My Generation Deserves to Feel Uncomfortable About the Climate Crisis

greta

For all the people of my generation who want to blame Greta Thunberg for creating eco-anxiety in young people, the real reason young people have eco-anxiety is because of the climate crisis and mass extinction event being caused by the inaction of our generation.

I am 53 years old. My generation was coming of age right as the general public was learning of the reality of climate change. James Hansen of NASA testified before Congress when I was in college, and a scientific consensus rapidly formed during my young adult years that anthropogenic climate change was a reality. Yet my generation has spent most of our adult lives squandering the opportunity to address climate change before it became a full-blown crisis.

And now some of us feel “uncomfortable” when Greta and other young people call us out for our inaction. We don’t want Greta to “catastrophize” what is happening by talking about the end of human civilization like it really is the end of human civilization or by taking about the sixth great extinction that has already begun like it really is an extinction. Apparently, we want to keep on living in denial and not change much of anything or make the sacrifices that the reality of our situation calls for.

We sure as hell better feel uncomfortable when we hear Greta and the other young people whose futures we have stolen because our generation blew it. We spent 30 years listening to climate scientist after climate scientist warn us of the climate chaos to come, and year and year we just kept increasing emissions of greenhouse gases.

If we don’t want to be made to feel uncomfortable, we had better take what’s left of our generation’s time to make up for our pathetic inaction in the face of the clear scientific consensus that climate change is real and that it is primarily caused by human activity.

We have ignored our moral responsibility to act urgently to preserve a livable climate far too long. We deserve to be uncomfortable. We deserve to be much more than uncomfortable.

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Oklahoma’s Climate of Complicity

When it comes to the climate crisis, Oklahoma has one of the highest percentages of people who deny the reality of climate change and the role of human activity in contributing to rising global temperatures. This is not surprising in a state that is dominated by the oil and gas industry, where the good or bad fortune of the economy seems inextricably linked to the price of a barrel of oil, where towns boom or bust based on oil and gas well counts, and where we are reminded constantly by the propaganda of oil and gas companies that they are responsible for all of our good things and that we would be lost as a state without them.

In such a state as this, it is no surprise that we are home to a U.S. Senator who brings snowballs on the floor of the U.S. Senate and builds igloos on the National Mall when it is cold outside as evidence of his assertion that “global warming is the greatest hoax” ever perpetrated on the American people. It is no surprise that Oklahoma governors and attorneys general have long taken their talking points from oil and gas companies and have the state’s most powerful fossil fuel executives on speed dial. It is no surprise that very few of Oklahoma’s religious leaders speak out about addressing climate change when their offering plates are full of fossil fuel money. It is no surprise that Oklahoma colleges and universities have their regents and trustees packed with persons with fossil fuel interests, and it is no surprise that university presidents in Oklahoma are often paid directors of oil and gas companies or simply come directly from the ranks of fossil fuel executives, often with little to no experience in higher education. In the Oklahoma game, it is difficult to win without oil and gas on your team.

For these reasons and more, I have often described Oklahoma as being in a state of denial about climate change – a regrettable, yet understandable state of affairs given our fossil fueled economy. However, as climate change has become a full blown climate crisis, as 500 year floods become commonplace, as seasonal high tides flood the streets of Miami and those of other cities, as coastal villages erode into the sea, as we see climate refugees who have lost their homes to rising seas and strengthening storms, as arctic sea ice and permafrost melt, as glaciers recede all over the world, as global temperature averages continue to increase to record levels, as fire seasons and fire ravaged areas expand, as the effects of climate change are real right now, not just some forecast of a distant future; the word “denial” to describe Oklahoma’s response to the climate crisis no longer seems adequate.

Oklahoma’s response to the climate crisis is much less innocent than denial. Oklahoma (namely all Oklahomans who perpetuate the interests of the fossil fuel industry through word, deed, silence, or inaction) is complicit in the greatest ongoing crime against humanity and the ecological community of which we are all a part. Oklahoma is complicit in the theft of a flourishing present and the theft of our children’s and youth’s future. Oklahoma is complicit in leading us towards horrific suffering and death in the ongoing human-induced Sixth Great Extinction event on Earth.

Perhaps no one sees this complicity more clearly than our children and youth, and many young people are calling on all of us to address the climate crisis with the urgency that it demands. Through her school climate strike that has now become a global movement, 16 year old Greta Thunberg from Sweden has spoken with clarity and led with commitment to call on all of us to act boldly “as if our house is on fire” as she puts it, “because it is.”

Young people around the world have joined with Greta to strike for the climate, and we in Oklahoma should see this as a direct call on us to reject and repent from our complicity in the crime of the climate crisis. This Friday, September 20, young people are leading all of us in a global climate strike. There are at least two opportunities in Oklahoma (OKC and Tulsa) to join in this strike. The strikes in Oklahoma will be held from noon to 2 p.m. on the east lawn of the City Hall in Oklahoma City and at Guthrie Green in Tulsa. Let us hear the call of our youth and turn away from Oklahoma’s complicity in the climate crisis. Our children and youth are leading us. Will we love them enough to listen?

Global Climate Strike – Oklahoma City

Global Climate Strike – Tulsa

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Who Can Teach in the United Methodist Church?

Cross and flame

If a United Methodist Church were to go beyond the current discriminatory restrictions of the United Methodist Book of Discipline and create a policy that no LGBTQIA+ persons would be allowed to teach in the church in any capacity, it seems that would be something they would need to publicize very broadly so that everyone in the church or who may come to the church knows what kind of place they are dealing with. Are there United Methodist churches that have such a policy? If there are United Methodist churches with such a policy, would these churches be willing for this policy to be public knowledge? If they are not wanting it to be public knowledge, then why not?

If a church is going to discriminate in such ways, then it needs to be upfront about what its practices and policies are. Don’t pretend everyone in the congregation is equal and then tell people that the only reason they can’t teach a Sunday School class or a Bible study is because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Such churches should create their own addendum to the United Methodist Book of Discipline that lets their members know who is and who is not allowed to teach in the church. If they want to include any other categories of persons not worthy of teaching in the church, they can put those categories in the addendum as well. Just list all the categories of persons who are not allowed to teach with all of the reasons why so that there will be clarity, transparency, and no confusion about who can and cannot teach in the church.

The “Who Can and Cannot Teach in the Church” addendum could also be published clearly in a church membership handbook so that everyone knows that they are joining a church that doesn’t allow persons who are LGBTQIA+ to teach in the church. Might as well post the policy on the door of every Sunday School Class so that everyone can know that they are being taught in an “LGBTQIA+ Teacher Free Zone.” If there are other things that LGBTQIA+ persons are not allowed to do in the church, this should be clearly stated in an “LGBTQIA+ Persons Restriction Addendum” as well.

Such churches shouldn’t try to sweep the issue of who can and cannot teach under the rug and quietly deal with “those who cannot teach” behind closed doors and in quiet whispers, hoping that when they are told that they won’t make a fuss and will quietly submit to the church’s discriminatory practices. If these churches really believe that LGBTQIA+ persons should not be teaching in the church, then they should own it, make it public, and not mislead people into thinking they can teach in the church if they don’t think they are worthy of doing so.

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What’s in a Name?

Graham

What’s in a name? The word ‘Christian’ has lost almost all of its positive meaning for me. It used to mean something special to me before I learned that those who have called themselves ‘Christian’ used the power of the Empire to violently and murderously suppress opposing viewpoints and later during a series of Inquisitions tortured and burned persons alive who thought differently than they did; before I learned that ‘Christians’ committed atrocities and mass killings during the Crusades in the name and under the banner of Christ; before I learned that ‘Christians’ brutalized, enslaved, and murdered indigenous peoples all over the planet; before I learned that ‘Christians’ killed each other by the millions over doctrinal and political differences; before I learned that ‘Christians’ justified the slavery and dehumanization of millions of African persons; and before I learned that ‘Christians’ persecuted and murdered Jewish persons for centuries, culminating in a self-identified ‘Christian’ nation committing the most horrific atrocities in human history in the torture and extermination of 6 million Jews.

After this horrific history, it should come as no surprise that so many persons who identify as ‘Christian’ have given themselves to movements that oppress women, persons who are LGBTQIA+, people of color, Muslims, immigrants, and refugees. It should come as no surprise that so many persons who call themselves ‘Christian’ would reject their LGBTQIA+ sons, daughters, and non-binary children and drive them to despair and homelessness. It should come as no surprise that so many persons who call themselves ‘Christian’ would justify putting immigrant and refugee children in cages, tearing families apart, refusing immigrants and refugees basic hygiene and medical care, and sending immigrants on special medical visas home to their deaths. It should come as no surprise that so many persons who call themselves ‘Christian’ glorify war and violence and have hardened their hearts to the poor and most vulnerable among us. It should come as no surprise that so many persons who call themselves ‘Christian’ are blocking any meaningful action for climate justice and maintaining a livable climate for all life. It should come as no surprise that so many persons who call themselves ‘Christian’ support an openly racist, misogynist, xenophobic, narcissistic, environment destroying, lying sociopath as their ‘chosen’ leader to enforce their white nationalist vision for America.

Far too often the name ‘Christian’ has come to signify the very antithesis of the way of Jesus; the very antithesis of the way of love, justice, mercy, and grace; the very antithesis of the way of peacemaking; the very antithesis of good news for the poor and liberation of the oppressed; the very antithesis of welcoming the stranger; the very antithesis of caring for the good earth, the very antithesis of everything Jesus taught, lived for, loved for, and died for.

What’s in a name? When it comes to the word ‘Christian,’ apparently not much. Give me a decent, kind, loving, compassionate human being over what has passed as ‘Christian’ for far too long. Give me the way of Jesus and keep the name ‘Christian.’ It has lost its ability to convey the goodness it was meant to possess because of the cruelty and evil practiced for centuries in its name.

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Oklahoma, Opioids, and Oil

In Oklahoma’s case against Johnson & Johnson in relation to the opioid crisis, Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter used an argument that could also be applied to Oklahoma’s oil and gas companies and how they are deceiving us about the long term and lethal effects of their production processes and their product for Oklahomans and all of human civilization.

Like the pharmaceutical companies, the oil and gas companies have deceived us for self profit that has led to grave societal harm. They have deceived us about wastewater induced earthquakes, supported merchants of doubt to lie to us about the reality of our climate crisis, and attempted to block any meaningful regulations on the environmental impact of their industry.

The oil and gas companies have even sought to weaken academic freedom at our colleges and universities by buying university and college presidents and in more than one case giving them millions of dollars in direct payments to serve as paid directors on their boards. In other cases, oil and gas companies influence Boards of Regents and Boards of Trustees to simply place oil and gas company executives as the presidents of the universities. The oil and gas companies attempted to squash dissent by academics who were exposing and telling the truth about wastewater induced earthquakes and who openly resist the lies being told by the fossil fuel industry about climate change.

Oklahoma Attorney General Hunter described Johnson & Johnson’s conduct in misleading the public about the addictive nature of opioids as “devious and diabolical.” Attorney General Hunter, congratulations on your work to hold the pharmaceutical industry accountable for its role in the opioid crisis in Oklahoma. Congratulations on the verdict that Johnson & Johnson is to pay $572 million for the damage it has done to the people of Oklahoma. When will you be taking Devon Energy, Chesapeake Energy, Continental Resources, and others to court to hold them accountable for their devious and diabolical role in our climate crisis and for the millions of dollars of damages from earthquakes that their industry unleashed on our state?

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Yes, We Should Be Talking About Greenland

There are many important and urgent reasons we should be focused on Greenland.

1. Greenland is melting.

2. Greenland’s melting will increase sea levels and threaten coastal cities around the world.

3. Greenland’s melting is releasing large amounts of fresh water into the ocean which could alter the rate of the flow of the Global Ocean Conveyor, which has a significant impact on climate and marine ecosystems – including fisheries.

4. Greenland’s melting is emitting the potent greenhouse gas methane into the atmosphere. As the melting continues to accelerate, extremely large amounts of methane will be released into the atmosphere with the potential to greatly exacerbate the climate crisis.

5. Greenland’s melting means less ice to reflect sunlight, and that means the arctic will warm even faster than it is now.

6. Geeenland’s melting and the concomitant accelerated warming of the arctic will release even more of the potent greenhouse gas methane as permafrost melts throughout the arctic, accelerating global warming.

7. Greenland’s melting will exacerbate arctic sea ice loss creating habitat loss for animals dependent on the ice and increasing erosion of arctic coastlines.

One of the least important reasons to be focused on Greenland is the fact that Trump wants to buy Greenland. In addition to Greenland not being for sale, it should also be noted that Trump’s denial of the climate crisis and inaction to address it is insuring that Greenland will continue to melt and do so at rates previously not imagined possible. There might eventually be more habitable land on Greenland for a period of time, but Greenland’s melting means climate chaos and is disastrous for the earth.

Trump wanting to buy Greenland is not the reason to be talking about Greenland, but perhaps since his absurd idea is bringing Greenland into the news a bit more, it is an opportunity to focus on and be concerned about Greenland for the reason that really matters – avoiding climate chaos.

You can also click here to read this commentary at the Oklahoma Observer.
If you find the writing at One World House by Mark Davies helpful or inspiring, you can show your support by making a monthly contribution using Patreon
You may also make a one time gift through PayPal
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Trump’s Dependency on Racism

There seems to be at least three forms of racism that are fueling Trump’s current hold on power:

First, you have the hardcore racist white supremacists. Not every Trump supporter is a hardcore racist white supremacist, but every hardcore racist white supremacist is a Trump supporter (these are the David Dukes, Richard Spencers, Steve Kings, and Stephen Millers of the world and their followers).

Second, you have those who primarily express their racism through a willingness to use race, racial divisions, xenophobia, and racism in general to gain power. These persons may not understand themselves to be white supremacists, but they are more than willing to use racism as a political tool to gain, maintain, and expand political power (Trump himself and McConnell are at the very least representatives of this form of racism).

Third, you have those who may reject white supremacy and who may not like Trump’s overt use of racism and xenophobia to gain and maintain power, but they have decided that Trump’s policies on taxes, regulations, abortion, and perhaps some other social issues are enough to make up for his use of racial division and unwillingness to consistently denounce white supremacy and his use of racist and xenophobic rhetoric.

Those in the third category likely do not view themselves as racist, but their continuing support of Trump and his agenda that is supported by white supremacists is in effect racist in that it perpetuates experiences of injustice and violence for immigrants, refugees, and persons of color in general. Included in this third form of racism are many corporate supporters of Trump who overlook or tolerate his racism in order to continue to reap the rewards of low taxes and fewer regulations.

These three forms of racism – the first overt, the second crassly utilitarian and Machiavellian, and the third more covert and silent, all worked together to bring Trump to power, and Trump needs all three forms of racism to remain as president. Persons who express the first two forms of racism are for the most part a lost cause in terms of potential conversion, but there may be some hope that some persons in the third group may have had too much of the overt and utilitarian forms of racism to remain silent much longer. Even if that is not the case, as long as Democrats and progressive independents stay united in their resistance to Trump, there is a path that leads us beyond Trump and his racist agenda.

You can also click here to read this commentary at the Oklahoma Observer.
If you find the writing at One World House by Mark Davies helpful or inspiring, you can show your support by making a monthly contribution using Patreon
You may also make a one time gift through PayPal.
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