In a 2011 speech, US Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus said:
“The Navy has been at the forefront of technological change on energy for 150 years. In the 1850s we went from sail to coal, in the early part of the 20th century we moved from coal to oil, and then in the 1950s we pioneered the use of nuclear fuel in our warships. Innovation in the way we power our ships has been one of the core competencies of the United States Navy throughout its whole history. Now, at every one of those transitions, every time, there were a whole lot of folks who said, this is nuts.” (Mabus, 2011).
US government and military contracting have featured in many energy innovations throughout US history (Links to an external site.), from 100 octane gasoline in the 1930s to solar arrays for the space program. Many of these energy innovations came from partnerships with industry, but some were incubated solely from within military research labs and testing facilities. Today, US military officials, both uniformed and civilian, speak about the urgency of confronting climate change and its deep energy use cause. The US Navy is seemingly at the vanguard of alternative fuels development for conventional uses (Links to an external site.), such as in ships, yet, we are unsure how the effort is faring and whether it will be an expensive flash in the pan.
Mabus, R. (2011, September 28). Remarks by the Honorable Ray Mabus, Secretary of the Navy at the Washington Energy Summit. (Links to an external site.) [PDF, File Size 53.7KB] Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://www.navy.mil/navydata/people/secnav/Mabus/Speech/WashingtonEnergySummit28Sep11.pdf
Based on your considered review of this module’s readings as well as your reflection upon the first two modules, evaluate the questions below.
- How has the US defense community addressed climate change and its energy use drivers?
- Do you believe the US military can lead the whole of the US by significantly changing its own energy use to reduce or replace fossil fuels, particularly oil? Why or why not?