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.