Pentagon Marks Earth Day 2022 with Push for Funding to Combat Climate Change

Marines dispose leaves during a base-wide clean-up on Camp Johnson.
U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Joshua T. Pulda, left, and Cpl. Jezzelle K. Rivera dispose leaves during a base-wide clean-up on Camp Johnson, N.C. March 22, 2022. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Jaiden O. Sangster)

The Department of Defense is using Friday's celebration of Earth Day to push for reduced energy consumption across the military, as well as encourage Congress to fund a raft of programs that would help the agency prepare for and reduce its impact on climate change.

Military departments are being tasked with reviewing their energy requirements in the next 90 days for new and existing military programs, according to a department memo released Thursday, the day before the annual environmental event.

"This initiative is critical to aligning the Department's capabilities with the National Defense Strategy and ensuring competitive advantage in the current and future warfighting environment," said Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks in a press statement.

Read Next: Texas Guardsman Goes Missing on Border Mission

The new directive comes following the Pentagon's budget request for fiscal 2023, which includes $2 billion for climate resilience at military bases and $247 million for improving the energy efficiency of combat systems. It also follows a major United Nations climate report from the beginning of April that offered a stark warning to the world if critical steps to address climate change are not taken.

A Government Accountability Office report from February found that the DoD had fully implemented climate resilience recommendations made in 2019 to combat future vulnerabilities to climate change, but had not addressed guidance from a 2017 report about policies at overseas facilities. Not all military bases are prepared for the long-term effects of climate change, a separate defense department inspector general report on bases in the Arctic found.

Individual services are actively showcasing how they can make a difference against climate change. In February, the Army released its first climate strategy, with the aim of reducing its carbon footprint and creating a fleet of electric vehicles.

Army installations around the country are hosting a number of activities to mark this year's Earth Day. At the Yuma Proving Grounds in Arizona, a group of local students helped with a new pilot project to plant native plants and trees around the installation.

"If we can do things to help make our environment a little better for wildlife, we benefit: We're part of the environment, too," said Daniel Steward, YPG wildlife biologist, in an Army press release.

But the Army is not the only service seeking solutions to a rapidly shifting climate. Edwards Air Force Base in California, is set to complete a major solar project in 2022 that will add 520 megawatts of renewable electricity to the grid, according to an Air Force press release. The Air Force Research Laboratory is also developing technology that can convert solar energy into a radio frequency that can be used as a military power source. Both of these projects would be significant as the Air Force is the largest fuel consumer in the federal government.

Across the globe, sailors in Singapore with the Commander, Logistics Group Western/Task Force 73, and Military Sealift Command Far East participated in an Earth Day trash pickup event.

-- Jonathan Lehrfeld is a fellow at Follow him on Twitter @lehrfeld_media.

Related: Army Lays Out Ambitious Goals to Combat Climate Change, Including Electric Tactical Vehicles

Show Full Article