The Vatican has announced Pope Francis’s new encyclical, Fratelli tutti – dedicated to “fraternity” and “social friendship”.
“We live in a time marked by war, poverty, migration, climate change, economic crises, and pandemic. Recognizing a brother or sister in everyone we meet…reminds us that no one can ever emerge from the present hardships alone, one against the other, the global North against the global South, the rich against the poor or any other excluding differentiation.”
As I read a recent headline in The Atlantic “The US is on the Path to Destruction” I realized once again that climate change is truly an existential threat.
“Climate change is killing Americans and destroying the country’s physical infrastructure. The federal government spends roughly $700 billion a year on the military. It spends perhaps $15 billion a year trying to understand and stop climate change. I thought about those numbers a lot last week, as I tried to stop my toddler from playing in ash, tried to calm down my dogs as they paced and panted in mid-morning dusk light, tried to figure out whether my air purifier was actually protecting my lungs, tried to understand why the sky was pumpkin-colored, and tried not to think about the carcinogen risk of breathing in wildfire smoke, week after week. The government has committed to defending us and our allies against foreign enemies. Yet when it comes to the single biggest existential threat we collectively face—the one that threatens to make much of the planet uninhabitable, starve millions, and incite violent conflicts around the world—it has chosen to do near-nothing. Worse than that, the federal government continues to subsidize and promote fossil fuels, and with them the destruction of our planetary home. Climate hell is here. We cannot stand it. And we cannot afford it either.”Continue reading “Climate hell is here. We cannot afford to ignore it.”
Progress is difficult even in the best of times, and this is far from the best of times. Increasingly I am shocked and dismayed by actions of Republicans in control of our government. No only are some people doing things that are unethical but some verge on criminal, certainly unconstitutional. Continue reading “Real Progress”
There are two ways of addressing rising concentrations of atmospheric carbon; reduce the amount of carbon emissions or increase the amount of carbon removed from the atmosphere. Most of our efforts have been focused on reducing emissions. I’d like to shift the conversation to drawing down atmospheric carbon dioxide. Continue reading “Drawing down atmospheric carbon”
On July 19, 2019 WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus declared the Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). “It is time for the world to take notice and redouble our efforts. We need to work together in solidarity with the DRC to end this outbreak and build a better health system”.
Some people may have caught a recent news story about animal abuse at Fair Oaks dairy farms in Indiana. The video was part of an undercover operation to show how animals are really treated at Fair Oaks Farms. “Fairlife was launched in 2012 as a partnership between Coca-Cola, which distributes its products, and the McCloskeys’ Select Milk Producers, a co-op of dairy farms that includes Fair Oaks. The product is a form of “ultrafiltered” milk that is lactose-free and has more protein and calcium and less sugar than traditional milk.” Fairlife and owners of Fair Oaks dairy are being sued by a consumer of Fair life dairy products who says he was deceived by claims it provided a high caliber of care for its animals.
Problems have solutions; dilemmas have consequences! The reality of climate change can’t be avoided but the consequences for humans and other life forms can be made worse by our decisions. There is a difference between solving problems and living with consequences. Solving problems means we can try to fix what is wrong. Living with consequences means we must face the reality of our situation. The reality of climate change is already impacting the hydrologic cycle—increased precipitation, evapotranspiration, runoff, and river flow— but we can make our situation worse.
There are many substances that get deposited on streets and little of this pollution is removed from stormwater before being dumped into rivers. Street Department personnel spread salt and sand on icy roads in winter. People throw trash and cigarette butts out their car window or it blows out of the bed of trucks. Vehicles leak oil and other lubricants, tires shed hydrocarbons, and exhaust pipes emit gases and fluids. There are many substances that unintentionally and intentionally get washed down the drains and into storm sewers that feed downstream drinking water. All of these substances accumulate on roads along with natural debris such as sticks, leaves, and dirt.