This piece has been submitted to a couple of sources for publication, but I thought I’d share it with our blog readers first! Enjoy! -PEPAndy-
Challenging “Green” Fighter Jets
By Andy Heaslet and Michael Berg
In honor of Earth Day, the US navy performed its first test flight of the modified “Green Hornet.” Using a blend of biofuels and more traditional fossil fuels, the modified Boeing F/A-18 super hornet took to the skies in an act of green-washing and denial for our country’s beleaguered armed forces.
Jubilant supporters have been eager to say how great this is, but we’re not celebrating.
While the implications for reducing fossil fuels represent an interesting band-aid between maintaining our current fuel consumption demands and modestly changing the levels of emissions released by airplanes, both commercial and military, there are few bodies that can compare to the US military in terms of their global impact on climate change and gluttonous use of fossil fuels.
In fact, according to Foreign Policy in Focus magazine, the US military is the “world’s largest energy consumer.”
A traditional word associated with “greening” is “sustainability.” Our military and its near ubiquitous global deployment, over 700 facilities in more than 100 nations, is simply unsustainable. Not only environmentally unsustainable, which is true, but in that other type of green too, money.
Obama’s military budget for 2011 tops $700 billion and is more than half of the federal discretionary budget. In case you haven’t heard, the United States finds itself in tough economic times, with huge deficits and foreboding debts that will take decades to reduce.
We simply cannot sustain such a vast military empire, economically or ecologically – no matter how much biofuel we produce.
We find it interesting that, while the navy is trying to reduce its dependency on foreign oil, part of the mission the military involves deterrence to protect “US vital interests.” According to a DoD document entitled “Deterrence Operations, Joint Operating Concept,” these interests include “critical US and international infrastructure (energy, telecommunications, water, essential services, etc.) that support our basic standard of living and economic viability.”
So we have the military deployed across the world, protecting access to the very resources the Navy doesn’t want to be dependent on. And we have to spend half our federal discretionary tax dollars in order to protect our economic viability.
It all seems a little counter-intuitive.
What the Navy’s push says to us is that maybe it’s time to start reeling in our overstretched military. This would save billions in not only fuel expenses but would also free up billions of dollars in operations and maintenance costs, which we could reinvest into our communities’ economic viability.
The DOD has a “goal of having 25 percent of its energy come from renewable sources by 2025,” but what if we reduced the size of our global military deployment and overall military spending by 25 percent? Now that would be greening the military!
But when we hear words like “greener” and “cleaner” we must remember that that is not equivalent to clean and green.
A truly green squadron of F/A-18 superhornets would be a fleet of superhornets finding their way to a scrap metal establishment where they could be reprocessed into windmills or mass transit lines. Those raised in the Judeo/Christian tradition may have heard this as “they shall beat their swords into plowshares…”
When we talk about greening our country and planet, we have to remember that the culture of consumption and our nation’s excessive global military presence is a huge chunk of the problem. We can’t simply greenwash our planes that continue to destroy lives, property, and the environment and pretend that we’re doing the right thing.
Ending war, spending war dollars on effectively combating global warming, and reducing America’s global footprint, carbon and otherwise, will all do much more to protect the planet and our citizenry than getting our fighter jets to fly on gas from seeds.
For earth day, we should stop waging pointless war. A war that destroys the planet while using green fuels is still a dirty war – no matter what color you wash it in.
Andrew Heaslet is the Director of the St Louis based Peace Economy Project, www.PeaceEconomyProject.org.
Michael Berg has been an advocate for more just and sustainable communities across the globe and now lives as a citizen activist and baker in St Louis, MO.