Tag Archives: Army

Desert tank.

The military is the largest emitter in the US Gov’t — in fact, it’s the world 55th largest polluter

The American military is actually one of the largest emitters of greenhouse gases in the world — more than many nations.

Desert tank.

Image via Pixabay.

A new analysis by Dr. Neta Crawford, a professor of Political Science and Department Chair at Boston University, shows that the Pentagon was responsible for around 59 million metric tons of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions in 2017. This figure places the U.S. military higher on the list of the world’s largest emitters than industrialized countries such as Sweden or Portugal.

The Costs of War

“In a newly released study published by Brown University’s Costs of War Project, I calculated U.S. military greenhouse gas emissions in tons of carbon dioxide equivalent from 1975 through 2017,” Dr. Crawford explains in a piece for LiveScience.

“Since 2001, the DOD has consistently consumed between 77 and 80 percent of all US
government energy consumption,” her paper explains.

In “any one year”, she explains, the Pentagon’s emissions were greater than “many smaller countries’ [emissions],” the study explains. In fact, if the Pentagon were a country, it would be the world’s 55th largest greenhouse gas emitter, overtaking even industrialized countries.

The largest single sources of military greenhouse gas emissions identified in the study are buildings and fuel. The DoD maintains over 560,000 buildings, which account for about 30% of its emissions. “The Pentagon building itself emitted 24,620.55 metric tons of [CO2 equivalent] in the fiscal year 2013,” the study says. The lion’s share of total energy use, around 70%, comes from operations. This includes moving troops and material about, as well as their use in the field, and is kept running by massive quantities of jet and diesel fuel, Crawford said.

Where to?

This January, the Pentagon listed climate change as “a national security issue” in a report it presented to Congress. The military has launched several initiatives to prepare for its impacts but seems just as thirsty for fuel as ever before. It is understandable; tanks, trucks, planes, bombers without fuel — and a lot of fuel — they’re just fancy paperweights.

But, at the same time, the use of fossil fuels is changing the climate. Global climate models estimate a 3ºC to 5ºC (5.4ºF to 9ºF) rise in mean temperatures this century alone under a business as usual scenario. In a paper published in Nature that we covered earlier today, we’ve seen how 4ºC would increase the effect of climate on conflict more than five-fold. More conflict would probably mean more fuel guzzled by the army’s engines.

The paper also looks at how the U.S. military “spends about $81 billion annually defending the global oil supply” to ensure both domestic and military life can continue without a hitch.

“The military uses a great deal of fossil fuel protecting access to Persian Gulf Oil,” the paper explains. “Because the current trend is that the US is becoming less dependent on oil, it may be that the mission of protecting Persian Gulf oil is no longer vital and the US military can reduce its presence in the Persian Gulf.”

“Which raises the question of whether, in protecting against a potential oil price increase, the US does more harm than it risks by not defending access to Persian Gulf oil. In sum, the Persian Gulf mission may not be as necessary as the Pentagon assumes.”

However, not all is dead and dreary. Crawford says the Pentagon had reduced its fuel consumption significantly since 2009, mainly by making its vehicles more efficient and shifting towards cleaner sources of energy at bases. Further reductions could be achieved by cutting missions to the Persian Gulf, the paper advises, seeing as it is no longer a top priority to protect oil supply from this area as renewable energy is gaining in the overall grid make-up.

“Many missions could actually be rethought, and it would make the world safer,” Crawford concludes.

The paper “Pentagon Fuel Use, Climate Change, and the Costs of War” can be accessed here.

Usmilitary1-537x357

Military energy report downplays oil in favor of renewable energy

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In its “Energy Security and Sustainability Strategy” (ES2 Strategy) report, the US army outlines the steps it should take to increase resilience and adapt to an ever changing world. Energy makes the go world round, and for an army it’s literally a matter of life and death. Not surprisingly, the authors note given the current climate of affairs the “army will prioritize solutions that reduce multiple resources. The Army can use energy more efficiently by purchasing energy efficient products, modernizing buildings and utility systems, purchasing energy efficient vehicles, and using more renewable/alternative energy sources.” Basically, being dependent on a finite resource (oil) is a security vulnerability, which isn’t something new. Military strategists have been aware of this for a long time – maybe the most during WWII when many lives were claimed in battles over oil rigs in North Africa and the Middle East, and oil refineries were being bombed on the clock. What’s changed today is the feasibility of renewable energy sources. Drawing the line, in those situations were oil is a liability (and we can only expect these to become ever numerous in the future), it’ll be scrapped in favor of renewable energy systems, both for generating and storing energy.

Trust the force

The authors of the ES2 look to the future; a future where the US army integrates all its systems in a mutually reinforcing and holistic approach. They write:

Our people are our strength… Our education and training will incorporate evolving knowledge, doctrine, and policy to guide Soldiers, Civilians, and Leaders to incorporate sustainability into planning and decision making. Organizational resilience and sustainability concepts will be integrated into Soldier and Civilian education programs at every level, from basic training to senior service colleges, as well as programs that focus on the holistic health and well-being of our people.”

The focus seems to be on managing critical resources and water. To achieve this, one part of the strategy is to diversify resources and disconnect them from another so a blow to one link doesn’t crumble the whole chain.  Portable power (besides diesel generators; think micro-grid systems) seems like a huge concern in the Army’s energy mix. Previously, the Army announced it intends on powering all its military bases with net zero emissions. It is also experimenting with hydrogen powered tanks or solar-powered tents.

Then, there’s the sensitive matter of budget. Luckily (for them), the US heavily funnels money to the military, but the budget isn’t an endless pot of gold. Last year, the Department of Defense (DoD) spent $4 billion on energy expenses. In 2014, the Army reported its investing $7 billion to fulfill its congressionally mandated energy goal of generating one gigawatt, 25 percent of its energy requirements, from renewable sources by 2025 while improving installation energy security and sustainability.

US military renewable energy

Image: US Army

 

Now, don’t get this wrong way. The Army is and will continue to be heavily dependent on oil, but the report’s emphasis on efficiency makes it clear than it wants to reduce oil usage and vulnerabilities to a minimum. Essentially, it looks like a sort of divestment away from oil. When the US Army or one of the world’s largest banks (HSBC) advises caution when depending on oil for military operations and financial investments, respectively, you know petrol is heading in one direction only: down.

Leave it to the goons

Rex Tillerson, chairman and CEO of Exxon Mobil Corp. Image: Huff Post

Rex Tillerson, chairman and CEO of Exxon Mobil Corp. Image: Huff Post

Meanwhile, it’s business as usual at Exxon – one of the world’s largest oil company. Amid historically low oil prices, the company netted  $32.4 billion last year in net earnings. During a meeting last week, ExxonMobil and Chevron rejected a number of shareholder proposals that would address climate change, be it by setting goal for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions or investing in renewable energy. Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson didn’t even mention the word climate change (is he also banned by Gov. Rick Scott?) during his speech and, moreover, ridiculed the thought of investing in renewables.  ”We choose not to lose money on purpose,” Tillerson said, to loud applause.

Tillerson was quite critical of the global warming situation: the models aren’t good enough to predict global warming’s effects; the world isn’t going to be able to meet emissions targets; technology will enable us to engineer our way out of whatever crisis may or may not occur as a result of climate change. Note that he somewhat recognizes climate change is real, despite never mentioning “climate change” in a sentence. Very clever. So, if there will be great turmoil because of emissions (with Exxon as a huge contributor), what’s Tillerson back-up plan?

“Mankind has this enormous capacity to deal with adversity,” Tillerson said, acknowledging, “I know that is an unsatisfactory answer to a lot of people.”

 Hilarious! He certainly hasn’t read Climate Shock by Wagnet and Weizman. Here’s an excerpt from my review:
“Humanity’s greatest challenges have always been solved by our prodigious son: technology. In the 1800s, the manure crisis threatened urban sanitation with a disaster. The Times of London estimated in 1894 that the situation was so dire that in 50 years every street in the city would be buried 9ft deep in horse droppings. The solution was the advent of the internal combustion engine, which eventually brought automobiles to replace horse buggies. Today, it’s not 9ft of manure that’s a threat, but 9ft of water. In the face of a much dire crisis, should we also this time wait for technology to save us?”
The only solution if climate change finds us on our knees is geoengineering, and trust me no one in their right minds would use it unless it’s absolute necessary. It’s that bad.
But, all signs seems to point to an energy paradigm shift away from oil. How long until oil stops being economically feasible? Nevermind climate change, it’s all about the dolla’ dolla’ bills. Tillerson might laugh now, but inside he knows his company is in for a beating in the coming two decades.
The first skull excavated from the site, with a mortal wound caused by a spear or an arrow. Photo: Curator Ejvind Hertz, Skanderborg Museum

Whole 2000 year-old army of skeletons uncovered in Denmark. They tell of a macabre end

The first skull excavated from the site, with a mortal wound caused by a spear or an arrow. Photo: Curator Ejvind Hertz, Skanderborg Museum

The first skull excavated from the site, with a mortal wound caused by a spear or an arrow. Photo: Curator Ejvind Hertz, Skanderborg Museum

In an archeological dig in the Danish bog Alken Enge wetlands lies the remains of an army long dead. There scientists recently uncovered hundreds of skeletons, some presenting clear evidence of a violent death, along with a slew of shields, armors, spears or axes. Researchers are still trying to determine the soldiers’ identities, places of origin, and the reason for which they were met with such a dramatic finale.

A lot of blogs and news outlets that have reported the findings seem to all blindly title the whole event as an “army sent for sacrifice”. With all due respect, this sounds preposterous. Now, the bodies were identified as being 2,000 years old, coincidentally or not around the time of Christ. Needless to say, these were dark times, especially in the wild north of Europe, where pagan rituals were abundant. The main hypothesis is that the skeletons belonged to a tribe which lost a battle, and the winning side gathered the prisoners, sacrificed them and then threw them in what used to be lake – today’s bog and wetlands.

“It’s clear that this must have been a quite far-reaching and dramatic event that must have had profound effect on the society of the time,” explains Project Manager Mads Kähler Holst, professor of archaeology at Aarhus University, in a statement.

A fractured skull lies among the remains of hundreds of warriors in a Danish bog. Credit: Ejvind Hertz, Skanderborg Museum;

A fractured skull lies among the remains of hundreds of warriors in a Danish bog. Credit: Ejvind Hertz, Skanderborg Museum;

In the death pit, Holst and his team have found fractured skulls, hacked-off thigh bones and a colorful assortment of ancient weapons. Remember, although they call it the Iron Age, iron and especially crafted iron, was an extremely valuable commodity. If, indeed, they were sacrificed, why leave the bodies with the weapons and armor attached? Was this a sign of respect for a well fought, brave battle? These are the viking forefathers we’re talking about, so this possibility doesn’t seem that far-fetched.  Personally, not buying it.

 A very well-preserved iron axe with shaft. Photo: Rikke Larsson Photo/Media Depatment Moesgaard Museum;

A very well-preserved iron axe with shaft. Photo: Rikke Larsson Photo/Media Depatment Moesgaard Museum;

Still, much more needs to be discovered.  The mass grave is so immense that the researchers gave up on trying to excavate it all, focusing instead on smaller digs that will allow them to recreate a picture of the larger landscape and the horrific events that transpired some 2,000 years ago.

“We’ve done small test digs at different places in a 40-hectare (100-acre) wetlands area, and new finds keep emerging,” Ejvind Hertz of Skanderborg Museum, who is directing the dig, said.

If by chance or not, you’re in Denmark at the moment, know that the site is open for visitors.  Tours run on Thursdays.

 

(c) Progeny Systems Corporation

New Pentagon Tech: sky drones that identify faces

(c) Progeny Systems Corporation

(c) Progeny Systems Corporation

I’d like to divert from a potential discussion which might build around the trillions of dollars spent on defense by the US government or the more or less futile efforts enterprised in the middle east, and stick to the point at hand – spy drones! Yes, scary, paranoia inducing flying unmanned vehicles whose sole purpose is that of collecting intelligence about its surveyed points. And if you thought there are little places to hide left once with these little buggers up in the sky, seems like the Pentagon is keen on making things even harder for its enemy after it unveiled plans for a new kind of drone tech, capable of identifying individuals from thousands of feet away just by looking at their faces.

The US army has a sort of procedure or technique, if you will, when its efforts of identifying and gathering intelligence about its enemies is concerned, called “Tagging, Tracking, and Locating,” or “TTL”. To this purpose, there is a considerable amount of technology employed to support these efforts, like geo-tagging, heat signature identifies, human thermal fingerprints and all sorts of other tech, most classified. The all-seeing drone visioned by the Pentagon might revolutionize the modern, guerrilla battlefield in the future. You can escape transmitters, you can erase traces, but eventually with enough drones like these in the sky, you’re only hope of not getting discovered is to live underground.

“If this works out, we’ll have the ability to track people persistently across wide areas,” says Tim Faltemier, the lead biometrics researcher at Progeny Systems Corporation, which recently won one of the Army contracts. “A guy can go under a bridge or inside a house. But when he comes out, we’ll know it was the same guy that went in.”

The bird in the sky with the magic eye

Progeny, one of the half a dozen companies awarded contracts by the Pentagon to develop the necessary tech for the new spy drone, just started work on their drone-mounted, “Long Range, Non-cooperative, Biometric Tagging, Tracking and Location” system. In the past, the company has developed algorithms for the army which allowed for 3D modeling of faces, based on 2D photos, a difficult feat. Now, the company is planning on putting the same capability inside a drone, which will have to do its job flying, from a long distance and with loads of perturbant factors – difficulty tenfold.

(c) Progeny Systems Corporation

(c) Progeny Systems Corporation

The company claims that their system will be able to identify an individual indifferent of lighting, pose  or expression, all from an image with just 50 pixels between the target’s eyes to build a 3D model of his face. That’s about the same as what it takes to traditionally capture a 2D image.

If the face is too blurred or masked to identify, Progeny has other means of identifying a target, like its  digital stereotyping tech, developed for a Navy contract. With it, they can asses the identity of an individual based on variou bio metrics, which feeds back the army with anything from age to gender to “ethnicity” to “skin color” to height and weight. To prove their point, Progeny analyzed data containing hundreds of photos from the annual  “Twins Days” festival, where at least pairs of identical twins could be seen. The company zeroed in on the twins’ scars, marks, and tattoos — and were able to spot one from the other.

Drones to intercept “unfriendly” behavior

Identifying known offenders or insurgents isn’t quite enough for the Pentagon. Apparently, it also needs a means of telling which are its potential enemies, without knowing anything about them beforehand. This is where Charles River Analytics is coming with its so-called “Adversary Behavior Acquisition, Collection, Understanding, and Summarization (ABACUS)” tool. Capitalizing on things like informants’ tips, drone footage, and captured phone calls, the system is capable of telling which people are most likely to harbor ill will toward the U.S. military or its objectives.

“The enemy goes to great lengths to hide his activities,” explains Modus Operandi, Inc., which won an Army contract to assemble “probabilistic algorithms th[at] determine the likelihood of adversarial intent,” a system under the working name of “Clear Heart.”

via Danger Room