Redefining violence is key to planetary security

Aug 23, 2023
mothers defending our children's future-c. Image supplied by author

Mothers, grandmothers, aunties, sisters, daughters, and allies, you are out here on a chilly winter’s day because of your love and rightful concern for children and the next generation’s future. I wish to honour your concern by introducing you to a bold approach. In the context of the extreme changes in the climate system we’ve seen this year, it’s time for Australia to commit to a planetary crisis response plan, and seek to establish a Planetary Crisis Peace Treaty in our region, including with China.

Abbreviated speech given by Dr Elizabeth Boulton to the XR Mother’s Rebellion, Victorian Arts Centre, Naarm/Melbourne, 19th August 2023

PLAN E is a concept for an emergency response to the planetary crisis.

E stands for Earth.

PLAN E prioritises foundational security: a habitable planet; adequate shelter, food, and water for all forms of planetary life.

But first, let me reflect on where we are at.

In the context of the extreme changes in the climate system we’ve seen this year, for example, just this week the shocking fires in Hawaii, Canada, and Spain; it is surreal that no serious emergency response planning is occurring.

No global emergency meetings are being called.

There is not even any contingency planning.

By way of comparison, you may recall in November last year, a stray missile landed in Poland?

Immediately a global emergency meeting was called. The issue dominated world headlines; there was a sense of alarm that WW3 might start any minute. Strangely, this crisis ended at the exact same time that COP27 climate negotiations concluded in Egypt. Then it turned out that the missile was just an accidental stray; no big deal after all. But an opportunity for ambitious climate action had again escaped the world’s attention.

That incident is an example of how security narratives can be distorted and used to obscure urgent planetary security realities. I know you would all be aware of the lies surrounding the Vietnam War and the mythical WMD in Iraq.

I am going to propose to you today that the decades long discussion that climate and environmental issues should not be considered in the security sphere – that this would lead to draconian solutions and should be avoided at all costs – has also been part of the smoke and mirrors of distorted threat narratives.

It is complex, but this approach, of never properly considering the planetary crisis as the extraordinary threat to life – that scientists have long told us it is – has meant that new forms of violence, harm, killing and destruction have escaped scrutiny and proper prioritisation.

A new approach, which confronts this new form of violence is needed.

This is essentially what PLAN E is.

PLAN E rests upon two underpinning concepts.

The first is redefining the nature of violence. I propose that together, the interconnected climate and ecological crises, represent a new type of threat which I call a hyperthreat.

The hyperthreat will be the dominant form of violence, killing, destruction, and harm facing our population and territory over the 21st Century.

The second concept is called ‘Entangled Security’ which refers to the idea that planetary, human, and state security are inherently inter-connected.

Once these two concepts were developed, it was possible to ask: “how do we contain the hyperthreat, in the context of entangled security?” – leading to PLAN E.

What does PLAN E involve?

PLAN E is envisioned as a civil led, civil mobilisation, not militarisation. Thus, it does not follow that treating the planetary crisis as a serious threat, therefore, ipso-facto leads to a military solution. We are creative beings after all!

The aim of PLAN E is to create a safe path to a safe earth. It creates a high-level framework to concurrently address planetary, human, and state security dimensions.

New capabilities and institutions are raised. New sorts of jobs are created, such as Eco-Transition Coaches; Eco-Rebuild Squads, and Tracking Harm Specialists (environmental crime detectives).

Time frame:

Phase One begins next year, 2024. A full year is devoted to supported planning activities across the whole spectrum of society, with some emergency actions. Mums, parents, childcare workers, teachers and so on would be involved.

Phase Two is PLAN F. F stands for ‘Four years Fast and Furious’. 2025 to 2028 is when the whole of society mobilisation occurs.

You may be familiar with house makeover television shows like ‘Backyard Blitz’ or ‘The Block’? Well PLAN F would be like that – but on a gigantic scale across every sector, every company, every school, every hairdresser shop, every bakery, and every supermarket.

Home force

One proposed new capability is called the ‘Home Force.’

The Home Force would see a massive shift of research and development (R&D) support to the household and community sphere, for major eco-innovation transformation.

Imagine the budget for a new AirForce strike fighter plane, and the technical and specialist expertise that would be allocated to that?

Now imagine that effort, the best designers, and inventors, are assigned to work with parents, households, and communities to design the hyperthreat out of existence.

Setting ourselves up to succeed

At a strategic level, PLAN E aims to set us up to succeed.

Rather than detail every exact solution, it creates the space, opportunity, planning support and resources for others to develop fantastic, robust, imaginative solutions, that suit their context.

PLAN E is about care ethics with muscle.

We know we are going to face hell, so we look after each other as much as possible. We prepare. We create buffers; redundancy; emergency stocks; emergency shelters. We rehearse specific emergency actions. We develop new forms of expertise. We take this threat VERY SERIOUSLY! We give ourselves and the planet the best chance we can.

I’d like to end by calling for two specific actions.

  1. First, the Federal budget allocates funding for the development of a planetary crisis response plan. At the very least, a contingency plan is developed.
  2. Second, at the diplomatic level, Australia, seek to establish a Planetary Crisis Peace Treaty in our region, including with China.

These two steps are the least that is owed to the next generation.


More information on XR Mother’s Rebellion is here. Video recording of event here.

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