This is a transcript of a comment by Bill McKibben on CBC’s The Current, March 18.
If we are serious about standing up to Putin, then we have to figure out how to end our dependency on oil and gas…The good news is that it’s no longer necessary. Over the last 10 years, scientists and engineers have dropped the price of renewable energy about 90 percent. It’s now the cheapest power on earth. About an hour ago I published a massive piece in The New Yorker explaining that we really could get off fossil fuel quickly if we set our minds to it the way we do when, well, when we’re in a war. And that’s why the work that I’ve done over the last few weeks has largely been focused on Ukraine. We’ve put out this big plan for sending heat pumps and other technology to Europe in a kind of reprise of lend lease before the Second World War, an effort to help people get off fossil fuel before it gets cold again next October. It’ll take a lot of work. It’ll take overcoming the vested interest that always wants us to stay hooked on what we’re hooked on now. But it’s possible.
For instance, look at these heat pumps that now have become standard good technology for heating homes. The US Department of Energy indicates that the industry could be churning out millions of these in America within a matter of a few months because it’s nothing more than an air conditioner. You can also run it in reverse, and you could easily imagine getting large numbers of them installed in Europe right away.
Europe also has a shortage of insulation right now, and in North America we have a lot of spare capacity to produce it. Ships are now carrying over javelin anti-tank weapons. That’s fine. But the other weapons that we need are things like insulation, air source, heat pumps—all the technologies that allow us to actually get free of fossil fuel. That’s Job One in the war in Europe, but it’s also Job One in the other war that’s underway on this planet.
Two days after Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change published their latest round-up of climate news. The Secretary General of the U.N. said it was the single most dire scientific study he’d ever seen. The UN predicts that we could see a billion refugees from climate change over the next decades. Think of the problems the world is having, trying to somehow absorb three million refugees coming out of Ukraine. Multiply that by 300 or 400 times.
Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have been at war against Yemen for eight years. The UN predicted last fall that Yemen’s death toll would exceed 377,000 people by the end of last year. Since then, the coalition has bombed roadways, fisheries, sewage and sanitation facilities, weddings, funerals and even a children’s school bus.
Nevertheless, the US is still supplying parts for the Saudi-UAE war planes and, instead of condemning the atrocities, the US is warming its relationship to the Arab invaders.
The war in Ukraine makes the US and Western European countries more dependent on Saudi and UAE oil, but those countries do not want to increase their oil production without the US agreeing to help them increase their attacks against Yemen.
But there is opposition in the US Congress. Reps Pramila Jayapal of Washington and Peter De Fazio of Oregon, both Democrats, are seeking co-sponsors for the “Yemen War Powers Resolution,” which would cut off military support for the Saudi/UAE war against Yemen.
Meanwhile, all countries in the Middle East are suffering from rising food prices. Both Ukraine and Russia have a large share of the world’s market in wheat and sunflower oil, which they export to the region. For example, Yemen imports more than 35 percent of its wheat from Russia so, as soon as the war began, the price of food in Yemen increased by 150 percent.
Source: Kathy Kelly, “The People of Yemen Suffer Atrocities, Too” https://worldbeyondwar.org/the-people-of-yemen-suffer-atrocities-too/
Peace Magazine April-June 2022, page 2. Some rights reserved.
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