Climate Action

There is no Defending This Offensive Attack on the Defense Budget

The new Congress has demonstrated that they are so committed to stopping sustainability measures that they are even willing to attack the military budget to do so. Criticizing or defunding the military is considered to be a third-rail political topic by both major parties in American politics, yet a budget introduced in late March by the House of Representatives calls to cut DOD and CIA programs which study global warming and its impacts on national security. “There are dozens of programs that are duplicative or waste taxpayer dollars on activities that are not core functions of the federal government. This budget cuts or consolidates these programs and encourages Congress to take proactive steps toward reform,” the budget language states. It came out only several weeks before the Department of Defense plans on holding a symposium on Climate Change and Defense (the fourth such annual event of its kind). This is especially egregious since the military has taken a more active role in both studying and combating the effects of climate change; military leaders (retired and active) such as General Wesley Clark have called for support against the global socioeconomic and security threats posed by the effects of climate change and environmental devastation. This week in a press statement on carbon taxes and other initiatives, Clark said that “If we don’t take serious methods in the decades to come to reduce our emissions of greenhouse gases, we’re building catastrophe in national security terms…not only in the United States, but worldwide, we’ll see pestilence, famines and revolutions.” Even Lockheed Martin, a huge military industrial corporation based out of Bethesda, MD that produces weapons and fighter jets, has tried to transition some of its assets towards renewable energy and climate change. One of their newer projects in development includes a nuclear energy reactor small enough to fit on the back of a truck. New initiatives from the corporation include projects like harnessing tidal energy and even chasing after the golden goose of nuclear fusion. If a company like Lockheed Martin can include or switch to a greener portfolio, than this could provide a great model for other corporations as well to sustain their success without competing with renewable interests, and maybe even joining efforts to move beyond fossil fuels and resource mismanagement. However, none of that will matter if Congress continues to actively combat such efforts. It is up to the media and the American people to stop Congress from holding budgets hostage to benefit the fossil fuel industry at our expense. It is particularly egregious that the popular media continues to bury such stories or deemphasize their significance. How, for instance, can members of Congress claim to support the military and our troops when they are attempting to defund climate programs which have been identified by the Pentagon as crucial to our national safety? There is a normative component to this as well, as we try to move away from the military-as-war-machine mentality from the first decade of this century towards a vision that’s more about securing assets and avoiding regional conflict. From defunding the military’s climate research to campaigning for states to challenge the legality of the EPA’s regulations, Congress continues to define itself as an enemy of progress on environmental issues. EDN encourages you to write to your Congressman or Congresswoman to demand they represent the public interest on environmental issues instead of caving into the narrow-minded mandates of the Koch Brothers and friends. EVENT NOTICE: The Association of Climate Change Officers is hosting its 4th annual Defense, National Security & Climate Change Symposium will focus upon the growing efforts of U.S. defense, intelligence and national security communities to assess and respond to climate change. With continued executive mandates, a second quadrennial report citing climate change as a national security threat, and a suite of growing challenges and stresses related to geopolitics, natural resource availability and extreme events, climate change is front and center as a national security issue.  This event brings together experts in these communities to highlight key issues, discuss future challenges and collaborate on solutions. If you’d like to attend the conference, you can use the code EarthDay-2015 code for a 20% discount off of your registration. Aaron Dorman, Intern and Cristina Cernansky, Director of Community Outreach