Vice Admiral McGinn: Renewable Energy Will Save Us From Dictators Whose Power Comes From Fossil Fuels

Vice Admiral Dennis V. McGinn recently wrote an opinion piece for The Hill in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. He argued that renewable energy will save us from dictators whose power stems from fossil fuels. He pointed out that the US needs to up its game on renewables, and I strongly agree.

The article pointed out that Russia’s attack on Ukraine is a clear warning to the US to become energy independent with renewables. Vice Admiral McGinn (retired) served as Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Energy, Installations, and Environment during the Obama administration and served in the US Navy for 35 years. I think it’s important to hear his thoughts.

The Vice Admiral wrote that we are witnessing history repeating itself and that both America and its allies have been placed into a conflict that is “inextricably linked to the world’s addiction to fossil fuels.” He added that if we were able to heed the warning and act now, this could be the last global conflict related to fossil fuels.

He noted that Vladimir Putin’s international power stems from Russia’s abundant supply of natural gas and his knowledge of Europe’s reliance on it — despite the gradual move away from fossil fuels across the continent. The attack on Ukraine by Putin, he pointed out, is funded by petrodollars and is connected to securing further risky gas exports to Europe.

This isn’t new, and as the Vice Admiral pointed out, dictators and rulers have been flexing their powers due to their control of these finite resources that only get their value from the world’s addiction to it. He wrote:

“After decades of the United States being dragged into deadly conflicts over oil supplies, with countless dead, enough is enough. It’s time to turn our strategic mission to secure a clean and secure energy future for ourselves, for our allies, and for the world.

“In the 21st century, there is no reason why wars should be fought for and fueled by oil and gas anymore. Thanks to enormous leaps in technology, with the right policies in place, clean, renewable energy can provide most of our energy needs.

“No one country owns the sun or the wind, resources that also happen to be infinite. Removing fossil fuels as a tool of power for dictators must be a priority for forward-thinking countries.

“For the United States, energy independence must mean clean, renewable, independent energy. The fate of our national security — and position in the world — is linked to how seriously we commit to building a clean energy economy.”

He also pointed out that the only way to reduce the power of oligarchs and dictators fueled by oil and gas is to cease our reliance on these sources of energy. This requires renewable energy. He pointed out that if America and our allies were to rapidly expand our renewable energy portfolios, this would protect us from dictators and their greed, the price swings that come with fossil fuels, and the geopolitical chaos that comes from the world’s addiction to fossil fuels . (Note that it’s also critical to switch to clean electric vehicles.)

I wholeheartedly agree with the Vice Admiral and encourage you to go back and read his full article.

Solar power plant in Crimea, Ukraine. Photo by CleanTechnica.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk recently said that we needed to increase our oil and gas output immediately. This may sound backward, but considering the situation with Russia and Ukraine, it makes the most sense for the short term. Much of Europe is dependent on Russia for its natural gas.

Before all of this madness happened, the world was embracing renewables more and more. Electric vehicles have been rising fast in the world’s largest vehicle markets, and Tesla has been the most advocate for clean energy and EVs. For Tesla’s CEO to say that we need to increase our oil and gas production ASAP means that we need to temporarily stop progressing in order to react to a catastrophe. That catastrophe is Putin and his greed for power and thirst for blood. Russia is bombing civilians, killing kids, and flattening Ukraine’s cities. The world has to stop progressing — even temporarily — and address this issue.

Of course, we are not completely stopping progress. There are companies such as Arcimoto, BYD, First Solar, Canadian Solar, Vestas, and many other companies that are continuing to develop renewable energy and electric vehicles. Hyundai, Kia, Volkswagen and others are also embracing EVs and renewables. The list goes on.

We need to focus on renewables now more than ever. Our very lives and livelihoods depend on it. Elon’s right, but so is the Vice Admiral. The people of Russia aren’t stopping their dictator from his mad descent into darkness, and the world is sitting rather helplessly as we witness the constant attacks on Ukraine and its citizens. What can we do?

We can donate if we have extra funds. For those who have funds to invest in starting up companies, you can focus on renewable energy and electric vehicles. It’s an all-hands-on-deck type of situation. Although the media constantly pits Tesla and other EVs against one another, we need them all.

Increasing our oil and gas production is the short-term solution to help us gain energy independence. But renewables are the long-term solution and will help us keep that energy independence.


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