Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Hello again, naturally

Long time since I've posted.  Physics continues to outrun politics, but there is a glimmer of hope for solidarity--inter-racially, intergenerationally, and interfaith.

Not enough people yet realize the magnitude of the problem, but that's beginning to shift.  Gaia remains our best ally, far more persuasive than any human voice.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Climate Change Books

Just the other day I got another request to post a bibliography of some of my climate change readings and recommendations. Below is the list of books along with some comments.

If you're going to read just one or two books on the subject, please start with Hamilton and Hansen.

Please note that I have not read all the books from cover to cover. They keep coming in faster than I have been able to absorb them, and this is one field in which new info arrives every day.

I will do future posts on websites, blogs, films, and videos

The place to start: Requiem for a Species, Clive Hamilton (2010)

Time to awaken:
  • Climate Wars, Gwynne Dyer (2008, 2010)
  • Six Degrees, Mark Lynas (2008), also an excellent video
Good general guides:
  • The Rough Guide to Climate Change, 2nd ed., Robert Henson (2008)
  • Our Choice, Al Gore (2009)
From the pens of scientists:
  • Beyond Smoke and Mirrors, Burton Richter (2010)
  • The Flooded Earth, Peter D. Ward (2010)
  • Storms of My Grandchildren, James Hansen (2009)
Politics and Psychology of Misunderstanding and Manipulation:
  • Merchants of Doubt, Naomi Oreskes & Erik M. Conway (2010)
  • Predictably Irrational, Dan Ariely (2008)
  • The Science of Fear, Daniel Gardner
The movement and societal consequences:
  • Blessed Unrest, Paul Hawken 2007
  • Climate Hope, Ted Nace (2010)
  • Eaarth, Bill McKibben (2010)
  • Hope for a Heated Planet, Robert K. Musil (2009)
  • The Necessary Revolution, Peter Senge et. al. (2008, 2010)
  • Overshoot, William R. Catton, Jr. (1980)
  • A Paradise Built in Hell, Rebecca Solnit (2009)
  • Archetype of the Apocalypse, Edward F. Edinger (1999), technically psychology; however, with significant theological implications
  • The Comforting Whirlwind, Bill McKibben (2005)
  • Longing for Running Water, Ivone Gebara (1999)
  • A New Climate for Theology, Sallie McFague (2008)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

I Should Have Thunk It: Creationists & Deniers

Ever have one of those moments when you either literally or metaphorically hit your forehead with the palm of your hand thinking "Of course!" When I saw this blog post (link) by Stephen Stromberg of the Washington Post, I thought, "Of course, climate change deniers kissing cousins of creationists. The inbreeding is obvious."
  • Creationists imagine an impossible past and demand from scientists certainty that is contrary to the scientific method;
  • Deniers imagine a nearly impossible future and demand from scientists certainty that is contrary to the scientific method.
Please notice the insertion of the word "nearly" when referring to the future. Anyone who believes that s/he has the future on lockdown should be sentenced to watching endless reruns of the movie Minority Report, where "precogs" are used to arrest people for "precrimes" that haven't happened yet. Naturally, in the movie someone messes with the system to get the results he wants. The fact that I can't predict how many people will die from climate change next year--much less in 20, 50, or 100 years--is not an argument against acting now.

Reading the comments below Mr. Stromberg's post, I feel like I'm in a rerun of Inherit the Wind, a thinly veiled retelling of the Scopes Monkey Trial. In this case, the wind we will inherit will be fatal, especially to the poorest and most vulnerable. Are the deniers making these foolish and offensive comments real people, or are they the paid minions of Big Coal?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Hopeful News - Climate Change

Sunday morning, I saw this Candorville comic (link) and felt hopeful. If even the comics are recognizing the difference between weather and climate, the word is getting out. Then I looked up Darrin Bell, the author of Candorville, on the web, and found out that he's a fellow Berkeley resident. Goddess, is the word escaping the Berkeley bubble?

Well, this U.S. News and World Report article tells us:
Eight Nobel-prize winning economists and scientists have joined more than 2,000 others in signing a letter today that urges the Senate to take swift action on climate change.
Now, how do we help the Senate find the political will and courage to take that action?

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Evil & Climate Change

"Evil" is not a word I normally use, especially in reference to people. Instead words such as ignorant, misinformed, deluded, and ill, more easily trip off the tongue.

Yet now I'm increasingly drawn to the word evil when I read articles such as "Attack on the Clean Air Act." We've come a long way from Profiles in Courage.

None of these politicians would strangle their own children. Yet by their actions they are threatening to strangle their children and grandchildren and ours as well.

This debate has brought to mind the Robert Lewis Stevenson's story The Bottle Imp. Like the sailor at the end of the story, have these people decided that they're already condemned to hell and have nothing to lose, or are they merely self-deluding?

This wonderful video of Dan Gilbert may explain what's going on with the climate deniers and help us step back from condemnation and return to the search for collaboration. We and they must not "remain sleeping on our burning bed."

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The MFC & the Olympics

No, I'm not about to suggest that interviewing become an Olympic event, even though some schools have interviewing competitions and prizes.

Rather I was caught by the parallels between the MFC interview and an Olympic event when a speed skater said that she had had an emotional breakdown on the day of her event. Her statement was part of an NPR segment on the psychological preparation and coaching. It was good to hear of the preparation and that the skater recovered from her breakdown and earned a silver metal.

Both Olympic athletes and ministerial candidates spend years preparing for "tests" that are over in minutes. The emotional and psychological tension can be quite intense.

An MFC member once said, "We're not so scary." Another posited that successful candidates will face much greater challenges once they become ministers. Yet there is something special about the years of preparation and the few brief moments of the "test" that is different than other challenges. The parallels should led us to question how we prepare ministerial candidates and what we might learn from Olympic coaching.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Babies, shoes, climate change

I'm a long-time lover of philosophy. Yesterday, I was watching the philosopher Peter Singer in the film Examined Life (2008), which I am pleased to say is available instantly on Netflix and was distributed by my cousin's company Zeitgeist.

Singer was standing in front of a Manhattan shoe store, selling, I believe, Manolo Blahniks--Carrie Bradshaw's favorite shoes in Sex and the City. Singer said that the setting reminded him of a hypothetical that he developed early in his career.

Suppose you were walking along and saw an infant in a very shallow body of water. You quickly determine that the infant will drown unless you instantly rescue her, but you will destroy your shoes as you run into the water.

Singer reports that nearly everyone says that they will save the child and damn the shoes. Yet for the price of a pair of expensive shoes, several starving children might be saved.

I see some limitations to Singer's argument, but it did get me thinking: What would people do if they realized that our current activities will be condemning billions of children to horrible and unnecessary deaths by starvation and dehydration?

The answer isn't obvious. At the website "Global Issues," Anup Shah reports that around the world 25,000 children die everyday:
The silent killers are poverty, hunger, easily preventable diseases and illnesses, and other related causes. In spite of the scale of this daily/ongoing catastrophe, it rarely manages to achieve, much less sustain, prime-time, headline coverage.
The question that floats through my head is how do we present the risk of global catastrophe in a way that compels action. Normally reasonable people who would never have a second thought about ruining their shoes to save a baby will argue that we need to build more coal-burning power plants.

An optimistic friend of mine believes that we will develop the technology to mitigate the effects of carbon and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. I sure hope he's right.

In the meantime, thank the Goddess for Annie Leonard, the creator of The Story of Stuff and this new video on cap and trade, who turns these complex issues into messages that are easy to understand and share.