By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: March 3, 2022 ~
Every time crude oil rises by another 10 percent, Russian President Vladimir Putin believes he can continue to finance his bombing of residential neighborhoods in Ukraine. On October 1 of last year, Wall Street Journal reporter, Georgi Kantchev, wrote that “Oil-and-gas sales contribute as much as one-fifth” of Russia’s GDP, “while fuel and energy products make up the majority of Russia’s exports.”
While the financial sanctions that the European Commission, U.S., U.K. and Canada have imposed on Russia are having a crippling impact on the stock prices of Russian companies, the Russian Ruble, and major corporations’ willingness to continue doing business with Russia, the soaring price of crude oil and natural gas is giving Putin a feeling of optimism about his “barbaric” invasion of Ukraine.
At the beginning of this year, Brent Crude Oil was trading at $78 a barrel. Yesterday afternoon it was trading at $113 – an increase of 45 percent in two months. The higher the price of crude climbs, the tougher it will be to rein in Putin’s murderous instincts to grab his neighbors’ land and resources using military force.
The U.S. has one major weapon it has not yet deployed against Putin and it’s larger than the 44 million people in Ukraine who have risked their lives for the past eight days to fight for their country against an invader hitting them from land, sea and air.
We’re talking about the 46.7 million retirees in the U.S. who are financially incentivized to engage in an energy war with Putin because they live on fixed incomes, for the most part, and can’t afford to see their monthly utility bills rise or pay more at the pump for gasoline. These are the same folks who have the time, ability and social networks to engage in a meaningful effort to trim energy use and bring down the price of oil and natural gas.
According to the University of Michigan Center for Sustainable Systems, the U.S. accounts for 5 percent of the world’s population but consumes 17 percent of the world’s energy. That means that a serious, concerted effort to trim energy use in the United States could have a meaningful impact on the demand for, and price of, fossil fuels.
The Academy of Natural Sciences at Drexel University has a list of “40 ways to reduce household energy use.” We’ve adapted six of the most important recommendations for retirees to deploy on behalf of themselves and recommend to family members:
- Replace all incandescent bulbs in the house with LED bulbs. LED bulbs use an estimated 75 percent less electricity than incandescent bulbs and last 25 times longer. Text other family members and ask them to do the same to support both Ukraine and the planet.
- Shut down all computers when leaving the house and at night. Send a text to family members and tell them to do the same.
- Turn off all lights when you leave a room.
- Adjust the air conditioner temperature one or two degrees higher. Each degree saves about 10 percent energy use.
- If you need to buy a new appliance, look for the “Energy Star” label, which is a Federal guarantee that it uses less energy. Energy Star washing machines use 25 percent less energy and 45 percent less water than conventional washing machines.
- Always put a lid on a pot to boil food quicker, in order to use less energy. (Boiling large potatoes to make potato salad takes 45 minutes without a lid and 25 minutes with a lid, we have found from personal experience.)
The Natural Resources Defense Council has more good tips on practical ways to reduce energy use, including:
“The clothes dryer is one of the largest energy users in the home, often consuming as much as a new refrigerator, dishwasher, and clothes washer combined. Air-dry clothing when possible, and when you have to use your machine, be sure to clean the lint filter after each use, use the auto-dry or moisture-sensor setting, and don’t add wet items to a load that’s already partially dry.”
“If you want to stream movies and use services like Netflix or YouTube, consider buying an Internet-ready television or a small add-on device—like Apple TV, Google Chromecast, or a Roku box—which uses very little power. Avoid streaming video through game consoles like PlayStation or Xbox, which can use up to 30 times more energy. (If you do use a game console regularly, at least set it to ‘auto power down’ mode.)”
“If you add up all the gaps around the windows and doors in an average American house, you have the equivalent of a 3-foot by 3-foot hole in the wall. Caulk and weather-strip to seal off these air leaks, and use window putty to seal gaps around loose window panes. And stop heated or cooled air from escaping under doors by attaching ‘sweeps’ or ‘shoes’ to their bottoms.”
Retirees should also have a nice long conversation with their grandchildren in college. The Sustainable Campus program at Cornell University shares this:
“Whether you are working on campus or remotely you can quickly ‘power down’ your workspaces before a break. In 2019, Cornell students and staff who shut down before the Winter Break were able to save 1.2 million kWh of electricity and over $100,000. (That’s equivalent to eliminating the energy use of 98 homes’ energy use for one year, growing 14,000 trees, switching 32,200 light bulbs to LEDs, or charging 108,200,000 smartphones. The impact is huge!)”
Putin’s military threat is related to his need to keep the globe addicted to fossil fuels in order to solidify his authoritarian rule in Russia’s oil and gas economy. Putin is a former KGB officer who, clearly, has no moral compass but does have power over 5,977 nuclear warheads in Russia, according to the Federation of American Scientists. After stating publicly for weeks that he had no intention of invading Ukraine, Putin has invaded multiple major cities in Ukraine over the past eight days after raining bombs down on them. After repeatedly stating in recent days that civilian areas would not be targeted, Putin is now heavily bombing residential areas and killing innocent children.
Yesterday, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, told an emergency meeting of the U.N. General Assembly that videos show Russia is now moving lethal weapons into Ukraine, “cluster munitions and vacuum bombs,” that are so horrific that their use against civilians is banned by the Geneva Convention. She also said this about Russia’s attacks on civilian areas:
“Russia has bombed residential apartment buildings. It has bombed sacred burial grounds. It has shelled kindergartens and orphanages and hospitals. Russia has spurred mass hunger and caused so many to flee their homes – the latest UN estimates are marching toward a million people. We thank the countries who have opened their borders, who have opened their hearts, opened their homes to those fleeing Ukraine. And I want to echo the UN Refugee Agency’s call to help and welcome all those fleeing conflict, without regard to race or nationality. Refugees are refugees.” (See her full remarks in the video below.)
An entire generation of Ukrainian children may be permanently traumatized and emotionally scarred from the actions of this one man’s megalomaniac ambitions. Every person of conscience, including those living in Russia, needs to do their part to stop this dangerous man. Please consider clicking on the little envelope icon below to automatically email a link to this article to your friends and family members.