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10
Military Issues and Climate Change
Overview
This chapter takes a glimpse into the operations of the U.S. military and shows
where it is picking up the slack in leadership that Congress has created and
leading in creative and innovative ways of its own. Through consulting with
scientists and research organizations, the Department of Defense (DoD) has
apparently listened closely and heeded the messages it has been told because
it has recognized the seriousness and urgency of climate change and the
very real implications it has, and will have, on the security of not only the
United States but also the entire world community. In response, it has imple-
mented programs and protocols to respond in a proactive way in its energy
choices and direction of the future. This chapter provides insight as to where
the military is currently headed on the topic of climate change action. First,
it discusses how the military views climate change, the effect it is having
on military effectiveness, and what that means in terms of security for the
future. Next, it outlines how the Pentagon is taking the lead on cutting back
on its enormous use of fossil fuels in order to lower its dependence on hos-
tile nations, keep troops out of harms way, and build toward a sustainable
future. The chapter then illustrates how the DoD is retrotting its operations
to embrace the use of green energy and provides concrete examples of the
many successes it has already had and the noteworthy goals it has set for
itself for the short and long term.
Introduction
On September 30, 2009, Carol Browner, director of the White House Ofce
of Energy and Climate Change Policy, and Kathleen Hicks, Deputy Under
Secretary of Defense for Strategy, Plans and Forces, joined leading military
and defense experts to discuss the critical links between climate change,
energy, and national security. A key topic discussed was how climate change
and the energy situation threaten the country’s national security and the
ways the U.S. military is preparing to meet these challenges.
According to Senator John Warner (R-VA), “Leading military and secu-
rity experts agree that global warming could increase instability and lead
284 Climate Management Issues
to conict in already fragile regions of the world. We ignore these facts at the
peril of our national security and at great risk to those in uniform who serve
this nation(MacGillis, 2009). Vice Admiral Dennis V. McGinn, U.S. Navy
(Ret.), Member, CNA Military Advisory Board, added, “The Armed Services
realize that Americas growing dependence on oil isnt just expensive, it can
be dangerous. That is why the Department of Defense has taken on the lead-
ership challenge to reduce energy use across the board in order to increase
mission effectiveness and save millions of dollars” (MacGillis, 2009).
As a result of these observations, the DoD is currently helping to develop
alternative fuel and power sources, which began in earnest in 2008, when
they either procured or produced the equivalent of almost 10 percent of their
electricity from renewable energy sources. Nellis Air Force Base, for exam-
ple, has commissioned a 14.2-megawatt solar power array, which was the
largest in the Americas (Figure 10.1). In addition, the DoD has reduced its
energy use by more than 10 percent since 2003 and aims to improve energy
efciency by 30 percent by 2015.
The DoD says that climate change is one of the key components being
examined for its Quadrennial Defense Review. Kathleen Hicks also adds,
FIGURE 10.1
The solar array at Nellis Air Force Base, just outside Las Vegas, Nevada, is one of the larg-
est in North America. It currently provides one-fourth of the base’s energy needs. (Courtesy
of Airman First Class Nadine Y. Barclay, U.S. Air Force, http://www.af.mil/photos/media_
search.asp?q=solar&page=5.)

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