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Post Climate Change Crisis and Theology
Created by John Eipper on 07/14/19 4:44 AM

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Climate Change Crisis and Theology (Tor Guimaraes, USA, 07/14/19 4:44 am)

Commenting on my post of July 11th, John Eipper raised some relevant questions: "But Tor, such arguments will only further entrench the position of the Climate Change deniers. Perhaps CC could be packaged/spun as a matter of national security? Or as a theological imperative?"

It is true that religious fundamentalists (CC deniers in this case) do not listen to reason. Historically they never did and probably never will. However, today you don't hear too many people believing that the Earth is flat or the center of the solar system, etc. Similarly, when too many people get hit by rising seas, forcing them to relocate from their homes to emergency places, even these religious people will start changing their minds. Even if they don't, we all have to live with the results anyway.

Regarding "Perhaps climate change (CC) could be packaged/spun as a matter of national security?" That is a tough sell, since the whole world including our rivals are in this CC together. In a way the scientists have been warning us for years that the climate might turn out to be our worst enemy, but we don't perceive the national security threat.

Framing the CC issue "as a theological imperative" could be a powerful motivation, but has some major counter-indicators for success. Historically we have had a few groups whose religions view the Earth as their mother, to be respected and kept free from pollution. However, all the major religions to a great extent have ignored the CC issue altogether and I see no sign of re-direction. On the contrary, many religious people seem to thrive on the concept of Armageddon and seem to welcome the end of the world.

JE comments:  We've never explored the Armageddon angle of climate change.  "End of world" scenarios typically involve human warfare or divine wrath.  Is anyone aware of doomsday theologies that specifically touch on climate change?  What was the Flood of Noah's time other than a dramatic example of CC?

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  • Climate Change, Doomsdayers, and "Florida is Drowning" (from Gary Moore) (John Eipper, USA 07/16/19 4:04 AM)

    Gary Moore writes:

    Concerned by Tor Guimaraes's (July 14) impassioned call to arms on climate change,
    but, from practical experience sympathizing (once again) with Timothy Brown's unfashionably
    skeptical demurer (July 7), I turned to the Web for signs of the crisis.

    The logical keywords
    seemed to be "Florida climate change"--for sensitivity to future sea-level rise in Florida is so
    great that six major newspapers there (two I used to work for, with contributions to others)
    have put aside their customary jockeying and joined in an informational mega-project,
    the Climate Change News Network. Knowing already that some subtropical flooding
    in Miami Beach has raised concerns that this is only a foretaste, I expected to see
    hard-hitting examples of how property lines are now an inch or two underwater,
    and other markers. The opening list on Google certainly seemed to promise this:
    "Florida's Climate Threats," "Florida is Drowning"--and there, too, was a CNN
    story on the newspaper project, with an interestingly truncated teaser blurb,
    as a tiny hint of excited haste: "How six Florida newsrooms are working together
    to strengthen climate change" (Yup, that's what it says).

    So I opened these entries,
    each forming a blizzard of many words. But where were the present-day signs? If
    one could wade (apologies) through the browbeating and hair-rending, the claims
    were all about the future. Well, certainly valid. Planning has to look ahead. But the
    way the alarms were worded was arresting, almost a deceptional bait-and-switch.
    Worst was our old friend, The Guardian (was it John Heelan or Nigel Jones who from
    British perspective called it a lying rag--a reputation its newsroom somehow keeps
    earnestly trying to live up to). The "Florida is Drowning" headline was The Guardian's
    --and you have to slog through 1,750 words of screaming to find out the headline should
    have been: "Florida Is Going to Drown--And We Told You So." There seemed to be no interest
    in present proofs--that is, in actual facts--though there was a shocking photo of Miami
    highrises looming like chastened tombstones out of apocalyptic new blue--a requisitely
    Photoshopped imagining--required, you see, because people are so blind. The Guardian,
    which in its wrestling with its soul has many skilled reporters and sometimes valuable
    information. may of course be right on this. But the presentation is not reassuring, working
    like that Google-botched CNN headline to actually impugn the case.

    Unfortunately, reactionism in crises (that is, waiting until it actually does something to hurt
    before you rush out and do something back) is not just public passivity but the mode implicitly
    decreed by a factor that is not the warners' fault: the incredible abundance of false warnings
    there have always been in the world from people who just know that what gives them excitement
    and purpose is right. Of course, for all those sunken highrises in Miami, such stubborn reactionism
    will be sadly too late.

    The prescience of those who see future doom (whether all too real, as with Churchill's Gathering Storm,
    or not so cooperative, as with the new Ice Age predicted in the 1970s, or when thousands of Millerites
    braced, on October 22, 1844, for the End of the World, producing the Seventh Day Adventists)--whichever
    way it goes, the warners have a tough job cut out for them.

    JE comments:  So far the Doomsdayers have a 100% track record of being wrong--although sometimes it seems like the End of the World is Nigh.  (Ever attended a faculty meeting?)

    Gary Moore puts his finger on the problem.  The "deniers" have two enormous advantages:  1) It's always easier to do nothing, and 2) As of today, science to the contrary, we're still here.

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    • Climate Change: Greenland, Indonesia, Florida (Tor Guimaraes, USA 07/17/19 12:14 PM)
      Doom-saying is indeed a difficult business, so I always look for reasons to discount he bad news. Regarding Antarctica and Greenland, the two primary sources for future sea rising another 80+ centimeters by 2050, the kids love global warming in Greenland. The farmers get another three weeks of potential productivity (except for some apparently associated drought). The fishing industry is also super happy in Greenland.  Some species have now moved North to fishing areas too cold before, and even tuna followed behind. Great silver lining to global warming.

      Another silver lining from global warming is that some counties in Florida are working together to redesign their sewer systems higher off the ground, as well as other defenses. The cooperation is great even though the cost for temporary relief is quite high.

      The Pacific islands are already in serious trouble with seas rising. Indonesia's capital is in big trouble. The wealthy people have raised their area to avoid the floods but now when it rains the rest of the residents can see the water draining to their own residential areas, creating a PR problem for class differences and the government. On the US coasts, some media outlets may be scaremongering as Gary Moore suggested (July 16), but most are under pressure to avoid the topic. Smart seashore home owners are slowly selling but someone seems to be buying. Let's see how many disasters and how long it will take for the buyers to disappear completely.

      JE comments:  On the downside in Greenland, ice melt has made some hunting areas impassible for dogsleds.  WAISer Cameron Sawyer recently sailed to Greenland.  Has anyone else in WAISworld visited?  It's always been on my bucket list.  Today's high temperature in Nuuk is a balmy 52 F.

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