Clean Energy Reality: Reducing Pollution, Saving Lives

Editor’s Note: EarthTechling, always looking to forward the cleantech revolution discussion, is proud to bring you this article via a repost from partner The Climate Reality Project. Author credit goes to Hayden Brown.

Just recently two men were killed when militants opened fire and burned a large fuel convoy in Pakistan destined for NATO forces in Afghanistan. Over a five-year period, there were more than 3,000 casualties on fuel convoys. In Afghanistan, one out of every 24 fuel convoys results in a casualty. In 2010 alone, there were 1,100 attacks on fuel convoys.

image via U.S. Marine Corps

There are many reasons to support a transition to clean energy, but for the military, one reason is particularly urgent: Clean energy saves lives. Almost ten years ago, U.S. Marine General James Mattis, who had recently returned from Iraq, called on the Pentagon to “unleash us from the tether of fuel.” And here’s the good news: Today, the U.S. military is making giant leaps toward that goal. The U.S. Department of Defense, one of the largest energy consumers in the world, is leading the way in clean energy innovation that will save money, combat climate change, and most importantly, save lives. Here are the top five reasons the Pentagon is turning to clean energy:

  1. It improves energy security: In 2009, the U.S. military used 375,000 barrels of oil per day. That means the Department of Defense consumes more oil annually than all but 35 countries. A shift to clean energy would reduce reliance on oil.
  2. Less burden on troops: In Iraq and Afghanistan, 80% of all convoys carried fuel. This isn’t just a regular trip to the gas station (not to mention the almost $400per gallon cost); these convoys take forces away from combat operations and development projects, and often require long, hard journeys in dangerous territory.
  3. Cost: In 2010, the Pentagon spent almost $15 billion on energy. It is estimated that the Air Force spends $10 million per day on energy alone. Just think about this for a minute. Every time the price of crude increases by $1, it adds more than $30 million to Navy’s annual fuel total — and this is just for the Navy.
  4. Climate change is dangerous: The Pentagon and U.S. government understand that climate change is a threat to global security. In fact, it is a “threat multiplier.” Climate change has the potential to inflame conflict and stoke instability in many regions of the world.

And, most importantly:

  1. Clean energy saves lives.

U.S. military spending on clean energy and energy efficiency has increased more than 300% between 2006 and 2009. The military’s clean energy investment already tops $1.2 billion, and is expected to reach $10 billion per year by 2030. The Pentagon understands better than most the true price we pay for fossil fuels. It’s time to embrace the future and kick these dirty fuels to the curb. Watch for the top five ways the Pentagon is moving into a new energy future later this week.

The Climate Reality Project, founded and chaired by former Vice President and Nobel Laureate Al Gore, is dedicated to unleashing a global cultural movement demanding action on the climate crisis. Despite overwhelming international scientific consensus on climate change, the global community still lacks the resolve to implement meaningful solutions. The Climate Reality Project exists to forge an unwavering bedrock of impassioned support necessary for urgent action. With that foundation, together we will ignite the moral courage in our leaders to solve the climate crisis.