Swords into Solar for National Defense

   Putin’s gift, amidst the horror of war and the threat of nuclear annihilation, is showing the world our weakness: we depend on oil to run our lives. To shut him out, we shoot ourselves in the foot. Our citizens would howl as energy prices soar.

National security, now, is energy independence. The recent wind auction during the Ukraine crisis, was the biggest in history, revealing how great the appetite now is for renewable energy not only to power our nation but our economy.

The markets cannot solve our fossil fuel dependency at the scale and speed we need, though. The only organization with a big enough budget, a disciplined and technical enough workforce, and a mandate to protect the homeland is the US Military.

When FDR authorized the Civilian Conservation Corps as one strategy to put America to work in the midst of great privation, he gave the job to the US Military.

What if the US Military spearheads a rapid, complex, energy transition for the United States at the scale of a “man on the moon”, a a similar scale to the transcontinental railroad, the Tennessee Valley Authority and the interstate highway system – combined.

Call it the CCC for Climate.

This is no “shivering in the dark” moment for renewable energy; this is a mobilization of the best of the nation to defend our autonomy, our economy and our prosperity.

The budget is already there: our military is lavishly supported by Congress.

The respect is already there: the military is still the most trusted institution in the United States

The ability to retrain hundreds of thousands of men and women to do renewable retrofit of this nation is there in the military’s command and control structure.

The research from decades of study and activism is there.

Let’s call this one: Swords into Solar

Can the United States run on the sun? Wind and solar both come from the sun, and we have that in abundance.

The choke point now is storage. To have smooth, nonstop access to energy, it needs to be stored. Storage can be solved, though, because it is a strategic defense necessity. We have industries already at the scale and wealth to solve storage: think Tesla.

Perhaps nuclear would be an option but it is still centralized – as well as deadly; it’s a bomb that could be detonated any number of ways. An earthquake. A failed system. An attack.

With solar plus storage, the sun that hits our country powers our country. Add wind. Add wave power. Even roadways could generate energy.

All of these ideas have been waiting on the margins and Putin has given us our marching orders to mobilize the nation to a rapid and just energy transition to make the United States safe, unassailable, sovereign, a global leader, able to out-compete China which has been engaged in rapid energy transition as only a centralized, top down economy can do. Which is what the US Military is by its nature.

Necessity is the mother of invention. The United States, as a matter of national security, must assign our most organized, deployment ready arm of government to get this job done for us. Money is no object, because it’s already been allocated.

National security is energy independence and we have the means, motive and methods to make that happen.

But… do the rest of us sit on our hands, waiting for the military to provide us with abundant energy from the sun? If we do, this “man on the moon” strategy will not work. On the original moon shot, what were the men on the ground doing to put that man there? Creating the materials, systems, hardware, and software to make it happen.

We here on the ground, in our businesses and lives, will have to meet the military half way because the nation can run on the sun only if we demand half, or less, energy to run our lives. Adapted to oil, America uses 93 quadrillion BTUs of energy a year. Adapted to the sun, our lives will change. Fortunately, a vast library of solutions exists to halve and halve again our use of oil while the military builds our energy independence infrastructure. Our houses will still be warm. Our technology will still work to keep us entertained, creative, productive and influential. We will have art. Fresh wonderful food. Friends and family. This will settle our fear of change, and we will be free of this incessant fear or war and privation.

In war, citizens always have a role. The same for energy independence. We all have a lot of work to do to meet the moment, to maintain our freedoms, to be a sovereign nation, a world leader. It will take the guts of the Ukranians and the solidarity of almost all the nations of the world.

 

6 Comments

  1. Simply brilliant!!!! Loved reading this, though it creeps me out a little to think the military is considered our most trusted institution…… it’s certainly not mine! But a huge big YES to using all that money they are awash in for renewable retrofitting! Hopefully it would inspire a global retrofitting…..

    Sue Averett
  2. Where is this “vast library of solutions” that will show us how “to halve and halve again our use of oil”? I want to spend some time. My personal efforts to halve and halve again my use of oil are not getting me there.

    Nancy Dennis
    1. Hi Nancy, many have done all they can personally. what’s needed now is policy and budget for a rapid and just energy transition in the US and world. The library of solutions are everything from passiv haus to living building to new forms of insulation to regenerative agriculture to electric busses, cars and bicycles to zero waste to composting everything from toilets to bins to big businesses etc but these require governments to provide the rules, regs, investments, tax breaks and tax penalties to drive such solutions to scale. that’s why i work on policy – as slow as it is, it’s crucial. right now, with the war in Ukraine, we will see many types of regenerative practices taken to scale if we advocate for that – because the drill baby drill crowd is out in force. Read http://resilience.org for lots and lots of inspiring projects and ideas

      Vicki
  3. Dear Vicki –
    As you point out, the problem is storing the energy. Tesla relies on Lithium batteries. Bolivia has huge deposits of Lithium. The US backed a coup of the democratically elected indigenous government in 2019 to secure its Lithium interests there. Deadly repression and executions followed. Elon Musk tweeted, “We will coup whoever we want! Deal with it.”
    You can be sure if the military are involved in developing “green” infrastructure in the US, there will be ongoing blood spilled. Whether or not we respect the sovereignty of our global neighbors, at least in the short term, we are not looking at ‘energy independence.’ Colonialism remains alive and well, always at the expense of life on Spaceship Earth.

    Pennie
    1. that gap between what we can do to remediate a bit and what we must do to change course always baffles me. my uneasy peace now is that the change will come slowly and with a lot of pain and show itself probably beyond the lifetimes of most of the living. ahhh sooo.

      Vicki

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