Enviro Extremism vs. Extreme Enviro Problems, Part I

May 17, 2010

I’m trying to understand the point of view of those who don’t believe anthropogenic global warming (AGW) is happening.  I’m thinking that to them, we environmentalists seem to be screeching alarmists, who are either crazy or bamboozled by evil scientists and politicians, or have some evil agenda ourselves.  We might seem like extremists to them as we go around warning of catastrophic dangers.  But I suggest that just because an environmental problem may be (or perceived to be) extreme, doesn’t make the environmentalist an “extremist.”  I’ll talk about these “extreme environmental problems” in Part II, after looking at environmental extremism.

There are those who follow the Church’s environmental teachings to some extent and say they are concerned about the environment and we need clean water and air, but they claim environmental extremists are out of balance for focusing so heavily on AGW, to the exclusion of other problems.   To me such persons come across as doctors who diagnosis a common cold, when the patient also has cancer.  They are correct; the cold does need a remedy, but the more serious problem is overlooked.  I’ve always been concerned about all environmental problems, but after I became aware of AGW, I really honed in on it, and realized that it causes a lot of knock-on problems (and in recent years I’ve realized that it could mean the end to life on planet earth — see Part II).  And I also became aware that solutions to AGW are good solutions to a plethora of environmental and non-environmental problems.  An environmentalist mainly focused on global warming is NOT at all an extremist; it is the problem which is extremely dangerous and demands our full attention.  Other environmental problems are not suppressed or forgotten, but addressed and mitigated by the very measures that mitigate AGW.  Sort of like vitamin C is good for the cold and for cancer.

ENVIRONMENTAL EXTREMISM:  I’m also trying to understand why some environmentalists are tempted to extremes — into neopagan-pantheistic-anti-human atheism, and such.  I’m thinking it might be because the more the climate change denialists resist believing that global warming is real and dangerous, the more such environmentalists might be tempted to extremism — as in an ever frustrating lament of WHAT WILL IT TAKE TO GET THEM TO BELIEVE US AND SAVE THE EARTH BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE.  In other words, it is the denialists who may be pushing some environmentalists into extremes, not necessarily environmentalism.

THE NEOPAGAN PANTHEIST ENVIRONMENTALISTS:  So, environmentalists are searching fervently into what is lacking in the motivation and world view of the anti-environmentalists.  Like maybe we need a new religion or new theology, they may think, because the old ones obviously aren’t enough to get people to do the right thing.  Like, maybe we need an earth-centered religion, rather than a sky-centered one, with mother earth rather than heavenly father. 

That’s all fine & dandy, if you happen to be a cultural or ideological determinist and think religion determines people’s behavior.  I happen to be a nondeterminist, believing that the human condition is impacted by the social (other people, groups, status, relationships), the psychological (the cognitive and affective/emotional), the biological, and the environmental dimensions, as well as by the cultural dimension (including religion).  ((As a religious person, I also believe there is a spiritual dimension beyond human comprehension that impacts us and totally interpenetrates the world as well.))  So, no, we don’t need a new religion, because it won’t help.  We just need to implement the dictates of the old religions — like “thou shalt not kill.”

There is also a question as to whether these neopagan pantheist environmentalists actually believe that the earth or various aspects of it have supernatural powers to make those darned anti-environmentalists come around and do the right thing, or it is just a metaphor for them, like “Rock” in “Let us sing to the Lord and shout with joy to the Rock who saves us” (Ps. 95).  And do they really believe the earth systems — Gaia, if you will — have rational/irrational anthropomorphic powers, motives, and behaviors.  Or, do they believe AGW is due to natural causes and laws of physics that can be discovered and analyzed by scientists, and that we will need to implement practical measures to mitigate it. ((BTW, the scientific tradition came out of Christianity, and perhaps that is because rather than despite of our God being an awesome God, beyond the trees, wind, earth, sun, Zeus, or any other anthropomorphic concept we can possibly come up with, no matter how grand our highest thoughts.  Our God is way beyond all that.  Nature operates by scientific laws, which were ordained by God.  Scientists, wittingly or unwittingly, are theologians in a way.))

THE ANTI-HUMAN ENVIRONMENTALISTS:  The other thinking of tiny portion of environmentalists at the ends of their wits with anti-environmentalists is that people are obviously very evil for not being willing to mitigate destruction of life on planet earth, and that’s unfair to the rest of earth’s biota, who would be better off without people.  Note that it is our human capacity, not shared by animals, to be able to take on such a role and perspective of another being, including animals.  The thinking of these anti-human environmental extremists might be, if we want to destroy ourselves and our progeny, that’s bad enough, but it’s just totally evil to destroy all of life, so down with people. 

I say NO to that position.  Killing off people to save the earth from being destroyed just reconfirms this stupid belief of how evil we are.  Yes, we are fallen, yes we are the children of Eve, Adam and Cain, the original sinners and denialists of wrong-doing.  Yes, it is hard, nearly impossible to do anything right or good.  And yes, we know better than the animals, and we still do wrong.  And yes, Jesus came to show us the way, redeemed us by his blood, and gave us abundant grace, and we still do wrong, but let’s give people just one more chance.  Okay?  (I just hope there is one more chance before reaching tipping points of no return.)

So that is the environmental extremism the anti-environmentalists are so up-in-arms about, which doesn’t apply to me or most other environmentalists.  And though such enviro extremists may be out there, that still begs the question of who pushed them into it.  I’m thinking it’s at least in part the anti-environmentalists, especially the Christian anti-environmentalists (that includes Catholic anti-environmentalists, too), who would not only kill off life on earth and lose their own souls, but would push others into extremism and cause them to lose their souls as well.

Whether or not we are facing extreme environmental problems, however, is not determined by or dependent upon our thinking, whether it be extreme or moderate, Christian or neopagan or atheist, or whether we deny environmental problems exist because we hate cap and trade, fear becoming a pantheist, or have qualms about population control some environmentalists bring up.  They exist outside our heads, and are the topic of Part II.

Open letter: Climate change and the integrity of science

May 7, 2010

Full text of an open letter from 255 members of the US National Academy of Sciences in defence of climate research:

We are deeply disturbed by the recent escalation of political assaults on scientists in general and on climate scientists in particular. All citizens should understand some basic scientific facts. There is always some uncertainty associated with scientific conclusions; science never absolutely proves anything. When someone says that society should wait until scientists are absolutely certain before taking any action, it is the same as saying society should never take action. For a problem as potentially catastrophic as climate change, taking no action poses a dangerous risk for our planet.

Scientific conclusions derive from an understanding of basic laws supported by laboratory experiments, observations of nature, and mathematical and computer modelling. Like all human beings, scientists make mistakes, but the scientific process is designed to find and correct them. This process is inherently adversarial— scientists build reputations and gain recognition not only for supporting conventional wisdom, but even more so for demonstrating that the scientific consensus is wrong and that there is a better explanation. That’s what Galileo, Pasteur, Darwin, and Einstein did. But when some conclusions have been thoroughly and deeply tested, questioned, and examined, they gain the status of “well-established theories” and are often spoken of as “facts.”

For instance, there is compelling scientific evidence that our planet is about 4.5bn years old (the theory of the origin of Earth), that our universe was born from a single event about 14bn years ago (the Big Bang theory), and that today’s organisms evolved from ones living in the past (the theory of evolution). Even as these are overwhelmingly accepted by the scientific community, fame still awaits anyone who could show these theories to be wrong. Climate change now falls into this category: there is compelling, comprehensive, and consistent objective evidence that humans are changing the climate in ways that threaten our societies and the ecosystems on which we depend.

Many recent assaults on climate science and, more disturbingly, on climate scientists by climate change deniers, are typically driven by special interests or dogma, not by an honest effort to provide an alternative theory that credibly satisfies the evidence. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and other scientific assessments of climate change, which involve thousands of scientists producing massive and comprehensive reports, have, quite expectedly and normally, made some mistakes. When errors are pointed out, they are corrected.

But there is nothing remotely identified in the recent events that changes the fundamental conclusions about climate change:

(i) The planet is warming due to increased concentrations of heat-trapping gases in our atmosphere. A snowy winter in Washington does not alter this fact.

(ii) Most of the increase in the concentration of these gases over the last century is due to human activities, especially the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation.

(iii) Natural causes always play a role in changing Earth’s climate, but are now being overwhelmed by human-induced changes.

(iv) Warming the planet will cause many other climatic patterns to change at speeds unprecedented in modern times, including increasing rates of sea-level rise and alterations in the hydrologic cycle. Rising concentrations of carbon dioxide are making the oceans more acidic.

(v) The combination of these complex climate changes threatens coastal communities and cities, our food and water supplies, marine and freshwater ecosystems, forests, high mountain environments, and far more.

Much more can be, and has been, said by the world’s scientific societies, national academies, and individuals, but these conclusions should be enough to indicate why scientists are concerned about what future generations will face from business- as-usual practices. We urge our policymakers and the public to move forward immediately to address the causes of climate change, including the unrestrained burning of fossil fuels.

We also call for an end to McCarthy- like threats of criminal prosecution against our colleagues based on innuendo and guilt by association, the harassment of scientists by politicians seeking distractions to avoid taking action, and the outright lies being spread about them. Society has two choices: we can ignore the science and hide our heads in the sand and hope we are lucky, or we can act in the public interest to reduce the threat of global climate change quickly and substantively. The good news is that smart and effective actions are possible. But delay must not be an option.

• The signatories are all members of the US National Academy of Sciences but are not speaking on its behalf or on behalf of their institutions.

Adams, Robert McCormick, University of California, San Diego

Amasino, Richard M, University of Wisconsin

Anders, Edward, University of Chicago

Anderson, David J, California Institute of Technology

Anderson, Wyatt W, University of Georgia

Anselin, Luc E, Arizona State University

Arroyo, Mary Kalin, University of Chile

Asfaw, Berhane, Rift Valley Research Service

Ayala, Francisco J, University of California, Irvine

Bax, Adriaan, National Institutes of Health

Bebbington, Anthony J, University of Manchester

Bell, Gordon, Microsoft Research

Bennett, Michael V L, Albert Einstein College of Medicine

Bennetzen, Jeffrey L, University of Georgia

Berenbaum, May R, University of Illinois

Berlin, Overton Brent, University of Georgia

Bjorkman, Pamela J, California Institute of Technology

Blackburn, Elizabeth, University of California, San Francisco

Blamont, Jacques E, Centre National d’ Etudes Spatiales

Botchan, Michael R, University of California, Berkeley

Boyer, John S, University of Delaware

Boyle, Ed A, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Branton, Daniel, Harvard University

Briggs, Steven P, University of California, San Diego

Briggs, Winslow R, Carnegie Institution of Washington

Brill, Winston J, Winston J. Brill and Associates

Britten, Roy J, California Institute of Technology

Broecker, Wallace S, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and Columbia University

Brown, James H, University of New Mexico

Brown, Patrick O, Stanford University School of Medicine

Brunger, Axel T, Stanford University

Cairns, Jr John, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Canfield, Donald E, University of Southern Denmark

Carpenter, Stephen R, University of Wisconsin

Carrington, James C, Oregon State University

Cashmore, Anthony R, University of Pennsylvania

Castilla, Juan Carlos, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile

Cazenave, Anny, Centre National d’ Etudes Spatiales

Chapin, III F, Stuart, University of Alaska

Ciechanover, Aaron J, Technion-Israel Institute of Technology

Clapham, David E, Harvard Medical School

Clark, William C, Harvard University

Clayton, Robert N, University of Chicago

Coe, Michael D, Yale University

Conwell, Esther M, University of Rochester

Cowling, Ellis B, North Carolina State University

Cowling, Richard M, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University

Cox, Charles S, University of California, San Diego

Croteau, Rodney B, Washington State University

Crothers, Donald M, Yale University

Crutzen, Paul J, Max Planck Institute for Chemistry

Daily, Gretchen C, Stanford University

Dalrymple, Brent G, Oregon State University

Dangl, Jeffrey L, University of North Carolina

Darst, Seth A, Rockefeller University

Davies, David R, National Institutes of Health

Davis, Margaret B, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis

De Camilli, Pietro V, Yale University School of Medicine

Dean, Caroline, John Innes Centre

DeFries, Ruth S, Columbia University

Deisenhofer, Johann, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas

Delmer, Deborah P, University of California, Davis

DeLong, Edward F, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

DeRosier, David J, Brandeis University

Diener, Theodor O, University of Maryland

Dirzo, Rodolfo, Stanford University

Dixon, Jack E, Howard Hughes Medical Center

Donoghue, Michael J, Yale University

Doolittle, Russell F, University of California, San Diego

Dunne, Thomas, University of California, Santa Barbara

Ehrlich, Paul R, Stanford University

Eisenstadt, Shmuel N, Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Eisner, Thomas, Cornell University

Emanuel, Kerry A, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Englander, Walter S, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine

Ernst, W, G, Stanford University

Falkowski, Paul G, Rutgers, State University of New Jersey

Feher, George, University of California, San Diego

Ferejohn, John A, Stanford University

Fersht, Sir Alan, University of Cambridge

Fischer, Edmond H, University of Washington

Fischer, Robert, University of California, Berkeley

Flannery, Kent V, University of Michigan

Frank, Joachim, Columbia University

Frey, Perry A, University of Wisconsin

Fridovich, Irwin, Duke University Medical Center

Frieden, Carl, Washington University School of Medicine

Futuyma, Douglas J, Stony Brook University

Gardner, Wilford R, University of California, Berkeley

Garrett, Christopher J R, University of Victoria

Gilbert, Walter, Harvard University

Gleick, Peter H, Pacific Institute, Oakland

Goldberg, Robert B, University of California, Los Angeles

Goodenough, Ward H, University of Pennsylvania

Goodman, Corey S, venBio, LLC

Goodman, Morris, Wayne State University School of Medicine

Greengard, Paul, Rockefeller University

Hake, Sarah, Agricultural Research Service

Hammel, Gene, University of California, Berkeley

Hanson, Susan, Clark University

Harrison, Stephen C, Harvard Medical School

Hart, Stanley R, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Hartl, Daniel L, Harvard University

Haselkorn, Robert, University of Chicago

Hawkes, Kristen, University of Utah

Hayes, John M, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Hille, Bertil, University of Washington

Hökfelt, Tomas, Karolinska Institutet

House, James S, University of Michigan

Hout, Michael, University of California, Berkeley

Hunten, Donald M, University of Arizona

Izquierdo, Ivan A, Pontifical Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul

Jagendorf, André T, Cornell University

Janzen, Daniel H, University of Pennsylvania

Jeanloz, Raymond, University of California, Berkeley

Jencks, Christopher S, Harvard University

Jury, William A, University of California, Riverside

Kaback, H Ronald, University of California, Los Angeles

Kailath, Thomas, Stanford University

Kay, Paul, International Computer Science Institute

Kay, Steve A, University of California, San Diego

Kennedy, Donald, Stanford University

Kerr, Allen, University of Adelaide

Kessler, Ronald C, Harvard Medical School

Khush, Gurdev S, University of California, Davis

Kieffer, Susan W, University of Illinois

Kirch, Patrick V, University of California, Berkeley

Kirk, Kent C, University of Wisconsin

Kivelson, Margaret G, University of California, Los Angeles

Klinman, Judith P, University of California, Berkeley

Klug, Sir Aaron, Medical Research Council

Knopoff, Leon, University of California, Los Angeles

Kornberg, Sir Hans, Boston University

Kutzbach, John E, University of Wisconsin

Lagarias, J Clark, University of California, Davis

Lambeck, Kurt, Australian National University

Landy, Arthur, Brown University

Langmuir, Charles H, Harvard University

Larkins, Brian A, University of Arizona

Le Pichon, Xavier T, College de France

Lenski, Richard E, Michigan State University

Leopold, Estella B, University of Washington

Levin, Simon A, Princeton University

Levitt, Michael, Stanford University School of Medicine

Likens, Gene E, Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies

Lippincott-Schwartz, Jennifer, National Institutes of Health

Lorand, Laszlo, Northwestern University

Lovejoy, Owen C, Kent State University

Lynch, Michael, Indiana University

Mabogunje, Akin L, Foundation for Development and Environmental Initiatives

Malone, Thomas F, North Carolina State University

Manabe, Syukuro, Princeton University

Marcus, Joyce, University of Michigan

Massey, Douglas S, Princeton University

McWilliams, Jim C, University of California, Los Angeles

Medina, Ernesto, Venezuelan Institute for Scientific Research

Melosh, Jay H, Purdue University

Meltzer, David J, Southern Methodist University

Michener, Charles D, University of Kansas

Miles, Edward L, University of Washington

Mooney, Harold A, Stanford University

Moore, Peter B, Yale University

Morel, Francois M M, Princeton University

Mosley-Thompson, Ellen, Ohio State University

Moss, Bernard, National Institutes of Health

Munk, Walter H, University of California, San Diego

Myers, Norman, University of Oxford

Nair, Balakrish G, National Institute of Cholera and Enteric Diseases

Nathans, Jeremy, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

Nester, Eugene W, University of Washington

Nicoll, Roger A, University of California, San Francisco

Novick, Richard P, New York University School of Medicine

O’Connell, James F, University of Utah

Olsen, Paul E, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University

Opdyke, Neil D, University of Florida

Oster, George F, University of California, Berkeley

Ostrom, Elinor, Indiana University

Pace, Norman R, University of Colorado

Paine, Robert T, University of Washington

Palmiter, Richard D, University of Washington School of Medicine

Pedlosky, Joseph, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Petsko, Gregory A, Brandeis University

Pettengill, Gordon H, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Philander, George S, Princeton University

Piperno, Dolores R, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute

Pollard, Thomas D, Yale University

Price Jr. Buford P, University of California, Berkeley

Reichard, Peter A, Karolinska Institutet

Reskin, Barbara F, University of Washington

Ricklefs, Robert E, University of Missouri

Rivest, Ronald L, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Roberts, John D, California Institute of Technology

Romney, Kimball A, University of California, Irvine

Rossmann, Michael G, Purdue University

Russell, David W, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center of Dallas

Rutter, William J, Synergenics, LLC

Sabloff, Jeremy A, University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archeology and Anthropology

Sagdeev, Roald Z, University of Maryland

Sahlins, Marshall D, University of Chicago

Salmond, Anne, University of Auckland

Sanes, Joshua R, Harvard University

Schekman, Randy, University of California, Berkeley

Schellnhuber, John, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research

Schindler, David W, University of Alberta

Schmitt, Johanna, Brown University

Schneider, Stephen H, Woods Institute for the Environment

Schramm, Vern L, Albert Einstein College of Medicine

Sederoff Ronald R, North Carolina State University

Shatz, Carla J, Stanford University

Sherman, Fred, University of Rochester Medical Center

Sidman, Richard L, Harvard Medical School

Sieh, Kerry, Nanyang Technological University

Simons, Elwyn L, Duke University Lemur Center

Singer, Burton H, Princeton University

Singer, Maxine F, Carnegie Institution of Washington

Skyrms, Brian, University of California, Irvine

Sleep, Norman H, Stanford University

Smith, Bruce D, Smithsonian Institution

Snyder, Solomon H, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

Sokal, Robert R, Stony Brook University

Spencer, Charles S, American Museum of Natural History

Steitz, Thomas A, Yale University

Strier, Karen B, University of Wisconsin

Südhof, Thomas C, Stanford University School of Medicine

Taylor, Susan S, University of California, San Diego

Terborgh, John, Duke University

Thomas, David Hurst, American Museum of Natural History

Thompson, Lonnie G, Ohio State University

Tjian, Robert T, Howard Hughes Medical Institute

Turner, Monica G, University of Wisconsin

Uyeda, Seiya, Tokai University

Valentine, James W, University of California, Berkeley

Valentine, Joan Selverstone, University of California, Los Angeles

Van Etten, James L, University of Nebraska

Van Holde, Kensal E, Oregon State University

Vaughan, Martha, National Institutes of Health

Verba Sidney, Harvard University

Von Hippel, Peter H, University of Oregon

Wake, David B, University of California, Berkeley

Walker, Alan, Pennsylvania State University

Walker John E, Medical Research Council

Watson, Bruce E, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Watson, Patty Jo, Washington University, St. Louis

Weigel, Detlef, Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology

Wessler, Susan R, University of Georgia

West-Eberhard, Mary Jane, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute

White, Tim D, University of California, Berkeley

Wilson, William Julius, Harvard University

Wolfenden, Richard V, University of North Carolina

Wood, John A, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

Woodwell, George M, Woods Hole Research Center

Wright, Jr Herbert E, University of Minnesota

Wu, Carl, National Institutes of Health

Wunsch, Carl, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Zoback, Mary Lou, Risk Management Solutions, Inc

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,

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.”