Image by ELG21 from Pixabay

There is a war in Ukraine and oil and gas are involved. The sanctions against Russia include a pipeline and oil fields. Would there have been a war had oil and gas not been involved? I fear yes as Putin wants to revive the old Soviet Union which Ukraine was a part.

When you’ve developed a potentially fatal dependency, should you take steps that deepen it, or work to kick the habit? For at least a decade Earth has been sending climate signals, such as rapidly rising seas, larger hurricanes and record wildfires, demonstrating that our dependency on fossil fuels is harming our health, economies and — for some communities in coastal Louisiana — even their existence. Now Vladimir Putin has given us another powerful reason to kick the fossil fuel habit with his murderous invasion of Ukraine.

Russia has oil and gas and the Germans and others have bought it keeping the country afloat economically.

For years Putin has weaponized Europe’s dependence on Russia for 40% of its gas and 25% of its oil. And he has pointed that weapon at Europe since the invasion began That threat initially caused waffling for support of Ukraine in Europe and beyond. Oil prices had already been skyrocketing as economies began a comeback from the COVID pandemic. But after a few days, something truly hopeful for the future of the planet began happening. Europe said “Nyet!” to Putin and any future for his fossil fuels — or from any other source. It has accepted that near-term higher energy costs will be necessary to stop Putin’s aggression, and it knows this move will also help speed its transition to renewable fuels that can reduce some climate impacts already underway. Last week at the same time Germany — Europe’s largest economy — dramatically increased its defense spending, it also announced it has advanced its goal for 100% renewable energy by 15 years from 2050 to 2035. Other nations are said to be working on similar plans.

At the same time, the UN report said how oil and gas are driving us faster and faster to calamity.

And the unmasking of Putin’s worldview was not the only assist given last week to the necessity for ending our addiction to fossil fuels. Just as Russian rockets and artillery began killing Ukrainians for wanting freedom, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its latest report on how quickly fossil fuels are racing us toward a future of unstoppable disasters. Its conclusion is as brutally realistic as Putin’s tanks. “Climate change is a threat to human well-being and planetary health,” the authors write. “Any further delay in concerted anticipatory global action on adaptation and mitigation will miss a brief and rapidly closing window of opportunity to secure a livable and sustainable future for all.”

This was not our first warning, in fact over the past few years there have been many we seemed to have avoided.

This follows its August report that there is no doubt human-produced emissions from fossil fuels are the major cause of climate change and only rapid reductions in their use can slow the rate of change and reduce some of its impacts. Of course, the U.S. oil and gas industry saw opportunity in Putin’s attack on Ukraine. The American Petroleum Institute and almost every GOP politician screamed that more production was needed immediately to help Europe resist Putin. It even claimed regulations by the Obama and Biden administrations to help the transition to cleaner fuels caused a lack of supply. Yet production under Obama was higher than during the George W. Bush years. And drilling permits under Biden are proceeding faster than they did under Donald Trump, though that may change if the administration succeeds in suspending leasing. Oil and gas production rates almost always are the result of the world market. For two years the global recession and the rise of natural gas caused by the pandemic dropped the price-per-barrel to almost negative rates. That’s why America’s petro-patriots only scream that they want to make us “energy independent” when the price soars of oil — but stop singing the national anthem when it gets down to $30.

The more renewable the less we need fossil fuels. The more countries switch over the less oil they will need to import.

Russia’s criminal invasion of Ukraine has brought into sharp focus why America’s military leadership has long been saying climate change is one of the top five national security threats. Reducing our addiction to fossil fuels will be necessary to contain both. Yes, it will be costly. Yes, it will be disruptive and require transitions from old, established industrial sectors to new ones. But if larger, more damaging hurricanes, rapidly rising seas, sunny-day flooding, a permanent cycle of forest fires and soaring insurance rates haven’t been enough to convince holdouts, maybe the unmasking of Putin will. The endgame for appeasement in either battle is a very bleak future — if any at all.

Appeasement does not work. With the climate we can’t kick the can down the road much more. When will we get serious?

Ukraine shows why we need renewable energy
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