Sunday, January 18, 2015

Dire changes in the Earth

In the Washington Post (January 15, 2015) we can read an article by Joel Achenbach (for the full article click here ) that makes reference to a scientific paper just published in the journal Science by 18 researches. It sure is an interesting article that in simple words warns us of the dire situation into which we are putting our environment. The news that we are destroying our environment is not news any more, even though almost every day the most important newspapers of the world are publishing articles about the deep seriousness of the issue. The New York Times for instance has in the Jan 15 issue an article by Carl Zimmer (for the full article click here) with this image:
Dead whales and other mammals being found in the oceans of the world are a sign that, as the article mentioned, "Ocean Life Faces Mass Extinction."

So if the news that we are destroying our environment are not news, what are we supposed to do?
Are we to become idle observers of the catastrophe? Or, are we supposed to become active advocates for taking care of our environment?

There are of course as many answers as are human beings, each one of us has to come to terms with each of our own answer. I know there are thousands of us that think that we are to become, and in some cases already are, advocates, activist defending our environment. Of course we have many ways of participating in this advocacy and many levels to engage in activism. Some can and will do it at a leadership level some other will do it as active members of a team where there will strengthen the effort by following the lead of someone else but always with the heart of knowing they are doing the right thing.

In his book "A Spirituality of Resistance" Roger S. Gottlieb states the dilemma of an ethicist expressing his concern that doing good for the environment is not simple, easy, nor immediate. Other issues like being against war, sexism (or sex discrimination), racism can be stated in simpler terms and one can (in a clearer way) be congruent with a position where our actions and our ideas go hand in hand. But, how can you do it when working in favor of the environment?

We know that burning hydrocarbons is creating a problem with our atmosphere, but how can we live without using our cars? We know that excessive use (or misuse) of plastics is also damaging our environment, but how can we live without the convenience of plastic? (As it is with many other 'conveniences' of our modern world.) This is the conundrum of the ethicist!

At Warner Pacific College we are teaching several classes that help us and our students clarify and address these issues. One course is Earthkeeping (HUM 212) that among other objectives has the one of describing the philosophic foundation of deep ecology. As we look at human nature from a philosophic perspective (with ethical and moral implications) we are able to see the need for balance and justice. Finding balance and justice in our actions and discovering that the problems facing our society come from a lack of balance and justice, becomes a central tenet of our conversation in class.

The need to continue educating our society on the dire situation facing our environment today will not end with a few words on a post like this, but we must continue spreading the word. Just look around and see how our society is not able to control the damage cause by our progress. I am thinking on what I see in the news almost every day. We hear about accidents and incidents, like the oil train derailment in  Galena Illinois yesterday that is until this hour burning. The issue here is that they are using the newly designed cars that are supposed to be safer, but as far as I know from the 103 cars loaded with oil from ND, 21 cars either exploded or caught fire and the blaze is so strong that firefighters don't have the means to fight the incident and are only letting it burn.

Can you imagine the damage to the environment?

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