Why the "urgency"?
Have we “won the war but lost the effort”?
In World War II Americans joined Russians and Britons, French and Algerians, Brazilians, Indians, Australians and scores of other peoples around the world to resist Nazi and Italian-Fascist dictatorship, and Japanese imperialism. Allied governments were neither perfect nor innocent of less-than-fully-honorable wartime behaviors, but their populations struggled and sacrificed to defeat governance by dictate, violence and fear. The more democratic countries of the world—in an uneasy alliance with the Soviet Union—took a firm, decisive stand against tyranny, and for democratic rule.
For two decades Michael Luick-Thrams and the organization he founded, TRACES Center for History and Culture, have documented how the fight for freedom and against oppression affected the “little people” of history—ordinary soldiers and internees, refugees and diplomats, journalists and other categories of people whose lives were indelibly changed by war.
Some 65 years after the defeat of those totalitarian projects, however, humanity faces a global struggle even more threatening to its very survival. Although in some ways more insidious and—at present, at least—easier to ignore than blatant dictatorship, environmental collapse would end society as we know it.
Faced with the imminent danger posed by global climate change, the TRACES team can no longer remain focused solely on the past, all the while sounding alarms about the recurring dangers of oppression and state-sponsored aggression. Given the world’s growing ecological and economic crises, it has become imperative for us to expand our focus to include a new global war—the fight against Homo sapiens sapiens’ ever more conceivable (if unintended) suicide. Ironically, post-war prosperity—in large part generated by the “creative destruction” of World War II—has stoked the furnaces of global warming, as well as the resource degradation that is eroding our ability to survive on an increasingly imperiled planet.