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Military v. Climate Security: U.S. and China Worlds Apart

The Chinese are spending 1/6th as much as the U.S. on their military and investing twice as much on clean energy technology

By Elizabeth McGowan

Jan 11, 2011

Budget cuts might be on the agenda at DOD, she said, but handing out those dollars elsewhere within the federal government is illogical.

“I do not think it makes sense to rob Peter to pay Paul,” said Goodman, now general counsel to , a Virginia-based nonprofit research institution. “It’s very important to maintain the readiness and preparedness of the military.”

Keeping the Stimulus Going

Pemberton was one of 14 members of a Sustainable Defense Task Force formed at the behest of Massachusetts Democratic Rep. Barney Frank. In cooperation with Reps. Walter Jones, R-N.C., and Ron Paul, R-Texas, and Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., the coalition of liberal and conservative defense experts explored how to reduce the federal deficit by paring the defense budget without compromising security.

The presented a series of options that together could save up to $960 billion between 2011 and 2020. Proposals outlined in “Debts, Deficits, and Defense: A Way Forward,” cover the full range of Pentagon expenditures, including procurement, research and development, personnel, operations and maintenance, and infrastructure.

Green technologies are starved for those savings, Pemberton said, especially now that similar funding provided via the Obama administration’s $787 billion federal economic stimulus package is drying up.

“We need that kind of investment every year,” she said about cash infusions she refers to as the public investment component. “It can’t be a one-time thing.”

These priorities include: boosting global warming research, green job training, tax credits for clean energy, and research and development into energy technologies; promoting energy efficiency; and making long-term commitments to renewable energy sources, public transportation and electricity transmission lines.

“What we proposed in the summer of 2010 really has become common ground of all of these deficit reduction proposals,” she said. “The common denominator is that $100 billion in savings per year are possible with no sacrifice in security.”

In a report titled “Military vs. Climate Security” that Pemberton released in August 2009, she argued that $1 billion spent on manufacturing weapons creates 8,555 jobs. An identical investment in mass transit would create 19,795 jobs, or in weatherization or infrastructure would create 12,804 jobs.

“If climate change is the major security threat the military says it is, no amount of military greening will be enough to reverse it,” Pemberton said. “Only wholesale measures to curb emissions across our own economy—and the world’s—will do the job.”

Earlier this month, Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced that he is following a White House directive to slice $78 billion from the Pentagon budget over the next five years. However, those are cuts to projected spending, Pemberton pointed out, meaning the budget will still grow but just by not as much as initially proposed.

Technology Transfer Not Fast Enough

The United States continues to spend more on the military than the countries with the next 15 largest military budgets combined, according to an op-ed financial journalist James Ledbetter published in The New York Times Dec. 13. In addition, the U.S. military also releases more heat-trapping emissions than any other institution worldwide.

Climate security is an enormous defense concern, Goodman said, and has prompted efforts to shrink the Pentagon’s carbon footprint. That list of advances includes electrifying vehicle fleets on military installations and flying aircraft with biofuel. As well, she said, Marines in Iraq and Afghanistan are weaning themselves of fossil fuels by deploying solar panels and light-emitting diode (LED) technology at patrol bases.

She also stressed that the DOE and DOD have an agreement allowing DOE to test energy innovations at military sites, pointing to active partnerships with the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard, the Army’s Fort Carson and Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada. Collaboration such as this can accelerate the movement of energy advances from the government to the private sector.

Military v. climate security: U.S. and China worlds apart

Okay...a few serious issues with this article:


1. If China is far "ahead" of us in this arena; why was POLLUTION at the recent olympics such a huge concern. Truth is China has an enormous polltion problem and has systematically rejected or ignored western based standards of pollution control. Anyone remember the little issue of lead based toys a few years ago? If you want to use another country as an example of how we should be doing business, okay fine...BUT CHINA, REALLY????


2. Chineese Military Spending: China is rapidly expanding its military ability! They are modernizing every aspect of thier military and Chineese military spending has grown exponentiolly in the past decade and is expected to double (if not triple) in the next. Does anyone not think all that extra military hardware will create less pollution.


3. Free Markets: Shifting money from DoD to the EPA and DOE is down right foolish. You're comparing apples to rocks. The industries don't work the same way. The DoD IS the customer, it actuallys buys the things it needs from industry to use. Do you reallyu want the EPA/DOE to be the catalyst for environmental change? That's the best we can do? If the government wants to spur green job growth it needs to (a): Set higher standards thus forcing industry to invest in the technology and (b) create the economic/market environment by which green industries are encouraged to grow and thrive.


4. U.S. military spending: Like it or not we live in a very violent and unpredictable world. The bad guys don't care about our environmental concerns. I'm all about doing more to protect the environment but lets not be completely naive here. Making us less safe invites more conflict (see Germany 1939).  

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