November 19, 2020.
By Chloe Parkins
As the United States public becomes more environmentally conscious, the federal government has fallen under increased scrutiny. Citizens now have access to data regarding federal greenhouse gas emissions and they are using it to push for greater regulations. What the breakdown of greenhouse gas emissions by industry does not account for, however, is the emissions that come only from the military. Instead of separating the military into its own industrial category, the U.S. integrates military emissions into the other industries such as transportation and energy use. However, if the military is separated, it is seen that the Pentagon itself is responsible for 2% of the U.S.’s total fossil fuel consumption. The Pentagon releases more greenhouse gases annually than Portugal.
This article, written by Ray Mabus, former Secretary of the Navy, discusses the importance of the U.S. military becoming a driving force for combating climate change. He discusses the Navy’s improvements in emissions since 2009: 50% of the energy to power the Navy ashore comes from clean, renewable resources. Not only is this protecting the planet, but it is saving the Navy hundreds of millions of dollars, and is making the military a more effective fighting force. For example, Mabus explains that solar power panels can save a Marine company 700 pounds worth of batteries that slow units down and eventually need to be replaced.
This article is important because it recognizes the power of the military in setting trends for private and civilian sectors to follow. Given a federal administration that supports clean energy initiatives and taking action against climate change, the military could make massive strides to minimize its carbon footprint.
Below is a graphic that depicts the military’s carbon dioxide emissions. It can be found here.
This article has a clear connection to the interactive system of business, society, and the natural environment. In this case, the military is seen as a business. If the U.S. military wants to remain the fighting force that it is today, it must work within the confines of a finite world. It must transition to renewable energy resources. In turn, this will influence the rest of society. While many people do not know the extent to which military innovation has influenced modern society, Mabus provided two prevalent examples of what citizens use which were created in the military: a GPS and flat-screen televisions. Additionally, saving millions of dollars by switching to renewable energy resources could prove essential for the U.S. military, as the general public continues to push for military budget cuts.
I believe these changes will begin to be made with the Biden administration. With a president who believes in climate change and the importance of acting now, I do not think Biden will hesitate to make sustainable changes on all levels of the federal government. Additionally, given Biden’s family history with the military, I think he is more qualified than most to make decisions that affect military members. I believe he will be able to implement the triple bottom line in the military: By protecting the planet and switching to more sustainable resources, Biden will save money in the military budget to either by allocated to other social services or to pour back into the military’s people and make them the most effective fighting force possible.
Mabus, R. (13Nov.2020). Under President Biden the U.S. Military Must Lead the Way on Climate Change. Time. Retrieved from https://time.com/5911084/military-lead-climate-change-transition/.