The real enemy here

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Then there’s that other reason why the war in Ukraine is perilous to human survival. This time I’m not talking about the fact that a psycho with nukes, Vladimir Putin, is overseeing an unlawful incursion into a peaceful democracy, though there is that. No, this time I’m talking about the effects of the war on climate change. There’s more news coming out of Ukraine and the news is not good.

The target of limiting global warming to the magic number of 1.5 degrees centigrade — an agreement reached at the UN Cop26 climate summit last year — is ambitious but possible if we do everything right. The war in Ukraine is an example of doing everything wrong. Apart from the war being a carbon emissions nightmare all by itself, it is also creating an energy crisis that is causing other countries to refocus their attention on issues other than green initiatives.

The US presidential envoy John Kerry has warned that the longer the war in Ukraine lasts the worse the consequences will be for the climate. Kerry says the war in Ukraine will become a major climate hazard if it doesn’t end in six months, but he acknowledges that some experts insist that time has already passed.

Whichever the case, bombing cities into rubble is one of the worst, most anti-climate things one nation can do to another. Most fascists, who are stupid by definition, and Putin is no exception, believe climate science is rubbish and they know better. It is practically part of the worldwide fascist manifesto to deny climate science, so it comes as no surprise that Putin will continue to carry on the war no matter how bad it gets for the rest of the human race. For Putin that part probably isn’t even a bug, it’s a feature.

John Kerry hopes the war is over soon. “If it’s a long period of time, obviously that makes [staying within 1.5C] very complicated,” Kerry said. “It depends on what happens with the war, where the war goes and how long it lasts. If miraculously we can somehow find a way to resolve some of the fundamental problems in the next six months, then maybe we could just accelerate everything together. I think we can make up some distance [in progress on tackling the climate crisis].”

Naturally if Putin’s war goes nuclear that will probably spell doom for the climate and everything else anyway. But if he can find some face-saving reason to cease fire or de-escalate the conflict and work on a peaceful solution, sooner rather than later, we might come out of this with a minimum of damage.

   

Meantime Mother Earth is going to allow us just so many more chances to be stupid before she loses patience. In the long history of human endeavour, war has always been our greatest and most embarrassing stupidity. If we are to survive as a species, the consequences of the war in Ukraine, or any war at all, needs to be our last and most dire warning. We can no longer afford to go to war with anyone for any reason ever again. With climate change in the balance, war itself is our greatest enemy. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.

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