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1319"Our Responsibilities Tied to Climate Change". Navy Secretary Mabus

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  • MikeSar
    Sep 3, 2011

      Navy Secretary Ray Mabus: `Our Responsibilities Have to be Tied in to the Effects of Climate Change'

      Posted: 31 Aug 2011 05:11 AM PDT

      Earlier this month, the Wall Street Journal published an op-ed from retired rear admiral Robert James, who called the military's push to develop domestic renewable energy "a fad."

      But if you listen to Navy Secretary Ray Mabus explain the importance of cleaning up the military's supply chain, it's clear those efforts are anything but a fad — they're a natural part of a technological progression that the military has undertaken for over 150 years.

      Secretary Mabus' approach to sourcing 50 percent of its energy from renewable resources has nothing to do with politics or satisfying the desire to look "green." It's all about logistics.

      "It makes us a better military," he explained in an interview with Climate Progress at yesterday's National Clean Energy Summit in Las Vegas. And beyond saving money and saving lives, Secretary Mabus believes it's the Navy's responsibility to understand the impact that climate change will have on operations – both through adaptation and mitigation:

      "Our responsibilities, our concerns, have to be tied into the effects of climate change," explained Mabus.

      Again, Secretary Mabus isn't trying to make any sort of political statement. He's merely pointing out the scientifically understood fact that the climate is changing, which will have enormous impacts on the Navy's operations over the coming decades. It's as simple as that. Under Secretary Mabus, the Navy issued aClimate Change Roadmap last May outlining the various action items — mission analysis, capabilities assessments, and environmental assessments — that will help the military adapt to a changing world.

      And in a way, the Navy will play a major part in that changing world — not just in responding to conflict, but in helping transition to the solutions that help actually address the root problem. It's a subject that clearly moves Secretary Mabus, who believes we have reached an important turning point in history:

      The Navy has always led when we've changed energy. In the 1850's, we went from sail to coal. In the early part of the 20th century, we went from coal to oil. We pioneered the use of nuclear for transportation in the 1950's. Every single time we did these things there were people who said `it's a fad.' There were people who said `you're trading one very known source of propulsion or energy for something that's unsure – too expensive or just won't work.' And every single time they were wrong. Every single time. And I am absolutely confident those folks are going to be wrong this time too.

      More from the National Clean Energy Summit:

      NASA's James Hansen Arrested at Tar Sands Pipeline Protest

      Posted: 30 Aug 2011 02:49 PM PDT

      James Hansen

      James Hansen was arrested on Monday, Aug. 29, on day 10 of the anti-Keystone XL pipeline protests at the White House. In total, 521 participants have been arrested. Credit: Tar Sands Action

      The nation's top climate scientist was arrested today protesting the tar sands pipeline.  Back in June, he famously wrote, "Exploitation of tar sands would make it implausible to stabilize climate and avoid disastrous global climate impacts."

      SolveClimate has more:

      The president-to-be's campaign promises had led him to believe that Obama had the tenacity and knowledge to make climate change a signature issue. Hansen was hopeful Obama would communicate directly with citizens instead of letting politicians hijack that agenda. It's difficult and rare, he added, to find leaders such as Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Winston Churchill who are strong enough to tell the truth and courageously commit to a cause.

      Now, Hansen fears President Obama will fumble his defining moment on global warming.

      "If the tar sands pipeline is approved, we will be back and we will grow," he said. "For the sake of our children and our grandchildren, we must find somebody who is working for our dream."

      Obama already fumbled his defining moment on global warming (see "The failed presidency of Barack Obama").  So we better find that new "somebody" PDQ!

      Energy Secretary Steven Chu: `It Saddens Me' That Political Leaders Don't Understand Climate Science

      Posted: 30 Aug 2011 01:17 PM PDT

      In order to be a viable Republican presidential candidate in 2012, denying the science of climate change is a must. With all the leading candidates attacking basic science in varying degrees, it's not a surprise that our Nobel-Prize-winning Energy Secretary, Steven Chu, believes science education should be one of the nation's top priorities.

      In a speech this morning at the National Clean Energy Summit, Chu outlined three major policy needs to "move aggressively" to develop clean energy — with science and energy education being on the top of his wish list.

      Although climate change did not actually come up in his speech, Chu spoke to Climate Progress afterward and lamented the manufactured political "debate" over climate change, saying that "it saddens me. And I think as a scientist you have to re-double your efforts."

      Steering clear of anything political when asked whether the GOP's anti-science platform scared him, Chu simply used the opportunity to explain the basic physics of climate change, adding "it's not rocket science."

      Watch it:

      America, Chu says, is the only place in the world where there's an actual "debate" over climate science. He blamed the confused political situation largely on the fossil fuel industry, which, he says, has been effective in sowing doubt and "who have an interest in seeing that action isn't taken. This reminds me exactly of what we saw in the tobacco industry."

      His remarks came from separate audio and video interviews at the National Clean Energy Summit.

      It doesn't take an accomplished physicist and Nobel Prize winner to notice that something is wrong. But at a time when uttering the word "climate" in Washington is anathema, it's a good thing we have someone leading the Energy Department who isn't afraid to talk about the issue.

      Related Post:

      Biden: `If We Don't Develop Renewable Energy, We Will Make the Biggest Mistake in This Nation's History'

      Posted: 30 Aug 2011 12:37 PM PDT

      AP Photo/Julie Jacobson

      In a call to arms this afternoon at the National Clean Energy Summit, Vice President Joe Biden made the case for continued investments in renewable energy, explaining that "we have to unleash" innovation in the sector to stay competitive and rise to the environmental and economic challenges of the day.

      "If we don't develop renewable energy, we will make the biggest mistake in this nation's history," he explained a crowd of over 700 policymakers, investors, students and other business professionals in Las Vegas.

      He also criticized political opponents of clean energy investments who have fought to de-fund major R&D and deployment programs, explaining "the President and I are not going to listen to those voices."

      Biden did not lay out any new policy priorities in today's speech. Instead, he used the platform to reiterate the Obama Administration's support for investing in renewable electricity and fuels. In his January State of the Union Address, Obama called this period of history "our generation's Sputnik moment," and outlined a broad plan to get 80% of the nation's energy from clean resources by 2035.

      With the potential for significant reductions in long-term spending on certain energy programs, the Administration may find it difficult to make the investments needed to come close to achieving that goal. While Biden didn't address those specific challenges, he did make it clear that that the White House was at least standing behind the goal rhetorically.

      "I have one specific message. Our country has a choice. Are we going to rise to the challenges like our grandfathers and grandmothers did? Or are we going to be a follower?"

      Budget negotiations this fall will be a true test.