The Democrats’ Disastrous, Militarist Climate Plan, by David Swanson

US Military Largest consumer of Oil -- 2014 People's Climate March NYC 89

Image by Stephen Melkisethian via Flickr

by David Swanson
Writer, Dandelion Salad
Let’s Try Democracy
July 5, 2020

The habitability of the earth and the viability of lesser evilism are on the ropes, and incrementalism is thriving even in the current moment of increased activism for radical change. Just take a look at the new “Climate Crisis Action Plan” from the Democratic Party’s Select Committee on the Climate Crisis.

The big goal for the next decade is to — brace yourself, don’t be staggered by this — “Reduce net U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 37% below 2010 levels in 2030.” Ooooooooh! Aaaaaaaaah! We’re all going to die a bit more slowly!

Come to think of it, that is a better slogan idea for the Joe Biden campaign than “Shoot ’em in the Legs!”

But don’t believe for a minute that this plan even means what it says. Its solutions include disastrous scams like “biofuels” and nuclear energy. It proposes no fundamental change in lifestyle, no reduction in personal consumption, and no halt or reduction in eating meat (but renewable energy production on land used for livestock, so that the same land can mitigate the unacknowledged damage it is doing). It offers no proposed federal budget with any major moving of the money to where it’s needed, and no plan to extract any resources from billionaires and corporate giants.

This plan has been criticized for largely ignoring 96% of humanity in order to address a global problem as an isolated country. That’s not quite right. It’s actually a plan built around hostile violence toward the world and the imperative to occupy the world with military forces. Here’s a bit of it:

“The U.S. military is the world’s largest consumer of energy from fossil fuels. Among federal agencies, the Department of Defense (DOD) is responsible for 77% of the federal government’s total energy use.”

This fun fact is followed by no remote hint at so much as “studying” the possibility of reduced militarism. In fact, it’s part of a section of the report called “Harness the Power of the Military for Net-Zero and Resilient Energy Installations.” The “power of the military,” as you read through it, appears to be the power to do incrementally less damage to the environment while steadily continuing to prepare for one of the most environmentally damaging activities ever devised: war. In fact, the crowning achievement of the “power of the military” turns out to be the ability to plan to attempt to achieve net-zero energy use on military bases in the year 2030. This will mean requiring military bases to include “renewable” energy production (including nuclear, biofuels, whatever). But a pass will be given to any bases anywhere on earth that are labeled “non-enduring,” by the Pentagon, including any of the non-enduring bases now littering the globe that are still non-enduring in 2030. There is no discussion of the fact that the military already gets 60% of federal discretionary spending, and that giving it even more in order to mitigate the damage it is doing runs contrary to the idea of creating a coherent efficient overall plan to reverse climate destruction.

This Democratic Crisis Action Report explains that “The military has a unique use case for fuels made from captured carbon, because generating fuels onsite at Forward Operating Bases could avoid vulnerabilities associated with physically delivering conventional fossil fuels, which requires protection from enemy attacks.” In other words, if you’re going to continue pushing hostile violence toward the world and installing military bases in other people’s countries where they will be resented and resisted, an important part of the climate strategy of the imperial homeland must be developing ways to produce fuels for the military on the sites of its wars. It’s true that the U.S. military has been a top source of funding for the Taliban in large part by paying for safe passage for its fossil fuels. But the possibility of ending the wars is never mentioned.

This is the pattern. “Captured carbon could be converted into precipitating sand for use as an alternative to coral reefs to nourish beaches in distant locations like the Kwajalein Atoll missile test site.” But the alternative of not destroying islands to test missiles is never considered.

“The Department of Defense (DOD) maintains approximately 585,000 facilities located on 4,775 sites worldwide. DOD real property is worth more than $1.2 trillion and is critical to U.S. national security.” Of course “critical” doesn’t specify a positive or a negative effect on people’s security. Otherwise, this statement is very clear, and it would seem clear what needs to be done: give people their land back. Instead, this statement in this report kicks off a long section on the threat of climate change to its real victims: war planners.

After all, climate change isn’t a threat so severe that the U.S. government should shift away from generating enemies through slaughtering people in order to devote resources instead to environmental protection. On the contrary, climate collapse is a military threat justifying the militarism that contributes to it and siphons resources away from addressing it. The report tells us:

“Developing countries are especially ill-prepared to face the impacts of climate change. The resulting humanitarian and refugee crises, if unchecked, have the potential to become national security threats.” The solution: “Require the Department of Homeland Security and FEMA to Plan for Climate Risks.”


David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is director of WorldBeyondWar.org and campaign coordinator for RootsAction.org. Swanson’s books include Curing Exceptionalism: What’s wrong with how we think about the United States? What can we do about it? (2018) and War Is A Lie. He blogs at DavidSwanson.org and WarIsACrime.org. He hosts Talk Nation Radio. He is a 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee. Support David’s work.

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From the archives:

Chris Hedges and Jeff Gibbs: Criticism and Censorship of Michael Moore’s Film “Planet of the Humans”

There Will Be No Social Or Racial Justice Worth Having On A Dead Planet, by Paul Street

Chris Hedges: The Prospect and Need For Ecosocialism

Planet of the Humans

The Twisted Climate Equation of the Ruling Class by Rainer Shea

Historical Developmental Dynamics of Climate Change, Political Economy, and Science and Technology by Fazal Rahman, Ph.D. + Costs and Consequences of US Post-9/11 Wars: Focus on Climate Change

Will Griffin: The US Military is the Largest Institutional Consumer of Fossil Fuels

The Climate Apocalypse Is Accelerating–If We’re Going To Dodge Extinction, We’d Better Hurry by Eric Schechter

Martin Sheen: The Twin Dangers Facing Humanity

Counting Down to Civilization’s Collapse + Inequality, Climate Change, and America’s Destabilization by Rainer Shea

6 thoughts on “The Democrats’ Disastrous, Militarist Climate Plan, by David Swanson

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