Blessed be the poor sounds like a quote from the Bible, but it’s not. I just liked it as a title.
Many say that the old divisions between left and right, and of social class, are no longer valid. These divisions are not as clear-cut as they once were. However, it is undoubtedly true that while some are wealthy enough to go anywhere and do what they please, at the other end of the wealth scale some are stuck in a place and struggle daily with finding the basic needs of shelter and sustenance.
During the first quarter of a century after World War II Western society generally achieved for the first time in history a situation where most households could own a car and take an annual holiday of several weeks on pay. Tony Judt in his Postwar: a History of Europe Since 1945 tells how German per capita GDP from 1950 to 1973 more than tripled in real terms. In France it improved by 150%, while Italy, from a low base, did even better. In Britain in 1957, PM Harold Macmillan told the people:
“Let us be frank about it: most of our people have never had it so good.”
Business, investor, environment, research and social groups have formed an unprecedented alliance to establish common ground on which the climate debate can be conducted, as the Abbott government finalises the position it will take to Paris climate talks later in the year.
The Australian Industry Group, the Business Council of Australia, Investor Group on Climate Change, the Australian Aluminium Council and the Energy Supply Association of Australia have joined forces with the Australian Conservation Foundation, WWF Australia, the Australian Council of Social Service and the Australian Council of Trade Unions to set down some basic markers on climate policy which they hope will allow for future political consensus on the issue.
The full title of Pope Francis’s encyclical is Encyclical Letter Laudati Si’ of the Holy Father Francis on Care for our Common Home. In the first of 246 paragraphs he quotes a beautiful canticle, from Saint Francis of Assisi:
“Praise be to you, my Lord, through our Sister, Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us, and who produces various fruit with coloured flowers and herbs”.
Then in paragraph two:
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. We have come to see ourselves as her lords and masters, entitled to plunder her at will. The violence present in our hearts, wounded by sin, is also reflected in the symptoms of sickness evident in the soil, in the water, in the air and in all forms of life. This is why the earth herself, burdened and laid waste, is among the most abandoned and maltreated of our poor; she “groans in travail” (Rom 8:22).
identified the most-polluting, least-efficient and oldest “sub-critical” coal-fired power stations. It found 89% of Australia’s coal power station fleet is sub-critical, “by far” the most carbon-intensive sub-critical fleet in world.
The International Energy Association, within a framework that itself is probably inadequate, says that one in four sub-critical power stations should close within five years. Hence 22% of our power stations should close within five years if we are to do our part. Continue reading Climate clippings 135→
Pope Francis is going to give climate change action a red hot go in 2015:
In 2015, the pope will issue a lengthy message on the subject to the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics, give an address to the UN general assembly and call a summit of the world’s main religions.
The reason for such frenetic activity, says Bishop Marcelo Sorondo, chancellor of the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Sciences, is the pope’s wish to directly influence next year’s crucial UN climate meeting in Paris, when countries will try to conclude 20 years of fraught negotiations with a universal commitment to reduce emissions.
He also wants to change the financial system from one based on raw consumerist exploitation to one based on ethics which respect ecological principles. He should have a chat with Naomi Klein!
Giles Parkinson has more at RenewEconomy, including the note that Pope Benedict kicked things off by buying carbon credits in the form of a Hungarian forest to make the Vatican carbon neutral, and the possibility that the Catholic church may divest funds invested in the fossil fuel industry.
2. 2014: the year climate change undeniably arrived
John H. Cushman Jr. at InsideClimate News in reviewing the year thinks 2014 was the year climate change undeniably arrived. It was the hottest year ever, the science became conclusive, and a mushrooming climate movement pressed world leaders to act, which to some extent they did.
On the science, he was referring mainly to the IPCC report where already in 2013 the Physical Science Working Group moved the probability of human causation up a notch from “very likely” (>90%) to “extremely likely” (>95%) which is about as good as it gets. In the Synthesis Report of 2014 the language was ramped up saying that harm from greater warming if we stay on the current course could be “severe, pervasive and irreversible.”
Action looked promising with mitigation pledges by the EU, China and the US, also the UN climate talks at Lima.
On the “mushrooming climate movement he is talking about a:
phenomenon that emerged in a spectacular way in September, on the eve of Ban Ki-moon’s UN summit—the coming of age of a new popular movement demanding climate action now.
Hundreds of thousands of marchers filled the streets of Manhattan, curb to curb for 50 blocks or more. Their presence attested to a new dynamic in which inside-the-beltway lobbyists and well-heeled think tanks joined forces with grassroots anti-fracking and anti-pipeline protestors, in which labor unions and school kids found common cause.
A fine effort, but then, you see, sensible voters stayed at home and allowed the Republicans to take over Congress.
3. Precarious Climate
Climate and political blogger James Wight at Precarious Climatereviews the year, kind of, mostly by listing his best posts.
The last, Australia continues climate obstructionism in Lima, was an excellent wrap of the Lima talks. I was not aware (I’d wondered) that Julie Bishop is a climate denier, along with Andrew Robb, just the pair we needed to represent us at international climate talks.
Both Peugot and Citroën are developing compressed-air hybrid cars that use 2 litres per 100 kilometres of fuel. Apart from the hybrid compressed-air powertrain both cars are using light-weight materials and aerodynamics to improve economy. The also have narrow tyres pumped up high.
Of course these cars use twice as much fuel as the electric hybrid Volkswagen XL1 which plans to put 250 cars on the road, at a price. That article is from July 2013 – not sure how they are going.
The first teaching document mainly authored by Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium, is a bold and thrilling bid to send the Catholic Church worldwide on mission. Energetic, direct, lyrical, its language and style model the evangelization to which the Pope is calling Catholics. In sharp critiques and passionate prose, it polarises the choices faced both by the Church and the world, gently but insistently inviting people to opt for mission – and to a journey of transformation and reform.