Dear Mr. Putin and Trumpsters: You have to fight global warming, not Ukrainians and Democrats

One of the most distressing things about Putin’s Ukrainian war and the Republicans’ war (and yes, many of them are acting like it’s a war) against the Democrats is that those wars distract us from the primordial struggle to limit global warming. Limit temperature increases to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. This was the goal that nearly 200 countries set themselves under the Paris climate agreements, which came into force in 2016. I know that Putin and many Republicans believe that it is more important to fight climate change. Ukrainians or the democrats, but the future will prove them otherwise.

So far, in the six years since 2016, the the world is failing living up to its commitments in the fight against climate change, “pointing the Earth towards a future marked by more intense floods, wildfires, drought, heat waves and the extinction of species”. One of the main reasons for this failure was the Trump presidency (January 2017-January 2021). As the American Scientist newspaper formulated it in November 2020, “U.S. quits Paris climate accord after Trump stalls action on global warming for four years.”

In July 2022, Western Europe and the United States experienced record climate change linked to heat waves, wildfires and drought. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres warned that “half of humanity is in the danger zone of floods, droughts, extreme storms and wildfires”. He added: “No nation is immune…we are failing to work together as a multilateral community.” By late October, the dangers of “not working together” were even greater.

Among the great nations, China, the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases (the main cause of global warming), broke off global warming negotiations with the United States in August after Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan. By late October, Russia (along with the United States, the largest emitter of greenhouse gases per capita) was moving further and further away from the West, increasingly using rockets and drones to attack the Ukrainian civilians and infrastructure. And not even a glimmer of hope for peace talks was anywhere evident. Moreover, continued Russian aggression was causing higher global warming in all sorts of other ways.

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In the United States, polls indicated that Republicans were increasing their chances of taking control of the House of Representatives and possibly even the Senate. While Republicans aren’t solely responsible for our country’s political polarization, they (particularly Trump supporters, who dominated the party) were the primary cause. And everything indicates that their control of Congress, or even of just one of its two chambers, would be a major setback in the battle to limit global warming.

The America’s Biggest Step Forward in this battle over the past six years has been the enactment in 2022 of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). But, reflecting the continued influence of trumpism, climate denialand fossil fuel lobbyists, no Congressional Republicans voted for the IRA.

Like I highlight since 2009Republicans were overwhelmingly predominant in rebranding the global warming denier know nothing. And the 2022 polls continue to show that Republicans are far more hostile than Democrats to legislation that would slow the growth of greenhouse gas emissions.

Putin and the American Republicans have each chosen the wrong enemy to fight. They should both fight against global warming. But instead, Putin is harming both Ukrainians and the environment by continuing his senseless war. And Republicans are waging war on Democrats on all sorts of issues while promoting policies that will only accelerate climate change disasters. As Pete Seeger sang in the early 1960s“Oh, when will you ever learn?”

Teresa H. Sadler