne St.
San Francisco, CA  94105
(415) 972-3286 Tel
(415) 947-3530 Fax