Military Fights Global Warming

BY ON May 8, 2012

Soldier with baby peeking out of cargo pants pocket

Is the Navy greener than California?

As more polls show that a majority of Americans want action on carbon pollution and global warming, leadership on fighting climate change is coming from surprising places—starting with the military.

At a recent reception held by Environmental Defense Fund in Washington D.C….Defense Secretary Leon Panetta gave a speech in which he connected the dots between climate change, energy and security issues. He became the highest-ranking official in the Obama administration to do so.

Panetta explained that his Department of Defense is facing a budget shortfall of more than $3 billion because of unexpected fuel costs. “I have a deep interest in more sustainable and efficient energy options,” he said. Secretary Panetta went on to describe how the U. S. military will be called on for humanitarian assistance in the face of rising seas, longer droughts, and more frequent and the severe natural disasters that are a result of global warming.

Secretary Panetta was followed on the podium by Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, who has served since May 2009. In 1987, the Harvard-trained lawyer became the youngest governor in the nation when he won office in Mississippi. Mabus declared, in an inimitably rich Southern drawl: “We buy too much fossil fuel from the most volatile places on earth.”

He emphasized that “drilling alone will never solve our national security concerns over foreign oil.” Mabus went on to announce that the Navy has made a commitment to get 50% of its energy from renewable sources, like biofuels, solar and wind, by 2025. That’s the most ambitious goal for renewable energy in the country—higher even than California’s!

Mabus pointed out that the Navy has always led in pioneering new sources of fuel, whether it was from moving from sail to coal in the 1850s, to oil in the 20th century, and nuclear energy in the 1950s. “Every time, there were doubters and naysayers,” he said forcefully. “Every time. And every single time, they were wrong and they will be wrong again this time.”

Mabus vigorously countered the argument that renewable energy is more expensive. “Well of course it is! Every new technology is more expensive. What if we hadn’t started using computers because they were more expensive than typewriters? What if we hadn’t started using cell phones because they were more expensive than land lines? Where would we be?”

Both Panetta and Mabus are on the front lines again—in a battle that will help us curb carbon emissions and lead us to energy independence. Anyone want to join the notoriously craven science deniers at the Heartland Institute in their claim that any leader who fights global warming is no better than tyrants and killers like Charles Manson, Osama bin Laden and Unabomber Kacyznski?

Go ahead. Make Secretary Mabus’ day.

Photo: Pamela Davis Photography


TOPICS: Politics, Pollution, Science

  • Vanessa Rule

    My son has asthma. I’m concerned about my kids’ health being harmed
    today because the air pollution that results when we burn fossil fuels and I also know that if we don’t stop burning these as fast as possible, they will have to live on a very inhospitable planet due to the impacts of climate change.

  • pamela ingram

    This i truly powerful and unfortunately not much reported by main stream media. Thank you for sharing this, psi

  • I loved this piece connecting the military with environmental/health issues. The strongest military in the world recognizes that we need to take the health of our planet seriously and is taking action.

    MCAF does a fabulous job of erasing the treehugging/liberal VS polluting/conservative stereotypes. We ALL need a healthy planet and those lines/sterotypes need to become blurred – EDF is accomplishing that through MCAF.

    Thanks for inspiring the activist in me (and all of us) to work hard to leave my future great grandkids a healthy planet.

    From Birmingham Alabama where kids have to breathe unhealthy air,
    -Kirsten Bryant

  • bevis longstreth

    Why not start organizing women in the military as “Military Moms for Clean Air”? The less they go to war, the more they need homebound engagement to avoid boredom in military life. The suggested “branch” could provide engagement and purpose, while they await the next hot war.

  • Navy Hero led Engineers on Offshoe Wind Power, OTECS, Tidal Power and more

    The military is a powerful ally in the fight for clean air and warming solutions ! The Navy at any rate has been ther for a long time. Captain Heronemus helped pioneer nuclear energy for carriers and subs but left to pioneer offshore wind, ocean thermal energy power, tidal power, wave power and solar energy as a professor at U Mass. He was speaking out against global warming in the 70’s at the beginning of the movement.

    But Panettas push and the push of the Navy is way beyond research. Go Navy ! Put them to work protecting the country and the planet by building all this advanced clean energy infrastructure. Beats waiting on laurels for war action that may never come.

    So much of the news is gloomy, it is nice to hear good news for a change. Thanks.

  • Paige Holland

    It is wonderfully refreshing to hear about such a powerful taxpayer funded group get practical about the next quarter century of energy needs, without resorting to divisive, limiting language! Go Navy!!