PHOTO CAPTION: Diesel hybrid-electric Humvee

Evolution Towards An All-Electric Military

Paul Sterne wants President Obama to announce a plan to create an electric military by 2025.

Published: 31-Jan-2012

During his State of the Union Address, for one second, I thought that Barack Obama was going to have a Churchill moment. As he lauded his rescue of the US auto industry and touted the importance of electric car technology to the future of the American economy, he turned to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the most powerful men in the room, and indicated that he was going to issue them a challenge. In my gut, I was hoping he would declare that the time had come for America to create an all-electric military, but instead he said something lame like “I challenge the American military to go green.”

When Winston Churchill pushed the Royal Navy to convert from coal to diesel power before the First World War, he probably saved Britain from defeat. Since the Germans had better guns, and equally clever tactics, it was only the superior speed of the English warships powered by diesel engines that secured its primacy on the seas. Without control of seas, Britain would have lost its material advantage in that war of attrition and Germany might have triumphed in the West after the Russian Revolution and the collapse of the Eastern Front.

Taking a very long view of history, civilization is at the beginning of the Age of Electricity and the end of the Age of Fire. The Age of Fire lasted about 790,000 years. The Age of Electricity started with an American, Benjamin Franklin, discovering that lightning was a form of static electricity in 1752; he was lucky to survive the experiment. The next few scientists to try it were electrocuted. As we all know, from that moment on, society started to change more and more rapidly as this new form of energy transformed work, entertainment and war.



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