Ukraine is at war. Climate change remains our greatest emergency

Hello. I’m Paul Thornton, and today is Saturday, March 5, 2022. Let’s take a look back at the week in Opinion.

Fully aware that most adults can chew gum and scratch their heads at the same time, I’m about to draw what may seem like a zero-sum comparison of the threats posed by Russia’s unprovoked assault on Ukraine and climate change. So let me make a few points at the outset: The Biden administration and the rest of us have the ability to face both crises with vigor, while recognizing that the wanton death and disruption inflicted on 44 million ‘Ukrainians cause more serious immediate consequences for many people. now, as climate change threatens all problem facing humanity.

That said, it’s hard not to be discouraged about our ability to focus on climate change right now. For this gloom, I have no one to thank but the president who presented the most ambitious environmental agenda in our history.

Because it was President Biden’s decision to release 60 million barrels of oil from the country’s strategic petroleum reserve that received some of the loudest applause during his State of the Union address on Tuesday. In fact, in an administration that lasted just over 13 months, this is the second time that millions of barrels of oil held in reserve by the federal government for national emergencies have been released to fight against high gas prices — and if we’re going to mitigate climate change, we need to burn a lot less gas, and the fastest way to do that is to make it more expensive.

And speed is important. As the Times editorial board pointed out this week, a report by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change noted what should be obvious to anyone living in Southern California (where this week, during our “rainy season”, a wildfire burned hundreds of acres in the Cleveland National Forest) – that climate catastrophe is already upon us and wreaking havoc sooner and more intensely than predicted, and that the window to halve the use of fossil fuels to avoid the worst effects on the road will likely close by 2030.

Not decades — eight years.

The war in Ukraine, perhaps then an insurgency, could still be raging eight years from now (the United States has been in Afghanistan much longer than that). Disruptions to the Russian economy could also linger for just as long, continuing to put upward pressure on gasoline prices. Even if, by some miracle, Congress were to pass every element of Biden’s Build Back Better climate package, implementation would take years.

In other words, complicating factors like wars and pandemics and, yes, Republican control of government are still present and pose significant threats to us. There is also the objection that high fuel costs fall disproportionately on middle and low income people. True, but so is the reality of global warming, pollution and environmental injustice – which also disproportionately harm traditionally marginalized groups.

So count me deeply troubled when, in the face of the twin disasters of war in Ukraine and climate change, making gas a little cheaper is greeted with a rare moment of bipartisan applause.

China may regret its alliance with Vladimir Putin. Long-term tensions between Ukraine and Russia might have been acceptable to Chinese leaders, but the severity and recklessness of President Vladimir Putin’s attack and the unity of the West in response make it more difficult for Beijing to look away. “China’s long-term strategy for competing with the United States rests on the critical assumption that America’s European allies will remain neutral in the US-China rivalry,” writes political scientist Minxin Pei. “But Western solidarity in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has challenged that assumption.” Los Angeles Time

Will Putin’s invasion of Ukraine turn into a nuclear confrontation? Let me editorialize here and say I hope not, but even if it’s a remote possibility, Putin’s bombastic warning to the West at the start of his invasion brings back memories of a time when apparently any skirmish in the world risked triggering a nuclear holocaust between the Soviet Union and the United States. Columnist Nicholas Goldberg fears it could be a similar situation: “Although the chances are low that we inadvertently fall into a nuclear confrontation, it cannot be ruled out. Wars are easier to start than to stop, and easier to escalate than to limit. Los Angeles Time

The United Nations should expel Russia from the Security Council. What a farce it was to see the representative of Russia chairing a meeting of the Security Council as he considered a motion condemning his country’s war, but there is a lot about the past few weeks that seems quite surreal. Ukrainian law professor Iryna Zaverukha says it’s a terrible look at the UN: “The organisation’s latest insult to Ukraine and all those horrified by its treatment has been Russia’s role in preside over the Security Council. From this rostrum, the highest stage in the world, the Russian ambassador has for weeks amplified the Kremlin’s propaganda narrative. Los Angeles Time

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He has been teaching the truth about race for over 30 years, but now efforts to censor teachers across the country have Dorsey High School football coach and educator Irvin Davis worried. At the end of Black History Month, Davis shared his perspective on how children learn about race and history in America — above all, he says, the best way to connect with people. students is to be honest with them – for our “Hear Me Out” series. Click here to watch our video featuring Davis; click here to read his letter to the editor.

Will Dianne Feinstein retire? The senior senator from California has previously declared she will run for re-election in 2024, but her popularity in the Trump era has declined significantly. This week produced another devastating complication for Feinstein: the 88-year-old senator’s husband died of cancer. That makes it a “virtual certainty” that she won’t run in 2024, setting off a feeding frenzy among California politicians, writes Dan Walters: “[Gov. Gavin] Newsom is certainly not the only California politician who may want to succeed Feinstein. There are probably several dozen Democratic members of Congress who see a senator looking back when they look in the mirror, as well as other state officials and major city mayors. Cal account

Teresa H. Sadler