Saturday, July 03, 2010

Military, Climate and Renewable Energy

An article of Joseph Nevins published on commondreams.org has the title Greenwashing the Pentagon (14 June 2010). In it, he argues that the DOD is “the single entity most responsible for destabilizing the Earth’s climate.”

He is in line with what wrote before on my blog: It is hard to tell whether the DoD’s slogans like going green, green revolution, combating climate change etc are not more than a greenwashing.

He is right that from the degradation of the world’s oceans, to a steep decline in biodiversity and intensifying climate destabilization, war and militarism threaten humanity and life more broadly in unprecedented ways.

However, I have reservations for his conclusion: “given its engagement in multiple wars, a network of hundreds of military bases around the world and dozens more in the United States, and a budget now roughly the equivalent of all of the rest of the world’s militaries combined, the Pentagon must be the central focus of efforts to protect the biosphere by challenging war and militarism. More than ever, humanity—and Mother Earth—can no long afford them.”

However it sounds very logical, this conclusion is against the very nature of humanity. We may have some distinct superiorities but we are not much different from animals. Throughout the human history we have been killing each other, and will continue doing it through symmetric or asymmetric warfare until we become extinct. In fact, Mother East cannot effort us -humans.

The US Department of Defense can argued to be a War Empire. Such an empire surely causes a negative impact to Mother Earth.

The Defense Environmental Programs Annual Report to Congress gives us the following information:

Over the past 10 years, the Department of Defense has invested approximately $42 billion to ensure the success of its environmental programs. In FY2009, DoD obligated approximately $4.3 billion in resources for environmental activities.

DoD generated a total of approximately 5.2 million tons of solid waste in FY2009, consisting of 2.2 million tons of non-hazardous municipal solid waste and 3.0 million tons of construction and demolition C&D debris. The generation of municipal solid waste equates to 3.2 pounds per person each day.

In calendar year (CY) 2008, DoD disposed over 76,000 tons of hazardous waste.

In CY2008, DoD reported 31.7 million pounds of toxic release inventory (TRI) chemical releases and off-site transfers, including releases from operational ranges.

DoD installations reported emitting 1,225 tons of Hazardous Air Pollutants from Stationary Sources (U.S. and Territories & Overseas) in CY2008 (see page 35)

(Source: 2009 Fiscal Year Defense Environmental Programs, Annual Report to Congress, Prepared by the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, April 2010) (warning: more than 850 pages)

Add to that Greenhouse Gasses Emissions created by burning fossil fuels. I demonstrated many times on my blog that the US is the largest single energy consuming and (perhaps) CO2 emitting entity in the world. And yes, the DoD is also a Go Green leader. But the fine line between Go Green and Greenwashing is not clear. In many respects the word “Green” resembles more the color of the greenback dollar than a true clean energy future.

Let us have a look at a recent GAO Report (Defense Infrastructure: Department of Defense Renewable Energy Initiatives. GAO-10-681R, April 26, 2010 (86 pages).

The report investigates Costs of Renewable Energy Initiatives Reported by DOD.

GAO lists DOD's 454 renewable energy initiatives with a range of costs associated

* 189 initiatives cost under $1,000,000.

* 138 initiatives cost $1,000,000 or more.

* 127 initiatives for which DOD provided no cost data.

GAO found that while some initiatives have clearly specified goals, other initiatives do not, and in many cases it is unclear whether the initiatives are actually meeting their goals. This brings about the issue of increasing oversight of DOD's renewable energy activities.

I would recommend GAO to include all energy related research and development activities and costs in their analysis as well. While assessing them, GAO should include a new column in its table and show which could be called gadget and which would have a probability to be commercially deployed in the long run.

There is no such thing as a green military, and there cannot be!

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