The Pope Is About To Go ‘Green’ Big Time – Challenging Conservative Pseudo-Christians

Pope Francis at Vatican | STOCK PHOTO


Pope Francis will unveil his long-awaited Encyclical on the Environment on Thursday. The two questions on everyone’s mind are what will he say, and how will the global community – Christians and non-Christians alike – respond?

The answer to the first question is easy to find. The Vatican has been strategically planting leaks for some time now. The Pope will speak to the people of the world, not just to Catholics or even just to Christians – of the need to care for the Earth, to care for ‘creation.’ In fact he will go beyond calling it a ‘need’ and will refer to it as a moral imperative, an obligation. We are called, as human beings living on the Earth in community, to care for the planet. For him, that is the true meaning of the Hebrew word that was poorly translated as our having ‘dominion’ over creation. For this Pope it means having an obligation to care for our Earth Mother, as opposed to exploiting her.

His Holiness’ argument is not as theological as you might expect. It’s very pragmatic: without the Earth, without ‘creation’ – nothing else matters. In his words, “If we destroy creation, creation will destroy us.”

It’s not a ‘scientific’ argument. It’s a moral and spiritual argument. The Pope, who is something of a ‘scientist’ himself (though earlier reports of his having a ‘masters degree in chemistry‘ were a bit overblown) will argue that the scientific ‘debate’ is over. The science is clear. Human activity has been lacking any commitment to caring for the planet, and our exploitation has resulted in almost irreversible damage. We must start acting now, he will argue. And our response must be global.

Additionally, this champion of the poor, this former bishop of Argentina, will argue that climate change and global warming are already having an disproportionate effect on the poor, and that the exploitation of the earth by the rich has come at the expense of the disenfranchised lower class. The planet is our only ‘natural resource,’ he will argue, and it belongs to each of us equally. Taking the oil and the coal and other minerals and resources from the planet without giving anything back is tantamount to the rich stealing from the poor. And again, being totally pragmatic, he will suggest that this can only lead to uprisings and violence and war as the disparity between the haves and the have-nots increases.

Pope Francis will call for an ethical and economic revolution to prevent catastrophic climate change and growing inequality.

This Pope preaches the Gospel of Jesus the Christ – the message that we are called to love our neighbor. (And who is our closer neighbor than the Earth herself?) He will argue the obvious, that our neighbors include the poor, the ones to whom Jesus argued we have a special obligation. ‘What Would Jesus Do? ‘ is the question he will be answering loudly and clearly.

And what will the reaction to this totally Christ-like message be?

That is equally predictable.

The Vatican has made it clear in recent days that this encyclical is a message for all people – not just Catholics, not just Christians, not even just to ‘believers.’ It is a message for all of humanity.

And how will ‘humanity’ respond?

Pope Francis has four primary audiences: Catholics, of course – all 1.2 billion of them!  Then the Christians of all persuasions. And after that the third group – politicians, particularly US conservative Christian politicians – who he will urge to take political action now. And finally the many on the planet who adhere to other faith traditions or consider themselves to be ‘non-believers.’ This Pope understands that global warming or climate change – whatever name you choose to give it – is a global problem that requires a universal global response. Caring for the Earth is everyone’s responsibility, to his mind.

So that means the Pope is speaking to all seven billion people on the globe!

How they respond may well determine the future of the planet. OK, maybe that’s a bit of a stretch, but not much.

First the Catholics. There will be as much disagreement among the Catholics of the world as with any other group. Expect the conservative bishops and cardinals to have reservations. Caring for the Earth borders on worshiping the Earth as a deity in many of their minds. And then there is the money – the Catholic Church is invested – literally – in fossil fuels.

Next you have the non-Catholic Christians, including the so-called ‘fundamentalists.’ Exploiting the earth in the name of exercising ‘dominion’ over the earth is ingrained in that audience

It is worth noting. however, that there is a large ‘liberal’ element within the Christian church, particularly within the Catholic Church, that believes Jesus was, himself, a ‘liberal,’ and that the environmental teachings the Pope will espouse are, in fact, the authentic teachings of Jesus the Christ.

Next, and this may well be the most fun group to observe over the next few days, weeks and months, are the so-called ‘Christian’ legislators in the U.S. Congress. They are going to go bananas! In fact many of them have already begun pushing back on what the Pope may say in his encyclical. U.S. Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum, a Catholic and climate change skeptic, has said the Church would be “better off leaving science to the scientists.” (the rebuttal being that the Pope is more of a scientist than he is!)

And the real kicker will come in September when the Pope, at the invitation of Catholic John Boehner, addresses a joint session of Congress. Expect them to get an ecclesiastical tongue lashing!

Never before, church leaders say, has a papal encyclical been anticipated so eagerly by so many.

With Pope Francis expected to make the case that climate change, unchecked development, and over consumption are exacerbating the suffering of the poor, advocates for both  the environment and the poor are thrilled.

It’s going to be fun to watch, and without exaggerating it may well be globally-transformational.

The one thing the environmental movement has lacked has been a truly global leader. It may have found one in Pope Francis.

John Lundin

China Installed More Solar Power in 2013 than the US has in its Whole History

As long as dim-witted people are running Congress, the above headline will be commonplace around the globe, except for the United States and that’s a sad commentary…

Informed Comment – Joshua Hill

Despite predictions all through 2013 suggesting that Japan would walk away the dominant solar PV market, Bloomberg New Energy Finance has revealed that China “outstripped even the most optimistic forecasts” to install a record 12 GW of photovoltaic projects in 2013.

In fact, a massive boom at the end of the year could even have pushed the nation’s market up to 14 GW, a phenomenal feat considering that no country has never added more than 8 GW in a year.

Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) had predicted that Japan would come out on top in 2013, ahead of China and then the US, but with a feed-in tariff for large PV projects ending on the first of 2014, the year-end rush will not be wholly understood until March.

“The 2013 figures show the astonishing scale of the Chinese market, now the sleeping dragon has awoken” said Jenny Chase, head of solar analysis at Bloomberg New Energy Finance. “PV is becoming ever cheaper and simpler to install, and China’s government has been as surprised as European governments by how quickly it can be deployed in response to incentives.”

Even China’s state news agency could not have predicted the massive boom which took place. And in July it was announced that China aimed to add 10 GW of solar power a year for the next three years — a target they seem to have hit rather easily.

Surprisingly, many market analysis companies scoffed at China’s targets for 2014. IHS and Mercom Capital both released reports earlier this year suggesting that China would struggle to reach their aim of 12 GW for 2014, but with 2013′s impressive stats, one wonders whether analysts will be revising their predictions in the next few weeks, especially in the wake of new estimations suggesting that China is aiming for 14 GW in 2014.

With the majority of solar projects located on the country’s sunny and empty western provinces, China’s state-owned power generators China Power Investment Corporation, China Three Gorges and China Huadian Corporation have become the world’s largest owners of solar assets.

Ban Coal: Coal Industry Chemical Threatens 300,000 in West Virginia

FEMA: The federal government sent 75 trucks - each carrying 18,500 liters of water - as well as bottled water to help provide water for those in need

FEMA: The federal government sent 75 trucks – each carrying 18,500 liters of water – as well as bottled water to help provide water for those in need.
 | Reuters

I’m not an advocate for coal so I agree that this report by Juan Cole is on point.

Juan Cole – Informed Comment

Some 300,000 West Virginians are at risk from their tap water after a company making MCHM spilled it into the river, turning it a little purple and making it smell like liquorice. MCHM can be fatal if imbibed, and otherwise it can make you vomit your guts out. It is used to wash coal of impurities.

Coal is destroying the earth. Some 40% of US carbon dioxide emissions come from burning coal. That amounts to 2 billion metric tons of C02 annually that Americans spew into the atmosphere by burning coal. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas, extra amounts of which have been building up in the atmosphere since the Industrial Revolution and it is warming the earth and the seas inexorably. Humankind only has to 2020 to avoid going beyond a temperature increase of 3.4 degrees Fahrenheit. If we go to 7, 8, 9 degrees F. increase, the whole weather system could become chaotic, threatening human life.

But apart from the threat burning coal forms in causing climate change, it is just really bad for you. Burning it releases massive amounts of mercury into the environment. Mercury is a nerve gas. It isn’t normal that you can only eat fish once or twice a week for fear of being mercury-poisoned. There is some evidence that it may be implicated in the increase in autism among children. Burning coal kills 13,000 Americans each year. That is four 9/11 attacks every year. We had a war on terror, but no president dares announce a war on coal.

And now it should be clear that some of the chemicals used in producing coal for power plants are themselves highly toxic and form a constant health threat.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Wind power is just about as inexpensive as coal, now. The American Midwest, the most highly coal-dependent region in the country, is the Saudi Arabia of wind. And, it has substantial potential for solar power generation, as well.

There are already as many American jobs in the solar power industry as there are American workers in coal mines. The workers can be retrained to install solar panels on people’s roofs.

The US and the world need to make a final push to go as green as possible as soon as possible. Coal is a drag on any such effort.

AP reports:

For the evils of coal see:

The Top 15 Most Dangerous Conservative Politicians And Government Officials To Watch In 2012

I’ve only listed the first six here.  The rest can be found on the resource website:

Addicting Info

From the Supreme Court to the halls of Congress to governor’s mansions across the country, conservatives have ruthlessly pushed an agenda that has torn America asunder since 1980. As 2011 comes to a close, conservatives are still trying to push failed policies. This is a list of 15 individual conservatives that pose a significant threat to American society as we move into 2012 and beyond.

1. John Roberts) The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court leads four other conservative judges on the bench. Placed on the high court by President Bush, John Roberts has been influential in changing campaign finance laws (Citizens United) and has since ruled in favor of big corporations. And the conservative court isn’t through yet. Conservatives desire to overturn abortion, environmental laws, President Obama’s health care law, and voting rights laws, and you can bet that they are aiming to use the Supreme Court to do it.

2. Eric Cantor) The House Majority Leader has been very busy since his party took over the House in 2010. Cantor has proven that he has more power than John Boehner does, hence the fact that Boehner isn’t even on the list. Cantor is willing to do whatever it takes to slam every right-wing bill through Congress. He also has the backing of Tea Party House members. Cantor is still young, which means he could be a major player on the right for decades to come. It’s also likely that he could be the next Speaker of the House if the GOP keeps control after the 2012 Election.

3. Clarence Thomas) The second Supreme Court Justice to make the list has deep ties to the conservative movement. He has ties to Koch Industries and has received money from the Heritage Foundation and other conservative organizations. He has refused to recuse himself from cases that he has ties to and that is what makes him dangerous. Thomas ruled with the other conservatives in Citizens United even though he had a conflict of interest in that case as well. As long as he is on the bench with Roberts, outside influences can dictate how the conservative wing rules.

4. Mitch McConnell) He may be the Senate Minority Leader but that doesn’t make McConnell any less poisonous to America. He has led the effort to block and stall many important pieces of legislation in the Senate and has blocked Presidential nominees from taking their posts, leaving many departments leaderless. We’ll see more of the same thing in 2012.

5. Paul Ryan) The second member of the U.S. House of Representatives to make the list, Ryan is a major threat because he introduced legislation that would kill Medicare by privatizing it. Essentially, Ryan’s plan throws all American senior citizens under a speeding bus. Ryan isn’t an old man either. He could remain active in politics for decades, which means his ideas will still be around as well. Even if the people of Wisconsin don’t re-elect him to Congress, Ryan could still join any conservative think tank or organization, or become a lobbyist. They would love to have him too. Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare are in danger as long as Ryan is around.

6. Scott Walker) The first of two governors on the list has been busy since he took office. The Governor of Wisconsin is on this list because he is an example of just how involved the Koch brothers are in shaping public policy. Under Walker’s “leadership” he has severely weakened labor unions and worker’s rights, weakened environmental laws, weakened pubic education, weakened voter rights, and has put public lands and facilities up for grabs as a way to increase privatization. Some of these facilities are of deep interest to the Koch brothers. As further evidence that Walker is basically a Koch slave, he took a fake call from a person pretending to be David Koch at the height of the collective bargaining debate. Walker could very well be recalled by the people of Wisconsin but Walker intends to sabotage that effort. Walker’s career in Wisconsin may not last beyond this year, but that doesn’t make him any less of a threat, as governors around the country are following his lead and he could always run for federal office later on.

Continue here…

7 Billion and Counting

This video really does a great job explaining the earth’s population growth to 7 billion people in such a short period of time…

Mario Piperni

One of the hypothesis concerning the origin of modern humans is that we emerged out of Africa 50,000 to 100,000 years ago.  By 1804, there were 1 billion of us on the planet.  Over the next 200 years, we found a way to increase that number to 7 billion (give or take 56 million).

If you’re not quite sure how we accomplished that feat, here’s a short NPR video which helps explain it.

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The 1% Have a Stranglehold on Politics: New Al Jazeera Documentary Sheds Light on the Koch Brothers

Why won’t our media expose the Koch Brothers for what they are?

Oh never mind, the corporate media is part of the problem in this country.

Think Progress

Al Jazeera released a new mini-documentary yesterday on the Koch Brothers — the multi-billionare energy tycoons who have spent over $50 million on campaigns to tear down the science of climate change and clean energy policy.

The documentary features a lengthy interview with our colleague Lee Fang, an investigative reporter with Think Progress, who has played a major role in uncovering the strong “web of influence” of the Koch Brothers on state and federal politicians. The film touches on the Koch role in everything from health care to energy policy. It’s worth the watch. (Note: much of the energy and climate stuff is in the second half, after about 15 minutes.)

This is exactly why “the other 99%” of Americans are protesting in the streets.

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Fox Viewers Overwhelming Think We Should Prepare For Alien Invasion Before Fighting Climate Change

No surprise there!  I suspect the intelligence quotient of the majority of Fox News lemmings is in the double digits…

Think Progress

A new (supposedly) NASA-funded study postulating that aliens may attack humans over climate change had all the ingredients for a perfect Fox faux controversy — it bolstered their anti-science narrative, painted their opponents as clownish radicals, and highlighted wasteful government spending on a supposedly liberal cause. Fox reported the “news from NASA” several times several times today, presenting it as official “taxpayer funded research.” A chyron on Fox and Friends read: “NASA: Global warming may provoke an [alien] attack.”

But as Business Insider pointed out, they’re “wrong” — “That report was not funded by NASA. It was written by an independent group of scientists and bloggers. One of those happens to work at NASA.” NASA distanced itself from the report as well, calling reports linking the agency to it “not true.” Kelly finally corrected the record this afternoon, saying, “I was making that up.”

But before she did, she was so bemused by the study that she directed her viewers to completea poll on her website which asked how we should respond to the study: “Immediately increase efforts to curb greenhouse gases,” “Develop weapons to kill the Aliens FIRST,” or “Gently suggest scientists research how to create job.”

Not surprisingly, most suggested they research something else. But more than six times as many respondents (19 percent to 3 percent) said we should focus building weapons to kill aliens before curbing green house gases.

Watch a compilation:

The poll is of course not scientific, but you can hardly blame the viewers who did respond, considering Fox’s constant misinformation about climate change. For instance, as she presented the poll, Kelly said of curbing climate change, “just in case right?” — as in, “just in case” the science is right. She did not make a similar quip for alien attack. Numerous studiesconsistently show that Fox viewers are among the most misinformed of news viewers, while at least one study has shown that — perversely — watching Fox actually makes people lessinformed than they were to being with.

“Trust me folks, this story is hard to understand,” Fox and Friends host Gretchen Carlson said of the “NASA study.” Indeed.

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Freak heat burst hikes Wichita temperature by nearly 20 degrees in 20 minutes _ after midnight

Oh, but “global warming is a hoax” according to most right-wingers. 

If nothing else, this report should at least give them food for thought on the issue…

The Washington Post – National

 Published: June 10

An unusual weather pattern caused temperatures in Wichita, Kan. to soar nearly 20 degrees in 20 minutes even though the sun had long gone down.National Weather Service meteorologist Stephanie Dunten says the heat burst hiked temperatures from 85 to 102 degrees in 20 minutes, beginning at 12:22 a.m. Thursday.

She says a pocket of air in the upper atmosphere collapsed, and when it hit the ground it sent winds of more than 50 mph through parts of the city.

The Wichita Eagle says that during a heat burst, rain falling from higher elevations cools air beneath it as it evaporates. The cooler air then descends quickly to the surface. As it falls, it is compressed and warms dramatically.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Van Jones At Power Shift 2011: ‘While They’re Stuck On Stupid In DC, Your Generation Is Rising’

Van Jones, Special Advisor for Green Jobs, Ent...

Image via Wikipedia

Van Jones has a point there…

HuffPost Green

In a passionate keynote address, green jobs leader Van Jones exhorted the 10,000 youth climate activists at the Power Shift conference in Washington DC to “shift the power” and lead the clean power revolution. He argued that both parties need to be held accountable for their failures, and that activists must explain that the climate movement isn’t just about “hippie power” but that it is a vision of liberty and justice for all.

Van Jones had harsh words for the national political establishment. “You have to be wise enough to hold both parties to high standards,” he said:

While they’re stuck on stupid in DC, your generation is rising.

Van Jones also discussed President Barack Obama, who hired him as a green jobs adviser but then let him go after Jones’ politics and person came under a relentless barrage from Fox News’ Glenn Beck. Jones argued that President Obama is like the friend who has the potential to be an A-plus student, but is only getting C’s and D’s. Jones told the assembled youth from campuses around the nation they can be a “hero for making sure your friend gets an A-plus on his presidency.”

Van Jones described how we have a civilization “fueled by death” — fossil fuels from plants and animals that died millions of years ago:

We pull out of the ground death. We burn death in our power plants. Why do we get shocked when we get death in our sky as global warming, death in our oceans as oil spills, death in our children’s lungs as asthma and cancer?

The strongest moments of his speech came when he discussed America’s basic principles, in the context of arguing with “your uncle Joe” who watches Fox News at the Thanksgiving table. “Don’t you believe in liberty?” Van asked. “Shouldn’t we have the right as Americans to be energy producers?” he asked. “Shouldn’t we have the right and liberty to be free from energy companies who dictate how much we pay, what air we breathe?” Coal and oil companies try to divide us with cultural stereotypes and political ideology, when a green economy is actually the truly American economy:

The stereotype is that solar power is just hippie power. But it’s also cowboy power, farmer power, rancher power, and Appalachian mountain power!

Continue reading…