Most human brains can manage only one crisis at a time, but now we have two:
(a) the scientists’ warning that it is now too late to prevent catastrophic global warming and
(b) the humanitarian disasters of the Russia-Ukraine war. Here let’s consider one potential response to each of these crises.
First, climate: As Peter Fiekowsky notes (see Burman’s review of his book on page 33), several feasible innovations exist to remove greenhouse gas from the atmosphere or cool the planet by reflecting sunlight back into space. Indeed, if we adopted some of these scientific proposals while reducing carbon emissions at the predicted rate, we could slow or even reverse global warming. But because some interventions may have negative side effects, we don’t let anyone try them out, even experimentally on a small scale.
Such caution sounds reasonable – but it’s not. Let’s compare the results of doing each intervention to the results of not doing it. Global warming will now cause more harm than any of the proposed solutions. We should have started experimenting with them earlier, but now it’s time to read Fiekowsky’s book and start lobbying.
Second, the misery caused by this war: Almost a million Russian men have fled from their homeland to avoid being sent to kill Ukrainians. Only a few countries accept them, even temporarily. Some of their own families call them “rats” for leaving; Russian lawmakers may confiscate their property; and people elsewhere in the world despise them for being Russian, though they almost all oppose Putin’s war.
After Putin is gone, Russia needs to be reorganized politically, but now it is dangerous there to discuss possible reforms. However, the Russians who have left the country can speak freely by phone to their relatives at home. We peace workers should host these men as warmly as we welcomed American “draft dodgers” during the Vietnam War. Let’s help them organize here and discuss reforms for post-Putin Russia. Peace activists cannot stop this war now, but we can work for peace by helping brave Russians immigrate to our countries and fostering their discussions of peace and democracy.
Peace Magazine , page . Some rights reserved.