Sunday, October 16, 2022

Army’s Misplaced Priorities: Recruitment Shortfall More Problematic Than Climate Change

The word “incongruous” immediately came to mind last week when two news headlines appeared at about the same time concerning the U.S. Army.

The Army Times last week reported that at the end of fiscal year 2022 (on Sept. 30), the Army came up 20,000 soldiers short of its authorized end strength.

The Army was authorized to have a strength of 485,000 active-duty soldiers in 2022, but because of severe recruiting challenges, instead ended the year at 465,600. This is a bona fide crisis because a shortfall like this has never been seen in the modern Army, and if it continues, it will result in a greatly diminished force.

Similar challenges are being seen in the Army National Guard and Army Reserve.

The second news headline, appearing that same day, trumpeted the news of the Army releasing its new implementation plan for its climate strategy. Declaring climate change an “immediate and serious threat to U.S. national security,” the 50-page plan detailed all the methods the Army will use to fight climate change, including the application of hundreds of millions of dollars to build microgrids, greenhouse gas-free power plants, and fielding a 100% zero-emission nontactical vehicle fleet by 2027.

Reinforcing the message, Army leaders simultaneously appeared at a think tank event to herald the wisdom of the climate plan.

The same week that the Army fails to achieve its recruiting goal—a direct measure of its health—it released a major news announcement trumpeting the release of its climate change remediation plan. The climate plan, clearly the result of months of arduous work, represents an incredible amount of organizational effort.

That’s effort that to an outside observer seemingly should have been first applied to its current recruiting crisis, as opposed to the direction to establish climate-related training programs, mandates to use only sustainable building materials, and experiments to make tactical vehicles (howitzers and armored personnel carriers) all electric.

Perhaps we should take comfort in the knowledge that while the Army plummets in size and capacity, what is left will at least be producing less carbon dioxide.

Granted, the individuals who produce “climate change implementation plans” are not the same ones who would develop strategies and plans to turn around dwindling recruiting numbers. But planners are planners, and the skills they use to write a climate change plan could reasonably be applied to the recruiting crisis.

It’s about priorities. It’s also about optics. A popular saying nowadays is “read the room.” That doesn’t seem to be happening.

At the time when the Army most needs the support of the nation to persuade young people to join its ranks, it is busy releasing climate strategies. What message does that send?

While the Army didn’t have any choice whether to produce a climate plan (it was required by President Joe Biden’s executive order), the contents of the plan are the Army’s, and some reflect a prioritization of climate ideology over warfighting skills.

The Army’s plan, among other things, contains the requirement to modify unit designs to account for soldiers and civilians that hold “approved climate credentials.”

There is direction to incorporate climate change into “strategic and operational-level wargame and exercise designs.” And the most damning of all is a requirement to “ … produce a digital handbook of potential unit-level collective training modifications that would reduce direct Army [greenhouse gas] emissions.”

Reading between the lines, the Army is considering modifying its unit training programs to reduce greenhouse gases.

A changing climate has always been a challenge the military has had to confront in planning and carrying out its mission. But a consistent failure by the Army to meet its recruiting targets carries dire national security consequences—not sometime in the distant future, but today.

Building a strong national defense is a deadly serious endeavor, one that demands a narrow focus on a few key priorities. That appeared to be missing last week.


UK Climate Minister Pulls Out of Event with Climate Science Deniers

The truth can sometimes be deeply unfashionable

The UK’s new climate minister has pulled out of an event hosting two of the world’s most prominent climate science deniers, DeSmog can reveal.

Graham Stuart MP was listed as a keynote speaker on Tuesday at the four-day Global Investment in Sustainable Development conference in London, hosted by the CC Forum, a company which touts itself as the “green Davos”.

His speech would have been followed by a debate about global warming featuring Lord Christopher Monckton, who has a history of promoting climate science denial, and Marc Morano, a prominent U.S. climate science denial activist.

However, when contacted by DeSmog, the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) said Stuart would no longer be attending the event, and that he was not told who else would be on the bill when he agreed to speak.

The reason for his cancelling was not immediately clear. While BEIS referred to other speakers, conference organisers said Stuart’s team had cited “unforeseen urgent government business” for his decision to withdraw. Stuart did not respond when contacted for comment.

Prime Minister Liz Truss is facing criticism over her support for new fossil fuel projects, including fracking, and plans to block solar farms and scrap environmental protections.

Stuart defended the government’s support for almost 100 new licences for oil and gas drilling this week, telling a panel of MPs that domestic production is “good for the environment” because it creates fewer emissions than importing oil and gas.

“This government, which still holds the COP Presidency, continues to share the stage with individuals and organisations that are undermining national and global attempts to tackle the climate crisis, despite UK citizens being shown to be committed to more urgent action”, Green Party co-leader Carla Denyer told DeSmog.

“We’ve had the Business Secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg opening up the North Sea to further exploration by fossil fuel corporations and now the Minister supposedly appointed to counter Rees-Mogg’s climate scepticism speaking at a conference that is welcoming climate sceptics.

“We need a government that understands the actions needed to reach net zero.”

The minister’s speech at the CC Forum event was to be followed by a “VIP Networking Lunch”, and then a debate titled “Is Global Warming the World’s Most Pressing Problem?”, according to the online programme.

The debate will feature Marc Morano, an American activist who Greenpeace once dubbed a “central cell of the climate denial machine”, and Lord Christopher Monckton, a former advisor to Margaret Thatcher, who in 2010 led Tea Party crowds in the U.S. in a call and response chant of “Global warming is?”, with the crowd shouting “Bullshit!”.

Morano runs the climate science denial website Climate Depot and the think tank CFACT, which has received funding from Exxon Mobil and Chevron.


Cutting back the development of oil and resources in the name of addressing climate change concerns is getting energy backward, according to J.P. Morgan bank CEO Jamie Dimon

“Well, I think we’re getting energy completely wrong, which is, you know, ever since the war started, we’ve known that Europe is going to have a problem and that it was pretty predictable that Putin was going to cut off some gas and certain oil, and oil prices go up,” he said in an interview released Tuesday.

“And by the way, for the climate folks here, it’s made the climate worse, because people had this bad assumption that high oil prices and gas prices reduce consumption, reduce CO2. No. Poor nations, India, China, Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam, are turning back on coal plants, as are rich nations called Germany, Netherlands, France,” he said.

“We have it completely backwards,” he continued.

“In my view, America should have been pumping more oil and gas, and it should have been supported. You know, we’re trying to have our cake and eat it too.”

During the interview with CNBC, he said, “America needs to play a real leadership role. America is the swing producer, not Saudi Arabia. We should have gotten that right starting in March.”

“It’s almost too late to get it right because obviously, this is a longer-term investment,” he said.

Dimon said short-term shortages linked to the war in Ukraine can be overcome.

“But we have a longer-term problem now, which is the world is not producing enough oil and gas to reduce coal, make the transition [to green energy], create security for people,” he said.

“I would put it in the critical category. This should be treated almost as a matter of war at this point, nothing short of that.”

Dimon spoke of the volatile times in which the world tries to function. “Don’t be surprised. Like, I was not surprised at Nord Stream One being blown up,” he said, suggesting tankers could be blown up if they are “in the wrong place.”

During the interview, Dimon touched on the Russian invasion of Ukraine and said, “It’s Pearl Harbor, it’s Czechoslovakia, and it’s really an attack on the Western world.”

“It’s a chance for the Western work to get its act together,” he said. “You know, the autocratic world thinks that the Western world is a little lazy and incompetent — and there’s a little bit of truth to that. This is the chance to get our act together and to solidify the Western, free, democratic, capitalist, free people, free movements, freedom of speech, free religion for the next century,” he added.

“Because if we don’t get this one right, that kind of chaos you can see around the world for the next 50 years.”

Last month, Dimon told a congressional panel the bank will not embrace a ban on investing in oil and gas development, according to Forbes. “Absolutely not, and that would be the road to hell for America,” he said.

“We are not getting this right,” Dimon continued. “The world needs effectively 100 million barrels of oil and gas every day, and we need it for 10 years. To do that, we need proper investing in the oil and gas complex.

“Investing in the oil and gas complex is good for reducing CO2, because as we have all seen, because of the high price of oil and gas, particularly for the rest of the world, you’ve seen everyone going back to coal. Not just poor nations like India, Indonesia and Vietnam, but wealthy nations like Germany, France and the Netherlands,” he said.

In August, Dimon tried to state his case that addressing climate concerns and developing oil and gas projects are not mutually exclusive, according to Yahoo.

“We should focus on climate. The problem with that is because of high oil and gas prices, the world is turning back on their coal plants. It is dirtier,” Dimon said.

“Why can’t we get it through our thick skulls, that if you want to solve climate [change], it is not against climate [change] for America to boost more oil and gas?” he said.


The green investments that threaten Australia's future with their failures

Investments with essentially no return. A system of windmills and solar panels has added nothing to the good electricity availablity that we already had: A vast investment that has done nothing to improve our lives

Productivity growth is the key to income growth – we can’t have the latter without the former. A matter that has troubled many economists in the Western world during recent decades is a slowdown in productivity growth.

Australia is typical. Multi-factor productivity – the overall return on labour and capital inputs combined – has been growing at only 0.3 per cent per year in recent years, while the more commonly understood, labour productivity, has also seen growth at only 0.9 per cent a year. These are half the levels seen in the 1990s.

That slowdown is less evident in many countries that are nowadays referred to as ‘developing’. Some such countries that had been lagging behind Western world living standards for centuries started to catch up once their governments stood back from directly controlling their economies and created the conditions for individuals to accumulate savings and to invest these with much reduced fears of expropriation.

First, beginning in the 1960s, we saw the so-called Asian Tigers – Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Korea – start to emerge as industrial powerhouses; these countries now have income levels that surpass those of most developed western economies. This was followed by phenomenal growth rates achieved by China; in more recent years we’ve seen India, Vietnam, Indonesia, and even some African countries starting to show high levels of economic growth.

In contrast to the liberalisation and lessening of investment constraints and regulations that powered those nations’ growths, most western economies have imposed increasing layers of regulation on investment opportunities. These measures have forced down investment returns through requiring additional spending on environmental, heritage, and social matters – including the preparation of lengthy reports – and lengthening the approval time required to operationalise an initial idea.

For Australia, the slowdown in per capita growth has taken place notwithstanding increases in investment. Per capita annual real capital expenditure is currently 50 per cent higher than in the late 1980s.

But much of the investment in recent years is simply in dead-weight assets like the many idle desalinisation plants that have been constructed around Australia, plants that owe nothing to commercial decisions.

For the rest, increasing red tape reduces the efficiency – the payoff – of nearly all investment. And using subsidies to force funds into particular venues can lead the investment to have a negative effect by destroying the productive capabilities of other investment. This can be seen with new investment in electricity, which dominate the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS)category: ‘electricity gas, water, and waste services’. The category comprises about six per cent of Australia’s total new investment the bulk of which is for weather-dependent wind and solar and for the increased transmission, batteries, and pumped hydro necessary to support these generation sources.

This expenditure would not take place without subsidies either from government directly, or from regulatory measures that pass the costs of transmission and wind/solar onto consumers. In favouring these intrinsically high-cost forms of electricity, the subsidies force out of the market lower cost and more reliable forms, especially coal generators that comprise 60-70 per cent of supply. This has resulted in overall generation costs trebling and in measures to facilitate wind/solar that include replacing the present transmission system, valued at some $21 billion, with one at a cost that the government says will be $80 billion.

Regulations and direct subsidies to wind/solar have already forced the closure of coal generation capacity and the number of coal generating units in Australia is expected to be half their level of 10 years ago by 2025. On top of this is the Queensland Government’s radical plan to replace all its coal stations by wind/solar and two mythical pumped hydro schemes.

In measuring new capacity from investments, the ABS assumes its returns are constant and invariant to time, and ‘a change in the quantity of capital services delivered from any given capital asset is tantamount to a change in its productive capital stock’.

The sad fact is that certain investments, especially those taken for political purposes, yield no return at all and others are akin to investing in computer viruses that actually destroy value and cause considerable extra expenditures in attempts to offset the detrimental effects of the malware.

Subsidised expenditures in weather-dependent renewable facilities, rather than constituting investments, are parasitic outlays that destroy genuine income-producing assets.




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