Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The US Military is a Military - not a Test Market

Source:
http://cleantechnica.com/2011/04/16/u-s-army-has-net-zero-vision-for-national-security/


This thought should be self-explanatory.  The DoD is not an organization which is designed to drive commercial products, or to encourage the use of particular technology.  It is an organization who's mission, who's purpose, is to protect the citizenry of this nation.  To attempt to use our defensive forces to push an unneeded, wasteful program is taking major risks with the security of our citizens, our interests, and our national security.

In previous years, the military was able to create products which saw varied success in the free market.  Take for instance the GPS.  The technology the military developed to better their strength was given to people who saw the potential of the technology on the free market, were willing to put the work into commercializing it, and followed through on the investments.  The driving force behind the success of this product is that someone saw the commercial use, and took a risk. 

The reason no one has taken a risk with green energy is because the people who understand the market know there isn't a demand.  It's inefficient, far more expensive to generate, and the end result is just as much waste as with traditional solutions.  If money could be made on it, it would be.  As science advances, and research is completed, steps are taken to make these types of energy sources more viable, however as it stands now, being 'green' is expensive, with no visible return on the investment.

The government has been attempting to force these not-yet-mature technologies on the citizenry for entirely too long.  Now, rather than realizing the reason they are losing the fight, they turn to the military.  Only, rather than turning to them to fulfill their mission, they turn to them to assist in forcing unwanted tech down our throats.  Only now they are risking the very lives of the men and women who volunteer to protect us.  The idea of being in an under-powered, poorly-equipped base when it's attacked, or when need arises to respond to an attack on Americans elsewhere, does not sit well with me.  Our men and women will be putting themselves at a greater disadvantage with these changes.

The military needs to focus on what allows the troops to do their jobs effectively, completely, and efficiently.  To put an emphasis on anything else will weaken our strength, and open the door to various attacks.  That is a risk we'd be foolish to take.

The Heritage Foundation has done the research, and written an article on this, with some excellent information.  I strongly recommend reading over it.  It is located here.

What are your thoughts?  Should we be using our military to help develop technology which doesn't directly apply to their jobs, or allow them to focus on the mission at hand: Protecting these United States?

2 comments:

  1. Well, I strongly disagree with you here. Not all green energy is inefficient and expensive, and companies definitely make money off of making clean energy work. It takes 20 years sometimes for a technology to go from the lab to being fully commercialized, so we are always running behind schedule, in a sense. The problem is our infrastructure is designed to work with fossil fuels, and changing that infrastructure takes much longer than telling the world about a new invention. The problem comes when people attempt to look at ONE source of clean energy (i.e., ethanol) as solving ALL energy needs. You have to look at clean energy solutions as a diversified portfolio, connecting the problem with the appropriate solution.

    And, the federal government is still investing money into fossil fuel research because it understands that there has to be a transition period from fossil fuels to clean energy. Regardless of where you stand with the climate change debate, fossil fuel is running out and sooner or later, we are going to have to figure out a more sustainable way to operate. And, since the market demand for clean energy isn't very high (since we are still relatively comfortable with fossil fuel), the feds are funding research to make sure that when the market demand catches up, we aren't stuck without any lights.

    With the DoD adopting clean energy initiatives, it only makes sense for the government to practice what they preach. Granted, the DoD might not be the best agency to adopt a net zero energy policy, but it really comes down to a cost vs risk issue. Is it cheaper than fossil fuel? I don't know. Does it endanger more lives? If yes, than I would say focus clean energy adoption somewhere else for the time being.

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  2. Thank you for your thoughts. I definitely understand what you're saying. That said, I will hold to my logic, but let me clarify it somewhat.
    The important part of the issue, which I think I didn't emphasize very well, is the new green energy versus energy sources which have been in use for a while, and make sense for a military to use.
    For example: Solar Power is not a good idea for the DoD to use across the board, because various locations around the world receive varying amounts of sunlight. Wind power is not good, because in various parts of the globe wind levels vary greatly. Even regionally and locally wind varies significantly. I can think of no other green power source which makes sense with the technology advanced enough to deploy.
    Our troops need the security of reliable energy no matter the conditions. They also need energy that is proven to work, and is not still being developed. The cost side of the argument, technology being developed always has a higher cost, as the research and other work is being done. Once it's established, then the price drops.
    All that said, I am not opposed to using known, stable, already-at-market technology to assist with energy. i.e. putting some solar panels on the tents in the desert, using wind mills at bases in planes and on mountain tops, and the like. This would have some impact, while not replacing the required power entirely.
    However, adding those things will cost more in logistics, protection (those items are exceedingly vulnerable to damage, and the solar panels would completely eliminate the concealment of camouflage), and they would be juicy targets for our enemies to strike. Who could resist shooting a giant rotating bull's eye?
    At the end of the day, my chief argument is that the military is not, and should not, be in the business of promoting a technology for the sake of promoting a technology. They ARE in the business of providing protection. If it can be proved that the technology will aid in that mission, the generals and engineers within the military will make that call. They aren't shy about trying new things. Quite the opposite, their history is filled with examples (both successful, and failed attempts), of employing new technology. If the use is there, they will find it. The fact that they haven't yet speaks volumes.

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