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The Climate Crisis Doesn’t Acknowledge Borders

The Climate Crisis Doesn’t Acknowledge Borders


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What does a 6-year old in the United States and an 85 year-old Russian have in common, besides being on opposite sides in a war?

They’re both feeling the strain of a warming planet.

“Is the earth going to get so hot that we can’t survive?” my young son asked me last summer as we plodded through the woods behind our Maryland home. I wasn’t certain, I replied hesitantly. (Not the most comforting answer from a mother to a daily question.) My younger child was just at home when she started wheezing from the heat of that July morning.

A few summers earlier, during a visit to a town about 4,500 miles away near St. Petersburg, Russia, an elderly friend of mine said to me, “When did it become so hot?” Like my daughter, she was breathing hard and continually glancing back toward her doorway.

Since the 1990s, as an anthropologist of human rights and war, I’ve traveled to Russia. I was then visiting the farm where my friend grew crops to add to the food she purchased with a government stipend she got as a survivor of the Nazis’ siege of her city during World War II. She shook her head and gestured towards the apple orchard. They were part of her diet and could be canned each fall. However, it seemed that fewer apples were growing each year. I wondered if she would die of heat and hunger after having survived a war.

Usually, she laughed at me when I mentioned my concerns about our warming climate. “We could use a little global warming in Russia,” she would say and gesture at the icicle-laced landscape around her wooden home. I have heard this joke many times in Russian cities where winter can be so cold that it stings your ears.

However, both the heat and the frost were becoming more severe at each visit. I noticed a growing number activist friends and acquaintances. awarenessof environmental issues like water pollution and deforestation. However, they were cautious in what they said as Russian nongovernmental organisations are frequently threatened and even beaten. Politically motivatedCharges that could force them out of business.

Still, across Russia, I had also seen examples of local authorities listening to such activists and sometimes making small changes like halting logging projects to protect a community’s food supplies or stopping construction that’s polluting local wells. And increasingly, climate change was growing harder even for Russia’s autocratic president, Vladimir PutinIt is hard to ignore Siberia’s recent actions. Feuer and its melting permafrost creating a “Methane time bomb” of greenhouse gases that will help drive heating globally in a potentially disastrous way.

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