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Climate Change: Pay Now Or Pay Later

Hand holding a world on fireAs reported November 16, 2012 in The Energy Collective article U.S. Military Invests In Sustainability, “Most senior ranking military officials acknowledge the need to address the risks posed by climate change. Even military men that were around long before the Obama administration believe that it is urgent that we address climate change.” The On Project’s previous blog of March 14, 2012 noted that one of those top military officials is Rear Admiral David W. Titley, who in 2009 was appointed as Oceanographer and Navigator of the Navy, as well as Director of the Task Force Climate Change.

The Admiral describes himself as a former “climate change skeptic,” whose skepticism entirely dissolved when faced with a growing data bank of reliable scientific observations of various climate change measurements taken around the world. According to Admiral Titley, there are at least six objective evidentiary categories that lead to the inescapable conclusion that our climate is changing. That undeniable evidence is: global air temperature readings, global water temperature readings, the heat in the deep ocean, the retreat of the glaciers, the thinning of ice in the Arctic, and the ice sheets coming off Greenland and West Antarctica.  Continue reading

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Deadly Denial

Noted author and British naval historian C. Northcote Parkinson (1909-1993) once said that  “delay is the deadliest form of denial.” After a stellar military and academic career, which included teaching at the Royal Naval College and penning nearly sixty books, Parkinson was certainly a man with a great depth of knowledge of strategic military planning and tactics. Today’s U.S. military is indeed fortunate to be replete with men and women who possess such knowledge and the skills to apply it to prudent planning for our national security.

Information is Power

One prime example is Rear Admiral David W. Titley, Assistant Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Information Dominance.  The last two words in the Admiral’s title…Information Dominance… capture a fundamental truth accepted by all rational people: namely, that information is power. And it goes without saying that having accurate and reliable information is the most powerful type. Conversely, putting one’s head in the proverbial sand, by refusing to actively seek and act upon credible information, leads to the deadly denial and delay of which Parkinson spoke. Admiral Titley is clearly a man who has never put his head in the sand. To the contrary, he is an esteemed naval officer who has devoted his entire career to obtaining accurate information, upon which the U.S. military can base sound decisions for future planning.

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The Mother of All Commodities

New York Times writer Christopher Furlong hits the nail on the head in describing the close nexus between economics and politics when it comes to oil and its role in the health and security of the world economy: “In 2011, events unfolding in the Arab world, the epicenter of global oil production, have been a sobering reminder that trading in oil, the mother of all commodities, is at heart a political game.”

Middle East Tumult Continues

And as Furlong points out, with financial analysts projecting that prices for two important oil benchmarks will average from $100 a barrel to $120 a barrel in 2012, “There is little room for more disruption in supplies.” Iranian threats last month to block the Straight of Hormuz could significantly influence 2012 oil prices, just as the unrest in Libya did in 2011, according to Furlong. We all know that the tumultuous events of theMiddle Eastin the last year are not going to settle into long-term stability anytime soon. Given that fact, we can rationally expect a continuing volatility with its attendant inflationary impact on global oil prices.

Management by Forethought or Crisis?

With that scene clearly on the horizon, the pressing question becomes, “Do we manage now by thoughtful foresight and planning, including a strong move toward more renewable energies such as Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC)…or do we wait for the inevitable and predictable, in which case we will manage by crisis?”  Short-termism can be deadly. Every responsible citizen lives by the sound principle that some measure of advanced long-term planning is wise in their financial and personal affairs. Surely, we should expect no less of our business and political leaders.


An Unpleasant Fact

Some facts we all would rather not think about. One of those unpleasant truths is that there are places in the world where the need for people to share limited fresh water supplies poses a real threat of conflict. The south Indian states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu are two of those places. As described by T.P. Sreenivasan of The New York Times, “ If Kerala and Tamil Nadu were independent countries with their own armies, they might have been at war by now over the water held behind a dam in Kerala that supplies Tamil Nadu.” According to Sreenivasan, “Protests and demonstrations have lasted for more than five years and tensions have been so elevated recently that some citizens have resorted to violence as India’s federal government, for the most part, has watched helplessly.”

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