Archive for April, 2010

How to spot the wolf in Catholic sheep’s clothing

April 30, 2010

The Holy Fathers have written strongly about how we all need to change our lifestyles and mitigate environmental problems, such as global warming.  Nevertheless there are plenty of Catholic people and organizations out there who are openly spouting anti-environmental sentiments and ideas.  And many, striving to stay within the letter of Church teaching on the environmental, if not within its spirit, that also subtly express anti-environmental ideas, using red herrings (as in the main threat is pantheism), strawmen arguments, and damning with faint praise, as in, “Of course we all want clean water and air, but mitigating global warming is not necessary,” or whatever.

So, here is how to spot the anti-environmental (often Exxon-funded) wolf posing as Catholic pro-environmental writings:

You can basically tell if writings are unhelpful toward saving the earth and in violation of the spirit of Catholic environmental teachings (if not in violation of their letter), if they:

  1. Spend a lot of time on knocking environmentalism, and not much on promoting a “save the earth” ethic;
  2. Fail to inspire you to reduce harm to the earth (and life thereupon) and appreciate God’s great gifts to us; and/or
  3. Include global warming denialism, or some cheap shot against Gore (often in a joking fashion), and its not against his pro-choice position or other issue.

If any of these above fit, then you might want to look up the author (or the organization he/she is linked to) on ExxonSecrets.org.  You’d be surprised how many show up there, even though there are other fossil fuel industries also funding climate denialism, such as Koch Industries, and others.

Urge Key Senators to protect poor on climate bill

April 29, 2010

Here’s a message I got from the Catholic Coalition on Climate Change regarding the stalled climate/energy bill:

You may have heard that the introduction of the much-anticipated climate change bill by Senators Kerry, Lieberman and Graham is now on hold. Senator Graham announced over the weekend that he’s withdrawing his involvement amidst concerns over immigration legislation. Congress-watchers thought there was a chance this year for the bill to pass, an accomplishment which would then be followed by a tough process of melding it with the measure passed by the House last summer.  The South Carolina Senator’s withdrawal from the process significantly dims prospects for a final climate change bill this year. 

Members of the faith community, including Coalition partners, continue meetings with Senators and staff urging that the needs and concerns of poor people at home and abroad be the top priority of any legislation.  These conversations have not alleviated fears that provisions to protect poor people-especially funding to help the poorest countries around the world-are at all adequate.  Your voice is needed to help shape public policy on climate change and lay the groundwork for future bills. 

You can go to the Catholic Relief Services page, and click “Urge Key Senators…”:  http://actioncenter.crs.org/site/PageServer?pagename=ac_homepage 

Response to “After Copenhagen, Lessons from Rome”

April 28, 2010

Some months back in a Catholic environmental Yahoo group, a link to an article was posted – “After Copenhagen, Lessons from Rome.”  It was written by a Catholic law professor, and she is surely a very good person and good Catholic, who would not want life on earth to cease on account of our environmental misdoings.  She probably just doesn’t know a whole lot about environmental issues and global warming. 

My responses in the Yahoo group (not directed to her) were written in extreme haste and are pretty rough — I was not at my Carmelite best.  However, I thought I should share them here, because they bring up important issues, so here goes:

My 1st response to “After Copenhagen, Lessons from Rome” :

No time to read this thoroughly, but my initial thoughts…. That’s one of the problems with the “bandwagon” effect — all sorts of people jump on for the wrong reasons. Unfortunately we are no where near a bandwagon effect in the U.S. [re environmentalism], as they are in Europe. I say first get the bandwagon out of the barn, then as people get on it, instruct them in the correct, humane ways of thinking and doing. But it really looks pretty hopeless here in America — people have totally sold their souls to the devoils, and are burning the bandwagon, just out of spite to release more CO2 into the atmosphere, and kill some more people — that’s what our country does best, from killing off Native Americans to the whole world.

My other thought is that there ARE other enviro problems, and we should never neglect, say, local toxic contamination killing off the written-off peoples, like Latinos. As a white person I am totally ashamed.

Just had lunch Fri with Laura Perez, a Tejana who is doing a doc on the Mission, TX contamination site — the title, AMERICAN ORANGE (as in Agent Orange, which was producted in this still highly contaminated site smack dab in the middle of a residential area). See the trailer and interview with Laura — http://www.americanorange.com .

I’m thinking this is far worse than Love Canal or the Woburn, MA case (A CIVIL ACTION), bec this factory was purposely put in a Tejano neighborhood, where children played in the contaminated effluents.

And then there is Homeland Security that was recently planning to spray our entire valley with herbicide to kill off the carrizo cane (an invasive species that has taken over the Rio Grande River areas, where illegals and drugs get through) — stopped by community protest. We in the RGV are a written-off people. When will the rich white people realize they are also “written off” and start to do something, at least out of enlightened self interest?

 My next response, after reading the whole article:

More thoughts on this article:

It seems to me the author and perhaps the Holy Father lack ecological understanding. They don’t seem quite to grasp that we are all (all us various life species) in the boat together, and that enough tears in the web of creation or extreme warming could mean doom to us humans, at least re this material world.

I just gave a presentation this past week, and in mentioning species extinction (and we are in one of the 6 great mass extinction events of all time), I pointed out: If the bees go, we go too. There’s this place in China where the bees have gone extinct, and now they are faced with having to human-manually pollinate several crops. Imagine if all the food crops and trees of the world had to be manually pollinated. Bee hive collapse is a serious issue, but the common person without ecological thinking won’t realize it until foods start disappearing off the supermarket shelves. And even science doesn’t really grasp everything there is to know about the interconnectedness of species and species with earth systems. And this is why anthropologist Roy Rappaport in 1976 called for a spiritual reverence for creation (that goes beyond a mechanistic, scientific stance). He was an anthropologist, foremost concerned with people (as are ALL environmentalists I personally know), but an ecological anthropologists who understood that we don’t just live off of manna from the sky.

There are 3 environmental perspectives (I teach my students in “Environmental Crime and Justice”):

1. THE ANTHROPOCENTRIC PERSPECTIVE, focused on human victims of environmental harms, or the “brown” issues of toxic contamination sites and the “white” issues of toxic products,
etc.;

2. THE BIOCENTRIC PERSPECTIVE, focused primarily on non-human species, like “save the bald eagle” crew or members of World Wildlife Fund or the ASPCA (just an aside, in the 19th c. when a highly abused child was brought to the attention of the public, they didn’t have an org for children, so they got the ASPCA involved on her case…but that was probably bec horse and animal abuse was so public, and child abuse more private, and a man’s home was considered his castle). RE the “it’s the population to be blamed” is not so much a biocentric argument, but a blame-shifting argument from the left (sort of like “the economy comes first” and “GW isn’t happening” blame-avoiding argument from the right); and

3. THE ECOCENTRIC PERSPECTIVE, which views species and earth systems as interconnected. Harm one part, other parts may get harmed. What goes around comes around.

I guess a person might have a biocentric or even an ecocentric approach, and consider humans the scum of the earth, the problem to be eradicated (though I’ve NEVER known such persons in my life, tho I’ve heard about some fringe people like that) — which sort of reminds me of the Tamil saying, “If you spit up into the air, it will come down in your face” or you’d imagine they would have committed suicide by now (themselves being the problem they detest).  Most people who like animals I know of also like people, tho I’ve heard of such people who have turned to animals for affection, bec people have been very cruel to them. I think St. Francis said something to the effect, “A person who would treat animals cruelly, would do the same to humans.”

However is it completely impossible to have an anthropocentric perspective without that being contained within an ecocentric perspective, unless they are uninformed and have no ecological schooling at all. However, there are those solely concerned about pollution in their backyards (probably as it relates to lowering their property value), but couldn’t care less about global warming, species extinction, or acid rain. Well, if you spit up into the air, it comes right back down into your face, applies to those selfish anthropocentric types, as well.

Now for misinformation about global warming. One great thing I’ve found out about it over the past 20 years, is that you mitigate global warming, you mitigate a myriad of other environmental, economic, conflict/warfare, and spiritual problems. It is the umbrella issue, with only a very few things falling outside. Even nuclear power, supposedly a strategy to mitigate GW, is actually quite carbon intensive (if a complete ecological/economic study be done), not to mention it kills Navajo and Niger uranium miners, destroys their lands, and causes a huge amount of other problems.

There might be a few environmental problems not mitigated by the myriad of GW mitigation strategies, but with all the money saved by mitigating GW, that money could then be applied to solving those other environmental problems, probably with $$ to spare.

Furthermore, the following problems the author listed as unrelated to GW are in many cases knock-on effects of GW: “desertification, biodiversity, deforestation, natural disasters (if you can call all of them “natural”), access to food (I just did a paper on “Food Rights and Climate Change”). And then solutions to GW also include solving “depletion of natural resources, waste disposal, and the environmental threats posed by armed conflict [since mitigating GW, mitigates armed conflict].” The author really needs an education on these topics before spouting such things off, and referring to climate change mitigation as a “myopic vision.”

And finally her supposed concern for the poor — sounds like Bjorn Lomberg’s concern about malaria victims (& how money should go for that instead of mitigating GW — wonder if he actually sends his own money for malaria victims).  Anyone who knows anything about GW, knows it’s the poor who ARE RIGHT NOW and will be on into the future suffering the most from GW and its knock-on effects. Besides, all the money we save from mitigating GW could be used to eradicate malaria, or at least for those of enlightened self-interest stop its spread (and the spread of other vector diseases) into new territory as the globe warms.

When I read the word “subsidiarity” I think EWTN’s Fr. Sirico of the Exxon-funded Acton Institute. It’s a code word for keep gov off the backs of frankencorportations, so as to let them run rough-shod over the peoples of the world, gobble up all the resources, starve out the poor, and excrete pollution all over, esp in poor and minority areas.

But anyway I’ll be sure to tell Villager X in India not to get the electricity hook-up and a 40-watt tube light so his kids can study at night and hope to go to college, like our kids, bec he has to do is share to mitigate GW.  Those rotten wretche poor of the earth — shame on them for causing all the problems.

Of course, any dufus who gave GW some thought (which I don’t think the author did) would know that we people are the ones who have to solve the environmental problems. The whole idea of a carbon fee or tax, say, would be to encourage people to do the right thing; the possible role of gov is very small, and the role of the Holy Father, nil, since no really listens to him. However, as mentioned, I know of many many denialists who are so strongly committed to refusing to mitigate, they don’t mind losing money over it. They’ll pay the higher prices for gas & electricity, but they won’t turn off lights not in use and a kazillion other measures that would save them money. It’s war for them, and they’ll leave us all in their SUV tire-tread and gas fumes choking to death.

My final thought: The Holy Father is a great man, but he is perhaps just a tad too polite and/or naïve to spell out the reality of the situation. And the fact is animals are not evil, they are amoral, but we KNOW BETTER. And for that we are evil, very evil — there was Adam, then Cain, then us. It’s call “fallen nature,” not to blame God, for He did make us good. And it’s a really big uphill fight against our fallen nature, even with all of God’s grace and gifts, and gift of Self, Jesus, to do right and mitigate GW. I have doubts we’ll prevent us from killing us off this time. Good thing there’s heaven to look forward to, at least for those sincerely mitigating GW.

Well, at least the author didn’t bring up how environmentalism = neopaganism  🙂

Amen and Peace.

A Der Spiegel Climate Denialism – Anti-Pope Connection?

April 25, 2010

Speaking of the devil — as a follow-up to my earlier post And the Anti-Earth, Anti-God, Satanist Award goes to… — I saw the CatholicCulture.org head, Phil Lawler (formerly with the Exxon/Koch-funded Heritage Foundation), on Raymond Arroyo’s World Over this week. 

There was no mention of environmental issues; the Lawler segment was focused entirely on the priest abuse/church cover-up scandal.  There was another segment on a different topic, so they could have had something on the environment, but at least it’s better than their damning environmentalists as a bunch of ne0pagan-pantheist-anti-human-atheists.  Nevertheless this too could be a anti-environmental tactic — the silent treatment and diversion to other topics.  Gotta watch ’em like a hawk.

I wouldn’t even be thinking all this paranoid conspiracy theory stuff, except Lawler mentioned a Der Spiegel series against the Pope (that the Pope knew) v. a later Wall Street Journal article that interviewed the same vicar general, who said the Pope didn’t know.   Well, I don’t know which is right, though I want to give the benefit of the doubt to the Pope.

What I’m thinking is, who has it in for the Pope, aside from the usual suspects — atheists, some seriously anti-Catholic Protestants, priest sex-abuse victim attorneys, etc?  I can’t imagine Exxon/Koch or any other climate denialist industry, group, org, or person could be happy with the Pope’s outspoken admonitions about our environmental responsibilities.

As soon as I heard “Der Spiegel” the climate scientist bashing efforts mentioned on RealClimate.org came to mind.

I’m not saying there is a climate denialist dog in the attack against the Pope.  In fact anti-environmentalist Catholics sort of like the Holy Father — they just ignore what he has to say about the enviornment, or focus on that greater sin of being an environmentalist, which translates as a neopagan-pantheist-anti-human-atheist.

However, it does smell just a bit like rotting red herring.

Bless you, Rome Reports!

April 24, 2010

I got into addressing the whole sordid Catholic anti-environmentalism after getting cable in Aug 2007 — so delighted I could finally watch EWTN — only to see a Rome Reports (Vatican) segment on Oct 17th “Is Benedict the First Eco-Pope?” that upset me.  It started out good, but then got into global warming denialism, saying some unspecified scientists doubted climate change, and figured the Pope did too; well, when he speaks for himself BXVI indicates he takes AGW seriously and tells us its our duty to mitigate it — so they basically called him a liar.  Then they interviewed Monckton (probably their unspecified “scientist”), a known contrarian, roundly debunked time and again by climate scientists.  See here, here, & here, etc.  Monckton told us the warming was not due to GHG emissions, but due to the sun being in a warmer phase (while real scientists tell us the sun is in a cooler phase).

Then they interviewed a fellow from the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty, who warned about the danger that was much more serious than AGW killing off a big chuck of life on earth and us going to Hell for causing it, and that is the extremely serious danger of being a neopagan-pantheist-anti-human-atheist environmentalist.  Isn’t that sweet how much they care about the lost souls of all those types — if I ever meet one I’ll also try to save his/her soul.  But can you imagine this being a serious danger to EWTN viewers?  Tho you never know what those front-pew Catholics might be up to — witchcraft spells and all.  Nevertheless, it smelled like rotting red herring to me.

So, I looked up the Action Institute on ExxonSecrets.org and found they were heavily funded by Exxon to sow seeds of doubt about climate change.  See here.  Case closed.

I began wondering if EWTN were also infected by Exxon money; The World Over regularly features Fr. Sirico, head of Acton, who likewise trumpets the fear to neopaganism taking over, overshadowing any environmental harms.  (You have to go to the Acton website to see their more blatant climate denialism).

So, back to the main point of this post.  Rome Reports had a very very good environmental segment last night.  See here toward the end of their program.  They did not try to derail enviornmentalism or efforts to turn out lights not in use, but rightly said it entailed a full pro-life agenda — which is how I have always seen it, well before becoming a Catholic even.

Thank you, Rome Reports, for restoring my faith in midddle level Catholicism (I already have total faith in what the Holy Father says).   I hope EWTN on the whole follows suit.  Now if only the rank-and-file Catholics, front and back pew, would get on the environmental bandwagon and become totally pro-life, maybe we together could actually save some lives, AND  draw souls to Catholicism and to heaven.

Solutions to Global Warming plus

April 24, 2010

Here is an open forum to discuss solutions to GW.

My own experience is that through energy/resource conservation/efficiency we were able to reduce our greenhouse gases (GHGs) by around 25 – 33%.  Then with going on Green Mountain Energy 100% wind energy in 2002 when we moved to Texas, I figure in total our reduction to be more than 60% — without lowering living standards, improving them a bit, and with good financial savings.  The $6 low-flow showerhead with off-on soap-up switch I figure has saved us $2000 in water & heating that water over the past 20 years.  That’s better than the stock market, even when it was going up & up.  Our SunFrost frig, tho quite expensive has now paid for itself in energy savings (and less food spoilage), and is going on to save each year.

If we could get an EV or plug-in hybrid, then we could drive on the wind for 95% of our driving.  Pray for my husband to come around to this :).

RE nationwide ideas for industry, I think the book NATURAL CAPITALISM is a great book for ideas — one of the authors, Amory Lovins, is an engineer, head of the energy efficiency Rocky Mountain Institute.   One of the ideas is “tunneling through,” which has to do with designing to reduce as much energy requirement as possible (with same productivity), to the extent that, say, a motor can be dispensed with altogether.  In that way some industries have been able to reduce their energy requirement by 90% in parts of their operations, without lowering productivity.

We need the old American ingenuity put to these problems.  I have faith we can solve global warming.  We only need the heart and the will, and lots of prayers and lots of God’s grace, which He will surely provide for the asking. 

I have many other ideas.  But let’s hear from you.

And the anti-earth, anti-God, Satanist Award goes to…

April 22, 2010

A few days ago the host of the “Catholic Environmental Justice” blog in which I participate announced that his “Catholic Conservation Center” (see link to it in the left column) had won the “Fidelity Green Light Award,” given by CatholicCulture.org.

I checked out the CatholicCulture site and was very dismayed.  Here is what I posted on the Catholic Environmental Justice blog:

Happy Earth Day!  Let’s roll up our sleeves and root out the toxic spiritual pollution in our Church.

For instance, I just checked out the  CatholicCulture.org site, which gives out those “Fidelity Green Light Awards,” and what I found horrifies me.  There are so many anti-environmental, global warming denialist commentaries it makes me want to puke.  They are at least as bad as EWTN, and perhaps as bad as the Acton Institute — tho it’s hard to top Acton or Cardinal Pell (Australia).

So I looked up the ring-leader’s bio — Philip F. Lawler — and sure enough he’s an Exxon/Koch sell-your-soul-to-the-devil guy.  He was director of Studies at the Heritage Foundation, a global warming denialist propaganda-tank in DC, heavily funded by Exxon, and even more extremely funded by Koch Industries, which outspends Exxon by more than 3 to 1 to sow seeds of doubt about climate change….and perhaps they (Exxon/Koch/Heritage & other such orgs) are behind the vicious attacks on climate scientists, as well, and perhaps even against the Holy Father, since he’s spoken out plenty about how we all need to mitigate climate change.

So, anyway while your Catholic Conservation Center truly deserves a fidelity to Catholicism award, the CatholicCulture.org certainly does not deserve its own award, but perhaps it can win the Satanist Award, altho the competition for that one is really stiff  🙂

O Lord, help us to Mitigate Global Warming

April 19, 2010

I read here, “A Faithful Prayer of the Faithful.”  It is a criticism of what the author considers agenda-driven prayers, with the author’s most laughable and detested prayer:

 “For world leaders, that they may put an end to the disastrous effects of manmade global warming.”

 Here’s my response:

 In our church we don’t get a chance to participate; the reader will read out some set prayers.  Then for the rosary after mass, the leader will specify some set intentions.  So they never say anything about global warming, nor does our priest mention it.

 Considering the harm and death we are causing people and God’s creation through this problem — and our generation could trigger a massive warming lasting 100,000 years or more, as during the end-Permian when 95% of life on earth died, if we persist in profligately burning fossil fuels — we really do need all the prayers we can get.

 However, government only has a small role to play in this — though they also need our prayers.  This problem is unlike the ozone hole, acid rain, and other pollution, which were fairly well solved (though more needs to be done about them) without us even knowing about it — Nixon was the real hero to get us on that road.  Unlike those problems, GW requires us all to do our part, as JPII & BXVI have admonished us over & over to do.  And it does take a lot of prayer, but ultimately when you seek first the kingdom of God and its righteousness, all things will be added unto you.  We have reduced our GHG emissions by 60%+ and are saving money, without lowering our living standards.  We just need lots of prayer and God’s tremendous grace. 

 But perhaps the prayer should instead be, “Help us, O Lord, to mitigate global warming so as to reduce our harm to Your creation, and draw souls to heaven.”

Does being against population control disprove global warming?

April 16, 2010

What I have found is that most global warming denialists are so because of global warming’s ramifications regarding what it might mean for some feared or hated policy, or how it reflects back on self — for those who still have Ego on their inner altar & have not pushed aside Ego to install Jesus on that inner altar.

It almost seems that the policy & self/subjective ramifications disprove in their minds that global warming is real or poses dangerous risks.

For some Catholics that might mean that a policy ramification of population control  disproves GW.  That’s the sense I got out of the article, “Population Control to Combat Climate Change?” from its tirade against global warming science and its denial of how global warming is expected to harm people and life on earth.   The article was written as a response to an article in Lancet (British medical journal), “Managing the Health Effects of Climate Change.”

Here is my response:

I skimmed thru the Lancet article mentioned here.  It seems there are 2 issues in this post about it.  Issue one has to do with “Is anthropogenic global warming happening and does it pose serious risk of harm?”  Issue two is, “What should we do about it?”

 God is Truth, and scientific truths, though provisional and based on the best evidence and theory to date (and thus changeable) deserve our respect and attention — especially if that scientific finding says we are killing and harming people now and well into the future (those billions who would be killed by us living today will be those of many generations for up to 100,000 years, as we are nearly on the brink of tipping into a very massive warming/death scenario — that’s how they figure “billions”).  There is also the possibility that we could tip the world into irreversible death and destruction of all life on earth if we persist in burning all fossil fuels, including tar sands and oil shale (see esp. p. 24 of http://www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/2008/AGUBjerknes_20081217.pdf).

 It is against God to use issue 2 (“what should we do about it”) to decide whether or not issue 1 (“is it happening”) is true.  In fact prudence requires that we consider that AGW is happening and work to mitigate it, as the U.S. Bishops have told us, even if Exxon and Koch Industries are funding a bunch of denialist orgs.

 Once we have done the right thing, the moral thing, in accepting that AGW is happening and could be very dangerous indeed, then we can get busy and mitigate it.  I would suggest focusing our energies on implementing and promoting our own measures, rather than a heel-dragging, obstructionist posture, allowing the harm to fester, or allowing others to take the reins in solving it.

 OK, we don’t want in any way to interfere with child-birth issues, either offering women natural contraception (the rhythm method) and certainly not abortion (the article, however, does suggest abortions can be reduced by helping poor women in Africa have some contraception — so shouldn’t we as Catholics be out there trying to teach the rhythm method). 

 These issues, however, are all pertaining to issue 2 and do not determine the validity of issue 1, that AGW is happening, which is extremely well established now.

 I would hope that by God’s grace we can all do the needful and reduce our greenhouse gases at the least thru measures that save us money, or don’t cost.

A Good Friday Message from the Vatican

April 16, 2010

I just found this Good Friday message here:

Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, OFM Cap, the preacher of the Papal household offered a short reflection at the conclusion of the Liturgy of the Word [at the Vatican’s Good Friday liturgy, over which BXVI presided].  Fr. Cantalamessa brought up the currently popular issue of “global warming” and warned about the equally troubling threat of “spiritual glaciation.”

“Our civilization, which is dominated by technology,” the Papal preacher said, “is in need of a heart which is able to survive in it, without completely being dehumanized.  We must give more space to the ‘reasons of the heart, if we wish to avoid that, while in the midst of physical warming, our planet falls spiritually into an ice age.”

My response was:

I love our Holy Father.  He is a man after my heart, as was JPII.  If it weren’t for him and his admonitions about our need to mitigate global warming, I would be truly demoralized by the culture of death that surrounds me, even in my church (the Pope’s messages do not trickle down) — the icy cold-hearted disregard for life in the womb and on the earth, the spiritual glaciation during this our man-made heating and the death and destruction we are causing.  May the glorious, risen Jesus have mercy on our souls and help us.