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NATO: Renewable Energy Can Save Soldiers’ Lives

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According to its annual report, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) plans to increase its investment in renewables and energy efficiency as they “reduce the risk” to troops involved in conflict.

NATO plans to increase its investment in renewables and energy efficiency as they “reduce the risk” to troops involved in conflict. Photo credit: Pew Environment

Smart energy solutions, such as roll-up solar panels, wind power, smart grids and advanced insulation, "can not only save money when less fuel is used, but can also save soldiers’ lives,” the NATO report, released on Thursday, finds. Between 2003 and 2007, an estimated 3,000 soldiers were killed or wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan, transporting fuels to power military bases.

The report also cites the impacts of climate change on international security as part of the reason it is ramping up investments in renewables and energy efficiency.

"Climate change affects not only the natural environment but the security environment as well," the report says. "NATO is working to improve the energy efficiency of its forces and increase the use of renewable energy in the military.”

NATO enumerated a number of its activities in 2015 that emphasize the link between energy and security:

  • "During the multinational exercise Capable Logistician 2015 in Hungary, 14 companies demonstrated the operational relevance of energy-efficient equipment (e.g. solar and wind power, smart grids, and advanced insulation), making the event a major milestone in the development of energy efficiency standards for NATO forces.

  • NATO conducted its first ever Energy Security Strategic Awareness Course at the NATO School in Oberammergau, with participants from Allied and partner countries.

  • NATO’s Energy Security Centre of Excellence produced a study on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure challenges.

  • The informal Working Group on Infrastructure Protection, chaired by Azerbaijan, convened to discuss threats to energy infrastructure in the maritime domain, with a focus on cyber threats.

  • NATO’s annual Energy Security Roundtable brought together experts from academia, international organizations and the private sector to discuss global energy developments and their security implications.

  • NATO’s Science for Peace and Security Programme supported energy-related projects, for example, on novel approaches to determining the integrity of pipelines."

International security experts have been concerned about energy issues and climate impacts for a number of years. In October, NATO warned that climate change is a significant security threat, saying “its bite is already being felt.” The Pentagon, the world’s top non-state fuel consumer, has also called for climate action.

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A volcano erupts on New Zealand's Whakaari/White Island on Dec. 9, 2019. Michael Schade / Twitter

A powerful volcano on Monday rocked an uninhabited island frequented by tourists about 30 miles off New Zealand's coast. Authorities have confirmed that five people died. They expect that number to rise as some are missing and police officials issued a statement that flights around the islands revealed "no signs of life had been seen at any point,", as The Guardian reported.

"Based on the information we have, we do not believe there are any survivors on the island," the police said in their official statement. "Police is working urgently to confirm the exact number of those who have died, further to the five confirmed deceased already."

The eruption happened on New Zealand's Whakaari/White Island, an islet jutting out of the Bay of Plenty, off the country's North Island. The island is privately owned and is typically visited for day-trips by thousands of tourists every year, according to The New York Times.

Michael Schade / Twitter

At the time of the eruption on Monday, about 50 passengers from the Ovation of Seas were on the island, including more than 30 who were part of a Royal Caribbean cruise trip, according to CNN. Twenty-three people, including the five dead, were evacuated from the island.

The eruption occurred at 2:11 pm local time on Monday, as footage from a crater camera owned and operated by GeoNet, New Zealand's geological hazards agency, shows. The camera also shows dozens of people walking near the rim as white smoke billows just before the eruption, according to Reuters.

Police were unable to reach the island because searing white ash posed imminent danger to rescue workers, said John Tims, New Zealand's deputy police commissioner, as he stood next to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in a press conference, as The New York Times reported. Tims said rescue workers would assess the safety of approaching the island on Tuesday morning. "We know the urgency to go back to the island," he told reporters.

"The physical environment is unsafe for us to return to the island," Tims added, as CNN reported. "It's important that we consider the health and safety of rescuers, so we're taking advice from experts going forward."

Authorities have had no communication with anyone on the island. They are frantically working to identify how many people remain and who they are, according to CNN.

Geologists said the eruption is not unexpected and some questioned why the island is open to tourism.

"The volcano has been restless for a few weeks, resulting in the raising of the alert level, so that this eruption is not really a surprise," said Bill McGuire, emeritus professor of geophysical and climate hazards at University College London, as The Guardian reported.

"White Island has been a disaster waiting to happen for many years," said Raymond Cas, emeritus professor at Monash University's school of earth, atmosphere and environment, as The Guardian reported. "Having visited it twice, I have always felt that it was too dangerous to allow the daily tour groups that visit the uninhabited island volcano by boat and helicopter."

The prime minister arrived Monday night in Whakatane, the town closest to the eruption, where day boats visiting the island are docked. Whakatane has a large Maori population.

Ardern met with local council leaders on Monday. She is scheduled to meet with search and rescue teams and will speak to the media at 7 a.m. local time (1 p.m. EST), after drones survey the island, as CNN reported.

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