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MiBiz plugs GM production of Fuel Cell Vehicles for the US Military

March 6, 2012

In their last Manufacturing news blast, MiBiz included a link to a Press Release from General Motors highlighting their production of fuel cell vehicles for the US Military.

The Press Release states in part, “Operating these vehicles will provide the military with the necessary data and experience to determine future applications of fuel cell technology,” said Charles Freese, GM executive director of Global Fuel Cell Activities.

This most recent experiment with so-called Green technology by the US Military is just the latest greenwash campaign, in this case between GM and the Pentagon.

First, it should be mentioned that the potential use of fuel cell powered vehicles manufactured for the US Military will be paid for by taxpayers. Any Pentagon purchases are picked up by US taxpayers, a reality usually excluded from such news.

More importantly, the notion of manufacturing some fuel cell vehicles for the US military would qualify as an amazing Orwellian notion. First, one of the main functions of the US Military is resource control, with oil being at the top of the list. This is the thesis of author Michael Klare in his book and film Blood & Oil.

The second fundamental issue that exposes the absurdity of the US Military’s attempt to become “greener’ is the issue of their existing fuel consumption. According to the groundbreaking book, The Green Zone: The Environmental Costs of Militarism, the Department of Defense (DoD) acknowledged that it owns and operates over 187,000 passenger vehicles and an additional 4,000 combat vehicles. Add to that the thousands of fighter jets, ships and tanks the US Military operates and it should be clear that the amount of fuel the US Military consumes on a daily basis is astronomical.

Author of The Green Zone, Barry Sanders, states:

The US Military is the largest consumer of energy in the world………The DoD’s total primary energy consumption in fiscal year 2006 was 1 quadrillion Btu [1,000,000,000,000,000]. It corresponds to only 1 percent of total energy consumption in the USA. For those of you who think this is not much…..Nigeria, with a population of more than 140 million, consumes as much energy as the US military. The DoD per capital consumption (524 trillion Btu) is 10 times more than per capita energy consumption than China, or 30 times more than that of Africa.”

Sanders frames the amount of fuel the US Military consumes with a useful comparison that provides us with a concrete notion of how much fuel they consume.

The Pentagon is the single largest consumer of petroleum in the world, using enough oil in one year to run all of the transit systems in the United States for the next fourteen to twenty-two years.”

The very idea that the US Military can engage in truly sustainable practices is utter absurdity, but since the business community and the business press believes that we can have environmental sustainability and capitalism at the same time, the idea of the military being green isn’t a stretch.

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