Update from Climate Conference 2009

COP15_LOGO_A_SBy Stephen H. Schneider

The vast majority of the world’s nations and about 100 heads of state are migrating to Copenhagen for a two week meeting to hammer out a plan to protect the Earth’s climate from human use of the atmosphere as a free sewer to dump our tailpipe and smokestack wastes, and some of the products of deforestation and land degradation.

“Hammer” may indeed be the right metaphor for the verbal head banging going on among those who are demanding major cuts in greenhouse gas emissions from the wealthy countries who produced most of the historic accumulated pollution. The ones pushing dramatic cuts by 2020 include small island states getting flooded out of house and home by sea level rise, or most western European states, on one side, and fossil fuel producing states and developing countries on the other side, the latter claiming they haven’t yet had their fair share of the atmosphere to dump their wastes in, refusing to take on much reductions for themselves.

The US, after two terms of Bush Administration climate change denial that virtually tied up progress in the negotiation progress, is strongly endorsing strict very long term targets—like an 80 percent cut in carbon dioxide emissions by 2050, but is proposing only minor cuts by 2020. The weak short term target from the US is angering those who are claiming that this will not help alleviate the planetary “climate emergency” we face. Compromise is predicted by some optimists and rejected by many pessimists. But it is still early in the game and national posturing always dominates early phases of negotiations like this. What is mostly lost in the middle of the posturing are our children and grandchildren’s interests in a sustainable world and the viability of the plant and animal kingdoms, that had no role in creating the problem and have the least adaptive capacity.

The past 40 years, when attached at the end of a reconstruction of the temperatures of the past 1000 years, look like a bit like a “hockey stick” with a wavy handle but a “blade” that rises above the climatic history of the millennium and exhibits the warmest decades in the record in the past 30 or so years. This reconstruction has been the object of intense arguments between the climatologists who constructed the hockey stick and some skeptical attackers who claimed it was erroneous. The US National Academy of Sciences conducted an extensive study on this and agreed that individual scientist’s assumption were occasionally questionable—the normal process of scientific progress—but that a dozen replicate studies added more waviness to the handle but the blade still stood out. Hockey stick denial was a favorite item of the climate skeptics, despite the NAS study.

Debate lines at Copenhagen over short term targets versus long term technology development plans and funds for adaptation and technology transfer to the lesser developed nations remain sticky—they are yet the latest re-rehearsal of a rich country-poor country divide that has been going on at these UN sponsored Conference of the Parties (COP) meetings since the Rio Earth Summit in 1992—where a protocol was signed by President Bush I and ratified by the US Senate. It declared that all signatories—about 190 countries—agreed to reduce greenhouse gas emission to a level that would prevent “dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.” Unhappily, precious few countries have met that agreed to criterion. In the US it seems not to have been an impeachable high crime or misdemeanor to violate this law of the land contained in this treaty.

Now, however, after record melting of high mountain and polar ice, killer heat waves, intensifying wildfires and some stronger hurricanes, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) declared anthropogenic global warming (AGW) as “very likely” over the past 40 or so years. “Very likely” in IPCC parlance means more than a 90 percent chance human activities were a prime cause of the record warming since the 1970s. In essence, what is different from when some of us warned about this problem to presidents, legislators and ministers in the late 1970s—when global warming was still largely theory—is that in the subsequent 35 years “Nature has been largely cooperating with theory”, as I phrased it in my new book Science as a Contact Sport: Inside the Battle to Save Earth’s Climate, which details the 40 year history of our failure to achieve meaningful emissions cuts at either a national or global level. Despite all this, concerning history, there is legitimate optimism as momentum is building for a global deal. Over the next two weeks the world will watch the Copenhagen delegates and tens of thousands of non-governmental “observers”—including yours truly—try to put our planetary future ahead of short-term national interests. The stability of the climate hangs in the balance, and history is not a promising model for success.

For Schneider’s take on “Climategate” read the full article from Huffingtonpost.com.


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31 Responses to Update from Climate Conference 2009

  1. I’ve been listening here and there to what’s going on in Copenhagen and I have to say that at this point my view is largely pessimistic. To me it seems that putting our planetary future ahead of short-term national interests is highly unlikely. Why? Because clearly most (if not all) countries still view economic expansion ad infinitum as the norm, and it’s also clear that most leaders are not ready to deal with the physical reality that growth must come to an end sooner or later. Developing countries want the opportunity to develop to the same degree as countries like the US without taking into account the fact that to do so is not possible without irreparable damage to the natural systems we all depend on. Something has to give–growth-based globalized industrialism or natural systems.

    • Last thing I read was that China set higher climate goals than the US. So I hope the developing countries will see what kind of opportunity this is. To be a leader in sustainability.
      If they succeed, the US will have a problem with their old industry.

      • The reduction in CO2 China is proposing does not take into account its massive growth. So if for example they say they will cut CO2 in 2020 by 40% compared to 2000, they still will put out more because their economy will have grown much more then 40%.

        To get a good perspective on the fact that Sustainable growth is a contradiction in terms, I highly recommend watching “The most important Video you’ll ever see” Part 1-8

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F-QA2rkpBSY&feature=PlayList&p=B385BEDD0C7D9600&index=0&playnext=1

        Growth is never sustainable in a world of finite resources. And since every government’s nr. 1 concern is economic growth, the ecological future of planet earth looks rather bleak.

        arjuna das

        • Well said Arjuna. In his book “Radical Simplicity” author Jim Merkel mentions three sacred cows of the industrial-expansionist mindset, particularly characterized by the U.S.: 1. Be fruitful and multiply. 2. More is better. 3. Technology will find solutions to our problems.

          These assumptions inform industrialist/expansionist/consumerist value systems to such an extent that to question them is practically tantamount to heresy. With such beliefs natural limits to growth are either rationalized away or not recognized in the first place.

          If developing countries like China and India are to be leaders in sustainability as Syama Gopala mentioned then they must face the reality that they will not be able to develop to anywhere near the degree of countries like the US. There is no way the per capita GDP of such countries will rise to the $34,000 annual average of the US–the resources do not exist for that many people to consume so much. But will China and India forgo their present trajectory of development in order to create sustainable societies? I highly doubt it, for the same reason I doubt consumerist countries like the U.S. will voluntarily downscale living standards to more equitable levels.

          I think the bottom line is that the present dominant paradigm of endless economic growth must become universally recognized for what it is: not possible in a finite world. Other measures of growth/prosperity/societal well being need to become the dominant paradigm, and fast.

          • Personally I don’t believe in the so called growth of India, China, Russia or Brazil, the four present contenders to world next super power. In numbers yes, the growth is factual – there are more cars, more appliances, more apartment buildings going up and more plastic bags being discarded in these countries than ever before. But this disparaged mushrooming isn’t sustainable at all. Which means it will come down crashing soon and badly, very badly.

            Yes the US is practically singly to blame for the depletion of the planet. But it is a crime the country has never, as far as I have noticed, denied, and one it began seriously pondering on and genuinely willing to reverse since a while ago. Meanwhile, even as the rest of the world accuses the US, its model is being followed by the big four and others wannabes without any trace of self check or accountability. In fact, it could be said that what the so called emerging new super powers are allowing to happen in their territories is essentially more incriminating than what the US inadvertently incurred in since the onset of the industrial revolution: the growth of the US took place gradually in the course of a century and a half, and under clearly different cultural and scientific circumstances as those of today. But today, undeveloped nations of the world, undeniably aspiring to the lifestyle of the US, have baloonned like a dangerous infection in a mere twenty years.

            Another sin the US is accused is that of patronizing the rest of the world culturally. The psychology of the US in this regard has apparently been that the less developed economically a country, the less capable its people intellectually and even emotionally. Nowadays this patronizing is shown in the US’s sheer silence regarding the copy cat factor around the world – incredibly no one from this side is crying, “What is good for the geese is good for the gander.”

            But perhaps that silence is due to a brand new discovery. Perhaps the US has found that, quite by default its patronizing psychology wasn’t entirely ungrounded after all. Perhaps those of us on the economically developed side have made the astonishing discovery that a claim to wisdom is never so well tested as when it’s easily traded by things of this world. How could we have known that, while we aspired for the spiritual wisdom of cultures such as China and India, those countries (like pretty much all developing countries around the world) aspired for nothing more than to have access to our pitiful, sad tapper ware. How could we have known? But perhaps we did indeed ‘know’.

          • Whilst I appreciate the logic and undeniable, though perhaps unpalatable for some, verity of your post as a whole, I would ask you to present somebody from Dharavi slum in Mumbai (the world’s largest ghetto, inhabiting millions of individuals barely scraping by on less than US$ 1 daily, and with only one (1) lavatory for some 1,100 persons on average) with the choice of either filling his or her stomach or seeking metaphysical emancipation – you know as well as I do which option would be instantly selected.

            Believe me, all of the countries that you have taken the liberty to slam, without bothering to ponder over their motivations for resorting to the courses of action that they have, are home to hundreds upon hundreds of millions of desperately indigent human beings. As far as I am concerned, if I were a policy maker in India or China, I know that my prime target would be to try lifting these unfortunate souls out of their plight. I don’t know if you have had the opportunity to witness true poverty at all, but I have been blessed, I should say, to behold the despair and subtle feel of wanting to be helped that the eyes of the truly downtrodden are laden with, and I shall never permit myself to commit the unpardonable sin of trivialising the natural longing of less economically-developed nations for more materially.

            Your retort may perhaps be that benefiting the very poor is not what predominantly drives the leaders of the BRICs countries in their bid to raise living standards. Whilst there may be some value to this argument, one cannot deny the fact that it takes a certain amount of time for prosperity to trickle down the socio-economic ladder and permeate the bulk of a land’s populace. Indeed, if the worldly salvation of these billions of needy folks is to come, there can be no forgoing of the wholesale economic expansion of the places in which they dwell. Evidently, that is feasible neither logistically nor rationally, on a planet endowed with finite resources, but my point is, we ought to, as fellow humans, comprehend and empathise with the yearning of those less lucky than ourselves.

  2. Krishna Chaitanya das

    I would be interested to see what kinds of solutions the devotees would suggest to the world to fix these problems. I know we have the solution of living simply, protecting cows, growing food, etc. But it does not seem like even the devotee community is so much interested in giving up modern conveniences with all of their pollution. Most of us would not give up our cars, electricity, internet connections, the products that we buy that are trucked all around the country, with their 2 or 3 layers of packing, etc.

    I agree that an economic model of endless growth is insane, but how can the process be slowed down or stopped or changed now that it is so far along? Should governments step in and shut down factories, limit industry, make people give up their cars, and/or force citizens to live simply and go back to a agrarian life? I guess a government could give incentives to people to do such things, but usually such incentives are money and then people would want to buy stuff with that and here we are again.

    I am just wondering what are some ideas for practical solutions? Are there national or world solutions, are the solutions only to be found locally, or a combination of both?

    What do you think, anyone?

    • Advanced technology does not have to exclude advanced spirituality. We devotees are not giving up material things but we do try to use these things for spirituality. In fact the two will probably be more and more combined in the future. For devotees, more problematic than giving up technology has been this clinging to the myth of a Vedic golden age. If it was perfect and ideal, how come it did not endure? Truth is, it probably did not exist. Not as we have been told anyway. Our efforts should go into finding a way to fuse modern scientific innovations with spiritual ideals. As for government leaders and their rhetoric, hope and such, hopefully those who voted for Obama have become a bit wiser by now.

  3. The leaders of the BRIC group are not interested in raising the living conditions of their respective people, as you claim. Thats the sad reality we might just start dealing with. If they were so interested, first thing they would do would be to reject the American model. The American model, on its turn, is not American anymore, but a corporate fabrication precisely designed to profit from no less than the destruction of the planet and the future of its people, including those desperate souls you claim are being benefited. I and my comfortable lifestyle are not the enemies. The enemy is our mutual failure in delivering what is required of us, which respectively is to live simply and to think deeply. We have let one another down.

  4. Vikram:

    Of course it’s natural for those with less to want more–at least enough so that they have a decent standard of living (clean water, adequate food, clothing, shelter) and I don’t think anyone will deny that. The situation we have now is based on massive inequities in income levels, both between countries and between citizens. The 80/20 rule comes up again: 20% of the world’s population controls 80% of its wealth. And that wealth is of course not distributed anywhere near evenly; countries like the US consume 25% of the entire world’s resources while also being one of the greatest polluters. We take the most and make the most waste. This is not an example others should emulate, especially when studies have shown that once basic necessities are taken care of the addition of extra material “stuff” in a person’s life does not add to his or her happiness. And this brings me to Krishna Chaitanya’s question about solutions.

    Since the problem is systemic and very complex it needs to be addressed on many different levels and from different angles. There is no panacea or single solution. Still we can perhaps break it down into relatively few broad areas.

    1. Conservation.One of the first things of course would be for those in developed countries to take less. The consumerist mindset is a poisonous creation that serves the death culture of industry, not the living culture of people and the planet.

    2. Population. The earth can only sustain a limited number of people along with the rest of the living beings who make it what it is (and who make life here possible). First stabilization, then reduction in population is essential.

    3. Energy sources. Less per capita consumption plus less people to begin with would go a long way toward a sustainable society, but the usage of nonrenewable energy sources must come to an end. And since all renewable energy technologies combined only account for a fraction of the total energy usage at present this means that industry must scale back.

    4.Political systems. Clearly free market capitalism has major flaws, as does democracy. Capitalism without a conscience creates the disaster we have now. The emphasis in the West on individual rights is out of balance with the good of society as a whole. New governmental systems that address not only economic realities but ethical/moral/spiritual realities as well need to evolve to effectively deal with the world as it is now. Only an emphasis on ethical, equitable dealings with everyone (and no longer using military might to secure coveted resources) will work in the long run.

    5. Relocalization. Shipping goods long distances is a stupid, wasteful practice, as is working 80 miles from where one lives. Before the widespread usage of fossil fuels life was intensely local and evolved that way naturally because it is the most efficient way to live. Suburbia needs to disappear, to return back to the productive land it once was. People need to live closer to where they work, use public transit or bikes more and cars less or not at all. The present system does not allow this in most cases but this has to change in order to create a sustainable society.

    There are some of the major issues. There are of course many more, which many writers these days are addressing in many good books. Permaculture books are a good place to start.

    • Humanity, of course, has its history, but it can’t be known with full precision. But what historians have concluded from available data from the past is that humans don’t seem to stop at having enough to eat, sleep, mate and secure these things. Humans want a sense of purpose added to the basic dynamic of maintaining life. And that is the cause of so much movement of peoples and their paraphernalia around the planet. Search for meaning creates religions, and concepts of otherness created by religions suggest a supplying to this need for meaning. Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s ingenious plan of having humanity taste rasa through the simple method of chanting the Holy Names is, evidently, the solution for an otherwise self destructing humanity. ‘Just chant Hare Krishna’ may sound subjective and impractical in the context of immediate solutions for a planet warmed up too fast. But it is not so. It is the most precise method for reversing the escalating problems of society. When people gather in groups and chant God’s Names, deliberate on the sacredness of life, and eat sacred food, everyone involved is able to experience the fulfillment of that personal search for meaning. And the dynamic is clearly self sustainable – the other aspects of the process, such as proper food, care for the environment, respect for one another, etc., automatically fall in place.

      • As someone who is instinctively drawn to the movement of Sri Krsna Caitanya Mahaprabhu, I cannot disagree with the gist of what you wrote, but I will say that there exist as many religions as there are kinds of people. As a point of illustration, consider this: I have many Muslim friends and acquaintances, who are as pious as one can be, but whose conceptions of moral, ethical and religious behaviour on a number of counts couldn’t be more at variance with mine, and by extension, yours. A devout Muslim who bows to Allah five times a day will NEVER accept that for him to preserve the planet, eschewing beef and effecting a return to the land are pre-requisites. Ditto for most religious Christians, Sikhs, Jews and so forth.

        Whilst your proposed alternative can doubtless be useful within specific contexts, the chances of it being adopted and followed on a global scale are next to nothing. As a result, my own take is that we should cease daydreaming about the prospect of an idealised forthcoming mini-Satya-yuga of worldwide Sankirtana and begin in earnest to muse upon viable, practical, and most of all, realisable methods of solving the world’s problems.

    • Thank you for this rather long and thoughtful reply. As I’m writing these lines from work, I shall just say that I basically agree with you, but practicality remains a major issue with regards to most, if not all, of the suggested solutions.

      I shall, though, address the points presented in greater detail in a day or two, when I feel a touch freer. Yours was a great post nonetheless.

      Hare Krsna

    • Citta Hari Prabhu, I was going to in fact reply to you point by point on the arguments put forward in your response to my earlier post. However, having in the meantime come across this brilliantly-expressed position by the well-known Danish author Bjorn Lomberg, I shall simply paste the link to his article, which in many ways reflects my own views on this whole subject.

      http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/lomborg54/English

      In brief, what Lomberg is advocating is putting people first, and at the centre of everything, including ecological concerns. In a nutshell, this is equally what I personally favour. Come to think of it, that remains the sole vista that can be logically contemplated; as mentioned before, pragmatism and practicality have to be primordial considerations in any proposed solution to the looming environmental Waterloo. Percentage-wise, the share of the First World’s contribution to the World GDP will inexorably continue to dwindle, given that the emerging nations have been growing at vastly superior growth rates than their developed counterparts, and that this state of affairs will stay unaltered for the foreseeable future.

      No government on earth is going to voluntarily opt for stunted economic progress in the lone name of reducing carbon emissions, anymore than I would give up my crossover SUV for a bicycle, in order to commute to my workplace. It thus behoves us to cogitate upon this matter in a reasoned, rational and even-handed spirit. For instance, the Prime Minister of Mauritius, the Honourable Dr. Navinchandra Ramgoolam, was pretty unequivocal in his address at the Copenhagen summit two days ago when he stated that slowing, much less stopping, the march of progress and development in his country was not an option that any stakeholder was prepared to envisage. Hence, concerted and intense international and regional co-operation is what is needed most.

      In all of this, the unparalleled potential offered by nuclear technology strikes me as being, not the panacea, but possibly the answer to the globe’s future energy requirements. Now, putting to rest the perennial issue of the means of disposing of the toxic waste has, maybe, already been thought of by the French, with their claim to having devised an ingenious method consisting of little crystal spheres containing the imprisoned undesirable matter. Of course, if nuclear energy is going to be as vital to tomorrow’s world as oil is to today’s, much more will have to be done on that count. However, for a starting point, it is a good one nevertheless. We could of course discuss this huge topic forever and still never come to an agreement, but I do reckon that the foregoing does a fine job in illustrating where I myself stand, that as well in no uncertain terms.

      Regards

      • I have to disagree with the antropocentric viewpoint. Yes, humans are special, but from an ecological perspective humans are only one species among many millions, and a rather virulent and destructive one at the moment. Humanity has misused its intellect and ability to manipulate the environment to such a degree that the extinction rate is 100 times the natural rate. Even though we have the potential for great nobility we often end up being moved by our base natures. This plus a lack of respect for other forms of life as well as a hubristic failure to recognize the consequences of our actions has created the mess we’re in, and I don’t see how an anthropocentric approach will solve it.

      • Hmm, what a stance, and sadly what a predictable stance. While in developed countries there seems to be a potential for a return to wisdom, or better yet, a longing for arrival at new wisdom (there is an emerging sense of non-pride in how we have been defining ourselves), in undeveloped countries there is a steady voluntary march into tamo guna. And not even an original tamo guna, but a leftover that no sensible human at this point would opt for. At this point, the greedy, reckless businessmen of Delhi are more responsible for the plight of Tadese than the everyday consumers of North America. At this point, Desi and her baby are more at risk if left at the mercy of Mauritious and such ill ambitioned governments, than if even left as she is. “I will not trade my SUV for a bicycle, and I will enthusiastically support more and more nuclear plants on earth” – what cooperation can come of such proposal? Any idiot can see that this is not antropocentrism but antropophagy. What part of watering the root did some of us not understand?

        • Neither is Lomborg from the developing world, nor am I from Delhi, or any other Indian city for that matter. Dr. Ramgoolam himself has spent more than half his adult life in the West, as much as I was educated and trained in Great Britain. Our views were bestowed on us by your cherished Occident, my friend, and not by the emergent societies.

          Holding opposing viewpoints is the norm rather than the exception, and that is healthy, I would tend to argue. So, I guess we shall have to agree to disagree.

          Cheers

          • Lomborg fails to mention the unchecked profit of unscrupulous opportunists in the developed economies and their counterparts in the developing world. And this is why some of his readers called his analysis “flawed”. He clearly misses the forest for the trees. Just go back and read the comments. As for different opposing view points being a “healthy” practice, it is not so in all circumstances. When everyone is literally killed off, albeit perhaps gradually, where is the question of anybody having an opinion? What health is there to speak from, and of?

    • But unfortunately the communist model did not work either because most humans work more only if there is a correspondingly higher reward. So it is easy to be idealistic and say wealth should be distributed equally but it is impossible. Wealth will not be generated at all if everything is distributed equally and people will stop working. Secondly in older Vedic times, wealth was even more skewed with the king enjoying most of the endowments, but the point was that the caste system made sure that others desire to be rich could be quenched and they could wait for the next life.

      • Gaura-Vijaya,

        Very apt observation, the communist system did not work as didn’t the claimed Vedic system. And as you point out the reason was practically the same, i.e., that humans want higher and higher rewards. Well, what really has been skewed is the definition of reward, or wealth. Real wealth is spiritual. Real value is in people, in sangha, not in things. Just look and see how even the richest people in the world aspire for higher states of consciousness. Our literature is full of stories of Kings who had the world at their command and yet would bow to a complete materially dispossessed traveling sadhu, begging the sadhu to remain in their courts for always.

        Even abilities and skills are more valuable than the results they produce. Abilities and skills keep on developing, they are a result of the very nature of the soul, while things perish as soon as they are used up. Real value, real wealth is in knowledge. And interestingly enough, knowledge is only sustained when shared and shared equally. So indeed the only communism which is not a contradiction in terms is spiritual communism.

  5. O I meant congregational glorification of God in the many Names He manifests himself. Maybe the muslims whom you are acquainted with just happen to not be interested in environmental issues at the moment, for whatever reasons of their circumstances. But they do bow three times a day to God. Islam, Christianity, whatever the faith, the essence to be considered is the element of relating to the sacred. Mahaprabhu’s wasn’t a sectarian concept. He understood that the different adhikars of different peoples in the world would require corresponding adaptation. But the Holy Name nevertheless is like electricity, its in the atmosphere perpetually, ready to be harnessed at will. Mahaprabhu revealed the power of Nama, of waking up the soul, which is immediate solution to the angst of the human condition. If people have reverence for one another BECAUSE all are simultaneously servants of God and of one another, then solutions to the world problems are automatically a few steps away. And you will speak on those solutions in a day or two, so we are ready to hear it.

  6. Actually, antropocentrism is a bad idea through and through. Christians have discovered this the hard way – the judeo-christian world for centuries has indulged in meat eating based on the argument that only humans have souls. The result has been total disregard for animal and plant life the world over. No need to list the consequences of such selfish, unintelligent misconception.

    Indeed, the argument of atropocentrism is more of the same lame excuse to indulge in tamo guna, which in its turn, is nothing but illegitimate animal behavior. Srila Bhaktivinod Thakur did not believe in antropocentrism, so much so that he named his masterpiece Jaiva Dharma instead of Human Dharma. How can non humans be ascribed a dharma? Srila Bhaktivinod Thakur’s reasoning was that if dharmic behavior were prescribed for humans alone, most of the very men and women of the world would be then left out because such men and women unfortunately behave mostly at the animal level than human proper. Thus compassionately he decided that the dharma of the age is a dharma for the jivas, regardless of how fallen we have become. And we can see indeed that the trend is to attempt to, against all reason and even common sense, again and again excuse exploitative behavior. One is damn right to say that the corporate world does not want the masses to have one opinion alone. The one opinion enlightened human beings are bound to come to is that we must cooperatively stop animal killing and destruction of nature in its many forms. This is one rational, sensible and actually humanistic single opinion corporate interests do not want to see prevailing. Different “healthy opinions” are actually distractions strategically encouraged by the business world.

    Bhaktivinod Thakur was no light weight. He prescribed a dharma for all jivas, but with a view to elevating the whole of humanity to no less than touching prema. He spoke of a saragrahi vaishnava, a human being who would not fall for petty stirrings of the senses, however sophisticated they may appear, but would push up wisely and knowledgeably all the way into Goloka. He spoke of komala sradha, a type of faith which transcends the borders of one’s own interests and which, as a consequence, effects tangible results on the environment all around. Srila Sridhara Maharaja perfected such vision by explaining that actually, the environment is always friendly – we may progress infinitely if we only see how the environment is actually an ally – we ourselves are the only enemy.

    Enlightened as they were, Bhaktivinod Thakur, Srila Sridhar Maharaja and other like them consistently prescribed and prescribe the chanting of the Holy Name. Who among us is to say this chanting is not “enough”? The potency of the Name can and will break through the apathy of the masses. It will release the suffering jivas from our plight. The Holy Name has such power, and infinitely more.

    • And there’s no Vedic tradition of meat-eating, right? Think again, man, because whilst lacto-vegetarianism may be more desirable spiritually, the karma-kanda sections of the Vedic scriptures clearly prescribe the consumption of animal flesh, albeit within very well-defined parameters, for specific swathes of human society. Now, the last thing I want is for this to turn into a vegetarian debate, so I shall leave it at that.

      Lastly, I shall terminate my participation in this particular discussion by saying that the alarmist approach to green issues has never struck me as being especially fruitful an endeavour, and some of the arguments of those who objected to my above points seem, to me, to encompass elements of wishful thinking more than anything else. We know that no one is going to put the environment before development, and a realist ought to recognise that fact and work with it.

      The situation of the world as we see it today is ugly, admittedly, but I will stand by the position advocated, namely that the well-being of humans should be at the forefront of all activities, right till the end.

      • Yes indeed it appears there is “Vedic” anything if one is only eager enough to use such to push one’s agenda.

        Apart from that though, it is a fact that meat eating has come to its time of reckoning, Ramsoondor. In this regard, check out the recommendations recently made by the UN to the world. If there is alarm, its clearly agreed on by the experts.

        As for the well-being of humans, the concept was defined by Bhaktivinode better than any bewildered jiva can possibly ever expect to match in this or any future lifetime.

        Regards.

        • Goodness me, I don’t think I’ve ever debated with someone whose views were as immaturely emotional and as tainted with naivete as yours obviously are. It would seem you’re blissfully ignorant of the well-known concept of Vedic cow-slaughter, which is something that has been amply documented by scholars like Koenraad Elst, but I do think that is another story that is best left for another occasion.

          Adieu Bhaktikanda

          • Actually I am not ignorant of the concept of vedic cow-salughter, Ramsoondur. I believe I know enough to ask why do you insist in making a parallel between vedic animal sacrifice and meat eating in the world today? Surely you know that the two are not connected in any way, not even coincidentally. Are you trying to say that, because in vedic times certain people were “allowed” to eat cows killed in sacrifice, eating meat today from meat factories is to be encouraged? And that those UN climate experts’ recommendation that all nations in the world reduce drastically meat consumption is but their emotional outburst to be ignored by reasonable people like you consider yourself to be?

            Your arguments are not clear. You seem to skirt the actual issue.

          • No, I do not believe the two are exactly analogous, Prabhu, and I essentially share many of your beliefs, otherwise I wouldn’t be as powerfully attracted to Vaisnavism as I am. Of course, I do think, having said this, that my ideas are more nuanced than those of some practitioners of Indic mystical traditions.

            My reason for making the comparison stems from your own technique of indiscriminately panning all and sundry, which I for one consider to be an unreasonable tactic to adopt. Even more so, I like to be practical – a plant-based diet is desirable on countless levels, but what is the probability of even a sizeable percentage of the planet’s 7 billion human souls going for such a lifestyle? None! For some, such as Muslims, this goes diametrically against their faith, for the God of the Koran demands that animals be offered in sacrifice to Him. And we do know, do we not, that Islam is now the world’s premier religion in terms of size, having surpassed Christianity on that score a couple of years back.

            As for the UN’s so-called panel of experts, you surely are aware of the fact that numerous well-respected scientists hold views that differ strongly from the mainstream hysteria of alarmism that gets aired by and on the mass media day in, day out. Protecting and preserving the natural habitat of life forms is always a noble cause, but it has to be viewed in proper perspective. The meat industry is a criminal cabal of unscrupulous mercenaries, yes, but the ineluctable truth is that it is here to stay, and the best way is to work around this fact, instead of spewing forth impassioned rants that are not going to serve any purpose, after all is said and done.

            Reasonable, I do think I am; after all, I do get paid to take decisions that have a direct impact on the lives of a few thousand human beings, and as much as I detest some of the practices that earning my daily bread requires abiding by, this is the harsh reality of the era in which we are existing. For me to deny this would be tantamount to attempting to escape the life that my karma has thrown at me, and that is a road down which I simply cannot go.

  7. Ramsoondur, you seem to think that the environmental crisis is a fabricated one, and those who attempt to address it are foolish alarmists, including the scientists who have verified and confirmed that there is indeed a crisis. Such dismissal is far from reasonable and far from practical – it is the stance which indeed is the foolish one.

    One may be making a nice nest for oneself and one’s family, calling oneself practical and choosing to ignore the crisis. But in reality, such nesting amounts to cutting the very branch one nests on.

    And also, like your flawed argument that vedic meat eating gives license for industrial meat eating, your argument that Islamic animal sacrifice equally gives license to industrial meat eating is equally flawed. Again, one thing has nothing to do with the other. In other words, no religious ritual which involves killing of animals will ever amount to the meat industry of today.

    As for numbers, the fact that the masses does things wrong does not and will never make it right. The state of the environment today is proof of it. The consumerism of the masses, and attempts, like yours, at justifying such, proves that numbers are not a power unless its coupled with wisdom.

    • And you’re privileged to be gifted with such wisdom, eh? Or at least, that is what you think.

      Bhaktikanda, that global warming is at least a partly fabricated conspiracy, with very clear pecuniary objectives as underlying motive, only intellectually-challenged, delusional personages will deny. That said, you can believe whatever you want to – it’s a free world.

      The simple fact that Copenhagen was being widely hailed as an embarrassing disaster even prior to its conclusion proves my point. In case you misread or overlooked the relevant part of my previous response, I did say that Vedic animal sacrifice was not being equated with modern meat-eating as such, but that there was a slim parallel between the two, as there are between most things of this world, and that your own irritating, emotionally puerile manner of trying to excoriate anyone who may not be on the same wavelength as yourself merited such an approach.

      Do not expect that I shall take the time to read anything you may write subsequent to this, much less reply to your posts henceforth. I’m done with wasting my time engaging in a discourse as futile as this one, specifically with somebody who stubbornly refuses to see things as they are. My time and energy are way too valuable for that.

  8. Well unless hundreds of experts in the field and their substantial scientific data, governments of dozens of nations, and thousands upon thousands of well informed and concerned individuals everywhere around the planet have been duped by some gigantic electric heater in the sky and a super snow maker set up yonder in the Hyamalayas, well yes sir, climate change is a fact, not conspiracy theory at this point.

    Its true though it is an unsettling, irritating issue. Specially for those who are not willing to make any related sacrifices (not talking about animal sacrifices here, take note).

  9. The earth has gotten greener in the last 200 years and carbon helps plants grow, just a thought.

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