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Expert Voices

Why the U.S. Military Must Find Energy Alternatives (Op-Ed)

Evan Griswold is a communications associate at Climate Nexus. He contributed this article to LiveScience's Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights.

As a former command pilot and Air Force Lieutenant General, Norman Seip supported combat operations for Operation Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom, as well as Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa.

Throughout his tours of duty, Seip witnessed firsthand the vulnerabilities to the U.S. military from its dependence on fossil fuels at home and abroad. His mission now is to help drive home awareness of the inherent dangers of relying on fossil fuels as the primary source of energy for the U.S. Department of Defense.

Within that target, Seip raises awareness about a number of threats, including: attacks on fuel resupply convoys in wartime; global oil-price shocks that snowball into huge operational impediments for the Pentagon; and the contribution of fossil emissions to climate changes that trigger extreme weather — the military's tactical infrastructure is at risk from events such as hurricanes and wildfires exacerbated by climate change.

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Another critical issue is resource scarcity — climate change escalates conflict in resource-poor regions of the world, which will necessitate more American and United Nations boots on the ground to keep the peace.

Moving toward solutions, Seip believes the military holds the keys to transitioning away from fossil-fuel dependence. As it has done before with the Internet, GPS, and microprocessors, the military can lead the way with resource-management methodology and renewable-energy technology development through innovative partnerships with the public and private sectors.

"Beating climate change means uniting individuals and institutions from the top and bottom, left and right, military and civil societies," he said. "This is not a spectator sport, this will require a team effort."

These partnerships will not only serve to help curb the effects of climate change, but they will create jobs, reduce the effects of oil price fluctuations on the military, and can keep more troops out of harms way.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher. This version of the article was originally published on LiveScience.