Department of Paradox – or doing the right thing for the “wrong” (?) reasons – with good consequences.

Sierra Club magazine (July/August 2011) reports that the US military is “embracing alternative energy – but not because of climate change. Up to half of the yearly American casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan have been incurred guarding fuel convoys, and the Pentagon will no longer tolerate oil’s burden in blood.”

“The Department of Defense uses more petroleum (and energy) than any other organization on the planet – $13-18 billion worth a year…The US military, despite being stretched thin by eight years and trillion-plus dollars spent in Iraq, Afghanistan and now Libya, is taking on another controversial, long-term mission: to defend America without depending on oil.”

By using portable solar panels and water purification systems, the Army reduces the dangerous trucking of oil and water supplies to field locations.

“Military officials are quick to make clear that this effort has nothing to do with political correctness, saving endangered species, or even slowing global warming…It’s about cost. It’s about national security. And it’s about the burden in blood. … Half the casualties in these conflicts (Iraq and Afghanistan) have been fuel-convoy related.”

“Talking about how a terrorist strike far smaller than 9/11 could cripple America’s power grid and detailing the budget-busting specter of $400-a-gallon fuel for military humvees that get as little as four miles per gallon, provided framing even the most die-hard congressional climate skeptic could not easily ignore. .. No less an authority than Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, says, “Energy security needs to be one of the first things we think about, before we deploy another soldier, before we build another ship or plane, and before we buy or fill another rucksack.”

“The embrace of sustainability presents a severe challenge… but no more daunting than the Navy’s evolution from sail to coal to oil to nuclear. Along the way, she says, the military helped lead worldwide energy changes by seeding and building markets for new technology – something the Pentagon appears to be trying to do once more, this time for solar, biofuel, and other alternative energy sources.”

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