Repent Ye, for Climate Change is at Hand?

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I’ve always accepted the scientific consensus surrounding carbon emissions, greenhouse gasses, the ozone layer, and climate change.  But for a long time I elected to not care.

Why?  Because I bought into the folk doctrines that God created the Earth’s resources to be used, that a global temperature rise of 1-2 degrees over 100 years isn’t material,  and in any event, Christ’s imminent Second Coming would renew the Earth and fix everything before disaster struck.

As a religious studies student in college, I once wrote a paper on Isaac Newton’s eschatological prediction that the Second Coming would happen in 2060.  Thereafter in casual conversation, I used the 2060 date to support my religious opinion that climate change would never matter.   (“The worst predictions don’t even start until 2100 — Jesus will have come back well before then!”)  One afternoon at the Indiana University LDS Institute, I tried that line on a Ph.D. student studying ecology.  Our resulting discussion did not end well for me.

In recent years, the drumbeat of dire news on climate changes has gotten worse.  In parallel, the Church has seemed to soften its “Signs of the Times!” rhetoric.  No one knows the hour or day of Christ’s coming.  I, for one, am no longer comfortable betting the livelihoods of future generations on deux ex machina.

I’ve tried to choose more eco-friendly practices in my personal life — green appliances, public transportation, eating more local organic vegetables.  But I recognize my contributions are statistically insignificant.  As far as the top drivers of pollution are concerned, I have little power to construct nuclear power plants over coal ones, or reduce global demand for meat.

Yet recently, I have felt inundated by a steady stream of news related to the environment.

A blockbuster National Climate Assessment report released last Friday basically says we’ve entered an era of crisis.

NPR regularly runs stories during my commute on the effects of climate change, including on how the phenomenon affects and contributes to California wildfires, droughts, cold snaps, hurricanes, rising sea levels, arctic ice cracking, and more.  Yesterday, I heard about the “Yellow Vest” protests in France to a new climate change tax on diesel prices.  One construction worker bemoaned: “”We are sick of the government pitting the French people worried about the end of the world with people like us, who are just worried about the end of the month.”

I sympathized. But what’s to be done?

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Earlier this month I attended Pope Francis’s weekly sermon in St. Peter’s Square.  He spoke on being good stewards — how God’s command “Thou Shalt Not Steal” encompasses not selfishly abusing the Earth’s resources for your own money-seeking pride.  He cited to his groundbreaking 2015 Encyclical calling Christians to faithful collective action regarding care for the environment.

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A few days later, I toured Pompeii and gaped at the remnants of cataclysmic destruction from 2000 years ago.  Particularly the wealthy ignored the warning signs: the tremors, the earthquakes, the initial eruptions, the falling ash.  They refused to take action or flee, clinging to their material possessions.  They perished from toxic gas, their corpses buried by ash for millennia.

CivilizationVI_GS_Announcement_004Coincidentally on the same day, Civilization VI announced its 2019 expansion: Gathering Storm.  For the first time, the beloved game will incorporate natural disasters: earthquakes, floods, fires, mudslides, hurricanes.  As the modern era approaches, disasters will accelerate due to global warming.  You have to balance industrialization with ecology.

This stew all swirled together in my brain. You know those weird, hyper-detailed dreams that seemingly come out of nowhere – but once you wake up you’re able to identify their sourcing?  I had one of those last night.  My subconscious seems troubled about the future of Planet Earth.

—DISTURBING DREAM SEQUENCE—

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I stood on a beach abutting a tranquil bay.  The sun shone peacefully and the water gleamed.  A large crowd had gathered to hear a popular itinerant preacher.

Dressed in long brown robes, the preacher prophesied of the end of the world. He decried our failure to care for the environment as one of society’s greatest collective sins.

“For 100 years I and my predecessors in faith have warned you.  We have called you to be good stewards of the Earth’s resources.  We have called you to repent of your polluting ways.  But you have not listened.  As the Lord saith in scripture, ‘and it shall come to pass in that day the sea shall upheave its bounds, and due to your unrighteousness, all, the just and the unjust, will be wiped off the face of the Earth.'”

He dramatically raised his hands as the waves lapped up on shore behind him.  “The wrath of God and the Earth can no more be stayed.”  An oddly large wave appeared in the distance.  “The prophesied-of destruction starts TODAY.”

As he said “TODAY,” I realized the impending wave was a tsunami.  I blinked, and it crashed into the shore. With his hands stretched out to heaven in resignation, calamity swallowed the preacher first.

Screams.  Within seconds, hundreds drowned in a 20-foot tall wall of water.

I sprinted up the hill behind me, judging the cliff face to be above the water line.  Death, then silence, filled the air.

Just as I thought I had reached safety, I turned around.  A mudslide triggered by an even greater wave from the opposite direction crashed down upon me.  My last thought was to pray for a quick suffocation.

I “woke” up.  But Inception like, I only awoke to another dream within my dream.

“Game Over”, the screen of my dream displayed. “Humanity annihilated.”

Then a shimmering option flickered:  “Go back 50 years?”

I clicked the button.

But even as I clicked to reset, I knew humanity was doomed.  We are too short-sighted, too self-interested, too money-focused to take serious collective action against what most see as an abstract threat.  I wasn’t playing this game as a dictatorial world mastermind.  I was now a lone prophet crying repentance to a society incapable of collective action.  I was now Captain Picard, desperately trying to engineer my world out of inevitable warming destruction.

I woke up in my own bed, terrified.

The real world will never have a “go back 50 years” reset button.

The time to act is now.

But how?

Comments

  1. Benjamin Knoll says:

    This isn’t a good answer, but it’s helped me with some perspective:

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jul/12/want-to-fight-climate-change-have-fewer-children

    This research shows that the single most effective thing any of us could do to reduce our carbon footprint is to have fewer children because each extra human on the planet results in a whole lot more carbon production than other lifestyle choices we make (not a very Mormon-friendly solution). A distant second and third is to stop using cars and airplanes. Things like changing lightbulbs or recycling, while important, are still relatively minor in their impact.

    https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2017/jul/10/100-fossil-fuel-companies-investors-responsible-71-global-emissions-cdp-study-climate-change

    Then this analysis shows that the vast majority of carbon emissions are put out by large corporations and industry, not individuals. So even if we “go green” as much as we can at the individual level, it’s a minuscule drop in the bucket of what is driving climate change. It’s difficult at that point for most people (myself included) to decide that the trade-off at the individual level is worth it given that the cost is very high and the payoff is likely very small.

    I agree: it’s hard not to feel somewhat hopeless.

  2. Well it turns out that the pollution problem is a world problem. No great nation like the United States can solve it alone. I had hopes that when the Iron Curtain fell that the world would wake up and get together on the big problems. Now it seems we are just as far away as ever. All this talk of nationalism this and nationalism that will wreck us. Granted, the United Nations is a poor vehicle to even attempt such a challenge. Somehow we need to scrap it and get on with something serious.

  3. “No great nation like the United States can solve it alone”
    Would be nice if the United States actually tried, rather than dropping out of climate trade agreements, rolling back emissions and pollution laws, blaming too much government interference (or the other partys’ obviously misguided attempts), etc., etc..

    We -cannot- let ourselves use the excuses of “there’s nothing we can do”, “others are worse than us”, “I didn’t make the mess”, and “nobody else is helping us”. Those excuses don’t work for our kids cleaning their rooms; we should not use them when asked to clean up our own. We need to be better in every sphere we can manage making at least a little effect.

  4. Only one answer to your question: Never, ever vote Republican again. They have sold their souls and their posterity for power. Conservatives in America want to conserve only their own power. They don’t care at all about the earth or our long-term future. Our only hope lies in a flawed but morally and environmentally sensitive Democratic Party.

  5. This is one of those big, hairy public good problems that can only be solved by collective action in the form of government. There is no other pragmatic way. All we can do in our democracy is try and vote in people who believe the problem is real and will act on our behalf against strong parochial interests. That plus some innovations in battery storage and continued decline in the price of renewable energy just might save us if it is allowed to creatively destroy the old energy companies.

    Funny enough my kid of bellweather as to what is politically possible is to what SLC. If a bunch of communitarian minded people who easily have control of state and local government living in inversion that makes their kids and elderly sick with respiratory disease can’t act together together I am not sure what hope we have since the very political ideologies that are sticking them in place still have immense power at the national level.

  6. Jack Hughes says:

    This past Sunday in my Elders Quorum the teacher (a gentleman in his late 70s, former stake president) emphatically dismissed climate change science as useless, instead asserting that worsening global weather phenomena can simply be explained as God using natural processes to move the world closer to the end times/second coming. Many heads were nodding in agreement.

    With the introduction of the 2-hour block and a home study component, I’ve been hearing lots of comments to the effect of “these changes are preparing us for difficult days ahead”. This, and the above-mentioned climate change denial indicate to me that fear-based “signs of the times” rhetoric is slowly making a comeback. I never liked it growing up (in the ETB era) and I don’t want my kids growing up with it.

  7. The answer–the only possible answer, I think, on both the smallest, most micro and the largest, most macro levels–is less. The article Benjamin Knoll links to is correct, but it needs to put its measures of carbon impact into a broader socio-economic and cultural context. Fewer children, yes, but also fewer appliances, less travel, smaller houses, just less overall stuff. Reduce your diet, reduce your wants, reduce your material aspirations, reduce your economic goals. Strive to defeat or undermine every political candidate, every social influence, every academic presumption, every argument that begins with the assumption that what we want and need is more–more growth, more opportunity, more technology, more experiences, more choices, more discoveries, more money, more things. No, actually, the human species needs to want less, we need to want to retreat, to cut back, to content our ourselves and adjust our lives around something other than expansion. To say that as a white male middle-class American with a steady job that (mostly) satisfies both our wants and our needs is, obviously, to partake of a massive act of socio-economic and racial privilege; there world filled with desperately poor (and mostly non-white) people who cannot be justly denied the blessings and freedom and doo-dads which capitalist growth has delivered to so many hundreds of millions. But the science is incontrovertible: unless someone, somewhere, somehow, invites a gadget to magically suck carbon out of the atmosphere and make it disappear entirely, our species needs to become, in every way, smaller, fewer, poorer (in absolute terms, anyway), and less. The scientist who was quoted at the end of the article Benjamin cites warns that talking about limits “reinforces the suspicion of the political right that the threat of climate change is simply a cover for reducing people’s freedom to live as they want.” Well, except that suspicion is correct; we have to restrict our wants and our freedoms to do, to grow, to buy, to produce, to expand. A world where “people’s freedom to live as they want” remains essentially the same is a world where there will be, I think, no avoiding the catastrophes which all the data points toward.

  8. I have often lamented the public opposition and regulatory obstacles that have thwarted the construction of modern nuclear power plants in the US in recent history. I wish that public opinion would change so that those obstacles were put in place for fossil fuel power plants.

    Transportation (28%), Electrical Generation (28%), and Industry (22%) were responsible for 78% of the United States’ greenhouse emissions in 2016.
    https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/sources-greenhouse-gas-emissions
    Everybody getting electric cars doesn’t help so much when when the majority of our electrical generation is from coal, oil, and gas power plants. The good news is from 2006 to 2016, the fraction of total US electrical energy production supplied by coal plants dropped from 49% to 30%. http://www.ceres.org has some really good “Benchmarking Air Emissions” reports on the subject.

    Blaming the coal, oil, and gas producers isn’t ever going to work. First off, they don’t burn it. We–the consumers–do. They will continue supplying as long as there is demand for it. Additionally, they will always have the ‘we are providing jobs’ argument.

    However, curbing demand or consumption of coal, oil, and gas will help. Public, political, and legislative pressure on the electrical generation sector helped prevent the construction of new nuclear power plants in the US for 2 decades (from 1996-2016). I hope that similar pressure focused on fossil fuel electrical generation could yield similar results. Shifting our national energy portfolio toward carbon neutral energy sources is likely our best bet to change our national carbon footprint for the better.

  9. Great point Gail. Thanks for the link!

  10. Heptaparaparshinokh says:

    I have never understood why people make the “God would never let us destroy the earth” argument when God allowed man to make the hydrogen bomb.

  11. Mr. Schmidt says:

    “But the science is incontrovertible: unless someone, somewhere, somehow, invites a gadget to magically suck carbon out of the atmosphere and make it disappear entirely”

    There are prototype carbon sequestration technologies in use that have demonstrably “sucked” carbon out of the atmosphere via an interaction with another chemical, resulting in pellets. If those pellets are burned, that CO2 is released again. Or, it can be piped into formations in the earth. This article gives a summary of an economic analysis for it (though it is done by a company prototyping the technology):

    https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-05357-w

    Not quite the “disappear entirely” part…but still cool stuff. Of course, the company is also proposing using the pellets “to make synthetic, low-carbon fuels” … hey, it’s still a start, right? And possibly feasible if those fuels can integrate well with existing infrastructure. Don’t want the ship of state to be swamped by one massive wave of good intentions, do we?

  12. This is the dream of Numenor, Carolyn.

  13. My thinking goes like this:
    1. Vote for the environment. Given the viable choices in the U.S. at present, that boils down to not Republican.
    2. Recognize that in my circumstances the most important personal decisions are #1 number of children, #2 location, style, and size of housing, and #3 energy use.
    3. Deal with my guilt (or lack) over the children and housing choices already made.
    4. Encourage adoption of a carbon tax, and make current decisions and consumption choices as though fossil fuels cost 50% more than they do today and those costs flowed through, including (for example) in the cost of transportation, and plastics, in anticipation of and making choices as though there already were a carbon tax.

  14. @JKC: Apparently my Tolkien memories are super latent? I didn’t make that connection. http://www.theonering.com/reading-room/poetry/faramir-apos-s-dream-of-numenor-the-downfall-of-numenor

    When I told this dream to my husband he told me it sounded like a recreation of Noah’s Flood.

    Maybe fear of Tsunamis is just a universal theme? (See also the Epic of Gilgamesh…)

  15. Garbage science used as the front man for control of the masses.

    “Behold, the great and terrible enemy which we have created. Give us your economic power, give to us more power and authority!” – Your masters to be.

    Has the devil written all over it.

    Tell me, how can we trust an institution well known for dramatic reversals, infighting, inaccuracy, poor practices, with no independent oversight when they pronounce doom and gloom the “solution” for which that happens to give power to the very institution that pays for their research? All while they run around smashing critics with an “argument by authority” fallacy instead of answering legit questions.

    The meta research that has been conducted has shown pretty unflattering results to the general accuracy of science as it is practiced today. Until they turn that around, I see no reason to give them a platform to preach repentance for our carbon based sins.

  16. Numenor, Atlantis, Noah, Gilgamesh, Jaredites. It’s kind of universal.

  17. Kevin Barney says:

    I’m sure I could do more, but I feel reasonably good about my family’s practices:

    1. We had two children, which is a small number by Mormon standards. More importantly, neither of them has had a child, and they’re getting close to aging out of that possibility, so there is a very good chance that the sum total of my human descendants will remain two, something almost unheard of in Mormon world.

    2. I live in a small three-bedroom ranch. It was a starter home that we originally bought out of school 30 years ago. We just never upsized to a bigger home, which means that now we don’t have to bother downsizing to a smaller home as we age.

    3. My car gets good gas mileage, and I don’t drive much (mainly to the train station, to church and to the store).

    4. As alluded to above, I commute into Chicago by train, not by car.

  18. A Turtle Named Mack says:

    I’m choosing to pronounce “sceptic” like septic, rather than skeptic. Just seems more appropriate.

  19. I could address many different areas that touch on this, including government mandated solutions that have made the problem worse, how the degradation of property rights by the government have undermined real solutions to environmental issues, the lack of understanding of how solar activity affects climate, how crony capitalism has corrupted the economy and protects the powerful energy and agricultural interests, lack of understanding of Earth’s history as far as climate goes, and on and on.

    In the interest of being concise, I will only address one thing, and it’s not what most people think of. Until our monetary system changes, no real changes will happen. Fiat money requires that infinite growth and consumption, which is impossible. Our money is based on debt, when debt contracts, the monetary system begins to collapse (this happened in 2008). We are bombarded with messages during economic downturns that we must increase spending to get out of the recession. Since the US dollar is the reserve currency of most of the world and most major currencies are fiat as well, it is a world wide problem. There cannot be infinite consumption with fixed resources, but our currency will collapse if that ceases to happen. All you can do is do what _you_ can do with what you know. Consumer choices can foster huge changes.

  20. Heptaparaparshinokh says:

    Oh boy, we’ve got a gold bug here.

    Gold is fiat money just like anything else. Precious metals have ceased to be used as currency on numerous occasions in human history, such as in Britain after the Roman Empire abandoned it.

  21. “This is the dream of Numenor, Carolyn.”

    Literal chills down my spine.

    (Destruction brought on by trusting a being who called himself “the giver of gifts” and built a temple of fire and smoke, who induced self-interested leaders to wars and attempts at immortality…)

  22. Linda, people are trying to do what they can do with what they know–which doesn’t mean they have to espouse libertarian world-views you purport that blame, blame, blame others and then dream, dream, dream based on fantasy ideology.

  23. Michael H. says:

    So many great comments here. (Except for sceptic, of course.) As Russell Arben Fox says above, the answer–for piddly little individuals like me–is to go small. “Freedom” doesn’t necessarily equate to “being able to consume as much as I possibly can.” In fact, that’s a kind of addiction, and addiction is not freedom. Is it a Buddhist aphorism–“The more things you own, the more things own you?” Obviously the Bible, Book of Mormon, and Doctrine & Covenants are chock-full of condemnations of materialism. You absolutely cannot read Jesus without recognizing that a HUGE chunk of his message is to forsake your love of riches.

    And from there, yes, voting environment, environment, environment in every election; and for the time being, that means, yes, not voting Republican. If for no other reason–if not for all the rest of us, if not for future generations, if not for the earth–the GOP could do ITSELF a colossal, long-term favor by rejoining reality, recognizing the threat, and bringing a different set of solutions to the table. I really could care less if solutions were provided by the government or by corporations, as long as they’re real solutions, and there’s rapid progress being made.

    There was a time when reality was agreed upon, but we could disagree on what to do about it. This “alternative-reality” mindset is going to reduce the GOP to a tiny, eccentric, crackpot party (the kind you see wearing clown costumes in the British political system) within the next generation or two, and it’s mortally wounding everyone else in the meantime. (To the Trump party, that’s really all that matters anymore: “owning the libs,” regardless of the consequences. “Yeah, well, we’ve turned the planet into one giant dump, with mountains of burning garbage rising up out of poison water into toxic air, but we sure showed those libtards, didn’t we?”)

  24. Mack, that is as intended. If you have debated the topic online (I have, for years) you would understand that it is one of the primary offensive terms used to describe anyone not allowed to have an opinion (pretty much anyone who disagrees). At least it was during the hey-day of online debate. I have embraced it here to coincide with my argument by authority jab.

    As a sceptic, according to “science”, I am not allowed to have an opinion. I’m not allowed to say the emperor has no clothes. As a non-believer is scientific dogma I am not allowed to point out their errors, fallacies, biases, etc. You get the idea.

  25. Suggestions for those really serious about climate change. (Not all may apply to you).

    1. Commit suicide. Fewer people, less pollution. (For the independents).
    2. Promote substance abuse (opiates) at every level. (For those who lean left).
    3. Promote gun, knife, and any other lethal violence. (For those who lean right).

    4. Stop using electricity you don’t generate yourself
    (with solar panels, windmills or stationary bicycle attached to a generator.)
    5. Stop using cars, buses, planes, etc. Walk everywhere.
    6. Use water only to drink; no bathing, dishes, washing cloths, landscaping, etc.
    7. Eat your front lawn. if it is bermuda grass it will be sustainable for a family of 4.

    I might point out the inconvenient fact that 1.4 billion people in China and 1.3 billion people in India are doing very little if anything about this problem. Communist China especially lies about their emissions (and just about anything else). Almost their entire economic engine is fueled by coal. Relatives who travel there tell me the pollution is so bad they can’t even breath.

    The industrial capacity of both countries together could easily be 10 times ours in a few decades and their pollution will be probably closer to 20 times ours right now. Another 1.2 billion people are in Africa. Islamic countries number 1.8 billion people, although I am starting to count people twice. But you get the point.

    We have not discussed the environmental elephant in the room, nuclear war. (Anybody, maybe Obama, counting the most recent secretly produced North Korean missiles?) The history of China is one of unfathomably brutal wars that interrupt periods of peace and continuity. And we are already in the early stages of an economic war with them. Don’t kid yourself.

    Unless we get developing nations on board, anything else we do will help very little. They are not going to remain poor and filthy and wretched, if they can avoid it. Especially for a not-that-compelling-and-immediate cause like global warming.Their development is the direct result of multi-nationalism, for better or worse.

    *****
    My theoretical physicist son has a different perspective of the future.

    1. We learn to generate cheap energy with small scale controlled fusion (using hydrogen to make helium in a plasma state and destroy matter). This is his area of interest and he thinks it will work. It would make fossil fuels obsolete because they would be TOO EXPENSIVE relative to clean nuclear energy. It will require better engineers than we have ever seen before and whoever masters it will rule the world for the next era. Much like big oil rules today.

    2. We learn how to turn atmospheric CO2 back into O2. This will require enormous amounts of energy. Trees already do it using sunlight. The biochemistry of photosynthesis is where they may start. If we could raise and lower the atmospheric CO2 level in a controlled way we could better control (not just predict) the weather and climate. We are a long ways away from this but it is not theoretically impossible. I think it is far more probable than getting China, India, Africa and all of Islamia (not the snails) on board with the current climate agenda.

    3. Desalination of some small portion of the ocean water. This will require a ton of energy. The oceans are vast and even 1 or 2% of it becoming fresh water will make most of the earth a garden of Eden, if not a swamp.

    4. Lower birth rate which tends to happen naturally when people get wealthy enough. Poverty is the cause of the population explosion. Clean energy and better economic development.

    5. More advanced missile defense systems (star wars 2.0) make intercontinental nuclear war infeasible. We are getting closer to this goal. Small wealthy, densely populated countries have the advantage, like Japan. Nothing will end conventional war.

    Regardless of how distorted our specific vision of this future might be, it is quite likely that new technology could help save us. A small number of very bright people can have an enormous impact.

    My more serious suggestions to remedy global warming is to:

    1. Support STEM education in every way you can. Schools need to get off their political soap boxes including the really tall one on global warming. Not that it is or isn’t true/serious/etc. It is not as important as math, science, technology for most people.

    2. Support economic policy that enables us to be able to afford to educate masses of the best scientists and engineers in the world. If they come from other countries, so much the better if they stay here and we integrate them.

    3. Stop making climate change a political trigger issue. As long as one side is using it as a battering ram against the other (both ways), we will never succeed. Seek common ground. Who can disagree with producing more and better engineers and scientists? Who can disagree with trying to manipulate China, India et.al. into behaving in more responsible ways? Who can disagree with cheaper energy? Or effective missile defense systems?

  26. “unless someone, somewhere, somehow, invites a gadget to magically suck carbon out of the atmosphere and make it disappear entirely…”

    This made me chuckle, because God invented just such a magical machine eons ago. We call them plants.

    As a chemical engineer, I have a bleak outlook on the practicality of the man-made carbon sequestration technology mentioned by Mr Schmidt. Instead, I think the answer lies in part with what Russell Fox mentioned: less…or in other words, a massive culture change. But I think there also needs to be more…more plants.

  27. A Turtle Named Mack says:

    Ummm… yeah, sceptic – I got that the first time. Just wanted to emphasize where I think that line of thinking belongs.

  28. @Brian, If expressing my opinion could automatically win people over to my point of view, I’d make comments more often! My point was, climate change is a complex problem, with many, many factors. I think we often underestimate the power of our personal actions and lose hope. I personally feel that many people taking personal responsibility for what they see wrong in the world and changing their own actions has much more power than we think. Whether you choose to support local farmers that are practicing sustainable agriculture, living a minimalist lifestyle, or biking to work, there is power in individual actions over a large population. Only time will tell if my ideology is false, but I take personal responsibility for my own choices.

  29. Since I was a child I have heard multiple reasons why we are in a an environmental crisis. Every crisis demands leftish political action and some sweet government funding. When the current crisis fades another rises. Seeking leftish government funding.
    Rinse repeat…. that is why I am not buying this. Wolf has been cried at least 4 times since the 1960s.

  30. Geoff - Aus says:

    Someone above infers that unless China and India are doing their bit there is not much point and that the UN is not helping. The Paris agreement was brokered by the UN and this article from a UN department says China and India are leading the world https://unfccc.int/news/china-and-india-lead-global-renewable-energy-transition .
    In Australia we have had a conservative government with an extreme group of climate deniers, who have just overthrown their leader who is the Prime Minister, partly because he was trying to address climate change, so we have no climate policy because of this extreme right group. This group has been recruiting mormons because they are seen as similarly extreme. Opposing gay marriage, equality for women, availability of abortion, and euthanasia, go with a package that also includes climate denier, anti muslim, anti immigration, and white supremacist. There will be an election by May, and it is expected they will be replaced.
    We also get the message that we are only a small contributer.
    Personally my wife and I built a home about 12 years ago from eco blocks, which is a north american product that is incredible insulation, with mass, the roof also has 250mm of insulation.
    I am in the process of converting my mercedes S500 which averaged 12l/100k into a plug in hybrid that should do 2.8l/100k.
    In Australia at present (the end of spring) a once in 100 year heat event with 100+ bush fires some of them being fire storms, in Queensland.
    At the same time in Sydney the had a once in 100 year rain event with a months rain 120+mm in 3 hours causing flash flooding over a wide area.
    We also had snow with blizzards further south.
    If we can vote out the right we can as a world unite to save our world.

  31. The science is full of uncertainty. The politics are much more clear.

  32. Something I don’t understand: Going Green is budget friendly. It fits right in with that thrift that Mor–(deep breath) members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are known for. So why so much resistance? I save money biking to school with my kids. We save tons of money by hubs van-pooling to work.

    My son tells me daily that I should compost stuff. We fell out of the habit with our move, but I guess it is time to start up again.

    Trees are the answer. Plant one. Plant one for each member of your family. Plant one to shade your AC in the summer and you could save some money.

    I have a habit of shopping at thrift stores. Because I’m cheap. But donate your stuff. Give something a new life. Joanna Gaines made antiquing is cool. But when you do buy new, buy something that will last. Teach your kiddos about quality and stop perpetuating the throw-away culture.

    Support sex education. Support women. Support their choices and their children.. Having smaller families doesn’t mean people are having less sex, it means they are utilizing contraceptives that they learned about.

    Support libraries.

    Ask that the next RS activity or ward party have a vegetarian menu. Bring tasty vegan dishes to potlucks.

    Go vegetarian once a month or week or day.

    Add a Nest thermostat to your home. Live with house plants and learn to propogate them.

    Cancel junky magazines, catalogues, and mail.

    Does it make a difference? Do I need to quote Mother Teresa? The ocean would be less if all our one drops were gone. It certainly makes a difference when it comes to our monthly budget.

  33. Bbell, when you were a child it was the same crisis. Yes, every few years the IPCC keeps putting out reports, but it is hardly crying wolf when their estimates prove each time to have been less alarming than warranted. You should have listened more carefully over the years: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/08/01/magazine/climate-change-losing-earth.html

  34. Bruised, broken, yet at peace says:

    As a confused conservative who teaches economics, here are my responses to a random selection comments:
    1. I’ve almost never seen God do for us what we can should do for ourselves, so I don’t see Jesus being the Great Trash Collector in the sky when he comes.
    2. From a consumer behavior perspective, a clean environment is a luxury good, meaning people aren’t willing to pay for it until they’ve reached a certain standard of living.
    3. Birth rates crash as the cost of children increases. They’re more expensive in developed economies than agrarian economies.
    4. Rapid decreases in consumption lead economic downturns, decreasing employment, wage growth, etc. (see #2)
    5. Shrinking populations or populations where the birthrate has dropped below the replacement rate, e.g. Japan, Russia, Germany, Italy, etc. move into economic stagnation. (see #2)
    6. Most currencies reflect the perceived underlying strength of their economies and are not arbitrary, nor necessarily debt financed.
    7. The current direction of climate change (global warming) is more an issue of the entrenched interests than an inherent threat. If you live on the Florida coast you’re more at risk than if you’re a farmer in Siberia. If you’re poor, you have less economic resilience than if you’re wealthy. If you live in a thatched hut, you face greater danger than a house designed for a Cat 5 hurricane. We act as if cutting atmospheric carbon is the only solution. I’m not saying it’s not a major risk, but rather that we have a fairly binary approach to the issue. And binary conversations reflect reality about as well in science and economics as they do in ethics.
    8. Trump understands climate science as well as he does the checks and balances of our Constitution, free trade and tariffs, basic economics, morality, the Bible, the importance of the 1st Amendment, and business. Which, if his three [four] bankruptcies are any indication, is somewhat limited.
    9. Commercially viable fusion power has been “only ten years away” for at least the last fifty years.
    10. The far greater threat to our species than global warming is the massive reduction of genetic variety in our food crops and the tsunami of extinctions throughout the biosphere, both greatly reducing the resilience of the ecosystem to unanticipated shocks. Climate change is one factor in this process.
    11. The bitching that “it’s not fair” that the US invests in carbon reduction when China and I dis don’t is as childish as it sounds. There is a massive market, read profit to be made, in innovating and proving environmentally friendly products and services. It’s also inaccurate. China is building nuclear power plants at an astounding rate. Even Saudi Arabia is moving that direction. The US, on the other hand, has forgotten how to build them.
    12. The GOP has sold its environmental soul to the domestic car, carbon energy, and manufacturing industries. All of which are rapidly being replaced. Religious conservatives have bought into the anti-climate change arguments because their pro-life, pro-traditional family positions have been co-opted by the concept that economic free markets = free agency. Liberals have bought into anti-growth, Prius-driving, almond-milking (liberate almond udders) economically untethered “if you build they will come” magical thinking policies as an overreaction to profit-oriented capitalism and legislative capture.

  35. I work for a large oil company. They employ a lot of smart people and have a lot of money at there disposal. If there were a defensible way to refute climate then they would share it. Instead, ExonMobile, Shell, BP, Total, Chevron, etc. all accept the science and potentially catastrophic consequences of climate change. Ironically, many, if not most of my coworkers can’t seem to accept this reality. Us humans have a hard time accepting truths that aren’t in our interest. Mormons can’t accept that it might make sense to have fewer kids. Conservatives can’t accept that the dems might be right. Americans can’t accept that they might need to consume less. Given Christianity’s emphasis on the need to willingly sacrifice our personal self interest for the benefit of others (e.g. take up your cross and follow me) I’d think we could do better. Unfortunately we don’t. Let’s hope for the sake of the world’s most vulnerable there are some technological breakthroughs around the corner.

  36. I am announcing my position of being in favor of a huge carbon tax, applied only to democrats.

    Just think, all those leftists driving round in an electric Prius, Leaf etc., with the limo libs in a Tesla. While the tRumpsters are driving Hummers and monster gas hog trucks and rat rods and old muscle cars. The leftist have solar panels on their cottages with the thermostat set at 55 F in the winter and 85 F in the summer. The tRrumpsters have their castles heated and cooled to 75 F in the winter and 65 F in the summer, all fueled by coal-fired electric power plants or heating oil. The thin cottage dwellers subsist on sprouts and tofu and thimbles of goat yogurt. The fat castle dwellers feast on tons of beef and dolphin meat and spotted owl wings.

    Yeh, that will drastically lower carbon emissions and end global warming as we know it. Don’t complain about it or you are childish. Really?

    Well, that is exactly what I am recommending on a global scale. Only worse. As long as China does not pay the carbon tax. And how is anyone going to enforce China to pay these taxes when they are violating so many other regulations in so many ways and lying about it?

    Does anyone find it odd that the reported most polluted cities in the world are in less developed India but travelers claim the large Chinese cities are the worst? Could it be that India lies less than China about pollution?

    This is a global problem. Some local solutions punish partial compliance while rewarding more severe pollution far away. Which all goes into the same bowl of atmospheric soup.
    The solution has to be one or more of the following:
    1. Get countries like China to also decrease using fossil fuels- with dire economic consequences.
    2. Find a cheaper better energy source than coal, oil etc. requiring new scientific discoveries.
    3. Figure out how to pull CO2 back out of the atmosphere on a large scale faster than exploding fossil-fuel dependent, worldwide industry can generate it. (Who pays for that?)

    ****

    I am compelled to call BS on China LEADING in anything on the environment. They might be doing a few things that are economically in their best interest like building nuclear power plants. But I doubt they are as safe as they should be especially if they are going up quickly. Chernobyl is a forgotten example of sloppy nuclear power. My children have traveled, taught, performed in China. Several Christian missionaries in my wife’s church have lived there for months to years. They all report the pollution is unbelievably horrible. A trip to Beijing in the winter will give a glimpse of it. One relative at Berkeley has lived for months there. When the smoke from the recent forest fires shut down the Berkeley campus, he said it was no worse than daily pollution in Beijing.

    We forget their government is still an autocratic dictatorship even though they are allowing some market freedom. The current culture is extremely corrupt and devoted to kowtowing to authority. My son, the physicist, has taught in one of their top universities. He said he doubts the existence of a single independent-thinking sincere scientist in all of China. We have nothing to fear of them inventing anything new. They habitually cheat on data, and lie to impress supervisors; first, last and always. The final lesson of Tiananmen square was if you don’t submit to authority you will disappear/ die and your family will pay consequences, even though the western media had a field day with it promoting their agenda.

    Christians are being killed in China this year. Even the leftist Washington Post noticed with an article last summer that iterates persecution against Christians is as high as it has ever been since Mao. Historically Christianity has been a factor in civil wars that killed tens of millions of people. You think this can’t happen again? You think they are sincere about climate change? If they are willing to kill dozens and persecute millions of Christians, then at the same time believe they will adopt another western religion of secular humanism with its environmental trappings, think again. Your delusions could make servants and slaves of us all.

    If we throttle the economies of the few nations that have some small modum of a vision of world-wide equality and prosperity and a clean environment, these environmental problems are going to escalate far beyond what the current climate change scribblers and speculators can image.

    You think that superficially –reformed, greedy communists have not sold their souls to causes far worse for the environment than local republicans?

  37. That was weird.

  38. Bruised, broken, yet at peace. says:

    Wesley, apparently my comment seemed to have gotten under skin a bit. I’ll take responsibility for my poor decision to stay up commenting on a blog at 2 in the morning using an iPhone for the grammar mistakes, typos, lack of clarity and what may have come across as a less than tolerant tone.
    To be clear, my “childish” comment was directed at those who say we have no responsibility to do anything until China and India do. That really is an indefensible level of immaturity. Both Denmark and South Korea have made significant strides without killing their economies. It turns out that energy efficient countries can be much more productive as well.
    However, with regards to the electric cars, the carbon consumption of manufacturing the cars + fossil fuel driven power plants + the inefficiencies of power transmission = electric cars generating more atmospheric carbon than fuel efficient gas driven cars. And yes, I’d love a Tesla but I can’t afford one. But I do own a 4×4 that literally gets 14 mpg going down hill with a tail wind. And no, I didn’t vote for Trump (as they say, better dead than red and Trump does love himself a Russian).
    I have gained a lot of weight this year, but I feel like I’ve missed out on the dolphin meat and spotted owl wings. How are they with Siracha sauce? Better than tofu I’m assuming, at least boiled; fried isn’t quite so bad.
    And as enamored as I am with solar panels on the roof (Musk’s solar tiles are even better), until we solve the energy storage problem (current storage systems are grossly inadequate for general use), the solar power won’t solve the carbon issue.
    With regards to your proposed solutions:
    1. I agree with getting China and other countries to reduce reliance on fossil fuels, but “dire economic consequences” will have knock on effects with their trading partners – or an even more unstable political situation. I’d recommend market-driven, economic incentives.
    2. Yep. I’m all for it. Wind and solar power are getting close (or even better than). Just need to solve the power storage issue. I’ve seen a number of innovative ideas lately on using gravity and heavy weights as the energy storage.
    3. Pulling CO2 out of the atmosphere is done most efficiently by the Calvin cycle. Used wisely, this offers part of the solution.
    ****
    Having been to China a fairly regular basis, I’m with your family and friends and am not about to claim they are environmentally friendly, only that it is possible to be both environmentally productive and economically productive at the same time. Nuclear power is the friendliest of the power sources these days. Even the French, bless their hearts, recognize this. Chernobyl and Three Mile Island were based on technology that was outdated and known to be riskier even when they were built. Current technologies found in breeder, pebble bed, or thorium salt reactors are far safer and more reliable without the waste storage issue.
    Your diatribe on Chinese Communists seems to be coming from left field (see what I did there?). My comment was equally critical of the left and the right, but your fixation on the failures of the left reveal your bias. Ironically, I’m actually a fiscal conservative, far more than the average Trumperian.
    Anyway, if the thesis of my late night/pre-dawn comment was obscured by sleep deprivation, please allow me to be succinct:
    1. Climate and environment change.
    2. Some of it is anthropogenic.
    3. The changes can be deleterious, beneficial or both.
    4. We can change the climate/environment, our responses to those changes, or both.
    5. Free market principles can help or hurt.
    6. Market failures can be prevented or made worse by government intervention.
    7. Neither Democrats, Republicans, nor Commie pinkos are particularly data-driven in their climate-related discussions.
    8. Teslas are cool.

    xoxo

  39. It seems to be a bit of hubris to complain about developing countries (of which China is one) producing large amounts of pollution while forgetting the really horrible years of pollution when we were the ones developing. We can help them do better than we did, yes, but we can also have some compassion and praise for doing better than we had at that stage.

  40. Bruised, broken, yet at peace says:

    Very valid point, Frank.

  41. A great book for teaching and inspiring the next generation about how fossil fuels affect the environment is “Buried Sunlight: how fossil fuels have changed the earth” by Molly Bang. I have a science background, but I still learned a thing or two.

  42. Bruised, broken, yet at peace. says:

    Thanks, Kaylee!

  43. Geoff - Aus says:

    This is an issue that should be above politics. If there were a meteor heading for earth would we be coming up with reasons why we should not come up with a plan to deal with it?
    There are so many consequences to not responding, and so little cost.
    An example in the tropics there are iritangi jelly fish which kill you within minutes. How would it affect california if they moved north with warmer waters? This is already happening.
    I have solar hot water and solar pv, my electricity bill for the last 6 months is a credit of $80.

  44. BBYAP :

    I agree pretty much with most of your comments. Especially #7. The only addition is that not only am I biased against the morally bankrupt left, I think the right deserves a right good @$$ whooping too. Theirs is more of a problem of neglect than stupid recommendations. I do believe if we keep our economy strong, smart people will go far in solving these problems. Unless this is the fulfillment of Biblical prophecy of the end of the world. We cannot control God and his blessings or punishments. But we have to try our best.

    One other previous comment from you about forgetting how to build nuclear power plants deserves more attention. We are expanding the Vogtle Nuclear Power plant in east Georgia at this time. Good news until you look at what they have gone through to get it done. For starters it bankrupted the owners (Westinghouse) last year after over 10 years of expensive delays.The government needs to insure safety but it shouldn’t take decades to build it and require billions of dollars of cost overruns. Not all the blame rests with the Obama and Shrub era government over-regulating, but too much of it does. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vogtle_Electric_Generating_Plant.

    Three Mile Island and Chernobyl lumped together?
    Bumper sticker on my neighbors car in Northern Utah when I was young: “More people have died in Kennedy’s back seat that in nuclear power accidents.” Chernobyl was a disaster. Three Mile Island was not even close- a near miss and a publicity stunt. Fukushima was somewhere in between. One confirmed death from radiation. No long term health problems anticipated but hundreds of elderly frail people died while being evacuated. While you were reading all of this someone probably died mining coal in China.

  45. Andrew Sullivan today:

    “And I honestly can’t see how the science of this can be right or left. It’s either our best working hypothesis or not. And absolutely, we can have a debate about how to best counter it: massive investment in new green technology; a carbon tax; cap and trade; private-sector innovation of the kind that has helped restrain emissions in the U.S. already. And this debate could be had on right-left lines. But we cannot even have the debate because American conservatism has ruled it out of bounds.”

  46. Geoff - Aus says:

    Jared, Not just in the US, the extreme right of the conservative party in Australia (which is in power) can not come up with a policy on power generation because it might mention climate change. Mormons are seen as in that ultra conservative group of damagers. They also oppose gay marriage, abortion, etc.

  47. Aussie Mormon says:

    This is about climate change Geoff, you don’t need to bring your hate for the Liberal and National parties policies about marriage into every thread.

  48. Geoff - Aus says:

    I am trying to convey to Utah mormons that things that the church teaches, and are mainstream in Utah are extreme in other countries and means you are associated with extreme people.
    I don’t hate anyone. I do think the government is a disaster and should be replaced by someone with a vision for the country.

  49. Aussie Mormon says:

    Anything Christianity related here is accused of being extreme.

  50. Aussie Mormon says:

    Or rather, anything that is more than just Christian on census forms, weddings, and funerals.

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