I'm glad I was able to listen to your program this week. With all the media coverage of the Climate Change Summit in Copenhagen, I was thinking about the environment and global warming this week and wanting to reach out in some way.
I went to high school in the 1970's at a time when there was great concern about the environment. I attended a Catholic high school and was a member of the ecology club. I don't remember concern for the earth and the our environment being discussed directly in religion classes, but there was a lot of emphasis on social justice and on the idea that one's faith should have an impact on what one did in one's everyday life. Once a month our Ecology Club gathered on a Saturday afternoon and drove around the local neighborhood collecting newspapers for recycling. Although it was unspoken it seemed both a response to our concern for the world we believed God had created and a way of having an small impact on our world.
Now we have weekly recycling of paper and plastic in our village, but I still turn off lights around my home and will pick up plastic bottles and containers that are I find in the street or our local park.
I am somewhat familiar with the problems and extent of global warming from coverage on public radio and reading National Geographic magazine, which did an extensive article recently and gave a helpful image of a bathtub filling up with water to illustrate the increased CO2 levels in our world.
I found your program to be disturbing in several ways. For one thing, Bill McKibben's description of how quickly we have changed the balance of our planet and his description of how we are conducting an unprecedented experiment in which we ourselves are living in the test tube hit hard. His description of the impact that global warming could have on some of the poorest people in the world, such as those living along the Ganges River, was also very troubling.
The program was also disturbing in other ways as well. I found Bill's solutions less encouraging. In light of the crisis we are facing I think it will take more that neighbors getting closer to one another, shopping locally and improving mass transit. I feel it will take every bit of our scientific and technological creativity and expertise to come up with solutions to global warming and/or to mitigate its effects - because in real politic we may not be able to do as much as we'd like to stop or slow it. I also felt that as much as the Internet is a wonderful tool for sharing information and organizing in support of the environment and efforts to address global warming, it seemed somewhat contradictory to embrace it so warmly. For one thing, the Internet and all those computers and devices hooked up to it require more and more electricity, which for now comes largely from fossil fuels. For another thing, the Internet also seems to alienate people from one another at the very same time it enables people to connect. You can have friends all over the world, but you don't need to talk to them face to face at all! My daughter says that she and her college roommates sometimes sit in their apartment each of them on their own computer listening to their own music without interacting with one another - even thought they are in the same room!
I am very much one of those who, as Krista pointed out in the program, don't feel that I know how much of an impact I can have.
I liked the discussion of the Biblical story of Job and agree that the point of most of the major world religions seems to be to make us realize that we are not the center of the universe either individually or as a species. At this point in my life, I feel that the main lesson we are supposed to learn from life is that we need to trust in and turn things over to a higher power, whatever we may call it or however we may understand it. We need to let "God" be "God" and let ourselves be fallible human beings. The more we do that, the more we will be in right relationship with ourselves, others, our planet and with the universe.
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