On Sunday, April 6, 2014, Joseph delivered a lay service at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Monmouth County. The service … Continue reading The Poetry of Climate Ethics (UU Sunday service)
A discussion about climate change with Michael Oppenheimer of Princeton University, Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute, and Michael … Continue reading Sachs, Mann, Oppenheimer Tackle Climate Policy on Charlie Rose (video)
For Immediate Release: March 18, 2014
Observing Earth: Beyond Hurricane Sandy
Saturday, April 12, 2014, 2:00-4:00 pm
InfoAge Science History Museum
Wall Township, NJ — ‘Observing Earth: Beyond Hurricane Sandy’ is an Earth Month event to update the public on Earth’s changing climate, with a focus on risks and solutions. The event will be held Saturday, April 12, 2014, from 2:00-4:00 pm at the InfoAge Science History Museum in Wall Township, NJ. Last year’s ‘Earth Day Gathering’ event was attended by more than 80 people.
This year’s lineup will include Dr. Alan Robock, Professor II in the Department of Environmental Sciences at Rutgers University and the lead author of IPCC; Joseph Robertson, Strategic Coordinator for Citizens Climate Lobby and author of the book Building a Green Economy; and Brian Reynolds (host and moderator), who is a 350.org member and certified Climate Reality Project presenter.
From time to time, commentators make a bid for replacing hard fact and clear thinking with feigned skepticism. When they are feeling particularly inexpert and unbalanced, they resort to insults, smears and personal attacks, even profanity. This must be why Charles Krauthammer’s syndicated column “Climate change is not a fact”, so eagerly overlooks one key piece of evidence: the climate is actually, observably, changing. Instead, he resorts to the sad and unprofessional assertion that everyone who thinks it wise to be responsible in our interactions with nature is “whoring after other Gods”.
There are better ways to understand a global crisis and the science that will allow us to deal with it. Some of us would rather focus on what we know, and what we can do to ensure our relationship to the natural world is responsible, resilient and informed by science, ethics and a commitment to future generations.
There has been much made of David Gregory’s allowing a professed climate science denier to “debate” Bill Nye on the validity of climate science, on Meet the Press, the nation’s premier Sunday morning news program. David Gregory cited Sec. of State John Kerry’s climate speech in Jakarta as asserting that the crisis is “threatening the world’s way of life”. Gregory’s introduction noted the rising costs of addressing ever more extreme weather, then revived the tired and untrue idea that climate science has not shown whether human activity is part of the problem. Al Roker was shown alleging that we are not clear about whether human activity is causing climate change, but affirming climate change is happening. This tell-all-sides intro ended with footage of the President of the United States forcefully declaring, “The science is settled.”
Rep. Blackburn (R-TN) very constructively noted that we have to face a cost-benefit analysis of the increasing volumes of information we have regarding the crisis and our options for addressing it. She then made the case that the expansion of atmospheric CO2 levels from 320 ppm to 400 ppm (a change of 25%) is “very slight”. She is saying we have plenty of time and the situation is not yet an emergency.
When Rep. Blackburn won the Century Council’s Congressional Award, she said she looked forward to “continuing to work with parents and educators in my district as we lead this important fight to eliminate underage drinking and drunk driving”. A blood-alcohol level increase of 25% from 0.07% to 0.0875% is not only significant enough to break the legally allowed limit, it is considered scientifically toxic enough to cause serious sensory impairment and pose a danger to human safety, should the intoxicated person get behind the wheel of a car.
[ The Note for January 2014 ]
Once upon a time, it was thought that doing nothing about our unsustainable use of fossil energy would cost us nothing. Doing nothing was free, it seemed, but action might be costly. We now know (from unprecedented storm surges, continent-wide rashes of wildfires, tornadoes, floods and crop failures, food price spikes, and record disaster relief spending) that inaction is unaffordable.
A review of God, Creation and Climate Change: A Catholic Response to the Environmental Crisis, edited by Richard W. Miller
As distinct from other texts on climate change, Richard Miller’s God, Creation and Climate Change: A Catholic Response to the Environmental Crisis considers the specific qualities of a faith-based perspective and details why ignoring the crisis is impermissible from that perspective. That thematic innovation aside, it is the quality of the essays in this anthology that make it an effective tool for building understanding and for harmonizing perspectives across the often misconstrued faith-science divide.
There are two core principles around which the anthology is built, and which lay out the ethical standards for considering faith as motivation for responding to the mounting crisis in global climate destabilization: the first is divine creation and the second is human moral responsibility. Divine creation means that those who live it, who are empowered to seek knowledge and achieve understanding, are expected to use their intellects to access truth, to do so honestly, and to use that knowledge of truth to care for creation. From there we derive the requirement for human moral responsibility, implicit in the privilege of being alive and part of that creation.
Originally published in the January 9, 2014, print edition of the Newark Star Ledger
The “climate” is the planet’s system for balancing flows of thermodynamic energy. That energy moves as wind, water and weather. The climate is what makes it possible to rely on heavy snows being restricted to certain latitudes and landscapes, with flurries and above-freezing mists sticking to others, while ecosystems at some latitudes never have to cope with freezing temperatures.
…to the oil companies.
[ The Note for December 2013 ]
It is estimated that nearly $5 trillion per year is spent to support the fossil fuel industry globally by governments (in the form of subsidies, tax credits and other industry support spending) and through hidden “externalized” costs paid by governments and consumers alike (some from health, some from degradation of vital natural resources, some from political and economic turbulence, disruption and waste). It costs a lot of money to make fossil fuels appear to be a “low-cost” way to make historic profits and provide energy. You are paying that hidden carbon tax every day, as part of the cost of almost everything you do.
First printed in The Times of Trenton, as a guest opinion column, on December 01, 2013
For a long time, fossil fuels have been a smart investment. There is unparalleled infrastructural, political and tax policy support for those investments, and so there is a lot of money to be made. But all markets have nuance, and plenty of people lose money gambling on fossil fuel interests. That has always been true. Now, we face a new kind of crisis in pricing certainty: fossil fuel companies have invested far too much in future production that will not have as high a market value as they would like.
The Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reveals that we have a global lifetime carbon fuel budget of 1 trillion metric tons of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere since the beginning of the industrial revolution. Any burning of fossil fuels beyond that will bring on unmanageable destabilization of global climate patterns. The cost to government, society and enterprise of dealing with that level of change to the worldwide underpinnings of all our economic activity will be too great to bear.