The “logic of the grain of wheat”

While one may look at environmental problems such as climate change and be discouraged by concrete reality or failed logic, Pope Benedict XVI again abounds  in his references to Creation  and speaks about how to solve the worlds problems – drawing on Jesus himself, he talks of Christianity and the “logic of the grain of wheat” during the Corpus Christi homily.

Drawing on the Last Supper teaching of this year, and in general a set of reflections filled with creation theology and environmental implications, the Pope emphasizes the need for rather than us to transform the world and solve problems with exclusively our own means, we should rather let ourselves be transformed by God: “I am the food of the mature: grow, then, and you shall eat me. You will not change me into yourself like bodily food; but you will be changed into me”(Confessions, VII, 10, 18)

Following the great insight of Guadium et Spes10 “The truth is that the imbalances under which the modern world labors are linked with that more basic imbalance which is rooted in the heart(s) of (people)”, which has a clear application on environmental matters, the line of action that is suggested is to follow the logic of the grain of wheat. Below the central passage:

He [Jesus] accepts his passion out of love, with its trial and its violence, even to death on the cross; by accepting it in this way he transforms it into an act of giving. This is the transformation that the world needs most, because he redeems it from within, he opens it up to the kingdom of heaven. But God always wants to accomplish this renewal of the world through the same path followed by Christ, indeed, the path that is himself. There is nothing magic in Christianity. There are no shortcuts, but everything passes through the patient and humble logic of the grain of wheat that is broken to give life, the logic of faith that moves mountains with the gentle power of God. This is why God wants to continue to renew humanity, history and the cosmos through this chain of transformations, of which the Eucharist is the sacrament. Through the consecrated bread and wine, in which his Body and Blood is truly present, Christ transforms us, assimilating us in him: He involves us in his redeeming work, enabling us, by the grace of the Holy Spirit, to live according to his same logic of gift, like grains of wheat united with him and in him. Thus unity and peace, which are the goal for which we strive, are sown and mature in the furrows of history, according to God’s plan.

Without illusions, without ideological utopias, we walk the streets of the world, bringing within us the Body of the Lord, like the Virgin Mary in the mystery of the Visitation. With the humble awareness that we are simple grains of wheat, we cherish the firm conviction that the love of God, incarnate in Christ, is stronger than evil, violence and death. We know that God is preparing for all people new heavens and new earth where peace and justice prevail — and by faith we glimpse the new world, that is our true home.

“Burn, baby, burn” – more CO2, not less

The Economist has an interesting article on the situation of world energy following the latest report by BP. Here is what it says:

“NOT since 1973 has world energy use increased by as much, in percentage terms, as it did in 2010. According to BP’s annual Statistical Review of World Energy, published today, 2010’s energy consumption was up by 5.6% on the year before. In part this is thanks to recovery from the economic crisis; in part it is down to the longer-term shift in economic activity towards emerging economies, which are less efficient in their energy use.

Robust growth was seen in all regions and in almost all types of energy use: the world consumed more of every main fuel bar one than it had in any previous year. Consumption of oil, which accounts for 34% of the world’s primary energy by BP’s calculations, rose by 3.1%. Coal, at 30% the number two fuel, was up by 7.6%, growing faster than at any time since 2003. Consumption of gas, which contributes 24%, was up by 7.4%, the biggest annual growth since 1984.

The growth in fossil fuels was so strong that although non-fossil-fuel energy also had a record year, its share of the world total primary energy decreased a little.”

Roger Pielke Jr. also comments on this and alerts to the fact that the energy intensity of the economy is increasing amidst hopes and claims for radical carbon dioxide emission resductions. Not only are we not making steps forwards (to reducing carbon, the economy seems to welcome these facts)  but moving backwards. Here is what he says also quoting a Financial Times article:

Globally, energy consumption grew more rapidly than the economy, meaning the energy intensity of economic activity rose for a second consecutive year. “Energy intensity – the amount of energy used for one unit of GDP – grew at the fastest rate since 1970,” said Mr Rühl.

Close readers of this blog will note that BP’s conclusion on the increasing energy intensity of GDP helps to explain the trend of a deceleration in the carbon intensity of GDP.  Note that the IEA data I had relied on in that earlier post was based on a 5% growth in both GDP and carbon dioxide emissions  in 2010.  Using the higher5..8% increase in carbon dioxide emissions calculated by BP would mean that the world actually became more carbon intensive in 2010.

Benedict XVI: “revise our approach to nature”

Pope Benedict XVI gave an important address on environmental matters to the diplomats of 6 countries: Moldavia, Equatorial Guinea, Belize, the Arab Republic of Syria, Ghana and New Zealand. A summary article can be found in CNA here, highlighting the references to the nuclear disaster in Japan and a call for ‘clean energy’.

In the full translation, one can clearly see the primacy the Pope gives to the human person, as well as a recognition of the urgency for us  “to completely revise our approach to nature. Nature is not simply a space that is useful or recreational. It is, rather, the place where man was born; his “home,” so to speak. It is essential for us. A change in mentality in this realm, even with the contradictions it entails, must make it possible to quickly arrive at a global lifestyle that respects the covenant between humanity and nature, without which the human family risks disappearing.” The Pope also emphasized the importance of moral guidance for the use of technology and the approach of human ecology. Below some highlights:

  • The first half of this year was marked by innumerable tragedies that have affected nature, technology and people. The magnitude of these catastrophes challenges us. It is good to remember that before all else, the person comes first. Humanity, to whom God has entrusted the stewardship of nature, cannot be dominated by technology and become its subject. 
  • Every government must commit themselves to protecting nature and assisting it to carry out its essential role in the survival of humanity. Continue reading

Environmental Obesity

It seems like the problem of obesity in the USA is reaching the animal kingdom. This was a picture taken last week in California. Supposedly the entire family had these problems, but the father was particularly “large”. How about a diet? Curiously this was came to me through a Brazilian blog. Anyway, jokes aside, there you go: don’t feed the wildlife. Last year I saw something similar, not this bad, at Rocky Mountain National Park.

The IPCC Loss of Credibility

Roger Pielke Jr. has an interesting post on the latest measures involving the IPCC, and the predicted changes ahead. Read it here.  I have posted before on the complications of the IPCC here and here. Very basically, the IPCC has had to implement new procedures to guarantee freedom from conflict of interest and other potential elements that make their affirmations credible. If those are implemented, Dr. Pachauri would be in trouble. Below I copy Richard Tol’s comments to Roger’s blog, he seems to know what he’s talking about:

Richard Tol said…2

Here’s a prediction:
Pachauri insisted that family was excluded, so it will be revealed that he has transferred many of his interests to his wife and daughters.

Disclosure is voluntary, and it will be shown to be incomplete in a number of cases.

Conflicts of interest that are disclosed by current IPCC personnel will not lead to action.

The IPCC leaders constantly remind the press of the rigorous procedures for peer-review (unfortunately not enforced). In the future, they will constantly remind the press of the rigorous procedure for conflict of interest (unfortunately not enforced).