Bernie Sanders will benefit from Pope Francis’s encyclical on climate change

June 28, 2015

The Republican Party and its clown car candidates are over the hill and irrelevant to most voters. With the exception of Bernie Sanders, the Democratic Party and its candidates are not much better. Pope Francis’s encyclical, Laudate Si, has made it so. He reminds us that we are a part of the earth’s biosphere and our survival is inextricably intertwined with its survival. He teaches us that we are its caretaker. We have a moral and ethical duty to respect and preserve it for its own sake because it is inherently worthy and deserves our love, attention and care. As it goes, so too do we.

Climate change and global warming are a reality caused by human activity. No amount of denial and wishing it were not so will change that reality. Pope Francis calls on us to accept it and stop exploiting the earth, its biosystems, the poor, the mentally ill and the marginalized for financial gain. Heather Taylor-Miesle, Director of the NRDC Action Fund writes,

Pope Francis stands above this scrum of climate denial and obstruction. He embodies a spirit of hope, humility and service that many are hungry for. A full 70 percent of all Americans — including 68 percent of the nonreligious — view the pope favorably, and 90 percent of American Catholics do, according to the Pew Research Center.

A person who is this admired, who is calling on our better angels and emphasizing our duty to protect creation and the poor who will be most adversely affected by climate change impacts, has the power to shake things up . . .

She reminds us that “Mitt Romney lost young voters by 26 percentage points in the last race, and in the 2014 midterms, voters under 30 favored Democrats by a 13-point margin. Young Catholics who have rallied around conservative social issues may now be throwing their energy behind climate justice and carbon limits. GOP candidates who refute the very existence of global warming will look like dinosaurs to them.”

Pope Francis is coming to visit us this fall and will be addressing both houses of Congress.

Dare we hope Bernie Sanders emerges as the people’s choice?

The stars appear to be aligning.

Let’s do everything we can to make it so.

No one ever knows what they can accomplish until they try.

The Republicans are self destructing with their attacks on science and Bowe Bergdahl

June 6, 2014

Friday, June 6, 2014

Good morning:

The republicans and their voice, the right-wing-hate-machine, are destroying themselves with their aggressive wars against climate change and Bowe Bergdahl.

Climate Change

99% of the scientists in the world agree that world climate is changing due to human activity that is increasing the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Not one credible scientist disagrees.

Moreover, climate change is already underway and some changes, such as the meltdown of the West Antarctic Ice Field is unstoppable.

Nevertheless, republicans either deny that climate change is happening or they place their trust in God to save them. Regardless of the basis for their opinion, they oppose any effort to mitigate the effects of climate change.

I have news for them: Science is here to stay because it is a body of knowledge, as opposed to a belief, that is based on reproducible experiments. Religion lost the battle against science hundreds of years ago. Science has become part of our lives and only a fool would suggest that we abandon science or discount its importance as though it were just an opinion no better or worse than any other.

By taking this bizarre contrarian position, they have voluntarily excluded themselves from participating in the worldwide discussion about what we need to do globally to reduce carbon dioxide levels. The discussion we have and the decisions we make will affect every man, woman and child on the planet.

Our behavior must change and that will involve population displacement and sacrifice. Our way of life that has been sustained by extraction, production and consumption of fossil fuels must end. We have to transition to using renewable sources of energy. The major issue of the day is how quickly must we make that transition. The answer involves balancing the consequences of acting too fast against not acting fast enough.

By voluntarily absenting themselves from this critical debate and the decisions we must make based on what we know scientifically, the republicans have made themselves irrelevant and assured the eventual demise of their party.

We no longer can afford to play irresponsible political shell games. Tomorrow’s leaders must step forward today and they must propose solutions that benefit the many as opposed to the few. Honesty is required. Bullshit ideas designed to benefit the rich at the expense of poor like globalization, privatization, unregulated markets, corporate welfare, trickle down economics, the elimination of public education, labor unions and social programs must be discarded.

Conscience matters

For example, in his Rolling Stone article about Bowe Bergdahl, Michael Hastings mentioned Bowe Bergdahl’s concern about the way the military was treating the people of Afghanistan.

:These people need help, yet what they get is the most conceited country in the world telling them that they are nothing and that they are stupid, that they have no idea how to live.” He then referred to what his parents believe may have been a formative, possibly traumatic event: seeing an Afghan child run over by an MRAP. “We don’t even care when we hear each other talk about running their children down in the dirt streets with our armored trucks… We make fun of them in front of their faces, and laugh at them for not understanding we are insulting them.”

His father responded,

In matters of life and death, and especially at war, it is never safe to ignore ones’ conscience. Ethics demands obedience to our conscience. It is best to also have a systematic oral defense of what our conscience demands. Stand with like minded men when possible.

Good advice for us all.

Incidentally, we now know that Bergdahl walked away from the military camp and returned at least two times before the incident that ended with his capture. Therefore, he cannot be found guilty of desertion.

In addition, he attempted to escape from the Taliban at least twice, so there is no basis to believe that he joined the enemy.

The ongoing demonization of Bowe Bergdahl by the Republicans and the right-wing-hate-machine aided and abetted by a compliant media is a disgraceful defamation of a man of conscience which confirms that they are the party of lies and unfit to participate in the important discussions of the day.

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Willful ignorance is a serious threat to human survival

May 15, 2014

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Good afternoon:

I believe willful ignorance is a serious threat to human survival and we need to do something about it.

I also believe religious fundamentalists, racists, people who worship authority while demonizing those who do not, global-warming and climate-change deniers, people who exploit others for profit, and the right-wing-hate-machine form a category 5 hurricane of dense stupidity and ignorance that we must penetrate and dissipate with light and love or perish.

Consider three examples:

(1) Aljazeera reports: On Sunday in Khartoum, Sudan, Mariam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag, 27, was sentenced to death by hanging for committing the crime of apostasy by marrying a Christian man. She was also convicted of adultery and sentenced to 100 lashes because the Islamic court does not recognize her marriage and she is eight months pregnant pregnant with her husband’s child. The court gave her until today to agree to leave her husband and renounce her Christian faith, but she refused. She told the judge,

I am a Christian and I never committed apostasy.

The judge imposed this willfully ignorant, bizarre and inhumane decision because sharia demands it, even though she was raised by her Christian mother and considers herself a Christian. Her father was Muslim and absent from her life. The sentence will be carried out after the child is born.

The goddess Ma’at is not amused by this fool’s effort to do justice.

(2) The Business Standard reports on a new study published today in Nature that documents a poleward shift of 33 to 39 miles per decade over the past 30 years of the geographical location where tropical cyclones reach their maximum intensity. This shift increases the probability and associated risk of extreme damage caused by winds, surges and floods to heavily populated coastal cities.

This unsettling news must be considered together with the recently reported news by scientists at NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory that the meltdown of the West Antarctic Glacier is an unstoppable chain reaction that will raise world sea level.

A new study by researchers at NASA and the University of California, Irvine, finds a rapidly melting section of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet appears to be in an irreversible state of decline, with nothing to stop the glaciers in this area from melting into the sea.

The study presents multiple lines of evidence, incorporating 40 years of observations that indicate the glaciers in the Amundsen Sea sector of West Antarctica “have passed the point of no return,” according to glaciologist and lead author Eric Rignot, of UC Irvine and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. The new study has been accepted for publication in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

These glaciers already contribute significantly to sea level rise, releasing almost as much ice into the ocean annually as the entire Greenland Ice Sheet. They contain enough ice to raise global sea level by 4 feet (1.2 meters) and are melting faster than most scientists had expected. Rignot said these findings will require an upward revision to current predictions of sea level rise.

“This sector will be a major contributor to sea level rise in the decades and centuries to come,” Rignot said. “A conservative estimate is it could take several centuries for all of the ice to flow into the sea.”

Meanwhile, a willfully ignorant, bizarre and inhumane Marco Rubio announced this week that he does not believe in global warming or climate change and he’s ready to be president.

Anyone that willfully ignorant is too dangerous to hold public office and no one should vote for him. Perhaps a buoy with his name on it can be placed in the ocean to mark the spot where Miami used to be.

(3) Max Tegmark, a physics professor at MIT believes that stupidity is humanity’s biggest problem and artificial intelligence is its biggest existential threat. Since I believe stupidity refers to limited intellectual functioning for which an individual is not responsible, I prefer to use the term willful ignorance. That is, someone with sufficient intellectual functioning to know better.

If we don’t extinguish the human race by making short term decisions to maximize profits while ignoring potential long term catastrophic consequences that those decisions might cause, he fears that artificial intelligence will evolve into super intelligence that will kill us off because of the threat we pose. Stephen Hawking agrees.

Tegmark told James Hamblin of the Atlantic,

“There are seven billion of us on this little spinning ball in space. And we have so much opportunity,” Tegmark said. “We have all the resources in this enormous cosmos. At the same time, we have the technology to wipe ourselves out.”

Ninety-nine percent of the species that have lived on Earth have gone extinct; why should we not? Seeing the biggest picture of humanity and the planet is the heart of this. It’s not meant to be about inspiring terror or doom. Sometimes that is what it takes to draw us out of the little things, where in the day-to-day we lose sight of enormous potentials. “We humans spend 99.9999 percent of our attention on short-term things,” Tegmark said, “and a very small amount of our attention on the future.”

The universe is most likely 13.8 billion years old. We have potentially billions more years at our disposal—even if we do get eaten by the sun in four billion years—during which life could be wonderful.

The future is here. What are we going to do about it?

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IPCC on Climate- Tragedy of the Commons

May 6, 2014

The White House released the National Climate Assessment Report today eliminating legitimate doubt that climate change is underway with increasingly dire and catastrophic consequences to the global biosphere and to human life yet to come. The report is the product of more than four years of work by hundreds of scientists and it is substantially more comprehensive and alarming than its predecessor report issued in 2009. Unlike the United Nation’s report released three weeks ago, this report focuses on what is happening in eight geographical regions of the United States.

After reviewing today’s report and the United Nation’s report, I do not see how any reasonable person who knows how to read can continue to doubt that human activity has caused and will continue to cause global warming and climate change.

The Republican Party likely will persist in denying climate change because the oil companies and the rich people who own them intend to continue to enrich themselves at our expense. For example, FOX News is claiming that President Obama and the Democrats made up this report to distract our attention from what happened at Benghazi.

Global warming and climate change is the new reality and no amount of denial will make it go away. Instead of pointless arguments regarding whether it exists, we must accept that it does and do everything in our power to avoid contributing to the problem.

To accomplish this, we will need a collective change of heart. As the report explains, climate change is really a case of the ‘tragedy of the commons.’

Mitigation is a public good; climate change is a case of ‘the tragedy of the commons’ (high 
confidence). Effective climate change mitigation will not be achieved if each agent (individual, 
institution or country) acts independently in its own selfish interest, suggesting the need for 
collective action. Some adaptation actions, on the other hand, have characteristics of a private good 
as benefits of actions may accrue more directly to the individuals, regions, or countries that 
undertake them, at least in the short term. Nevertheless, financing such adaptive activities remains 
an issue, particularly for poor individuals and countries. [3.1]

Collective action means that we change our hearts about mass consumption and greed. Following the no harm rule, we are capable of working to decrease air pollution, acid rain and ocean acidification, leaving future people with an environment that is not uninhabitable. With a change of heart, we can work to eradicate poverty, rather than strip-mining a couple of large western states of coal that we send to China by way of the Evergreen State. Before we do that, maybe we would consider having an intelligent conversation about how we can all decrease some of these emissions– China is working on that, why can’t we? We can reduce our waste is this country as well. There is no longer any excuse for it.

This is an opportunity for once, to work together in the world instead of trying to take it over, or lie, cheat and rip people off and then blame them (whoever they are) for all of our problems.


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Decorah Eagles

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