‘Do we want the Earth to become like Venus?’: Putin calls for swift & practical action on the ‘huge challenge’ of climate change
Vladimir Putin has called on the people of the world to come together and “tend to our planet” for future generations. The Russian President also warned that “unrestrained and unlimited consumption" will have to abandoned.
Putin was speaking on Thursday to the Valdai Club, a Russian discussion forum attended by influential politicians, academics and business leaders, and visited yearly by the president. In recent years, the annual meeting has been held in Sochi, but this year it took place online.
“Tensions have reached a critical point. We can see this in climate change,” the Russian president said. “This problem calls for practical action and much more attention on our part. It has long stopped being the domain of abstract scientific interests but now concerns nearly every inhabitant of the planet Earth.
Russia is particularly vulnerable to the impacts of global warming, as 65 percent of the country’s territory is made up of permafrost. Any ecological change will have enormous consequences for Russia’s infrastructure, and could have a massive knock-on effect on its economy.
“It affects pipeline systems, residential districts built on permafrost, and so on,” Putin explained. “If as much as 25 percent of the near-surface layers of permafrost, which is about three or four meters, melt by 2100, we will feel the effect very strongly.”
According to the president, Russia’s climate crisis could snowball quickly, as melting permafrost would stimulate methane emissions, and has the potential to spiral out of control.
“Do we want the Earth to become like Venus, a hot, dry, and lifeless planet?” Putin asked. “I would like to remind you that the Earth has an average surface temperature of 14°C (57°F) while on Venus it’s 462°C.”
While the president offered a portrait of a grim potential future, the effects of climate change in Russia are already visible. In June, a Siberian village broke the record for the highest temperature ever recorded inside the Arctic Circle, at 38°C. Later that month, wildfires were spotted in the far-north of Yakutia, an area usually associated with some of the lowest-ever recorded temperatures.
Despite Putin’s warnings that earthlings should stop the planet from becoming like Venus, Russia appears to have claimed the second planet from the Sun for itself. In September, the country’s space agency chief Dmitry Rogozin announced that Roscosmos plans to send a mission there.
“We believe that Venus is a Russian planet, so we shouldn’t fall behind,” he said. “Missions to Venus are a part of the government’s program of Russia’s space exploration for 2021-2030.”
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