Friday, April 1, 2016
Should the United States Military be Exempt?
The United States military is one of the most powerful forces in the world. Soldiers are well trained and well equipped, but do you know the other part of the piece it takes to sustain that powerhouse? Well I can tell you... a lot of fossil fuel. All of the military's bulky machinery runs on oil while also being exempt from emission reports required in the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. But thanks to the newest COP21 climate agreement things may be changing; for the better.
Facts state that U.S. forces continue to be THE leading institutional consumer of crude oil in the world. With that title comes some hefty numbers of consumption. On an annual basis our forces consume over 100 million barrels of oil. Those barrels equate to over 70 million metric tons of CO2 emissions. A side note; those staggering numbers omit hundreds of overseas bases as well as vehicles. To give you a clearer picture to hit the idea home lets talk about the number of carbon emissions from just the Iraq war alone. In the first four years of the war there were 141 million metric tons of carbon released. If you were to break that number out over four years each year carbon emissions would equate to be more than emissions from 139 countries.... I think that number brings the idea home.
It all goes back to the saying that we here at SJVCEO use, " you can't fix what you don't measure." How are we as a nation to crack down on carbon emissions when we are not measuring ALL of our output. With the new agreement our military is not required to report and or cut emissions, but are not automatically exempt anymore. With that ruling you would expect to have military leaders up in arms about the decision, but quite the contrary. Many top officials support lowering the military's dependence on fossil fuels. The support is mostly because of the high death toll associated with oil. If we can lower our dependence on oil then we can make our troops safer and save countless lives in our military.
Cutting down on the use of fossil fuels can be a hard item to tackle since much of our military depends on them to power much of the machinery on the ground. Having machinery that is more efficient will help to better protect our troops and lower our dependence. Don't think that I am suggesting that our troops roll up in a Toyota Prius to handle combat, but there can be a happy medium.
That happy medium comes from two of the biggest military contractors, Lockheed Martin and AM General. These two firms have taken on the challenge of making a safe and lighter vehicle for those troops on the ground. These two companies have come up with three different types of vehicles that are competing to replace the current staple, the Humvee. The Humvee has been around since the 1990's and has served its purpose, but with the military becoming liable for its emissions it may not continue to be so.
All three of the vehicles proposed can withstand blast impacts as well as bullets, but have a lighter body. With the lighter body style troops are able to get more MPG as well as more maneuverability on urban and off-road patrols. Some of the models are even being tweaked to become "greener" by going hybrid- diesel.
Sure we know that a lot of emissions come from wars overseas and machinery, but we still need to think of the military actions that take place on a day-to-day basis. On a daily basis there are over 10,000 people that report to a military base each day. On top of that the military has continuous training activities taking place all over the U.S. and overseas each week. Many of the top commanders are starting realize all of those activities are adding up against our environment. To combat environmental damage the military bases are beginning to deploy electric vehicles for on-base transportation as well as installing electric vehicle chargers.
Maybe this year, 2016, we have a light bulb moment on carbon emissions and the U.S. military. The world is realizing that military actions are just as responsible for climate change as the normal citizen living their day-to-day lives. With the reporting of carbon emissions maybe we can fix what we are measuring moving forward.
Posted by Samantha Dodero