Russia’s invasion of Ukraine endangers 44 million innocent people and jeopardizes the sovereignty of a democratically governed country, prof. Jonathan Overpeck comments for The Hill. According to him, it’s difficult to conceive any potential benefit, yet the fossil fuel business appears to have discovered one.
Before the invasion, oil and gas prices had been gradually rising, driving larger profits and global-scale inflation. Now, the Russian invasion is pushing up prices and inflation even more, and Big Oil is using the issue to push for new policies to increase oil and gas output. If Russia follows through on its threats to reduce gas exports to Europe, the United States may be forced to come to Europe’s aid with enormous quantities of fossil fuels. Because of our over-reliance on fossil resources, the globe is being blackmailed, says Overpeck, climate scientist, professor and dean of the School for Environment and Sustainability at the University of Michigan.
He suggests that Instead of supporting knee-jerk policy moves to increase the production of fossil fuels, the world need to take a big breath and consider how we got into this energy mess in the first place. Wars have been fought for access to oil and gas throughout the history of the fossil fuel period, and fossil fuels have been exploited for political gain both inside petro-states and globally for strategic aims. Consumers are frequently left to pay the price as well: at the gas pump, through inflation, in the form of economic recessions, and in blood and treasure when violence breaks.
Consider a future in which all nations have access to inexpensive energy produced inside their borders, and where petro-states no longer have the capacity to coerce other countries or influence the international price of energy. This isn’t a pipe dream; it’s the future we’re going toward as clean renewable energy and storage replace fossil fuels in powering everything we do. Most nations are already involved in the clean energy revolution, and with green energy, each country may choose whether to deploy their own clean energy or rely on other countries for imported clean energy. Countries large and small, rich and poor, may all benefit from a future of cheaper, cleaner wind and solar energy.
Europe worked with Russia to construct large gas pipelines as a “bridge” to a clean energy future, and now Europe is suffering the price while it decides how to respond to Russia’s petro-thuggery. Russia has made its decision. Strong backing for Ukraine may imperil Russia’s natural gas imports. The United States is also affected. If we impose overly harsh penalties on Russian President Vladimir Putin and his millionaire cronies, oil and gas prices might skyrocket, and Europe could face gas shortages. Russia’s extortion is plain petro-thuggery, and it impedes our capacity to assist a needy country.
To avoid future conflicts and petro-thuggery, we must abandon fossil fuels in favor of renewable energy, storage, and electrification of practically everything. This clean energy world will also imply that energy will be more affordable for everyone. Existing technologies (such as wind, solar, and battery storage) will be supplemented with emergent technologies like as “green” hydrogen produced using renewable energy for the few undertakings that cannot be electrified. According to a recent research, this clean energy future will also imply fewer power interruptions.
A sustainable energy future comes with a slew of extra advantages. The use of fossil fuels for energy and transportation is the leading source of air pollution, which kills an estimated 8 million people globally each year. This is more than the entire number of documented global COVID-19 deaths to date — and keep in mind that air pollution kills 8 million people per year. This pollution has also been linked to brain illnesses such as Alzheimer’s disease, putting all Americans at risk. The good news is that in a future powered by renewable energy, this pollution is essentially eliminated.
As most readers are aware, fossil fuels are the primary source of climate change and growing climatic threats. We can say with certainty that eliminating fossil fuels from everything we do is the most critical step toward mitigating climate change. Those who cling to fossil fuels say that it is too late or too expensive to convert, yet we are already shifting to clean renewable energy because it is neither too late nor too expensive. This change must be accelerated. By supporting a transition to renewable energy, Congress has the ability to liberate the United States and the rest of the world from the sins of fossil fuels, including not just the threats of climate extremes and pollution, but also war, blackmail, and petro-thuggery. We can only hope that they take this task seriously, prof. Overpeck concludes his opinion.