America’s thirst for oil is a gathering threat to its national security – and the risk will grow further as the world’s population touches 7 billion, a military adviser to the Pentagon told the Senate today.
In a second day of debate on energy, Democratic senators today pivoted from the economy to national security to try to make the case for a climate change bill.
The threat to Americans’ security ranged from the here and now – with troops in Afghanistan and Iraq tied down by their reliance on gas-guzzling equipment – to years into the future when extreme temperatures and rising sea levels could lead to a widespread social breakdown.
“We have never before on this planet had close to 7 billion people which we will have in 2011. We have never had the unprecedented level of per capita energy use multiplied by that 7 billion people,” Dennis McGinn, a member of the Military Advisory Board, composed of senior retired admirals and generals, told the Senate. “We have a whole host of indicators, warnings and trends that tells us climate change is bad for national security.”
He said the country would face risks on multiple fronts. “America’s current energy posture constitutes a serious and urgent threat to national security – militarily, diplomatically and economically.”
The Pentagon is already beginning to focus more acutely on the threat posed by climate change.
Military research labs are exploring new energy-saving devices, and other ways of conserving fuel in the battlefield. The conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq have made planners acutely conscious that fuel dependence is putting US forces at risk. The US marines corps recently ordered an energy audit of its operations in Afghanistan, in a bid to reduce enormous fuel costs.
“We are tied down by fuel. Fuel is a real day-today concern for our forces in the field who are tethered to that fossil fuel tail,” said Kathleen Hicks, the deputy undersecretary of defence for strategy.
The US military is beginning to focus more intensely on the threat posed by climate change.
It is time to reward people financially for saving energy and for not having kids.