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This Earth Day, Help the Environment and Ukraine

This Earth Day, Help the Environment and Ukraine

Man riding bike on bridge.

I was in New Orleans last week to deliver a speech and planned to enjoy food and music. It was while I was trying to find a weather forecast on my smartphone that I discovered that the Crescent City (for reasons related to the location of a factory that manufactured landing craft that proved crucial for the D Day invasion) is also home the National World War II Museum. TripAdvisor ranked it the best place to visit in the city. It was ranked seventh in the United States for tourist attractions. And, as I had not been to any of the top ten (except the Wizarding World of Harry Potter which is in Orlando, Florida), it made me wonder why. It is a tribute to museum curators. It is moving, informative, and sensitive to America’s changes in the past decades. As Earth Day dawns, on a planet where the Antarctic temperature just rose seventy-five degrees above normal and where Vladimir Putin tested the new intercontinental missile, this history seems particularly poignant.

Our collective memory recalls that America was the first to rise to the challenge of Hitler. This isn’t true. Hitler had attacked France and the Sudetenland. America was content to let Europe win its wars. Gallup found that only twelve percent of Americans wanted to declare war against Germany in the winter 1940. Later in the fall, the country split on the question: Should the United States risk going into war to help the United Kingdom? The Chamber of Commerce was opposed to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s lend-lease plan that would send materiel to Europe. The America First movement, which attracted a wide audience, included young John Kennedy and Gerald Ford, as well as Walt Disneyand, not surprisingly, Charles Lindbergh. The museum also notes Kingman Brewster, Jr.’s involvement in the U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom, and president of Yale. However, in those years as a student activist, he organised across America to prevent the country being entrapped by foreign wars.

F.D.R. was a man who tried his best to keep Britain alive while trying to change public opinion. Japan’s attack on America eventually led to Brewster joining the Navy immediately after Pearl Harbor. This was at least metaphorically. The displays on the home front are riveting. You can use a gun similar to the one real-life Rosies would use in factories and shipyards. You can find food-ration books and recipes, some of which are published by government agencies, to help you cook with those rations. The Victory Cook Book, which came with every purchase of Lysol, taught women that the job of a housewife was to keep her family’s health and spirits. Piggy banks in bomb-shaped shapes were given as gifts to children so they could save for war bonds. Also, to remind Americans not to stop recycling metal, there are posters with flaming Axis aircraft. Your Scrap Brought It Down. It is difficult to believe that despite watching the horrors being perpetrated daily on the people in Ukraine, we have not been asked if we would change our daily routines to help them.

For example, it is widely known that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was funded by fossil fuel and that Putin is using his control over Europe’s oil and gas to finance it. Despite being late, Europeans are beginning to wake up to their complicity. The Germans announced plans to accelerate their conversion to renewable energy and the French President Emmanuel Macron called for his country to abandon fossil fuel eight days before his re-election bid.

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President Biden has stopped the importation from Russia of oil to this country. But, since oil is traded on the world market, it hasn’t done much to hinder Putin. Russia has seen its oil revenues rise as world oil prices have soared. Russia reported that its current account surplus nearly doubled in this first quarter. To see oil prices fall, there must be demand for AllOil must be reduced. Everyone who is able to work from home could do so at least on Mondays. This would cut down on the commute by one day. Carpools could also be organized, taking advantage of the two million electric vehicles on the road. There could be more bike paths, and Americans could turn up the thermostats a degree when air-conditioning season starts. We could build and send millions upon millions of electric heat pumps to Europe and then install them in our own homes. Ari Matusiak is the C.E.O. Rewiring America, a non-profit working on the transition towards clean energy, and Senator Martin Heinrich (Democrat of New Mexico), recently Submitted for the HillWe have been wanting to join the fight for too many years, but we had no way to get there. Electrifying your home one at a time is today’s Victory Garden. It is an easy way to combat tyranny inflation and runaway emissions.

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We have been asked to do nothing. Joe Biden has done an excellent job of dealing with Putin’s military threat. He has walked the line between assistance and provocation. On the domestic front, he and his Administration seem not to believe that Americans can do much. Instead of asking us all to conserve energy, which would help him achieve his climate goals, they have given in to the demands from the fossil-fuel industry. The White House hosted a White House event on Friday. AnnouncementIt claimed it would open up vast new areas of public land for oil drilling. However, it will take many years for the action to lower gas prices. The policy also violates President Trump’s very specific campaign promise. This just makes it more likely that we will be living in a world dominated only by oil and natural gas, a world where Putinish despots thrive.

The Second World War saw more oil. The New Orleans museum documents the construction and maintenance of large pipelines from Texas to New England, as well as the construction of huge Navy oil tankers. (There is also a story about how Esso, the precursor to ExxonMobil organized a special training program specifically for girl chemists. In today’s wars, the Russians have seized Ukraine. The global land grabrising sea levels and the spread of desertsvictory requires that we get off fossil fuels as soon as possible. Biden has not been able to match F.D.R. Biden has not been able to get crucial spending programs through Congress (which is, to be fair, more narrowly divided than Roosevelt’s time), and he has not been able to match his predecessor in explaining why some sacrifice or even some change would be tonic to Americans. This Earth Day, this silence seems especially profound.

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