Fox Pits Climate Change Mitigation Against National Security

Latching onto a Congressional Research Service report commissioned by Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), Fox News suggested today that government investments in clean energy hurt our military. But experts agree that investments in clean energy technology and climate mitigation benefit our national security.

The report found that the federal government has spent more than $68 billion since 2008 on climate-related activities. The majority of these funds went to the Climate Change Technology Program, which invests in renewable energy and other energy technologies that could reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Although only a small fraction of that funding -- about 0.01% -- went to the Defense Department, Fox anchor Martha MacCallum suggested that climate change programs are being funded at the expense of national security, asking: “Is the White House putting green energy ahead of defense?” And the Wall Street Journal's Stephen Moore added: “I do think this national security issue is really the crux of the issue about whether we want money that should be spent to keep us safe and keep us secure going for green programs.”

Let's put things in perspective. According to the Congressional Research Service, the Pentagon has spent $776 million on climate change programs over the past 4 years. This accounts for approximately 0.0002% of total defense spending over that time frame -- hardly excessive to address a problem that military experts agree poses a major national security threat.

And contrary to Fox's suggestion that clean energy investments come at the expense of national security, the military sees the two as inextricably linked. The Defense Department's Operational Energy Strategy emphasizes the importance of transitioning towards renewable energy:

Reducing demand, expanding supply, and building an energy-secure force will mean a military that uses less energy, has more secure energy sources, and has the energy resources it needs to protect the American people.

The Pentagon also recognizes that switching to biofuels and investing in portable, renewably-powered equipment will ultimately enhance the military's effectiveness.