Russia is experiencing very high, abnormal temperatures this summer. Temperatures in Moscow have been getting up to 100 degrees F instead of the more usual 75 degrees F. Drought is causing Russia’s wheat harvest to decline significantly this year to the point where Russia has banned any more wheat exports for the rest of the year.
The high temperatures have dried out the countryside around Moscow. Dried peat bogs and forests have started burning, producing a dense cloud of smoke that is reducing visibility in Moscow to only a few hundred feet. Air travel is being disrupted because pilots don’t have enough visibility to land at the regional airports.
The dense smoke is causing smog in Moscow that is dangerous to breath. Eye and respiratory irritation are common complaints.
On Thursday, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev spoke to a Russian Security Council meeting on the ongoing threat of wildfires associated with the country’s heatwave and drought:
“Everyone is talking about climate change now. Unfortunately, what is happening now in our central regions is evidence of this global climate change, because we have never in our history faced such weather conditions in the past. This means that we need to change the way we work, change the methods that we used in the past.”
Last Friday, in remarks to the heads of international sports federations, Medvedev said:
“We are in the middle of an unprecedented heat wave…We have never had such record high temperatures before. At times I have the impression that I’m somewhere in Italy or in Egypt, but certainly not in Moscow…Frankly, what is going on with the world’s climate at the moment should incite us all (I mean world leaders and heads of public organizations) to make a more strenuous effort to fight global climate change.
The high temperatures in Russia could be the result of climate change. It is good that Russia is now acknowledging the problem. You have to get out of denial before you can start to deal with the problem.
Global warming is a multi-decade problem. We may eventually have to reduce our carbon emissions by 99% at some time in the distant future. But I’m not going to worry about the last 1% at this time. We should start by doing something about the first 20%. We could switch from coal and oil to more carbon efficient natural gas.We could build nuclear power plants. We can start building a renewable power industry.
China, for example, is becoming a leader in developing renewable energy. They are using an approach of displacement to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide emissions. The Chinese are building as much renewable energy production as they can. Any renewable energy production will always displace energy produced by fossil fuels. This is because the investment to build renewable energy systems is high, but the cost of fuel is small or free. Renewable systems cost a lot to build but are inexpensive to operate.
Russia should focus on a multi-year plan for increasing their capacity to develop renewable energy system with the goal of eventually decreasing the amount of carbon they release into the atmosphere. Other countries including the United States should do the same thing.