Friday, February 1, 2008

U.S. National Security: Just Bombs or Also Climate?

For the kind of original thinking on fundamental national priorities that should be coming from the aspirants for national office in this election year, see this landmark new report:

The Budgets Compared: Military vs. Climate Security
B y M i r i am P emb e r ton
F o r e i g n p o l i c y i n focus
Janua r y 2 0 0 8

The key conclusions of Pemberton's report include:

For the 2008 fiscal year, the government budgeted $647.51 billion for
military security. It budgeted $7.37 billion to slow climate change. That

■■ Finding: For every dollar allocated for stabilizing the climate, the
government will spend $88 on achieving security by military force.

■■ Finding: The government is allocating 99% of combined federal spending on military and climate security to military security.

Releasing its latest report to Congress on federal climate spending, the Bush administration highlighted the fact that during the previous five years it had spent more than $37 billion for this purpose. During the same period, it spent more than $3.5 trillion on its military forces.

■■ Finding: During the last five years the ratio of military security to
climate security spending has averaged 97 to 1.

■■ Finding: In FY 2008, as well as during the past five years, the government has allocated for climate security only one percent of what it has devoted to military security.

The federal government allocates the lion’s share of spending on climate to technology development: about $3.9 billion for FY 2008. The Defense Department’s research and development (R&D) budget is $77 billion. That means:

■■ Finding: The U.S. government budgeted $20 to develop new weapons systems for every dollar it requested to develop new technologies to stabilize the climate.

Climate change is a global problem that won’t be solved except through international cooperation. The government allocates the smallest share of the current climate budget to working on the problem internationally, providing resources to assist other countries in their energy transition: $212 million. Meanwhile the federal budget’s military security assistance account allocates $9.5 billion to international military assistance.

■■ Finding: We will devote 50 times as much to arming the rest of the world as to helping it prepare for and avoid global climate catastrophe.

■■ Finding: The government allocates just 2% of the international assistance budget for both military and climate security to stabilizing climate.

The targets of U.S. foreign aid within the climate change budget are nearly as problematic as its size. Nearly half of the budget is allocated to an (unproven) strategy for mitigating the effects of existing coal-fired power generation infrastructure, rather than assisting in the transition to cleaner renewable energy sources. Most of the rest is devoted to promoting U.S. technologies that may or may not be the most suitable to the recipients’ needs. The budget allocates less than 10% of spending to adapting to climate change effects, such as droughts, floods, crop loss and disease. And an amount barely worth mentioning, less than 1% of the budget, is devoted to assisting donor countries in participating in the broad systemic, global changes that we must make to avert climate disaster.

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