Russian President: Heat Waves are 'Wake Up Call' to Climate Change


Image via the Kansas City Star
"What's happening with the planet's climate right now needs to be a wake-up call to all of us"
That's Dmitri Medvedev, the President of Russia, addressing the record heat waves that are currently devastating the largest nation in the world. Russia has seen crippling heatwaves and record-shattering temperatures all across the nation, and approximately 25 million acres (that's the size of all of Kentucky) of crops have withered under widespread droughts. A wake-up call indeed: The crisis is evidently severe enough to move Russia to do a stunning about face on its stubbornly obstructionist position on climate change.The nation's stance towards climate change, which up until now had essentially held it was a hoax invented by the West, looks like it's just been updated in a very big way. Time reports:

At a meeting of international sporting officials in Moscow on July 30, Russian President Dmitri Medvedev announced that in 14 regions of the country, "practically everything is burning. The weather is anomalously hot." Then, as TV cameras zoomed in on the perspiration shining on his forehead, Medvedev announced, "What's happening with the planet's climate right now needs to be a wake-up call to all of us, meaning all heads of state, all heads of social organizations, in order to take a more energetic approach to countering the global changes to the climate."
Russia is the world's third largest emitter of greenhouse gas emissions, behind China and the United States. It has long been one of the least productive members in the international dialogue on climate change, and has refused to even consider cutting carbon emissions. Granted, it's not as if the United States has done much better.

Nonetheless, the statement from Russia's president certainly caught the attention of the rest of the world, seeing as how it marked such a significant departure from his previous position on the matter. Which was, as Time illustrates, about as silly and conspiratorial as that of our nation's own looniest crop of deniers:

Broadly speaking, the Russian position has always been that climate change is an invention of the West to try to bring Russia to its knees," says Vladimir Chuprov, director of the Greenpeace energy department in Moscow. Case in point: when Medvedev visited Tomsk last winter, he called the global-warming debate "some kind of tricky campaign made up by some commercial structures to promote their business projects." That was two months after the Copenhagen talks.
Many have long feared that it will take a clear-cut disaster to alert the most offending nations to the looming threat of climate change. Russia seems to be experiencing such a disaster -- whether it will truly join the global dialogue and help convince our own conspiracy theorists (some of whom are Congressmen) to act to address global warming is another matter entirely.

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Tags: Global Climate Change | Russia

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