The Burden: What solar can do to lift it

The Burden is premiering this Friday at the Environmental Film Festival in D.C.

This is a guest post written by Alissa Jean Schafer, Marketing & Media Director of the US Solar Institute. The original post can be viewed here.  

Solar is a matter of national security and saving lives. This statement may sound like a dramatic hyperbole, but it’s not. Dependence upon oil is one of the costliest and deadliest threats that the U.S. military currently faces, and development of clean energy, such as solar, is key to reducing this threat and keeping our men and women in uniform safe. That’s the truth, not an exaggeration.

Premiering this Friday at the Environmental Film Festival in Washington D.C., The Burden is a groundbreaking documentary that gives an up-close view of this important side of solar.

Currently one out of every 24 military convoys results in a casualty. The mission of the majority of those convoys is to deliver or secure fuel. As a result, the death toll of our men and women who have died over oil is staggering. In addition to the lives lost, the cost to obtain and protect oil around the world is very high: $85 billion annually, about 17% of Defense Department’s total budget.

Veterans who have faced the reality of the situation explain it best. “We knew the risks, and we were prepared to give our lives for our country in Iraq,” said Jon Gensler, West Point grad and Iraq War Army Veteran. “But we were unprepared for how much of our time was wasted on getting and protecting fuel.”

Military leaders have identified oil dependence as the greatest long-term threat to national security–not just dependence on foreign sources, but on all oil, period. The film presents the serious consequences of maintaining an untenable status quo, while illuminating the economic opportunities offered by a renewable energy economy, a solution that would save money, and, most importantly, save countless lives.

The Burden opens doors to meaningful discussions about the military’s reliance on fossil fuels and vividly illuminates how oil dependence is increasingly a national security concern,” said Stephanie Kline, USMC veteran and current Environmental Defense Fund military energy analyst. “The Burden is a compelling film that candidly documents the dangerous costs of fossil fuels in a way most people have never seen before… Our country supports its troops, and this film skillfully demonstrates how our energy choices affect the safety and welfare of our men and women in uniform. I have spent the last 10 years pushing for policies that protect the warfighter.  The Burden spends 40 minutes expertly documenting why reducing military reliance on fossil fuels is critical to us all.”

When Ray Johnson of US Solar (a solar college, contractor and distributor) was contacted by writer and director Roger Sorkin about the film, the choice to support the project and step in as a producer was an easy one. A portion of the filming was actually done in Fort Lauderdale, at US Solar’s headquarters. “Over the years of training active duty and veteran men and women of the armed forces, the story of this very real burden is one that we have heard time and time again,” Johnson said. “I see it as both an honor and a responsibility to work to advance our national security by enabling the military to have reliable alternatives to fuel, and working with Sorkin on this project is part of that bigger picture.”

Solar power is more than a way for homeowners to lower their energy bill. It is a way to increase national security and save lives. The burden must be lifted, literally and metaphorically speaking. Watch the trailer for The Burden HERE, and see for yourself.

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