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Mission Possible: Winning The War Against Climate Change

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Originally published on the Mosaic blog
by Boyd Arnold

soldierpanels-350x197Starting today Mosaic investors will have the opportunity to invest in a 12.27 megawatt solar installation on Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst — the first joint Air Force, Army, and Navy base in the continental United States. Solar panels will be secured on rooftops of 547 homes, providing 30% of the electricity needs of the U.S. service members and their families on the base. The investment represents an opportunity for investors to support the military’s goal of 3 gigawatts (3,000 megawatts) of renewable energy installations by 2025.

In addition to the military’s goal of 3 gigawatts of renewable energy installations, the Army has set goals of net zero energy, water, and waste at its bases. The Air Force, the largest energy user of the military, is the leading purchaser of clean energy within the Federal Government, powering portions of 37 bases with renewable energy.

The military’s lofty goals and actions for combating climate change and fossil fuel dependence are in stark contrast to the morass in the U.S. Congress. With 135 climate change deniers in Congress, it is unlikely that a comprehensive plan combatting climate change will happen anytime soon. Why is the military steps ahead of the government that controls it when responding to climate change? The military knows that climate change is a matter of national security and not of political grandstanding.

graph-300x290In February, the Department of Defense (DoD) released its Climate Change Adaptation Roadmap (CCAR). The CCAR noted that “while the effects of climate change alone do not cause conflict, they may act as accelerants of instability or conflict in parts of the world. Climate change may also lead to increased demands for defense support to civil authorities for humanitarian assistance or disaster response, both within the United States and overseas.”

The DoD spends $20 billion per year on fossil fuels as the world’s largest consumer of energy. For every $10 increase in the price per barrel of oil, the DoD tacks on $1.3 billion to its annual energy bill. In addition, the DoD outlays an estimated average of $84 billion per year protecting Middle Eastern maritime oil transit routes and oil infrastructure. Employing renewable energy reduces the dependency on fossil fuels from growingly instable regions, reduces costs, and reduces risks associated with protecting transit routes and oil infrastructure.

The military has outposts in remote regions and needs a steady supply of fuel to sustain these outposts. Meeting this demand is a dangerous and costly challenge. In Afghanistan, there is an average of one casualty for every 24 fuel resupply convoys. To avoid these casualties, fuel is airdropped in certain locations driving the price of a gallon of fuel toward $400/gallon (and you thought $4/gallon was expensive!) To reduce the risk of running out of fuel and lower these exorbitant fuel transportation costs, the military has begun using portable solar arrays to power its operations in these remote areas.

base-300x201To make clear the link between renewable energy and national security, Thomas Hicks, the Navy’s Deputy Assistant Secretary of Energy, was quoted saying renewable energy investments are not about “advancing an environmental agenda. They’re about improving our combat capability, improving our mission effectiveness, and reducing our vulnerabilities to foreign sources of fossil fuel.”

Unlike the politicians on Capitol Hill, the military can take long-term views and find the best solutions to its problems. The military takes its job of protecting us seriously and has recognized that responding to climate change and investing in renewable energy makes us all safer. With its buying power and history as one of the greatest catalysts of technological innovation, the military has the ability to transform markets. The ambitious goals the military has set for renewable energy generation will have transformative effects for the clean energy market, the military, and society in general, and now Mosaic investors have the opportunity to invest in this transformation.

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