Category Archives: Later, on science

Cuidar Para Nuestra Común Casa

The English version of this post—Caring for Our Common Home—was posted here on September 8, 2015. This Spanish translation is my own and may contain errors. I invite native speakers of the language to comment on my errors and to suggest corrections. Aquí está una traducción en español de Caring for Our Common Home. Por favor, hispanohablantes quienes leen mis traducciones me permitan saber mis errores y sugieran enmiendas.

En verano 2015, Papa Francisco publicó la encíclica Laudato Si’, una carta “Sobre Cuidados para Nuestra Común Casa.” Aunque una carta encíclica es definido como una carta de el papa a los obispos de la Iglesia Católica, dirigió ampliamente esta carta a “todas las personas que viven en este planeta.” Nuestra “hermana”—Madre Tierra—él escribe, “clama a nosotros porque del daño que hemos impuesto por nuestro irresponsable uso y abuso de los bienes que Dios ha dotado a ella.” Ponerlo francamente: “La Tierra, nuestra casa, empieza a parecer más y más como una pila de basura.”

Aspirantes presidentes en los Estados Unidos pueden debatir si o no climático cambio es real y usar el debate por una excusa para hacer nada. La carta de Papa Francisco es una lección en liderato. Nos recuerda que “un consenso cientifico muy sólido indica que actualmente estamos presenciado un calentamiento de el sistema climático.” Climático cambio, él advierte, “es un problema global con implicaciones graves: ambiental, social, económico, político y para la distribución de productos.” Él cree, “Es uno de los desafíos principales que enfrenta humanidad en nuestro día,” y él nos urge, “desarrollar políticas así que, en los próximos pocos años, la emisión de dióxido de carbono y otros gases altamente contaminantes se puede ser reducido drásticamente.

Habiendo reconocido la ciencia de climático cambio, la carta de El Papa expresa su preocupación para los pobres. Estos no son preocupaciones separadas, él nos dice. Cuidados para el ambiente debe ser juntado con cuidados para humanidad:

“El ambiente humano y el ambiente de naturaleza se deterioran juntos; nosotros no podemos combatir suficientemente degradación del ambiente a menos que ponemos atención a causas relacionadas a la degradación humana y social.”

Pero nuestra respuesta a “ambos el grito de la tierra y el grito de los pobres” ha sido débil. Nos parecemos poco dispuestos para abordar estos problemas o hasta reconocer la crisis.

“Como ocure frecuentamente en periodos de profundo crisis que requieren decisiónes atrevidas, estamos tentado a creer que lo que está ocuriendo no es totalmente claro. Superficialmente, aparte de algunos indicios obvios de polución y deterioración, cosas no parecen tan serias, y el planeta podría continuar como está por un rato. Esta actitud evasiva sirve como una licencia a seguir con nuestros actuales estilos de vida y modelos de producción y consumo. Esta es la manera en que seres humanos arreglan a alimentar sus autodestructivos vicios: tratando no verlos, tratando no reconocerlos, retrasando decisiones importantes y fingiendo que no pasará nada.”

Papa Francisco emfatiza que “todo está interconectado.” No podemos considerar naturaleza como algo separado de nosotros mismos. El ambiente no es un marco que nos rodea; es la relatión que existe “entre naturaleza y la sociedad que viva en ella.”

“No estamos enfrentado con dos crisis separadas, uno ambiental y la otra social, pero más con uno compleja crisis que es ambas social y ambiental. Estrategias por una solución demandan un enfoque integrado a combatiendo pobresa, restaurando dignidad a los excluidos, y a misma momento protegiendo naturaleza.”

La respuesta que es necesario requiere un nuevo modo de pensando. Requiere una “profunda conversación interna.” Leyes y regulaciones solas son insuficiente. Francisco nos dice: “para lograr significantes y perdurables efectos, la majoría de miembros de sociedad se deben ser motivado suficientemente a aceptarlos, y personalmente transformado para responder.” Así, la respuesta necesario a climático cambio no es una competencia de las políticas pero una transformación de corazones que alcanza a la dimensión espiritual.

“Hablamos de una actitud de la corazón, una que aborda vida con la serena atención, que está capable de ser completamente presente a alguien sin pensando en qué viene luego, que acepta cada momento como un don de Díos ser vivido al máximo.”

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The Next President: Climate Change

Climate change is one of the six focus issues that the next chapter is following during the presidential campaign.

On Climate Change:

Do you believe that human activity is largely responsible for climate change and do you favor regulation of emissions?

TNC’s take: Overwhelming scientific evidence supports the conclusion reached by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions have increased, leading to atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide that are “unprecedented in at least the last 800,000 years” and that the effects of these gasses are “extremely likely to have been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century” (Climate Change 2014 Synthesis Report, Summary for Policymakers). Voluntary reductions of greenhouse gas emissions are unlikely to be successful, and so new regulations are critical in the next several decades to prevent or forestall the worst of the predicted climate effects. Recent extreme weather events suggest that those effects are already being felt. Pope Francis addressed the issue of climate change in the encyclical Laudato Si’, which TNC briefly summarized in the post Caring for Our Common Home.

There seems to be no middle ground on the issue of climate change. Two candidates whose statements represent opposing extremes on the issue illustrate the choice that the voters have in selecting the next president of the United States.

Ted Cruz has told his conservative donors and others that there is no factual basis in science for climate change and that the theory of climate change is being used to control the economy and the energy industry. Cruz rejects the “apocalyptic claims” of “global warming alarmists” by declaring that “the satellite data demonstrate that there has been no significant warming whatsoever for 17 years.”

Cruz also likes to point out (based on a nine-paragraph Newsweek article from the 1970s) that “advocates of global cooling” predicted enormous worldwide problems from cooling but “the data” did not back up that theory and so “the advocates of global cooling suddenly shifted to global warming” as a justification for “government control of the energy sector and every aspect of our lives.”

Unpacking the Cruz position on climate change requires a trip into the scientific weeds. It is a trip that he expects his admirers will not make, no doubt.

The Washington Post examined Cruz’s climate change talking point (“zero warming in the last 17 years”) and discussed the data that show that 1998 (17 years ago) was possibly one of the warmest years on record, although 2014, 2010 and 2005 were warmer—an inconvenient truth for Cruz. To support his claim that there has been “zero warming” since 1998, Cruz has made selective use of the data. He starts with a single warm year and refers only to satellite data, excluding other climate change data, such as ground-based weather station records, that do not support his conclusion.

According to the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the rate of warming from 1998 to 2012 was “smaller than the rate calculated from 1951,” but that does not mean, as Cruz has claimed, that there has been “zero warming” in the most recent 17 years.

The researcher whose work Cruz has misused to support his position on global warming, physicist Carl Mears, rejects Cruz’s ideological conclusions:

“Mr. Cruz (and others who seek to minimize the threat posed by climate change) likes to cite statistics about the last 17 years because 17 years ago, the Earth was experiencing a large ENSO [El Nino-Southern Oscillation] event and the observed temperatures were substantially above normal, and above any long-term trend line a reasonable person would draw. When one starts their analysis on an extraordinarily warm year, the resulting trend is below the true long term trend. It’s like a pro baseball player deciding he’s having a batting slump three weeks after a game when he hit three homers because he’s only considering those three weeks instead of the whole season.”

In contrast, Martin O’Malley took an unusual stand on climate change when he declared in July: “One of the things that preceded the failure of the nation-state of Syria and the rise of ISIS was the effect of climate change and the mega-drought that affected that region, wiped out farmers, drove people to cities, created a humanitarian crisis.” PolitiFact, a fact-checking website that rates the accuracy of claims by elected officials, candidates, leaders of political parties and political activists, rated O’Malley’s statement as “Mostly True.” PolitiFact cited a March 2015 study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, which found that climate change contributed to an extreme drought in Syria’s breadbasket between 2006 to 2009, resulting in rapidly rising food prices and nutrition-related diseases, while 1.5 million internal refugees abandoned their farms and flooded into Syrian cities. The influx of people, unemployment, and corruption fed into discontent with the regime of Bashar al-Assad, resulting in an uprising against the government, which ISIS exploited.

In a statement on his website, O’Malley says: “protecting the United States from the devastating impact of climate change — while capitalizing on the job creation opportunity of clean energy — is at the center of my campaign for President.” O’Malley supports a transition to renewable energy sources, ending the nation’s reliance on fossil fuels: “We cannot meet the climate challenge with an all-of-the-above energy strategy, or by drilling off our coasts, or by building pipelines that bring oil from tar sands in Canada.” He lists specific proposals that would promote his “number one priority” for the federal government: “transition to a clean energy future.” His ideas include a Clean Energy Jobs Corps, efficiency retrofits of federal buildings, environmental regulations to curb the emission of greenhouse gases, adoption of a national renewable electricity standard, and a Clean Energy Financing Authority.

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    Pope Francis this summer issued the encyclical Laudato Si’, a letter “On Care for our Common Home.” Although an encyclical letter is defined as a letter from the pope to the bishops of the Catholic Church, he addressed this letter broadly to “every person living on this planet.” Our “sister”—Mother…