Twenty years in the past, Al Gore coined the phrase “inconvenient truth,” and it caught on.
Gore’s prediction of imminent climate change apocalypse was overwrought and unsupported. But his underlying point— that we can bury our heads in the sand for only so long – was solid. Sooner or later, the truth will out.
Today’s case in point is Russia’s brutal invasion of the Ukraine. We won’t wake up from this real-life nightmare and find out that it never actually happened. It is inescapably real, it gets worse by the day, and its consequences will be around for decades to come.
The grim reality of Ukraine is it is exposing for all to see some inconvenient truths that until now have been subject to unhelpful partisan bickering:
• Irredeemable evil. It’s comforting – and largely correct – to think of the world as place filled with peace and goodness. But the hard fact is that there are some truly evil people out there with the capability and will to do great harm. There is no better example than Vladimir Putin.
• Once again, we’ve learned the necessity of confronting evil with strength. Some believe that for now our safest course in opposing the Russian assault is to impose strict economic sanctions. Others (I’m one) believe that our dealings with Putin have been unnecessarily timid.
• We don’t yet know how this chapter will end. But there is no longer any question about Putin’s capacity for evil. Nor is Putin alone on the list of international villains – along with his reckless attack on Ukraine, we’re seeing ominously aggressive behavior in China, Iran and North Korea.
• Gone for good is the quaint notion that maintaining the world’s best military is an outdated luxury. In this dangerous age, it’s job No. 1.
• Energy independence. We are the land of plenty, blessed with abundant resources, industrial might and technological know-how. So, it is pure folly to depend on other nations – particularly potential adversaries – to provide the fuel needed to keep our country going – an unnecessary, self-inflicted vulnerability.
• Achieving American energy independence demands a balanced climate change policy. Climate change is a big deal. But it’s not the only big deal. The prevailing narrative – that abrupt cessation of fossil fuel use is needed to address long-term climate change – both exaggerates the threat and badly understates the consequences of not doing so.
However well-intended, climate change actions that drive fuel supplies down and prices up cause grievous harm to real people today in exchange for minuscule (if any) future climate benefit. Those consequences are already apparent in European nations that went too far too fast in scrubbing nuclear and fossil fired plants from their energy portfolios. Here in the U.S., absent dramatic policy change, we are headed in the same direction.
U.S. climate envoy John Kerry’s recent remark—that Russian invasion of Ukraine will “distract” us from the struggle on local weather change –was each appropriate and stunningly nonsensical. Yes, it is going to, John, and it ought to. First issues first.
• A wholesome financial system. Inflation is the cruelest, most regressive of all taxes paid virtually fully by the poor. For too lengthy, we’ve based mostly our nation’s financial and financial insurance policies on the implicit premise that huge deficit spending will be funded by ever-expanding GNP development and prepared availability of low-interest cash. We didn’t fear about inflation; now we do.
Our elected representatives should still want to bathe their constituencies with costly favors, however now are starting to acknowledge their monetary and political penalties.
• The specter of nuclear struggle. The one really existential menace dealing with mankind is that posed by 1000’s of nuclear warheads within the fingers of modern-day barbarians.
The menace of nuclear annihilation has been hanging over our heads for therefore lengthy that we’ve discovered to look the opposite manner. We idiot ourselves into believing that as a result of the results of nuclear struggle are so incomprehensibly horrible, nobody would ever set them in movement. Call it whistling previous the graveyard.
Now we acknowledge that we can’t belief Putin or his ilk to chorus from unleashing their final, greatest atrocity.
Right now, I can consider no approach to dissemble the nuclear menace, no approach to disarm safely (unilateral nuclear disarmament could be suicidal), and no approach to unlearn the nuclear know-how obtainable to anybody who desires it. But we’re out of time. The world should discover a approach to step again from the nuclear threshold. And I don’t imagine that may occur with out U.S. management.
Perhaps the sobering actuality of ongoing carnage within the Ukraine will result in extra cold-eyed readability in our collective considering and fewer partisan myopia. Maybe we’ll even begin to pull collectively.