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There are those living in the Mayport area who are of the opinion that the most environmentally friendly thing the state authorities can do for the region is to scrap the Mayport Naval Base. It is one of America’s biggest naval bases. It is home to The United States Fourth Fleet, and has the third largest naval fleet in the USA.

Naturally all these boats, personal and aircraft have a significant impact on the environment. Recently, Mayport has been transforming its fleet from conventional gasoline powered vessels to nuclear powered vessels. This move will no doubt cut down on carbon emissions at the base, but of course poses  a potentially far worse threat to the environment in terms of a nuclear disaster.

Carbon emissions are also considerably high from the large airfield at Mayport Naval Base which is large enough to accommodate the largest of military aircraft.

The reason for having the base is obviously tied up with national security. America is at war with terrorism around the world and it must remain forever vigilant against threats to security both at home and abroad.

However, another good reason to have the base is in case of a natural disaster. In March 2011 in Thailand there were virtually unprecedented floods throughout the country. In the ensuing state of emergency it was the Thai navy that rescued tourists from Thongsala in Koh Phangan and other islands cut off because of the storms.

Ever since Hurricane Katrina the public in America are aware like never before about the potential for a huge storm or other natural disaster to strike in the USA. It is at such times that local police, fire services and medical services cannot cope. These are the times when American people will need the help of the navy and the other armed services. Mayport Naval Base is ready to respond 24/7 to any disaster that may befall the USA. This surely trumps the environmental argument to shut down the base.

Faced with the disastrous consequences of global warming, resource depletion and pollution governments have been asking their citizenry to embrace green values, to become more environmentally friendly. There are even calls for heads of state and government employees to do more to reduce their carbon output. It seems, thus strange that the armed forces are entirely exempt from these national and international drives to protect natural resources. This is clearly wrong. Below I set out a few suggestions for how the armed forces can green up their acts.

National defense is clearly an important priority, but an even higher priority is to protect the environment and to keep it healthy enough to sustain a reasonable standard of life for people living on the planet. Although army, naval and air force maneuvers and practice requires an expenditure of energy and resources that does not mean that these armed forces couldn’t do more to help the environment.

  • The armed forces should set up a system for off-setting. Thus, they should start up a tree planting scheme to off-set all the carbon emissions given off by heavy gasoline powered equipment. The armed forces could also participate in carbon credit trading.
  • In many instances vehicles used by the armed forces could be hybrid. The invention of the NiMH battery means that electric vehicles have a range of 100,000 miles on the same battery. This could actually be a military advantage in times of conflict when reserves of petrol might run low.
  • Barracks and other buildings should be audited for energy efficiency. Insulation should be improved. Since military life is very regulated it would be easy to save electricity by programming thermostats to match the day’s schedule. Moreover, all light bulbs in military building should be changed to energy saving CFLs.
  • More should be done to conserve water in military buildings. This could be achieved by installing low flow shower heads and also faucet aerators. Another important way to conserve water would be to install grey water recycling systems.

These are just a few simple ways that the men and women in the armed forces can help to protect nature as well as national security.

For more information on the tree planting scheme mentioned above, it’s worth checking out the latest Panorama programme which is a news/documentary show on British TV which covers a project like this.   Unfortunately though the iPlayer application used on the BBC site is not accessible outside the UK however if you’re in the US then this video demonstrates how you can watch – How to access BBC iPlayer Outside the UK, it’s quite a simple process if you use a paid service and you can be watching in minutes.


James Hallings, Author/Blogger – VPN for Computer