Ukraine Climate Scientist Connects Fossil Fuels & War

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Svitlana Krakovska is a climate scientist from Ukrain who has been affiliated with the Ukrainian Hydrometeorlogical Institute for 30 years. She is now the head of its Applied Climatology Laboratory, according to her LinkedIn profile. She was a co-author of the first IPCC 6 report released last August and has won awards for leading research expeditions to Antarctica and the Arctic.

Speaking with Bloomberg Green from her home in Kiev, she said that as someone who has studied in Russia and has relatives there, the war against Ukraine makes her angry because she feels Russia is choosing to use its oil and gas money on weapons rather than to help its own people. “I have traveled across Russia and many people there live in poverty,” she said.

Krakovska addressed the conclave of scientists who had gathered online to approve the summary of the latest IPCC 6 report released on February 28. After hearing words of solidarity from colleagues from Canada, the US, and many European countries at a prior IPCC conference, she realized she had to say something herself, even though political discussions are seldom part of such meetings.

“I didn’t want to undermine IPCC’s credibility,” Krakovska told Bloomberg Green, “but then I realized that this war was not just a war against Ukraine. It’s a war against against humanity.” She told those in attendance at this latest IPCC meeting, “Someone could question us that IPCC is not a political body and should only assess science related to climate change. Let me assure you that this human-induced climate change and war against Ukraine have direct connections and the same roots. They are fossil fuels and humanity’s dependence on them. I just want to emphasize that this war is not only against Ukraine but against global safety and fundamental human rights on freedom.

“While emissions of greenhouse gas have changed the energy balance of the planet, the ease of receiving energy from burning coal, oil and gas has changed the balance of power in the human world. We cannot change laws of the physical world but it is our responsibility to change laws of human civilization towards a climate resilient future.”

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In her remarks, Krakovska expressed regret that the war ravaging her home would overshadow the years of scientific work by hundreds of researchers that went into the IPCC report released on Monday. She also suggested that “Ukraine can become the subject of study of vulnerable to climate change groups” based on its present experience of “war and increasing number of refugees.”

When war broke out last week, she wrote to the head of IPCC to say her delegation would “continue to work if we have an internet connection and no missiles over our heads.” But some of her colleagues were forced to seek safety from Russian bombs.

An Unexpected Apology

During the online conference, Russian researcher Oleg Anisimov, the head of climate change research at Russia’s Hydrological Institure, made an unexpected comment to the group. “All of those who know what is happening fail to find any justification for this attack against Ukraine,” he said, according to a person familiar with the discussions and published accounts of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change meeting. Now Krakovska, who is hiding inside her home in Kiev as Russian bombs fall nearby, worries for the safety of her Russian counterpart.

Krakovska herself has received many offers to find shelter from the Russian invasion with colleagues in other countries. She says she appreciates them, but she isn’t going anywhere. “Why should I go? This is my home. I don’t want to be a refugee.”

While her sentiment is laudable, anthropomorphic global warming will make refugees of hundreds of millions of people in years to come. Whether its bombs, drought, wildfires, or rising sea levels, the root causes can all be traced to the same source — fossil fuels.

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Steve Hanley

Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Florida or anywhere else The Force may lead him. He is proud to be "woke" and doesn't really give a damn why the glass broke. He believes passionately in what Socrates said 3000 years ago: "The secret to change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new." You can follow him on Substack and LinkedIn but not on Fakebook or any social media platforms controlled by narcissistic yahoos.

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