IDEMA: Climate change: Why the silence?

Aug 1, 2012

 

As I write, the current topic is whether to tax incomes above $250,000 at the Clinton levels — and remember, this presidential plan only taxes that portion of income above $250,000 at a higher rate. Mitt Romney wants to make permanent all the Bush tax cuts — which, of course, would be a boon to himself!

The truth is that we need to tax everybody more, especially the rich, if we want to be serious about our national debt. But our candidates are not serious about this proverbial financial cliff.

But what about climate change as a change of pace in the political campaign?

I used my snow thrower once last winter, the first six months of 2012 have broken all existing records for heat in the nation, the polar ice caps are melting, and on and on. Where is the alarm? Where are the plans to tackle this crisis on the part of the two major political parties? They are just as silent — perhaps even more so — than they are on what to do about our national debt.

The only president in recent memory who had an energy plan was President Carter, who asked all of us to sacrifice. We all know what happened to him in his re-election campaign — a new morning in America trumped the call for sacrifice.

So Congress and the presidential candidates fiddle as Rome burns — I mean Washington, D.C.

The fault is not with the stars or the political parties, really, but with us. We allow our leaders to dodge tough political decisions — decisions they make or fail to make because they want to maintain power or attain it.

Sadly, the Christian church is partly to blame. Environmental concern has not been much of a topic in sermons or parish courses or articles on the religious pages of our newspapers.

Part of the reason is a weird theology that the world is soon going to end in a fiery holocaust when some will be saved and some will be left behind. Countless books (e.g., the "Left Behind" series) have been written exploiting this fear; books which promise a way out for the lucky ones. But such books don't have a strategy about how to care for the planet before it fries in God's wrath, or if their calculations are wrong and we have many more centuries on this planet. Maybe our current heat wave is God's shot over the bow.

Some even use the Book of Genesis (1:26: Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth") to argue that God gave humanity the right to exploit the environment. Most scholars would interpret Genesis, and in particular, the Hebrew word translated as "dominion," as God giving humankind management or stewardship of our environment — not the right to exploit but the responsibility to care for the world God has entrusted to us.

Climate change is a fact, not an ideology. We must wake up to what is happening around us: drought in much of our country, animals dying, farmers going bust, weird summer storms leaving millions without power, too much rain here (e.g., Florida), too little there (e.g., Arkansas).

The Church can be very relevant here if she can find the courage to proclaim the causes of climate change — at least those caused by human sin — as well as proclaiming the Christian virtue of shared sacrifice.

Let us all invite (or compel!) our candidates to begin speaking some truths about our national debt and our environment. If enough of us raise our voices, the political parties will respond because there is only one thing they hate more than facing issues — losing their power!

— By the Rev. Henry Idema, Tribune community columnist
 

Comments

Vladtheimp

I am so very impressed that we have a true Renaissance Man in our community. I previously had thought the true Renaissance Man was located in the White House – he who would bring us together, heal racial discord, lower the seas, and bring us to a new height of health and awareness, but apparently he has a brotha from another motha – the good Reverend Henry Idema.

Having straightened out our benighted views on everything from college football, the Blunt amendment, the war in Afghanistan, the individual mandate, and the origins of hate to the heartlessness of the Republican Party, he now focuses his prodigious intellect and scientific acumen on – get ready, Global Warming. He apparently missed the memo from High Priest Gore that the decades long pesky cold temperatures have made the term “Global Warming” obsolete; the politically correct term is now “Global Climate Change.”

As part of his scientific analysis, the Rev. astutely observes that “I used my snow thrower once last winter, the first six months of 2012 have broken all existing records for heat in the nation, the polar ice caps are melting, and on and on. Where is the alarm?” Had he paid attention to the global news he would have learned that Europe (part of the globe from my last look) unlike his driveway, experienced the worst cold and snow in decades - as of February 17, 2012 the death toll from the cold wave topped 650. There is no evidence that the polar ice caps are melting any differently than in the past – the Greenland glaciers melt like they have this year approximately every 150 years, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center.

The Reverend's economic analysis, much like his climate science, is highly suspect. He apparently believes that “we need to tax everybody more, especially the rich, if we want to be serious about our national debt.” I will accept his premise as long as “everybody” means “everybody.” Reverend Idema, will you support a consumption tax of say 15% - that to reduce the national debt every person in the country will pay a national 15% tax on their purchases (except for food) including yachts and $300 Nike sneakers, video games, X-Boxes, large flat screen T.V.s and marijuana and liquor? I await your definition of “everyone.” The fact is, that taxing the rich (income above $250,000) at the rates President Obama wants would fund the bloated federal government for less than six (6) months. The Reverend should go national with his idea that we should go back to the Jimmy Carter years – Tea Party candidates elected for our lifetimes.

Having been so snarky about the Rev's. Letter, I have to end on a positive note – I agree 100% with his final thought – that “If enough of us raise our voices, the political parties will respond because there is only one thing they hate more than facing issues — losing their power!”

Let's us all do that – the result will be Tealicious!

ghcatholic

lesse...where do you propose we cut into the $3.8T budget to close the current $1T deficit?

Social Security is $820B
Medicare/Medicaid is $$850B
Defense is $900B
interest paid on the debt is $225B
unenployment insurance is $450B
Education is $150B
Transportation (highway maintainence, etc) is $100B
EVERYTHING ELSE $300T

the top 4 line items total $2.8T out of the $3.8T budget (74%). the top five items total $3.25T....the top 8, $3.5T (92%)

the reality is trimming the fat doesn't make a huge dent the budget, unless you start deeply cutting into SS, Medicare/Medicaid and Defense....everything else is relatively small potatoes...

also, most analysis shows that at least half of our current and projected deficits and debt is due entirely to the bush tax cuts and the wars in afghanistan and iraq...

Tri-cities realist

Ghcatholic... I propose we cut across the board. And yes even defense. While I don't like this option, perilous times call for drastic measures. So how about going back to Clinton era spending levels (highest was 1.863T) or even early Bush era spending levels. With about 2.5T in expected revenues for 2012, that would balance the budget, or maybe even create a surplus. Wow that was easy. And besides the Clinton era was so prosperous, surely you wouldn't object to rolling back spending to those levels, would you? And heck since I have such a big heart, we could even increase spending by 500B more than the highest of the Clinton years and STILL have a surplus. And as for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, you will recall that both were duly authorized by Congress, including some Dems. And the funding to support those military operations was also approved by Congress. If Congress wants wars ended, all that is necessary is for them to not authorize the spending. Quite simple really. But yes they might be characterized as "not supporting our troops", but it's their choice. As for the Bush tax cuts, federal revenues increased, how could that be? It works every time it's tried because more money is kept in the private sector, which generates more capital and wealth, which is then taxed, providing increased revenue to the govt. Again, not rocket science.

Lanivan

Perhaps we are not seeing any interest from the GOP in tackling Climate Change because they are bought and paid for by the Petroleum and Coal Industry. They wouldn't want to make those oil and coal boys angry - would be very bad for business. Let's not worry about our country or it's citizens, let alone the planet. Every major global scientific entity accepts man-made climate change except for the Oil and Coal Industry, whose scientists have been allowed to upgrade from disavowal to being "neutral" (to avoid total embarrassment within the scientific community). A great article to read: www.nytimes.com/2012/07/30/opini.... Actually, President Obama made a number of attempts to address climate change, but was stonewalled,obstructed, and filibustered by the Republicans. As for those "temporary" Bush 2002 tax cuts - yes, those tax cuts that allowed the wealthiest 1% to increase their wealth by 400% in 8 years, while the middle class remained stagnant or joined the ranks of the poor during the worst fiscal crisis this country has seen in 80 years - the "trickle down theory" of less taxes=more jobs just hasn't seemed to "click". Of course, taxes - which are at the lowest in 80 years! - must go up on the wealthiest. And shame on those very wealthy - like Mitt Romney - who even during this period of the lowest rates of taxation, engaged in tax evasion, off-shore money stashing, and job out-sourcing. Connect the dots and it all adds up: a patriotic spirit just doesn't cut it when money and power is the prize.

Tri-cities realist

Our federal govt does NOT have a revenue problem, it has a SPENDING problem. If the govt would only spend what it collects, or better yet, LESS than it collects, the deficit would be erased, and the debt could be brought under control over time. Why do liberals and Democrats refuse to address that side of the equation? It really is that simple. And even if you taxed the wealthy at a 100% tax rate, yep, take ALL of their income, it would only fund the govt for something like 6 months. Then what? As for man made global warming, err, climate change, some need to put down the glass of Al Gore's kool-aid and look at the unmanipulated data. Global temperatures have actually been DECREASING recently. Go ahead, entertain yourself and look it up. So please explain to me how the cooling of the 70's was man made, the warming since then was man made, and since we haven't abolished the internal combustion engine, coal power plants, and all other forms of "greenhouse gases", how then could global temperatures be falling? Hmm could it be that global temperatures have fluctuated for millennia? No way, that would be some sort of right wing conspiracy. And rev idema's anecdotal snow blower evidence is beyond laughable, but I will excuse him since his PhD is not in the "hard" sciences, so he may not understand the scientific method, that is still occasionally used by "real" scientists today. And what was Pres Carter's energy plan, gasoline shortages for all? Brilliant. By reading rev Idema's article, it would be a great triumph of literary irony, sadly I know Henry, and he actually believes what he writes. Yikes.

murpbl

I look forward to your letters, Reverend Idema. If only more people felt this way

Vladtheimp

I have a suggestion that every sentient person who is serious should adopt - 1. Permit President Obama to go back to the tax rates of the Clinton administration, as he wants, subject to the ironclad agreement that they will not become law until 2. We go back to the level of federal spending at the time the Clinton tax rates were in effect. That should take care of the Bush and Obama extravagances - can we agree? Can I hear an AMEN?

Lanivan

AMEN! Vladtheimp, I welcome and appreciate your spirit of civil discourse, critical thinking, and problem-solving in your comment!! IMO, this is the backdrop of Rev Idema's op-ed - the inability between Obama and Romney - GOP and Dem - to come together and deal with or even debate the multitude of complex problems facing Americans today, global climate change being one of many. I agree with Rev. Idema with the exception that he appears to give equal blame to both political parties. Republican politicians have publicly stated time and time again that their sole goal is to make Obama fail. That kind of scorched earth opposition to block Obama's policies so they can claim his policies have failed (and they can gain back the power) means the American people have been short-changed the kind of responsible governance that is required to move America forward. Could it be that Romney doesn't discuss his policies regarding climate change because he doesn't actually have any ideas or policies on this subject? All we know is what he would tear down or eliminate - the Dept of Education, women's rights to health care, Medicare, Social Security, etc. - the kind of programs that have made this country great and a leader in the world. The world looks to us as a beacon of progressive ideas, whether on climate change or other areas. The tax issue is another subject - of course we must increase revenue and cut spending in a balanced and responsible way that is fair to all people - not just the very wealthiest. The tax code should be simplified; government programs should be scrutinized for waste and corruption. But when you have so many politicians being controlled by the very wealthiest among us to create an unyielding, irresponsible political opposition, "We the People" takes second fiddle. Rev. Idema presents the most important of all topics - if our presidential candidates are unable or unwilling to discuss issues that affect all 313 million of us living together in this country, what then happens to democracy?

Tri-cities realist

Vlad... Amen

hazman

I know Henry as well. And I must say, we've had many discussions without agreement! However to those who don't believe in global warming, especially those so bold to suggest "looking it up," I did!. Here is what I found... (cut & pasted from EPA.gov)

Since 1901, temperatures have risen across the lower 48 states at an average rate of 0.13°F per decade (1.4°F per century) (see Figure 1). Average temperatures have risen more quickly since the late 1970s (0.35 to 0.51°F per decade). Seven of the top 10 warmest years on record for the lower 48 states have occurred since 1990, and the last 10 five-year periods have been the 10 warmest five-year periods on record.

Global average surface temperatures have risen at an average rate of 0.13°F per decade since 1901 (see Figure 2), similar to the rate of warming within the lower 48 states. Since the late 1970s, however, the United States has warmed at nearly twice the global rate. Worldwide, 2000–2009 was the warmest decade on record.

The global average temperature increased by more than 1.4°F over the last century. [2] In fact, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the decade from 2000 to 2010 was the warmest on record, and 2010 was tied with 2005 as the warmest year on record. [3] Rising global temperatures have also been accompanied by other changes in weather and climate. Many places have experienced changes in rainfall resulting in more intense rain, as well as more frequent and severe heat waves. The planet's oceans and glaciers have also experienced changes: oceans are warming and becoming more acidic, ice caps are melting, and sea levels are rising. [4] All of these changes are evidence that our world is getting warmer.

So... for those of you who don't wish to accept the facts regarding global warming, if you want credibility, get the facts before you hit "enter!"

PS In fact, there is huge evidence that the polar ice caps have melted at an alarming rate, most especially since 2008.

Vladtheimp

This is probably a waste of my time but I'll do it for my grandchildren. The concept of “Global Warming” is only a political policy matter if it is anthropomorphic (caused by man) – otherwise it is simply natural. Socialists, leftists, statists and bureaucrats want it to be man made to enable them to exercise greater control over the members of society and extract more money from citizens in order to combat yet another “catastrophe.” To accomplish this, they funnel billions to individuals and institutions that benefit by “discovering” reasons why man causes global warming, which in turn has resulted in questionable science, fraud, or junk science perpetrated by such institutions as NASA (James Hansen), the U.N. (IPCC), East Anglia in England, and Michael Mann of the University of Virginia. This is then hyped by the media and politicians who want bigger government.

EPA doesn't have the temperature satellites and models – that would be NASA, the same NASA that was forced to re-evaluate its yearly temperature statistics because their model had a bias toward warming – resulting in findings that the hottest year, and several of the next hottest years in the U.S. Were in the 1930's. This was bad news for the high priests of global warming because there was far less use of hydrocarbons and CO2 released in the atmosphere by man's activities. To cover this up, they cherry pick groups of dates (Seven of the top 10 warmest years on record for the lower 48 states have occurred since 1990, and the last 10 five-year periods have been the 10 warmest five-year periods on record). IT WAS JUST AS HOT OR HOTTER 80 YEARS AGO (Think Dustbowl). And, of course, the weather in the U.S. Is not global – not by a long shot. There is currently no settled evidence that the warming trend is caused by man – the earth has been warmer in the past – as opposed to natural causes, especially solar activity. In fact, data from the National Climate Data Center (Part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) shows that the U.S. has cooled over the past 10 years.

Think before you trust the government for research that benefits the government. Resist the statists among us limiting your freedom to satisfy their big government objective by telling you what car to drive, limiting the use of electricity, killing the oil and coal industry, mandating ethanol while driving up world food prices and subsidizing Big Ethanol with your tax dollars, and demanding ever higher taxes to feed their bottomless pit of big government! Think for yourself!

Lanivan

I don't know which National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration data you were reading, but the data I read states the US had "the warmest 12-month period the nation experienced since national records began in 1895". I will give you this - the same report mentions the Pacific Northwest had cooler than average temperatures. Key concepts to keep in mind when reading reports and data are the faster than usual rates of speed that the climate is changing, and the number of extreme weather conditions the world is experiencing. Ice caps, oceans, continents are heating up and melting much faster than normal and producing many more extreme conditions - whether cold or hot, high amounts of rainfall or drought - than previously. This subject must be looked at objectively with special attention given to averages, and can not be "cherrypicked" as you accuse others of doing, and what you have done throughout your comment.

Vladtheimp

My bad - should have noted the data were from 2001-2010. Again, this is only for the United States and for a very short period of time in viewing climate. Nonetheless, the data that show some small warming globally do not justify the alarmism and harm to our economy and our freedom that is suggested by the true global warming zealots. Source: At Watts Up With That, data from the National Climatic Data Center are reviewed. The results are quite startling. Every region of the continental United States has shown a cooling trend during the winter from 2001 to the present, and five of the nine regions have also had a cooling trend during the summer. With respect to annual mean temperature, only one of nine regions–the Northeast–has gotten warmer; the other eight have gotten cooler.

Tri-cities realist

Hazman.... Perhaps I should have been clearer and asked you to dig a little deeper. You would find some irregularities in the data that is collected. One (but definitely not the only) of the temperature recording stations that is used to calculate the average temp in the US, is located on the black top roof of a newspaper, in close proximity to multi ton A/C condensing units. So is it a surprise that this station would "measure" increasing temps, especially in the summer. So if you remove the data from these "suspect" stations you would find that the increase in temps in the US is only about 1/3 the number cited. Similar results could be expected for the rest of the world as recording stations have moved to more densely populated (heat producing) areas, although I have not seen that large of a study. By only measuring these areas, the "average temp" is artificially inflated. I agree that average global temps have increased over the last century, just not at the rate the alarmists publish. I take issue with the claim that increased temps are anthropomorphic. There has been a correlation between increased temps and increased greenhouse gases. But as any respectable scientist knows " correlation does not imply causation". It could be that increased temps are CAUSING the increased greenhouse gases, rather than vice versa. And you know what the largest producer of greenhouse gas is? The oceans, should we ban them? So if you want to use science, nobody can rightfully claim man is causing increased temps, without first proving it is not caused by other factors. Talk about an "inconvenient truth", but that is the scientific method.

 

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