Trump & Putin would break EU to block climate action

The Trump-Putin connection can seem just a lurid sideshow in Trump’s horrific circus of racial and religious profiling, misogyny and authoritarianism. And, when that special relationship does catch our attention, the most obvious thing linking the two men (possible videos and blackmail aside) is their common political language of aggressive nationalism.

But this is no sideshow, and much as Trump would like it to be all about him, it is not his personal foible: the agendas of the Republican Party’s petro-backers coincide perfectly with those of the Russian oligarchy, and that is why Trump’s links to Russia were tolerated even before he was elected. The nationalist postures of Trump and Putin, which might seem to be simply ways of rallying some segments of the aggrieved masses to the banners of the countries’ respective caudillos, are instrumental for reshaping the international order in a way favourable to the oil interests.

The overriding need of the oil interests is to block anything that would cut the demand for oil – which is to say, to stymie any serious steps to mitigate climate change. International cooperation is necessary to fight climate change, and aggrieved nationalism undermines international cooperation. The cohesion of the EU is particularly important for international action on climate, and so European integration has become the enemy not only of Moscow, but also of Republican Washington.

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War and carbon dioxide

Resource wars. On the occasion of the USA’s Veterans Day, Joe Romm reflects on forthcoming food and water shortages, and the prospect of resource wars. Good discussion, good links. That conflicts over food or other resources can lead to war is not new news, of course: it is in the history of every empire. Last summer in the New York Review of Books, Timothy Snyder reminded us that in the cases of Stalin in the 1930s and Hitler in the 1940s, most of the killing of civilians took place neither in the gulag of Siberia nor death camps in or near Germany, but in the wheat fields of eastern Poland, Ukraine and environs. Whatever the contributions of ideology and madness to those events, Russian and German desires to control that breadbasket had a big hand in the deaths of millions. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, Britain kept food exports flowing from India, in the midst of famine; Mike Davis’s Late Victorian Holocausts gives a gripping account of this, and of the link between El Niño, drought, and famine. So when you think of climate change, don’t think of hot weather, hurricanes or dead polar bears: think of just how nasty human society can become when there is a conflict over food.

Carbon dioxide and methane. Recent attention to the warming role of methane has led some in the denial community to use this – as they use everything – to claim that carbon dioxide isn’t so important. At RealClimate.org, Gavin Schmidt of NASA details the relative contributions of these and other agents to the problem.