Many perspectives, 1 simple etiquette

How the 'Green Movement' is Affecting Military Readiness

Author: Wendy Innes
Created: 17 June, 2014
Updated: 14 October, 2022
4 min read

It's no secret that America's military is rife with waste. Among the $300 dollar toilet seats or $100 hammers, the military wastes millions of dollars a year on so-called "green" programs and procurement. The DoD says that they are looking to the future, but critics say it's a colossal waste of money with very little return.

This spending is going on while service members are facing cuts to their compensation and reliable defense systems are being scrapped. To add insult to injury, many of these programs and purchases seem to be based on half-truths or scare tactics.

According to the Pentagon, climate change is a "threat multiplier" and thus "will aggravate stressors abroad such as poverty, environmental degradation, political instability, and social tensions-conditions that can enable  terrorist activity and other forms of violence."

But this is just not true, according to Jeff Kueter, president of the George C. Marshall Institute, a nonprofit group that conducts technical assessments of scientific issues that have an impact on public policy.

In a March 2014 report on climate change and security concerns, Kueter wrote, "Efforts to scare the American public by linking the consequences of energy consumption to international instability and war have been developing for many years now."

He then went on to address some of the claims most often made by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the State Department and the Defense Department.

One claim, directly asserted by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, is that climate change is a weapon of mass destruction.

To this, Kueter wrote, "No, actual weapons are designed with the deliberate intent to kill people."

He went on to say that climate change accounts for far less than one-tenth of one percent of all deaths globally and making such rhetorical remarks is dangerous and poses a distraction from real threats.

For more than a decade, the green movement and national security have been inextricably linked by a paper that the Pentagon bankrolled called, "An Abrupt Climate Change Scenario and Its Implications for United States National Security." Even now, this paper is widely used as the justification for green defense programs with hefty price tags that the department can ill afford in the current financial climate.

According to the paper, by the year 2007, The Hague, the capital of South Holland, would be unlivable, there would be no polar ice left, and California would be flooded by an inland sea. Yet The Hague is still quite livable, polar ice has recently reached record levels, and there is no inland sea in California. This same report even said that these scenarios are not likely, but also "not implausible."

"Many scientists would regard this scenario as extreme," the paper continued.

Despite the fact that the veracity of much of the information contained within the paper has since been called into question and labeled as "alarmist propaganda," these improbable scenarios are still taken into consideration when planning national security strategies, according to Daniel Y. Chiu, deputy assistant secretary of defense for strategy.

In testimony before the Senate Appropriations Committee’s subcommittee on defense on May 21, Chiu said:

"The DoD is working to better understand how the impacts of climate change will affect our planning and operations in the [United States] and abroad.”

During the testimony, Chiu steadily beat the "shrinking polar ice" and "rising sea levels" drum to support his position.

Opponents say that while shrinking the defense budget, the administration is funneling money into initiatives to further the president's green agenda, further endangering national security by taking money away from programs that are already cash strapped, but that are proven reliable.

One such example of this extravagant spending is the "Green Navy."

This is the name of the Navy's program to transition to the use of

biofuels. While it is a great idea in theory, given the amount of petroleum-based fuel the Navy uses, the problem is that it comes with a serious case of sticker shock. Instead of $2.50 per gallon of fuel, the biofuel is costing $26 per gallon. And on top of this, some studies have shown that biofuels may not be as good for the environment as many originally thought.

Another example is the solar farm installed outside of the Naval Station Norfolk in Norfolk, VA.

Called Monkey Bottom, the project spreads out over more than 10 acres of marshy real estate and cost $21 million to build, but will only provide about two percent of the electricity the base uses. At the same time, it was discovered that there was a gross mismanagement of funds that were allocated for solar and lighting upgrades.

According to the Inspector General's (IG) office, it would take 447 years for the Navy to save enough money to break even on those upgrades, because the savings were so small. The IG recommended scrapping the upgrades, but that didn't happen.

When asked about the green programs that the defense department is currently developing, a Pentagon spokesman said in an email:

"We have a lot going on, but it is important to remember that we are ultimately a very pragmatic organization.  We don't do these things for political or idealistic reasons - we do them because they make sense.  It makes sense to develop alternative energy sources if it saves money and/or makes us less dependent on single sources of energy."

The spokesman gave no additional comments regarding the costs of those programs.

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