Putin joins ranks of Climate Denialists in support of Trump

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

Russian President Vladimir Putin has abruptly become a climate-change denialist, apparently under the influence of key figures in the Trump administration, which Putin likely helped install. The spread of anti-intellectualism and the war on science has been a worrisome feature of the American right wing for some time, but now it appears to be spreading even to Russia.

Of course, this wouldn’t be the first anti-scientific stand taken in Moscow. Trofim Lysenko, the Soviet-era biologist, rejected Darwinian natural selection in favor of a form of Lamarckian evolutionary theory that held that animals can acquire characteristics as individuals through experience and then pass those directly to their offspring.

The 19th century Muslim anti-imperial activist, Jamal al-Din Afghani, refuted Lamarck’s version of biology in a debate with Ernest Renan by pointing out that Jews and Muslims had been circumcising their male children for centuries but that no child of either of these groups had ever been born circumcised.

Both the US and now the Russian Federation are becoming neo-Lysenkoist states.

Not all oil and gas states are climate deniers. Some ruling elites can make a distinction between the economic interest of their national carbon industries and the fate of the world. Thus, the al-Thanni emirs of Qatar, a major gas producer, have repeatedly warned about the dangers of human-caused climate change. The United Arab Emirate has a very active green energy program, even though it is a major oil exporter. Canada and China are both heavily dependent on hydrocarbons, but leaders of both countries have expressed serious concern. China in particular is making enormous strides toward getting off dirty coal, for instance.

But now the two major industrialized producers of hydrocarbons– the United States and Russia– are both headed by deniers. For both, denialism makes perfect economic sense on the surface, since their economies benefit heavily from gas, oil and coal. In reality, global warming will take its toll on them, and on all of us. It is hard to see how the Paris climate treaty survives in an effective form if both the US and Russia renege.

Russia has a lot of hydro-electric power, since the Soviets went in for dam building in a big way. But other than that, renewables account for less than one percent of Russia’s energy mix. So it doesn’t matter very much whether Putin accepts the overwhelming evidence for human-made climate change or not. His country has seldom felt it necessary to mobilize over the issue.

Obama’s sanctions on Russia over the covert invasion of Ukraine derailed a $500 billion oil deal between Russian oil interests and the United States. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, a former CEO of Exxon Mobil, will be looking to jumpstart that deal. Tillerson and Putin are world-slayers.


related video added by Juan Cole:

Putin: Climate Change Real, But Not Man-Made!

15 Responses

  1. This is about global strategy, not what Putin really believes. He needed to cooperate with nearly the entire rest of the world on Paris because he couldn’t afford to get isolated. But if the US could be gotten to break ranks, that would give Russia the cover to do the same. Other petro-states might follow, creating a bloc to undermine all international coordination.

    But even these two rogue elephants by themselves can make a mess of things by tossing out their Paris commitments – which probably wasn’t going to survive any objective analysis of their emissions anyway. Right now, methane emissions are already supposed to be way up over Siberia. Either it’s due to the thawing of organic matter in the permafrost, which is bad, or it’s due to releases of methane hydrates from the Arctic Ocean, which is a death sentence for our kind. Russian scientists had been monitoring this, but will they continue?

    • I’ve looked into this business with melting permafrost and resulting release of methane, and have quickly gotten lost in the weeds. I’ll leave it to some relatively even-handed scientist to sort out and put this stuff in digestible form (hint).

      Amongst all the talk, one can screen out the amateurs and agenda-ladden. The remaining thinking and studies seem to agree the prognosis is already very, very bad, and getting worse. The questions now seem to be around precisely when and how some fully un-anticipatable, yet certainly dire inevitability, is going to unfold.

      There seems to be no credible consensus other than very bad. Prior studies, including from Russia, seem to have angled for setting best and worst case bounds, but in the past this approach has turned out to be too optimistic compared to what actually transpired (I’m thinking here of the pace of temperature increases and icepack melting).

  2. To take the liberty of quoting myself, at the most recent article at my site:

    ” To the extent that Trump succeeds in boosting irreversible climate change and preventing the global phase-out of fossil fuels, and to the extent that he helps authoritarian/dictatorial regimes become more entrenched in their own nations and more important in world affairs, and tries to send America towards authoritarian government, it seems likely that Trump’s election represents the beginning of the Suicide of Civilization.

    Led by the most powerful actors in politics and economics, short-sighted selfishness at the top of society will eventually result in mass disaster; any surviving people will most likely be at the hunter-gatherer level of organization and ability. “

  3. Putin does not deny global warming but he attributes it to natural causes instead of the increase of greenhouse gasses. No indication that he’s considering the Chines hoax theory that our leader espouses.

    But he does say that those affected must adapt to the climate change, whereas the Trump position is that there will be no adaptation plans and funding. And none of the departments will consider global warming as a factor in their planning and operation.

    What a pair. Putin – Burn baby burn, but adapt to natures whims. Trump – Burn baby burn. What, me worry?

    Future slang for characterizing ultra warm day – “Hotter than a Chinese hoax”

    • attributing global warming to natural causes is denialism because it intends to deny that burning hydrocarbons is harmful. Russia is an oil state. There are no natural causes that would explain our 1.1 degree C. increase in the past century and a half; in fact, sunspots are low and if were were still in the holocene it should be cold.

      • It’s also cynical of a Russian to say to adapt, because his will be the last house to catch fire. Yeah, that last generation or two before the final extinction will be Russia’s Golden Age of Global Domination, that Third Rome day in the Sun they’ve been pining for. But only because the rest of the dominated globe will already be dead or dying.

  4. The problem is that Vladimir Putin has lots more oil to sell and many more billions to make.

    Putin is not driven by policy. Just by sheer greed. This has been his position for some time. I would note that the opinion of Russian scientists have been somewhat squelched since a few weeks before the Winter Olympics in Russia. It’s about to get worse.

    The irony is that the Russian economy will once again get short shrift and the average Russian will be left wondering why Russia’s educated population and many resources will remain underutilized and the economy largely in shambles.

    • Jim – Russia is a Petrostate much the same as the U.S. It’s economy is completely reliant on fossil-fuel production.

      link to bloomberg.com

      The irony here is Putin’s frozen country holds the source of vast amounts of greenhouse gases trapped in permafront WHICH IS NOW MELTING.

      link to wunderground.com

      The greed, ignorance and short-sighted views of arrogant leaders like Trump, Putin and their oil soaked, gas emitting minions, in essence, have declared a TERRORIST WAR against the air we breathe and the water we drink. A TERRORIST WAR being enabled by the PURE EVIL which has recently overtaken our once great country.

      But it’s all OK because y’all can go to the wide-screen churches on Sunday, be forgiven and pretend a blonde, blue-eyed son-of-a-god, dead these 2,000 years is going to return and make white people rule the Earth.

      • Actually I dont believe that but it is entirely possible that Russia will benefit and every other country be worse off, especially the US which has a large vulnerable coastline. This might be the long term plan of russia which might be the real reason they supported trump

        “And Russia! For generations poets have bemoaned this realm as cursed by enormous, foreboding, harsh Siberia. What if the region in question were instead enormous, temperate, inviting Siberia? Climate change could place Russia in possession of the largest new region of pristine, exploitable land since the sailing ships of Europe first spied the shores of what would be called North America. The snows of Siberia cover soils that have never been depleted by controlled agriculture. What’s more, beneath Siberia’s snow may lie geologic formations that hold vast deposits of fossil fuels, as well as mineral resources. When considering ratification of the Kyoto Protocol to regulate greenhouse gases, the Moscow government dragged its feet, though the treaty was worded to offer the Russians extensive favors. Why might this have happened? Perhaps because Russia might be much better off in a warming world: Warming’s benefits to Russia could exceed those to all other nations combined.”

        • Jim/James – Apparently, knowledge of permafrost out-gassing and anthropogenic climate change is beyond your belief set? “Actually I dont believe that . . . . “ The Russians do.

          link to phys.org

          And are attempting to do something to protect the melting permafrost.

          link to climaeast.eu

          Including Pleistocene rewilding –

          link to bbc.co.uk

          The point is no one on Earth benefits if Russian permafrost melts and humans continue to burn forests and petroleum products without restraint.

          “Beliefs” are based on faith. Knowledge is based in fact. “Belief” and knowledge are tenuously connected at best and often used in contrast.

          link to books.google.com

  5. we in the US are the stupid ones because we will get hammered as we ignorantly ignore scientific facts. The Russians don’t dispute the facts because they will be the prime beneficiary.

  6. I really wish you were right but even though there will be downsides to global warming for russia such as a crumbling infrastructure, russian arable land will increase by 37 to 67 percent. It will be a net plus for them. In addition Russia is one of the least globally minded places according to a pew research poll so dont count on altruism. They get it do in their adversaries and get rich doing it. I really wish i was wrong on this one, but they will be one of the few countries that actuallly benefit.

    • quoting Jim/jamea – “I really wish i was wrong on this one, . . .”

      You get your wish. No one on Earth benefits.

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