The Great Trouble

For a German, Putin’s attack of the Ukraine and the atrocities committed against its people, which aim at annihilating its statehood, evokes bitter memories of 1939. Putin’s strategy of escalation will ultimately force the free world to stop him, unless brave Russians could topple him from power. Yet, this will take time. Understandably, NATO cannot enter a war with Putin’s army, yet, this is a key explanation of Putin’s optimism about eventual success of escalation.

Hence, the only weapon is the economy, and we witness a historically unprecedented application of almost all means of economic sanctions. Germany is on the way towards a U-turn of her energy policy, weaning off the country from Russian gas and oil. However, the stuff is still flowing, and directly pays for Putin’s war. This historical moment shows to everyone the stark truth about the fossil economy of capitalism: With few exceptions such as Norway, the energy consumption of the world sustains mostly authoritarian regimes and allows them to build up huge military arsenals and maintain systems of oppression. In Leif Wenar’s seminal work and wording, blood oil keeps the fossil economy running.

In these troubled days, the IPCC also published its sixth report, confirming another stark truth: That we are too slow in de-carbonization, and that we head towards the climate catastrophe with full understanding of the predicament. Putin’s war even makes things worse: In Germany, many people believe that energy transformation must be slowed down, coal revived at least for a couple of years, and so on.

I think that this uncanny coincidence leads to the clear conclusion that the spirit of solidarity with Ukraine might help us the throw off the authoritarian yoke of gas and oil. Everyone knows, stopping the flow of gas and oil from Russia will bring Putin’s regime to its knees, but at very high costs for Europe. But aren’t these costs the prize that we must pay for freedom and democracy? And won’t we eventually even gain another big prize, namely revolutionizing our energy systems to fight the other Apocalyptic rider, climate change?

Renewables are the energy forms of freedom and self-determination, since they allow for the decentralization and localization of energy production. The energy transition must also be conceived as driving a fundamental political transformation of the world. Until today, the technosphere is tainted by blood oil and gas. In showing solidarity with Ukraine, we also win our own moral integrity back and steer the world away from the brink of climate collapse.

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