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Sorry, Tucker, Russia is Filthy

Tucker Carlson’s bizarre pilgrimage to Russia to interview Russian President Vladimir Putin and extol the beauty of Russia’s subways and grocery stores on the eve of the alleged assassination of Alexei Navalny at the hands of Putin has been roundly condemned. Writing at The Dispatch, Kevin Williamson, in a piece aptly titled The Full Duranty, congratulates Carlson for his “fantastic impersonation of Walter Duranty—the disgraced New York Times correspondent who treated American readers to tales of the glory of life in Joseph Stalin’s Russia.”

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The stain on the New Right and National Conservative movement from Tucker’s tour will remain, emblazoned like a haphazard tattoo received after a night of debauchery and excess at one of Putin’s military facilities that doubles as a memorial service venue for fallen soldiers and BDSM club. Nevertheless, before the stench of Carlson’s odorous propaganda tour fades it’s worth noting that not only is the average Russian too poor to shop at Russia’s nice grocery stores, but from an environmental perspective, Russia is one of the filthiest places on earth.

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A quick tour of Russia’s environmental record could begin and end at Chornobyl, which, not surprisingly, was not a stop on Carlson’s tour. While technically in Ukraine, let’s grant Putin his premise that Chornobyl really is part of Russia, or at least the Greater Russian Empire he wants to recreate.  

Pro-nuclear voices bristle at the mention of Chornobyl because it understandably evokes fear about nuclear energy. Yet, the tragedy, properly understood, is not a cautionary tale against nuclear power but state power. The sarcophagus around reactor number 4 is a grotesque monument to authoritarianism and the arrogant incompetence of command-and-control governance. 

Thankfully, Russia hasn’t triggered another Chornobyl (though it still may in Zaporizhzhya) but its environmental record is still a disgrace and an ongoing indictment of authoritarian corruption and ineptitude. 

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For instance, Russia’s natural gas industry is far dirtier than ours, which highlights the folly of President Biden’s pause on new liquified natural gas exports. As Representative John Curtis (R-UT) notes, “Russian natural gas exported to Europe has a lifecycle emissions profile 41% higher than the equivalent energy from the United States.” 

As our Free Economies are Clean Economies report shows, Russia’s war on freedom under Putin is correlated to its poor environmental record. Consider this data for Russia from the Yale Environmental Performance Index, which is used to grade 180 economies. 

  • Overall score = 112 (one behind Nicaragua and Niger who tied for 110) 
  • Waste management score = 104 (tied with Peru)
  • Ecosystem services score = 130 (one behind Tanzania)
  • Sulfur dioxide exposure score = 136 (slightly better than Hungary at 140 and the Democratic Republic of Congo at 141) 
  • Recycling score = 168 (not far ahead of Nepal at 172)

If Carlson succeeds in anesthetizing the United States into accepting the authoritarianism he reveres in Putin’s Russia, he won’t have to travel far to see how smothering freedom can damage our natural and economic environment. 

The views and opinions expressed are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of C3.

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