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The Planet's Demise is Not Concerned with Your Donors and Mistrust of Science

Updated: Mar 28, 2022

You may have missed it amid horrifying invasion of Ukraine by Russia, and the potential looming specter of a misstep leading to cataclysmic nuclear war, but the IPCC recently released its latest report on the state of the climate crisis. I’ll give readers one guess as to whether climate change (and its impacts) is proceeding more slowly, more quickly, or as predicted. If you read this weekly missive and you guessed “more slowly” I envy your optimism. Scientists, despite the wild ravings of rightwing propagandists, tend towards conservative predictions, so as not to overstate their findings, and hurt their credibility. Which means, of course, the most recent report has found temperatures rising more quickly than the models were predicting. The world has already warmed 1.1°C since the pre-industrial era, and only the most aggressive global action can stop us blowing past the 1.5°C limit agreed upon in the Paris Climate Accords. As UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres so aptly put it, the report is, “an atlas of human suffering and a damning indictment of failed climate leadership…delay means death.” The truth is, death is already with us. One of the tricky parts to properly addressing the climate crisis is understanding that this phenomenon is not a discrete issue, but that a thread of the climate crisis runs through, and effects nearly all our other issues. Case-in-point the illegal invasion of Ukraine by Russia is deeply enmeshed with climate change. To start, food and water security will be a growing concern for billions of people over the course of this century. Ukraine has some of the most arable land in Europe, which ensures food security without reliance on trade, for whoever controls it. In the near term, the ongoing ware could also spark further conflict by exacerbating already tight food supply from countries which rely on Ukrainian grain exports. Second, the continuing struggle for nations to absorb refugees, in this case from war, is a prelude to the challenges hundreds of millions of climate refugees will bring. Third, Europe and the United States failure to lead on the climate crisis and rapidly transition off of fossil fuels, has allowed brutal dictatorships to flourish, and hampered our ability to respond to their aggression. After all, European nations are still importing Russian oil and natural gas even during this war. While tragically there is little America can do for Ukraine militarily, the United States could easily take action on the latter of these two points. We can and should welcome refugees not just from Ukraine, but from all the worn torn nations we have created ourselves from South America to the Middle East. This is immediate humanitarian aid that we can bring to people desperately in need right now, today. Looking to tomorrow, however, this conflict makes it painfully clear how important it is to transition off of fossil fuels and into renewable energy independence. Without reliance on natural gas and oil for our infrastructure the geopolitical power of Petro-states would be greatly diminished, along with their capacity for war. Of course, our own fossil fuel giants think this crisis is the perfect opportunity to push for further expansion of domestic oil and natural gas production. Not only is this madness when viewed through the lens of the climate crisis, it’s also a red herring. When fossil fuel giants like Exxon Mobil and Shell drill for oil or frack gas, that money doesn’t go to the American people, or even to domestic gas pumps, it’s shipped and sold overseas to increase the profits of giant corporations. If there is to be any talk of securing fossil fuels for our national and economic security, it has to start with nationalizing these companies, so the profits actually flow to the people. Rather than fight over the ownership of obsolete energy technologies, we should listen to what the majority of the American people have been saying for years, and get the government involved in transitioning our nation to renewable energy. It is often in human nature to ignore taking action on problems until disaster strikes. The horror and helplessness we feel in the face of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine can be the impetus for positive change towards a greener and more sustainable world. We must strike while the iron is hot, and people are paying attention. For years this needed change has been within our power, with only political and economic division preventing action. If we can organize and build the economic power to stand up to the fossil fuel oligarchs and their owned politicians, we can achieve a rapid transition towards 100% renewable energy and save so many from devastation. So, join us each Tuesday in building united power for a more peaceful, just and sustainable world. #UPM #DSOT

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