Tuesday, May 27, 2014

"Climate Change" Book Review

Climate Change begins with the following three basic assumptions: “that the public would like to understand climate change better, that understanding climate change is not easy, and that [the difficulty understanding climate change] does not have to be that way” (2).  In the stated effort to make climate change easier for the general public to understand, the editors have written in an accessible manner to a fairly wide range of readers.  They skillfully adapt complex scientific concepts into language that should be understandable by general readers.  The information presented in the book is well-documented, and the authors and editors maintain an unbiased feeling in their presentation.  The series editors intend the book as an introduction, and it would be useful in an interdisciplinary course or section on climate change.  General readers desiring to better understand the science of climate change will also appreciate this book.  The book includes a helpful glossary of climate change terms and a thorough index.
In chapter one, DiMento and Doughman introduce the book.  They are joined by John Abatzoglou and Stefano Nespor in chapter two, which is “A Primer on Global Climate Change and Its Likely Impacts.”  Using non-technical terminology, the authors explain how climate change works and what could happen if the climate changes.  In chapter three, the same four authors write about the effects of climate change, with a section focusing on California as an example.  In chapter four, Naomi Oreskes addresses the questions about scientific consensus and how the scientific community can be certain of their conclusion regarding climate change.  She writes “Scientists predicted a long time ago that increasing greenhouse gas emissions could change the climate, and now there is overwhelming evidence that it is changing the climate and that these changes are in addition to natural variability” (73).  When doubt still exists in a significant percentage of people, Oreskes’ chapter is an important contribution to understanding climate change.
DiMento and Doughman write of how the world is reacting to the science of climate change in chapter five.  They provide an insightful analysis of the Kyoto Accord and the impact it is having on the largest greenhouse gas producers, and they include an in-depth section on the federal, state and local level impact in the United States.  In chapter six, Andrew Revkin writes about climate change as news.  His account explains why mass media misrepresents or under-represents climate change.  In chapter seven, Richard Matthew explores the relationship between climate change and security issues.  DiMento and Doughman conclude the book with a summary exploring “what [climate change] means to us, our children, and our grandchildren” (181).  Their answer, “It depends” (195), is based on a number of factors including the actions that governments, corporations, and individuals take today. 

DiMento, Joseph F. C., and Pamela Doughman (editors). Climate Change, What It Means for Us, Our Children, and Our Grandchildren. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2007. 217 pp. US $60.00/19.95. cloth/paper. ISBN 978-0-262-54193-0. Alkaline paper. 

Brother Iz "Somewhere Over the Rainbow/ What a Wonderful World"

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Letter to religious wonks everywhere

Dear Baptist Wonks,

Please stop. Your meetings are in vain. You plan, but do not listen to the Lord. You make a big show of using the right words, invoking the right scripture, and following the hottest trends in postmodern, monastic or seminary life.

The problem for God is that your heart is not really in it. You want the institution to survive. You act like you are worshiping, sharing God’s love, doing good projects for God. However, you do not mean it.

At times like this, God intervenes, perhaps through our own arrogance or pride. When we experience God, it is shocking. It wakes us from the stupor of daily life. Seeing God at work is astonishing and turns us over so we are standing on our heads.

Sages and wise old voices begin to look like fools. The ones who seem to have it all figured out appear to be clowns. Professors and experts who spout solutions seem to know nothing.

The places we least expect to do great things start to show God’s transforming power. Wasted places are transformed into lush gardens, even if you miss seeing it because you are still stuck in a meeting somewhere. God makes powerful promises: The castoffs of society will be laughing and dancing in God; people who are down and out will shout praises to God. At that time, the cynical scoffers will become extinct. We, who cheat the poor, will be no more. We, who victimize the innocent, will be gone.

Stop what you are doing and join God.

Grace and peace,

P.S. Apologies to the prophet Isaiah for borrowing without permission from 29:13-14, 17

From http://zenhabits.net "A True Path to Happiness" by Leo Babauta

A True Path to Happiness
So, if you’re able to escape materialism, how can you find true happiness? There are many ways, and each of us is different, but here are some things I suggest trying:
  • Grateful list. Make a list of things about which you’re grateful in your life. Give thanks for them daily.
  • Think positive. Try eliminating negative thinking from your life, andthinking positive instead.
  • Small pleasures. Make a list of small things that give you great pleasure. Sprinkle them throughout your day. Notice other small pleasures as you go through your day.
  • Kindness. Practice random acts of kindness and compassion. Do it anonymously. Help those in need. Volunteer. Make someone smile.
  • Love. Make an intimate connection with your loved ones. Develop your friendships. Spend time with them, converse, understand them, make them happy.
  • Health. Exercise and eat healthy — it sounds trite, but it can bring great happiness to your life.
  • Meaning. It’s often useful to find meaning, either through a church or spiritual way, or through those we love in life or through the things we’re passionate about. Give yourself a purpose.
  • Flow. Eliminate distractions, and really pour yourself into whatever you’re doing. If it’s writing an article, like this one, really put yourself into it, until you forget the outside world.
  • Know yourself. Become attuned to what brings you happiness. Study yourself. Learn about what you love, and about your ability to love.Increase your capacity for compassion.