Category Archives: Ecology/Environment
Below is a story from a friend named Caley. Caley is 17 and just finished school. She also just went on a trip to Western Kenya as part of one of TEAR Australia’s Development Educations Experience Programs (DEEPs). Caley writes:
We went to learn about what effective development looks like, and to meet people whose lives have been changed by the programs that TEAR supports. One of the things many Kenyans said to me while I was there, was to tell Australians about their story when I returned. I want to do that now!
Below she recounts a story that relates to climate change and its effects on the poor in Kenya. I hope you find this story as moving and challenging as I did. (Note: this story is unedited.)
Sitting under a tree, on the dusty earth, were four Kenyan men. On a small solar powered radio they were listening to a sermon. We were on a tour of the village and we stopped to talk to them. It was the words of one of these men that changed my perceptions about climate change, and deeply convicted me about the action I need to take against it.
I did not catch the name of the eldest man under the tree. I remember his words though: “The sun is squashing us” he said. “We pray for rain and it feels like the devil replies”. Read the rest of this entry
Even if the deniers were right – which is impossible to credit on rational grounds – the core argument of [A Moral Climate] is that the fossil-fuelled global economy is dangerous to planet earth and to human life, not just because it is warming the climate of the earth but because it is deeply destructive of the diversity and welfare of the ecosystems and human communities from which surplus value is extracted and traded across highways, oceans and jetstreams. The rituals encouraged by the recognition of global warming – turning off lights, turning down the heater, cycling or walking instead of driving, holidaying nearer to home, buying local food, shopping less and conversing more, addressing the causes of fuel poverty locally and internationally – are good because they are intrinsically right, not just because they have the consequence of reducing carbon emissions. Such actions correct modern thoughtlessness. They sustain the moral claim that it is wrong to live in a civilisation that depends upon the systematic enslavement of peoples and ecosystems to the high resource requirements of a corporately-governed consumer economy. …
… Actions which will have the effect of mitigating climate change are also actions which reaffirm the embodied relationship between inner desire and the outer world of what Christians call Creation. For this reason such actions are intrinsically good, and will promote flourishing even if, as a minority of dissenters suggest, greenhouse gases are not the primary driver of global warming.
– Michael Northcott, A Moral Climate: The Ethics of Global Warming, 273-274. Read the rest of this entry
And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” 29And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. 30And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. 31 And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.
– Genesis 1:28-31a
What is “dominion” anyway?
Some have seen it as God’s designing the world in such a way as to allow humans to rule over it and to do to it as they see fit. Such ruling is often seen as not excluding the abuse of the natural world in the name of human freedom, prosperity and comfort.
(As much as I wish this were a strawman argument, it is not…)
But this raises some logical problems in the Genesis narrative of which I will outline two. Read the rest of this entry
Indeed, the Industrial Revolution was built on the philosophy that the world works like a machine, and that it can be controlled by those who effectively see themselves as somehow separate to or greater than the great earth engine.
Such a mechanical view of the planet can be traced back to (among others) Isaac Newton and his mechanical laws of physics. Such laws reduced the world down to predictable rules.
But the world of science has changed, blown apart by Einsteinian relativity. The world and beyond is not the machine humans thought it was, and indeed it cannot be mastered the way humans thought could be done (though some will continue to say “Yes, we can!”).
The truth is that the earth is a living thing! It forms a bio-web of life which embraces millions of creatures.
Today I participated in the People’s Blockade Of The World’s Biggest Coal Port in Newcastle (New South Wales, Australia). Here’s something the organisation that organised and ran it (Rising Tide Australia) had to say;
Now, more than ever, we need to be turning up the heat on the coal industry, and their friends in government. The export coal industry is Australia’s single biggest, and fastest growing contribution to the global climate crisis.
Newcastle, already the world’s biggest coal port, is opening a major new coal export terminal over the course of this year, bringing the export capacity of the Hunter Valley coal chain to an incredible 178 million tonnes of coal per annum. That’s the climate change equivalent of 30 Bayswater Power Stations. Within ten years, the coal corporations plan on exporting more than 300 million tonnes of coal per annum – a tripling of current export capacity.
Tripling coal exports means tripling coal mining. As Newcastle coal exports boom, more precious bushland will be razed, more waterways polluted, more communities ripped apart as the transnational coal companies carve their way westwards into the Liverpool Plains. The profits will be exported, but the devastation will stay here in the Hunter. The catastrophic effects of climate change will hurt all around the world.
This madness has to stop. The climate crisis is deepening, and time is fast running out. Politicians are failing to take action against the rampant coal companies, so we have to do it ourselves.
We had a great day paddling canoes around Newcastle Harbour in protest. But I was disappointed. Keep Reading…