Last week I announced via blog post that we here at Operation Free helped pass something pretty cool in California, otherwise known as SB1409, or the Energy Security Coordination Act of 2012. It was very important, very bipartisan, and—being about energy security—exactly what Op. Free is all about. But what is meant by energy security? What makes US energy consumption so intimately linked to our national security? To make sense of it all, it’s important to understand these three basic concepts.
1) We, the United States of America, consume a lot of oil, and it’s hurting us (and helping our enemies).
In fact, as around 4.5% of the world’s population, we consume about 25% of the world’s oil, the cost of which comes out to roughly $1 billion per day. This money funds oil-rich states such as Saudi Arabia and Iran, who are Al Qaeda’s strongest supporters.
20% of the world’s oil travels through the Strait of Hormuz alone, which Iran has threatened to close. Our oil dependence effectively makes the US economy dependent on and vulnerable to the exact countries that don’t like us very much.
But then, can’t we just come up with our own sources of oil?
Well, actually it’s not that easy. For one, the US only possess 3% of the world’s oil reserves, which would be exhausted in 4 years at our current consumption rates, so drilling at home wouldn’t bring us energy independence. In fact, all purchases of oil increase global oil demand, thus increasing global oil prices and ultimately putting more money into the hands of the countries that support terrorism. On top of that, oil usage is the greatest contributing factor to climate change.
Oh yeah, that.
2) Climate change is real, and it’s a threat multiplier.
America’s national security leaders—the Department of Defense, the Department of State, the CIA and the National Intelligence Council—aren’t debating it. They’ve instead gone ahead and labeled it a ‘threat multiplier’ that acts to accelerate instability.
Climate change enables the spread of tropical diseases, increases the frequency and intensity of storms, dislocates populations through rising sea levels, and causes mass migration as crops dry up and farms are flooded. All of these changes exacerbate border-tensions, create fertile breeding grounds for extremists, often times lead to costly US military intervention, and generally accelerate geopolitical instability.
3) A transition to clean energy is the long-term answer.
Clean energy solutions such as wind, solar, and advanced biofuels not only reduce our dangerous dependence on oil, they make the planet cleaner, create domestic jobs, enable the military to focus on other threats, and draw on the best of US education and industry. The US should leverage its competitive advantage in innovation and skilled manufacturing to take the lead. Investments like these increase our energy independence, and in doing so greatly strengthen our national security.