Posts Tagged ‘pollution’
Here’s the next installment of our close read of Pope Francis’ Encyclical Letter on climate change, Laudato Si’.
(Note: emphasis added by me)
Climate as a common good
The climate is a common good, belonging to all and meant for all. At the global level, it is a complex system linked to many of the essential conditions for human life. A very solid scientific consensus indicates that we are presently witnessing a disturbing warming of the climatic system. In recent decades this warming has been accompanied by a constant rise in the sea level and, it would appear, by an increase of extreme weather events, even if a scientifically determinable cause cannot be assigned to each particular phenomenon. Humanity is called to recognize the need for changes of lifestyle, production and consumption, in order to combat this warming or at least the human causes which produce or aggravate it. It is true that there are other factors (such as volcanic activity, variations in the earth’s orbit and axis, the solar cycle), yet a number of scientific studies indicate that most global warming in recent decades is due to the great concentration of greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrogen oxides and others) released mainly as a result of human activity. Concentrated in the atmosphere, these gases do not allow the warmth of the sun’s rays reflected by the earth to be dispersed in space. The problem is aggravated by a model of development based on the intensive use of fossil fuels, which is at the heart of the worldwide energy system. Another determining factor has been an increase in changed uses of the soil, principally deforestation for agricultural purposes. (Para. 23) Read the rest of this entry »
Here’s the next installment of our close reading of Pope Francis’ Encyclical Letter on climate change, Laudato Si’.
Chapter One: What Is Happening To Our Common Home
The continued acceleration of changes affecting humanity and the planet is coupled today with a more intensified pace of life and work which might be called “rapidification”. Although change is part of the working of complex systems, the speed with which human activity has developed contrasts with the naturally slow pace of biological evolution. Moreover, the goals of this rapid and constant change are not necessarily geared to the common good or to integral and sustainable human development. Change is something desirable, yet it becomes a source of anxiety when it causes harm to the world and to the quality of life of much of humanity. (Para. 18)
Following a period of irrational confidence in progress and human abilities, some sectors of society are now adopting a more critical approach. We see increasing sensitivity to the environment and the need to protect nature, along with a growing concern, both genuine and distressing, for what is happening to our planet. Let us review, however cursorily, those questions which are troubling us today and which we can no longer sweep under the carpet. Our goal is not to amass information or to satisfy curiosity, but rather to become painfully aware, to dare to turn what is happening to the world into our own personal suffering and thus to discover what each of us can do about it. (Para. 19) Read the rest of this entry »
Word that ExxonMobil is still funding climate science deniers comes as no surprise but does reveal much about how feckless and arrogant the company is. Basically, the oil major is playing with us while thinking we won’t notice.
A long piece this month in the Huffington Post by Elliott Negin, a senior writer at the Union of Concerned Scientists, outlined ExxonMobil’s current approach on climate change. It also noted this carefully parsed statement from spokesman Richard Kiel: “We do not fund or support those who deny the reality of climate change.” Read the rest of this entry »
BP is claiming that the “…Gulf environment (is) returning to pre-spill conditions,” although the Deepwater Horizon oil spill Natural Resource Damage Assessment Trustees (NRDA Trustees) are still assessing the injury resulting from the largest offshore oil spill in our nation’s history.
“It is inappropriate as well as premature for BP to reach conclusions about impacts from the spill before the completion of the assessment,” the NRDA Trustees said.
“Citing scientific studies conducted by experts from around the Gulf, as well as this council, BP misinterprets and misapplies data while ignoring published literature that doesn’t support its claims and attempts to obscure our role as caretakers of the critical resources damaged by the spill.”
At more than 100 million gallons of spilled oil, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill was more than 10 times the size of the Exxon Valdez. The environmental effects of this spill are likely to last for generations.
Talk about strange bedfellows: China is the largest producer of greenhouse gas emissions in the world, but the country, in conjunction with The Nature Conservancy, is working to curb the causes and effects of climate change.
It might seem like a strange partnership between a non-profit and a huge nation, but it seems to work. TNC’s Conservation Blueprint project identified 32 regions that TNC and the Chinese government believe are most vital to the country’s environmental future. The U.S.-based conservation group is analyzing how ecosystem-based adaptation strategies “can help those regions thrive.” Read the rest of this entry »
A recent report from the Environmental Defense Fund and Ceres says that strong fuel efficiency and GHG emission standards for freight trucks could slash fuel consumption by as much as 40 percent compared to 2010 levels, resulting in significant environmental and economic benefits.
In fact the report suggests that American businesses could save more than $25 billion if the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency adopt stringent fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas standards. The two agencies were tasked by President Obama to come up with proposed target standards for medium- and heavy-duty trucks by March, 2015. Read the rest of this entry »
The notorious BP Deepwater Horizon oil disaster in 2010, considered to be the largest accidental marine oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry, was the “shock heard ’round the world,” and it is still reverberating. The cause of eleven deaths and a loss of many billions of dollars to the Gulf Coast economy – it has impacted offshore drilling, tourism, and fishing – the BP spill resulted in numerous civil lawsuits and settlements as well as criminal charges. BP is fighting some of these charges and the terms of some settlements, even as it continues to present itself as an environmentally responsible corporate citizen.
Meanwhile, fracking is causing a furor because of concerns about environmental impacts, including groundwater pollution and an alarming increase in earthquake activity in some areas. Activists around the world are working to stop fracking, and activist groups such as Greenpeace have planned legal challenges to fracking in England. Fracking has been challenged in the U.S. as well, with the main battles being between environmentalists and proponents of economic growth. A web site called Fracking Insider keeps track of legal battles and regulatory developments in the fracking industry. Read the rest of this entry »