Months ago, when veterans got into the fight over Clean Energy, we did so because of the firm link between Middle East oil profits and terrorism. Late last month Richard Holbrooke even stated that the Taliban is being funded by Persian Oil. In short, we're unintentionally funding both sides of the wars we're in.
What we did not realize then, but bolsters the seriousness of the case for investment in a Green Energy Economy, is that the Pentagon has been running simulations on climate change, to see how its effects would stretch our military, and put American lives on the line.
The idea that climate change might have a direct affect on American security isn't a new notion. In 2008, a National Intelligence Assessment observed that "global climate change will have wide-ranging implications for US national security interests over the next 20 years."
Military leaders are now identifying climate change and energy security as a growing threat to our national security.
What is new is that the Pentagon is now taking the threat so seriously that it has been war-gaming scenarios. The results?
In one scenario, a flood in Bangladesh "sent hundreds of thousands of refugees streaming into neighboring India, touching off religious conflict, the spread of contagious diseases and vast damage to infrastructure" according to a story in the New York Times. Other models put key military installations in severe danger, while melting polar ice opens up new shipping channels that must be defended.
"The demands of these potential humanitarian responses may significantly tax U.S. military transportation and support force structures, resulting in a strained readiness posture and decreased strategic depth for combat operations," the report concludes.
The risk lies in the challenges we face when these climate induced crises happen in fragile or failing states. Extremists groups move to take advantage of these situations to create a foothold for themselves...a foothold we cannot let them gain. And, conversely, if they're dealing with disasters, we might not have the forces needed to keep the Bangladesh scenario from becoming a regional conflagration in a nuclear region of the world.
Simply put, not passing a comprehensive clean energy and climate bill doesn't just mean continuing sending oil profits to terrorists. It means our men and uniform operating in a world where they are constantly deployed, overstretched, and putting their lives on the line, all to deal with scenarios that we could have prevented, but didn't.
That's why a new coalition of Veterans and National Security groups is taking to DC and to the airwaves this week, making a strong push for legislation to pass the Senate, to join the bill already passed by the House, and on to the President.
A number of groups, including the groups we head, have come together under the umbrella of Operation Free, a coalition of those concerned with our troops and national security. This week, hundreds of veterans with Operation Free are descending on the Capitol, to make the case that this is as much a security issue as anything. Operation Free is just starting, though, and will be doing much more in the weeks and months ahead.
VoteVets.org is also starting to air an ad nationally, and in the states of North Carolina, Virginia, Missouri, and Michigan this week. The ad strongly and bluntly makes the case stated above, closing with "It's not just a question of American energy, it's a question of American Power."
We do not have a moment to spare, here. Yes, there are a lot of important issues being debated in Washington, today. But, to us, very few are as important as this. When it comes to our troops, our security, and our future, veterans like us won't back down.