There they go again: right when the U.S. military completes yet another project to reduce CO2 emissions, the fossil fuel industry plays Debbie Downer. This week’s matchup involved our own U.S. Air Force, which has just announced its latest solar power installation with cheery pride, versus an industry group called “CO2 is Green,” which has just launched a new campaign proclaiming that more C02 is good because “it supports all plant life.” Hey, whose corner should we be in?
Throughout the last century, the U.S. achieved global military advantage primarily due to fossil fuels, but energy technology changes over time and sooner or later fossil fuels are destined to give way to new energy sources and energy storage solutions that serve modern military purposes far more effectively, and far less expensively. The fossil fuel industry may be entitled to fight for its life but meanwhile the U.S. military is going full steam ahead into a cleaner, safer renewable energy future.
Renewable Energy and National Security
The military isn’t pushing clean energy just to needle the fossil fuel industry. Based partly on its considerable collection of hard data on climate change, the military has been right up front in stating that climate change is a national security risk, that continued reliance on fossil fuels puts our troops needlessly at risk in military operations, and that clean renewable energy is vital to a strong national defense strategy.
Baby Talk from the Fossil Fuel Industry
In contrast to the hard data, research, and policy offered by the U.S. military, the fossil fuel industry is serving up pablum. The CO2 is Green website is one example. In its effort to weaken public support for federal climate legislation that would support CO2 reduction, the website descends to a reading level more appropriate to elementary school than serious adult conversation. Observations like “more CO2 results in a greener earth” and “man-made CO2 contributes to plant growth” are just a couple of examples. Another example of this condescending attitude is the “Faces of Coal” campaign, in which, mountaintop coal mining (literally, blowing up mountains right here in the U.S.) is touted as something that improves mountains that used to be “straight up and down” and makes the landscape “more visually pleasing.”
Grown-Up Action from the U.S. Military
While the fossil fuel industry is busy talking down to the public, the military is taking action on every clean energy front, from high tech energy efficient office buildings to the largest solar power installation in North America. That’s where our tax dollars should be going – to support a strong, modern national defense policy, and not to continue providing billions in tax breaks and subsidies for fossil fuels that have outlived their time.
Image: Solar installation at U.S. military base by lance cheung on flickr.com.
Tina Casey specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Tina’s articles are reposted frequently on Reuters, Scientific American, and many other sites. You can also follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.