• sunset

    FAITH ... And God saw all that he had made ....

  • glacier

    SCIENCE ... and behold, it was very good.

  • girl-holding-hand

    JUSTICE ... As you did for the least of these brothers of mine...

  • people-holding-buckets

    ACTION ... you did it for me.

  • banana-leaf

    RESOURCES ... books, videos and online tools for earthkeepers

NEWSFLASH: Earth Just Had a Not-Record-Hot Month!

It had to happen sooner or later. After sixteen consecutive months of record monthly global heat since record-keeping began, September 2016 fell short of the prior September’s heat by a scant 0.04 degrees Celsius, making it only the second hottest September in the last 137 years.

That is, if you believe the National Oceanic & Aeronautic Administration (NOAA). If you prefer NASA’s analysis, the record heat continues, with this September edging out last September’s record heat by a razor thin margin.

NASA's global temperature has been this color for many, many months

NASA’s global temperature map has been this color for many, many months

Of course, we still run into people who remind us that temperatures go up, and they also go down. So with all these record hot months recently, we looked for the most recent record low month, and found it! It was February 1929, eight months before the stock market crash that ushered in the Great Depression.

Facts are stubborn things. It’s been a long time since the earth has been cool, and the string of record hot global temperatures is becoming downright terrifying. The politicians who control Congress may wish they could hide it, but they simply can’t cling to “I’m-not-sure” any longer, without condemning our children to a dismal future.

My own congressman (Scott Garrett, Republican NJ-5th) is one of these climate-science deniers. I beg him, as I hope you will beg yours: It’s not too late yet. God’s entire creation is in peril from our reckless carbon binge. You may hate the solutions that have been proposed to date. Fine. Propose your own. But we’re not the only ones who have children. When we are dead, and answerable to the Lord of Creation, all of our kids — yours included — will inherit whatever world we have left them.

Isn’t it time we decided to do something to spare them from the chaos we are leaving behind?

How Our Coasts Will Disappear

They say that doom and gloom is sure-fire method of driving away readers. But if sea levels are rising, as seven in ten Americans acknowledge, then it’s worth asking just how – and when – my favorite coastal spot might be gone. Believe me, I know you’d rather not wade into this swamp. But it’s important. Please, take a second to look.

Just this August, Louisiana suffered historic flooding, causing more than $10 billion in damage, 80 percent of it uninsured. It was dubbed the most destructive storm to hit the country since Super Storm Sandy.

Hardly a month later, another storm barely grazed the Eastern Seaboard of the United States, and left behind comparable damage, still being assessed in the range of $6-9 billion.

Big storms, no doubt. But here’s the thing: Neither one involved a hurricane making landfall on U.S. soil. Louisiana merely suffered from an intense rainstorm. And American Easterners nervously watched an advancing hurricane’s trail of destruction and death in Haiti, but breathed a sigh of relief as it sliced eastward into the open Atlantic.

Still, the storm wreaked many billions of dollars of damage, and more than fifty fatalities.

Of course, these storms produced the usual claims and denials about the connection to climate change, as always. But more instructive to me was the picture of what coastal inundation will look like in an age of climate chaos. Here’s why:

For the large majority of Americans who accept the findings of climate science, I suspect we tend to view sea-level rise as a linear phenomenon. Mapping websites abound where you can zoom in on your home, select a hypothetical level of ocean rise, and see whether you’re safe or not. For Louisiana, here’s what it looks like for two feet, well inside many estimates for the current century.capturelouisiana

Look! The blue incursions make New Orleans look pretty dicey, but Baton Rouge and Lafayette are still okay, right? And here’s a look at the Carolinas at two feet. Sure, the Outer Banks, Charleston and Wilmington are all gone, but Goldsboro, Wilmington and Raleigh are pretty good.capture

Okay, admittedly it’s bad, but we can find a way to manage, right?

Actually, no, we probably can’t. Here’s why: These maps may be accurate, for what they’re being asked to do. One a calm, sunny day, the communities shown in the green may be, in fact, above water. But take a look at what happened during the Louisiana non-hurricane – before any further sea-level rise at all:


Lafayette was inundated. Baton Rouge was a virtual island, with flooding on all sides. It wasn’t supposed to happen this way, was it? New Orleans would slip away first, and Mardi Gras would set up shop Baton Rouge. Except Baton Rouge was flooded out first. (And that’s with today’s sea levels, not an extra couple of feet.)

The Carolinas tell a similar story. After Tropical Storm Matthew slipped past, Goldsboro and Lumberton – each about 80 miles inland from the Atlantic beaches – were completely awash, together with hundreds of other inland communities.picture2

For nearly ten years now, we’ve been warning our fellow beach-lovers: Visit as often as you like, enjoy the sun and surf. But please, please, don’t invest the nest egg in sea-side property. Even now, that’s probably sound advice. But the picture is actually much worse. In a world of increasingly dire climate chaos, you’re hardly safe in low-lying inland communities either.

What should you do? Well, what if we started by living like people who understand that the future of our world, and especially our children’s, depends on lower carbon emissions. Cut our carbon footprint, and offset what we can’t cut.

But whatever our individual efforts, there are many things that we can only accomplish together — as a country, or as an entire world. We can each drive smarter, but most of us can’t develop our own electric car. We can insulate the house, but most of us can’t build our own wind farm. These things depend on concerted national action. So find out what your Congressional representative is doing about climate change. And look at where the Presidential candidates stand.

The consequences of ignoring climate change may seem to be a long way off. But for many on our lowland coasts, they’ve already arrived.

My Congressman’s Belated Conversion on Trump

Note: This article contains uncensored quotes of American politicians, and may be unsuitable for polite company or children.

Dear Congressman Garrett (R-NJ-5th):

I was curious to find your name on the growing list of Republicans who have jumped ship on Donald Trump. Finally, after The Washington Post released video recordings of him boasting about sexually assaulting women. Digging a little deeper, I found only a vague statement from you calling his conduct “inexcusable.” Specifically, it appears you said:

“I am appalled that he would brag about violating a woman’s physical boundaries. As a husband and father of two daughters, I denounce his comments and the behavior that it incites.”

On October 7, the Washingotn Post release video footage in which Donald Trump boasted of sexual assault against women

On October 7, The Washington Post release video footage in which Donald Trump boasted of sexual assault against women

Well, that’s good. Here in New Jersey’s 5th Congressional District, I suspect that just about everyone with daughters or granddaughters (like me) would say no less. And most people who care for any woman or girl would surely agree.

So, bravo, congressman! I guess.

I’m assuming this means you’re no longer really supporting Trump. Am I right? To be sure, you’ve been willing to stand with him through a lot. Until now, nothing he’s done has cost him your support. But then, why now? Please, sir: How is this so different from the litany of outrages that you’ve tolerated to this point?

  • Mexicans are criminals and rapists (June 16, 2015). Trump kicked off his campaign with this shocker. Not a problem for you, Mr. Garrett. Right?
  • POWs, like John McCain, are not war heroes (July 18, 2015). A little awkward? But you went along.
  • “I know more about ISIS than the generals do” (November 12, 2015). I guess we’ll just call that political hyperbole, right? All good.
  • “Now this poor guy, you ought to see this guy” (November 24, 2015). Trump flailed his arms to mock the disability of a reporter who had debunked his scandalous claim that Muslims in New Jersey celebrated the collapse of the Twin Towers on 9/11. But this somehow didn’t bother you?
  • “Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States” (December 7, 2015). You remember? Trump’s absolutely shocking call to violate the Establishment Clause of the Constitution. Sure, it wasn’t your religion he was talking about. But it was too much for your fellow NJ Republican, Christie Whitman.
  • Cozying up to Russian dictator Vladimir Putin (December 18, 2015). That cost Trump a few GOP endorsements, but you were still good.
  • PolitiFact gave Trump the 2015 Lie of the Year Award (January 1, 2016). 70 percent of Trump’s public statements were Mostly False, False, or Pants-on-Fire False. Only 16 percent were either True or Mostly True. You, a religious man, were unmoved. At least he isn’t Hillary (whose PolitiFact ratings bear absolutely no resemblance to Trump’s).
  • “Knock the crap out of them, would you?” Trump’s many instances of incitement to violence against opponents (this example, February 1, 2016) were a bit awkward for people who favor peaceable discourse. For you, not so much.
  • Torture as American policy is a good thing: “I would bring back waterboarding, and I’d bring back a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding” (February 6, 2016). It was way too much for many of your GOP colleagues. But despite all that stuff in the Bible, the Constitution and the Geneva Convention about the dignity of human life, not you.

    PolitiFact rated 70% of Trump's statements in 2015 to be false

    PolitiFact rated 70% of Trump’s statements in 2015 to be false

  • KKK Grand Wizard David Duke endorsed Trump, and the candidate refused to disavow the endorsement (February 28, 2016).  Practically every Republican with the word “Former” in his title condemns Trump at this point. Any reaction from you, Mr. Garrett? Hmm.
  • A candidate who boasts to the country about the size of his penis (March 3, 2016) is probably something our nation’s founders probably never really thought much about. Mitt Romney flipped out. Still no word from you.
  • My wife is prettier than your (ugly) wife (March 23, 2016). Trump’s Twitter post to debase Ted Cruz’s wife based on her appearance shocked women everywhere. Despite your love for wife and daughters, no comment from you.
  • A judge can’t rule on my Trump University fraud case because his parents were Mexican (June 5, 2016). Mr. Garrett, this didn’t bother you? You still didn’t speak up?
  • We just might renege on our treaty obligations and abandon our NATO allies: “Congratulations, you will be defending yourself” (July 20, 2016). Even the prospect of a Free World without solid alliances didn’t bother you, Mr. Garrett?
  • Let’s ask Russia to hack into the Democratic Party’s computer records (July 27, 2016). Cyber warfare may be a serious threat, but let’s keep our priorities straight: Beat Hillary at any cost, right?
  • Bereaved Muslim Gold Star parents have nothing to say, and it’s because of their barbaric religion (July 30, 2016). The trickle of GOP defections from Trump swells to a torrent, but still no word from you, Mr. Garrett?
  • After the election, NRA allies can still stop a future President Hillary Clinton, implicitly by assassinating her (August 9, 2016). Well that was awkward. Jack and Bobby Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Ronald Reagan – all great leaders tragically shot. But I guess we’ve got to find some way to stop our political opponents in this country of ours. Still no word from you?
  • “He’s the founder of ISIS” (August 10, 2016). Interviewers virtually begged Trump to say he was joking about President Obama, but he held the line. And you went right along. A torrent of GOP defections ensued. No problem yet for you, Mr. Garrett?z1aj7ceqopjtftpbiflgptm_cmiobey5ovqq4xbavwfn-wiqdt8uxf4xw_l9lxoj3lrw5swoojhfyvaexdttr8xkqcf58toz5batt_ph-zxreoflclsqeoxmgzbzmqe6gs2yoacg
  • “I’m not a big believer in manmade climate change” (August 11, 2016). Eleven times, Trump called climate change “a hoax” or “bulls**t.” He even promised to kill all American and global efforts to save our children from a chaotic climate future. Still no problem for you, Mr. Garrett?
  • Trump asserts that five black men who languished in jail for 13 years for a crime they did not commit were guilty anyway, even though their innocence had been conclusively proven (October 6, 2016). Still nothing there to lose sleep over?

So far, no problems. Trump is still your man, Congressman Garrett. But there’s big trouble just around the corner. We’re about to learn – finally – something about this otherwise good man that you simply cannot abide:

“Grab them by the p***y. You can do anything.” On October 7, 2016, headlines all over the world scream out Trump’s obscene boast. If you’re a rich and famous star like Trump, “you can do anything” you want to a woman.

Now that’s different. You are shocked. Shocked! Talking disrespectfully about women. Bragging about committing a vile crime. Boasting about being so powerful that you can force American women to have sex with you. Beautiful women. Women whom you can picture looking like your own daughters, perhaps?

Well, golly. Now that’s inexcusable. Do we have this right Mr. Garrett?

Just to be clear, then, it was okay that Trump vowed to kill the world’s last and best hope for saving our children from catastrophic climate change, right? It was okay when he trashed Mexicans, Muslims, blacks, women, war heroes, disabled people, and grieving Gold Star parents? It was okay when he admired dictators, advocated torture, incited violence among supporters, and hinted at assassination of an American president? And you didn’t mind when he threatened to break faith with our closest allies, and suggested they get their own nuclear weapons?

But now, he’s finally done something that bothers you. Well, sir, we welcome you. We, too, were horrified with what Trump dismisses as “locker room talk.”

But I just can’t contain my curiosity: You had no problem with all this other stuff? Really?

Digging deeper:

  • Trump’s PolitiFact dishonesty record: Here
  • Scott Garrett finally speaking up on Trump: Here
  • Trump’s statements about the “climate change hoax”: Here

Editor’s note: Beloved Planet comments exclusively on matters related to caring for God’s injured world, and especially matters related to climate change. We do not endorse candidates for public office. But this election cycle has featured very little meaningful debate on the threat of manmade climate change, one of the greatest threats faced by our world and the global Christian church today. Republican Donald Trump has vowed to kill the Clean Power Plan (as has Libertarian Gary Johnson), the centerpiece of America’s crucial contribution to the global Paris Climate Accord, signed by more than 170 countries. Such a move would almost certainly spell the Paris Accord’s complete failure.  Democrats Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, and Green Party candidate Jill Stein have vowed to implement the Clean Power Plan and comply with the Paris pact.

The Debate: Breaking the Silence on Climate Change

When Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump squared off Monday night before 100 million viewers, they covered a lot of important ground – including their visions of prosperity, security, and the direction of our country.

Outside the debate venue, a group of students and young people from Young Evangelicals for Climate Action joined hands to pray and demand that the moderator and candidates address the threat of  manmade climate change to humans and God’s creation. Observing the debate from home, I’d have to say that their prayers were answered, if only just as a start.

Young Evangelicals for Climate Action praying outside the debate venue

Young Evangelicals for Climate Action demand that candidates present climate change plans at Hofstra Univ.

Yes, Clinton did stake her flag on making the U.S. “the clean energy superpower of the 21st century.” She even got specific: “We can deploy a half a billion more solar panels. We can have enough clean energy to power every home. We can build a new modern electric grid. That’s a lot of jobs. That’s a lot of new economic activity.”

And she challenged Trump on his longstanding climate denialism: “Donald thinks that climate change is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese. I think it’s real.”

Of course, Trump denied the charge: “I did not — I do not say that. I do not say that.” The mid-sentence change in verb tenses (“do” not “did”) provided a bit of a fig leaf for the billionaire. As almost everyone knows, Trump tweeted the “Chinese climate hoax” idea in 2012. In fact, he has been recorded on video or in his tweets eleven times calling global warming a hoax, as recently as July 26, 2016.

So, “I did not” clearly doesn’t fly. But “I do not” is one of those imponderables: As-I-stand-on-this-stage, I do not? Well, okay then. We’ll wait for tomorrow.

Well, in fact, tomorrow arrived. The morning after the debate, Trump’s campaign manager said that the candidate has traded the “climate hoax” narrative for new story: “He believes that global warming is naturally occurring,” said Kellyanne Conway.

Naturally occurring. Well that’s something. In the last month, Mr. Trump has learned a lot of new things. He’s discovered that there is no hoax going on, despite four years of being certain that the opposite was true. But even more remarkable, he’s learned that global warming is happening due to natural causes, not manmade carbon emissions.

Natural causes? So, where he did he do his research on this? We decided to look:

  • Maybe the U.S. National Academy of Science? We checked, but no luck there: “Scientists know that recent climate change is largely caused by human activities,” they write in a landmark study, “from an understanding of basic physics, comparing observations with models, and fingerprinting the detailed patterns of climate change caused by different human and natural influences.”
  • Okay, how about the world’s largest scientific society – the American Association for the Advancement of Science? Hmm, strike two. Their website banner trumpets the conclusion before you even get to the details: “Based on the evidence, about 97% of climate scientists agree that human-caused climate change is happening.” We kept looking.
  • How about the peer-reviewed science journals, like Science or Nature? More bad news. They virtually all agree that “climate-warming trends over the past century are extremely likely due to human activities.”
  • Well, there must be someone. How about any American or international association of sciences from any discipline whatsoever? We checked. Again, no dice. Just this summer, 31 scientific societies representing millions of geologists, chemists, biologists, agronomists, mathematicians and researchers from many other specialties wrote to Congress to inform our leaders that “greenhouse gases emitted by human activities are the primary driver” behind climate change, and warned of “broad negative impacts on society, including the global economy, natural resources, and human health.”

We’re not giving up, and will let you know when we find where Trump got his new scientific information, or whatever else he may have found instead.

In our view, this debate was not wasted. People are now talking. Twitter is abuzz with references to climate denial. Perhaps voters may see their choice this year as a choice for the future of the world’s ecosystems. That would be redemptive, we think.

Young Evangelicals, thank you for your prayers and your demand for open discourse. Whatever our political leanings might be, we now have a fuller idea of where our country – and our world – might go regarding the climate crisis in the next four years. Clinton promises to lead a transition to a clean power economy. Trump promises to stop the transition – stop the Clean Power Plan, the global Climate Accord struck in Paris, and to turn back the clock on the burning of coal to where it was when our grandparents were young.

We have a choice. And the faithful witness of Young Evangelicals has helped us to see it more clearly.

Carbon Offsetting for Air Travel Pollution

It takes me the whole week to get over the jet lag. Just in time to get back on the plane to New York. Farewell to my dear, new Himalayan friends. And back home at my little farm in New Jersey, I’m once again beset with the sleepless state that comes with being on the wrong side of the world.

It’s a 5,000-mile roundtrip between New York and Nepal’s capital city of Kathmandu – over Labrador, Greenland, the Arctic ice cap, Siberia, Mongolia and China. My destination is a meeting of Christian church and mission leaders from South Asia, to encourage and plan national movements to care for God’s injured creation – in ecological hotspots like Bangladesh, Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka.

For years now, I have been dying to get to Bangladesh and Pakistan – two enormous countries facing existential threats from the effects of climate change. Rising sea levels, receding Himalayan glaciers, catastrophic droughts and flooding, salinization and severe water stress have made it difficult to see much of a future for tens of millions of my fellow humans in parts of these countries. At the Lausanne South Asia Creation Care Consultation, I would have access to co-laborers from these and other places, and maybe even find ways to help with their efforts.

Source: Foreign Policy

Source: Foreign Policy

But here’s the irony: If climate change is draining the life-blood of these communities, isn’t my carbon-heavy globe-hopping only making things worse? My share of carbon emissions from the flight, tucked back in the economy cabin, comes to 3,362 kilos of CO2, or 7,412 lbs. The average American generates 17.1 tons of CO2 every year. My 3.2-ton flight exceeds a couple of months’ worth of living for most Americans. Worse yet, it’s almost exactly the annual emissions of the average citizen of the Maldives, an island nation facing near-term inundation from rising seas. And it’s close to the average CO2 emissions for all people on earth, about 4.9 tons.

All for one single flight.

And while Nepal is admittedly a long trip, shorter ones are serious polluters too. New York to Paris will spew 1.6 tons of CO2 for an economy seat; a roundtrip to Los Angeles will add 1.1 tons; a drive to the family in Ohio accounts for 109 kilos, or 0.1 tons.

So, what am I supposed to do? Stop traveling?

Well, maybe. Or at least, I might travel with a bit more thought about the consequences. Even if airfare seems affordable, someone else pays the unpriced costs of climate pollution. Whatever our politics, I’m pretty sure we agree that that’s not right.

But some travel is clearly worth it, or simply unavoidable. If so, we’re going to have to get used to offsetting our carbon emissions.

Offsetting? Sure. It’s not hard to make a modest contribution to projects around the world that sequester carbon, in amounts equal to the emissions from our air travel. For me, I use Climate Stewards, an affiliate of A Rocha – the global Christian conservation organization. Climate Stewards directs my carbon offset payments to projects in Ghana, Mexico and Kenya, restoring forests and replacing inefficient cookstoves with new ones. The trees I’m helping to plant and the reduction in kitchen charcoal burning sequester about the same amount of CO2 as my share of the flight emissions.

And it doesn’t break the bank. Climate Stewards’ offsets run about $20 per ton of CO2. Offsetting my flight to Nepal costs me about $65, or around 2 percent of the total cost of my trip. For a flight to Paris, you’d pay $32; Los Angeles would set you back $21. And the drive to Ohio is scarcely more than a bit of pocket change.

Flooding in low-lying Bangladesh

Flooding in low-lying Bangladesh

It’s not difficult at all. Try it at Climate Stewards’ website. You’ll be done in a couple of minutes.

Listen, we know that offsetting is not a panacea. It certainly isn’t a way for people of means to indulge in wasteful and lavish lifestyles without any guilt. But while we look for ways to reduce our carbon footprints, why not offset the effects of pollution that can’t yet be avoided?

Eventually, of course, everyone will do this. The cost of carbon pollution will be baked into transactions for goods and services throughout the global economy. Pollution will no longer be free to polluters and costly to poor and vulnerable communities. But until then, you and I can pay our own little share when we travel simply out of a sense of fairness and decency.

I’m pretty sure you’ll stand a little taller once you start this. And you can know that you’re part of something that God’s people are doing in the world: acting a little more justly, loving a little more kindly, and maybe even walking a little more humbly with our God (Micah 6:8).

Thanks, and God bless you.

Imagining a World With No Future

I remember a couple of years back seeing the trailer for Interstellar, an earth-exodus sci-fi thriller. The film starred Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway and a host of other luminaries. But it was the 21st century setting of the film – a dying world facing the extinction of all plant life from an unnamed blight – that intrigued me most.

Like almost all people who take today’s environmental crisis seriously, the specter of ecosystem collapse – and even of existential threats to our own species – constantly haunts the shadowy margins of my consciousness. The spectral appeal of the film was strong, but still no match for the drone of daily routines that normally crowd out interesting films. Interstellar came and went, without me.

Well, I finally got around to seeing it a couple of nights ago. To break up day/night-long flight to Nepal – where I am currently attending a conference of South Asian Christian church leaders engaged in ecological ministry – I finally took the time. And sure enough, the movie’s story-line confronted me with an imponderable challenge: How could anyone manage life in a world with almost no plausible future beyond one’s own lifetime or maybe their children’s’?

Last night at the opening dinner of the Nepal conference, I was confronted with a dystopian nightmare eerily similar to Interstellar’s fictional crisis. And it wasn’t a movie. With my plate filled with rice, dahl and curry, I took a seat across from a Bangladeshi man named Manna (I’ll skip his full name for this post). Manna works with an international faith-based NGO in Southeast Asia.

Eventually, the conversation turned to Manna’s home in coastal Bangladesh. Yes, he confirmed, the sea levels are rising at an alarming pace. Farms in his home are becoming too salty to produce food. Fish farms are suffering mass die-offs as freshwater ponds turn to sea-water, until the monsoon flushes them fresh again. Groundwater tables are falling rapidly as communities drill for fresh, clean water. Coastal mangrove forests are succumbing to rapid climatic changes, leaving the low-lying Ganges River delta defenseless against storm surges from tropical cyclones.

Bangladeshi communities caught between flooding rivers and rising seas

Bangladeshi communities caught between flooding rivers and rising seas

“You cannot invest for the future under such conditions,” Manna told me. “Everyone knows what is coming.” But still, he told me, many people cannot afford to think even several years ahead.

Manna is not saying anything more than what countless scientific studies have already established: Bangladesh and its 160 million human souls are facing the irresistible advance of the sea over large expanses of their country. The culprit? Thermal ocean expansion and melting land ice in a world choking on the exhaust from the global industrial behemoth.

Scientists are still working on the expected pace of the rising seas, with new studies raising the prospect of rapid coastal inundation far more severe than previously thought. But Bangladesh illustrates the maddening complexity of the problem: Long before the dry land slips beneath the waves, freshwater sources are fouled; farmland is poisoned by salt; and capital investment moves to higher ground.

But there’s a personal word in what I hear from Manna: There is a clouded future for my hometown, my family, my people. You can’t plan for the long haul here. There is little to leave our children in this place. In effect, we have to find somewhere else to start over.

So, what stories do you tell yourself in Manna’s Bangladesh to hang onto hope? What do you say to the mother of a newborn child, nursing the hope of a new generation? What do you tell your young people about the value of industry and honest work? What do you tell investors looking to create value in their communities?

The movie, Interstellar, is just a story. For those of us who feel relatively secure in our brief time and place, it offers the thrill of an existential peril that we don’t actually have to  face ourselves. It’s entertaining, in a way, isn’t it?

But what if that were the world we really lived in? What if there simply was no reliable future in our cities, counties and states? What if broad swaths of our entire country saw little option but eventual flight?

And to flee – where? In a world increasingly absorbed with fear and hatred of The Other, where could we hope to find welcome and shalom?

And since most of my readers are from North America, let me ask one more question: If we were Manna’s Bangladeshi countrymen, what would we want to say to people in the consumerist world of the West?

That’s what I’m here in Nepal to listen for. If I can, I will bring you their voices over the next couple of weeks. I hope you will find the time – and the human compassion – to hear their voices.

An Appeal for Climate Realism to Candidate Trump

Sir, this will not end well for you. Or us, I’m afraid.

You may not even realize what you’re saying, but when the public figures it out – and many surely will – you will have lost all but the small fraction who still deny the most obvious facts — facts acknowledged by every country in the world.

Calling climate change “a hoax” in an even minimally-educated country is no way to become president.

We remember that last year you said that climate change was invented by the Chinese to make us non-competitive. It was silly, of course. But during the primary, who could keep track of all the silliness? We assumed you’d tack to something more credible if you ever became the actual nominee. But then last week you reiterated your view of climate science on Fox News. Sure, it was a little murky, but we got the gist. Here’s the transcript:

  • BILL O’REILLY: Did you ever call climate change a hoax?
  • DONALD TRUMP: Well, I might have because when I look at some of the things that are going on, in fact if you look at Europe where they had their big summit a couple of years ago, where people were sending out emails, scientists practically calling it a hoax and they were laughing at it. So, yeah, I probably did. I see what’s going on and you see what’s going on.

Bill O’Reilly, Donald Trump and the climate “hoax”

Hmm. Let me see: You say it’s a hoax, because of, um, a summit, Europe, emails, scientists, and laughing. That can only refer to the “ClimateGate” conspiracy theory, right? It wasn’t a summit, and it wasn’t a couple of years ago (seven years, actually). But nothing else remotely captures the litany of other references. It’s not China anymore, but the lying scientists of “ClimateGate.”

Of course, the ClimateGate conspiracy theory has been thoroughly debunked (see FactCheck.org , Union of Concerned Scientists, and Politifact). Every investigation — from the National Science Foundation Inspector General, NOAA’s Inspector General, Penn State University, and the UK Parliament — reached the same conclusion: the hacked emails revealed nothing to compromise the overwhelming consensus of climate science.

But whatever you were referring to, one thing is clear: You have doubled down on accusing researchers of defrauding the whole world. Yes – you have confirmed – climate change IS a hoax. It means nothing that tens of thousands of scientists conduct peer-reviewed research — normally worthy of our trust. The planet is NOT warming; oceans are NOT acidifying; sea levels are NOT rising; and the rise in greenhouse gases is NOT coming from fossil fuel emissions. All a hoax.

This is no longer “I am not a scientist.” And it’s not “I’m still not convinced as to the causes.” It’s a full-throated charge: “They are all lying to us!” Like you said: “Scientists practically calling it a hoax” and “laughing at it.” It’s a massive fraud on the whole world.

Okay. We’ve heard enough to expect some pretty outlandish charges from you by now. But have you considered the electoral implications of this line of attack? Let me cite a few that might concern you:

  • Some of your supporters may doubt the truthfulness of climate scientists in particular. But none of them think ALL scientists are liars. Did you know that 31 scientific societies got together last month to write a letter to every U.S. legislator, telling them that “climate change is occurring, and rigorous scientific research concludes that the greenhouse gases emitted by human activities are the primary driver…”? They spoke on behalf of every discipline, from geophysics and chemistry to geology and meteorology. Taken together, they represent essentially all of science, and we Americans are pretty proud of our sciences.
  • Gallup now tells us that 64% of Americans are worried about climate change. 59% believe its impacts are already visible. 65% percent of us agree that its causes are mainly pollution from human activities. Only one in ten of us thinks that it’s not real, and that its effects will never hit us.
  • And Yale University reports that 67% of Americans think global warming is happening, while only 16% think it’s not.

So, sir, you want to become our president, right? You want to make American great again? Well, how are you going to do that while vilifying the smartest American researchers from every field of science? By dismissing as a hoax what two-thirds of us are already worried about? And by standing with a tiny minority of Americans who dismiss this global threat?

Source: The Gallup Organization

Source: Gallup: US Concern About Global Warming at Eight-Year High

And how do you propose to be a world leader, when you have promised to kill the global climate agreement endorsed in Paris last year by virtually every country in the world?

Mr. Trump, there must be a smarter way to land American votes. Here’s an idea: You’ve bucked party orthodoxy in the past. Why not do it again regarding climate action? The days when anti-science front groups managed to paralyze us with doubt have come and gone. You’ve got the nomination. Party leaders are afraid to touch you no matter what you say. Why not use your power to improve your odds of winning with all of us climate realists?


Source: Gallup: US Concern About Global Warming at Eight-Year High

Like every potential occupant of the Oval Office, you are faced with choices for great good or great evil. If you would just drop this hoax thing, and listen to the huge majority of your countrymen (and the scientists who inform us) you might have the chance to do something really good.

Think about it, sir. You could do something good.