Writer Beat comment

My recent post on the US, the Paris accord, and climate change was picked up by Autumn of Writer Beat and republished here. Due to personal circumstances, I have been remiss in answering comments, but I was up early today and baby ABC was asleep so I managed to put together a response. I urge you to visit the Writer Beat post to read the comments to which this response was written – and to check out the site which has many, many interesting posts from a range of bloggers.
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I wanted to share this link which has one of the best explanations of climate change/global warming I have ever read, compiled by knowledgeable scientists.

In terms of social responsibility, I truly appreciate the visions and insights of Pope Francis. In his encyclical Laudato Si’, he describes an integral ecology, which includes both care for creation (the environment) and care for people, especially those most vulnerable. One of the advantages of renewable energy is that it is often produced locally, eliminating the need for long-range distribution grids and powering other development needs.

A real-world example is a project in conjunction with my county’s community college and a remote village in Haiti. Solar panels with battery storage power a pump for a community water well for safe drinking water and a modern bathroom near the church and school. The community has started a garden to grow staple crops to feed the schoolchildren. Solar ovens are allowing the cooks to bake extra goods for sale to people in the village. LED lighting, which does not need much electricity to operate, allows the children to gather at the church and school to do homework in the evenings. Adults and children are able to use computers. Communication can be accomplished with cellular networks rather than by hardwire.

Climate change impacts are felt most acutely by those who are most vulnerable economically. Drought; collapse of native crops, fisheries, and wildlife; coastal, river, and flash flooding; and other climate and severe weather related problems disproportionately affect populations least able to defend against them. We are already seeing conflicts arise over water and other resources. Access to water and/or fossil fuels underlies many of the conflicts in the Middle East and in Africa. Natural gas transport is the subtext for the Russian land grab in Ukraine. The problems in Venezuela are connected to economic dependence on oil.

My personal viewpoint is that the United States, as one of the largest current greenhouse gas producers and historically the largest total greenhouse gas producer, should help people at home and abroad to deal with the effects of climate change as a moral responsibility. Doing so would not impoverish the wealthy or our country. We can re-prioritize our spending, especially in taking some of our current military budget and putting it toward human needs. Our military leaders have been speaking out for some time about the dangers that climate change poses to world stability and have been big advocates for using renewable energy as much as possible when they are in action. It makes sense to redirect some of the military budget to helping population around the world deal with climate change, hunger, water scarcity, pollution, sea level rise, and other problems, both because it is the just and moral course and because it will reduce causes of military conflict.

Onward from COP21

I have been reading about and reflecting on the climate accord resulting from the recent COP21 talks in Paris. Over 190 countries, nearly the entire world, has signed on to cut greenhouse gases to try to keep global warming under two degrees Celsius, with hopes that the limit can be lowered to 1.5 degrees, which will likely keep low-lying island nations habitable.

While much has been made of the fact that the combined pledges of the countries will not keep warming under two degrees, I have hope because every country will have to publicly state their progress and will have to update their goals every five years. As President Obama and others have pointed out, five years ago no one was predicting that the price of solar panels would come down so rapidly and that their use would increase so dramatically, so it is likely that innovations, technology access, efficiency gains, and economics will combine to help countries make their goals more ambitious over time, so that the 1.5 degree goal can be achieved.

Further, the accord adds incentive to preserving and restoring plants that can take up more carbon dioxide to help restore a better carbon budget, which is needed to eventually stabilize the climate. Global temperature is already almost one degree Celsius higher than it was in the pre-industrial age, and we are feeling the effects in global temperatures, increased severe weather and droughts, melting glaciers and permafrost, and ocean temperature rise and acidifcation.

While I wish that there had been more emphasis on climate justice and the rights of the economically disadvantaged, as Pope Francis writes about so eloquently in Laudato Si’,  I hope that other United Nations documents will be taken into account along with the climate agreement to help protect and improve the lives of those living in poverty and those whose homes and food supplies are threatened by climate disruption.

While some Republicans have said that they will not honor the commitments that the United States has made to reduce its carbon emissions if a Republican is elected to the presidency next year, I think that they are mistaken. The omnibus budget bill just passed by Congress allocates funds toward our commitments.  The US has already achieved 10 of its 26-28% reduction target from 2005 emission levels, with ten years to add the further 16-18%. Rules that are already in place for further emission cuts would be very difficult to rescind.

Perhaps most importantly to Republicans, many major businesses have made public commitments to emissions cuts, renewable energy utilization, efficiency gains, etc.; they appreciate the predictability that this international agreement brings. Furthermore, because so many US companies operate internationally, they will be dealing with other countries’ goals and methods, including various carbon pricing mechanisms.  Cutting carbon emissions is a good business practice and the Republicans will have to realize that refusing to cooperate with the international community on the COP21 agreement will hurt not only US credibility and leadership but also its businesses and economy.

Climate and social justice advocates throughout the world are energized to keep the momentum going. People everywhere are keeping vigil and make changes in their own lives to help, as Pope Francis terms it, “care for our common home.”

 

One-Liner Wednesday: solutions

“Given the complexity of the ecological crisis and its multiple causes, we need to realize that the solutions will not emerge from just one way of interpreting and transforming reality.”
— Pope Francis, Laudato Si’ paragraph 63
(This dynamic was in evidence in the final accord in Paris, where each country makes its own commitment. Let’s hope that these national plans will become more and more ambitious so that the climate can remain livable for everyone.)

Join us for Linda’s One-Liner Wednesdays!  Find out how here:  http://lindaghill.com/2015/12/16/one-liner-wednesday-on-taking-a-joke/

Muslim-American women seek change from within | National Catholic Reporter

Source: Muslim-American women seek change from within | National Catholic Reporter

I appreciate hearing from these young American Muslim women about their experiences and their faith. Like Sister Christine, I am especially drawn to the centrality of divine mercy which is common to both faith traditions.

One-Liner Wednesday: Love in action

“For all our limitations, gestures of generosity, solidarity and care cannot but well up within us, since we were made for love.”
— Pope Francis, Laudato Si’ paragraph 58
(In recognition of the ongoing Paris climate talks, I am sharing some quotes from the papal encyclical.)

Join us for Linda’s One-Liner Wednesdays!  Find out how here: http://lindaghill.com/2015/12/09/one-liner-wednesday-escape/

Francis opens Jubilee year with call for church that puts mercy before judgment | National Catholic Reporter

Source: Francis opens Jubilee year with call for church that puts mercy before judgment | National Catholic Reporter

Today begins the Jubilee year called by Pope Francis as the Year of Mercy. we are called to recognize God’s mercy to all people and to exercise mercy ourselves.

We are also to release others from debts, to free the captives, welcome the stranger, feed the hungry, and live in peace.

I am happy to see that Francis is also emphasizing the openness to the Spirit and to the world that are exemplified by Vatican II. I appreciate his example of reaching out to people of different belief systems and to non-believers. As with the papal encyclical Laduato Si’, he calls all people of good will to encounter each other in love, solidarity, and peace.

One-Liner Wednesday: climate

“Climate is a common good, belonging to all and meant for all.”
— Pope Francis, Laudato Si’ paragraph 23
(With the Paris climate talks underway, I am sharing some quotes from the papal encyclical.)

Join us for Linda’s One-Liner Wednesdays!  Find out how here: http://lindaghill.com/2015/12/02/one-liner-wednesday-they-lied/