May 9, 2009

What about cultural obstacles?

Doesn't moving to renewable energy, greater efficiency, and a lower environmental "footprint" require a cultural change? Culture changes slowly - what hope is there for the change we need?

Change can come from surprising places:

Producers and advocates of green technology are taking note. The Defense Department derives 9.8% of its power from alternative sources and is looking to expand use of wind, solar, thermal and nuclear energy. Some believe that the military has the potential to become a catalyst, helping to turn more expensive power sources into financially viable alternatives to coal and petroleum.

"If the military were to go green, I think that this really could achieve some environmental goals, for a very simple reason: the military is so big," said Matthew Kahn, an environmental economist at the UCLA Institute of the Environment.

Although that remains to be seen, Kahn noted that it would not be the first time the military has had a transforming effect on technology. Cellphones, the Global Positioning System and the Internet all have roots in the military.

Some in the green energy sector hope that as the military adopts alternative power sources, the technology will gain broader acceptance among political conservatives.

""Just hearing that their military is embracing this new technology that was thought of as left-of-center is going to swing people's thoughts" about using it, said David Melton, president of Albuquerque-based Sacred Power Corp., which installed some of Ft. Irwin's photovoltaic panels and wind turbines.

Military officials concede that changing an institutional culture that until recently was far from green has sometimes been an uphill battle. But at a time of shrinking defense budgets, they say, commanders are finding that making their facilities more energy-efficient and generating some of their own power can yield significant cost savings."

The Army has more than 12 million acres, including large tracts that cannot be used for military, residential or commercial purposes because they are intended as buffers between bases and the civilian population. Some of that land, Eastin said, would be ideal for a solar array, wind farm or geothermal project. Within 15 years, he predicts, the Army "will be a net energy exporter.",0,4417523.story?page=2&track=rss

Nate Hagens asks: A green 'military' is kind of an oxymoron don't you think? I suspect they would be green in peacetime and take whatever energy they need during war. Which I suppose is an ecological improvement over taking whatever energy they need during wartime AND peacetime...


As far as the oxymoron goes..I know what you mean. That's the whole point: if the military does it, that takes it out of the realm of treehuggers, makes it a hard-headed business proposition, and gives conservatives permission to pursue it.

As far as the rest: aren't we involved in a war now? I mean, what war bigger than Iraq is going to come along? Russia? China? Canada?

If you read the whole article, I think you'll see that they're looking at a wide range of energy consumption, including energy efficiency. In fact, they're beginning to realize that their current immense refueling needs are a major strategic vulnerability, whether it's tanks, planes, or soldiers.

DARPA is funding R&D of batteries, PV, wind (wind provides 1/3 of Guantanamo's electricity), etc, etc. Everything.

All of this means that whatever they do, they'll use fewer Fossil Fuels.

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