Under the Radar

The Department of Defense might not care about the environment, but it's quietly leading the quest for renewable energy.

The Department of Defense might not care about the environment, but it's quietly leading the quest for renewable energy.

Last summer, Marine Corps Major General Richard Zilmer, the head of coalition forces in western Iraq, sent an "urgent request" to the Pentagon, asking for new gear. At the top of his list was a "priority 1" plea for renewable power stations, equipped with "solar panels and wind turbines."It's not as if General Zilmer was suddenly worried about global warming instead of insurgents. Constantly resupplying out-of-the-way bases with fossil fuels puts troops at risk of "serious and grave casualties" on Iraq's roadways, Zilmer noted in his request. Not to mention the expense: Factor in transportation and storage, and the price of a gallon of fuel in Iraq can be as high as $400. Green power had become a battlefield necessity.Efforts like these have put the Defense Department at the vanguard of a new wave of self-interested environmentalists-motivated not by calls to conscience, but by calls to the bottom line, and to personal and corporate preservation. Companies and individuals could learn a thing or two from the men in uniform, like being realistic in their investments, and not becoming married to a single clean-power technology. The Pentagon's new environmentalism also contains a hard lesson for anyone looking to throw spitballs at these untraditional greens. Motivation doesn't matter. Results do. And if generals, carmakers-or even oil-company execs-suddenly find it's best for them to get on the clean-power bandwagon, we should welcome them on board, not question why they're here. "Before, this was always viewed as a zero-sum game-you were either environmental or profit-driven," says Ethan Zindler, an analyst at New Energy Finance. "But with $60 barrels of oil, the two now go hand in hand. And that's good for everybody."The Defense Department is the world's largest energy consumer, spending $10.6 billion annually, almost two percent of the entire country's use. So there's plenty of motivation for the military to wean itself off of fossil fuels. It has already made a pretty decent start: In September 2005, the federal government decreed that 7.5 percent of its power should come from renewable sources by 2013. The Pentagon is already there.
The Pentagon has a hard lesson for anyone looking to throw spitballs at these untraditional greens.
How? By staying flexible, for starters-using whatever renewable resource makes the most sense, given the location. In sunny San Diego, California, Naval Base Coronado's solar power is saving the annual equivalent of 6,000 barrels of oil. Wind turbines help Warren Air Force Base in gusty Wyoming, keeping 4,866 tons of carbon dioxide emissions from escaping into the atmosphere per year. Then there are the nine military bases that are powered geothermally, by the heat of the earth. California's Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake kicks off 270 megawatts of electricity, keeping lights turned on as far away as Los Angeles.All of these approaches are proven energy-savers-this isn't solar panels as window dressing. And none of them required massive new infrastructure investments in order to work. (The Pentagon is, however, spending hundreds of millions of dollars to radically improve renewable gear like solar panels.) Contrast that with the behavior of some energy-eating companies, who seem joined at the hip to a single far-off approach that would require a country-wide extreme environmental makeover (I'm looking at you, GM, and those hydrogen fuel cells of yours).These military investments have been done quietly-unlike the full-page ads that energy companies seem to run every time they drop a dime into an eco-friendly account. The Pentagon isn't like oil giant Chevron, which trumpets its alternative fuels research, while spending big to kill California's ethanol-promoting Proposition 87.The Defense Department's big green push, in some sense, hasn't really gotten under way. Plans for diesel-electric Humvees and tanks, in the works for years, have been slowed because of battery issues. But the goal is very much front and center-as is a synthetic replacement for the jet fuel currently gobbled up by the Air Force; a B-52 running synthetic fuel flew in September. And General Zilmer's solar and wind generators? The military's first "Transportable Hybrid Electric Power Station" is scheduled to head into the field in February. It's amazing what a little self-interest can do.
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Tonight's Democratic debate is a must-watch for followers of the 2020 election. And it's a nice distraction from the impeachment inquiry currently enveloping all of the political oxygen in America right now.

For most people, the main draw will be newly anointed frontrunner Pete Buttigieg, who has surprisingly surged to first place in Iowa and suddenly competing in New Hampshire. Will the other Democrats attack him? How will Elizabeth Warren react now that she's no longer sitting alone atop the primary field? After all, part of Buttigieg's rise has been his criticisms of Warren and her refusal to get into budgetary specifics over how she'd pay for her healthcare plan.

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Official White House Photo by Sonya N. Hebert

This election cycle, six women threw their hat in the ring for president, but is their gender holding them back? Would Americans feel comfortable with a woman leading the free world? Based on the last election, the answer is a swift no. And a new study backs this up. The study found that only 49% of American men would feel very comfortable with a woman serving as the head of the government. By comparison, 59% of women said they would feel comfortable with a woman in charge.

The Reykjavik Index for Leadership, which measures attitude towards women leaders, evaluated the attitudes of those living in the G7 countries as well as Brazil, China, India, and Russia. 22,000 adults in those 11 countries were surveyed on their attitudes about female leadership in 22 different sectors, including government, fashion, technology, media, banking and finance, education, and childcare.

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via Gage Skidmore / Flickr

If you are totally ready to move on from Donald Trump, you're not alone. According to a report last April from the Wason Center National Survey of 2020 Voters, "President Trump will be the least popular president to run for reelection in the history of polling."

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via Around the NFL / Twitter

After three years on the sidelines, Colin Kapernick will be working out for multiple NFL teams on Saturday, November 16 at the Atlanta Falcons facility.

The former 49er quarterback who inflamed the culture wars by peacefully protesting against social injustice during the national anthem made the announcement on Twitter Tuesday.

Kaepernick is scheduled for a 15-minute on-field workout and an interview that will be recorded and sent to all 32 teams. The Miami Dolphins, Dallas Cowboys, and Detroit Lions are expected to have representatives in attendance.

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"We like our quarterback situation right now," Miami head coach, Brian Flores said. "We're going to do our due diligence."

NFL Insider Steve Wyche believes that the workout is the NFL's response to multiple teams inquiring about the 32-year-old quarterback. A league-wide workout would help to mitigate any potential political backlash that any one team may face for making an overture to the controversial figure.

Kapernick is an unrestricted free agent (UFA) so any team could have reached out to him. But it's believed that the interested teams are considering him for next season.

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Earlier this year, Kaepernick and Carolina Panthers safety Eric Reid reached a financial settlement with the league in a joint collusion complaint. The players alleged that the league conspired to keep them out after they began kneeling during the national anthem in 2016.

Before the 2019 season, Kaepernick posted a video of himself working out on twitter to show he was in great physical condition and ready to play.

Kaepnick took the 49ers to the Super Bowl in 2012 and the NFC Championship game in 2013.

He has the 23rd-highest career passer rating in NFL history, the second-best interception rate, and the ninth-most rushing yards per game of any quarterback ever. In 2016, his career to a sharp dive and he won only of 11 games as a starter.