Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Pope Francis has heard the SOS of Earth's people.

Pope Francis has a definite vision for the world. He sets his sights on bringing an integrated and safe style of living that will not harm Earth. He is correct. There can be no compromise. In actuality, how could there be compromise on a planet with specific physics? The idea there can be many ways to resolve the climate crisis is simply talk and not an identification of Earth's physics.
The world of people are ready for the real life of humans to begin. We have witnessed a Nobel Prize for a woman who planted trees in Africa. There are societies well engaged in the sound science that accompanies Earth's physics. It is not an impossible task. It is only convenient to look at it as impossible. It is convenient for Old World economics.
I mentioned the Kochs and Waltons as a plague the USA has to contend with as they interfere in politics to buy the US government. Why would anyone do that? Oh, yeah. Money. Old money. Old economies. Old politics.
The Kochs and Walmart are not Wall Street, they are private family owned companies that like to hold a great deal of power over people and societies they don't even know. They are not innovative because they don't have to please stockholders. They only please themselves. The wealth the Kochs and Waltons intend to pay for control and influence within the USA government is completely immoral. The reasons they are seeking this influence is all about their own wealth and no one else's. The values of a society to correct it's path morally and environmentally is far from the values of these private companies. These are only two, there are many others.
If the Kochs and Waltons can be the best friend of Republicans, then Pope Francis can be the best friend of the people of the world. Pope Francis can demand change to protect all people and protect Earth. He can demand reverence of which many have to perform penance. His moral leadership is current and vital. We have a need to follow him. He is the world's best hope. We cannot disregard his leadership.

This is continued from Pope Francis Encyclical Letter


137. Since everything is closely interrelated, and today’s problems call for a vision capable of taking into account every aspect of the global crisis, I suggest that we now consider some elements of an integral ecology, one which clearly respects its human and social dimensions.

By calling upon an established practice of science Pope Francis not only provides his depth of understanding of the topic of climate, but, also calls all others to participate in the dialogue that has been proceeding without them.


138. Ecology studies the relationship between living organisms and the environment in which they develop. This necessarily entails reflection and debate about the conditions required for the life and survival of society, and the honesty needed to question certain models of development, production and consumption. It cannot be emphasized enough how everything is interconnected. Time and space are not independent of one another, and not even atoms or subatomic particles can be considered in isolation. Just as the different aspects of the planet – physical, chemical and biological – are interrelated, so too living species are part of a network which we will never fully explore and understand. A good part of our genetic code is shared by many living beings. It follows that the fragmentation of knowledge and the isolation of bits of information can actually become a form of ignorance, unless they are integrated into a broader vision of reality.

139. When we speak of the “environment”, what we really mean is a relationship existing between nature and the society which lives in it. Nature cannot be regarded as something separate from ourselves or as a mere setting in which we live. We are part of nature, included in it and thus in constant interaction with it. Recognizing the reasons why a given area is polluted requires a study of the workings of society, its economy, its behaviour patterns, and the ways it grasps reality. Given the scale of change, it is no longer possible to find a specific, discrete answer for each part of the problem. It is essential to seek comprehensive solutions which consider the interactions within natural systems themselves and with social systems. We are faced not with two separate crises, one environmental and the other social, but rather with one complex crisis which is both social and environmental. Strategies for a solution demand an integrated approach to combating poverty, restoring dignity to the excluded, and at the same time protecting nature.

140. Due to the number and variety of factors to be taken into account when determining the environmental impact of a concrete undertaking, it is essential to give researchers their due role, to facilitate their interaction, and to ensure broad academic freedom. Ongoing research should also give us a better understanding of how different creatures relate to one another in making up the larger units which today we term “ecosystems”. We take these systems into account not only to determine how best to use them, but also because they have an intrinsic value independent of their usefulness. Each organism, as a creature of God, is good and admirable in itself; the same is true of the harmonious ensemble of organisms existing in a defined space and functioning as a system. Although we are often not aware of it, we depend on these larger systems for our own existence. We need only recall how ecosystems interact in dispersing carbon dioxide, purifying water, controlling illnesses and epidemics, forming soil, breaking down waste, and in many other ways which we overlook or simply do not know about. Once they become conscious of this, many people realize that we live and act on the basis of a reality which has previously been given to us, which precedes our existence and our abilities. So, when we speak of “sustainable use”, consideration must always be given to each ecosystem’s regenerative ability in its different areas and aspects.

141. Economic growth, for its part, tends to produce predictable reactions and a certain standardization with the aim of simplifying procedures and reducing costs. This suggests the need for an “economic ecology” capable of appealing to a broader vision of reality. The protection of the environment is in fact “an integral part of the development process and cannot be considered in isolation from it”.[114] We urgently need a humanism capable of bringing together the different fields of knowledge, including economics, in the service of a more integral and integrating vision. Today, the analysis of environmental problems cannot be separated from the analysis of human, family, work-related and urban contexts, nor from how individuals relate to themselves, which leads in turn to how they relate to others and to the environment. There is an interrelation between ecosystems and between the various spheres of social interaction, demonstrating yet again that “the whole is greater than the part”.[115]

142. If everything is related, then the health of a society’s institutions has consequences for the environment and the quality of human life. “Every violation of solidarity and civic friendship harms the environment”.[116] In this sense, social ecology is necessarily institutional, and gradually extends to the whole of society, from the primary social group, the family, to the wider local, national and international communities. Within each social stratum, and between them, institutions develop to regulate human relationships. Anything which weakens those institutions has negative consequences, such as injustice, violence and loss of freedom. A number of countries have a relatively low level of institutional effectiveness, which results in greater problems for their people while benefiting those who profit from this situation. Whether in the administration of the state, the various levels of civil society, or relationships between individuals themselves, lack of respect for the law is becoming more common. Laws may be well framed yet remain a dead letter. Can we hope, then, that in such cases, legislation and regulations dealing with the environment will really prove effective? We know, for example, that countries which have clear legislation about the protection of forests continue to keep silent as they watch laws repeatedly being broken. Moreover, what takes place in any one area can have a direct or indirect influence on other areas. Thus, for example, drug use in affluent societies creates a continual and growing demand for products imported from poorer regions, where behaviour is corrupted, lives are destroyed, and the environment continues to deteriorate.


Welcome to Culture, Politics, and Climate Change, an international conference hosted at the University of Colorado Boulder. (click here)

This scholarly meeting promises to be a lively and enriching gathering of some of the foremost International and American scholars in fields such as Environmental Communication, Environmental Policy and Politics, Risk Communication, Visual Culture, Religion and the Environment, Globalization and Spirituality, Journalism Studies, and Science Communication, among others. This cross-disciplinary conference will explore intersections between culture, politics, and science in order to enhance our understanding of public policy addressing climate change....

31st Boulder Conference on the History and Philosophy of Science

Topic: Emergence (click here)

University of Colorado at Boulder
October 16th-18th, 2015

Description: The notion of emergence is of central interest across a variety of domains of philosophical and scientific inquiry. Emergent phenomena are phenomena that in some sense "arise" from other phenomena, on which they somehow "depend" but to which they're also somehow "irreducible". Putative examples are common and span physical, chemical, biological, psychological, linguistic, social, economic, and political dimensions....

Integral Ecology Center (click here)
This website is not prepared to maintained by the University of Colorado. The UC Climate Change conference information appears on this website.
New biological technologies

130. In the philosophical and theological vision of the human being and of creation which I have presented, it is clear that the human person, endowed with reason and knowledge, is not an external factor to be excluded. While human intervention on plants and animals is permissible when it pertains to the necessities of human life, the Catechism of the Catholic Church (click here)  teaches that experimentation on animals is morally acceptable only “if it remains within reasonable limits [and] contributes to caring for or saving human lives”.[106] The Catechism firmly states that human power has limits and that “it is contrary to human dignity to cause animals to suffer or die needlessly”.[107] All such use and experimentation “requires a religious respect for the integrity of creation”.[108]

131. Here I would recall the balanced position of Saint John Paul II, who stressed the benefits of scientific and technological progress as evidence of “the nobility of the human vocation to participate responsibly in God’s creative action”, while also noting that “we cannot interfere in one area of the ecosystem without paying due attention to the consequences of such interference in other areas”.[109] He made it clear that the Church values the benefits which result “from the study and applications of molecular biology, supplemented by other disciplines such as genetics, and its technological application in agriculture and industry”.[110] But he also pointed out that this should not lead to “indiscriminate genetic manipulation”[111] which ignores the negative effects of such interventions. Human creativity cannot be suppressed. If an artist cannot be stopped from using his or her creativity, neither should those who possess particular gifts for the advancement of science and technology be prevented from using their God-given talents for the service of others. We need constantly to rethink the goals, effects, overall context and ethical limits of this human activity, which is a form of power involving considerable risks.

132. This, then, is the correct framework for any reflection concerning human intervention on plants and animals, which at present includes genetic manipulation by biotechnology for the sake of exploiting the potential present in material reality. The respect owed by faith to reason calls for close attention to what the biological sciences, through research uninfluenced by economic interests, can teach us about biological structures, their possibilities and their mutations. Any legitimate intervention will act on nature only in order “to favour its development in its own line, that of creation, as intended by God”.[112]

133. It is difficult to make a general judgement about genetic modification (GM), whether vegetable or animal, medical or agricultural, since these vary greatly among themselves and call for specific considerations. The risks involved are not always due to the techniques used, but rather to their improper or excessive application. Genetic mutations, in fact, have often been, and continue to be, caused by nature itself. Nor are mutations caused by human intervention a modern phenomenon. The domestication of animals, the crossbreeding of species and other older and universally accepted practices can be mentioned as examples. We need but recall that scientific developments in GM cereals began with the observation of natural bacteria which spontaneously modified plant genomes. In nature, however, this process is slow and cannot be compared to the fast pace induced by contemporary technological advances, even when the latter build upon several centuries of scientific progress. 

134. Although no conclusive proof exists that GM cereals may be harmful to human beings, and in some regions their use has brought about economic growth which has helped to resolve problems, there remain a number of significant difficulties which should not be underestimated. In many places, following the introduction of these crops, productive land is concentrated in the hands of a few owners due to “the progressive disappearance of small producers, who, as a consequence of the loss of the exploited lands, are obliged to withdraw from direct production”.[113] The most vulnerable of these become temporary labourers, and many rural workers end up moving to poverty-stricken urban areas. The expansion of these crops has the effect of destroying the complex network of ecosystems, diminishing the diversity of production and affecting regional economies, now and in the future. In various countries, we see an expansion of oligopolies for the production of cereals and other products needed for their cultivation. This dependency would be aggravated were the production of infertile seeds to be considered; the effect would be to force farmers to purchase them from larger producers. 

The greatest danger to food systems globally are GM grains/cereals that have lost their ability to change/mutate/adapt to climate. At one time a farmer kept seed from the year's harvest. In doing so there may or may not have been small genetic variables taking place unknown to the farmer. He/she simply plowed their land and planted the seeds stored over winter. The seeds, through genetic diversity plants and animals adapt to environmental changes. That is gone in places where Monsanto controls the outcome of crops. 

Today, seeds treated with insecticides are creating their own problems. The insects the coating claims to render helpless actually produce super bugs that are immune to any chemical treatment. Monsanto then modifies the chemical to improve extermination of the super bug and humans are stuck with chemicals in their food chain. It is simply bad business. 

In the developing world where it is claimed that GM seeds have improved crop production and the people's outcome. Really? In the Third World anything will improve crop production. The reason GM seeds have helped is because they are help. If help came in the form of legitimate crops and what it takes to grow them in Ethiopia there would not be famine or GM seeds.

When people are given no alternatives to their choices, it is hardly called moral. 

If Ethiopia were provided agronomists, conservationists and hydrologists that could fashion dams and aqueducts to the land people would actually consider that real and moral help; not simply what are leftovers from the First World.
135. Certainly, these issues require constant attention and a concern for their ethical implications. A broad, responsible scientific and social debate needs to take place, one capable of considering all the available information and of calling things by their name. It sometimes happens that complete information is not put on the table; a selection is made on the basis of particular interests, be they politico-economic or ideological. This makes it difficult to reach a balanced and prudent judgement on different questions, one which takes into account all the pertinent variables. Discussions are needed in which all those directly or indirectly affected (farmers, consumers, civil authorities, scientists, seed producers, people living near fumigated fields, and others) can make known their problems and concerns, and have access to adequate and reliable information in order to make decisions for the common good, present and future. This is a complex environmental issue; it calls for a comprehensive approach which would require, at the very least, greater efforts to finance various lines of independent, interdisciplinary research capable of shedding new light on the problem.

Ever hear of natural predators to eliminate over population of insects? Flocks of birds might actually add balance to the land again. Where the heck is everybody? 

136. On the other hand, it is troubling that, when some ecological movements defend the integrity of the environment, rightly demanding that certain limits be imposed on scientific research, they sometimes fail to apply those same principles to human life. There is a tendency to justify transgressing all boundaries when experimentation is carried out on living human embryos. We forget that the inalienable worth of a human being transcends his or her degree of development. In the same way, when technology disregards the great ethical principles, it ends up considering any practice whatsoever as licit. As we have seen in this chapter, a technology severed from ethics will not easily be able to limit its own power.

Pope Francis is very concerned about genetic research that will become a monster, if it hasn't already.

There is this, though. This is from a tabloid newspaper. It always sounds worse when it comes from source that likes sensationalism over good reporting. But, if this is the only source of information there is not much choice in how society views such advanced scientific practice.

15 July 2015
By Fiona Macrae

A cure for ‘horrendous’ childhood illnesses (click here) is on the horizon, scientists said last night.
They made the pledge after creating a repair kit for brains, muscles and hearts ravaged by mitochondrial disease.
This group of genetic illnesses can trigger miscarriages and stillbirths. Other children die in infancy or get progressively more ill as they enter adulthood and there is, as yet, no cure....

If the climate crisis is too much for your means, there is help in the USA

August 3, 2015
By Christen Lombardi

The invasion of sewer flies (click here) moved residents of University Place subdivision to turn to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for help. Darting from a neighboring sewage plant, the flies descended upon the mostly African-American neighborhood in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with such regularity that one resident posted this warning sign: Beware of attack fly.

In 2009, residents grew so sickened by the flies, odors and pollution emanating from the city’s North Wastewater Treatment Plant that they sought out the federal agency that has touted the importance of tackling environmental racism.
“The citizens of University Place Subdivision are still suffering through the dreadful, unhealthy, and downright shameful conditions forced upon this community,” wrote Gregory Mitchell, whose mother, Mamie, erected that attack-fly warning atop her home, in a complaint filed with the EPA’s Office of Civil Rights.

A little-known niche within the EPA, the civil-rights office has one mission: to ensure agencies that get EPA funding — like the city of Baton Rouge — not act in a discriminatory manner. The mandate comes from Title VI of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964, a sweeping law prohibiting racial discrimination by those receiving federal financial assistance. Experts say the provision presents a significant legal tool for combating environmental injustice....
The need to protect employment

124. Any approach to an integral ecology, which by definition does not exclude human beings, needs to take account of the value of labour, as Saint John Paul II wisely noted in his Encyclical Laborem Exercens (click here). According to the biblical account of creation, God placed man and woman in the garden he had created (cf. Gen 2:15) not only to preserve it (“keep”) but also to make it fruitful (“till”). Labourers and craftsmen thus “maintain the fabric of the world” (Sir 38:34). Developing the created world in a prudent way is the best way of caring for it, as this means that we ourselves become the instrument used by God to bring out the potential which he himself inscribed in things: “The Lord created medicines out of the earth, and a sensible man will not despise them” (Sir 38:4).

125. If we reflect on the proper relationship between human beings and the world around us, we see the need for a correct understanding of work; if we talk about the relationship between human beings and things, the question arises as to the meaning and purpose of all human activity. This has to do not only with manual or agricultural labour but with any activity involving a modification of existing reality, from producing a social report to the design of a technological development. Underlying every form of work is a concept of the relationship which we can and must have with what is other than ourselves. Together with the awe-filled contemplation of creation which we find in Saint Francis of Assisi, the Christian spiritual tradition has also developed a rich and balanced understanding of the meaning of work, as, for example, in the life of Blessed Charles de Foucauld and his followers.

Francis of Assisi (click here) was a poor little man who astounded and inspired the Church by taking the gospel literally—not in a narrow fundamentalist sense, but by actually following all that Jesus said and did, joyfully, without limit and without a sense of self-importance.

126. We can also look to the great tradition of monasticism (an institutionalized religious practice or movement whose members attempt to live by a rule that requires works that go beyond those of either the laity or the ordinary spiritual leaders of their religions). Originally, it was a kind of flight from the world, an escape from the decadence of the cities. The monks sought the desert, convinced that it was the best place for encountering the presence of God. Later, Saint Benedict of Norcia proposed that his monks live in community, combining prayer and spiritual reading with manual labour (ora et labora). Seeing manual labour as spiritually meaningful proved revolutionary. Personal growth and sanctification came to be sought in the interplay of recollection and work. This way of experiencing work makes us more protective and respectful of the environment; it imbues our relationship to the world with a healthy sobriety.

127. We are convinced that “man is the source, the focus and the aim of all economic and social life”.[100] Nonetheless, once our human capacity for contemplation and reverence is impaired, it becomes easy for the meaning of work to be misunderstood.[101] We need to remember that men and women have “the capacity to improve their lot, to further their moral growth and to develop their spiritual endowments”.[102] Work should be the setting for this rich personal growth, where many aspects of life enter into play: creativity, planning for the future, developing our talents, living out our values, relating to others, giving glory to God. It follows that, in the reality of today’s global society, it is essential that “we continue to prioritize the goal of access to steady employment for everyone”,[103] no matter the limited interests of business and dubious economic reasoning.

128. We were created with a vocation to work. The goal should not be that technological progress increasingly replace human work, for this would be detrimental to humanity. Work is a necessity, part of the meaning of life on this earth, a path to growth, human development and personal fulfilment. Helping the poor financially must always be a provisional solution in the face of pressing needs. The broader objective should always be to allow them a dignified life through work. Yet the orientation of the economy has favoured a kind of technological progress in which the costs of production are reduced by laying off workers and replacing them with machines. This is yet another way in which we can end up working against ourselves. The loss of jobs also has a negative impact on the economy “through the progressive erosion of social capital: the network of relationships of trust, dependability, and respect for rules, all of which are indispensable for any form of civil coexistence”.[104] In other words, “human costs always include economic costs, and economic dysfunctions always involve human costs”.[105] To stop investing in people, in order to gain greater short-term financial gain, is bad business for society.

129. In order to continue providing employment, it is imperative to promote an economy which favours productive diversity and business creativity. For example, there is a great variety of small-scale food production systems which feed the greater part of the world’s peoples, using a modest amount of land and producing less waste, be it in small agricultural parcels, in orchards and gardens, hunting and wild harvesting or local fishing. Economies of scale, especially in the agricultural sector, end up forcing smallholders to sell their land or to abandon their traditional crops. Their attempts to move to other, more diversified, means of production prove fruitless because of the difficulty of linkage with regional and global markets, or because the infrastructure for sales and transport is geared to larger businesses. Civil authorities have the right and duty to adopt clear and firm measures in support of small producers and differentiated production. To ensure economic freedom from which all can effectively benefit, restraints occasionally have to be imposed on those possessing greater resources and financial power. To claim economic freedom while real conditions bar many people from actual access to it, and while possibilities for employment continue to shrink, is to practise a doublespeak which brings politics into disrepute. Business is a noble vocation, directed to producing wealth and improving our world. It can be a fruitful source of prosperity for the areas in which it operates, especially if it sees the creation of jobs as an essential part of its service to the common good.

Think local economies and local environmental stability.  The morality is everywhere when local economies are the goal. 

President Obama didn't go local exactly, but, he did see a regional scale to reduce inefficiency and waste. The large transport companies that carry little packages, like UPS, Federal Express and USPS have a regional orientation already. They operate with unions that have happy folks employed. The employees go home every day to their families and friends. Regional areas that support local economies works well.

The US government has bowed to cronies for decades no matter the urgency. This is corruption. It is no different today.

August 4, 2015
By Kate Sheppard

WASHINGTON -- Critics of the Obama administration's (click here) new rules for power plant emissions have been quick to describe them as "government overreach" and "flagrantly unlawful." What they don't say is that congressional inaction and a mandate from the Supreme Court drove the regulatory process to this point.

The new rules limiting the emission of planet-warming greenhouse gases from power plants, which the Environmental Protection Agency finalized on Monday, were written under the Clean Air Act, a law originally adopted in 1970 to regulate sources of air pollution.

From Obama's first days in office, his administration stressed that it did not want to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act, describing it as a non-ideal way to address this type of pollution. But legal mechanisms were already in the works to force the Obama administration to do exactly that if Congress declined to issue new, greenhouse-gas-specific rules.

Some historical context is helpful for understanding why and exactly how the new rules came to be....
Practical relativism

122. A misguided anthropocentrism leads to a misguided lifestyle. In the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, (click here for Joy of the Gospel) I noted that the practical relativism typical of our age is “even more dangerous than doctrinal relativism”.[99] When human beings place themselves at the centre, they give absolute priority to immediate convenience and all else becomes relative. Hence we should not be surprised to find, in conjunction with the omnipresent technocratic paradigm and the cult of unlimited human power, the rise of a relativism which sees everything as irrelevant unless it serves one’s own immediate interests. There is a logic in all this whereby different attitudes can feed on one another, leading to environmental degradation and social decay.

His dialogue reminds me a great deal of the values of the 1960s in the USA. Realism and the responsibility for all that is our life and how we touch life itself. He discusses a culture estranged from reality and an entire understanding of life. 

Pope Francis has an global audience as well. Twenty percent of Earth's human population are his faithful. We don't know about all creatures great and small, though.

123. The culture of relativism is the same disorder which drives one person to take advantage of another, to treat others as mere objects, imposing forced labour on them or enslaving them to pay their debts. The same kind of thinking leads to the sexual exploitation of children and abandonment of the elderly who no longer serve our interests. It is also the mindset of those who say: Let us allow the invisible forces of the market to regulate the economy, and consider their impact on society and nature as collateral damage. In the absence of objective truths or sound principles other than the satisfaction of our own desires and immediate needs, what limits can be placed on human trafficking, organized crime, the drug trade, commerce in blood diamonds and the fur of endangered species? Is it not the same relativistic logic which justifies buying the organs of the poor for resale or use in experimentation, or eliminating children because they are not what their parents wanted? This same “use and throw away” logic generates so much waste, because of the disordered desire to consume more than what is really necessary. We should not think that political efforts or the force of law will be sufficient to prevent actions which affect the environment because, when the culture itself is corrupt and objective truth and universally valid principles are no longer upheld, then laws can only be seen as arbitrary impositions or obstacles to be avoided.

How does any society of people discern good from bad, blessed from evil if the virtue of life is diminished into only needs and wants.


115. Modern anthropocentrism (the belief that human beings are the central or most significant species on the planet; in the sense that they are considered to have a moral status or value higher than that of other animals) has paradoxically ended up prizing technical thought over reality, since “the technological mind sees nature as an insensate order, as a cold body of facts, as a mere ‘given’, as an object of utility, as raw material to be hammered into useful shape; it views the cosmos similarly as a mere ‘space’ into which objects can be thrown with complete indifference”.[92] The intrinsic dignity of the world is thus compromised. When human beings fail to find their true place in this world, they misunderstand themselves and end up acting against themselves: “Not only has God given the earth to man, who must use it with respect for the original good purpose for which it was given, but, man too is God’s gift to man. He must therefore respect the natural and moral structure with which he has been endowed”.[93]

He doesn't at all mind insulting the insensitivity of modernism. He has a point to make and he'll make it over any sensitivity to bad feelings. I like him and I appreciate his directness. Time's a wasting. 

116. Modernity has been marked by an excessive anthropocentrism which today, under another guise, continues to stand in the way of shared understanding and of any effort to strengthen social bonds. The time has come to pay renewed attention to reality and the limits it imposes; this in turn is the condition for a more sound and fruitful development of individuals and society. An inadequate presentation of Christian anthropology gave rise to a wrong understanding of the relationship between human beings and the world. Often, what was handed on was a Promethean (Titan in Greek mythology, best known as the deity in Greek mythology who was the creator of mankind and its greatest benefactor, who gifted mankind with fire stolen from Mount Olympus) vision of mastery over the world, which gave the impression that the protection of nature was something that only the faint-hearted cared about. Instead, our “dominion” over the universe should be understood more properly in the sense of responsible stewardship.[94]

117. Neglecting to monitor the harm done to nature and the environmental impact of our decisions is only the most striking sign of a disregard for the message contained in the structures of nature itself. When we fail to acknowledge as part of reality the worth of a poor person, a human embryo, a person with disabilities – to offer just a few examples – it becomes difficult to hear the cry of nature itself; everything is connected. Once the human being declares independence from reality and behaves with absolute dominion, the very foundations of our life begin to crumble, for “instead of carrying out his role as a cooperator with God in the work of creation, man sets himself up in place of God and thus ends up provoking a rebellion on the part of nature”.[95]

118. This situation has led to a constant schizophrenia, wherein a technocracy which sees no intrinsic value in lesser beings coexists with the other extreme, which sees no special value in human beings. But one cannot prescind (to detach for purposes of thought) from humanity. There can be no renewal of our relationship with nature without a renewal of humanity itself. There can be no ecology without an adequate anthropology. When the human person is considered as simply one being among others, the product of chance or physical determinism, then “our overall sense of responsibility wanes”.[96] A misguided anthropocentrism need not necessarily yield to “biocentrism”, for that would entail adding yet another imbalance, failing to solve present problems and adding new ones. Human beings cannot be expected to feel responsibility for the world unless, at the same time, their unique capacities of knowledge, will, freedom and responsibility are recognized and valued.

119. Nor must the critique of a misguided anthropocentrism underestimate the importance of interpersonal relations. If the present ecological crisis is one small sign of the ethical, cultural and spiritual crisis of modernity, we cannot presume to heal our relationship with nature and the environment without healing all fundamental human relationships. Christian thought sees human beings as possessing a particular dignity above other creatures; it thus inculcates esteem for each person and respect for others. Our openness to others, each of whom is a “thou” capable of knowing, loving and entering into dialogue, remains the source of our nobility as human persons. A correct relationship with the created world demands that we not weaken this social dimension of openness to others, much less the transcendent dimension of our openness to the “Thou” of God. Our relationship with the environment can never be isolated from our relationship with others and with God. Otherwise, it would be nothing more than romantic individualism dressed up in ecological garb, locking us into a stifling immanence (being within the limits of possible experience or knowledge).

120. Since everything is interrelated, concern for the protection of nature is also incompatible with the justification of abortion. How can we genuinely teach the importance of concern for other vulnerable beings, however troublesome or inconvenient they may be, if we fail to protect a human embryo, even when its presence is uncomfortable and creates difficulties? “If personal and social sensitivity towards the acceptance of the new life is lost, then other forms of acceptance that are valuable for society also wither away”.[97]

Pope Francis is Roman Catholic and there is no inconvenient pregnancy. He is allowed to be absolute as he sees fit, not in just Rome, but, in the USA when he addresses his flock. He brings brevity to seeing the world as a whole from seeing life in a continuum. 

121. We need to develop a new synthesis capable of overcoming the false arguments of recent centuries. Christianity, in fidelity to its own identity and the rich deposit of truth which it has received from Jesus Christ, continues to reflect on these issues in fruitful dialogue with changing historical situations. In doing so, it reveals its eternal newness.[98]

Don't stop now, Mr. Gates. Ending the greenhouse gas pollution billowing out of technology has to end.

August 3, 2015
By Bill Gates (click here)

Last month, during a trip to Europe, I mentioned that I plan to invest $1 billion in clean energy technology over the next five years. This will be a fairly big increase over the investments I am already making, and I am doing it because I believe that the next half-decade will bring many breakthroughs that will help solve climate change. As I argued in this 2010 TED talk, we need to be able to power all sectors of the economy with sources that do not emit any carbon dioxide.

But when it comes to preventing the worst effects of climate change, the investments I make will matter much less than the choices that governments make. In Europe I got to talk about these choices with several political leaders, and in this post I want to share the steps that I encouraged them to take.

I think this issue is especially important because, of all the people who will be affected by climate change, those in poor countries will suffer the most. Higher temperatures and less-predictable weather would hurt poor farmers, most of whom live on the edge and can be devastated by a single bad crop. Food supplies could decline. Hunger and malnutrition could rise. It would be a terrible injustice to let climate change undo any of the past half-century’s progress against poverty and disease—and doubly unfair because the people who will be hurt the most are the ones doing the least to cause the problem....
110. The specialization which belongs to technology makes it difficult to see the larger picture. The fragmentation of knowledge proves helpful for concrete applications, and yet it often leads to a loss of appreciation for the whole, for the relationships between things, and for the broader horizon, which then becomes irrelevant. This very fact makes it hard to find adequate ways of solving the more complex problems of today’s world, particularly those regarding the environment and the poor; these problems cannot be dealt with from a single perspective or from a single set of interests. A science which would offer solutions to the great issues would necessarily have to take into account the data generated by other fields of knowledge, including philosophy and social ethics; but this is a difficult habit to acquire today. Nor are there genuine ethical horizons to which one can appeal. Life gradually becomes a surrender to situations conditioned by technology, itself viewed as the principal key to the meaning of existence. In the concrete situation confronting us, there are a number of symptoms which point to what is wrong, such as environmental degradation, anxiety, a loss of the purpose of life and of community living. Once more we see that “realities are more important than ideas”.[91]

At one time medical doctors had expertise beyond a family practice that makes referrals. They were able to diagnose without help. They saw the whole person. If no one has had that experience it is unique. 

When I was first suffering with a new diagnosis of a connective tissue disease my doctors weren't getting it right and they believed I was exhibiting a prolonged allergy to an antibiotic. One day while feeling poorly, the children were playing in a room next to the living room, there was a knock at the door and it was my mother. She took one look at me and without a word she called her physician who was also the local coroner. He specialized in GI medicine, but, he did everything. 

I dreaded the idea of seeing what I believed was a horse and buggy doctor, but, I went with her to his office. She was right, I wasn't getting better. 

At the office I was taken to the first examining room about 20 feet from where I was sitting in the waiting room. He entered the room, didn't look at me, but, looked at information in the chart and stated, "Do you always breath like that?" Until that moment I hadn't realized I was short of breath. I said, "No." He turned looked at my legs which had a horrid blotchy rash and were swollen. He listened to my chest. He told me he was going to take one x-ray (which was in his office) and he would talk to me at his office desk where there was also a light screen to read the x-ray.

He entered and sat in front of me and stated, "You have sarcoid." I said, "I have what? Am I going to live?" He said, "You have sarcoid (osis) and you will be okay if you do as I tell you." He knew immediately. No fancy blood tests, no specialist and no waiting for medication that would ultimately put me into an extended remission. He was masterful. He saw me for six months and adjusted prednisone during that time until he stopped it. The first two weeks I saw him almost daily. There isn't a doctor alive today that would do that and save a life of difficulty. 

That is what the Pope's words remind me of. He wants us to see the world as a whole and not a particular interest. He wants us to take ownership of healing this world and it's people. 

111. Ecological culture cannot be reduced to a series of urgent and partial responses to the immediate problems of pollution, environmental decay and the depletion of natural resources. There needs to be a distinctive way of looking at things, a way of thinking, policies, an educational programme, a lifestyle and a spirituality which together generate resistance to the assault of the technocratic paradigm. Otherwise, even the best ecological initiatives can find themselves caught up in the same globalized logic. To seek only a technical remedy to each environmental problem which comes up is to separate what is in reality interconnected and to mask the true and deepest problems of the global system.

112. Yet we can once more broaden our vision. We have the freedom needed to limit and direct technology; we can put it at the service of another type of progress, one which is healthier, more human, more social, more integral. Liberation from the dominant technocratic paradigm does in fact happen sometimes, for example, when cooperatives of small producers adopt less polluting means of production, and opt for a non-consumerist model of life, recreation and community. Or when technology is directed primarily to resolving people’s concrete problems, truly helping them live with more dignity and less suffering. Or indeed when the desire to create and contemplate beauty manages to overcome reductionism through a kind of salvation which occurs in beauty and in those who behold it. An authentic humanity, calling for a new synthesis, seems to dwell in the midst of our technological culture, almost unnoticed, like a mist seeping gently beneath a closed door. Will the promise last, in spite of everything, with all that is authentic rising up in stubborn resistance?

113. There is also the fact that people no longer seem to believe in a happy future; they no longer have blind trust in a better tomorrow based on the present state of the world and our technical abilities. There is a growing awareness that scientific and technological progress cannot be equated with the progress of humanity and history, a growing sense that the way to a better future lies elsewhere. This is not to reject the possibilities which technology continues to offer us. But humanity has changed profoundly, and the accumulation of constant novelties exalts a superficiality which pulls us in one direction. It becomes difficult to pause and recover depth in life. If architecture reflects the spirit of an age, our megastructures and drab apartment blocks express the spirit of globalized technology, where a constant flood of new products coexists with a tedious monotony. Let us refuse to resign ourselves to this, and continue to wonder about the purpose and meaning of everything. Otherwise we would simply legitimate the present situation and need new forms of escapism to help us endure the emptiness.

114. All of this shows the urgent need for us to move forward in a bold cultural revolution. Science and technology are not neutral; from the beginning to the end of a process, various intentions and possibilities are in play and can take on distinct shapes. Nobody is suggesting a return to the Stone Age, but we do need to slow down and look at reality in a different way, to appropriate the positive and sustainable progress which has been made, but also to recover the values and the great goals swept away by our unrestrained delusions of grandeur.

"Like A Prayer" by Madonna (click here for official website)

Life is a mystery,
Everyone must stand alone
I hear you call my name
And it feels like home

When you call my name it's like a little prayer
I'm down on my knees, I wanna take you there
In the midnight hour I can feel your power
Just like a prayer you know I'll take you there

I hear your voice, it's like an angel sighing
I have no choice, I hear your voice
Feels like flying
I close my eyes, Oh God I think I'm falling
Out of the sky, I close my eyes
Heaven help me

When you call my name it's like a little prayer
I'm down on my knees, I wanna take you there
In the midnight hour I can feel your power
Just like a prayer you know I'll take you there

Like a child
You whisper softly to me
You're in control
Just like a child
Now I'm dancing
It's like a dream
No end and no beginning
You're here with me
It's like a dream
Let the choir sing

When you call my name it's like a little prayer
I'm down on my knees, I wanna take you there
In the midnight hour I can feel your power
Just like a prayer you know I'll take you there

When you call my name it's like a little prayer
I'm down on my knees, I wanna take you there
In the midnight hour I can feel your power
Just like a prayer you know I'll take you there

(Ah, ah) 
(Ah, ah)

Life is a mystery, everyone must stand alone

I hear you call my name
And it feels like...

Home, just like a prayer, Your voice can take me there
Just like a muse to me, you are a mystery
Just like a dream, you are not what you seem
Just like a prayer, no choice your voice can take me there


(Just like a prayer, I'll take you there
It's like a dream to me)

Just like a prayer, Your voice can take me there
Just like a muse to me, you are a mystery
Just like a dream, you are not what you seem
Just like a prayer, no choice your voice can take me there

Just like a prayer, Your voice can take me there
Just like a muse to me, you are a mystery
Just like a dream, you are not what you seem
Just like a prayer, no choice your voice can take me there

Your voice can take me there
Like a prayer

The bill is headed to a vote in the US Senate today.

Homeland Security admits Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act raises concerns while corporations and data brokers lobby for bill as it returns to Senate

August 3, 2015
By Sam Thielman

...The latest (click here) in a series of failed attempts to reform cybersecurity, the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (Cisa) grants broad latitude to tech companies, data brokers and anyone with a web-based data collection to mine user information and then share it with “appropriate Federal entities”, which themselves then have permission to share it throughout the government.

 Minnesota senator Al Franken queried the DHS in July; deputy secretary of the department Alejandro Mayorkas responded today that some provisions of the bill “could sweep away important privacy protections” and that the proposed legislation “raises privacy and civil liberties concerns”....

Who is getting paid off?

...Data brokers are anxious to avoid losing the ability to aggregate vast quantities of personal data - the sale and licensing of consumer databases is a lucrative practice, as web advertising booms and TV advertising becomes more sophisticated....

...If the bill were to pass and enough of those companies were to cooperate with any given agency, the amount of information floating free within the federal government could easily extend to credit card histories (collected by data miners at Argus), lists of goods purchased (aggregated from customer loyalty cards by companies including Acxiom and Experian), and healthcare records (tracked by insurers)....

The Traverse City Tornado

People are still talking about it today. Evidently it reeked havoc with some computer functions.

But, the temperature drop was significant and I didn't write that into my other entries.

Previous to the tornado, there was warm weather into the 90s. At the time in the afternoon when the tornado occurred it was 81 degrees Fahrenheit in full sun. Immediately afterward it was 53 degrees Fahrenheit. The air was probably from the high troposphere considering the hail rather than cold air from Canada.

Iran's international reputation is not good.

Efforts by individual Iranians and their families will not change that. The Iranian government needs to improve it's reputation. I can begin to change that by releasing foreign prisoners to their governments. 

March 8, 2015

A PR stunt (click here) to help improve the image of Iran backfired spectacularly when police mistook a van emblazoned with 'Iran Is Great' as a bomb threat.
The vehicle was parked outside the Science Museum on Exhibition Rd, London, when the drastic decision to evacuate was taken....

A hot Earth is very thirsty for water vapor.

Sixty mile per hour winds caused the deaths of the two people attending the circus in New Hampshire. That is not good news. Tents are used in many areas of American life, including weddings and family gatherings. Winds with that dynamic are completely undetectable in time to protect people's lives. 

August 4, 2015
LANCASTER, N.H. (AP) — Safety officials in New Hampshire (click here) are investigating the collapse of a circus tent during a severe storm that killed a father and daughter and injured about 22 others.
"We all this morning have heavy hearts," Gov. Maggie Hassan told WMUR-TV early Tuesday. "We lost two lives — a father and a daughter — at an event that was supposed to be fun."
Authorities were looking at how the tent was put up at the Lancaster Fairgrounds, about 90 miles north of the capital of Concord. They also were talking to survivors and witnesses.
Heidi Medeiros, who was at the circus with her 3-year-old son, said it suddenly went dark and she heard someone screaming, "Get out, get out."
"I see these very large metal poles that are in the ground and go through the top of the tent, I see them starting to come out of the ground and fly up, into the air toward us," she told WMUR-TV. She said 10 to 30 seconds later, the pole slammed onto the bleacher where she and her son had been sitting.
Fire Marshal William Degnan said it was the first time his agency had investigated a tent collapse. He asked that anyone with images or video of the event to contact his office.
The storm, packing 60 mph wind gusts and hail, blew through around 5:30 p.m. Monday, just as the first of two scheduled shows was beginning.... 

That is exactly what I heard following the storm that blew through Traverse City. I was talking to a woman and man that live outside Traverse City. The woman lives in Williamsburg which is east of Traverse City. The man lives on the Peninsula which is east but closer to Traverse City. They both saw the storm coming.

They each said there was some rain. Which we knew in Traverse City. There was mild rain before the storm. Then a few hours went by and then they said the white clouds ended and there was a definite movement of green clouds over the area.They said it was moss green similar to the green in the picture to the left. It was distinctive.

The woman stated she left her home and traveled to her mother's home in Traverse City. As she arrived she knew there was going to be a tornado. She said she was from Iowa and had seen and experienced a tornado before. When she arrived to her mother's home it was starting to hail. She gathered everyone in the house, including the her sister's two children and took everyone to a closet at the center of the house. She opened the windows to the house before joining her mother and niece and nephew. She said while in the closet she heard the wind and there were terrible creaking noises by the trees, but, they did not fall or come out of the ground.

The man on the peninsula saw the entire event. He said there was large amounts of rain that appeared to be parallel to the ground.

When I left Old Town Playhouse in Traverse City, the trees looked similar to the description of the circus tent poles. The trees at the base were about three feet across or more. They were not knocked over. Their roots were still in the ground. The base of the trees looked as though they were rotated and then thrown to the ground. They were twisted off their base. Get this. Usually the trees after a tornado are stripped of their leaves and are bare limbs. All these large trees were completely intact with their branches and leaves as they were before the storm.

There was a three hour tornado in Manitoba last week. This week the northern tier of states are having these strange and highly dangerous, including fatal, storms. In water vapor satellites, the water vapor is primarily in the neighborhood of 45 degrees latitude or more northern. These storms are highly volatile but they need significant water vapor to occur. 

One other thing. Traverse City is known to be a heat island to the surrounding area. The circus tent did not appear to be at the heart of any city. But, the Manitoba tornado occurred in open areas.

The large Traverse City trees where down in about quarter mile areas with trees considered about ten years old still standing and intact. The larger trees have a higher canopy than the ten year old trees or younger. The younger trees were untouched except they probably bent during the storm.

Methane is out of control in Earth's troposphere. It is a serious problem because it is worse than CO2.

The problem the EPA has in promoting better standards to protect Earth's troposphere is that the agency always goes it alone. The EPA always appears to be opposing the people. There are some magnificent legal entities in the USA that fight everyday for the very same purpose of the EPA alone. The EPA, when facing lawsuits that want to dismantle these vital protections should allow civilian organizations to join their defense of the position. 

It should never be "Petroleum Industry vs. USA EPA." It should be "Petroleum Industry vs USA EPA and every civilian environmental group with the same position." The EPA should never stand alone. These are issues mired in highly moral content and the civilian environmental groups in the USA reflect those values everyday. The courts need to see the people want the EPA to protect them. The groups that honor those values should be held in esteem along with the USA EPA.

September 2004
By Gavin Schmidt

...What has fueled the rapid rise of methane (click here) from an obscure trace gas to a major factor in past, present and future climate change? As is usual in science, it is the conflation of multiple lines of evidence, that only when taken together do the connections and possible feedbacks seem obvious.

Methane as a Greenhouse Gas

First some basics: methane (CH4) is a very simple molecule (one carbon surrounded by four hydrogen atoms) and is created predominantly by bacteria that feed on organic material. In dry conditions, there is plenty of atmospheric oxygen, and so aerobic bacteria which produce carbon dioxide (CO2) are preferred. But in wet areas such as swamps, wetlands and in the ocean, there is not enough oxygen, and so complex hydrocarbons get broken down to methane by anaerobic bacteria. Some of this methane can get trapped (as a gas, as a solid, dissolved or eaten) and some makes its way to the atmosphere where it is gradually broken down to CO2 and water (H2O) vapor in a series of chemical reactions....

August 4, 2015
By John Schwartz

...The new paper (click here) focuses on a much-heralded report sponsored by the Environmental Defense Fund and published by University of Texas researchers in 2013; that report is part of a major effort to accurately measure the methane problem. But if the supposed flaws are borne out, the finding could also have implications for all segments of the natural gas supply chain, with ripple effects on predictions of the rate of climate change, and for efforts and policies meant to combat it.
Almost all of the methane leakage calculated from the Texas research “could be affected by this measurement failure,” according to the paper; “their study appears to have systematically underestimated emissions.”
The new paper describes a pattern of low measurements of leaks by the Bacharach Hi Flow Sampler, a device approved by the Environmental Protection Agency for its required monitoring of natural gas facilities and in use around the world....

Oct. 9, 2014: One small “hot spot” (click here) in the U.S. Southwest is responsible for producing the largest concentration of the greenhouse gas methane seen over the United States – more than triple the standard ground-based estimate -- according to a new study of satellite data by scientists at NASA and the University of Michigan.
Methane is very efficient at trapping heat in the atmosphere and, like carbon dioxide, it contributes to global warming. The hot spot, near the Four Corners intersection of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah, covers only about 2,500 square miles (6,500 square kilometers), or half the size of Connecticut.

In each of the seven years studied from 2003-2009, the area released about 0.59 million metric tons of methane into the atmosphere. This is almost 3.5 times the estimate for the same area in the European Union’s widely used Emissions Database for Global Atmospheric Research...

April 7, 2015

Researchers (click here) from several institutions are in the Four Corners region of the U.S. Southwest with a suite of airborne and ground-based instruments, aiming to uncover reasons for a mysterious methane "hot spot" detected from space.
"With all the ground-based and airborne resources that the different groups are bringing to the region, we have the unique chance to unequivocally solve the Four Corners mystery," said Christian Frankenberg, a scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, who is heading NASA's part of the effort. Other investigators are from the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) in Boulder, Colorado; the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA); and the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
Last fall, researchers including Frankenberg reported that a small region around the Four Corners intersection of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah had the highest concentration of methane over background levels of any part of the United States. An instrument on a European Space Agency satellite measuring greenhouse gases showed a persistent atmospheric hot spot in the area between 2003 and 2009. The amount of methane observed by the satellite was much higher than previously estimated.
The satellite observations were not detailed enough to reveal the actual sources of the methane in the Four Corners. Likely candidates include venting from oil and gas activities, which are primarily coalbed methane exploration and extraction in this region; active coal mines; and natural gas seeps....