Earlier this month, the G7 met in Bavaria; its seven members are the major European and North American economies, plus Japan. The G7 is the successor to the G8—Vladimir Putin’s Russia has been suspended, having invaded and annexed parts of Ukraine, and now actively making mischief on NATO’s Baltic border. ISIS, meanwhile, is murdering its way through the Middle East, and China is building islands in international waters. So the G7 had quite a full plate; nonetheless, they found time to issue a declaration on climate change.
The G7 have affirmed their “strong determination to adopt” a climate change plan that, they say, will—through “binding rules”—“enable all countries to follow a low-carbon . . . pathway . . . to hold the increase in global average temperature below 2° C.” A lot of this is just hot air and civic posturing. But to the extent they are serious about climate change, the G7 should pay close attention to some other recent European news:
In January, a forest was discovered east of Norwich, an English city that’s northeast of London. You’d think by now most European forests would have been discovered; after all, every inch of the continent has been photographed by satellite. What makes this forest unusual is that it’s under 600 feet of water, in the North Sea.
It’s an oak forest, and it stands on Doggerland, an enormous tract of territory that once connected Britain to the low countries and Denmark. A geologist named Martin Warren called Doggerland “a country Europe forgot”; it was forgotten because, about 10,000 years ago, global warming triggered a rise in sea levels, which—by about 6,500 b.c.—had sunk Doggerland beneath the waves. It wasn’t rediscovered until 1931, when a fishing trawler pulled up a piece of an antler.
The Earth is always warming up or cooling off. The warming periods are inevitable, and so is an associated rise in sea levels. Cutting carbon emissions won’t stop it; after all, Doggerland—archaeologists tell us—hosted an environmentally friendly mesolithic society.
If the G7 is really worried about global warming, they ought to buy some industrial earth-movers: The novelist Larry Niven once remarked that dinosaurs died because they didn’t have a space program. You could say, by the same token, that Doggerland vanished because it didn’t have any bulldozers. The answer to rising sea-levels isn’t closing factories, it’s building dikes.
The lesson of Doggerland is that, when the G7 meets next year in Japan, they should invite the Dutch.
A Kiev-based Ukrainian friend, after meeting a delegation of young Russians, emails me: "totally terrible, young Russian diplomats. Manipulation, propaganda, gloating over victory in Eastern Ukraine, this new generation even worse than before. We will have big trouble with Russia for a very long time."
Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov told Bloomberg that the Russian reset was an "invention of Hillary Clinton" and the Obama administration.
"Well, if you take the original reset, it was not our invention, it was the invention of Hillary Clinton and Obama administrations because with their predecessors, George Bush Jr., Vladimir Putin had very good personal relations," said Lavrov.
It’s an especially tense time for the Baltic states and Russia’s other Western-leaning neighbors. Wariness with regard to Vladimir Putin and long-term Russian intentions toward the “near abroad” has long been the norm here, well before the 2007 cyberattack on Estonia and Russian military action against Georgia in 2008. But with the annexation of Crimea and military intervention in eastern Ukraine, general wariness has given way to focused concern about the new threat Russia poses.
A month and a half has passed since Boris Nemtsov, the Russian political activist who rose to prominence as a dynamic young reformer in the 1990s and later became one of the fiercest critics of Vladimir Putin’s authoritarian rule, was shot dead a few blocks from the Kremlin. The shocking murder, which quickly raised questions about the Putin regime’s culpability, has largely faded from the headlines in the Western press.
If Boris Nemtsov, the Russian statesman and activist killed in Moscow last week, had been a character in a political thriller—and he certainly had the looks and charisma for the part—the script might have been criticized as lacking subtlety. There is the opposition leader gunned down on the eve of a major protest march, shortly after an interview that foreshadows his murder. There is his nemesis, the authoritarian strongman whose foes often turn up dead, vowing to personally oversee the investigation.
Munich The 2001 film Conspiracy reconstructs the infamous January 20, 1942, Wannsee conference, during which the following exchange supposedly took place between Rudolf Lange, a Nazi extermination unit commander who liquidated Latvia’s Jewish population of 250,000 in six months, and Friedrich Wilhelm Kritzinger of the Reich chancellery: