The Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce hosted a National Security and Climate Change conference Feb. 18 in the new board room at the Union Station.
During the conference, Colonel Mark “Puck” Mykleby from the Pentagon, and David Orr, professor of Environmental Studies and the Oberlin Project, discussed in detail the National Security and Climate Change for the 21st-Century.
According to Mykleby, climate change is intertwined with National Security. It is of paramount necessity that the United States military branches look for alternative sources of energy rather than fossil fuel.
“There is one serviceman lost for every 24 vehicles [supplied with fuel],” Mykleby said. “That is too high a price to pay.”
Mykleby said that the United States has lost a lot of credibility in foreign nations and when military service men and women visit, they are often asked, “who are they going to invade now.”
“[We have got to have] the guts to look in the mirror and see how we do things here at home,” Mykleby said. “The world needs America to lead [in alternative energy sources].”
Mykleby said that it all comes down to our carbon footprint and how sustainable is it to acquire food, energy, water and other resources. The need to feed the population is not yet a national security but it could be coming soon, Mykleby said.
“The last thing we want in America is to have a forced change,” Mykleby said. “The concept of sustainability makes sense because these are global challenges we are facing.”
Mykleby said that challenges such as Afghanistan are easy because military can identify the enemy. The enemy to the United States people is the challenges they face at home.
“I say we just get it on,” Mykleby said.
Orr, who has authored many books such as Earth in Mind and Ecological Literacy, spoke primarily on the Oberlin Project sponsored by the Oberlin College in Ohio.
“When you study climate change, it is easy to get depressed,” Orr said. “However, [you] can downscale problems through a manageable level.”
The Oberlin Project is a community and college effort to join the Climate Positive Development Program, a joint initiative of the Clinton Climate Initiative, a program of the William J. Clinton Foundation, and the U.S. Green Building Council. This venture works on the development of large-scale urban projects that demonstrate cities are able to further develop in ways for progressive climate changes. In this instance, it is surmised that the amount of CO2 emissions will decrease.
“We believe we can become a model,” Orr said. “We think we can get carbon neutrality. Things appear much more difficult than they are.”
With this plan and vision for the entire city and college of Oberlin, financing comes from banks, third party investors and savings, and the benefits would include a low-cost sustainable environment. The components of the project include a hotel and restaurant, housing, businesses, conference center and ecological center.
“My grandkids have no voice except my voice and your voice [to make a change in the future],” Orr said.
Orr quoted General Tony Zinni, USMC retired, former Commander-in-Chief, CENTCOM.
“It’s not hard to make the connection between climate change and instability or climate change and terrorism,” Zinni formerly said.
“We need to look at things holistically,” Orr said. “[We need to see the] full spectrum of sustainability.”
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