Russia’s invasion of Ukraine makes me angry. I am a 4th generation Ukrainian Canadian. I am proud of my heritage, proud to say I am Ukrainian. With all of the world’s problems right now, it seems ridiculous that we’re still dealing with madmen like Vladimir Putin with oversized egos and big weapons, thinking that they can conquer their way to glory. This isn’t a video game. The death and destruction in Ukraine are heartbreaking.
I have friends and colleagues living in Ukraine who have been sucked into a war they didn’t want. Software developers with young families now worrying about when the next bomb might drop. My mind breaks whenever I think of what that must be like.
There are small glimmers of hope. Massive rallies in Canada and around the world. A unified international response with harsh sanctions on Russia. And a defiant Ukrainian population pushing back against Russian forces. But it’s hard to see anything good coming of this.
Russian propagandists are desperately trying to spin things, with bizarre claims of liberating Ukraine from Nazis. Within Russia, the news is tightly controlled and censored. Access to social networks and outside news sources has been blocked. And because we live in a bizarro world, the alt-right in the United States has embraced the Russian propaganda instead of calling it out as “fake news” (which they normally love to yell). It’s been shocking seeing Tucker Carlson, Donald Trump, and the QAnon movement championing Putin. Or, on second thought, maybe it isn’t that shocking.
And in Canada, Conservative politicians are arguing that the only wait to defeat Russia is to pump more oil out of Canada. What a ridiculous argument.
If you want to cut off the money flowing to authoritarian petrostates like Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Iran, the solution isn’t to pump more Canadian oil. Every dollar spent building more pipelines in Canada is a signal to global markets that oil and gas aren’t going anywhere. That just provides cash to dictators like Putin.
In the past 10 years, both Canada and the USA have doubled their oil production. That hasn’t stopped Russia and Putin from getting rich off fossil fuel revenues. Russia has amassed a $600 billion war chest from oil and gas exports. As long as the world is madly consuming oil and gas, petrostates like Russia will profit.
On the other hand, if we rapidly invest in alternatives (electric vehicles, heat pumps, public transit) and help other countries decarbonize, where does Russia get its money from in the future? That is the approach Germany is taking with its plan to consume 100% renewables by 2035. That is how you defang Russia.
Even if you think the short-term solution is for Canada to export more oil (to displace Russian market share), the only way to accomplish that is to consume less domestically because pipelines and refineries take years to build.
So, if you want to help the people living in Ukraine, here are 3 recommendations:
- Donate to the Red Cross or other organizations helping Ukrainians.
- Write your local MP and let them know you support harsher sanctions on Russia and direct aid to Ukraine, even if that means economic pain in Canada.
- Reduce your oil and gas consumption. Now is a great time to get reacquainted with public transit or invest in an e-bike, electric vehicle, or heat pump.