A Green Military

Arguments about green technologies tend to focus on what, if anything, the government should do to get people to adopt them. Those who would dismiss them generally argue that global warming isn’t really a serious problem or that energy efficiency standards hurt the economyoften at the urging of energy lobbies. And as Bill McKibben argues, we may simply not want to admit that we can't reasonably do anything we want. But lost in these arguments is one key fact: energy-efficient technologies simply make a lot of sense.

That’s what the military has determined, anyway. The military doesn’t care much about environmental politics. But The New York Times reports that the military is investing in renewable energy technologies like solar tent shields that generate electricity. Last year, the Navy introduced a hybrid amphibian assault ship. And the Air Force has begun to experiment with using biofuels in its planes. It’s part of a broad push to reduce the military’s dependence on fossil fuels. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus says he hopes to have the Navy and the Marines generate half their power from renewable sources by the end of the next decade.

This isn’t political correctness. Keeping the troops supplied with fuel is expensive, and can cost lives. Mabus points out that fossil fuels are the number one thing we export to Afghanistan. Transporting and guarding all that fuel requires resources. The New York Times reports that while gas costs the military just $1 a gallon, it can cost over over $400 a gallon to get that gas to some forward bases. Anything the military can do to reduce its reliance on gas makes sense.

In a way, the military's problem keeping itself supplied with fuel is the same the problem we have keeping ourselves supplied with fuel as a society. We have to go great to lengths—both militarily and diplomatically—to secure our fuel supply, even if the real price we pay isn’t reflected at the pump. That's why even if there were no threat of global warming, reducing our dependence on fossil fuels would still make such good sense.

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

The dos and don’ts of helping a drug-addicted person recover

How you talk to people with drug addiction might save their life.

  • Addiction is a learning disorder; it's not a sign that someone is a bad person.
  • Tough love doesn't help drug-addicted people. Research shows that the best way to get people help is through compassion, empathy and support. Approach them as an equal human being deserving of respect.
  • As a first step to recovery, Maia Szalavitz recommends the family or friends of people with addiction get them a complete psychiatric evaluation by somebody who is not affiliated with any treatment organization. Unfortunately, warns Szalavitz, some people will try to make a profit off of an addicted person without informing them of their full options.
Keep reading Show less

The most culturally chauvinist people in Europe? Greeks, new research suggests

Meanwhile, Spaniards are the least likely to say their culture is superior to others.

Image: Pew Research Center
Strange Maps
  • Survey by Pew Research Center shows great variation in chauvinism across Europe.
  • Eight most chauvinist countries are in the east, and include Russia.
  • British much more likely than French (and slightly more likely than Germans) to say their culture is "superior" to others.
Keep reading Show less

In a first for humankind, China successfully sprouts a seed on the Moon

China's Chang'e 4 biosphere experiment marks a first for humankind.

Image source: CNSA
Surprising Science
  • China's Chang'e 4 lunar lander touched down on the far side of the moon on January 3.
  • In addition to a lunar rover, the lander carried a biosphere experiment that contains five sets of plants and some insects.
  • The experiment is designed to test how astronauts might someday grow plants in space to sustain long-term settlements.
Keep reading Show less