Elizabeth Warren calls for a zero-emissions military, serviced by zero-emissions contractors

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2019/05/15/long-term-security.html


Debaucherous waste has long been a corner stone of the US military complex.


Couldn’t we just, I dunno, bomb climate change back to the stone age or something?


actually yes, but filling the stratosphere with soot might be a bad idea for other reasons


My asthma doesn’t like that idea.


Gotta say, she’s the only one I hear who regularly has policy proposals, and policy proposals that make at least some sense. Kudos.

(edited to add: https://t.co/A3dycUV9Rr )


I’m sure Amazon will sell you an inhaler that is also a dosimeter :radioactive:


Good name for a band.


And syncs to cloud so amazon can tell you when to puff, natch!


How lovely, a kinder, cleaner, greener killing machine.


The new plant-based plastic bullets will decompose faster the bodies.


It’s tough for me to imagine how the military can do this, and still fulfill its core mission, which is to kill and destroy as efficiently as possible.

As a very eco-conscious person, as well as one who veers heavily toward pacifistic policies, I can’t believe I’m saying this, but… I kind of want our military to be able to fulfill its core objective above all else.

With that said, maybe instead of trying to kid ourselves into thinking we can have a “green military,” perhaps we can, as a planet, come up with ways to eliminate the need for there to be such ridiculously large militaries at all. I actually think that’s something that’s much more achievable.


You could use biodiesel–or you could move to a more revolutionary technology.


I suspect that some greenwashing would be involved, going by the neat stuff expanding in a plume of unspecified size under basically any military base or former military base; but there’s more overlap than one might imagine:

The DoD has to consider(and in some cases actually be) on the wrong end of a long and sometimes perilous supply chain. That’s a great way to experience expensive energy well ahead of the curve; which makes investments in things that reduce the number of diesel tankers that need to make it through per day to keep the place operational seem like a pretty attractive plan. (If memory serves we had a lot of trouble with that in Afghanistan, where demand was constant but the local militants where hardly oblivious to the fact that thin-skinned tanker trucks full of fuel were soft targets).

Getting them to part with a favored explosive or firefighting foam or something that happens to be a bit carcinogenic or ozone depleting would be more of a hard sell; but reducing the logistical overhead of operations by improving efficiency would be a much easier one.

Fundamentally the military is a consumer of energy(and one that pays atypically high prices because it consumes energy in relatively distant and hostile locales); and it’s also one that is less likely to be resistant because there’s essentially zero chance that any environmental initiative will be an existential threat: Aside from the fact that this proposal is “give the DoD more R&D money as long as they compile some numbers and reports about saving the earth” which is a pretty good deal; the odds that anything short of the collapse of the United States government as an institution will involve much risk to the DoD’s organizational existence are basically nil. Much easier to convince people to try change when it’s at no risk to them; and when it aligns with incentives they already have, which ‘reduce logistical footprint’ is for the DoD.

By contrast, producers of energy are obviously threatened: any serious carbon reduction proposals essentially require that formerly high value assets become vastly less valuable, with the company left to either bleed out or change focus, depending on what they can manage; and industries built directly on copious cheap energy(SUV production; questionably durable consumer goods; quick-'n-lazy housing developers who don’t believe in caring about insulation, etc.) are in a better position to change focus without the same massive loss of assets; but still have to change and have no direct incentive to do so.

Edit: some of the solutions involved probably wouldn’t resemble the ones that domestic green sorts might prefer, again because of the military’s logistical relationship to energy: civilian ‘carbon capture’ stuff, say, has so far been less than thrilling in effectiveness(cost or absolute) and mostly a sop for people who are trying to tack something on that will let them continue burning legacy fuels; but if you’ve got deep anxiety about your supply lines and access to a nuclear navy a variety of “the chemistry works; but that would take stupid energy!” drive-combustion-in-reverse fuel synthesis possibilities become much more interesting. If you have access to ample energy because you can stamp out copies of a reasonably standardized naval reactor design(both because it’s standardized and because you can ‘national security’ the permitting process) the idea of having a fuel tender that can convert available carbon and hydrogen cracked out of the water back into something burnable; with only periodic resupplies of reagents and spares starts to look a lot more attractive: probably not attractive enough to outright displace normal refinery products; but the DoD almost certainly has a few people who are busy losing sleep about what might happen to ‘normal refinery product’ availability if a serious adversary(or a few zero-days and some improperly configured SCADA and PLC systems) were to cause bad things to happen to that huge concentration of blobs along the gulf coast. image source.

Some DoD people may genuinely care about climate change, they certainly include it in a risk factor in their assessments of the future and I don’t imagine that those assessments make them like the idea of it happening faster, most of them are pretty unpleasant reading; plus anyone who does just want to see the world burn can join whatever strategic air command has been reorganized into rather than resorting to rolling coal and patience; but they don’t have to care to sell them on measures that will at least partially align with environmental objectives.)


This is all true, and given that the military/IC themselves see climate change as a major threat and destabilizing force globally, it would make sense for them to actually do something to combat (ha) it.

Well put! Maybe it can be a strategic and tactical advantage, in some or even many cases. And as kind of sad as it is, many technological advancements over the centuries/millennia have been born from military use cases, initially.

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Sometimes I feel like we aren’t far from becoming the Druuge.

From the wiki: The crew (including the unfortunate exchanged alien crew) are used as a living cannon fodder in battle when the ship needs more energy. They are ruthlessly thrown into the furnace for a bit of extra energy.


I can hear the infernal machine now: “First they came for our airplanes. Next our buildings. After that our hamburgers. Now they want to dismantle our military! Will these Democrats stop at nothing!?”

Really, this is the best way to throw billions of dollars at clean energy projects in the USA’s current climate. It also serves as a way to destabilize hawks on the right by hammering on the fact this is a problem the military sees as real and present and the left seems to be the only group willing to tackle it.

We are fighting terrorism and piracy by keeping world food markets stable. By diversifying and distributing our energy resources we are more resilient to threats against world oil supply. We are keeping the military on mission by not having to devote resources to increasing national disasters.

It’s not about a choice. It’s about dealing with reality.


Warren reasons that any expense incurred to reduce the military’s domestic and foreign carbon footprint will more than pay for itself in savings realized by not having to endure floods and other extreme weather events,

Dude. Don’t put words in her mouth. There’s nothing like that in the proposal at the Medium article. And a good thing, too, because how much the US military loses to floods and such is not a function of how much carbon the US military puts out; it is a function of how much carbon everyone puts out.


I thought it was the foundation! :slight_smile:


Surely its core mission is to spend more and more money so politicians can look tough? Destroying $600 billion per year is both the cost and the goal. Efficiency is one hundred percent, no matter what they spend it on.