Falling in Love With the Earth: Francis’ Faithful Ecology

"Earth Blood" by flickr user ArTeTeTrA via Creative Commons

In a brief article in an unassuming 1967 edition of Science, a medieval historian from the University of California argued a now infamous thesis in my own field of religion and ecology.

“Christianity, “ Lynn White wrote, “is the most anthropocentric religion the world has seen.” The notion of “dominion,” he argued, allowed human beings to exploit the ecological world in unprecedented ways.

White’s argument set off a decades-long firestorm, engaging activists, environmental ethicists, and Christian theologians alike.

But what most people generally forget about that now-canonical article is in the final eight paragraphs. After charging the cultural influence of Western Christian thought, White then argues for an equally religious response. “Possibly,” he offers, “we should ponder the greatest radical in Christian history since Christ: Saint Francis of Assisi.” The 13th century saint, who preached to birds and wolves, who referred to cosmic and elemental entities like fire as “Sister” might serve as a model, White argued, for a different kind of Christianity, a kind that can care for the earth seriously, in humility.

Like many scholars in my own field of religion and ecology, I woke up yesterday morning with another Francis—this one a Pope—on my mind. The Vatican had just officially released Laudato si, Praise Be to You—the first official papal encyclical to address the reality of climate change.

Pope Francis’ letter, of course, appears in the midst of a great cloud of witnesses on religiously-motivated ecological justice. The Patriarch of Constantinople, spiritual head of the Orthodox Church, known by many as the “Green Patriarch,” appears several times in the encyclical. Catholic liberation theologians like Ivone Gebara and Leonardo Boff’s work is unparalleled. Many leaders from other Christian denominations and world religions are discussing global warming and now the encyclical in earnest. Lutheran theologians like myself are using this letter in acts of ecclesial and planetary solidarity to prepare for the 500thAnniversary of the Reformation in 2017.

Scholars and environmental activists speculated for months (and not wildly) about the contents of the letter: its portrayal of climate change, its reflection on the human causes of climate change, its reflection on planetary science, its depiction of human life and sexuality, its understanding of everything from fossil fuels to water to biodiversity. (Yale’s Forum for Religion and Ecology assembles some of the best of that content here.)

As I read through Laudato si I saw much of the speculation confirmed. Pope Francis reflects on our various ecological ills. He reflects on anthropogenic/human-caused global warming, water scarcity, biodiversity loss, the dangers of unlimited consumerism, the dangers of unlimited and overused technology, “a misguided anthropocentrism,” economic growth, and the list goes on. (For an excellent summary of the chapters, check out Christiana Z. Peppard’s piece at The Washington Post.)

We hear those litanies of devastation often these days and simple reflection on global warming can send anyone into a spiral of ethical helplessness and moral ambiguity. But there’s something in the rhetorical feel, the affective language of this letter that might help pull a reader through.

The letter’s laments are couched in the language of praise. Francis the pope lures the reader in with the poetry of Francis the saint. The encyclical reads,

Saint Francis of Assisi reminds us that our common home is like a sister with whom we share our life and a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us… This sister now cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed her.

The gendering of language in this letter deserves its own extended reflection. But as I woke yesterday and read these opening words, Lynn White’s article came tumbling back into my imaginative world. And White’s argument for Saint Francis appears oddly, historically prescient (or at least influential) when a Pope takes the name of that ecological saint and creates one of the most influential texts on religious environmentalism to date. Even if, we might say, the encyclical isn’t perhaps as environmentally radical as White (or even I) might have wanted.

Still, what I’m haunted by most in reading this letter is its poetic genius in connecting seemingly disparate realms of life. Not a few have remarked to me about the encyclical’s balance of tragedy and human sin alongside love, hopefulness, joy, and possibility. It seems that the letter is nothing less than a love letter, an invitation to love God and the creation in which human beings live out their lives in ecological interaction. The rhetoric and prose itself lends Pope Francis’ vision to that very human context of learning appropriate loving communion, joy, and beauty.

Beauty carries a lot of ethical weight in this encyclical. Despite the vast ecological devastations, the letter evokes the beauty of our ecological contexts in its descriptions, and its logic argues that seeing that beauty urges respect of other creatures. Learning to see beauty in the everyday is an intrinsic part of an ecological conversion to the earth.  (Think of it this way: by my count the word “ecology” occurs thirty-three times in the encyclical. The word “beauty” occurs twenty-seven times).

Another point of connection is the theme of integral ecology.  In a nod to liberation theology and Leonardo Boff in particular it seems, Laudato si refuses to make the choice between human and ecological life a zero-sum game. Pope Francis writes,

Today, however, we have to realize that a true ecological approach always becomes a social approach; it must integrate questions of justice in debates on the environment, so as to hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.

The letter is concerned throughout with poverty. The Pope goes so far as to say that the earth is one of those marginalized and demanding moral attention: “the earth herself, burdened and laid waste, is among the most abandoned and maltreated of our poor.”

Many popular dialogues about social justice and ecological justice pit these concerns against each other, this letter argues them to be of mutual, related concern.

Finally, as a constructive practice of hope, the encyclical argues time and time again for earth as a kind of “commons”—the encyclical itself is subtitled “On Care for Our Common Home.”  The letter urges disparate communities—geographical, intellectual, and religious—to dialogue together for the sake of planetary action.  The common home theme incorporates all of creaturely life—animal, plant, human, elemental. And such a perspective urges intergenerational ethical reflection on all who will compose the planet before and after us—how do we work together, planetarily, for the sake of our commons?

I’m bringing out these themes quickly because of a kind of moral and desire these connections tease out. When folks in the United States aren’t mired in distracting debates on climate change denial and politically-motivated refusals of science, we tend to talk about ecological crisis in terms that are hard to assimilate. We talk about the vast structural powers of atmosphere and anthropogenic change. We talk about the complicated ocean acidification that dissolves away at livable ecologies. We talk about the swirls of energy from fossil fuels and various structural oppressions that energize climatological change.

The problems overwhelm our imaginative creativity to respond. Nothing can be done, the earth is doomed. Or, even, “the earth will go on without us, so what?”

I think what a message like Pope Francis’ does is remind us of the deeply ordinary human and moral dimensions of ecology and climate change.

The words remind us of our responsibility. By connecting the affective themes of love or beauty, the integrally human and ecological, and passion for our common home, powerful ecological treatises like this one remind us that global warming is just as much about the abstract oppressive and climatological power as it is about the intimate oppressive and climatological powers that shape our everyday lives. And that working within everyday structures can help in creating justice and navigating the future.

I’ve come to believe that our climate crises are crises of planetary intimacy. I don’t mean that we’ve lost a romantic relationship with nature that we need to recover. (That kind of imagination is just another anthropocentric misconstrual of creaturely life.) What I do mean is that everything of our contemporary crises also occurs in the intimate and risky relations of everyday life. Learning to address that intimate enfolding of life and creatureliness is one of our best hopes. Learning how to love the earth, how to build homes together in precarious climates, how to reconsider daily lives, how to daily protest structural economic systems, how to consider our animal interactions—all that is what creating a planetary resilience is about. This encyclical, as I read it, is simultaneously an act of love, an act of protest, and a hope for resilience.

Perhaps in bringing our crises of climate down to earth, to the very intimacies, desires, and relations of our bodies, Pope Francis’ encyclical offers a way forward. Perhaps when we feel earth, affectively, lovingly in the everyday—in all of its vibrancy and tragic beauty—we’ll be better able to do the work we so desperately need to do.


  • whiskyjack1@gmail.com' Whiskyjack says:

    One can only applaud Francis’s call to action. However, it is interesting to see the response to his encyclical from the Republican candidates. All those Catholics (Bush, Rubio and Walker) who rely on the moral authority of the Church for their views on abortion and homosexuality have all of a sudden distanced themselves from the environmental elements of the Church’s teachings, refusing to accept that financial and energy policies have moral consequences. I can’t say I’m surprised.
    What is somewhat depressing is that the consequences of climate change have been clearly communicated – along with the social and environmental impacts – by scientists for many years now. It’s too bad that reason alone does not suffice as motivation for action on this issue and that religious endorsement is evidently needed.

  • reedjim51@gmail.com' Jim Reed says:

    Religious endorsement is certainly appreciated, but in the case of Republican Catholics, even the pope can’t make much difference.

  • s1p0h2@verizon.net' Aquifer says:

    Great piece ….

  • Calvin@cornwallalliance.org' E. Calvin Beisner says:

    Catholic dogma holds that papal authority is only in matters of faith (doctrine) and morals. It doesn’t extend to science, economics, or many other fields. Abortion and homosexuality are matters of faith and morals; whether and how much added CO2 will warm Earth’s atmosphere and whether and how much good or harm that will do to humanity and other living things are matters of science; and whether and how much good or harm any policies to mitigate that warming will do to people and other life on Earth are matters of economics and science. It therefore is thoroughly consistent for the Catholic Republican candidates to honor the Pope’s positions on abortion and homosexuality while rejecting them on anthropogenic global warming and our policies in response to it.

  • whiskyjack1@gmail.com' Whiskyjack says:

    You’re missing the point of the pope’s encyclical. He explicitly links the consequences of global warming to their disproportionate adverse impacts on poor people. That makes it a moral issue.

  • Calvin@cornwallalliance.org' E. Calvin Beisner says:

    Rather, you miss the point. WHETHER and HOW AGW will affect the world’s poor are material cause-and-effect (i.e., scientific) questions. If the encyclical merely said, “IF our emissions of CO2 cause this, this, and this, that will be evil,” that would be a purely moral claim, but it goes well beyond that and states as fact that it WILL. That is not a moral but a scientific claim, and to that papal authority does not extend. Further, we may equally say, “The economic growth generated by the use of hydrocarbon fuels, a byproduct of which is CO2 emissions, reduces poverty and so reduces human suffering of disease and premature death, and that is good.” It then becomes necessary to weigh the benefits of hydrocarbon use against the harms. That weighting process is a scientific and economic matter, not in and of itself a moral matter. The judging of one or another outcome as good or evil is a moral question, but whether that outcome will occur is not.

  • whiskyjack1@gmail.com' Whiskyjack says:

    Global warming is an established fact. Its link to anthropogenic causes is a theory with a vast amount of supporting evidence, documented and compiled in many IPCC reports. The pope is accepting that overwhelming evidence, and commenting on its moral consequences. Questioning whether and how AGW will affect the world’s poor is a debate that has been over and done with for everyone but those who deny the reality of climate change.

  • Calvin@cornwallalliance.org' E. Calvin Beisner says:

    First let’s make a distinction: “global warming” does not equal “dangerous global warming” or “anthropogenic global warming” and certainly not “dangerous anthropogenic global warming.” Using the phrase as if it did equal those is deceptive and obscures the issues.

    Second, it’s also deceptive to represent those who question the magnitude of anthropogenic global warming as denying the reality of climate change. All the “CAGW” skeptics acknowledge the reality of climate change. All affirm at least the theoretical probability that increasing CO2 content in the atmosphere should bring about SOME warming. What they debate is the magnitude of that warming, and that debate is going on throughout the climate-science community, among “warmists” and “lukewarmists” and “skeptics.” If you really want to further rational, scientific discourse, you’ll eschew straw man arguments.

    Second, merely saying it’s an established fact doesn’t make it so. Nobel Prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman explained “the key to science” this way: “In general we look for a new law by the following process.
    First we guess it. Then we compute the consequences of the guess to see what
    would be implied if this law that we guessed is right. Then we compare the
    result of the computation to nature, with experiment or experience, compare it
    directly with observation, to see if it works. If it disagrees with experiment
    it is wrong. In that simple statement is the key to science. It does not make
    any difference how beautiful your guess is. It does not make any difference how
    smart you are, who made the guess, or what his name is—if it disagrees with experiment
    it is wrong. That is all there is to it.”

    The CMIP-5 models on average simulate twice the warming observed in the relevant period; over 95% of them simulate more, not less, warming than observed (implying that their errors aren’t random, in which case they’d be equally often below and above, but driven by bias); and none simulated the complete absence of statistically significant global warming observed over the past 17 to 27 years, depending on which database one uses (18.5 years according to the satellite data, the most reliable because least contaminated by local phenomena and most evenly spread over the globe for all latitudes, longitudes, and altitudes).

    In short, the observations disagree with the models. Consequently, the models are wrong. That’s all there is to it. It doesn’t matter who devised them, what his name is, how smart he is, or who agrees with him. If the observations disagree with the predictions, the predictions–and the models on which they’re based–are wrong.

    And if the models are wrong, they provide no rational basis for any predictions about anything–whether global average temperature, sea level rise, rainfall amounts, agricultural yields, or anything else. And if they provide no rational basis for any predictions, they also provide no rational basis for any policy.

  • robyn@importantmedia.org' Eden Keeper says:

    Love your article. I, too, am haunted by the poetic genius of the encyclical. I hope that unlike other well-known calls to climate action (e.g. “An Inconvient Truth”), “Laudato Sii” has lasting power and won’t fall victim to politics.

  • whiskyjack1@gmail.com' Whiskyjack says:

    I guess I tend to get my science from a huge panel of, you know, scientific experts rather than internet comments. I read the IPCC synthesis report released last year and found it very convincing.

  • Calvin@cornwallalliance.org' E. Calvin Beisner says:

    Which of the alleged facts in my last comment do you think are false, and why?

    1. The key to science is that if a guess as to how something work yields a prediction that real-world observation disagrees with, the guess is wrong.

    2. It doesn’t matter how many people agree with your guess, if it disagrees with observation, it’s wrong.

    3. On average, the models simulate more than twice the observed warming in the relevant period.

    4. Over 95% of the models simulate more warming than observed in the relevant period.

    5. None of the models simulated the complete absence of statistically significant warming over the last 17 to 27 years, depending on the database you use (18.5 years according to the satellite data)?

    1-2 are standard principles of science.

    3-5 are commonplace in the refereed literature.

    In the final analysis, Whiskyjack, you’re abandoning real science–which always tests claims by empirical observation–for pseudo-science characterized by appeals to consensus (such as the consensus that continental drift couldn’t happen, or that ulcers were caused by stress, not by bacterial infection, or that dietary fat is bad for you, or–oh, what the heck, read Thomas Kuhn’s THE STRUCTURE OF SCIENTIFIC REVOLUTIONS if you want to learn about the vast number of instances right up into the mid-20th century, when Kuhn wrote, in which “scientific consensus” was overturned.

  • jacobjerickson@gmail.com' Jake E says:

    Thanks for reading, but I don’t agree with this characterization. Despite certain very public rejections of this encyclical and global warming science,”Republican Catholics”–and both religious and political filiation are very complicated here–may be to be ready, in part, to accept this encyclical far more than some media and prominent members of that identify themselves as part of that group are giving credit for.

    I’ll point you to recent research by the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication. (See: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/06/22/catholic-republicans-climate-change_n_7639784.html ). 51% of Catholic Republicans surveyed agreed that global warming is happening, 36% agreed that global warming was anthropogenically (human) caused. Not the highest of numbers, but not insignificant or entrenched either.

    Reductive characterizations of religious and political stance aren’t very helpful here in analyzing how the encyclical is going to fall on the ground, because receptivity to global warming science is so varied across Christianities–Catholic and not. Environmental issues are their own beast, and don’t fall as strictly along the old partisan lines of the culture wars. A letter like this makes a huge difference. Thanks for reading.

  • reedjim51@gmail.com' Jim Reed says:

    I think it will make a difference and I hope it will. The problem is the Republican position is not based on science, but based on greed and trying to confuse the public about the science. The pope’s letter only helps if it helps some people vote against the Republicans.

  • Evan Derkacz says:

    KEEP IN MIND that those who are arguing with E. Calvin Beisner are arguing with the founder and national spokesman of the Cornwall Alliance.

    You are arguing with someone whose organization is heavily subsidized by a fossil fuel industry with a deep financial interest in fighting the clear scientific consensus on anthropogenic climate change.

    Also, after looking at the Cornwall site, it’s notable that while Beisner’s only other staff member is a woman (Megan Toombs, who does comms and outreach), the group’s advisory board consists of 33 men and 0 women, along with:

    *senior fellows: 11 men and 0 women (some of whom overlap with the board);

    *fellows: 5 men and 0 women (again, with board overlap);

    *adjunct scholars: 7 men and 0 women (ditto overlap);

    *contributing writers: 39 men and 1 woman (ditto overlap).

  • Calvin@cornwallalliance.org' E. Calvin Beisner says:

    Actually, contrary to the false claims by People for the American Way, we receive no donations from corporations, fossil-fuel or otherwise. (PFAW makes its case based on guilt by association, itself a logical fallacy.) And as to the composition of our network of scholars: Well, so, are you suggesting that male brains and female brains are differentially abled when it comes to science, economics, and ethics? My goodness, you’re good at committing logical fallacies!

    I’m still waiting for you actually to grapple with the argument rather than just resorting to ad hominem arguments (in this instance, argumentum ad hominem circumstantial).

  • maierkevin@hotmail.com' Possum says:

    Clearly you do not see the evidence for AGW as I do. That is understood. Do you accept that our oceans are becoming more acidic due to increased levels of CO2 in the atmosphere?

  • maierkevin@hotmail.com' Kevin Maier says:

    I understand your point about us not having a model that can predict future climate conditions with accuracy. This will probably be true for sometime to come.
    You mentioned Thomas Kuhn earlier- the basis of his idea (as I understand it), is that we are always searching for better models to fit the data. This search does not preclude making sound judgements along the way, otherwise we cannot make progress. Your argument seems to be that 97% of published scientists (Cook et al.) are misusing science and representing false models.
    My question to you is: which model are you representing? What are you standing for?
    The current CO2 levels are around 400 ppm. From your earlier replies, you seem to accept this fact. Is this a starting point? Do you recognize that this is an alarming increase since 1900?
    The oceans are not acid, you are also correct here. Instead, the oceans are becoming less basic- problematic? Our ecological footprint on this planet is unsustainable, and our burning of fossil fuels is unsustainable. My personal model (informed by science) leads me to worry about this. Pope Francis is also worried.
    Please tell me again why we are overreacting? (“CO2 is good for trees”, as referenced in your last link, probably will not convince me).

  • Calvin@cornwallalliance.org' E. Calvin Beisner says:

    Thanks again for the reply, Kevin, and for its civil and reasonable tone. I’ve just posted four lengthy and detailed responses to your comment. I hope they’ll be approved–certainly I’m not aware of anything in them that would violate the terms of use, and I’ve sought to be respectful and clear. If they aren’t approved, post a new query, and I’ll work out getting them directly to you. I wish you well as you, like me, strive, with our fallible understandings, to know the truth and act on it.

  • Evan Derkacz says:

    Bravo Calvin. Spoken like a true PR person.

    It’s true that the PFAW link doesn’t tell the whole story. That’s because the story is exceedingly complicated by design, involving massive sums of money (Donors Trust) distributed somewhat “anonymously” to a number of foundations, groups, and entities that launder the money’s fossil fuel origins and interests along the way. You’re paid by the James Partnership, Cornwall’s parent, which is funded almost entirely by Donors Trust.

    Your language in the past has been admirably careful in its insistence that Cornwall receives “no oil money” or money from corporations. Of course that’s the purpose of such elaborate systems.

    And, if you were truly concerned about the conflict of interest regarding fossil fuel-funded organizations you might rethink your CFACT board membership, your associations with the Acton Institute and Heartland Institute, and others, all of which have more easily documented funding from fossil fuel interests.

    So no, I don’t care to engage in a granular debate on climate change with a paid PR person whose training is in Scottish History. I’d just as soon debate gravity with a proctologist.

  • Calvin@cornwallalliance.org' E. Calvin Beisner says:

    I should have had the common sense not to get involved in an exchange with someone so stupid, or so dishonest, or both, as to resort to logical fallacies and undocumented accusations. What a waste.

  • Calvin@cornwallalliance.org' E. Calvin Beisner says:

    Well, it appears that the first three posts I made in reply weren’t approved for posting–maybe because they were too long? Anyway, here’s the stuff again, in smaller pieces. Hope it’ll come through.

    Thanks for the reply, Kevin, and for its civil and reasonable
    tone. A breath of fresh air compared with some of the others. I’ll address your
    points one by one as best I can.

    1. It’s not just that our GCMs
    (General Circulation Models) don’t predict future climate conditions with
    accuracy–as if perhaps they were reasonably near but not quite precise. It’s
    that their errors are very large and all in one direction. The magnitude of
    their errors indicates that they still don’t reflect actual understanding of how
    the climate system works. As climatologist Dr. John Christy at the University
    of Alabama/Huntsville frequently reminds, if you UNDERSTAND a natural system
    you can model it in a way that yields at least tolerable accurate predictions.
    On average, the whole group of CMIP5 models simulate (= predict, but the
    modelers don’t like that word, though it’s used hundreds of times in the IPCC’s
    assessment reports) twice the observed warming over the relevant period, and
    over 95% simulate more warming than observed, which means their errors are not
    random (in which case simulations would be as frequently above and below
    observations, and by roughly the same magnitudes) but rather driven by some
    sort of bias built into the models somewhere–probably lots of different biases
    built in in lots of different places from model to model. Models are useful for
    predicting only if validated by their simulations’ matching real-world
    observations. These don’t, so they’re not validated and therefore not useful
    for predicting–and if not for predicting, then also not for policymaking.

  • Calvin@cornwallalliance.org' E. Calvin Beisner says:

    That’s an oversimplification of Kuhn, and indeed a misrepresentation. A
    central theme to Kuhn’s book is that major scientific reversals rarely occur
    because, bit by bit, scientists have accumulated more and more data that are
    inconsistent with a reigning paradigm. Rather, they occur because a completely
    new way of SEEING the natural system in question arises and, in a gestalt
    shift, displaces the old way. You’re right that our not having the right model
    doesn’t PRECLUDE our making sound judgments along the way, but the sounds
    judgments made often are sound not because of anything the model contributes
    but completely independent of the model.

  • jackdale@telus.net' jack dale says:

    At this point the scientific consensus around AGW is pretty solid. In 2013 10,885 peer-reviewed journal articles on climate change were published. 2 rejected AGW.


    Why does no science academy on the planet dispute the conclusions of the IPCC?

    Why does no science academy on the planet endorse the conclusions of Heartland’s NIPCC?

    Yes, I have read Kuhn – more than once.

  • jackdale@telus.net' jack dale says:

    The Heartland funded Idso family web site has a history of misrepresenting studies. That may explain why they do not provide links to those studies.

  • jackdale@telus.net' jack dale says:

    In your cut and paste, you truncated the link on the last line.

    Increased CO2 in open environments results in increased predation by pests and compromised nutritional value in food crops.

    doi: 10.1073/pnas.0800568105

    Anthropogenic increase in carbon dioxide compromises plant defense against invasive insects


    Increasing CO2 threatens human nutrition

  • jackdale@telus.net' jack dale says:

    It seems that all of your links are truncated as a result of a sloppy cut and paste.

  • jackdale@telus.net' jack dale says:

    You should be concerned about 400 ppm.

    The last time atmospheric CO2 was at 400 parts per million was during the ancient Pliocene Era, three to five million years ago.

    Global average temperatures were 3 to 4 degrees C warmer than today (5.4 to 7.2 degrees F).

    Polar temperatures were as much as 10 degrees C warmer than today (18 degrees F).

    The Arctic was ice free.

    Sea level was between five and 40 meters higher (16 to 130 feet) than today.

    Coral reefs suffered mass die-offs.

    We have never had CO2 increases of this magnitude. During the PETM, around 5 billion tons of CO2 was released into the atmosphere per year. The Earth warmed around 6°C (11°F) over 20,000 years, although some estimates are that the warming was more like 9°C (16°F). Using the low end of that estimated range, the globe warmed around 0.025°C every 100 years. Today, the globe is warming at least ten times as fast, anywhere from 1 to 4°C every 100 years. In 2010, our fossil fuel burning released 35 billion tons of CO2 into the atmosphere.

  • jackdale@telus.net' jack dale says:

    In your cut and paste, you truncated the link on the last line.

  • jackdale@telus.net' jack dale says:

    In the AMS study, 5% of those surveyed attributed warming mostly to nature. See Table 1 in the study.

  • maierkevin@hotmail.com' Kevin Maier says:

    Mr. Beisner, thank you in return, you have been generous in the length of your responses. Unfortunately, I am unable to return replies on each point now, but will sum up my views as best as possible.

    I do think that we both understand Kuhn in somewhat similar terms. Paradigm shifts are happening constantly as anomalies push models to tipping points. (What have you changed your mind about this year?) It is becoming clear to a broad range of people that this planet is not an unlimited resource, and that is the paradigm shift that I see happening, and it will change the way we view industrial growth and consumption. The Pope’s recent thoughts are representative of this change.

    With respect to our current discussion, I believe that the preponderance of evidence has been achieved on AGW (you conceded at least 52% of experts agree), but I accept evidence that cites a larger number. Fine.

    We spoke of the oceans undergoing a change in PH, likely based on the increased levels of CO2 introduced by human activity. We did not speak of other disturbing trends, all of which are obvious points of discussion (pollution, over harvesting, coral bleaching, etc.) I am claiming that these are problems. The evidence of which is readily available to laymen, as you wisely made reference to.

    I will read the book you recommend, The Ultimate Resource 2. Perhaps it refers to the human mind, if so, I readily agree. That price alone is a primary measure of scarcity, does not ring true to me. What price then do we place on the mass species extinction that is ongoing. How do we properly account for that?

    My model? That is a hard question. I almost apologize for asking. To be human is to have many going at the same time- Religion, Nationality, Family. That is what makes communicating with our fellows so interesting, and frustrating (politics). However, I will cite a model that I identify with just to give you my perspective on our topic: Meadows et al. 1972 (The Limits to Growth). This does not surprise you.

    Thanks for your insights. I wish you well.

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