Renewable Killing Power

The U.S. military is trying to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels. Does this mean the world’s largest polluter is deeply concerned about protecting the environment — well, at least the environment of people they aren’t blowing up? Not really. They want to wage war more effectively. Refueling is costly, and long supply chains to remote bases are vulnerable to attack.

If the military takes a greater interest in renewable energy than it previously did, this could lead to general improvements in renewable energy technology. Whatever marginal gains come from this will at some time be held up by military industrial apologists as something we should thank military spending for. By the same logic, we should thank insurgents for kindly burning fuel trucks and killing people.

The military takes tremendous amounts of wealth out of the productive economy. It costs a lot of money to operate remote bases securing those who make deals with U.S. authorities. That money could have instead been spent on renewable energy and environmental research.

A more prosperous society will in general spend more on environmental concerns. And the green advertising campaigns, annoyance of concentrated car exhaust, association of carbon emissions with climate change, health risks for those who live near power plants, and noise complaints regarding wind power suggest that there is significant interest in environmental improvement. But government takes resources that people could use to improve life and forces them to instead fund toxic military sites, uranium ammunition purchases, and widespread death and destruction. Not to mention government protections that keep wealthy polluters from paying for damage they cause.

Regardless of how you measure it, the U.S. military has been fighting in deserts for a while now. But apparently they are just getting around to thinking about solar power.

An organization laden with entrenched interests cannot change quickly unless the power brokers see something in it for themselves. If the organization forces people to fund it and bans competition, it will become massive and bureaucratic, sucking up resources from enterprises that actually create wealth. By claiming the right to exercise authoritarian power over other peoples’ lives it becomes a magnet for those who wish to benefit from ruling others and can afford to play the games.

A coercive organization that answers primarily to pressure from the top will attempt to manage change on behalf of the connected interests trying to secure profits through force, instead of allowing new ideas to be adopted as people need and desire. To re-tool society for health and freedom, it is essential to reduce our dependence on government.

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