Ukraine War, March 20, 2023: Russian war of aggression against Ukraine impedes global action to halt climate change

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To see a list of previous articles, enter “Ukraine” in the Search Box on the upper right, and you will see a list in chronological order.

To understand the broad context within which current developments in Ukraine should be considered,see

“Ukraine War, October 26, 2022: The context for analysis of current developments; The “dirty bomb” as a Russian propaganda distraction from current war crimes,” The Trenchant Observer, October 26, 2022.


1) Sarah Kaplan, “World is on brink of catastrophic warming, U.N. climate change report says; A dangerous climate threshold is near, but ‘it does not mean we are doomed’ if swift action is taken, scientists say,” Washington Post, March 20, 2023 (updated at 2:45 pm EDT);

2) James Rowles, “The war in Ukraine in the context of the challenges facing humanity,” Trenchant Observations, July 21, 2022;


From Trenchant Observations, July 21, 2022

Humanity in general and our civilization in particular face monumental challenges, and it is far from clear that they will be successfully overcome.

Climate change, aside from the threat of nuclear war, appears to be the greatest threat to the survival of humanity, or large portions of it. Europe is on fire, with the hottest temperatures on record in some countries such as England. As global warming increases, the situation is likely to get much worse.

Large swaths of the Middle East and South Asia may become virtually uninhabitable, with maximum temperatures exceeding 50 degrees Celsius (122 degrees Fahrenheit). Enormous refugee flows would be likely to result.

Human beings are equipped with a cognitive apparatus—the human brain and psyche—which is housed in a body of flesh and blood, and is part of an organism with an incredibly powerful instinct for survival.

But one aspect of that cognitive apparatus is that it systematically undervalues the probability of future adverse events. Perhaps that is necessary in order to avoid becoming paralyzed by fear, or is simply an adaptive mechanism that ensures you remain focused on present, immediate threats, like a tiger charging at you out of the jungle.

Whatever the mechanism, humans are not good at accurately assessing future threats and responding to them.

Even the present goal of limiting global temperature rises to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius, which will not avoid some of the worst effects of climate change, as we are witnessing right now, seems to many too ambitious. Meanwhile, our cumulative failures to take preventive action produce their effects.

Today, there are three overriding challenges which confront humanity, in immediate and palpable form:

(1) Global warming, and the urgent need to moderate its effects.

(2) The threat of thermonuclear war.

(3) The threat of military aggression, and the critical need to uphold and maintain the United Nations Charter and international law, including the prohibition of the use of force across international frontiers.

Global warming poses a threat to the very survival of humanity on this planet, though the human cognitive apparatus is poorly suited to correctly value this threat and take corrective action.

The United Nations, nonetheless, has provided the framework within which scientists from every country have, working together, developed a consensus about the factual basis of the threat.

The United Nations has also provided the framework within which the nations of the world have been able to reach agreement, in the 2015 Paris Agreement (Paris Climate Accords), on goals and actions to be undertaken to moderate the effects of climate change on humanity and biological systems on Earth. The United Nations also provides the framework within which these efforts continue.

Notwithstanding these achievements, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has constituted an assault on the very framework of the United Nations Charter and international law upon which all of these agreements depend, as well as any agreements which might be concluded in the future.

As new weapons and threats emerge, one cannot imagine, outside of the framework of the United Nations Charter and international law, the conclusion of agreements to limit their spread and use.

Finally, without the prohibition of the use of force across international frontiers, it is difficult to see how the risks of thermonuclear war can be controlled, or how the entire structure of the U.N. Charter and international law can be maintained.

Without the United Nations and the international legal order based on its Charter, it is not possible to conceive of how the nations of the world could work together to moderate the effects of global warming.

As the above analysis makes clear, a great deal depends on the outcome of the war in Ukraine.

Indeed, one could say that everything depends on the outcome of the war in Ukraine.

As Sarah Kaplan reports, the latest report from the U.N. underlines the extreme consequences humanity will suffer if climate change is not brought under control. It is inconceivable that this can be done without the United Nations Charter and international law.

Both depend on reaffirmation by the nations of the world of the central purpose and principles of the United Nations, above all the prohibition of the use of force across international frontiers and the non-recognition of territorial gains achieved through the illegal use of force.

Seen in this light, it is clear that effective control of global warming and climate change are dependent on the continued effectiveness of the U.N. Charter and international law.

That means that Russia’s war if aggression against Ukraine must be ended as soon as possible in accordance with a peace agreement whose terms are consistent with the U.N. Carter, as called for by the U.N. General Assembly on February 23, 2023, in Resokution A/ES-11/L.7.

If China were to provide military assistance to Russia in its war of aggression, it would become complicit in that aggression, and would through its actions contribute to a criminal war that would in effect prevent humanity from acting to halt global warming and cintrol climate change.

Every nation in the world, including the fence-sitters in the “Global South”, needs to understand this connection between Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, and the possibility of gaining control over climate change and its effects.

The Trenchant Observer


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