A Wind of (Climate) Change

There is an interesting article in the BBC about how wind farms may affect temperature changes in their areas.  Still seen as possible CO2 off setters and thus positively contributing to curbing climate change, this may add a twist to their impact on climate. See the article highlights below.

Wind farms can affect weather in their immediate locality, raising night-time temperatures on the ground, researchers working in Texas have shown.

They used satellite data to show that land around newly constructed wind farms warmed more than next-door areas.

The result – published in the journal Nature Climate Change – confirms an earlier, smaller study from 2010.

The scientists believe the effect is caused by turbines bringing relatively warm air down to ground level.

They suggest that turbines in other places might not produce the same value of ground temperature change.

The study area, in west-central Texas, saw a major turbine building programme in the middle of the last decade, with the number soaring from 111 in 2003 to 2325 just six years later.

Researchers used data from the Modis instruments on Nasa’s Aqua and Terra satellites to measure ground temperatures across the study region and between the beginning and end of the construction boom, defined as as the difference between the average for 2003-5 and that for 2009-11.

The entire region saw a rise, but it was more pronounced around wind farms.

The researchers looked for other factors that could have affected the results, such as changes in vegetation, but found these were too small to produce the observed change.

White Wild Whale

A wild white Killer Whale (Orca) has been spotted in the wild. This is the first of its kind to be seen. Below the BBC article.  One wonders if, despite this not being the Sperm whale species, if Captain Ahab and Moby Dick add to the fascination of this siting.

Scientists have made what they believe to be the first sighting of an adult white orca, or killer whale.

The adult male, which they have nicknamed Iceberg, was spotted off the coast of Kamchatka in eastern Russia.

It appears to be healthy and leading a normal life in its pod.

White whales of various species are occasionally seen; but the only known white orcas have been young, including one with a rare genetic condition that died in a Canadian aquarium in 1972.

The sightings were made during a research cruise off Kamchatka by a group of Russian scientists and students, co-led by Erich Hoyt, the long-time orca scientist, conservationist and author who is now a senior research fellow with the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS).


Sustainable Mining?

Here is an article by Jose Miguel Yturralde, an insider into the reality of mining in Latin America. He works in the mining business, is an environmentalist at hear and writes for Revista Vive and contributes for Creatio: here.

Recently the theme has flared up in Ecuador and Peru, as debates rage on about the approval of the biggest goal mine in the world managed by American firm Newmont, who already runs the current largest gold mine in Yanacocha. Mining accounts for 61% of Peru’s exports. The current president, who vowed to protect the interests of local populations is under attack for giving in to large corporate interests. You can read articles here and here. Below, Jose Miguel’s take (in Spanish):

Easter, Bee’s and Honey

I have written before about the spiritual dimension of bees and how they can also be a source of solidarity. This Easter season, as bee keepers in the northern hemisphere are getting ready to start new hives and catch swarms, there are a few more interesting parallels. In yesterday’s Gospel for the 3rd Sunday of Easter (Lk 24), the Resurrected Jesus asks for some food to prove the point that he is not a ghost, but the true body, flesh and bone. And the apostles “offered him a piece of roasted fish and a honeycomb” (Lk 24, 42). Since the point Jesus was making was to prove he had a real body, the messy business of honey must have been appropriate, sticking sweetness to his hands and face.

In his Easter Vigil Homily, centered on creation, the Pope concludes with this reflection on bees as a metaphor for the Christian life.

The great hymn of the Exsultet, which the deacon sings at the beginning of the Easter liturgy, points us quite gently towards a further aspect. It reminds us that this object, the candle, has its origin in the work of bees. So the whole of creation plays its part. In the candle, creation becomes a bearer of light. But in the mind of the Fathers, the candle also in some sense contains a silent reference to the Church,. The cooperation of the living community of believers in the Church in some way resembles the activity of bees. It builds up the community of light. So the candle serves as a summons to us to become involved in the community of the Church, whose raison d’être is to let the light of Christ shine upon the world.

Let us pray to the Lord at this time that he may grant us to experience the joy of his light; let us pray that we ourselves may become bearers of his light, and that through the Church, Christ’s radiant face may enter our world (cf. LG 1). Amen.

Disasters and Climate Change

Roger Pielke Jr. has a recent set of posts and data on his blog, dealing a death blow to the conflation between extreme weather events and climate change.  This kind of stuff isn’t new, but there is some new data out which makes the correlation harder to prove. Here is one post with a good graph on hurricane landfalls over the years.

Here is another post with the Sunday Times putting the IPCC to shame, and the IPCC reacting like Cristiano Ronaldo. Below with Roger’s conclusion and a video of Ronaldo…

The bottom line is that the Sunday Times article has proven correct comprehensively on the substantive and procedural aspects of the IPCC’s failures (the substance of which hasrecently been reaffirmed by the IPCC SREX report).

The IPCC 26 January 2010 press release still sits uncorrected on the IPCC website (here in PDF). If the IPCC has a commitment to getting things right, shouldn’t it correct “baseless and misleading” claims that it has made?

Easter and Nature: The Humility of Dominion

Like much of Lent, this years Papal Easter reflections have been filled with environmental meaning. On Lent the Pope spoke on nature here and here. At the Easter Vigil Pope Benedict XVI began his reflection with light and creation:

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Easter is the feast of the new creation… A new dimension has opened up for mankind. Creation has become greater and broader. Easter Day ushers in a new creation, but that is precisely why the Church starts the liturgy on this day with the old creation, so that we can learn to understand the new one aright. At the beginning of the Liturgy of the Word on Easter night, then, comes the account of the creation of the world. Two things are particularly important here in connection with this liturgy. On the one hand, creation is presented as a whole that includes the phenomenon of time… Creation is therefore directed towards the coming together of God and his creatures; it exists so as to open up a space for the response to God’s great glory, an encounter between love and freedom. On the other hand, what the Church hears on Easter night is above all the first element of the creation account: “God said, ‘let there be light!’” (Gen 1:3). 

…God created the world as a space for knowledge and truth, as a space for encounter and freedom, as a space for good and for love. Matter is fundamentally good, being itself is good. 

This new creation, which confirms the goodness of matter gives an entirely new understanding to the first creation. In this sense, a Christian interpretation of the Old Testament must always be seen from the prism of Christ. This is one of the great mistakes of Lynn White Jr. (commented here before) when he claims that Christianity promotes ecological destruction due to the Genesis command to “subdue the earth” and “have dominion”. Both words for subdue and dominion, katakyrion and archetosan, are Christological words that have Jesus as their ultimate paradigm. Christ was the ‘subduer’ and ‘dominator’ by excellence, and this is how he lived it:

“Who being in the form of God thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men, and in habit found as a man. He humbled himself, becoming obedient unto death, even to the death of the cross” (Phl 2, 6-8). This humbling of oneself, being obedient to God unto death and following God’s order is the Christians’ attitude and understanding of lordship.

On this point Pope Benedict XVI has two very important homilies delivered to the Cardinals earlier this year that speak about the paradigmatic humility of Jesus, who is Lord and yet obedient and humble, powerful yet the opposite of a despot. In his message to the new Cardinals, he spoke of how the apostles fail do understand the logic of the Gospel but hold fast to power and glory. This logic is the same that Lynn White Jr. failed to understand while reading Genesis and what God meant by entrusting ‘dominion’. For what it means according to the Gospel’s logic, see below:

By their request, James and John demonstrate that they do not understand the logic of the life to which Jesus witnesses, that logic which – according to the Master – must characterize the disciple in his spirit and in his actions. The erroneous logic is not the sole preserve of the two sons of Zebedee because, as the evangelist narrates, it also spreads to “the other ten” apostles who “began to be indignant at James and John” (Mk 10:41). They were indignant, because it is not easy to enter into the logic of the Gospel and to let go of power and glory…

Dominion and service, egoism and altruism, possession and gift, self-interest and gratuitousness: these profoundly contrasting approaches confront each other in every age and place. There is no doubt about the path chosen by Jesus: he does not merely indicate it with words to the disciples of then and of today, but he lives it in his own flesh. He explains, in fact, “For the Son of man also came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mk 10:45)….According to biblical tradition, the Son of man is the one who receives power and dominion from God (cf. Dan 7:13f). Jesus interprets his mission on earth by combining the figure of the Son of man with that of the suffering Servant, described in Isaiah (cf. 53:1-12). He receives power and the glory only inasmuch as he is “servant”; but he is servant inasmuch as he welcomes within himself the fate of the suffering and the sin of all humanity.  

Mountaineering and Palm Sunday

I have posted a few liturgical and Papal messages drawing here and here the relationship between mountaineering, rock climbing and the Christian life. Here I found another great one, in Pope Benedict’s 2008 Palm Sunday homily, where he used the rope that ties climbers together as the central metaphor. The translator even had to put in a footnote to explain the metaphor:

 Communion with Christ is being on a journey, a permanent ascent to the true height of our calling. Journeying together with Jesus is always at the same time a traveling together in the “we” of those who want to follow him. It brings us into this community. Because this journey to true life, to being men conformed to the model of the Son of God Jesus Christ is beyond our powers, this journeying is also always a state of being carried. We find ourselves, so to speak, in a “roped party” [1] with Jesus Christ — together with him in the ascent to the heights of God. He pulls us and supports us. Letting oneself be part of a roped party is part of following Christ; we accept that we cannot do it on our own. The humble act of entering into the “we” of the Church is part of it — holding on to the roped party, the responsibility of communion, not letting go of the rope because of our bullheadedness and conceit.

Humbly believing with the Church, like being bound together in a roped party ascending to God, is an essential condition for following Christ. Not acting as the owners of the Word of God, not chasing after a mistaken idea of emancipation — this is also part of being together in the roped party. The humility of “being-with” is essential to the ascent. Letting the Lord take us by the hand through the sacraments is another part of it. We let ourselves be purified and strengthened by him, we let ourselves accept the discipline of the ascent, even if we are tired.

Translator’s Note:[1] The Pope is using a mountaineering metaphor here. Groups of climbers often rope themselves together when they scale mountainsides. This is the meaning of a “roped party.” The Italian word is “cordata.”

One of the activities of Creatio puts into practice these great parallels between rock climbing and the Christian life. Here are the 5 parallels we draw in the manual for guides, of which the rope is central to the last two: community and trust and friendship.

  1. Explain how the theme is the Christian Life for which rock climbing serves for 5 corresponding metaphors:

                                               i.     Goal: Journey towards heaven

                                              ii.     Preparation: Life and death/Fear and falling

                                            iii.     Means: Effort, fear and risks

                                            iv.     Community and listening

                                              v.     Trust and Friendship: rooted on the rock and others

  1. 2.     Community and listening: Rock climbing is inherently communitarian. You need at least 2 people to climb if you want to make it alive. Each one helps the other, and climber and helper are indispensable to each other. Nobody can climb alone. The belay is a wonderful metaphor for the Christian life. The hinge point of survival is the rock and bolt to which you are connected – the solid Rock is God himself. Then you need rope and harnesses, which are the Word of God. But a belay system is incomplete without another person, the belayer. We need others to succeed in the Christian life. The belayer needs to be focused and aware of the person who is climbing: if he falls, needs rest, needs guidance and support. The climber needs to communicate with the belayer, listen to advice and fundamentally TRUST.