/* Added by TWP, 10/12/2012 */ /* End of addition */

One of the live oaks that bless my home

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

There Must Not Be a Peak of Anything

I could start from telling you about my own impressions of human delusions, but I could not possibly introduce the subject better than the ENCYCLICAL LETTER, LAUDATO SI’ OF THE HOLY FATHER FRANCIS ON CARE FOR OUR COMMON HOME.  Here is a short fragment of the Preamble pertinent to what I want to say later:

1. “LAUDATO SI’, mi’ Signore” – “Praise be to you, my Lord”. In the words of this beautiful canticle, Saint Francis of Assisi reminds us that our common home is like a sister with whom we share our life and a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us.
“Praise be to you, my Lord, through our Sister, Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us, and who produces various fruit with colored flowers and herbs.”
2. This sister now cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed her. We have come to see ourselves as her lords and masters, entitled to plunder her at will. The violence present in our hearts, wounded by sin, is also reflected in the symptoms of sickness evident in the soil, in the water, in the air and in all forms of life. This is why the earth herself, burdened and laid waste, is among the most abandoned and maltreated of our poor; she “groans in travail” (Rom 8:22). We have forgotten that we ourselves are dust of the earth (cf. Gen 2:7); our very bodies are made up of her elements, we breathe her air and we receive life and refreshment from her waters.

Nothing in this world is indifferent to us

3. More than fifty years ago, with the world teetering on the brink of nuclear crisis, Pope Saint John XXIII wrote an Encyclical which not only rejected war but offered a proposal for peace. He addressed his message Pacem in Terris to the entire “Catholic world” and indeed “to all men and women of good will”. Now, faced as we are with global environmental deterioration, I wish to address every person living on this planet. In my Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, I wrote to all the members of the Church with the aim of encouraging ongoing missionary renewal. In this Encyclical, I would like to enter into dialogue with all people about our common home.

4. In 1971, eight years after Pacem in Terris, Blessed Pope Paul VI referred to the ecological concern as “a tragic consequence” of unchecked human activity:
“Due to an ill-considered exploitation of nature, humanity runs the risk of destroying it and becoming in turn a victim of this degradation”. 
He spoke in similar terms to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations about the potential for an “ecological catastrophe under the effective explosion of industrial civilization”, and stressed “the urgent need for a radical change in the conduct of humanity”, inasmuch as
“the most extraordinary scientific advances, the most amazing technical abilities, the most astonishing economic growth, unless they are accompanied by authentic social and moral progress, will definitively turn against man”.
When you dry up your eyes, please continue reading this amazing document and don't be ashamed to shed more tears for our very sick Mother.

So what did you get from reading the opening four paragraphs of the preamble to the Pope Francis' Encyclical?
You just learned that everything is a part of the environment and everything is intertwined.  
I spoke and wrote about this very subject many times. Apparently, however, the journalist who wrote the next piece is so indoctrinated by the religion of the supremacy of human economy over the environment that he entitled his reflections as follows: Pope Francis' Call to Action Goes Beyond the Environment. So here is another reminder for you:
All Earthlings exist and thrive by the consent of the Earth's environment.  We wound the environment and we perish.
Among others, the journalist - whom I generally like - says:
For instance, he [the Pope] doesn’t grapple sufficiently with evidence that the global poor have become steadily less poor under precisely the world system he decries — a reality that has complicated implications for environmentalism.
I, for one, have grappled with this "evidence" and was not convinced. The economic progress of the poor is like this: In 2011, four billion people survived on less than $10 per day, and one billion on less than $2 per day.  That's twice as many people as the entire world population when a majority of people was outside of cash economy. Today, those people would be considered "poor," but they were not.  The number of middle-class people - those making between $10 and $20 a day -  increased to 784 million people in 2011.

In general, you will agree with what the Pope says, unless your religion is The Market, and your pet project is carbon credits, a harmful nonsense the Pope decries. An example of this attitude is the next piece, also from the New York Times,  Pope Francis' Climate Error.

Carbon tax credits are usually given to people who really pollute place A, e.g, Europe or China, and get a dispensation by putting, for example, sugarcane plantations or corn fields in place B, e.g., in Zimbabwe or South Africa.  If they also plant a few trees, they can make a handsome profit from their real air pollution in one place and - at the same time - from soil degradation and water pollution in another place.  And they do it by bullshitting the public and lawmakers.  Nice, but not a way to go.

Yes, you might object, but the Pope doesn't really like the holy Free Market:
To understand the pope’s position, remember that, even though he is adopting a progressive stance on the environment, he is not a liberal. Indeed, he rejects one of the central tenets of liberalism, which is a willingness to acknowledge genuine disagreement about the good.
The fundamental problem with markets, in Pope Francis’ view, is that they cater to people’s desires, whatever those desires happen to be. What makes the market a liberal institution is that it does not judge the relative merits of these desires. The customer is always right.
No, the customer is not always right in the absolute moral sense. If you eat the living planet by consuming cheap crappy goods you don't need and by trashing other countries, you are not right, not even close.  And that's the Pope's point, missed it seems by the good philosophy professor from the University of Toronto.

Now on to a more obvious environmental delusion, popular among the public and environmental propagandists, from the New York Times again: Animal farm waste and animal fat will help power a United Airline jet.

From reading articles elsewhere, you can learn that the United Airline (UA) agreed to buy 15 million gallons of biofuels over three years from a California-based biofuels producer, AltAir Fuels, that “makes biofuels out of nonedible natural oils and agricultural waste.”

In a single year, UA uses 3.6 billion gallons of jet fuel and purchases, say, 15/3 = 5 million gallons of fuel. The ratio is 3.9 billion gallons / 5 million gallons = 780. By analogy, if you use 780 kWh per month of electricity in your house, 1 kWh will be generated from a different fuel source. This amount of electricity will power one 100 W bulb for less than 10 hours. In other words, the contribution of biofuels to UA's fuel supply is in the noise, and certainly does not warrant a front page article in the New York Times.

If planes ran on biofuels, there would not be a global airline industry. Thus, I must conclude that our propensity for self-delusion is simply too strong to resist. And to hell with the environment, which is getting hurt by biofuel farming and production.

An apt metaphor for the state of health of the Earth's major ecosystems.  Source: Melody Newcomb, The New York Times, July 7, 2015, "A Knockout Blow to the American Fish Stocks."
No on to the true evil doers: A Knockout Blow to the American Fish Stocks. These people, who apparently have no conscience and imagination, want to negate the small improvements in fish stocks along the northeastern American coast.  They work for the New England Fishery Management Council and their bullshit motto is splattered on their webpage as follows:
Conserving and managing fishery resources by relying on sound science, promoting public participation, and balancing competing interests.
They balance competing interests along these lines: Forget the fish and the healthy ocean, and food for us, our children and grandchildren.  Instead, lets' allow people who give us money to make a quick buck from destroying the environment for all:
..., the council is preparing to drastically reduce the amount of protected habitat in New England waters, including by nearly 80 percent around the Georges Bank. The plan would allow for expansion of bottom trawling and dredging, two of the most destructive fishing methods, into protected habitats.

In addition to gutting habitat protections, the council wants to suspend a program that places observers on fishing vessels to monitor compliance....
On a lighter, but related note, Tom Selleck, a popular American actor was accused of stealing many truck loads of water from a public hydrant to quench thirst of his 60-acre ranch; the rest of the drought-stricken neighborhood be damned. What did the Pope say about "the harm we have inflicted on our Mother by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed her?  Have we come to see ourselves as her lords and masters, entitled to plunder her at will?

"And so it goes...", as my soulmate, the late Kurt Vonnegut, would say.

P.S. 7/11/2015. Here is another sad commentary on the Pope's statement that "[t]he violence present in our hearts, wounded by sin, is also reflected in the symptoms of sickness evident in the soil, in the water, in the air and in all forms of life."  The very people who swore not to harm others, helped instead in justifying torture: Psychologists Who Greenlighted Torture. This evil originated at the very top of the otherwise respectable medical organizations, among people who were trained by the top U.S. universities. Their behavior makes Monsanto, which foreswore to harm the environment in every conceivable way, a part of the same big family of evil doers. Just as the Pope said.