Key player in war on climate change? The Pentagon
(CNN)In the final presidential debate Thursday night, Vice President Joe Biden called climate change an "existential threat to humanity" that we have a moral obligation to address. Whoever leads the country for the next four years in January has an opportunity to substantially reduce carbon emissions while creating millions of new green tech jobs that could help revive and strengthen the American economy after the Covid-19 crisis.
The Department of Defense has a critical role to play in this effort. It also has a strong interest in doing so. Climate change doesn't just imperil coastal military bases with storm surges or delay exercises when heat waves and fires make it impossible to train. Climate change is already causing the armed forces to plan for new contingencies: from being prepared to undertake more frequent disaster relief missions to anticipating instability and conflict created by resource scarcity and population migrations.
What's more, as one of the world's largest and most complex institutions, the Department of Defense can be part of the climate solution.
To its credit, the DoD has already been investing over $1.5 billion of its annual research and development budget in new energy technologies. In the past, it has played a significant role in developing nuclear reactors, gas turbines and solar photovoltaic cells.
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