In Climate Change, Green Party Leadership, International, National Security

As the Ukraine war has escalated into a potentially catastrophic conflagration for all of humanity, the climate movement has gone AWOL.

A case in point is the ongoing leadership contest of the Green Party of Canada (GPC).

The GPC leadership contest was launched nearly two months ago. In that time, all six leadership candidates have spoken at length, as one would expect, of the urgency of the climate crisis, but not one of the candidates (Anna Keenan, Chad Walcott, Sarah Gabrielle Baron, Simon Gnocchini-Messier, Elizabeth May or Jonathan Pednault) has issued a single statement on their campaign websites, or posted even one tweet, calling for negotiations to resolve the Ukraine war.

To be fair to them, one can understand their apparent reluctance to speak out against the relentless escalation of this existentially dangerous conflict. After all, the public discourse around this war has become so suffocating and toxic that one can hardly utter the words ‘peace’, ‘negotiation’ or ‘de-escalation’ without being accused of appeasing an aggressor or being a Putin propagandist.

The stakes, however, are simply too high for us to remain silent.

Indeed, there are good grounds to believe that the Ukraine war is far more dangerous for humanity than even the Cuban missile crisis, and that this conflict may constitute the most dangerous moment in human history.

Why? First and foremost, because NATO is at war with Russia.

Now many of you may point out that no NATO government has formally declared war on Russia. The realities on the ground, however, tell a very different story.

Although active-duty members of NATO militaries have not been ordered (so far as we know) into direct combat with Russian troops, NATO militaries have supplied billions of dollars-worth of sophisticated weaponry to Ukraine. NATO is training recently mobilized Ukrainians to kill Russians. NATO is providing battlefield intelligence to the Ukrainian military, which is being used to target Russian troops and military assets. Special operations forces of certain NATO members, including Canada, are currently in Ukraine aiding Ukrainian troops in ways that are not entirely clear. Former soldiers of NATO militaries are engaged in direct combat with Russian troops, with the tacit approval or acquiescence of NATO governments. On top of all that, NATO governments have imposed upon Russia unprecedented sanctions that were explicitly designed to destroy Russia’s economy.

Plainly, NATO is at war with Russia in all but name.

Collectively, NATO states and Russia possess enough nuclear weapons to destroy the world many times over. Even worse, both sides have expressly and repeatedly stated that they are prepared to use those weapons if they deem their use to be necessary.

There is no question that the climate crisis constitutes an existential danger to humanity, but the danger posed by large-scale nuclear war is considerably worse. The climate crisis threatens to render the planet unliveable over a period of generations. That time scale will afford to humanity at least some opportunity to adapt, mitigate and innovate. By contrast, a large-scale nuclear war leaves no opportunity for adaptation, mitigation and innovation. A disaster of such a nature would render the planet unliveable in a matter of months, weeks or even days.

No amount of human ingenuity will save human civilization from nuclear Armageddon.

For these reasons alone, it behooves all of us – whether or not we are activists for the climate – to speak out now. For the sake of our children and future generations, we must demand that our governments pursue vigorous, good faith negotiations with a view to ending this heinous conflict as rapidly as possible.

For those of us who are climate activists, there are even greater reasons to demand a swift and peaceful resolution of this war.

First, NATO states and Russia are huge contributors to global emissions. We cannot resolve the climate emergency unless these emitters work cooperatively to transition their economies away from fossil fuels and toward renewable energy. Obviously, there is no realistic prospect of achieving the requisite level of cooperation and mutual trust in a state of escalating war.

Second, the Ukraine war is consuming vast (but scarce) economic resources that are desperately needed to fund the transition of our economies toward renewable energy and greater efficiency. Those resources are also required to assist poorer nations – particularly those which have contributed negligibly to the climate crisis – to protect themselves from the ravages of global heating.

Third, the war itself has become a significant, direct contributor to global emissions, precisely at the moment when the world must reduce them. The operation of large mechanized armies across a 1,000-kilometre front line requires the consumption of huge quantities of fossil fuels. The relentless bombardment of military equipment, infrastructure, weapons stores and fuel depots generates massive fires. The reconstruction of destroyed infrastructure will also generate large emissions. The sabotage of the Nord Stream pipelines (which almost certainly was the handiwork of one or more NATO militaries) is believed to have been the largest single release of methane ever recorded.

From a climate and ecological perspective, the Ukraine war is an unmitigated disaster.

Moreover, given how little time remains for the world to transition to a zero emissions economy, this war could not have befallen us at a worse time.

To put it bluntly, this is no time to prioritize political expediency and serenity over the reputational perils of anti-war activism.

The world desperately needs climate activists to step up and step up now, to lead and re-invigorate the enfeebled anti-war movement.

Ultimately, if we climate activists fail to answer the call, there may soon be no planet left to save from the climate emergency.

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Showing 10 comments
  • Ken+McCurdy

    Excellent piece of advice we should all act upon in any way we can. Especially, we should not accept the lies we have been getting on TV but do all the research we can to get to the truth about what is really going on in Ukraine.

  • Mary k

    TNot to make light of this very serious and potentially global devastation…this is a pickle.

  • Patrick Dumais

    Hi Dimitri. Thank you for your blog. All that you wrote makes a 100% sense. How do you prevent agressive political leaders from continuing on being agressive if they always gain something through negociation? (Please note that I know that Leaders of the West are unpeaceful unethical and hypocrites.) Do you think the Allies should of negociated with Hitler? (I know the circumstances are different, but there are some similiarities.) Patrick

  • Pete Kirby

    Full marks on all points, Dimitri! This war is absolute insanity – propelled by an incredible tsunami of lies and anti-Russia propaganda. Surely it’s time to quit squandering billions on military “solutions” to ridiculous problems….and address the realities of climate change, ecological collapse, an approaching energy crisis, human rights – and Peace – around the world!
    (Along with a whole pile of other stuff!!).

    Pete Kirby,
    Mont Tremblant, QC

  • John Partyka

    You’ve accurately assessed why so many of us have abandoned the GPC (or any other Canadian political party) in droves, Dimitri. It’s hard to believe the GPC was a bastion of hope during their last leadership race, when you inspired many thousands of members with your eco-socialist platform. And we came so close to winning! But what happened to our numbers? Within a few years since, the GPC has morphed into a group of ineffectual woke seniors. Witness a typical GPC meeting: After their lengthy intros, recognising the sacred grounds they live on, their preferred gender pronouns and the most recent politically incorrect slight that made someone feel bad, there’s barely enough time to address more tiring issues, such as the on-going destruction of our ecosystem or the fact that WW3 has actually started and nuclear winter is coming.

  • Ian Hackett

    In the words of a couple of former UK PMs:
    “Life without liberty is not worth living.” Clem Attlee, London, June, 1940.
    “We would rather see London laid in ashes and ruins than abjectly enslaved.” Winston Churchill, July, 1940.
    Defeating Putin now is as important as defeating Hitler was then. Both were products of a A global economy dominated by global corporations within a global civilization threatened by overpopulation, climate change, pandemics and nuclear weapons. It can never be effectively controlled for the benefit of humanity by a system of governance split between 200 superficially sovereign nation-states divided by nationalisms, religions, wide variations in democratic accountability, and obscene variations in wealth.

  • Edward Gregory

    The Donbas region and the coastal area beside the Azov Sea has at least a 70% Russian speaking majority. The Zelensky government was persecuting the Russian-speaking minority by eliminating government services in Russian and by refusing to allow independence referendums in those oblasts. The only solution to this conflict is to allow them to choose freely between staying in the Ukraine, joining Russia, or becoming independent. Somebody in national politics has to have the courage to point this out, and to chastise CBC for its incredibly biased coverage of this war.

  • Jim Senka

    Thank you for speaking up Dimitri. The problem is not as simple as most westerners would have us believe. For instance, most people aren’t aware of how we have punished Russia with an economic blockade for decades. In addition, NATO has installed one 300 missile sites along the Russian border, all pointed at Moscow. On top of all this, westerners have been ‘trained’ by propaganda to assume that Russia is our enemy. How would we feel if the happened to us? This problem originated with NATO and its’ allies.

  • Boyd Reimer

    I agree with the main thrust of your post on the GPC leaders debate and the war in Ukraine. But I do have to point out that in the Oct 27 “collective vision” presentation from all candidates, Sarah Gabrielle Baron “directly references the member made policy book, starting in 1988, getting out of NATO”… etc at 56:00 in this video:
    Also her platform mentions “Get out of NATO modernized…from our foundational member-made policy, 1988” at this link:
    But I agree with your main thrust about the GPC going AWOL on the war.
    I’d like to ask your opinion: Is Sarah Gabrielle Baron the best candidate?

  • Carolyn Herbert

    Maybe we must just accept that all life on the globe will be dying. When is the issue. We are now in palliative care phase of life. Either we prolong the process and keep offering hope while putting in adaptation and mitigation measures to allow the process of global warming to continue to bring about the melting of the permafrost (releasing methane which we cannot capture so the feedback loop of emissions rise leading to more warming) as capitalism proceeds globally to create emissions over which we foolishly think we CAN control if we march and yell and plead and implore governments. Or we can just accept that we will blow up with a nuclear war and end it all quickly so earth can get back to the centuries of evolution to rebuild whatever will be the next version of this planet. Humans are not as smart as we pretend to be. Our evil side will win, I am afraid.

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