By Gordon Soderberg
US NAVY Corpsman/Surgical Tech 1982-88
I’ve been driving and fueling buses with biodiesel for veteran and disaster relief organizations since 2004. This work has was inspired by my military experience in the Middle East and hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Gustav and Ike. If one believes in the goals of our military mission in the Middle East or in global warming or not, the two issues are connected and there must be solutions if the human race is to survive and prosper.
The fact that America needs the oil that comes out of the Middle East is one of the most significant reasons why we are there today. Spending billions to secure our interests and create stability in the region will continue for some time. This will continue to reduce our ability to respond to natural disasters here at home.
No matter where you fall on the spectrum, three things are true: 1) The amount of oil in the planet is not enough to sustain the world’s economy. Therefore, we need alternative fuels; 2) Having our national guard in another country when we are facing increased number and size of hurricanes, fires and other natural disasters at home requires that we improve our disaster preparedness and response systems significantly; 3) Our economy is in the tank. Whatever we do, it must include making and increasing the amount of alternative energy used in this country to be able to sustain our recovery and rebuilding efforts.
Fix-all solutions to these problems are not known. I certainly don’t claim to know what they are. But, from my own direct experience, I can say without hesitation that we need to get moving in a different direction that is sustainable for the next generation to be better off that ours.
The search for real solutions starts with investment in new ideas. At Veterans Green Jobs we are making investments in new ideas, business models and concepts of rebuilding America sustainably.
Demonstrating alternative energy solutions and adapting them to disaster relief and rebuilding is my mission within the organization. To help accomplish it we are building a biodiesel and solar powered bus with communications technologies to share the Veterans Green Jobs training with the country.
Over the next several weeks I will be documenting the bus retrofit process and discussing the reasons for each component we put in it. I hope that it will be both educational and inspirational for the veterans and the people they will be serving with it’s use as a green disaster response vehicle.