Document leaked condemning ‘Enormous consumption’ two days before its official publication date on 18 June 2015
The 192-page draft of the encyclical – which is the highest level of teaching document a pope can issue – is entitled “Laudato Si: On the care of the common home”. In the paper, Pope Francis presents both scientific and moral reasons for protecting God’s creation. He puts much of the blame for global warming on human activities, mentioning the continual loss of biodiversity in the Amazonian rainforest and the melting of Arctic glaciers among other examples. The draft also says that developing countries are bearing the brunt of the “enormous consumption” of some of the richest. The pontiff calls on all humans – not just Roman Catholics – to prevent the destruction of the ecosystem before the end of the century and to establish a new political authority to tackle pollution. The encyclical has been months in the writing, and the Pope is said to be keen for it to set the tone for the debate at a UN summit on climate change in November in Paris.
Here is the BBC report after the release of the encyclical on 18 June.
This short article reports on recent NOAA research in the USA that appears to contradict the widely held conclusion that there has been a slow down or even levelling off of global warming in recent years. The research examined how data collected that were used to justify the hiatus conclusion. These data were inadequate according to the researchers who provide an improved data-set.
The Salk Institute for Biological Studies in California recently held a symposium “Exploring a World of Our Own Making”. This Yale Climate Connections link is to an article summarising key presentations. Below is an extract from a presentation by Scripps Institution of Oceanography climate scientist Veerabhadran Ramanathan:
“We have two separate but co-dependent worlds. One-billion people live with seemingly unlimited fossil fuels, and they are responsible for 50-70 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions, he said. The most needy three billion, meanwhile, lack access to fossil fuels even for cooking.
In talks at the Vatican, Ramanathan said, those who had attended concluded that the way forward requires fundamentally changing our attitude toward each other and toward nature.
“By leaving three billion behind, [those 3 billion people] will suffer the consequences of our fossil fuel consumption… so it’s a moral issue,” he said.
Ramanathan concluded his talk with a prediction that by 2050, global average temperatures will have climbed by 2 degrees C (3.6 degrees F). Climatic conditions will have will become so oppressive – with extreme storms, droughts, floods and more – that people will change attitudes. “We will decarbonize the (global) economy,” he said.
A new high profile report written by a group of eminent scientists is reviewed by Jeremy Williams with a link provided. Yet again it calls for urgent action to diminish anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions showing the huge diminution required by 2030 if a catastrophic future rise in temperatures is to be avoided.
This Guardian article is based on an International Monetary Fund estimate of the vast subsidies enjoyed by fossil fuel producing corporations. The costs (externalities) of the damage to health and the environment are not borne by the producers of fossil fuels, and can therefore be considered as ‘subsidies’ amounting to many trillions of dollars.
In April 2015 the UN Secretary General joined religious leaders at the Vatican in Rome and made this statement. Pope Francis is placing climate change mitigation on the agenda of the 1 in 6 humans who adhere to the Catholic faith and a new encyclical will be drafted setting out the church’s position that aligns with that of the UN. The encyclical is being drafted along lines indicated in this quote from a Truthout article:
“The ever-accelerating burning of fossil fuels that powers our economic engine is disrupting the Earth’s delicate ecological balance on an almost unfathomable scale,” warned Cardinal Peter Turkson, the Ghanaian cardinal who is taking a leading role in drafting the climate encyclical. “Corporations and financial investors must learn to put long-term sustainability over short-term profit.”
Many attempts are being made to convince governments around the world that urgent action needs to be taken to avoid unpredictable climate change due to human activities on Spaceship Earth. One of these is the Earth Statement issued by the Earth League on Earth Day 2015 (22 April). The eight point statement refers to the danger of the current trajectory of global warming and the growing awareness that fossil fuels will have to kept in the ground to avoid drastic and destabilising increases in global temperatures.
This lead article from the New York Times is an example of the ecological deficit that was the topic of my last blog post. Deep aquifer water is being ‘mined’ in California’s Central Valley to maintain high-value large-scale agricultural production despite unusually strong regulations that have recently been introduced to diminish the demand for irrigation. The application of complex irrigation systems and fossil fuel powered pumping technology seems to have run into nature’s current limits. Water is the staff of life (all life, not simply human life) and humans seem to hold the anthropocentric view that it exists as a ‘resource’ to support unending expansion of human populations and affluence. Not only will there be an inevitable deficit of water but we already have a major deficit of human understanding, imagination and education about the impossibility of infinite growth of human systems on a finite Spaceship Earth.
In this transcript of an interview on Democracy Now, a different slant is placed on the regulation of water in California. It highlights exemptions from the regulations for the most powerful agro-industrialists, the biggest producers who have the greatest lobbying power.
This BBC article and video elaborate further.