Operation Free supporter Michael Morford offered the following comments at the Greenprints 2018 Conference, hosted by Southface, on 13 March in Atlanta, Georgia. The panel focused on market transformation, building a regenerative economy, and how shifting to a Circular Economic Model helps improve business efficiency and extends product lifecycle.
Selection from full remarks
Quite simply, our nation’s government and military must begin to transition itself towards a circular economy. It is not a choice. The main reason is that climate change and the United States’ fossil fuel dependence are THE biggest national security threats we face. The nation’s oil and gas producers may have reduced OPEC’s influence on our foreign policy, but the fact that we now produce more than 10 million barrels of crude oil a day does little to improve national security. Petro-dollars are THE primary source for funding terrorism. Plus, when the price of oil spikes, the U.S. military must repurpose funds away from training, maintenance, and readiness to offset the cost—which puts missions at risk. Furthermore, delivering fuel and oils to equipment in the battlefield results in a casualty every 24 fuel convoys. A circular economy approach would drastically reduce our logistics footprint in a foreign theater by upwards of 80 percent. This would dramatically cut costs AND improve security. It is literally a life-and-death proposition. The technology and abilities to do this today are readily available. The decision is merely a function of the will of our elected and military leaders.
The biggest question regarding a circular economy is “why.” Why does a transition to a circular economy matter? Yes, it provides better economics as we have seen in Europe. Yes, it improves business efficiencies, as we are witnessing at my company, VertiPrime Aerospace. Yes, it greatly improves the national security implications for any nation that embraces this approach. Yes, it is good for the environment, as is self-evident. But the real answer to the question is because we absolutely must—and that answer is the only answer that matters. The graphic representation presented here, in my mind, is the single most influential image I have ever seen on this issue. It was created by the United States Geological Survey to demonstrate just how little water really exists on this planet.
To be blunt, the stressors on the Water-Energy-Food Nexus are at breaking points and none are closer to permanent fracture than those on global fresh water resources. This is why I do not view environmentally- and socially-conscious efforts such as a move towards a circular economy as a way to stave off climate change—but a forced shift as a means for mankind’s survival through the anthropogenic climate change that is already afoot and accelerating.
Gone are the days when we can look at geopolitical disruption and environmental catastrophe in other countries and believe that the United States is impervious to similar events. We have seen this in California in the past 12 months, where historic drought led to historic fires charring the ground, which led to historic mudslides. We see it in Syria where climate change has been as much a driver of the rise of ISIS as any other cause. We see it in Cape Town, South Africa, where the country’s second largest city literally ran out of water this past January. If these events don’t provide a cautionary tale, then I encourage everyone spend a couple of hours watching Jared Scott’s documentary, The Age of Consequences. The complete crumbling of nation-states because of rampant climate change is just getting started. I believe Atlanta will be one of the cities directly affected in the United States. As coastal sea level rise forces migration of massive populations, Atlanta—along with Dallas, Denver, and other major metropolitan areas—will become super-cities. Without a proactive effort of regional circular economies, this influx could fracture the area’s water-energy nexus causing a domino effect none of us want to see.