Showing posts with label Climate justice. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Climate justice. Show all posts

Friday, March 20, 2020

Religious literacy, World religions' narratives about homo sapiens relationship with Mother Nature

Chapter Twenty one
What is the ecosystem narrative guiding human management of climate change and pandemics?

What can the world religions teach us about the coronavirus pandemic?

Most Christians have believed that God told Adam and Eve and their successors to dominate the earth. Most Christians believe that God not only gave permission to Adam and Eve but ordered them to subjugate Mother Nature to their needs, whims, and desires. It is written in the first book of the Jewish and Christian bible, Genesis:

Genesis 1:26-28 King James Version (KJV)
26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

Now with climate change brought about by human activity and the coronavirus infecting the people of the Earth we could cynically ask, “How is that dominion thing working out for ya?”

Most religions view the relationship of God, humans, and the Earth as God having given humans stewardship over nurturing and caring for the environment and ecosystems. However, how this stewardship is to be implemented varies a great deal from religious tradition to religious tradition.

All religions can be perceived as having a conservative group and a liberal group. In general it might be accurate to say that the conservative group is more favorable toward dominion and human superiority and destruction while the liberal group is more favorable to co-existence and equity and nurturance.

Unitarian Universalists embody their values in their seventh of seven principles which is “to affirm and promote a respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.”

The narratives of the world religions of homo sapiens ' relationship with the earth are thinly developed in our contemporary discussions which are saturated with technical, scientific jaron of meaning most of which is sequestered to the point of denial and minimization.

It is time to rejuvenate and explicate powerful stories about  homo sapiens' relationship with Mother Nature. Instead of apocalyptic and dystopian movies and novels, religious leaders and theologians should step up and help us understand what is happening to us as a species not only on a biological, physical level, but at a moral and spiritual level.

It seems plausible that homo sapiens will study, better understand, and manage the coronavirus pandemic, but the social disruptions being caused by this pandemic will take generations to stabilize and the religions of the world can be a significant factor in promoting spiritual well being in these times of rapid change.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Meta narrative for the Anthropocene

That the eco systems of the planet earth are changing in signicant and rapid ways there is no scienttific doubt.

How human beings will respond to these eco system changes is the question.

There are biological, physical, social, psychological, economic, and political responses and a spiritual response which is the one which is overarching the six others.

What is the spiritual response called for by the Spirit of Life? What does Benedict have to offer? What does our Catholic faith and other religious traditions have to offer?

Perhaps the best reponse is that offered by the seventh principle of Unitarian Univeralism which is to affirm and promote a respect for the interdependent existence of which we are a part. This respect calls for a heightened sense of humility as the hubris of homo sapiens who once again have to answer the question posed by God to Adam and Eve in the Garden when they ate from the Tree of Knowledge, "What have you done?"

We struggle, in our current geological era of the planet, the Anthropocene, to formulate an answer suitable for Cosmic Consciousness which we share with God.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Climate justice - What's the story?

Chapter Twenty two
What is the best narrative of ecosystem change on planet earth?

When Bill McKibben declared “The End of Nature,” in 1989, he was posing a hyperbolic kind of epistemological riddle: What do you call it, whatever it is, when forces of wilderness and weather, of animal kingdoms and plant life, have been so transformed by human activity they are no longer truly “natural”?

The answer came a few decades later with the term “the Anthropocene,” which was coined in the spirit of environmental alarm and suggested a much messier and more unstable state than “end.” Environmentalists, outdoorspeople, nature lovers, and romantics of various stripes—there are many who would mourn the end of nature. But there are literally billions who will shortly be terrified by the forces unleashed by the Anthropocene.

Wallace-Wells, David. The Uninhabitable Earth (p. 153). Crown/Archetype. Kindle Edition.

What‘s up with what  is happening to our planet and thereby to us, homo sapiens? The End of Nature, the Anthropocene, the Apocalypse, End Times? Call it what you will. The name doesn’t change the fact that the temperatures on the earth are rising, the ecology is increasingly polluted, and the quality of life for existing species of living things on the planet is changing rapidly. The glaring fact in all this, is that these changes are being made by human activity.

What are the stories that are being told about these ecosystem changes? Who has the power to shape the narratives, for what purposes, in whose interests? What are the differences in the stories told by Rex Tillerson, Greta Thuneberg, Bill McKibben, James Hansen, Donald Trump? In the United States do Republicans have different stories from Democrats? Do Native people have different stories than those descended from immigrants? Do the rich have different stories from the poor?

In which of these stories is truth to be found? Which stories have a bigger consequence for the behavior of human beings conducive to their survival? Whose survival?

The stories are made up of biological ideas, sociological ideas, psychological ideas, economic ideas, political ideas,  and spiritual ideas. The best model for helpful stories are those which take into account the bio-psycho-social-spiritual-economic-political frames of reference in appropriate balance.

Unitarian Universalism with its covenantal model of human community based on seven principles may be the best model of all from which to construct stories about climate justice.

For a  5 minute commentary on this article click here.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Climate justice, Who are you going to blame?


Chapter Twenty One
Who are you going to blame?

Complicity does not make for good drama. Modern morality plays need antagonists, and the desire gets stronger when apportioning blame becomes a political necessity, which it surely will. This is a problem for stories both fictional and non-, each kind drawing logic and energy from the other. The natural villains are the oil companies—and in fact a recent survey of movies depicting climate apocalypse found the plurality were actually about corporate greed.

Wallace-Wells, David. The Uninhabitable Earth (p. 149). Crown/Archetype. Kindle Edition.

Our sense of guilt, both personal and collective, triggers a desire to get defensive and find someone to blame, someone to project the guilt onto.

It is very easy, even habitual, in our polarized American society to blame either the Republicans or the Democrats, the 1% or the poor, the “fake news” or the pundits that affirm our views, the Devil or God.

How do you think the blame game will work for mitigating the negative consequences for carbon emissions and global warming?

Unitarian Univeralisits covenant together to affirm and promote justice, equity, and compassion in our human relations. UUs are not into the blame game, but working together for the common good.

The first step in applying this second principle is in increasing our understanding of the system: its dynamics, its norms, the roles various components play in maintaining the status quo and resisting change. The second step in applying the principle is considering how the system can be changed to achieve a higher degree of justice, equity, and compassion. The third step is in choosing a strategy to achieve the desired goals. The fourth step is gathering the resources necessary for the change activity. The fifth step is implementing the change strategy, and the sixth step is evaluating the progress towards goal achievement.

In this model, assigning blame is not helpful. What is helpful is designing and implementing and evaluating a change strategy. So instead of asking, “Who are you going to blame?” the better question would be, “What are you going to do?”

Do UUs know what to do?

Of course: educate, organize, vote, boycott and demonstrate, implement ameliorative strategies.

Sunday, March 1, 2020

Climate justice - Die or survive or thrive?

Chapter Twenty
Die or survive or thrive?

The moral responsibility of climate change is much murkier. Global warming isn’t something that might happen, should several people make some profoundly shortsighted calculations; it is something that is already happening, everywhere, and without anything like direct supervisors. Nuclear Armageddon, in theory, has a few dozen authors; climate catastrophe has billions of them, with responsibility distended over time and extended across much of the planet. This is not to say it is distributed evenly: though climate change will be given its ultimate dimensions by the course of industrialization in the developing world, at present the world’s wealthy possess the lion’s share of guilt—the richest 10 percent producing half of all emissions. This distribution tracks closely with global income inequality, which is one reason that many on the Left point to the all-encompassing system, saying that industrial capitalism is to blame. It is. But saying so does not name an antagonist; it names a toxic investment vehicle with most of the world as stakeholders, many of whom eagerly bought in. And who in fact quite enjoy their present way of life.

Wallace-Wells, David. The Uninhabitable Earth (pp. 148-149). Crown/Archetype. Kindle Edition.

What it comes to the apocalypse of climate change who is responsible, who can we blame? As the old Pogo comic strip memorably said, “We have seen the enemy and it is us.”

If you enjoy a twenty first century first world lifestyle you are guilty of emitting carbon emissions which has contributed to the warming of the planet. It is easy to blame the 1% who have marketed fossil fuels and gotten rich off of them but suppliers need customers, and corporations need stockholders, and the whole population benefits from carbon emissions by driving to the mall and enjoying the air conditioned comfort on a 95 degree day.

And so projecting guilt doesn’t work to ameliorate the problem. Instead, we need to get smart and analyze the systems that we participate in and how we can intervene to change these systems so that they are designed and operated to benefit the ecosystem which we inhabit and not destroy it. This intervention will involve a change in the economic and lifestyle incentives which will cause some conflict because change is not desired by everyone. Change disturbes the status quo. Change upsets the apple cart, it goes against the grain, it has a destabilizing impact on the system whose current beneficiaries have a vested interest in maintaining.

Changing the current system will take patience and persistence and a tolerance for blow back. Those with a vested interest will not accept the changes lightly and cooperatively because the rewards of the current system will no longer be forthcoming.

Will people embrace the necessary changes or avoid them or resist them or obstruct them? Probably a little of all four, but change is evitable while progress is optional. We will either continue to foul our nest and eliminate the lives of many species or we will embrace change and not only survive but thrive.

Unitarian Univeralists covenant together to affirm and promote respect for the interdependent web of existence, and justice, equity, and compassion in human relations.

Saturday, February 29, 2020

Climate Justice - What is the story we are telling ourselves about climate change?

Chapter Nineteen
What is the story we are telling ourselves about climate change?

What does it mean to be entertained by a fictional apocalypse as we stare down the possibility of a real one? One job of pop culture is always to serve stories that distract even as they appear to engage—to deliver sublimation and diversion. In a time of cascading climate change, Hollywood is also trying to make sense of our changing relationship to nature, which we have long regarded from at least an arm’s length—but which, amid this change, has returned as a chaotic force we nevertheless understand, on some level, as our fault. The adjudication of that guilt is another thing entertainment can do, when law and public policy fail, though our culture, like our politics, specializes in assigning the blame to others—in projecting rather than accepting guilt. A form of emotional prophylaxis is also at work: in fictional stories of climate catastrophe we may also be looking for catharsis, and collectively trying to persuade ourselves we might survive it.

Wallace-Wells, David. The Uninhabitable Earth (p. 144). Crown/Archetype. Kindle Edition.

In this time of climate warming due to carbon emissions and the resulting climate change, what are the stories that we are telling ourselves about what is happening?

If you look at the movies where the box office hits are based on comic book superheroes and horror films based on robots and space aliens, an observer might wonder what are these projections that the public finds so entertaining that they will spend money and time to watch these scenarios portrayed and told for entertainment and distraction from the unconscious eco-anxiety which has infected the public conscious and unconscious?

David Wallace-Wells suggests that this entertainment is the unconscious projection of guilt, but another hypothesis is that it is a sublimation of fear. Heroes and villains are depicted and creative narrative tension is created which is diverting as we sit in darkened air conditioned theaters eating our buttered popcorn and sipping our sugary soft drinks.

The band is playing and the fiddles are fiddled as Rome is burning. Are there any realistic stories about climate change that help us deal with the moral issues of stewardship for the eco-systems which we inhabit? Flying off to Mars and inhabiting space stations as a substitute for life on planet earth seems childishly fanciful and an abdication of responsibility.

If you are interested in learning more about novels and films that deal with climate change use the search phrase, “cli-fi.”

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Climate justice - Working alone or together in solidarity?

Chapter Eighteen
Working on climate warming mitigation: alone or together?

Individual actions to mitigate climate change do count and in the last analysis they count  because as these individual actions aggregate, the cumulative effect arises to change systems.

Putting cardboard in a yellow recycling box doesn't do as much as voting for representatives who will work on environmental issues does. Also, boycotting businesses and investing in companies that are environmentally conscious makes a big difference.

Simple example - What do you think the election of Bush over Gore made for US environmental policies? How about Trump over Clinton? How about your state governorship?

Here in New York State plastic bags are no longer permissible for most purchases after March 1, 2020. The heck with the recycling bins, get rid of the problem at its source - get rid of the bags.

My village, Brockport, NY, has been working for the last 3 years on creating a solar farm to create all the electricity for our municipality. That's big. No longer have to worry about turning off the light switches.

Individual actions are very necessary, We just need to become more sophisticated about the targets. The fossil fuel companies want us to sort our garbage as long as we keep using fossil fuels. How much of all this recycling stuff is fueled and supported by fossil fuel industries to fool people into thinking they are doing something to offset the carbon footprint while they keep burning coal, and oil?

Think systemically as well as individually. Unitarian Universalism is a faith tradition based on a covenantal model. It is based on faith in collective activity not individual activity alone. UUs understand that there is more power in solidarity with one another than in individuals going it alone.

If you haven’t done so already, connect with others to work toward the mitigation of carbon emissions which contribute to climate warming.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Climate justice - Ultimately climate justice is a spiritual problem.

Chapter Seventeen
Climate justice, ultimately, is a spiritual problem.

Politics has produced gestures of tremendous global solidarity and cooperation, then discarded those promises immediately. It has become commonplace among climate activists to say that we have, today, all the tools we need to avoid catastrophic climate change—even major climate change. It is also true. But political will is not some trivial ingredient, always at hand. We have the tools we need to solve global poverty, epidemic disease, and abuse of women, as well.

Wallace-Wells, David. The Uninhabitable Earth (p. 44). Crown/Archetype. Kindle Edition.

There is something perverse about politics and that something is incentives. The incentives of greed, power, comfort, safety. As a species we have intelligence and self awareness, and when it comes to the ecosystem which we inhabit we understand the major dynamics of how it works. We could ameliorate the problems were it not for the perverse incentives of the powerful 1% and the desultory acquiescence of the 99%.

Some of the 99% sound the alarm and bitch and complain but they haven’t as yet found ways of disincentivizing the behavior of the 1% who stand to profit from carbon emissions contributing to the warming of the globe.

As smart as some of the 99% are, the 1% is smarter and continue to rig the political system for the maintenance of the status quo.

Climate justice is not achieved by individual behavior alone. It takes groups of people changing the incentives of those in power. The machinations of the powerful are often hidden from awareness and thus can be continued without the unaware of even knowing what is happening. If some of the 99% question these machinations they are silenced by marginalization, mocking, intimidation of various forms, misinformation, and propaganda leading to confusion, conflict, divisiveness, and isolation.

Upon a deep analysis, climate justice while it is a political problem, at its roots is a moral and a spiritual problem. Will we, as a species, be divided and separated into warring factions, or will we work together for our mutual welfare? Do we see our brothers and sisters as allies with whom we stand in solidarity or rivals for scarce resources?

The bottom line is a matter of faith. Who do we think we are and who are our fellow humans and other species to us?

Unitarian Universalists have already decided this question and covenant together to affirm and promote respect for the interdependent web. Would that we act upon our faith and share it with others.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Climate justice - Victimizers need to take responsibility for their victimization.

Chapter fifteen
Victimizers need to take responsibility for their victimization.

Until now, it seems to have been easier for us to empathize with the climate plight of other species than our own, perhaps because we have such a hard time acknowledging or understanding our own responsibility and complicity in the changes now unfolding, and such an easier time evaluating the morally simpler calculus of pure victimhood.

Wallace-Wells, David. The Uninhabitable Earth (p. 35). Crown/Archetype. Kindle Edition.

It has been opined that people care more about their pets, their dogs and cats, than they do their fellow human beings. Dogs, in particular, love us humans unconditionally while other human beings are always problematic and demand more from us in many ways.

And so the “tree huggers” are subject to mocking and derision because of their hypocrisy. Their love of nature and desire to protect it seems childish in the midst of the human-caused devastation they are subject to. As they say in Alcoholic Anonymous, maybe we should be taking our own inventory and not the inventory of other species.

As Wallace-Wells points out it is much easier to sympathize with the victim than the victimizer. Focusing on the victim allows the victimizer to escape scrutiny and evaluation. Perhaps it is time for us to take responsibility for our own behavior and care for it rather than redirect our concern and distract ourselves with sympathy for other species which are being destroyed by our own behavior and policies.

Taking responsibility for ourselves is a huge challenge and facing up to what we have done and are doing takes courage and humility which seem to be in short supply for most of humanity as represented by their politicians.

Unitarian Universalists covenant together to affirm and promote justice, equity, and compassion in human relations. It is interesting how interspecies justice, equity, and compassion are left out of this principle. Is this unintentional or intentional? In Alcoholic Anonymous they say, “first things first.” The first thing we have to address if we are to deal effectively with the climate change on the planet is our own behavior and policies. Will we face up to what we have done, take responsibility, and fix it? The jury is still out deliberating this question and eco-systems conducive to human life and the life of other species depends on the decision.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Climate justice - In what are we to invest our faith?

Chapter Fourteen
Zero sum game or a collaborative endeavor?

Especially those who have imbibed several centuries of Western triumphalism tend to see the story of human civilization as an inevitable conquest of the earth, rather than the saga of an insecure culture, like mold, growing haphazardly and unsurely upon it. That fragility, which pervades now everything humans might do on this planet, is the great existential insight of global warming, but it is only beginning to shake our triumphalism—though, if we had stopped to contemplate the possibilities a generation ago, it probably would not surprise us to see a new form of political nihilism emerging in the region of the world already baked hardest by global warming, the Middle East, and expressed there through suicidal spasms of theological violence.

Wallace-Wells, David. The Uninhabitable Earth (pp. 34-35). Crown/Archetype. Kindle Edition. 

What happens to human beings when triumphalism and exceptionalism doesn’t work for them any more? What happens when arrogance and pride start to have negative consequences on human well being? What happens when the arrogance of the human psyche is challenged by Mother Nature?

A mythic struggle ensues, like wrestling with angels, and the outcome can be a fight to extinction or an awakening to the proper place in the interdependent web of existence of which homo sapiens is just a part and perhaps a minor part at that which could just as easily be extinguished as nurtured and supported.

The eco-anxiety taking over humanity in this growing awareness of the meaning of climate warming can make us more arrogant and invest our faith in technological and political idols or we can become more spiritually aware, humble, and take responsibility for our own functioning.

Will we look for external solutions without or will we look for spiritual solutions within, and can we do both with a humble wisdom which sees the struggle not as a war, a zero sum game between the contestants of humans and nature, but as a collaborative endeavor where we can live in harmony with nature of which we are just a part? In what are we to put our faith?

Friday, February 21, 2020

Climate justice - Creating our own kingdom of arrogance or being willing to co-create God's kingdom on earth as it is in heaven?

Annihilation is only the very thin tail of warming’s very long bell curve, and there is nothing stopping us from steering clear of it. But what lies between us and extinction is horrifying enough, and we have not yet begun to contemplate what it means to live under those conditions—what it will do to our politics and our culture and our emotional equilibria, our sense of history and our relationship to it, our sense of nature and our relationship to it, that we are living in a world degraded by our own hands, with the horizon of human possibility dramatically dimmed. We may yet see a climate deus ex machina—or, rather, we may yet build one, in the form of carbon capture technology or geoengineering, or in the form of a revolution in the way we generate power, electric or political. But that solution, if it comes at all, will emerge against a bleak horizon, darkened by our emissions as if by glaucoma.

Wallace-Wells, David. The Uninhabitable Earth (p. 34). Crown/Archetype. Kindle Edition.

The fundamental sin of human beings is pride, arrogance, the thought that we don't need God and know better than God and can live our lives happily without God.

We have separated ourselves from the Oneness of God and established our own kingdom based on our ego desires and activities and where has it gotten us? In a fine pickle having destroyed our eco-system that supports our lives here.

Recognizing what we have done to our planetary home, we know have understand its implications for our biology, our psychology, our sociology, and spirituality. What is the mythic story we will create to explain ourselves to ourselves that will work for human kind?

Such a story could revolve around a plot line about God being pissed and out to punish and take revenge on God's thankless, arrogant creatures. While this story may have a kernal of truth to it, it misses the point that God is not out to punish us, but to call us to be co-creators with God of a harmonious collaboration that creates heaven on earth rather than hell. Are we willing to give up our pride and arrogance? Will we continue to be willful or will we become willing to accept God's kingdom rather than creating our own?

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Climate justice - Speaking up, organizing, voting, boycotting, taking systemic action

But it also isn’t necessary for Westerners to adopt the lifestyle of the global poor. Seventy percent of the energy produced by the planet, it’s estimated, is lost as waste heat. If the average American were confined by the carbon footprint of her European counterpart, U.S. carbon emissions would fall by more than half. If the world’s richest 10 percent were limited to that same footprint, global emissions would fall by a third. And why shouldn’t they be? Almost as a prophylactic against climate guilt, as the news from science has grown bleaker, Western liberals have comforted themselves by contorting their own consumption patterns into performances of moral or environmental purity—less beef, more Teslas, fewer transatlantic flights. But the climate calculus is such that individual lifestyle choices do not add up to much, unless they are scaled by politics. America’s rump climate party aside, that scaling should not be impossible, once we understand the stakes. In fact, the stakes mean, it must not be.

Wallace-Wells, David. The Uninhabitable Earth (pp. 33-34). Crown/Archetype. Kindle Edition.

Turning off the lights in an empty room, recycling, setting your air conditioning to 76 degrees, collecting rain water in barrels to water your garden, giving up your Big Macs are good ideas but pissing in the ocean, farting in a huricane. The real answer to adequately addressing carbon emissions and climate warming are poltical and Americans elected a President and a Republical congress who are climate change deniers and pulled the U.S. out of the Paris Accords and brashly promote coal jobs and fossil fuel drilling.

If people spent their time and effort in organizing, voting, boycotting, and demonstrating and gettng climate justice and responsible people into policy making positions, real change could occur but alas Americans don't vote in large numbers, they are politically illiterate when it comes to most policies, they blindly vote the party line, and they believe the misinformation and propaganda which corporate media wants them to believe in spirte of the facts.

Unitarian Univeralists, we would like to believe, are more informed and principle based. They covenant together to affirm and promote the respect for the interdependent web, and for justice, equity, and compassion in human relations, but then you got to wonder whether their voting and advocacy efforts would back up their lip service? UUs are "nice" people, but not known for their toughness, their moral convictions. They have a reputation for standing for nothing and having a faith, poorly defined, and easily dismissed.

Could UUs be the yeast in the dough, the salt of the earth, the spark plug for a societal transformation from fossil fuels to renewable energy? Only if they get serious about applying their principles in their poltical lives. Hopefully, they will step up and start making a difference.

Monday, February 17, 2020

Climate justice - To have a child or raise a child?

I’ve also often been asked whether it’s moral to reproduce in this climate, whether it’s responsible to have children, whether it is fair to the planet or, perhaps more important, to the children.

Wallace-Wells, David. The Uninhabitable Earth (p. 31). Crown/Archetype. Kindle Edition.

The birth rate in first world countries is falling. Caucasions in the United States are not replacing themselves; their death rate is higher than their birth rate. Ten states in the United States lost population in 2018.

Eco-anxiety seems to be affecting the birth rate. Some people argue that this is a good thing. But without more consumers, the GDP may drop and the economy will weaken if not go into a recession. The focus rather than economic expansion will change to sustainability. Perhaps then our values will change as well and we will re-evaluate the value of wealth to include other things than money and goods. Perhaps happiness will not longer be equated with acquiring things.

Money, as the Beatles sang, can't buy you love.

And so the question is whether to bring children into a world with the apocolypic scenario of climate warming and all the consequences it entails? It depends on whether they will be children to grow up to help homo sapiens adapt to a just and harmonious relationship with the interdependent web or being or will they act in ego justified ways to further separation and divisiveness? The question is not whether to have a child or not, but rather do you want to raise a good and just child for the world of tomorrow?

Friday, February 14, 2020

Climate justice - Taking responsibility for human behavior causing climate change

That we know global warming is our doing should be a comfort, not a cause for despair, however incomprehensively large and complicated we find the processes that have brought it into being; that we know we are, ourselves, responsible for all of its punishing effects should be empowering, and not just perversely. Global warming is, after all, a human invention. And the flip side of our real-time guilt is that we remain in command. No matter how out-of-control the climate system seems—with its roiling typhoons, unprecedented famines and heat waves, refugee crises and climate conflicts—we are all its authors. And still writing.
Wallace-Wells, David. The Uninhabitable Earth (p. 30). Crown/Archetype. Kindle Edition.

Denial is not a river in Egypt. It is the default position for many humans who like the three monkeys, see no evil, hear no evil, and do not talk about evil.

As human beings we are being called to take responsibility and rather than deny that we have any, we would be better off and more honest to admit that we not only have responsibility but that we should take it.

Unitarian Universalists covenant together to affirm and promote respect for the interdependent web. This is the seventh UU principle and yet it is often nor fully understood and marginalized in favor of other social justice causes and concerns. While other social justice concerns may be worthwhile and legitimate, without a healthy, livable climate, nothing else much matters. Other issues become moot.

If we are to deal with first things first, climate justice should be at the top of everyone's social justice priority list. Climate justice has huge ramifications not just for the eco-systems of our planet but for other social justice issues as well which pale in comparison.

If we are to take more responsibility for climate justice what might we do?

  1. Advocate for viable policies impacting carbon emissions.
  2. Identify groups and populations who will be inequitably affected by climate change with fewer resources to deal with the negative consequences.
  3. Collaborate with groups and organizations of others in solidarity to mitigate the problems caused by climate change.
  4. Vote responsibly for governmental leaders who take climate justice seriously and knowledgeably in leading us to resolving the problems which climate change causes.
  5. Boycott and strike against irresponsible practices making carbon emissions greater rather than lesser.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Climate justice - Oh my God, what have we done and what are we doing!?

Global warming has improbably compressed into two generations the entire story of human civilization. First, the project of remaking the planet so that it is undeniably ours, a project whose exhaust, the poison of emissions, now casually works its way through millennia of ice so quickly you can see the melt with a naked eye, destroying the environmental conditions that have held stable and steadily governed for literally all of human history. That has been the work of a single generation. The second generation faces a very different task: the project of preserving our collective future, forestalling that devastation and engineering an alternate path. There is simply no analogy to draw on, outside of mythology and theology—and perhaps the Cold War prospect of mutually assured destruction.

Wallace-Wells, David. The Uninhabitable Earth (p. 29). Crown/Archetype. Kindle Edition.

What, brothers and sisters, have we done? We boomers and our predecessors during the industrial age have polluted our earth to the point of destroying its life sustaining eco-systems.

We can say that we didn't know. Up until the mid 80s that excuse for our eggregious behaviors is legitimate, but now we know.

A conscientious person is aghast. And what is to be done so that our successors can survive and so that we have taken our legitimate responsibility for what our social systems have done to our eco-systems?

There are some clear actions we are called to:

  1. Educate ourselves and others about how our social systems are impacting the earth's eco-systems.
  2. Organize a response to the destruction to mitigate its consequences.
  3. Vote and impact systems of destruction as well as amelioration.
  4. Strike, boycott, and nonviolently protest the destructive practices of our social systems.
  5. Covenant with others in support and faith to care for each other and the eco-systems of which we are an integral and influential part.
  6. Support and participate in organizations and institutions working to ameliorate the relationships between our social systems and eco-systems.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Climate justice - Existential crisis requiring we act in great faith.

This is what is meant when climate change is called an “existential crisis”—a drama we are now haphazardly improvising between two hellish poles, in which our best-case outcome is death and suffering at the scale of twenty-five Holocausts, and the worst-case outcome puts us on the brink of extinction. Rhetoric often fails us on climate because the only factually appropriate language is of a kind we’ve been trained, by a buoyant culture of sunny-side-up optimism, to dismiss, categorically, as hyperbole.

Wallace-Wells, David. The Uninhabitable Earth (pp. 28-29). Crown/Archetype. Kindle Edition.

Wallace-Wells emphasises in his book, The Uninhabitable Earth that humanity is facing an "existential crisis" and the term "existential crisis" is not meant as hyperbole.

It is time for humanity to put its big boy and big girl pants on and take responsibility for the climate warmth we have created and the consequences. Nine of the last ten years of this past decade have been the warmest years ever recorded. Senator James Inhofe's snowball in the Senate Chamber is the epitomy of a nefarious joke to deny reality so that capitalistic profit can continue to be extracted for the 1% while the other 99% of humanity suffers a terrible fate.

Will Unitarian Universalists and others join together to voice the alarm, organize, vote, and mitigate the terrible consequences of this rapid environmental change? Will we Unitarian Univeralists live up to our principles of affirming and promoting the inherent worth and dignity of every person, justice, equity, and compassion in human relations, and a respect fo the interdependent web of all existence?

In these prinicples we have invested our faith and now is the time to enact them and live up to them.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Climate justice - What are you doing to work for climate justice?

For centuries we have looked to nature as a mirror onto which to first project, then observe, ourselves. But what is the moral? 

There is nothing to learn from global warming, because we do not have the time, or the distance, to contemplate its lessons; we are after all not merely telling the story but living it. That is, trying to; the threat is immense. 

How immense? 

One 2018 paper sketches the math in horrifying detail. In the journal Nature Climate Change, a team led by Drew Shindell tried to quantify the suffering that would be avoided if warming was kept to 1.5 degrees, rather than 2 degrees—in other words, how much additional suffering would result from just that additional half-degree of warming. 

Their answer: 150 million more people would die from air pollution alone in a 2-degree warmer world than in a 1.5-degree warmer one. Later that year, the IPCC raised the stakes further: in the gap between 1.5 degrees and 2, it said, hundreds of millions of lives were at stake.

Wallace-Wells, David. The Uninhabitable Earth (p. 28). Crown/Archetype. Kindle Edition.

Unitarian Univeralists covenant together to affirm and promote justice, equity, and compassion in human relations, but the immense threat of global warming due to carbon emissions is ignored because the consequences of our current policies and practices are so immense that we engage in denial and minimization in order to continue to function in our daily lives.

We have yet to be able to get the enormity of the consequences of these climate changes into perspective. We have things to do and other things to occupy our attention like political scandals, sports, internet social media, etc.

UUs as a people of faith can be the salt of the earth and the light of the world. We can educate ourselves and others and advocate for policies and practices that mitigate the immense consequences of what we have done.

How important an issue is climate justice when you make a decision to vote for policy makers at all levels of government? How much of your time and energy have you invested in organizing others to advocate for a change in climate justice policies? How do you affirm and promote our seventh principle, the respect for the interdependent web?

Monday, February 10, 2020

Climate change - The story of disrespect told in the U.S. Senate

Just how completely the world below our feet will become unknown to us is not yet clear, and how we register its transformation remains an open question. One legacy of the environmentalist creed that long prized the natural world as an otherworldly retreat is that we see its degradation as a sequestered story, unfolding separately from our own modern lives—so separately that the degradation acquires the comfortable contours of parable, like pages from Aesop, aestheticized even when we know the losses as tragedy.

Wallace-Wells, David. The Uninhabitable Earth (p. 25). Crown/Archetype. Kindle Edition.

David Wallace-Wells calls the story of climate change a "sequestered story." The story of climate change, even if we acknowledge it, we can't quite accept. It's like the U.S. Senator, James Inhofe, who brought a snow ball into the Senate chamber in February, 2015, mocking the science of human influenced global warming.

What are we, as Unitarian Universalists, to do in the face of such disrepect for the interdependent web of existence which have convenanted together to affirm and promote? What is our duty or duties in the face of this sequestered story and misinformation?

There are several duties.

First, set the record straight and educate people to the facts.
Two, vote and elect people to make our national policies which correspond to the facts.
Three, organize like minded people to strike and boycott climate damaging activities.
Four, engage and support in activities to change our ways of life to be in harmony with nature and not exploit nature for profit.

What other duties and actions might you add?

Saturday, February 8, 2020

Climate justice - Can UUs create a compelling mythic story to save homo sapiens on planet Earth?

My file of stories grew daily, but very few of the clips, even those drawn from new research published in the most pedigreed scientific journals, seemed to appear in the coverage about climate change the country watched on television and read in its newspapers. In those places, climate change was reported, of course, and even with some tinge of alarm. But the discussion of possible effects was misleadingly narrow, limited almost invariably to the matter of sea-level rise. Just as worrisome, the coverage was sanguine, all things considered.

Wallace-Wells, David. The Uninhabitable Earth (pp. 8-9). Crown/Archetype. Kindle Edition.

The story of the anthropocene, human influenced climate change, is so enormous that the story tellers among us have yet to find a narrative that resonates with a frightened audience.

The climate change narrative will have to ascend to mythic proportions to have an effect on the planet's population motivating change to rectify the conditions we have created.

Is there an eco theological story emanating from Unitaran Univeralist theologians which has resounded with the participants in the denomination? The UU "living tradtion" draws from its six sources, and with its seven principles, one might expect that some guiding light, some beacon of hope, could emerge from a denomination which covenants together to affirm and promote a responsible search for truth and meaning.

Up until now, no compelling narrative has emerged which one can hope for. The recognition that a respect for the interdependent web of existence of which we are  part is a good start. What does this principle mean and how can we enact it for the benefit of the earth?
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