Saturday, June 13, 2015

Pope Francis' climate encyclical: Are we close to a "tipping point" in the climate change debate?




This video is a lot of fun but, also, an indication of how fast things are changing with our perception of climate change. Would you have imagined something like that just a couple of years ago?

This video indicates that we may well be close to a "perception tipping point" in the climate debate. It could make climate change denial just as politically incorrect as eating babies or accumulating WMDs. Hopefully, it could come before the "real" climate tipping point, which is also, unfortunately, arriving very fast.


(incidentally, at 1:15, the scene of the pope blessing solar panels is simply priceless!)

15 comments:

  1. That's one of the best videos ever! Thank you for this.

    However, I'm not that optimistic.

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  2. Well, you cannot be fighting against climate change while also fighting against birth control. When the pope comes out in favor of the organized reduction of the human population to below 1 billion, then it will be worth listening. He may well be sincere in his discussion on the subject, but if he is, then he seems to also be incapable of understanding the whole situation, which includes a lot more problems than just climate change, and the working solutions of which are pretty much incompatible with retaining the traditional catholic understanding of the world around us.

    More generally, there are good reasons to think that achieving long-term sustainability is impossible without the complete eradication of all religions and other superstitious beliefs. So the pope is only an ally in the short term.

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    1. I think religion will not disappear. It will change. It has been changing for the past 5000 years: today's religion would be totally incomprehensible to a Sumerian, just as the Sumerian religion looks incomprehensible to us. We change, our ways of seeing the world change, it keeps changing. It is hard for me to imagine how a new religion could look like, but perhaps Pope Francis knows.

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    2. I am not talking about a new religion, I am pointing out that the complete eradication of religion is a necessary (but not sufficient) condition for the establishment of a sustainable society. Very few people seem to understand this, which dooms any attempts to fix the mess we're in from the beginning.

      And it's a necessary condition, because in order to establish a sustainable society, you need to have an accurate understanding of the world around you. Being religious means that you do not have such an understanding, by default (that applies to secular religions too). It is possible that at some point somewhere a religion that promotes sustainability might appear. But this is not a stable arrangement, because religions are highly prone to cultural mutations so eventually one that plays on the innate human urge to expand is bound to appear. Then by its very nature, it will outcompete the religions that promote living within one's environmental means. And then the overshoot and collapse cycle begins again.

      In fact, one can argue that this is what has happened worldwide over the last few thousand years -- the dominant religions of the world are precisely those that promoted a "man is separate and above the rest of nature"/"nature is there to serve man" worldview (whether there were some thinkers within them that thought otherwise is irrelevant, it's the general trend that matters, so nobody should point those out as an argument against the general thesis, I am aware of them). And even within them one sees the same trend -- clearly, there were many other factors playing a major role, but it is a fact that it is not people from the areas, where the more mystical and ascetic branches of Christianity were dominant, that ended up conquering the whole world.

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    3. Well, religion is simply an aspect of ritual. And ritual is an aspect of communication. So, communication shapes the way we see the world, and the world itself is shaped by communication. So, everything is changing and going to change. In Sumerian times, humans were seen as servant of the Gods, themselves too lazy to do any work. In our times, humans are seen as possessing the God-given gift of dominating the world. That will change.... oh, yes... it will!!

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  3. That Video is HILARIOUS! hahahahahahahaha.

    Sadly, this marketing gimmick will not make a whole lot of difference here.

    RE

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  4. yes, this is very funny, and the real kicker is the tall, broad-shouldered, long-haired, Anglicized version of Jesus as the Pope's corner man. It reminds me of the old Leslie Nielsen "Top Gun" spoofs, the ones with O. J. Simpson before he got into trouble with the law.

    The actual Pope knows a little science, particularly chemistry and maybe even a bit of thermodynamics, and probably is quietly aware that tolerating human population growth is not really consistent with battling ecological problems, climate change being only one of them. He can't officially promote any sort of birth control, which makes the rest of his message faulty.

    Too bad the Pope has not read any Garret Hardin, or is friendly with William Ryerson, Jane Goodall or David Attenborough.

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  5. the dramatic tag line should read "if carlsberg did popes, religion would give a shit".

    probably only work in the uk though lol.

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  6. Religions, if wisely constructed, can be helpful. For instance, there are some very interesting ecological ideas embedded in the ancient religion and myths of the Zoroastrians: the high cost of human arrogance in believing we can shape the world to our ideas without any thought given to general systems, that there are real limits to growth which cause population crashes and environmental disasters, etc. Just look up the story of Jamshid, who believed that he had made the world and was master of it..... Limits to growth was very well understood thousands of years ago.

    The problem is not religion and myth per se, although some can obviously be pernicious ( as with the idiotic Catholic refusal to recognise the population issue) or simply reflect the low mental development of tose who devised them, but that humans are merely humans and act heedlessly and short-sightedly in respect of their environment, and are mostly busy constructing hierarchical systems to exploit one another and provide base personal satisfactions.

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  7. By the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences:
    s3.documentcloud.org/documents/2068632/climate-change-and-the-common-good.pdf

    This is a background paper for the forthcoming Encyclical, to be issued on this Thursday the 18th. It is amazing, coming out of the Vatican! Yes, it makes no mention of overpopulation, but it does come within a smidgeon…

    I do not fault Jorge Mario Bergoglio for the omission. I suspect that its inclusion would distract from the impact of the Encyclical on the ongoing Climate politics. The Roman Catholic Church has long opposed contraception with frightful vehemence. Unnailing that flag from the mast would cause a nonproductive RC kerfuffle and would not advance Climate protection. No sense kicking that sleeping dog in the groin.

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    1. Quite right, politically, in the Catholic context, he is doing as much as possible and being very astute.

      One wonders if a priesthood of celibates will ever grasp the population nettle, however.

      At some point, a bold, revolutionary step has to be taken.

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  8. I suppose that it should be said that much of the Pope's message is spot on. His criticism of capitalism, neo-liberalism, purely material values and a consumerist outlook is accurate enough. So in spite of the absence of any sort of complete ecological vision, his message remains positive. It's just a shame that he could not manage to slip in some sort of intelligent ecological message on topics such as carbon and ecological footprint, biodiversity, topsoil and aquifer resources, pollution, ocean acidification, limits on extractive processes and the effect that excess human population has on all of these matters.

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    1. Actually, the referenced "Climate Change and the Common Good" mentions those very matters, often very directly. It even hints at the population issue, altho without acknowledging it as needing to be addresses.

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  9. Just my feeling, but we tend to get the religion we are baptised into, although having said that, whether one's religion is 'science' as an 'ism', or any of several other 'isms', or more likely 'progress', or something a bit more universal and long-lasting like the Catholic Church, depends rather on the company we keep. The Church historic legacy has great value and at the same time is a burden.

    The Pope, as someone once remarked has no army ("Divisions") but he is listened to with attention by over a billion people. Ugo is right - this is probably going to make a difference. I gather international surveys show that people in poorer countries already realise CC is real, and feel guilty about their part in it - China, India etc. - in contrast to those of us who have got used to extravagant industrial entitlement. George Monbiot has a recent article on this just now.

    best
    Phil

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  10. resilience.org has an article on the "encyclical" of the Pope that is coming up in a few days ---

    http://www.resilience.org/stories/2015-06-14/pope-francis-to-deliver-explosive-encyclical-on-climate-change-poverty

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Who

Ugo Bardi is a member of the Club of Rome and the author of "Extracted: how the quest for mineral resources is plundering the Planet" (Chelsea Green 2014)