Archive | Climate Crisis

Climate Change Accounting: The Failure of COP25


Prior to the UN Convention on Climate Change talks held in Madrid, the sense that tradition would assert itself was hard to buck. Weariness and frustration came in the wake of initial high minded optimism. Delegates spent an extra two days and nights attempting to reach a deal covering carbon reduction measures before the Glasgow conference in 2020. The gathering became the longest set of climate talks in history, exceeding the time spent at the 2011 Durban meeting by 44 hours.

As Climate Home News noted, Durban still stood out as being worthier for having “produced a deal between countries that laid the foundations for the Paris Agreement.” In stark contrast, “Madrid produced a weak gesture toward raising climate targets and failed to agree for the second year in a row on rules to govern carbon markets.”

The UN Secretary General António Guterres was all lament. “The international community lost an important opportunity to show increased ambition on mitigation, adaption and finance to tackle the climate crisis.” He hoped that the next year would see “all countries commit to do what science tells us is necessary to reach carbon neutrality in 2050 and no more than 1.5 degree temperature rise.”

The wisdom of COP25 remains similar to that of previous gatherings on climate: politics and environment do not mix well. Big powers and heavy polluters stuck to their stubborn positions, stressing the merits of loose, open markets to solve the problem, notably in terms of reducing carbon emissions; smaller states more concerned by their actual disappearance lobbied European, Latin American and African allies for firmer commitments and pledges.

Australia was also confirmed as one of the chief spoilers, if not outright saboteurs, at the show, noted for its insistence that it be allowed to claim a reduction of its abatement for the 2021-30 Paris Accord. This, went the argument, was due to its own excelling in meeting the 2012-20 Kyoto Protocol period. Previous good conduct could justify current bad and future behaviour. What Canberra offered the globe was an accounting model of deception, exploiting a regulatory loophole in place of lowering emissions. It lacked legal plausibility, given that both Kyoto and Paris are separate treaties.

Former French environment minister Luciana Tubiana was clear about the implications of this idea. “If you want this carryover,” she told the Financial Times, “it is just cheating. Australia was willing in a way to destroy the whole system, because that is the way to destroy the whole Paris agreement.”

Other states were also noted in performing roles of obstruction, including Saudi Arabia, Brazil and the United States. These parties were particular keen to push their differences with other states over Article 6 of the Paris Agreement, a provision dealing with mechanisms and models of trading in emission reductions. Such trade can have a habit of losing validity when put into practice; the issue of transparency remains a considerable problem in such markets.

The US statement at the conference emphasised realism and pragmatism “backed by a record of real world results.” (Real world results tend to exclude environmental ruination for unrepentant polluters.) Market results were primary; environmental matters were subordinate to such dictates. Usual mantras were proffered: innovation and open markets produced wealth, but also “fewer emissions, and mores secure sources of energy.” Despite leaving as a party to the Paris Agreement, “We remain fully committed to working with you, our global partners, to enhance resilience, mitigate the impacts of climate change, and prepare for and respond to natural disasters.”

Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro reconfirmed his climate change scepticism, claiming that the entire issue of COP25 could be put down to commerce. “I don’t know why people don’t understand that it’s just a commercial game.” The Europeans, he suggested, were merely being irksome about cash and meddling. “I’d like to know,” he posed rhetorically to journalists, “has there been a resolution for Europe to be reforested, or are they just going to keep bothering Brazil?”

Brazil’s environment minister Ricardo Salles, known to some as Minister for Deforestation, was similarly keen to place the blame elsewhere. He had demanded, bowl in hand, some $10 billion under the Paris Climate deal to combat deforestation in 2020. All in all, he was not optimistic. “Rich countries did not want to pay up.”

Like Australia, Brazil’s environmental ploy is driven by creative accounting, an attempt to leverage previous supposed good conduct in the climate change stakes, playing accumulated carbon credits from Kyoto to meet those under the Paris arrangements. Using open market rationales, Salles condemned the “protectionist vision” that had taken hold: “Brazil and other countries that could provide carbon credits because of their forests and good environmental practices came out losers.” In an act of some spite, the minister would subsequently post a tweet featuring a photo of a platter heavy with meats. “To compensate for our emissions at COP, a vegetarian lunch!”

Madrid will be remembered for its stalemate on carbon credits and the botched rule book on carbon trading. An effort spearheaded by Costa Rica, including Germany, Britain and New Zealand, to convince states to adopt the San Jose principles, with a prohibition on the use of carbon credit carryover along with other Kyoto gains, was rejected.

COP25 again exposed that degree of prevalent anarchy, if not gangsterism, in global climate change policy. The emphasis, then, is on attempts and arrangements made within regional areas: EU policy on de-carbonised economies (albeit resisted within by such states as Poland), and bilateral arrangements (the EU and China). As these take place, the apocalyptic message led by activists such as Greta Thunberg will become more desperate.

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Jay Inslee Just Wants to Save the World From Climate Change

byRyan Cooper

Inslee did use most of his time to hammer on the “climate crisis.”(Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

The second Democratic debate Wednesday evening was a bit of a boring mess. The first 45 minutes on health care were muddled and confusing, and a great deal of time was taken up with attempts by Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.) and Kamala Harris (Calif.) to land blows on former Vice President Joe Biden by attacking his past, each of which mostly failed — in large part because both have troubled histories of their own.

But one candidate stood out, not for his performance as much as his reason for being on stage: Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, who is quite literally trying to save the world. He didn’t have the wittiest put-downs or the most practiced talking points, but he is laser-focused on climate change, far and away the most important problem facing the United States. He almost certainly will not win — but he is doing his utmost to put climate policy on the national agenda, and putting in the work to develop a very strong plan the next president can take up.

This is a good reason for the Democratic Party to take the debates away from for-profit media companies.

Inslee didn’t get a whole lot of speaking time, as he barely has any support and the moderators devoted little time to climate change in any case. It was also difficult to have any sort of substantive discussion with the 2-minute time limit for questions and 30 seconds for responses. Candidates could barely squeak out a couple paragraphs before the moderators started interrupting them — not ideal for discussing complicated policy.

Incidentally, this is a good reason for the Democratic Party to take the debates away from for-profit media companies. They can set them up themselves and broadcast on PBS or C-SPAN — and ideally have at least a few debates wholly given over to one or two topics, so the candidates can really dig in. At the very least, it’s senseless for the party to subject its candidates to CNN’s right-leaning moderators who keep trying to bait them into saying they will destroy the economy with tax hikes.

At any rate, Inslee did use most of his time to hammer on the “climate crisis,” as he put it in his opening statement. He noted correctly that it affects literally everything: “Climate change is not a singular issue, it is all the issues that we Democrats care about. It is health. It is national security. It is our economy,” he said. And he attacked Biden’s weaksauce climate plan, saying “your plan is just too late. The science says we have to get off coal in 10 years. Your plan does not do that. We have to get off of fossil fuels from our electric grid in 15. Your plan simply does not do that.” Biden retorted by boasting he would “double offshore wind” — but didn’t note that there are only a piddling 30 megawatts of offshore wind capacity at the moment (though more is coming online soon).

Read full article here.

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Climate change, extreme weather, destructive lifestyles

Man-made climate change

Graham Peebles writes:

Throughout the world heat waves, flooding and uncontrollable wildfires have caused widespread havoc, lives have been lost, homes destroyed, livelihoods ruined. 

Unprecedented levels of heat have been recorded in North America, Europe and Asia, as well as the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans. According to The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) record cold May temperatures were registered in “northeastern Canada and the northern Atlantic Ocean, off the southern coast of Greenland.” Global temperatures for the first five months of the year were the highest on record for a La Niña year; higher temperatures, “lead to more frequent and long-lasting heat waves causing adverse environmental impacts.”

These extreme weather patterns are the ferocious signs and sights of climate change in 2018, and, because so little is being done to tackle the causes, year on year they become more and more intense. Planet Earth is becoming a world in which the extreme becomes the expected, the disastrous the everyday.

How bad must it get?

The year began with the coldest first week of January on record for numerous cities in eastern America; freezing temperatures and heavy snowfall swept across Europe in March as the “Beast From the East” hit. Britain was severely affected, with up to three feet of snow in some areas and temperatures down to minus 10ºC.

Floods have affected East Africa killing dozens of people, tropical cyclones hit Somalia, Djibouti, Yemen and Oman, dust storms killed hundreds in India, and Pakistan had an intense heat wave with temperatures exceeding 40ºC. Heavy rains and 70 mph winds in Bangladesh caused landslides, deaths and injuries. California had the largest wild fires ever recorded, and down under, Australia is becoming the ‘Land of Drought’ according to the Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull.

A heat wave of unprecedented temperatures scorched Europe and Japan, where 40ºC (104ºF) temperatures were recorded, 30 people died and thousands needed medical treatment for heat related conditions. A month earlier Japan had some of the worst floods in its history, more than 200 people lost their lives and almost 2 million people were evacuated; the Caribbean is bracing itself for this year’s hurricane season, while “still recovering from last year’s devastation,” which, the UNFCC say, was “the costliest on record”.

The list of extreme weather events across the word is endless; extremes that are increasingly normal as the impact of man-made climate change become more and more apparent, and yet little is being done to address the primary causes. How bad does it have to become before substantive action is taken to reverse the terrible damage we are doing to the natural world?

The mechanics of climate change

Climate change is being triggered by global warming; Global warming, described by NASA as “the unusually rapid increase in Earth’s average surface temperature…primarily due to the greenhouse gases released as people burn fossil fuels” occurs, “when the atmosphere traps heat radiating from Earth toward space.” This happens when so-called greenhouse gases (Carbon Dioxide (CO2), Methane (CH4) and Nitrous Oxide (N2O), being the three main culprits) clog the lower levels of Earth’s atmosphere. This leads to a range of effects: The planet overall becomes warmer (average ground temperature rises), causing “extreme weather events and other severe natural and societal impacts” to become more frequent; glaciers in the Arctic region melt sending huge quantities of water into the ocean, which raises the sea level, oceans are made warmer and expand, further contributing to rising levels. As the sea level rises land is flooded, cities, towns and villages are threatened, lives lost, homes destroyed, communities ripped apart, people displaced.

Man-made greenhouse gases (GGE) are produced by a range of sectors and activities: Animal agriculture produces the largest amount (18% of the total according to the UN, other sources put the figure much higher), followed by electricity and heat production, transportation and industry – all through burning fossil fuels – oil, coal and gas. GGEs have been increasing since the industrial revolution, leading to a rise in global ground temperatures, which to date has reached about 1ºC above pre-industrial levels. Temperatures continue to increase at around 0.17ºC per decade.

One degree doesn’t sound like much but, as the extreme weather events show,the effect of this modest rise on the climate is huge, the consequences far reaching, potentially catastrophic.

In 2015 the Paris Agreement on Climate Change was reached and signed up to by every country in the world; under President Trump America has since pulled out. Hailed as historic, its central aim is to keep global rises in temperature “well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius.” Even if these rather optimistic targets are met, a recent study by an international team of scientists writing in the journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests, “there is a risk of Earth entering what the scientists call “Hothouse Earth” conditions.” The BBC report that the group believe 2ºC of warming “could turn some of the Earth’s natural forces [forests, oceans and land] – that currently protect us – into our enemies…As the world experiences warming, these carbon sinks could become sources of carbon and make the problems of climate change significantly worse.”

If this occurs they forecast the climate stabilizing at “a global average of 4-5°C higher than pre-industrial temperatures with sea level 10-60 m higher than today.” This would mean that some parts of the Earth would become uninhabitable. In order to avoid this nightmare scenario the authors make clear that “a total re-orientation of human values, equity, behavior and technologies is required. We must all become stewards of the Earth.” This requires a major shift in human attitudes.

Unhealthy destructive lifestyle

Climate Change and the environmental disaster in its various colors is the result of human activity and complacency; we have poisoned the oceans, rivers and streams, cleared 85% of the world’s tropical rainforests, mainly for livestock, and are turning healthy land into desert; we are filling the air we breathe with toxins, creating dead zones in the oceans and causing the eradication of species at an unprecedented rate. Collectively we seem to have no respect or love for the natural environment and whilst some people are acting responsibly, the majority fails to see the connection between lifestyle and disaster and appear content to treat the planet like a giant rubbish tip.

The natural order has been thrown into disarray by the widespread adoption of a selfish, destructive way of life: A particular lifestyle, or collection of related ‘lifestyle choices’ are responsible for the production of man-made greenhouse gases that are triggering the extreme weather patterns we are seeing all around the world. 

Hedonism and consumerism sit at the heart of the unhealthy mode of living that is driving the catastrophe and making us ill; mankind’s relentless consumption of stuff, the vast majority of which is not needed, combined with an animal-based diet (common to 97% of the global population), has created a cocktail of chaos within the natural world, bringing about the greatest crisis in the history of mankind. It is a materialistic lifestyle that the global economy, and by extension the corporate state depends on and ceaselessly promotes. This is why, despite the intense urgency of the environmental issue, we hear little on mainstream media and virtually nothing from governments, who are more concerned with economic growth and petty domestic politics than the stability and health of the planet.

The harmony of the natural world has been thrown into chaos by the same approach to life that has separated us one from another, and fuelled internal conflict resulting in a global mental health epidemic. In all areas, where there should be unity and right relationship we see enmity, discord and disease. Restoring the planet to health and creating a world in which human beings can live healthy peaceful lives are inextricably linked. Both require a fundamental change in values, a shift away from divisive modes of living built on competition and greed to inclusive ways in which social/environmental responsibility is cultivated and embraced.

Such ideas are not new and are frequently championed, but the prevailing socio-economic ideology actively works to suppress such principles, and powerfully promotes values of division and selfishness. Despite this widespread conditioning, an unstoppable current of change can be seen sweeping the world; social responsibility is growing apace, and perennial values of goodness – cooperation, tolerance and sharing – are increasingly influencing the minds of men and women everywhere. 

To galvanize this global movement a major public education program should be undertaken by governments and schools to increase awareness of climate change and lifestyle and create a sense of urgency and engagement. Change can be slow, but these are extraordinary times, and there is a growing recognition that if we unite all things are possible. If not, if we continue in the selfish, greedy, divisive ways of the past, the weather patterns will become more extreme and unpredictable, the air and waterways will become more toxic, loss of life will increase and the associated environmental ills will deepen. The choice is ours.

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Tim DeChristopher | In the Face of Climate Crisis, Let’s Make 2018 a Year for Realism


By Tim DeChristopher

In the Face of Climate Crisis, Let's Make 2018 a Year for Realism

(Image: Jared Rodriguez / Truthout)

This story is the first in Truthout’s Visions of 2018 series, in which activist leaders answer the question: “What would you like to see created, built, imagined or begun this year?” Each piece will focus on a bold idea for transformation, to give us fuel as the year moves forward.

“So, the next time I tell you how easily I come out of my skin, don’t try to put me back in

just say here we are together at the window aching for it to all to get better

but knowing as bad as it hurts our hearts may have only just skinned their

knees knowing there is a chance the worst day might still be coming

let me say right now for the record, I’m still gonna be here …

you — you stay here with me, okay?

You stay here with me.”

—Andrea Gibson

Just a few years ago, the resounding narrative in our country was “It Gets Better.” This mantra was not just a message to queer youth, but an article of faith in a culture that embraced the notion of eternal progress. This empowering campaign emerged on the scene in 2010, at a time when, for those of us who pay close attention to the climate crisis, it was becoming increasingly clear that things were not, in fact, going to get better. Then in 2017, it became brutally obvious to a broad swath of our society that the march of progress is certainly not inevitable. Perhaps 2018 can be a year in which we embrace that realism and develop a model of leadership rooted in vulnerability.

The conventional wisdom assumes that in order to motivate people to action or to win elections, leaders have to project optimism about our ability to cure all evils and create a world free of hardship. We see this in both climate organizations and progressive politicians who promise that we can stop climate change and increase long-term economic growth at the same time. Sober analysis tells us that not only are these two goals not possible in combination, but we have almost certainly reached a point where neither goal is possible on its own. But to publicly acknowledge such harsh truths is assumed to be political suicide, immobilizing an audience into hopelessness.

When we deny our pain, doubt and despair, we deny the opportunity for solidarity with others who feel the same thing.

But the thing about realism is that reality is the place where we all actually live. We can cling to painless delusions, but to do so alienates us from the authentic experience of those around us. The poet Andrea Gibson, to whom I sometimes refer as the greatest theologian of the 21st century, says, “What I know about living is that the pain is never just ours.”

When we deny our pain, doubt and despair, we deny the opportunity for solidarity with others who feel the same thing. We end up convinced that we are small, weak and alone. Given the massively powerful forces that must be overcome to address the climate crisis, economic injustice and white supremacy, there is nothing more hopeless than thinking of ourselves as isolated individuals.

2018 provides an opportunity for the emergence of leadership that holds space for our shared vulnerability.

The most talked about climate story of 2017 was an article by David Wallace-Wells entitled The Uninhabitable Earth.” Wallace-Wells received a great deal of criticism for what some perceived as a pessimistic tone. But the article was the most read piece in the history of the New York Magazine and one of the most read climate articles anywhere, prompting many of us to realize, in Gibson’s words, “Other people feel this too.” For me, it was a moment of sincere hopefulness.

After a year full of shattered illusions, 2018 provides an opportunity for the emergence of leadership that holds space for our shared vulnerability. Rather than trying to make us believe in those illusions again by making false promises and telling people what they think we want to hear, leaders can let go of those illusions and be honest about their limitations and uncertainties. Such leadership is embodied not in one’s ability to control a situation, but in one’s courage to engage with and relate to a situation.

Abandoning the dream of endless economic growth allows for a broader public discourse about what the purpose of an economy should be and who it should serve.

This is a leadership that can emerge this year in the halls of power and in small community gatherings. By holding public space for insecurity, leaders can invite others who feel similarly to experience authentic solidarity, because in that solidarity is our real power. By building that felt sense that we are part of something much bigger and more powerful than our individual selves, perhaps acknowledging that some things are impossible can help expand the realm of what is possible.

If we are liberated from impossible goals this year, we can begin to reconnect with the pursuits that we truly value. Because infinite growth is impossible on a finite planet, the pursuit of economic growth has always demanded sacrifices from other people and other parts of our ecosystem. Abandoning the dream of endless economic growth allows for a broader public discourse about what the purpose of an economy should be and who it should serve.

Unlike abandoning the false god of economic growth, however, the reality of climate change means that we will suffer real losses and hardship. But as with any real loss, denial does not prevent grief; it only makes us lonelier in our grief. Sharing that grief is the only way we can bear it and continue to do the work that needs to be done. There is much work that needs to be done, and in the endless struggle ahead of us, there will continue to be much work to be done. Here in 2018, a time of end-stage capitalism and early-stage climate crisis, we have a heavy load to bear, so let’s hope this is the year of rising leaders who are willing to bear it.

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Looming Geopolitical and Environmental Disasters. Documentary Reveals ‘Video’


Thirty Seconds to Midnight explores the fallout of U.S. foreign policy

Documentary filmmaker Regis Tremblay is trying to get the word out about the dangers of nuclear war, nuclear power, and climate change.

In 2016, he traveled to Odessa, Ukraine, Moscow, St. Petersburg and Crimea to complete filming for his new film, Thirty Seconds to Midnight. It’s not a romantic comedy, in case you were wondering.

This is not Tremblay’s first rodeo, though. In 2012, he went to Jeju Island in South Korea to document a six-year continuous protest against the construction of a massive naval base to accommodate America’s “pivot to Asia.” What he learned there about America’s complicity in horrendous massacres before and during the Korean conflict motivated him to make The Ghosts of Jeju, a film about the indigenous people of the island.

Tremblay's documentary argues that we are perilously close to midnight

Tremblay’s documentary argues that we are perilously close to midnight

We asked Tremblay about his new film in a series of e-exchanges.

Russia Insider: Your documentary has a very important message. But spreading important messages to the general public isn’t always easy. There’s a lot to compete with, such as funny viral cat photographs, etc. As we’re sure you’re well aware, all important political and social statements must be tweeted at and endorsed by at least one important person. So let’s roleplay. We’re Michael Moore. Tell us why we should retweet your documentary, in 140 characters or less. Please remember that proper grammar is strictly prohibited.

Regis Tremblay: Can I not?

RI: Fine. Then just tell us in normal, civilized English, please. 

Tremblay: My documentary is an urgent message for people everywhere because of the triple threats to life on the planet: nuclear war, nuclear power, and climate change. It is a message few others dare to say, humanity and all life on the planet are on the brink of extinction. Of course, Local media as well as the distribution establishment, including film festivals refuse to include it. Spreading controversial, and important topics to the general public is difficult, especially for an independent filmmaker like myself. Since the publication of my other feature documentary, The Ghosts of Jeju, I have worked tirelessly promoting it via Facebook, my websites and blogs.

I was fortunate to have made many influential contacts who have participated in my films and they have, in turn, shared the films with their extensive networks. Oliver Stone, Charles Hanley, Professor Bruce Cummings, Bruce Gagnon, Ray McGovern, Dr. Helen Caldicott, Chris Hedges, Peter Kuznick, and others.

RI: We consider ourselves fairly well-versed in all the awful things that the United States has done to various peoples all over the world since 1776. But your documentary taught us about many new horrible thing that we never learned about in AP History class. What inspired you to seek out the rancid underbelly of American foreign and domestic policy? It’s a dark place where most people choose not to go.

Tremblay: My film presents a counter narrative to the version of U.S. history learned in school and passed down to us since the founding of the country. In a real sense, it presents the untold history of the United States since the white, colonial, Europeans came her in the 15th Century. America was founded on genocide, slavery, and the stealing of land and resources that continues to this very day.

As a U.S. History major, I never learned about the real history of America, so when I traveled to Jeju Island, an independent province of South Korea in 2012, I discovered the ugly truth about US atrocities there after WWII. I went there thinking I was going to document a long, peaceful, non-violent struggle against the construction of a massive naval base to accommodate America’s “Pivot to Asia.”

My research for this film opened my eyes to the ugly truth about U.S. foreign policy, militarism, and imperialism. Once The Ghosts of Jeju was completed, I knew there was more to the story and began to reconstruct the real history of the United States of America from the 15th Century to the present day.

Re-telling the narrative this way is extremely difficult, if not impossible, for most Americans to accept because it creates an understanding of America, the world, and themselves that they cannot accept. It is a classic case of cognitive dissonance. To accept that America is not the exceptional, indispensable nation, approved by god, and that America has never been about spreading freedom and Democracy around the world, would destroy their world personal views.

I have been told so many times by film festivals, newspaper editors, and the film industry that “it isn’t a good fit for our audiences.”

RI: You interviewed quite a few A-list activists and intellectuals. Can you describe the process of hunting these busy, important people down? We imagine it was no easy task. Did you have to badger anyone non-stop for an interview until they finally agreed to sit down for a talk? This is the aspect of documentary-making that makes us most anxious. Maybe you can provide some insight.

Tremblay: To interview the well-know and influential experts I mentioned before was actually the easiest part of the entire process. In most cases it was a matter of someone I knew who knew, for example, Oliver Stone or Helen Caldicott. From there it was just a matter of sending an email explaining the concept of the film and explaining why it would be important for them to participate.

Once The Ghosts of Jeju spread around the world and was translated into seven languages, I had acquired a reputation as a serious documentary filmmaker. So, when I made Thirty Seconds to Midnight, it was much easier to involve the likes of Chris Hedges, Ray McGovern, Peter Kuznick, and Dr. Helen Caldicott.

The most difficult part was traveling in order to film their interviews, which I also published, in their entirety on YouTube and in my blogs. Not only did this help promote the film in advance of its completion, but it served to give examples of the quality and professionalism of my work to others.

RI: You came to Russia not so long ago. Tell us about your experience. It was your first trip to the country, if we recall correctly. Why did you come here? What parts of Russia did you travel to? What surprised you most about the country and its people?

Tremblay: Prior to coming to Russia, I had traveled extensively, on two occasions, to the Asia Pacific from Hawaii, Kyoto, Okinawa, Hiroshima, S. Korea and down to the Marshall Islands. On these trips I documented the effects of US militarism on the people, the culture, and the environment. It was on these trips that I began to understand the scope of US militarism and war around the world.

I had become an observer and critic of U.S. foreign policy that simultaneously provoked China in the Asia Pacific and Russia in Eastern Europe, while at the same time waging devastating wars and destroying entire civilizations in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen and elsewhere.

Since WWII, it became clear that America needed a boogey man to frighten the American people and to increase military spending in order to reach full-spectrum dominance of the planet. Russia became that new enemy and threat to everything American. Since President Putin became president of the Russian Federation in 2001, the U.S. found the perfect, personification of evil. Because I had never believed everything we were taught about Russia and President Putin, I had to come to Russia to see for myself what Russia and the Russian people were like.

So, I traveled first to Moscow where I spent ten days before traveling by high speed train to St. Petersburg. After five days in St. Petersburg, I traveled to Crimea for five days before returning to America. I learned that Russian people are just like anybody else. They all loved their families and wanted nothing more than peace, security and prosperity for themselves and their children. Nobody wanted war with NATO or America, and to a person, everyone believed that nuclear war was madness and a game politicians played.

It also surprised me to learn that Russia, post the Soviet Era, was no longer Communist or Socialist, but a unique version of Democracy and Capitalism. I was amazed at the beauty, scale and magnificence of Moscow, that arguably is the most amazing city in the world. Moscow’s Metro, adorned with great artwork, has no equal anywhere. Most Russians I met spoke English, were well versed in American literature and popular culture, much more so than Americans.

And I learned a great deal about Russian history, past and present. In fact, Russians know their history and are proud of themselves as a people and a country that is diverse and multicultural.

What surprised me, perhaps most of all, was to learn that Russia has a Constitution that is remarkably similar to the United States Constitution, and I learned that many longed for some aspects of the Soviet Era.

Most Russians I met had a favorable opinion of President Putin and most credited him with restoring a sense of pride and patriotism in the country. They also approved of his foreign policy, though several disagreed with his economic policies. Nobody believe he was an evil dictator who eliminated his opponents. My impressions of Russia and the Russian people were so positive and favorable that I made a short video entitled, “Je Suis Russia”, that served as a counter-narrative to the lies, distortions and propaganda of the United States about Russia, the Russian people, and President Putin.

RI: How do you see things playing out, going forward? Has your opinion concerning dangers to world peace and stability changed at all since making your documentary? Are things getting worse or better or staying the same?

Tremblay: With the election of a new administration in Washington, I do not see any signs that the threats to world peace, the protection of the environment, and stability will improve. In fact, the hysteria about all things Russian have only intensified with accusations that Russia and President Putin interfered in the national elections last year. President Putin continues to be vilified and compared to Hitler and Stalin.

The ruling elite, who own and control the entire American government, continue to make foreign policy and to expand the military industrial complex. They also own most of the world banks, the multi-national corporations, the media and the governments of Europe, Australia, Canada, Japan and South Korea to name just a few. So, I believe the danger of direct confrontation with Russia and China, two nuclear-armed countries, could result in nuclear war. Because nuclear power is not safe and it is virtually impossible to store nuclear waste which has a life-cycle of 10,000 years, humans, animals and plants will continue to die from cancers and thousands of diseases caused by radioactivity.

There are many who believe that climate change and global warming are a hoax, but if average global temperatures continue to rise and chaotic weather events increase in frequency and intensity, the ecosystem and entire cities will continue to be threatened.

RI: What’s next for you? And when are you coming back to Russia?

Tremblay: The next part of the journey is to present screenings of the film. Several tours around the country have been planned, and more will follow. In September/October I will embark on a European tour to Ireland, England, France, Sweden, Finland, Norway, and hopefully end with a return to Russia.

Thirty Seconds to Midnight, by Regis Tremblay (full film)

The Truth About Crimea

Je Suis Russia

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