Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Environmental leaps of faith and science

Theocracy Watch:God hates environmentalists

Sirico turns the environmental movement's notion of stewardship on its head. A January 2000 report in The Daily Camera noted that as far back as 1994, in a much-circulated piece written for the National Review, Father Sirico "question[ed] the motives and hinting at the perhaps-unconscious pagan nature of the creation care movement [pro-environmental religious]. He argues that true Christians believe that the earth is a 'gift from God for our use' and that nature has no intrinsic value beyond utility." Sirico wrote, "There is no commandment against polluting or mixing trash - that is taken care of by civil law - but there is a very straightforward one about worshipping false idols."

Though the American public overwhelmingly believes there should be environmental protections. It could be said that environmental protections are a reflection of human nature because of their connotative spiritual and philosophical values. Father Sirico has a faith and spiritual belief in a god but noone in what the Creator created (environment). Somehow this doesn't seem to be an accurate or honest telling of scripture and conflicting with The Bible's writing of humans as caretakers of the environment.

Dr. Richard Land, President-Treasurer of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, and author of the book, "The Earth is the Lord's," agrees with vice president Dick Cheney that the United States must increase energy production unless it wants a substantial reduction in the lifestyle of most Americans. Focus on the Family's CitizenLink reports that Land commented by quoting scripture: "In Genesis, chapter 2, God told Adam that He put him in the garden to 'till it' and to 'keep it.' The word 'keep' means to guard and protect; the word 'till' means to cause it to be developed and to cause it to give forth its fruit.'"

For years, Religious Right groups have anchored their views on environmental issues in Genesis 1:28. "Because nature is wild," explains Nina George Hacker in Concerned Women for America's Family Voice, "we [humans] were given the authority to 'subdue' it for life's necessities." In past years, this reading of the Bible frequently left the Religious right open to charges that they were justifying the raping, plundering, and stripping of the earth's resources. In the Bush era this belief serves the agenda of the right-wing think tanks and oil interests who designed Bush's energy extraction extravaganza.

I can almost say with certainty that this person lives in or near a metropolitan area. If there's one thing I've learned: I don't trust environmental visions coming from city people who do not live amongst or visit dense nature. The Wise Use movement (my interpretation being a little different), which knows nothing of the environment, still champions themselves as knowing what's best for the. A backwards notion when you consider 'to appreciate nature, humans must be amongst nature'.

Theocracy Watch
One of their latest efforts involves Valle Vidal, a part of the Carson National Forest in northern New Mexico, which the Bush administration and the energy industry want opened to coal-bed methane development. The "Yellowstone of the southern Rockies" was given to the nation by Pennzoil in 1982 on condition it be managed as a wildlife habitat. It is currently home to the largest elk herd in New Mexico. But who cares? As Dobson and Bush believe, "God put human beings on the earth to 'subdue it' and to 'have dominion' over the animals."

Grist: Interview with Department of Interior's Lynn Scarlett
Q: What is your response to critics' concerns about ties to industry within the Bush administration? Is it fair to assume that a longtime history as an industry lobbyist -- say, in the case of Steven Griles -- indicates a bias?

A: If you actually look at the people this president has appointed, they represent a broad array of backgrounds as public-sector lawyers, think-tank analysts, and some have backgrounds working with companies. What we see in the media is that people's backgrounds are weighted heavily toward industry, and that's not a true reflection of the mix of appointees. And those people who do have backgrounds with the private sector, that's a good thing, because that gives them substantial management backgrounds and knowledge. The problem is that many of the critics have looked very selectively and focused only on those in industry, and said "A-ha! This is evidence of a uni-dimensional perspective."

Q: But many of those with industry backgrounds are in the highest-level positions making huge and far-reaching decisions, including your bosses, Gale Norton and Griles. Not to mention the president and vice president.

A: The idea that somehow the ideas that someone has are simply a reflection of who they worked for -- as opposed to having some other knowledge base and framework -- is a mistake. It's a very simplistic notion to assume that the world is made up of some abstract group called industry that has, lock, stock, and barrel, the same policy perspectives on any issue. Just as it would be a mistake to say everyone who holds dearly environmental values -- whether they're from The Nature Conservancy or the Natural Resources Defense Council or Ducks Unlimited -- hold the same perspective on everything.

I usually prefer decisions that better the environment be made by people with records in environmental fields, not industry. This is the most elementary understanding of hiring people FOR the environment, and suffice to say is lipstick service.

Logging Old Growth Forests to Stop Global Warming
This afternoon I attended a briefing entitled "Implementation of the Kyoto Protocol in Russia: Current Status and Outlook," sponsored by a Moscow-based outfit called the National Carbon Sequestration Foundation.

One of the speakers was an official with the Ministry of Natural Resources of Russia who suggested that the use of forests as carbon sinks would be a critical part of Russia's efforts to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions and the key to any future negotiations.

That wasn't the interesting part, however.

Unless the translator got things horribly wrong, the official said that part of Russia's strategy for reducing net carbon dioxide emissions would be to begin significant new logging operations in remote parts of Russia. The rationale is that older trees emit greenhouse gases while younger trees consume them. The wood fiber would then be used to meet some of Russia's energy needs.

Yes, he's talking about logging old growth forests.

The Sierra Club must love these guys.

And, speaking of environmental organizations, the Ministry official was asked why it is that the Russian government has been sharply restricting the activities of foreign-based environmental organizations within Russia.

His response was something like this: It's not that we think that the activities of foreign environmental groups should be limited, but that we have a sufficient number of groups with the expertise on these issues domestically.

Only in the former Soviet Union.

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