Monday, October 29, 2007

Changing Minds on Climate Change

The problem of Global Warming has been discussed often by those who are much more informed than I, but with Georgia currently in the worst drought in 50 years I thought I might add my two cents:

I find it disturbing that we aren't doing a lot more to stop the damage of Global Warming. I am no climatologist, and thus I am not really able to judge the merits of various climate models. I would imagine that most people (even the intelligent or well-informed) similarly cannot judge climate science. Public opinion, however, is the arena in which this movement will succeed or fail. A large group of climatologists recently issued a statement saying global warming is happening, people are causing it, and it is happening faster than previously thought.

Some people are still skeptical. While I cannot judge the validity of the science, something I have noticed both in most media and private conversation on the issue are some tendencies that seem to accompany skepticism about climate change:

1) A sense of entitlement about consumption. It is the God-given right of every free person to live with bright lights, big cars, and nice things. The threat of climate change must be false because the cuts in consumption required to stop it would kill the “American Dream.”

2) Confidence that the world is impervious. The earth is immense. It was here before we were born and will be here long after we are gone. One can accept that humans can do small damage like pollute a river, but the idea that the ancient earth can be irreversibly damaged by mortal men seems absurd.

While these ideas appear to be a major factor in public objection to action on climate change, I'm not sure they are even addressed the public discussion, or that those that hold them are even quite conscious that such ideas are the reason that they feel that man-made global warming “just can't be real.”

I think I am accepting of climate change because I do not hold to these presuppositions. I find the general level of Western consumption (including my own) to be downright indecent, and having seen plenty of desecration of the environment at local levels I don't see why global damage wouldn't take place.

Climatologists will continue to put out statements based on research that most of us will never understand. While most scientists seem to be in agreement, skeptics will still always have climatologist dissenters to affirm their suspicions. Rather than playing “my scientist vs. your scientist” comparing studies we don't comprehend, perhaps we should look into our basic ideas about the world.

Advocating ideas of stewardship and conservation as wise alternatives to consumption and recklessness with creation, may convince more people than any studies or expert panels. (Even more than Al Gore with his Oscar, Nobel Prize, and monstrous energy consumption with mansions and private jets.)

Monday, October 15, 2007

Marriage and Community

Promising oneself to another person eternally and unconditionally is an inherently difficult vow to keep, even under the best circumstances. Sharing a home and a bed for for a lifetime –no matter how appealing at first– is an extraordinarily difficult task.

I was 21 when I was first a groomsman in Bob Weiger's wedding. To me it was mostly just an enjoyable experience being up front with my friends. The day of the wedding Bob (far wiser than myself at that age) explained that we do the weddings with these witnesses and friends standing around the couple because life is difficult and these people will help them keep their vows. At that time I had assumed that love and dedication could somehow survive in a vacuum.

Now that I am bound to a wife myself I see how difficult it can be. Even thought I love and respect this woman so much, there are days when weariness and irritation are all that can be seen. Without the support of those who love us I wouldn't be certain that we would last the distance

Recently a couple very dear to me dissolved their marriage. I still remember standing beside them at the celebration that was their wedding watching them making promises that seemed so easy at the time. But time can disembowel the best of intentions, and after a while all of us who had stood around them weren't around much and sometimes it hurt so badly that walking away seemed like the best for everyone. I was off studying medicine in a different state when they needed me. Now returning to Georgia too late, I can only help as much as possible as they rebuild their lives more alone than before.

Without encouragement from a community that also makes promises to the marriage, this most fundamental of human relationships, is often pushed to the breaking point.

I'm sorry I wasn't there for you when you needed me.