CLIMATIC CHANGES, CONSEQUENCES AND SOLUTIONS by Metropolitan John of Portugal
Dear President, Esteemed Lecturers, Entities and Illustrious Visitors,
CLIMATIC CHANGES AND CONSEQUENCES
The Orthodox Church, fully aware of its responsibilities for the fate of the world, is highly concerned with the contemporary civilization generated problems, which are not the least of all the ecological problems.
Nowadays, the Earth image is being distorted on a global scale. Its water, bowels, soil, air, flora and fauna are damaged. Nature has been almost fully involved in the life support of humanity. The human beings are no longer satisfied with its diverse gifts but are exploiting whole ecosystems without restraint.
Mankind activities, having reached the level of biosphere processes, are constantly growing due to the accelerated and fast development of science and technology.
General environment pollution due to industrial waste, poor agriculture technology, large scale destruction of forests and topsoil, they all result in suppressed biological activity and the steady shrinking of the genetic diversity of life.
Irreplaceable mineral sources are being exhausted and drinking water reserves reduced.
Multiple new harmful substances came to light, many of which are not included in the natural circulation but accumulated in the biosphere.
The ecological balance has been disturbed.
At the present time humanity is setting the emergency of pernicious processes in nature, including the failure of its innate reproductive power.
All these dreadful uproariousness are happening together with an unprecedented and unjustified growth of public consumption, mainly in high developed countries, where the search for wealth and luxury has become the target and the norm. This unrighteous situation prevents the fair and equitable distribution of natural resources, which are the common property of all humanity.
The consequences of the ecological crisis have proved to be painful not only for nature, alone, but also for men and women as its organic part.
As a result, the Earth Planet finds itself on the verge of an ecological disaster.
Believe me, my Dearest brothers, that my words are not coming from any kind of personal subjective interpretation, but rising from the undeniable public facts.
Otherwise, let us see these very same facts in a more detailed form.
According to one of the United Nations official reports on Climatic Changes elaborated by over 2.500 experts during five years, we can reach the following noxious and harmful conclusions:
The concentration in the atmosphere of the gases coming out of the so-called greenhouse effect is the biggest in the last 650.000 years;
Six of the seven warmest years – since registration exists – occurred from 2001 on, the same is to say in this very century;
The North hemisphere lost 5% of snow since 1966;
In the last 45 years the sea is rising 0,8 millimeters each year;
The United Nations Report advices that a large part of the global heating is already reverseless and its effects may prevail for centuries. But the Apocalypse can still be avoid, notwithstanding some actions must be taken immediately.
The average Earth temperature increased itself 1ºC (one Celsius degree) in the last 120 years;
840 species of living catalogued beings were extinct during the last 500 years;
The concentration of carbonic gas in the atmosphere increased 30% in the last 150 years;
Deaths connected with polluted air reach 3.000.000 people each year;
The Arctic ice covering, during the year 2005 occupied a 20% minor area than the historic average;
Amazonas Forest is 22% devastated and 31% is suffering man’s intervention;
The global heating reduced in 20% the Arctic Polar calotte in the last three decades;
The excess of carbonic gas in the atmosphere is making the oceans more acid; this debilitates the corals, sea-rearing fond, planktons, basic subaquatic food chain;
In the last three decades the total of grasped soils by severe drying doubled due to the global heating.
In China, for example, according to the most recent United Nations study, every year 10.000 Km2 (ten thousand square kilometers), in average – the equivalent to one tenth of Portugal – are transformed in desert;
In Ethiopia the annual drying condemns 6 million people to hunger;
In Turkey 160.000 Km2 (one hundred and sixty thousand square kilometers) of arable soils suffer with gradual desertification, followed by consequent soil erosion;
In the Atlantic ocean the water temperature is 1,5ºC (one and a half Celsius degree) higher than it was twenty years ago.
The consequences of the inflicted wounds in nature, directed by man through the disrespect of God’s Creation and natural balance, are presenting every year a new catastrophic inheritance to humanity.
Unfortunately it is very easy the enumeration of some of them, elapsing mainly of global heat. All these disasters are happening now.
In this very precise moment i am addressing myself to all of you they are affecting not only the climate but disturbing the mankind’s life, having only as future previsions and expectations the aggravation and worsening of the situation.
It is frightening to observe how such uncontrolled events of dinosaurian and Cyclopic proportions can be the result of only one rose degree in the Earth temperature average, one small fraction of the foreseen heat for all the next decades.
The Arctic is melting – the ice covering on that region, in Summer time, decreased at a rhythm of 8% per year since three decades ago. Last year the ice layer was 20% minor, relatively for instance to the one of the year 1979, a reduction of 1.3 million square kilometers , the equivalent to the sum of the territories of France, Germany and United Kingdom, altogether.
The deserts are marching up – the total attained areas by drying are nowadays the double in 30 years. A quarter part of the surface of the Planet is now a long and large desert place. Only in China the deserted areas are marching up 10.000 square kilometers a year, the equal to Lebanon territory.
Brazil is presently in the track, in the route of cyclones. Until then far away from this kind of storm disturbances, Brazil got all the South seashore time, the Brazilian littoral did acknowledge other frequent similar storms, even if they were from less magnitude and greatness; nevertheless, it shows very clearly that the problem came for staying.
The hurricanes are stronger than ever. Due to global waters heating, presence of hurricanes of categories 4 and 5 – the most intense of the scale – did double in the last 35 years.
The Katrina hurricane, which destroyed New Orleans, is only a sample of that tragic reality.
The sea level rose. Since the beginning of last century that the sea raising is between 8 and 20 centimeters. In certain seashore areas, like in some Pacific islands, that denoted a 100 meters advance in the high tide. A United Nations study esteems that the water level will rise even to one meter until the end of this century.
The United Nations most recent reports are informing about the death of 200.000 people every year on account of drying, floods and other factors directly connected with the global heating. Until 2030 this number will double.
Facing all these immeasurable and unruffledtragic environmental facts, one has the legitimacy of rising oneself the following question: – Are these effects reversible?
According to one of the many reports of the International Panel of Climatic Changes (IPCC) one of the United Nations most serious and respected authority in Global Heating, there will be an increasing of average temperature of the Earth Planet between 2 and 4,5ºC until the year 2050.
The Director of the Institute of Environment Sciences of the Quebec University, Dr. Marc Lucotte says: “Two degrees is a psychological barrier for the scientists. Above that landing, the possibility for occurring much larger tragedies than the ones already observed in the recent past years, like floods, drying, heating waves, hurricanes and epidemics, increases very much. In that very accurate moment it will be too late for returning back”.
In the worst of the cases, an increasing of 4 (four) degrees will equal the Arctic temperatures to the ones founded 130.000 (one hundred and thirty thousand) years ago, following the reliable statements based on geological analysis, made by scientists of the Arizona University and by the National Center of Atmospheric Research of the United States.
In that ancient past, the level of the oceans was six meters higher and the ice layer of the Arctic did almost disappear.
The scientist John Overpeck, one of this research coordinators, informs that “this doesn’t mean the ocean level will rise immediately up to 6 meters, when thermometers will be registering a 4ºC augmentation of the temperature”.
But from that moment on, the melting process of the glaciers will be fast and irreversible. Many scientists start believing that the climatic changes attained the point of non-coming back.
In several aspects we already went beyond the limit of returning back – the cleanliness of the atmosphere is a task for generations.
The heating of the seas will feed up new hurricanes, increasing the power of those meteorological phenomenons.
The drying and floods will continue ravaging entire populations making continuously, every year, hundreds of thousands of new deaths.
Thus, what can we do? Is it allowed to ourselves for giving up?
The scenario is adverse but doesn’t allow any kind of inertness or laziness.
Considering only – and for the moment – some practical measures, we know, all of us, quite well that, for reducing the heating, fundamentally, we have to find a more efficient energy way by diminuishing the gases emission which are causing the greenhouse effect.
More or less 75% of these gases are coming from fossil fuels for the energy production, in the Industries.
The other 25% are coming from forest fires, probably the easiest problem to deal with.
There is a real, serious and deep concerning between governments, we have no doubts.
Several countries are starting to consider the installation and implementation of new Nuclear Plants, which represents today, already, 16% of the total worldwide produced energy. Only China does foresee to build up 32 new Plants until 2020.
United States is interested in producing fuels for automobiles using maize, like, in the very same way, Brazil is doing with sugar-cane.
Of course one can adapt himself to a warmer climate and this seems to be possible for humankind. If this has to be done, let us do it! Notwithstanding, this attitude will not release us from the condemation of the generations to come.
We will be always appointed as the generation which almost did destroy the unique, fragile and blue Paradise of life in the vastness of the entire Universe.
In order to each one of us having a better accurate and clearer approach to the consequences of nowadays dreadful Planet pollution disease, I just tell you that, even if all the countries did stop the gases liberation of the greenhouse effect, even so – said John Reilley, Director of the Climatic Changes Program of the Technology Institute of Massachusetts – even so, we do reinforce it, “the atmosphere is already so impregnated that the average temperature of the globe would still be going up for over 1000 years and the level of the sea would continue rising for over 2000 years”.
The first thing we must learn is how to live together with this new rage of outraged nature that we unchained.
At last, taking into consideration the survey of the United Nations of 2005, only in that same year (2005) occurred 360 natural disasters, of which 259 are in direct connection with the global heating.
The augmentation was about 20% relatively to the preceding year. In the beginning of 19th century, in conformity with some historians, over half a dozen of these events would hardly happen each year.
In total, 168 floods, 69 tornados and hurricanes and 22 drying, this did transform the former peaceful life of 154 million people all over the world. *
But no country will go far away because the reversible measures and options are expensive and some of them can bring risks to the economy.
Other ones are proposing – namely – environment lists so that each person do its own part, like leaving the car at home during some days per week; these indicated behaviors are remarkable but have no impact or any practical effect.
John Reilley has no doubts that for reversing the way of life lived during the last twenty years, great strategies and heavy investments are required.
Even if we need the involvement of the world governments and states, we must not be chimerical or utopian; it would be impossible to convince them to save the Planet because there would be so many divergent self interests that a consensus or an agreement would be rather impossible.
And, really, to solve the greenhouse effect – for example – would be enough an agreement between the ten or twenty larger worldwide economies. On one hand they are the big pollutants, and on the other hand they have enough money to change the energetic noxious standard. TECHNICAL SOLUTIONS
Thus, Dear Friends and Brothers,
We can’t count only on good strategies because the ones with power and money for implementing them have their own interests, highly divergent from those of nature.
Secondly, nice and good domestic intentions will have no effect in practice and we must not root our hope in an utopian illusion.
We must think globally and act locally.
We have the duty of doing everything possible for start recreating the lost natural balance.
Our contemporary world society is not ready for living without oil energy. This is a fact and we have to know how to deal with it, choosing the best way.
But one can develop other kinds of alternative energies – non pollutants – like solar ones, eolic ones, and others.
The world needs energetic power for living in respect for the population framework way of life; by the way the world is structured today, it cannot renounce to the oil fossil power energy; this is an unavoidable fact.
But we can create other options as important different new sources of energy, in order to start recovering the lost balance imposed by hydrocarbon fossil energy ancient sources.
Here, Dear Friends,
The alternative wind energy can play a very special role in all over the world.
And for that goal, initiatives like the one we have the pleasure of living here, today – in Guadalajara – must happen more constantly and continually with the aim of awaking the world, for the responsibility concerning the implementation of the non-pollutant energies.
Efforts had been made, undoubtedly, but we really still are far away from a steady round assertion regarding wind power in the Planet.
For instance – last year – United States did double the figure of the 2007 installed wind energy capacity; nevertheless, all the global U.S.A. installed wind energy represents only 1% of the U.S.A. energy supplying. Even if it is a noteworthy beginning… A long way stands before us for running.
We could indicate many other countries like Germany, China, India, Spain, France, Denmark, Portugal or Italy, if we are only talking about some of the top ten world countries with wind installed energy, which are making also enormous efforts in this area; but again, it is not enough; we must go forward; we must continue increasing the development of wind energy, worldwide.
A new ecological balance – for the salvation of our Earth Planet – must be created, protected and developed, elapsing from what we have been saying in this Conference until now; and the success of a new balance – at material level – goes through the presented gift of new non-pollutant energy sources.
SOLUTIONS ANTHROPOLOGICAL AND SPIRITUAL ENVIRONMENT REINTEGRATION.
Notwithstanding, we cannot and must not forget one of the most important parts, the spiritual one, fast asleep more and more in nowadays world.
Man, today, delights himself in the contemplation of his own remarkable technological achievements and began feeling himself the landlord of Earth Planet, instead of assuming himself as a co-responsible for all the Cosmic Creation, at the mineral, vegetable and animal levels, by the respect of the harmony and natural environment balance.
Man has this responsibility both before the Cosmic Creation and before God the Creator.
This man’s noxious behavior comes from our roots in the ancient past of our ancestors.
Before Adam and Eve’s fall, they experienced the Creation as one harmonious whole, like if it was a beautiful garden (Genesis 2:8), which they tended with care and love.
The human fall, however, which was essentially a sinful exercising of human freedom, introduced disintegrating forces into the body of Creation.
Humanity experienced a two-fold alienation. On the one hand, it was estranged from the Creator, since Adam and Eve tended to hide themselves away from the sight of God (Genesis 3:8) as their communion with the source of life and light was broken.
On the other hand, humanity lost its capacity of entering into a proper relationship with nature and with the body of the Creation. Enmity between the natural world and human beings replaced the relationship of harmony and care.
Domination and exploitation of the Creation for selfish ends by greedy human beings became the order of his history.
Thus, manifold forms of disintegration set in which converged in the fact of death and corruption.
Fear of death instilled anxiety, acquisitiveness, greed, hatred and despair in human beings.
Modern forms of economic exploitation, racial oppression, social inequalities, war, genocides… are all consequences of the fear of death and collective signs of death.
This fear for death was one of the results of the fall. Being lost the primordial link of the precious direct and pure love relationship between Man and God throughout the ages, Man tried to emancipate himself from dependence of mortality, creating illusory artifacts in order to supersede both his mind and physical weakness.
At the Modern Age this dreadful search for supremancy over his own feebleness, lead man to rule the world under the deepest spiritual blindness.
With this spiritual blindness came together the insensibleness, hardness of heart and indifference towards his alike ones and towards the environment, among several other levels of Creation.
Just to focus us on our main nowadays subject, environment issues like air and water pollution, depletion of non-renewable resources, destruction of ozone layer, increasing of nuclear radiation, deforestation and desertification of vast areas, are now threatening the very life in the Planet.
The gifts of science and technologie are being misused by human beings to the extent of abusing nature and turning today’s life on Earth into a hell, not only for the many millions of existing people but also for the generations to come.
The voice of those calling for a just development, equal distribution of resources and ecological life-styles is being systematically supressed.
Advances in bio-technology and genetic engineering need to be seen at the light of the Holy Spirit, because without adequate knowledge of the transcendant and divine vocation of humanity’s spiritual nature, these new technologies run the risk of initiating biological and environment disruption, leading to disastrous mutations, that are extremely dangerous for the true life of our Earth.
While human creativity and freedom can be affirmed as supreme gifts of God, it should also be emphasized that they ought to be rooted both in divine wisdom and in human spiritual maturity.
The environmental crisis is a sin and a judgement upon humanity.
We need to find ways, support sound programs which seek to preserve from polluted air, water and land.
When we do speak about reintegration today, first of all we must speak about repentance and make commitments toward the formation of a new way of live for the whole humanity.
The contemporary world must repent itself of the abuses which we have imposed and inflicted in the natural world, seeing it in the same kind of relationship to us as we see the unity of our human nature in both body and soul.
We must begin to undo the pollution we have caused, which brings death and destruction to the mineral, vegetable and mineral dimensions of the world environment.
We must work and make pressure in every possible way for us in our different situations for encouraging the scientific community to dedicate the good potentials of science and technology in order to the restoration of the Earth’s integrity.
In short, we must see the created world as our own home and every person in it as our brother and sister whom Christ loves.
In our selfishness and greed we have used our otherwise good technological abilities to exploit God’s Creation, to destroy the nature balance and to deform what originally God made to be in wholesome communion with us and with Him.
Creation is no longer integrated with humanity nor in harmony with God. In fact, it stands in conflagration danger, in the face of a nuclear war.
The ecological crisis compels us to review our relationship with the environment. Today the conception of man’s dominion over nature and the consumer attitude towards it are increasingly criticized.
The contemporary society awareness pays a too high price for the civilization “blessings” and has provoked opposition to economic egoism.
In particular, attempts have been made to identify the damaging activities to the natural environment.
At the same time, a system for its protection is being developed. Present economic methods are reviewed; efforts are being made to create power-saving technologies and waste-free plants, which can be fit at the same time into the natural circulation.
An ecological strong protection feeling start have been developed, even if it still is in embryonic stage.
Guided as such, public opinion began speaking out against the consumer way of life, demanding the increasing of ethical and legal responsibility for the inflicted damage on nature.
It is also calling for ecological education, training and collective efforts for protecting the environment on the basis of broad international co-operation.
The Orthodox Church appreciates all these efforts to counteract the ecological crisis and encourages people to take active part in God’s Creation protection.
At the same time, the Church notes that these efforts will be more fruitful if the basis on which man’s built relationship with nature is not purely humanistic but also Christian.
As we already have said, one of the main Church’s stand principles on ecological matters is the unity and integrity of God’s created world.
The Christian Orthodox Church does not see nature as an isolated or closed structure. Plant, animal and human worlds are interconnected.
From the Orthodox Church point of view, nature is not a resources repository intended for selfish and irresponsible consumption, but a house in which man is not the master, but the housekeeper.
Ecological problems are essentially anthropological, as they are generated not by nature but by man.
Therefore, answers to many questions raised by the environmental crisis are to be found in the human heart, not in the economy, biology, technology or politics; nature changes or perishes not by itself, but under man’s influence.
The man’s spiritual condition plays the decisive role here, for it affects the environment with or without such influence.
The History of the Church knows many examples in which the love of Christian ascetics for nature, their prayer for the world, and their compassion for all creatures had a beneficial influence on living things.
SOLUTIONS ECOLOGICAL AND SPIRITUAL
The relationship between anthropology and ecology stands out today when the world is experiencing two concurrent crises: spiritual and ecological.
In the Contemporary Society, man often looses the awareness of life as a gift of God, and sometimes of the very meaning of life itself, reducing it at times to physical being alone.
With this attitude to life, nature is no longer perceived as a home, much less as a temple, but only as a “habitat”.
The spiritual degraded person leads nature, as well, to degradation, for it is unable to have a transforming influence on the world.
Colossal technological resources cannot help humanity when it is blinded by indifference for the meaning, mystery and wonder of life; technology in that case can’t be a benefit and may even do harm.
In a spiritually disoriented man, technology power will beget an utopian reliance on the boundless resources of human mind and progress power.
It is impossible to completely overcome the ecological crisis, given nowadays spiritual crisis.
This doesn’t mean that the Church is calling for an end to environmental protection efforts.
However, the Orthodox Church considers that hope for a positive change in the relationship between man and nature lies in society striving for spiritual revival.
The anthropogenic background of our ecological problems demonstrates that we tend to change the world around us in accordance with our own inner world; thus, the nature transformation should begin with the transfiguration and transformation of the soul.
According to Saint Maxim the Confessor, “man can turn the Earth into Paradise only if he carries paradise within himself”.
These are some of the Orthodox perspectives on Creation.
This is not only my personal opinion or self position, but it reflects the Universal Orthodox Churches firm determinations.
You, all of you, Dear Friends, when we are speaking only in terms of science and technology, the major protagonist of Alternative energies is the Light which is shining in the darkness reality, I mean, the WIND Alternative Energy.
The Wind Energy’s implementation succsseful futur depends on ALL of you; International HIGH MEETINGS like the Guadalajara one, are more than necessary, once it will allow that all of the commited men, companies and participants, in general, to be awaken concerning each new or ancient important detail to be taken into consideration for the welfare of Humankind;
For increasing the maximum number of possible Wind Energy Plants construction all over the World;
Presenting for discussion the most relevant issues connected with this major task;
Remaining vigilantly devoted to this new and Noble Mission, TO SAVE EARTH PLANET from disaster;
For re-establishing the new ENVIRONMENT BALANCE.
At the END, I want to express my most deep and sincere Gratefulness to The President of Wind Expo Lawea 2008, Ing. Fernando Tejeda – my Dearest Friend – for his courage and rare, unusual and exceptional determination which lead to the full accomplishment of this great and remarcable Local Latin America-International Unique and wonderfull Alternative Energies’s Event;
In the same way it is my honnorable brotherly duty to present my congratulations to all the Wind Expo Lawea 2008 main Responsable Bodies who had the hard work – during many months – for making this Expo Alternative Energies Event to happen, adornded by such an astonishing Dignity, Truthfulness, and Scientific Proficiency.
To all the Illustrious Visitors and Attendants of this Event, I leave a heartning challenge in order to have all of you more commited and envolved – every day that is passing by – in the environment matters, helpping to find the most adequate, practical and effective ways for facing positively, the enourmous Mission we have before us, our families and before the World.
Finnaly, I want to ask your comprehenssion, self understanding and personal forgiveness, for such a large quantity of words I did dare myself to address to all fo you.
May God Spread upon all of you His vivifying Blessings.
John Orthodox Archbishop of Braga and Lisbon Metropolitan Primate of Portugal, Spain and All of Brazil.
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