Saturday, May 11, 2013

Some Things I Believe; Some Things I Just Know

I know better than to respond to some people, because willful ignorance is just such a tedious thing, but sometimes, I just can't help myself. I can't. I don't know why I care to bother, but I do, and I can't just not say something, and so I do, and I always always end up beating my head against the close-mindedness.

How does one argue with a person who says, and I kid you not "God put that oil there for us to use and He wants us to take it all." I mean, wow! I cannot imagine having such a strong sense of entitlement. It must be nice there in oblivious land.

Please note that I am not making fun of anyone's religion here. I am not making fun. In fact, I don't think it's funny, but incredibly sad, and frightening, actually, to note that there are people in this world who believe that God has chosen this time and this place to give people all of His best treasures, and that the whole of mankind before and after this very brief century or so is not worthy of His gifts. Seriously? What in the hell did we, 20th and 21st Centurions, do, exactly, to deserve this honor?

Worse, though, is that it's not just those of us living in this previous and current centuries, but only in certain parts of the world. Why should Americans and Europeans be singled out and privileged? There are plenty of "Christian" nations out there that don't have nearly the affluent lives most Americans and Europeans enjoy. Heck, Namibia, Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Zambia are 90% to 100% Christian compared to the US, which is less than 80% Christian. In Angola, 40% of the population lives below the poverty level, only 50% of the population has access to safe drinking water and sanitation, and the life expectancy is 51 years. Compare that to the US where less than 1% of our population falls below the poverty level, nearly 100% of us have access to (presumed) clean drinking water and sanitary waste disposal, and the life expectancy is 77. As such, I will assert that in that very Christian nation it seems that God has chosen not to reward them with earthly wealth in the same way that He has bestowed His abundant blessings on the US.

Seems kind of ... unfair ... actually, but that's not the point, because I won't pretend to know the rationale behind the actions of the Supreme Being, but I will say that in my observations, God (as evidenced by His "creation", i.e. nature) is not always kind, but He is always fair, and giving one group of people an abundance, but on the other side of the world, impoverishing people is not the hand of God, but something else altogether.

Given those kinds of facts - i.e. the way the rest of the world lives compared to the way the US lives, I have a really hard time with people who just refuse to believe anything other than what allows them to keep their simple, little closed minds free of guilt and the baggage that comes from owning the fact that we are all only a part (and not the most important part, either) of a greater whole. In short, there's a whole big world out there, and we're part of it, but it doesn't revolve around us ... not any of us ... not even the President of the United States. He's one person, and not nearly as important or powerful as we (the citizens of his country) like to think.

I usually avoid people like that, and I usually just shake my head and move along - nothing to see here. This time, I should have known better, but I didn't, and I responded to a rant that was another attempt by this person I know to debunk the whole Global Warming theory. This person refuses to believe in global warming (and bandies about comments like, "Blizzard this week. Where's that global warming again?") and continually asserts that it is merely a liberal conspiracy designed to force us all to accept government-enforced austerity measures. The commentaries usually run along the lines of the liberal government (currently headed by Obama, who is evil incarnate, right?) is feeding us this line so that they can take away our cars and force us to stop using electricity, thereby thrusting us back into the Dark Ages where we'll be forced to live in caves, eat dirt, and use the nearest leaf while toileting.

The problem is that global warming isn't a religion. One doesn't believe in or not believe in global warming. It's fact.

One only has to look at the data. Over the last hundred years, there has been an increase in average annual temperatures, and between the years of 2000 and 2009, the US logged the hottest decade on record. Yes, there were some cooler years, but overall the trend has been warming.

Add to that the USDA's update of their hardiness zone map. As a gardener, the difference is stark, and I've been noticing. My seasons start earlier (tapping maple trees in January? Really?) and seem to be going longer (harvesting tomatoes from my garden in October? What?). And peaches grow in Maine, now. In 2006, I had a peach tree in my yard that I was going to cut down, because it wasn't terribly productive, and I was assured that if I were getting any peaches - at all - that was a productive tree, because peaches don't grow in Maine. Fact is, they do. There's a peach orchard not far from where I live, and I've enjoyed home-canned-from-local-peaches for the past three years. But the general consensus is still that peaches don't grow in Maine, because it is too cold, and in some parts of Maine, it's true. Peaches won't grow, because the winter will kill the tree, but that's becoming less true in the southern and coastal parts of the state.

So, to say that one doesn't believe in global warming is to remain willfully ignorant of what is happening outside, in the REAL world, the world that is comprised of budding plants and squirrel babies and butterfly larvae. Trees are budding earlier, the dandelions are already forming seed heads, the Japanese knotweed is already past harvest time, the garlic is six inches tall already, and I've started planting my garden - outside in the ground. These things were unheard of when I moved to Maine - only sixteen years ago, and I was advised by natives to wait until Memorial Day to plant - advice, which five years ago, meant I didn't harvest any peas, because I waited too long, and it got too hot for the cold-loving legumes.

People are growing peaches in Maine, and maybe that's not a bad thing. Maybe, in a few more years, we'll be growing peanuts, which are a warm-climate plant. It will be a wonderful thing for us, Maine, gardeners, but if we're growing less cold hardy plants in Maine, because it's getting warmer here, it will also be getting warmer where those plants are currently growing, and might it get too warm for them? Might it get too warm to grow much of anything, including people?

The problem with the global warming argument is that people tend to get bogged down playing the blame game, and it's that mindset that keeps people from taking that next step. These people don't want to give up their fossil fuels (most often blamed for the increase in greenhouse gases, which is what is believed to be causing the warming trend), because cars and Sunday night football are essential to good living. The people who deny global warming are the people who can't imagine how they would survive if they didn't have unlimited, cheap energy.

And I say, I don't care who or what they believe caused the warming trend, the data shows that it has been and is happening. The earth is getting warmer.

For me the biggest problem is not "Whodunit?" We already know it's happening, and it's too late to start trying to stop it. At this point, much research suggests that we've passed the point-of-no-return, and we're hurtling head-long into TEOTWAWKI. No, the world isn't going to end (probably), but we do need to start figuring out how we're going to survive in a world in which peanuts and peaches grow in Maine, and the average daily temperature in Georgia during the summer is too hot for people to live there.


  1. Hi! I came across your blog recently and find it interesting.
    I agree with what you said about how the rest of the world (minus US and Europe) is coping with unsafe drinking water and do not use any where near the earth's resources that we do. Although I agree with you, I think you said "The Christian world". What about all the other people in the world who are not Christian and are suffering with no resources? I mean, I am a Roman Catholic and so therefore a Christian but I accept all people whatever they believe and don't think they should be without basics. Like you said, there's a big world out there. They don't all believe in Christianity. Are they not entitled to live a decent life? I also believe you have the right to say anything you want on your blog. I'm just wondering if you realized you said that or did you say that on purpose? Just curious.

  2. Hi, Kearnygirl,

    I wasn't saying anything negative about Christianity. The references were in response to what an acquaintance of mine said about her belief that, as a Christian, she has the right to the oil that God put in the ground. He gave it to us, and so we should use it, is her general belief.

    I was just disagreeing with her and pointing out that there are a lot of other places in the world where Christians don't live as entitled lives as we do here in the US, and so, to say that oil is a gift from God for us to exploit at will is not correct.

    I'm sorry for the misunderstanding.

  3. Amazing how some readers jump to assumptions and see your post as religion-based when clearly that's not what you wrote. I guess Blinders and Tunnel Vision still exist.

    We all have a lot of re-learning to do, as not much is the same as it once was. As a gardener who depends on growing a lot of my own food, it affects me greatly.

  4. My "favorite" saying from those types of Christians? "God never gives you anything you can't handle." Yes, because starving children dying of diarrhea in third world nations are just not Christian enough to "handle" what God gave them, right?

    *sigh* Thankfully, the willful denial of science seems to be creating a very real schism in the Republican Party, with the crazies alienating the sensible (but conservative) people. Hopefully sometimes soon those types of people will no longer be glorified in the public eye, but be back on the crazy fringes of society once again.

  5. Amen again. I find it generally pretty appalling when some religious groups talk about "subduing nature" as if it was theirs for the subduing. I believe much more in the idea of being a caretaker for this garden. If you didn't create it, don't ravage it. Some live like sheeple in their own little world of beer, sports and whatever the next mindless reality show has to offer. Some of my younger co-workers think it's odd to think about preserving food while they take their kids to an out-of-state Justin Beiber concert. That cost $1000.00's, but they will cry if the grocery stores empty from some kind of disaster. Anyway.... great post!

  6. I guess you misinterpreted what I said, just as I had misinterpreted what you said. I said I thought ALL people (not just Christians) had the right to safe drinking water and all other basics. I do not care what religion they are. I don't care if anyone has a religion at all! Sorry I misunderstood you and sorry everyone else who posted did the same. I was not disagreeing with you at all.

  7. @ Kearnygirl - I didn't misunderstand what you were saying. I knew you were saying that everyone should have access to clean water, etc., which is what I also said ;). And, again, I wasn't bashing any religion. My comment really was just about what one person, who professes to be a Christian, said about her personal belief in her entitlement to the Earth's resources.

    It's really hard to communicate this way, because words on a page don't carry the same feel as spoken words. I'm very sorry if you felt your words had been misconstrued.

  8. As one of my favorite comedians says "I have the right to remain silent..I just don't have the ability"!..ha!...I find so many times why do I even try but sometimes it is so HARD not to say anything!...good post!..