New Mexico News Connection - A statewide news service for New Mexico
Melting ice caps, rising sea levels and endangered polar bears are among the most familiar potential threats of climate change. But America's national security might also be at stake, according to a group of high-ranking retired military officers. According to a dozen three- and four-star retired military officers, climate change is a serious US national security threat. Retired Vice Admiral Dennis McGinn says people in failed states like Afghanistan and Somalia often turn to extremism. He says weak nations can be pushed over the edge by natural disasters like floods, droughts or hurricanes, which some have linked to climate change, "Imagine around the world fault lines along religious, ethnic, economic and political lines. Put a big magnifying glass on top of those fault lines, increase them in frequency and intensity, and that's what the climate change dynamic will do."
Some business executives and trade groups have disputed whether industrial activity is having an impact on the climate. McGinn says it's already causing important water problems in parts of central and south Asia. The Senate is now debating a bill on climate change.
McGinn says the military is moving strongly towards energy conservation and alternative fuels. He says the Department of Defense wants to save money and protect the country from the possible security threat from our dependence on imported oil. He says one solution is domestic, renewable energy, "The Navy is investigating use of algae-based oils for ship and airborne use. In fact they're planning on flying a F-18 Super Hornet next year, using algae-based oil." Studies are already underway to determine if the production of oil from algae is feasible in New Mexico.
The Air Force considered using airplane fuel made from coal. But McGinn says it didn't work because of cost and technical issues, "The notion of coal to liquid, when you first take a look at it, seems appealing, but when you look at some of the technical difficulties in actually doing it, it's pretty much a non-starter."
Note: A report written by the CNA Military Advisory Board - which includes McGinn - is available at https://www.cna.org/nationalsecurity/climate/.