I never thought I would applaud the Pope. But hurray for him as his message spreads to the Chicago diocese. By its self the church can not solve the problem but it could put a dent in Global Warming. Here is hoping it spreads.
Answering a plea from Pope Francis to protect the planet, Chicagoans — Catholics and non-Catholics alike — pledged Thursday to collect rainfall, conserve tap water, recycle their cans and bottles, and switch off the lights when they leave a room.
It’s an unusually tangible, immediate and ecumenical response to a papal encyclical, a letter expounding on Catholic teachings.
But the encyclical itself is an extraordinary letter. Francis’ first solo encyclical (he co-wrote one with his predecessor) is the first time the leader of the world’s billion Roman Catholics has addressed the environment. And the letter is more than a manifesto for clergy and bishops to use as a teaching tool. It’s a call to action with scientific rationale, written in plain language and addressed to “every person living on this planet.”
“I’m so excited about the courage of this pope. He’s done his homework,” said Gina Orlando, an instructor of science and spirituality courses at DePaul University and a Catholic who recently returned to Ascension Catholic Church in Oak Park after spending the last several years church shopping. “I’m back now because of this encyclical and the possibility that it holds for spirituality and environmental change.”
Go there and read. It is up lifting. More next week.
When homosapiens invented fire did we doom ourselves? Because it seems fire will always come into contact with fire and global warming is the result. I think this implies that there is a limit on large animals ability to survive on Earth. I think it means that the Earth is locked into cycles of mass die offs. Finally, I think it means humans better get out of here soon. Yet, I wonder why that is just dawning on me at 60?
From the back kitchen window of his little house on a ridge in east-central Pennsylvania, John Lokitis looks out on a most unusual prospect. Just uphill, at the edge of St.IgnatiusCemetery, the earth is ablaze. Vegetation has been obliterated along a quarter-mile strip; sulfurous steam billows out of hundreds of fissures and holes in the mud. There are pits extending perhaps 20 feet down: in their depths, discarded plastic bottles and tires have melted. Dead trees, their trunks bleached white, lie in tangled heaps, stumps venting smoke through hollow centers. Sometimes fumes seep across the cemetery fence to the grave of Lokitis’ grandfather, George Lokitis.
This hellish landscape constitutes about all that remains of the once-thriving town of Centralia, Pennsylvania. Forty-three years ago, a vast honeycomb of coal mines at the edge of the town caught fire. An underground inferno has been spreading ever since, burning at depths of up to 300 feet, baking surface layers, venting poisonous gases and opening holes large enough to swallow people or cars. The conflagration may burn for another 250 years, along an eight-mile stretch encompassing 3,700 acres, before it runs out of the coal that fuels it.
Remarkably enough, nobody’s doing a thing about it. The federal and state governments gave up trying to extinguish the fire in the 1980s. “Pennsylvania didn’t have enough money in the bank to do the job,” says Steve Jones, a geologist with the state’s Office of Surface Mining. “If you aren’t going to put it out, what can you do? Move the people.”Nearly all 1,100 residents left after they were offered federally funded compensation for their properties. Their abandoned houses were leveled. Today Centralia exists only as an eerie grid of streets, its driveways disappearing into vacant lots. Remains of a picket fence here, a chair spindle there—plus Lokitis and 11 others who refused to leave, the occupants of a dozen scattered structures. Lokitis, 35, lives alone in the house he inherited from “Pop”—his grandfather, a coal miner, as was Pop’s father before him. For fans of the macabre, lured by a sign warning of DANGER from asphyxiation or being swallowed into the ground, Centralia has become a tourist destination. For Lokitis, it is home.
Across the globe, thousands of coal fires are burning.
I never thought I would ever see this. Really as a post it has nowhere to fit in. BUT. It is important so I just thought I would cram it in here and live with it. When people surf this blog in future years they can just think of it as a speed bump. Can you believe that there are people who want to flaunt their ignorance?
“I accept that the planet has warmed,” said conservative columnist Mark Steyn from the podium. “And I rejoice that it is warm.”
Steyn was one of many speakers at the libertarian Heartland Institute’s 10th “International Conference on Climate Change,” a major event for climate science contrarians. The two-day conference, held in mid-June at the classy Washington Court Hotel just a few blocks from the US Capitol, had all the trappings of an academic conference, but you wouldn’t mistake it for a Geological Society of America meeting. Tables set up outside the hotel’s main ballroom hosted conservative advocacy groups and think tanks like CFACT, the Ayn Rand Institute, and the Heritage Foundation (which attracted visitors with a life-size cardboard cut-out of Ronald Reagan). The audience contained some meteorologists but seemed mostly composed of retired couples with an interest in politics, along with a handful of state legislators.
The goal was to gather speakers—who, organizers frequently reminded the audience, were some of the most famous and well-respected experts in the world—who could arm attendees with the information they needed to take the Good Fight back out to the streets. A small number of the talks presented research into climate science, but most were arguments against climate policy based on economic impacts. In other words, imagine the opinion pages of The Wall Street Journal plus a podium.
As for the speakers, they viewed themselves as voices of reason speaking truth to power—all of them trying desperately to keep the Western world from slipping over the precipice to certain economic ruin. And to hear them tell it, Heartland and its allies were winning the battle against the “climate alarmists.” The public remains divided on the issue of climate change, with some recent polling placing it low on the priority list of concerns. Attempts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through legislation have been stymied. International negotiations have been arduous.
The U.S. Department of Energy has accepted 92 teams from industry and academia to compete in its Wave Energy Prize program that seeks to encourage the development of wave energy conversion devices.
The program, which was introduced in April by the DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy during the National Hydropower Association’s Annual Conference in Washington, D.C., is a design-build-test competition that supports the department’s goal of making marine hydrokinetic generation more competitive with traditional forms of production.
Teams will be competing for a total prize purse that totals more than $2 million.
“We’re extremely pleased with both the quantity of teams and the diversity of participants reflecting broad expertise from so many established companies in the ocean energy space, universities, and newcomers to the industry,” said Julie Zona, Wave Energy Prize administrator.
Since registration for the program closed June 30, teams are working on the first requirement for the prize — a technical submission describing their concepts, which is due later this month. A panel will then select up to 20 of the top teams by mid-August, with those groups invited to build a 1/50th scale model for small-tank testing.
The U.S. Supreme Court struck down new rules for America’s biggest air polluters on Monday, dealing a blow to the Obama administration’s efforts to set limits on the amount of mercury, arsenic and other toxins coal-fired power plants can spew into the air, lakes and rivers.
The 5-4 decision was a major setback to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and could leave the agency more vulnerable to legal challenges from industry and Republican-led states to its new carbon pollution rules.
It was also a blow to years of local efforts to clean up dangerous air pollution.
Go there and read. Be prepared to be sad. More next week.