Sunday, July 05, 2015

I am not going to editorialize the Pope.

I attempt to bring insight and impact to his words. He is a scholar. That is easy to understand. His depth of the subject he addresses leave no stone unturned. He is amazing. 

His message is universal. It is amazingly easy to apply his writing to modern definition. I still marvel at the ease with which I can find facts to validate his writings. There is a truth with him. It is a universal truth. It is chilling to realize the depth of his knowledge.

A couple of things. He spoke to the disparity in quality of life and population growth. I thought that was very bold of him. Normally, in the past the Roman Catholic Church was hands off when it comes to population growth, so much so, they have the largest contingency of faithful in the world. A full one fifth of the world's population is Roman Catholic. 

50. Instead of resolving the problems of the poor and thinking of how the world can be different, some can only propose a reduction in the birth rate. At times, developing countries face forms of international pressure which make economic assistance contingent on certain policies of “reproductive health”. Yet “while it is true that an unequal distribution of the population and of available resources creates obstacles to development and a sustainable use of the environment, it must nonetheless be recognized that demographic growth is fully compatible with an integral and shared development”.[28] To blame population growth instead of extreme and selective consumerism on the part of some, is one way of refusing to face the issues.

Pope Francis clearly makes the declination of population growth as a reason for the climate crisis. He points instead to consumerism and the direct impact it has on Earth's climate. It is time for the First World to realize it is not farts of methane that cause the 400 Plus ppm of CO2 that is emitted in large measure by burning fossil fuels.

To get more biblical and the basis of the political right wing hubris in the USA, they feel entitled to use Earth as they see fit.

From the American Standard Version:

Genesis 1:26

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 birds of the heavens, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. 

The Republicans take that literally and see their power as a righteous place among all that is holy. That hubris has nothing to do with god or Earth, it has to do with Wall Street profits. Republicans are not stewards, they are the grim reaper of Earth.

Then there is the idea it is okay to lose all kinds of species because generations will pass and it will all be forgotten. That is arrogance talking. The trend of most generations is to measure their own reality with the past. The political right wing does it chronically, both in social situations and a return to the original US Constitution with only ten amendments. One has to ask, why amendments at all which takes away their most cherished First and Second Amendments. My, my what would they do then?

But, generations to come will keep score and history will not paint a great and benevolent country or society, but, one of indulgence, wealth and exploitation.

Think about it. 

I could go on for quite a while about water. Let me just say this. Any move to make water resources a focus of the oceans has to be temporary. There has to be an aggressive return to Earth's balance. I'm not joking. Don't ever see desalination plants as the answer, so much as a bridge to return the gaseous layer of Earth back to it's original condition.

Oceans are where fish live. If salt water was for drinking it wouldn't be salty.

48. The human environment and the natural environment deteriorate together; we cannot adequately combat environmental degradation unless we attend to causes related to human and social degradation. In fact, the deterioration of the environment and of society affects the most vulnerable people on the planet: “Both everyday experience and scientific research show that the gravest effects of all attacks on the environment are suffered by the poorest”.[26] For example, the depletion of fishing reserves especially hurts small fishing communities without the means to replace those resources; water pollution particularly affects the poor who cannot buy bottled water; and rises in the sea level mainly affect impoverished coastal populations who have nowhere else to go. The impact of present imbalances is also seen in the premature death of many of the poor, in conflicts sparked by the shortage of resources, and in any number of other problems which are insufficiently represented on global agendas.[27]

One of the most dramatic examples of environmental degradation is that of the Marshall Islands. The first time people of Bikini Island were asked to leave, it was due to nuclear testing. Today, the radiation remains, but, now their adopted home, the Marshall Islands is facing the effects of sea level rise.

March 9, 2015
By Karl Matheison
...Joash was 20-years-old (click here) when she left Bikini. She has been forced to relocate by radiation or unsuitable living conditions five times – including a brief and disastrous return to a still radioactive Bikini in the 1970s. Now, at 89, she is the oldest of the Bikini population forced to move by the nuclear tests. Her memories of the atoll have now grown dim. 

“I don’t think she’ll make it until the next return,” says Joash’s grandson Alson Kelen, a former mayor of the Bikinian council-in-exile. “I don’t think I’ll make it. I don’t think my children or my grandchildren will make it. The dream that we would return already faded away a few years ago.”...

... Floods washed over Ejit three times in 2014. Kelen fears that before long, his people will be moving again.

“It’s the same story. Nuclear time, we were relocated. Climate change, we will be relocated. It’s the same harshness affecting us,” he says.

In the Marshall Islands almost everyone lives within a few hundred metres of the sea (click here for photos) and less than three metres above it. Inundations have destroyed homes and crops. Droughts of extraordinary intensity and length have necessitated food and water drops. Fresh water grows scarcer....

Then sea level rise occurs there is much more than beach erosion. There is also the increased potential of salt wedges into fresh water aquifers, once fertile fields for crops become salt fields and possibly salt marshes, there is loss of habitat which reduces fish populations and there is hopelessness that set in for people. The future is mostly bleak. 

49. It needs to be said that, generally speaking, there is little in the way of clear awareness of problems which especially affect the excluded. Yet they are the majority of the planet’s population, billions of people. These days, they are mentioned in international political and economic discussions, but one often has the impression that their problems are brought up as an afterthought, a question which gets added almost out of duty or in a tangential way, if not treated merely as collateral damage. Indeed, when all is said and done, they frequently remain at the bottom of the pile. This is due partly to the fact that many professionals, opinion makers, communications media and centres of power, being located in affluent urban areas, are far removed from the poor, with little direct contact with their problems. They live and reason from the comfortable position of a high level of development and a quality of life well beyond the reach of the majority of the world’s population. This lack of physical contact and encounter, encouraged at times by the disintegration of our cities, can lead to a numbing of conscience and to tendentious analyses which neglect parts of reality. At times this attitude exists side by side with a “green” rhetoric. Today, however, we have to realize that a true ecological approach always becomes a social approach; it must integrate questions of justice in debates on the environment, so as to hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.

50. Instead of resolving the problems of the poor and thinking of how the world can be different, some can only propose a reduction in the birth rate. At times, developing countries face forms of international pressure which make economic assistance contingent on certain policies of “reproductive health”. Yet “while it is true that an unequal distribution of the population and of available resources creates obstacles to development and a sustainable use of the environment, it must nonetheless be recognized that demographic growth is fully compatible with an integral and shared development”.[28] To blame population growth instead of extreme and selective consumerism on the part of some, is one way of refusing to face the issues. It is an attempt to legitimize the present model of distribution, where a minority believes that it has the right to consume in a way which can never be universalized, since the planet could not even contain the waste products of such consumption. Besides, we know that approximately a third of all food produced is discarded, and “whenever food is thrown out it is as if it were stolen from the table of the poor”.[29] Still, attention needs to be paid to imbalances in population density, on both national and global levels, since a rise in consumption would lead to complex regional situations, as a result of the interplay between problems linked to environmental pollution, transport, waste treatment, loss of resources and quality of life.

51. Inequity affects not only individuals but entire countries; it compels us to consider an ethics of international relations. A true “ecological debt” exists, particularly between the global north and south, connected to commercial imbalances with effects on the environment, and the disproportionate use of natural resources by certain countries over long periods of time. The export of raw materials to satisfy markets in the industrialized north has caused harm locally, as for example in mercury pollution in gold mining or sulphur dioxide pollution in copper mining. There is a pressing need to calculate the use of environmental space throughout the world for depositing gas residues which have been accumulating for two centuries and have created a situation which currently affects all the countries of the world. The warming caused by huge consumption on the part of some rich countries has repercussions on the poorest areas of the world, especially Africa, where a rise in temperature, together with drought, has proved devastating for farming. There is also the damage caused by the export of solid waste and toxic liquids to developing countries, and by the pollution produced by companies which operate in less developed countries in ways they could never do at home, in the countries in which they raise their capital: “We note that often the businesses which operate this way are multinationals. They do here what they would never do in developed countries or the so-called first world. Generally, after ceasing their activity and withdrawing, they leave behind great human and environmental liabilities such as unemployment, abandoned towns, the depletion of natural reserves, deforestation, the impoverishment of agriculture and local stock breeding, open pits, riven hills, polluted rivers and a handful of social works which are no longer sustainable”.[30]

52. The foreign debt of poor countries has become a way of controlling them, yet this is not the case where ecological debt is concerned. In different ways, developing countries, where the most important reserves of the biosphere are found, continue to fuel the development of richer countries at the cost of their own present and future. The land of the southern poor is rich and mostly unpolluted, yet access to ownership of goods and resources for meeting vital needs is inhibited by a system of commercial relations and ownership which is structurally perverse. The developed countries ought to help pay this debt by significantly limiting their consumption of non-renewable energy and by assisting poorer countries to support policies and programmes of sustainable development. The poorest areas and countries are less capable of adopting new models for reducing environmental impact because they lack the wherewithal to develop the necessary processes and to cover their costs. We must continue to be aware that, regarding climate change, there are differentiated responsibilities. As the United States bishops have said, greater attention must be given to “the needs of the poor, the weak and the vulnerable, in a debate often dominated by more powerful interests”.[31] We need to strengthen the conviction that we are one single human family. There are no frontiers or barriers, political or social, behind which we can hide, still less is there room for the globalization of indifference.

Pope Francis speaks of melancholy. It is more than a mild depression. This is from a graduate course at the University of Virginia.

But of course, (click here) this is the problem: the relationship between madness and melancholy can be viewed as similar, cumulative, or absolutely distinct. In the first case, we look at melancholy and madness as both participating in a similar, slightly skewed dialogue between the body and soul. One component is sensibly affected and begins to affect the other which in turn affects the first. Feeling falls into a feedback loop which can no longer discern origin or intensity of feeling. In the second case, melancholy is the beginning of or potential for madness; the melancholic individual is naturally more sensible, and becomes, if context allows, more and more sensible. The acuteness of feeling can increase and increase until the capacity for diverse experience gives way to painful intensity and madness. In these first two cases melancholy and madness are potentially good or bad. While madness or melancholy remove one from community, they give one the opportunity to comment from outside on that same community, inviting those inside to learn a new language with which to speak in. Madness then invites an oppressive, unfeeling society to restructure itself after the prophetic moment of sensibility. 

The website goes on to discuss examples of melancholy. But, what I found interesting is the fact melancholy is never discussed in the USA as if it doesn't exist. 

Melancholy can remove a person from living to a state of longing despair. Melancholy can come from a source that is obscure and uncertain. In modern USA there has to be a reason for everything otherwise it is not marketable. There has to a cure. Melancholy doesn't really have a cure as it has no identifiable cause.

The internet has the ability to create such a paradigm. "Living on the net" can estrange a person from life and reality. It is possible to build a world of unreality. 

Society has to be aware of it's unreality to balance it with the real life issues, otherwise, humanity finds a blind ally it's end and quite possibly a fatal end. 

The media which portrays the undead and cataclysmic scenarios on the big screen bring about a feeling of dread. Rather than empowerment one feels more removed from the reality of living in 2015 than ever before. It is my opinion real life scenarios exist from these altered ideas of danger and societies wellness. What comes to mind for the USA is the gun culture and it's massively adverse outcomes.

Guns create more than clubs of those seeking to be expert shooters. Guns have created the culture of fear which has pitted one American against another. The ideas that floated through George Zimmerman's imagination of a young black man walking through the housing complex clearly illustrates the radical alteration of reality that exists. 

The shooting death of Tamir Rice is a scene of horror. A child playing with a toy gun is killed because of the unreality that surrounded him. The USA has become a country of unreality that persists into it's political dogma and rhetoric.

The unreality of the USA goes beyond it's gun culture, but, enters into the world of neglected responsibility when it comes to global environmental issues and the role the USA plays in causing hardship to it's own citizens and to others.

43. Human beings too are creatures of this world, enjoying a right to life and happiness, and endowed with unique dignity. So we cannot fail to consider the effects on people’s lives of environmental deterioration, current models of development and the throwaway culture.

Throw away culture (click here)

44. Nowadays, for example, we are conscious of the disproportionate and unruly growth of many cities, which have become unhealthy to live in, not only because of pollution caused by toxic emissions but also as a result of urban chaos, poor transportation, and visual pollution and noise. Many cities are huge, inefficient structures, excessively wasteful of energy and water. Neighbourhoods, even those recently built, are congested, chaotic and lacking in sufficient green space. We were not meant to be inundated by cement, asphalt, glass and metal, and deprived of physical contact with nature.

45. In some places, rural and urban alike, the privatization of certain spaces has restricted people’s access to places of particular beauty. In others, “ecological” neighbourhoods have been created which are closed to outsiders in order to ensure an artificial tranquillity. Frequently, we find beautiful and carefully manicured green spaces in so-called “safer” areas of cities, but not in the more hidden areas where the disposable of society live.

46. The social dimensions of global change include the effects of technological innovations on employment, social exclusion, an inequitable distribution and consumption of energy and other services, social breakdown, increased violence and a rise in new forms of social aggression, drug trafficking, growing drug use by young people, and the loss of identity. These are signs that the growth of the past two centuries has not always led to an integral development and an improvement in the quality of life. Some of these signs are also symptomatic of real social decline, the silent rupture of the bonds of integration and social cohesion.

47. Furthermore, when media and the digital world become omnipresent, their influence can stop people from learning how to live wisely, to think deeply and to love generously. In this context, the great sages of the past run the risk of going unheard amid the noise and distractions of an information overload. Efforts need to be made to help these media become sources of new cultural progress for humanity and not a threat to our deepest riches. True wisdom, as the fruit of self-examination, dialogue and generous encounter between persons, is not acquired by a mere accumulation of data which eventually leads to overload and confusion, a sort of mental pollution. Real relationships with others, with all the challenges they entail, now tend to be replaced by a type of internet communication which enables us to choose or eliminate relationships at whim, thus giving rise to a new type of contrived emotion which has more to do with devices and displays than with other people and with nature. Today’s media do enable us to communicate and to share our knowledge and affections. Yet at times they also shield us from direct contact with the pain, the fears and the joys of others and the complexity of their personal experiences. For this reason, we should be concerned that, alongside the exciting possibilities offered by these media, a deep and melancholic dissatisfaction with interpersonal relations, or a harmful sense of isolation, can also arise.
July 6, 2015
By Girish Gupta and  Philip Pullella

QUITO (Reuters) - Laughing (click here) as his cap flew off in the Andean highland wind, Pope Francis flew into Ecuador on Sunday to start a "homecoming" tour of South America, where he will champion the rights of the poor and the planet.

His visit to Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay - three of the region's poorest and smallest countries - is Francis' first abroad since his landmark encyclical urging an end to man's degradation of the global environment.

"I thank God for having allowed me to return to Latin America and to be here with you today in this beautiful land of Ecuador," the Argentine-born pontiff said in a speech on the runway after his 13-hour flight from Rome....

 Ecuador has longed protected the Galapagos Islands.
39. The replacement of virgin forest with plantations of trees, usually monocultures, is rarely adequately analyzed. Yet this can seriously compromise a biodiversity which the new species being introduced does not accommodate. Similarly, wetlands converted into cultivated land lose the enormous biodiversity which they formerly hosted. In some coastal areas the disappearance of ecosystems sustained by mangrove swamps is a source of serious concern.

But forests around the world (click here) are under threat from deforestation, jeopardizing these benefits. Deforestation comes in many forms, including fires, clear-cutting for agriculture, ranching and development, unsustainable logging for timber, and degradation due to climate change. This impacts people’s livelihoods and threatens a wide range of plant and animal species. Some 46-58 thousand square miles of forest are lost each year—equivalent to 36 football fields every minute....

When Tropical Rainforests are plundered for profiteering there is a great deal of biodiversity lost. 

Tropical Rainforests are DENSE in their composition. There are at least four layers of chlorophyll to a tropical rainforest. Each layer survives on less and less direct sunlight. It is not very different than the type of plants people look for to bring variety to their yards. Some need direct and strong sunlight and others do not and won't survive in all that light due to their chlorophyll TYPE and it's ability to function depending on the photon light coming in.

Monotone forests, otherwise known as plantation forests, such as this palm oil plantation grown after destroying rainforest in Sumatra removes an incredible amount of chlorophyll from Earth's surface, while exposing the forest floor to burning. The forest floor is frequently peat, which is dense with dead carbon. The burning returns dead and decaying carbon back to the Earth's troposphere rather than allowing the detritivores to break down the debris of the forest floor and neatly dispose of it.

In addition to chlorophyll lost, there is also mass destruction of habitat and catastrophic loss of species. 

40. Oceans not only contain the bulk of our planet’s water supply, but also most of the immense variety of living creatures, many of them still unknown to us and threatened for various reasons. What is more, marine life in rivers, lakes, seas and oceans, which feeds a great part of the world’s population, is affected by uncontrolled fishing, leading to a drastic depletion of certain species. Selective forms of fishing which discard much of what they collect continue unabated. Particularly threatened are marine organisms which we tend to overlook, like some forms of plankton; they represent a significant element in the ocean food chain, and species used for our food ultimately depend on them.

Does the First World every learn that abundance is a fallacy? When global fish stocks crash due to unregulated use of the fisheries, the First World citizen simply moves onto the next species offered by ingenious chefs. The people of developing countries doesn't have that ability. they are stuck with the fact their fisheries are grossly depleted and there is nothing they can do about it. China has aquaculture, but, they often cause problems with native species and the pollution that results from the floating pens. 

...By the mid-1950s, redfish stocks (click here) throughout the Northwest Atlantic were heavily exploited, with peak landings of 130,000 metric tons in 1952 (up from just 100 metric tons in the early 1930s). Unfortunately, Acadian redfish grows slowly, lives a long time, and has low reproductive rates, making it vulnerable to overfishing. Due to these characteristics, Acadian redfish couldn't tolerate this heavy fishing pressure and the population crashed. Harvests and demand for the species subsequently plummeted.... 

41. In tropical and subtropical seas, we find coral reefs comparable to the great forests on dry land, for they shelter approximately a million species, including fish, crabs, molluscs, sponges and algae. Many of the world’s coral reefs are already barren or in a state of constant decline. “Who turned the wonderworld of the seas into underwater cemeteries bereft of colour and life?”[25] This phenomenon is due largely to pollution which reaches the sea as the result of deforestation, agricultural monocultures, industrial waste and destructive fishing methods, especially those using cyanide and dynamite. It is aggravated by the rise in temperature of the oceans. All of this helps us to see that every intervention in nature can have consequences which are not immediately evident, and that certain ways of exploiting resources prove costly in terms of degradation which ultimately reaches the ocean bed itself.

This is from Duke University

Coral bleaching (click here) is defined as the loss of zooxanthellae by the coral host (van Oppen, 2008; Hughes et al., 2003). Photosynthetic pigment is lost with the symbiont, which leaves behind only translucent coral tissue and the more familiar white, or bleached, calcerous skeleton. This rejection of the symbiosis occurs from thermal stress. Specifically, this happens when sea surface temperatures exceed summer maxima by 1 to 2 C for 3 to 4 weeks (Hoegh-Guldberg et al. 2007).

  42. Greater investment needs to be made in research aimed at understanding more fully the functioning of ecosystems and adequately analyzing the different variables associated with any significant modification of the environment. Because all creatures are connected, each must be cherished with love and respect, for all of us as living creatures are dependent on one another. Each area is responsible for the care of this family. This will require undertaking a careful inventory of the species which it hosts, with a view to developing programmes and strategies of protection with particular care for safeguarding species heading towards extinction.
Indian J Occup Environ Med. 2011 Sep-Dec; 15(3): 93–96.
doi:  10.4103/0019-5278.93196
PMCID: PMC3299104

Health and environmental sanitation in India: Issues for prioritizing control strategies (click here)

Ganesh S Kumar, Sitanshu Sekhar Kar, and Animesh Jain
...As per estimates, inadequate sanitation cost India almost $54 billion or 6.4% of the country's GDP in 2006. Over 70% of this economic impact or about $38.5 billion was health-related, with diarrhea followed by acute lower respiratory infections accounting for 12% of the health-related impacts.[4] Evidence suggests that all water and sanitation improvements are cost-beneficial in all developing world subregions.[5]

Sectoral demands for water are growing rapidly in India owing mainly to urbanization and it is estimated that by 2025, more than 50% of the country's population will live in cities and towns. Population increase, rising incomes, and industrial growth are also responsible for this dramatic shift. National Urban Sanitation Policy 2008 was the recent development in order to rapidly promote sanitation in urban areas of the country. India's Ministry of Urban Development commissioned the survey as part of its National Urban Sanitation Policy in November 2008.[6] In rural areas, local government institutions in charge of operating and maintaining the infrastructure are seen as weak and lack the financial resources to carry out their functions. In addition, no major city in India is known to have a continuous water supply and an estimated 72% of Indians still lack access to improved sanitation facilities....

It is oddly interesting as civilization of the First World turns to technology to satisfy it's thirst; it is the oceans that are the focus.

The oceans. Does anyone stop to realize the level of pollutants in the oceans and is has nothing to with fish.

Run off pollution from developing countries. Warmer waters support bacterial growth. Radiation from reactors gone wrong. Russia, Japan and the air currents that carry pollutants to the seas.

Human beings have made a real mess of Earth. Now, in their lack of willingness to turn away from plutocracy that satisfies wealth, it the sea that falls under their purview for exploitation. It would have been so much better if Earth had a priority. 
35. In assessing the environmental impact of any project, concern is usually shown for its effects on soil, water and air, yet few careful studies are made of its impact on biodiversity, as if the loss of species or animals and plant groups were of little importance. Highways, new plantations, the fencing-off of certain areas, the damming of water sources, and similar developments, crowd out natural habitats and, at times, break them up in such a way that animal populations can no longer migrate or roam freely. As a result, some species face extinction. Alternatives exist which at least lessen the impact of these projects, like the creation of biological corridors, but few countries demonstrate such concern and foresight. Frequently, when certain species are exploited commercially, little attention is paid to studying their reproductive patterns in order to prevent their depletion and the consequent imbalance of the ecosystem.

36. Caring for ecosystems demands far-sightedness, since no one looking for quick and easy profit is truly interested in their preservation. But the cost of the damage caused by such selfish lack of concern is much greater than the economic benefits to be obtained. Where certain species are destroyed or seriously harmed, the values involved are incalculable. We can be silent witnesses to terrible injustices if we think that we can obtain significant benefits by making the rest of humanity, present and future, pay the extremely high costs of environmental deterioration.

There are species wiped out as I write this that are valuable members of any food web. There is a need to protect all species and not just those that seem logical or are considered popular. The species we do protect are important and there habitat is even more so. Without habitat there is protection, without protection there is no natural world.

37. Some countries have made significant progress in establishing sanctuaries on land and in the oceans where any human intervention is prohibited which might modify their features or alter their original structures. In the protection of biodiversity, specialists insist on the need for particular attention to be shown to areas richer both in the number of species and in endemic, rare or less protected species. Certain places need greater protection because of their immense importance for the global ecosystem, or because they represent important water reserves and thus safeguard other forms of life.

The Deforestation and Forest Degradation in the Amazon Biome (click here) map was produced by Imazon in order to contribute towards monitoring in the region.

38. Let us mention, for example, those richly biodiverse lungs of our planet which are the Amazon and the Congo basins, or the great aquifers and glaciers. We know how important these are for the entire earth and for the future of humanity. The ecosystems of tropical forests possess an enormously complex biodiversity which is almost impossible to appreciate fully, yet when these forests are burned down or levelled for purposes of cultivation, within the space of a few years countless species are lost and the areas frequently become arid wastelands. A delicate balance has to be maintained when speaking about these places, for we cannot overlook the huge global economic interests which, under the guise of protecting them, can undermine the sovereignty of individual nations. In fact, there are “proposals to internationalize the Amazon, which only serve the economic interests of transnational corporations”.[24] We cannot fail to praise the commitment of international agencies and civil society organizations which draw public attention to these issues and offer critical cooperation, employing legitimate means of pressure, to ensure that each government carries out its proper and inalienable responsibility to preserve its country’s environment and natural resources, without capitulating to spurious local or international interests.