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Thursday, January 8, 2015

Articles about the Pope's Upcoming Encyclical on Climate Change

It won't be out for weeks, but the pope's encyclical on climate change is already stirring controversy. (Well, that's news, eh?) Shall we prepare for the coming document by reading what Catholic writers are saying? (We know the breathless cheerleading that will characterize the secular media.) Here are opinions on both sides of the spectrum. 
Vatican's Turn to the Left Will Make the Poor Poorer
Pope Francis the Climate Activist
Pope Francis' Message to Lima Climate Conference (You'll need to use your "translate" option.) 
Pope Francis and Climate Change with followup
I frankly would welcome an encyclical on stewardship of the earth. I remember
when Lake Erie was heavily poisoned by industrial dumping, etc. Hey, on a local level I see the impact of widespread use of  pesticides and fertilizer that result in fish kills in the Shenandoah River. I've read the articles about other rivers where fish are showing signs of dual sex because of all the hormones released into the water. And then there's the disgraceful policy of using food to make ethanol rather than feed the hungry. (How about finding a way to harvest all the unwanted kudzu for that purpose!) I also hate to read about the destruction of the rain forest and covering over farmland with concrete. And don't get me started on GMOs and Big Pharma using Third World women as guinea pigs to dump dangerous chemical contraceptives rejected in the First World.

But all these environmental concerns don't add up to jumping on the bandwagon of the green movement, one that favors the planet over the people on it. And what will it mean that the pope is involved with the U.N. and its international conference? The hairs on the back of my neck rise just thinking about it.

Is man-made global warming, if it exists at all, a problem? I don't know, but I seriously doubt it. Has God abandoned us? And what about all those natural carbon emissions from volcanic eruptions and natural forest fires?

The Industrial Revolution gave us a lot of problems, mostly related to human greed, but it also improved the lives of millions of people. Do we really want to go back to the "good old days" before electricity, central heating, and the automobile? Is Al Gore going to give up his limos, TVs, microwaves, electric blankets, computers, cell phones, private jets, etc.?

This week's Wanderer (January 8th)  discussed an interesting letter from a doctor in the First Teacher's column about increased CO2 in the atmosphere:
H.M., a medical doctor from Louisiana, has written to First Teachers to add an additional slant on this question [man-made global warming]. He describes himself as "a bit of an agnostic on climate control. I don't think the Lord plays 'I gotcha.' He gives us what we need. If CO2 levels are increasing, it may be for our good." 
Increased carbon levels in the atmosphere for our own good? What does the good doctor mean by that? 
"The fact is that water is the major limitation to plant growth throughout the world," H.M. continues. "Increasing CO2 decreases the need for water. That's because plants need a certain level of CO2 for photosyntesis, i.e., producing glucose. To obtain that amount of CO2, plants need to open their stomata (pores) wide. However, opening their stomata means losing water because plants respire. During respiration the water loss parallels the size of their stomata openings. When CO2 levels are high there's less water loss. More CO2 means more available water and that means greater plant growth. This is especially pertinent for semi-arid areas in which they were unable to grow previously. This may help greatly to solve the world's hunger problems." 
H.M. goes further: "It's not as if the Lord did not know what He was doing when He gave us the industrial revolution, i.e., the industrial age. It was a gift. So are its effects, such as an increase in CO2." For those who waht to pursue this matter further, H.M. offers the following reference for an Internet search: Biodiversity (C3 vs. C4 Plants) -- Summary -- CO2Science. It will take you to the home page for the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Gobal Change.  
First Teachers has no way to determine if this group's findings are scientifically sound, but H.M. is convinced they have much to offer in the debate over climate change.
I found this entire discussion thought-provoking. What do you think?

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