Allow us to dignify humanity

Please take the clip below as an allegory, Mother Abigail symbolises the forces of good, ‘The Walking Dude’ the forces of evil and the global multi-national corporations devouring & polluting the planet, and as for the well fed rats who roll with ‘The Walking Dude’ ? Well I think that speaks for itself.

But as usual I’m straying off the point, this post is mean’t to be focused on the varied reactions to the Pope’s pending encyclical. Never before, church leaders say, has a papal encyclical been anticipated so eagerly by so many. With Pope Francis expected to make the case that climate change, unchecked development and over-consumption are exacerbating the suffering of the poor, advocates for the environment and the poor are thrilled.

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Intervention by Pope Francis set to transform climate change debate

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Pope Francis will call for an ethical and economic revolution to prevent catastrophic climate change and growing inequality in a letter to the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics on Thursday. He’s not pro a Soylent Green world either, this is a good sign (can ya dig that happy clappy? Please see Stephen King’s ‘The Stand’ for further reference please see also my favourite character from that post apocalyptic opus ‘Mother Abigail’) but I digress….

In an unprecedented encyclical on the subject of the environment, the pontiff is expected to argue that humanity’s exploitation of the planet’s resources has crossed the Earth’s natural boundaries, and that the world faces ruin without a revolution in hearts and minds. The much-anticipated message, which will be sent to the world’s 5,000 Catholic bishops, will be published online in five languages on Thursday and is expected to be the most radical statement yet from the outspoken pontiff.

However, it is certain to anger sections of Republican opinion in America by endorsing the warnings of climate scientists and admonishing rich elites, say cardinals and scientists who have advised the Vatican.

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Francis’s radicalism is attracting resistance from Vatican conservatives and in rightwing church circles, particularly in the US – where Catholic climate sceptics also include John Boehner, Republican leader of the House of Representatives, and Rick Santorum, a Republican presidential candidate.

Earlier this year Stephen Moore, a Catholic economist, called the pope a “complete disaster”, saying he was part of “a radical green movement that is at its core anti-Christian, anti-people and anti-progress”.

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Moore was backed this month by scientists and engineers from the powerful evangelical Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation, who have written an open letter to Francis. “Today many prominent voices call humanity a scourge on our planet, saying that man is the problem, not the solution. Such attitudes too often contaminate their assessment of man’s effects on nature,” it says.

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But the encyclical will be well received in developing countries, where most Catholics live. “Francis has always put the poor at the centre of everything he has said. The developing countries will hear their voice in the encyclical,” said Neil Thorns, director of advocacy at the Catholic development agency, Cafod. “I expect it to challenge the way we think. The message that we cannot just treat the Earth as a tool for exploitation will be a message that many will not want to hear.”

The pope is “aiming at a change of heart. What will save us is not technology or science. What will save us is the ethical transformation of our society,” said Carmelite Father Eduardo Agosta Scarel, a climate scientist who teaches at the Pontifical Catholic University of Argentina in Buenos Aires.

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Earlier popes, including Benedict XVI and John Paul II, addressed environmental issues and “creation”, but neither mentioned climate change or devoted an entire encyclical to the links between poverty, economics and ecological destruction.

Polar Bear by Carla Lombardo Ehrlich

(Excerpts taken from ‘The Guardian’ )

Ghanaian Vatican official calls for moral awakening on global warming

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Increasing use of fossil fuels is disrupting Earth on an “almost unfathomable scale”, a top Vatican official has said, warning that a “full conversion” of hearts and minds is needed if global warming is to be conquered.

The statement by Cardinal Peter Turkson, Pope Francis’s point man for peace and justice issues, was made at a Vatican summit on Tuesday, which focused on climate change and poverty. His call for a moral awakening of politicians and people of faith is a likely precursor to the highly anticipated encyclical on the environment, which was drafted by Turkson and which Pope Francis is expected to release in June.

“In our recklessness, we are traversing some of the planet’s most fundamental natural boundaries,” warned Turkson. “And the lesson from the Garden of Eden still rings true today: pride, hubris, self-centredness are always perilous, indeed destructive. The very technology that has brought great reward is now poised to bring great ruin.”

Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations secretary-general who delivered the keynote address at the summit, said he believed the pope’s encyclical – coupled with the pontiff’s planned speeches before the UN general assembly and a joint session of the US Congress – would have a profound impact on climate change negotiations.

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“[The encyclical] will convey to the world that protecting our environment is an urgent moral imperative and a sacred duty for all people of faith and people of conscience,” Ban said. While he declined to comment on any details of the encyclical following his morning meeting with the Argentinean pontiff – the document has already been written and is being translated – he said he was counting on the pope’s “moral voice and moral leadership” to help accelerate talks.

Pope Francis’s September address will be the first time any pope has spoken before a special session of the general assembly.

Both Turkson and Ban emphasised that scientists and people of faith were united in their call for action.

“Science and religion are not at odds on climate change. Indeed, they are fully aligned. Together, we must clearly communicate that the science of climate change is deep, sound and not in doubt,” Ban said.

Turkson called on leaders of all faiths to be good role models. “Think of the positive message it would send for churches, mosques, synagogues, and temples all over the world to become carbon neutral,” he said. “At a time like this, the world is looking to faith leaders for guidance. This is why Pope Francis has chosen to issue an encyclical on protecting the environment at this unique moment in time.”

The Protect the Earth, Dignify Humanity meeting has brought about a rare meeting of minds between scientists and religious officials on climate change, even if they frame their arguments in different ways.

Teresa Berger, a professor at the Yale Divinity School, said she believed the encyclical would have an overarching theological vision – one of “a God-sustained universe, anchored in a theology of creation as articulated in the biblical witness. And based on this, Pope Francis will probably not mince words, but note as evil, for example, the sin of exploiting the Earth.”

Pope Francis has already said he believes global warming is mostly manmade and that a Christian who does not protect God’s creation “is a Christian who does not care about the work of God”. He has also linked environmental exploitation to social and economic inequality, saying: “An economic system centred on the god of money needs to plunder nature to sustain the frenetic rhythm of consumption that is inherent to it.”

Activists hope the summit and the encyclical will influence the next round of international negotiations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which will take place in Paris in November. The pope, whose foray into diplomacy helped spur negotiations between the US and Cuba, is expected to address the topic in a speech before the UN in New York in September.

Some conservatives in the US, where the Republican party has fiercely resisted attempts to regulate greenhouse gases and questioned the scientific consensus on global warming, have criticised the pope for getting involved in the issue.

“Francis sullies his office by using demagogic formulations to bully the populace into reflexive climate action with no more substantive guide than theologised propaganda,” Maureen Mullarkey wrote in First Things, a conservative journal.

Another conservative group, the Heartland Institute, which seeks to discredit established science on global warming, held its own meeting in Rome on Monday– and will hold a second on Tuesday – in which officials derided the pope for taking on the issue.

“You demean the office that you hold and you demean the church whom it is your sworn duty to protect and defend and advance,” said Lord Christopher Monckton, a prominent climate sceptic and former policy adviser to the former British prime minister, Margaret Thatcher. Monckton’s opinions have beenrefuted by scientists, who have called his statements “very misleading” and “profoundly wrong”.

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(The Guardian 28 April 2015)

Tim Yeo: I ‘thought’ humans were to blame for global warming….err…….

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The chairman of the Commons Energy and Climate Change committee said he accepts the earth’s temperature is increasing but said “natural phases” may be to blame. Such a suggestion sits at odds with the scientific consensus. One recent survey of 12,000 academic papers on climate change found 97 per cent agree human activities are causing the planet to warm.

Mr Yeo, an environment minister under John Major, is one of the Conservative Party’s strongest advocates of radical action to cut carbon emissions. Or at least he was one of the strongest advocates of radical change to cut carbon emissions until this. His comments are significant as he was one of the first senior figures to urge the party to take the issue of environmental change seriously. He insisted that the action to cut carbon emissions is “prudent” given the threat climate change poses to living standards worldwide. But, he said, human action is merely a “possible cause”.

Asked on Tuesday night whether it was better to take action to mitigate the effects of climate change than to prevent it in the first place, he said: “The first thing to say is it does not represent any threat to the survival of the planet. None at all. The planet has survived much bigger changes than any climate change that is happening now.

He went on: “Although I think the evidence that the climate is changing is now overwhelming, the causes are not absolutely clear. There could be natural causes, natural phases that are taking place.”

“But there is at least a risk that the increased concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is a possible cause. We’ve just gone through the 400 parts per million [a measure of the atmospheric concentration of CO2] this year. I think a prudent policy would say if we can do things about that which are no-regrets polices like being efficient in the use of energy, looking at none-fossil fuel sources, I think that’s prudent to do so.”

Mr Yeo has previously spoken with great certainty about the science of climate change. He said in 2009: “A significant number of core Conservative voters – mostly among older people – are reluctant to accept the evidence. I don’t think they [doubting Tory MPs] will be a significant influence in the next parliament and will gradually diminish in the population.

“The dying gasps of the deniers will be put to bed. In five years time, no one will argue about a man-made contribution to climate change.”

Mr Yeo, who was speaking to an audience of energy industry representatives and diplomats at the Westminster Russia Forum, renewed his call for the Government to build a third runway at Heathrow. Now to any political outsider this would constitute a massive about face, whereas to Mr Yeo this is probably nothing more than an ingratiating tug of his forelock, towards the luminous moneys of global corporatism.

(based on a Telegraph article)

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Whisky Is For Drinking, Water Is For Fighting Over

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The author Mark Twain once remarked that “whisky is for drinking; water is for fighting over” and a series of reports from intelligence agencies and research groups indicate the prospect of a water war is becoming increasingly likely. 

In March, a report from the office of the US Director of National Intelligence said the risk of conflict would grow as water demand is set to outstrip sustainable current supplies by 40 per cent by 2030.

“These threats are real and they do raise serious national security concerns,” Hilary Clinton the former US secretary of state, said after the report’s release.

By 2030, 47 per cent of the world’s population will be living in areas of high water stress, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s Environmental Outlook to 2030 report. Some analysts worry that wars of the future will be fought over blue gold, as thirsty people, opportunistic politicians and powerful corporations battle for dwindling resources.  

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Dangerous warnings

Governments and military planners around the world are aware of the impending problem; with the US senate issuing reports with names like Avoiding Water Wars: Water Scarcity and Central Asia’s growing Importance for Stability in Afghanistan and Pakistan

With rapid population growth, and increased industrial demand, water withdrawls have tripled over the last 50 years, according to UN figures.

“Water scarcity is an issue exacerbated by demographic pressures, climate change and pollution,” said Ignacio Saiz, director of Centre for Economic and Social Rights, a social justice group. “The world’s water supplies should guarantee every member of the population to cover their personal and domestic needs.”

“Fundamentally, these are issues of poverty and inequality, man-made problems,” he said.

Of all the water on earth, 97 percent is salt water and the remaining three per cent is fresh, with less than one per cent of the planet’s drinkable water readily accessible for direct human uses. Scarcity is defined as each person in an area having access to less than 1,000 cubic meters of water a year.

The areas where water scarcity is the biggest problem are some of the same places where political conflicts are rife, leading to potentially explosive situations.

As recently as 1989 Senegal and Mauritania fought a war over grazing rights on the River Senegal. And Syria and Iraq have fought minor skirmishes over the Euphrates River. UN studies project that 30 nations will be water scarce in 2025, up from 20 in 1990. Eighteen of them are in the Middle East and North Africa, including Egypt, Israel, Somalia, Libya and Yemen. 

keep-calm-tuesday-is-soylent-green-day-1Contents courtesy of Al-Jazeera