Do scientific findings have relevance in Buddhism?

We can ask many questions about the relevance of science* - and scientific findings - in Buddhism. Science provides us with information about the state of the planet? It seems we are in the midst of a terrible ecological crisis. We have the problems that are ‘with us’ due to human-induced climate change. How should Buddhists respond to these scientific findings? What relevance do these findings have to Buddhism - now and in the future?

There is a problem that arises when people have dogmatic views about science. Science is an important method of investigation but it is often misunderstood. It is meant to help us to understand our world and improve our quality of life. It was never meant to be seen as a dogma or a philosophy of life. When science is abused in this way it can lead to a misunderstanding of Buddhism.

Buddhism is categorised as a world religion and some believe that religion is the antithesis of science. This is an important issue that arises in relation to science and its findings. One of the life-worlds that many human beings inhabit involves religion. Misunderstandings arise when there is an unclear understanding of Buddhism as a religion and as an alternative approach to scientific inquiry - a contemplative-science*.

It is hard to establish a clear correlation between Buddhist cosmology and the vision of the cosmos revealed through modern astronomy. I cannot see a necessary connection between the shape of the Earth and the Buddha’s teachings on ‘kamma’ and rebirth - and other aspects of his liberation teachings so we need not be overly concerned. The purpose of Buddhism is liberation - the hearts sure release. I find the teachings on kamma interesting and informative. I keep an open mind about rebirth - I don’t pretend to be certain about things that I am uncertain about.

It is not a problem that the Buddha’s cosmological teachings are not confirmed by scientific findings. What the Buddha ‘saw’ or did not see ‘out there’ in our solar system and beyond is not necessarily false or incorrect. It is not an either/or situation!

The Buddha may have had a ‘way of looking’ at the universe that does not correspond to our own. That would seem likely in various ways. If this is so, it would mean that beings with an entirely different perceptual framework may be aware of phenomena that is completely beyond the range of our sensory and perceptual abilities.

We do not ‘know’ exactly how the Buddha arrived at his vision of the cosmos. It may have been the result of his cultural background or his direct realisation. Possibly, a mix of both? We can only practice sincerely and find out for ourselves where the practice leads. Then we may be able to see these teachings in a different light?

As our minds develop through the practice of the eightfold path unprecedented ways of seeing and being may unfold. We may then have the prerequisite mind-training to understand the Buddha’s profound knowledge and vision?

Reasoning - if it is accurate - gives rise to an understanding of facts and fictions. For instance, it is an actual fact that the Earth is the 3rd planet from the sun. There is a difference between (Truth, actuality and, our personal reality). Much confusion arises as a consequence of not seeing and understanding the differences involved in these 3 areas of inquiry.

From our frame of reference the universe is seen to contain a spheroidal planet we call home. The best evidence for this is when we leave our planet’s surface in a rocket and look back on it from space. We have figured out something similar when it comes to other planets by circling around them etc. The Buddha might have been referring to a completely different way of seeing the structure of the universe. That way of seeing does not falsify our commonplace understanding of the world around us - and vice versa?

The Truths that the Buddha tried to share with us are not just information. They are not realised through thinking about the nature of reality. This is a valid and necessary process but Truth - with a capital T - is not like this! It is not revealed through reflecting on topics we feel are important or appraising different points of view - choosing that which resonates with our preset conclusions. It is not a product of discursive activity - related to discourse or modes of discourse. This includes religious, philosophical or, scientific theories and conjectures.

When we have preset conclusions about the unknown we lose the capacity for surprise. For people like this ‘life, the universe and, everything’ is a known quantity. They can still learn, but when they encounter anything that does not conform to their fixed ideas of the (way it is) they are faced with a choice - accept or reject? I have met more than a few religious and non-religious people - including many scientists - who suffer from this malady.

If we are capable of remaining comfortable with the unknown with an open heart - but with a critical and reasonably informed mind - we remain completely open to surprise, to novelty. This is a prerequisite for insight.

As practicing Buddhists our central concern is the threefold training. A prerequisite for profound and liberating insight is samadhi. Samadhi takes place when there is a natural stillness that arises spontaneously.

When there is no reactivity, awareness, and complete openness to that which comes and goes - and then vanishes completely - samadhi happens! An openness to the unknown is required for samadhi and awakening! How could it be otherwise?

If we are serious about learning - wanting to understand things - it is best not to view anything from a fixed and intransigent position. This is a really bad habit! This is why we are in the pickle we are in on this spheroidal planet - with its atmospheric gases and fragile ecosystems. There is to much resistance to change based on fixed, intransigent and, misinformed ideas.

We need to have a good understanding of the nature of ignorance/blind conformity - how and why it is reified - before we can apply ourselves to the path in a way that leads to freedom.

I need to clarify my views regarding problematic attitudes towards science. Where I believe the problems begin!

Hard science helps us to understand the ‘actual’ state of the natural environment. It provides us with the methods and tools to understand human-induced climate change and various other environmental threats to our long-term survival - en masse!

Social science is also a valuable tool for the analyses of the environmental crisis - as it pertains to social dynamics. In Psychology, we could understand the problem in terms of human conditioning and the problems this gives rise to when it comes to embracing meaningful change.

I make a distinction between different areas of inquiry that may help you to understand what my views are regarding hard science as a means for understanding the natural world. There are other forms of inquiry and understanding that are vitally important to our long-term survival.

As human beings we inhabit the natural environment and the noosphere*.

Hard science exists within the noosphere but it provides us with information about the Earth’s actual physical environment - that includes the lithosphere, biosphere and the atmosphere.

The Dhamma teachings are also in the noosphere. These teachings provide us with information about ‘liberation’ (moksha) and the path of purification.

We need to enter another area of direct inquiry to ‘discover’ the liberating Dhamma. Buddha-Dhamma includes - and goes beyond - the subtle spheres of the formless absorptions.

The liberating Dhamma is a consequence of insight. Insight - in Buddhism - is a direct and immediate seeing and knowing. It is not a form of discursive activity i.e. it is not found in the noosphere.

When referring to the noosphere it is important to point out that the "word derives from the Greek νοῦς (nous “mind”) and σφαῖρα (sphaira “sphere”), in lexical analogy to “atmosphere” and “biosphere”. - Wikipedia

The ‘litho/bio/atmos - spheres’ are not analogical in nature i.e. they are not merely conceptual. They are ‘actual’ physical phenomena that are studied in the hard sciences. An analogy is an abstraction whereas the atmosphere etc. is not!

The perceptions we call the ‘formless absorptions’ belong to a domain of inquiry that is different from the hard sciences. They are not accessible through the ‘noosphere’ either! They are transpersonal in nature - they have nothing to do with our personal ‘reality’. They are part of the field of ‘direct’ Dhamma inquiry and experience - they are non-subjective experiences. As a consequence of this it is important to point out that the Buddha’s teachings include areas of inquiry that are inaccessible from a secular vantage point.

Secular Buddhism does not have the requisite ‘language game’ to incorporate a discussion of the ‘transpersonal’ teachings of the Buddha. It could indirectly reference the Buddha’s transpersonal teachings in a way that detracts from the ‘lived’ experiences in and of themselves. Jhanic experiences are a fundamental requirement for the direct ‘knowledge and vision’ of the liberation teachings of the Buddha.

When different areas of inquiry get confused we get lost in the thicket of views! The liberating Dhamma is like a lost city in a dense wilderness. The Buddha found a path in that wilderness that leads to the lost city of liberation. This was a simile that the Buddha used to help us understand what he was trying to share with us for our welfare and liberation.

From Wikipedia:

*Noosphere

The noosphere (/ˈnoʊ.əsfɪər/; sometimes noösphere) is the sphere of human thought. The word derives from the Greek νοῦς (nous “mind”) and σφαῖρα (sphaira “sphere”), in lexical analogy to “atmosphere” and “biosphere”. It was introduced by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin in 1922 in his Cosmogenesis. Another possibility is the first use of the term by Édouard Le Roy (1870–1954), who together with Teilhard was listening to lectures of Vladimir Ivanovich Vernadsky at the Sorbonne…

*http://legacy.earlham.edu/~jacksmi/content/narrow_and_broad_science.html

*http://www.sbinstitute.com/node/259

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I think that the scientific findings have a relevance in Buddhism. One of the most popular ideas is the Darwins evolution theory. Even though Buddhism does not support that human are descendants from the monkey, it supports the Buddhist teaching that the universe evolves over time and it is not a creation of a superhuman.

Buddhism teach about the makeup of universe with matter and consciousness. However, science is purely built on the matter. Perhaps one-day science may employ the consciousness to their equations. This may support the Buddhist idea and may have some relevance to Buddhism.

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I seems to me that @laurence raises, but barely gives an answer to, the questions about the intersection of science & Buddhism posed above. I have opinions on the matter but I question whether those opinions are widely understood much less reflect common belief, view or attitude.

@laurence does makes the general comment:

Next I believe that the dharma of the EBT’s and much of western philosophy of science agree that:

If we are serious about learning - wanting to understand things - it is best not to view anything from a fixed and intransigent position. This is a really bad habit! This is why we are in the pickle we are in on this spheroidal planet - with its atmospheric gases and fragile ecosystems. There is to much resistance to change based on fixed, intransigent and, misinformed ideas.

We need to have a good understanding of the nature of ignorance/blind conformity - how and why it is reified - before we can apply ourselves to the path in a way that leads to freedom.

I invite you to think with me. Given what is written above … so what?

Outside of the factors clearly related to personal practice (Pali Samatha-“meditation practices”) does a traditional / non-western practice benefit much from understanding the nature of ignorance about general science?
Are you pointing to the view that it does?? (I ask because I’m not clear that was your intention)


My observations are that most western practitioners are about as curious about such questions as the secular/non-Buddhist citizen.

A good understanding of the nature of ignorance eventually leads to interrogating my own ignorance and misunderstandings. That is rarely a pleasant experience – except perhaps to one who has interrogated their own ignorance about other topics.

Furthermore, views on ignorance or misunderstandings get tricky. For instance one can often frame their view as “exaggerated but not wrong”. That is, “I wasn’t technically correct but I was in the right ‘ball-park’ and going in the right direction”.
Another view emphasizes the consequences of exaggerated understandings : compare (1) “that car is dangerous” to (2)“riding in any car carries some risk (but that car is no more dangerous than most)”.

So, for example, even if it can be shown to most Buddhist’s satisfaction
that many Buddhist’s expressed beliefs about climate change or the environment are based on ignorance or misunderstanding
… what, if any, is the importance of that to Buddhist practice?

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I have asked some questions and attempted a few answers! Please feel free to answer the questions - in more detail - in line with your uncommon understanding and insight. What is the nature of your less than commonplace understanding with regard to the questions and issues I have raised? Do you accept the scientific ‘consensus views’ regarding human-induced climate change, mass extinction, habitat loss, ecological devastation, overpopulation i.e. the various challenges we face that are related to unsustainable development (see links below)?

In your comment you asked:

“So, for example, even if it can be shown to most Buddhist’s satisfaction
that many Buddhist’s expressed beliefs about climate change or the environment are based on ignorance or misunderstanding
… what, if any, is the importance of that to Buddhist practice?”

You need to be more specific, are you saying you are capable of showing many Buddhist’s how their ‘expressed beliefs about climate change or the environment are based on ignorance or misunderstanding’? If you are implying as much, you seem to be reluctant to set the record straight?

Regarding your query about the importance or significance of an accurate understanding of climate change or the state of the environment to Buddhist practice: that could be answered in a number of ways! One practical consideration may be, if there is a continual decline in biodiversity - the biological richness and complexity of the biosphere - along with catastrophic human-induced climate change, what impact might that have on the ground? The Earth-bound places and circumstances where Buddhist practice takes place?

A scientific report on the Great Barrier Reef:

https://www.coralcoe.org.au/for-managers/coral-bleaching-and-the-great-barrier-reef

"Two-thirds of Great Barrier Reef hit by back-to-back mass coral bleaching

APR 2017
For the second time in just 12 months, scientists have recorded severe coral bleaching across huge tracts of the Great Barrier Reef after completing aerial surveys along its entire length. In 2016, bleaching was most severe in the northern third of the Reef, while one year on, the middle third has experienced the most intense coral bleaching.

“The combined impact of this back-to-back bleaching stretches for 1,500 km (900 miles), leaving only the southern third unscathed,” says Prof. Terry Hughes, Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, who undertook the aerial surveys in both 2016 and 2017.

“The bleaching is caused by record-breaking temperatures driven by global warming. This year, 2017, we are seeing mass bleaching, even without the assistance of El Niño conditions.”

The aerial surveys in 2017 covered more than 8,000 km (5,000 miles) and scored nearly 800 individual coral reefs closely matching the aerial surveys in 2016 that were carried out by the same two observers.

Dr. James Kerry, who also undertook the aerial surveys, explains further, “this is the fourth time the Great Barrier Reef has bleached severely – in 1998, 2002, 2016, and now in 2017. Bleached corals are not necessarily dead corals, but in the severe central region we anticipate high levels of coral loss.”

“It takes at least a decade for a full recovery of even the fastest growing corals, so mass bleaching events 12 months apart offers zero prospect of recovery for reefs that were damaged in 2016.”

Coupled with the 2017 mass bleaching event, Tropical Cyclone Debbie struck a corridor of the Great Barrier Reef at the end of March. The intense, slow-moving system was likely to have caused varying levels of damage along a path up to 100 km in width. Any cooling effects related to the cyclone are likely to be negligible in relation to the damage it caused, which unfortunately struck a section of the reef that had largely escaped the worst of the bleaching.

“Clearly the reef is struggling with multiple impacts,” explains Prof. Hughes. “Without a doubt the most pressing of these is global warming. As temperatures continue to rise the corals will experience more and more of these events: 1°C of warming so far has already caused four events in the past 19 years.”

“Ultimately, we need to cut carbon emissions, and the window to do so is rapidly closing.”" - ARC

@laurence

I read your response with great interest. Please allow me to better focus my earlier comments and questions.

As I read your opening piece it seems to touch on several themes:
a) the impacts of specific “findings”, beliefs, conclusions etc of science and
b) the impact of different states of mind, viewpoint, approaches, skillfulness and openness.
In your opening piece you wrote about those topics and more.

Some passages that spoke to what I’ll call state of mind or viewpoint particularly caught my attention:

  • There is a problem that arises when people have dogmatic views about science.
  • Science is an important method of investigation but it is often misunderstood.
  • As our minds develop through the practice of the eightfold path unprecedented ways of seeing and being may unfold.
  • When we have preset conclusions about the unknown we lose the capacity for surprise. … but when they encounter anything that does not conform to their fixed ideas of the (way it is) they are faced with a choice - accept or reject? I have met more than a few religious and non-religious people - including many scientists - who suffer from this malady.
  • If we are serious about learning - wanting to understand things - it is best not to view anything from a fixed and intransigent position.
  • If we are capable of remaining comfortable with the unknown with an open heart - but with a critical and reasonably informed mind - we remain completely open to surprise, to novelty. This is a prerequisite for insight.

Question 1: In the last bullet point above. By insight do you mean a deeper scientific understanding, a Buddhist insight, or both??

I assumed you intended both.


QUESTION 2: You wrote:

We need to have a good understanding of the nature of ignorance/blind conformity - how and why it is reified - before we can apply ourselves to the path in a way that leads to freedom.

The phrase “apply ourselves the path in way that leads to freedom” is written in a trope that more typical of Buddhist insight that understanding science.

Are you saying that having a good understanding of the nature ignorance or blind conformity that arises in the investigation of science is important to or of benefit to the Buddhist in their practice of the dharma path that leads to freedom?


QUESTION 3:
In respect to the question above are you able to interpret the next question in a different light?

That’s a general question that, IMO, does not depend upon the particular topic at hand. That is it applies equally to climate change, medicine, nutrition and diet, plant science as well as engineering and technology.


When I think of the ethics of right View (aspiration, attitude); Right Speech; and right Effort (Complete or Full Effort, Energy or Vitality, diligence) I also think of the ethics of western notions of intellectual integrity. This value seems to be found in various forms all over the world, not just in the west. I suspect it’s one of these ideas that are not explicitly spoken of in the EBT’s but were just assumed to be understood – that is, part of the implict, background cultural context.

There is a famous commencement address given at CalTech in 1974 by Dr. Richard Feynman. (That’s the famous Feynman, the one with the Nobel prize.) Feynman spoke of an aspect of science that

… we all hope you have learned in studying science in school—we never explicitly say what this is, but just hope that you catch on by all the examples of scientific investigation.
It’s a kind of scientific integrity, a principle of scientific thought that corresponds to a kind of utter honesty—a kind of leaning over backwards.
For example, if you’re doing an experiment, you should report everything that you think might make it invalid—not only what you think is right about it;
other causes that could possibly explain your results …

Details that could throw doubt on your interpretation must be given, if you know them. You must do the best you can—if you know anything at all wrong, or possibly wrong—to explain it. If you make a theory, for example … then you must also put down all the facts that disagree with it, as well as those that agree with it. … In summary, the idea is to try to give all of the information to help others to judge the value of your contribution …

… it’s this type of integrity, this kind of care not to fool yourself …

But this long history of learning how to not fool ourselves—of having utter scientific integrity—is, I’m sorry to say, something that we haven’t specifically included in any particular course that I know of. We just hope you’ve caught on by osmosis.

The first principle is that you must not fool yourself—and you are the easiest person to fool. So you have to be very careful about that. After you’ve not fooled yourself, it’s easy not to fool other scientists. You just have to be honest in a conventional way after that.

I would like to add something that’s not essential to the science, but something I kind of believe, which is that you should not fool the layman when you’re talking as a scientist. I’m talking about a specific, extra type of integrity that is not lying, but bending over backwards to show how you’re maybe wrong, that you ought to do when acting as a scientist. And this is our responsibility as scientists, certainly to other scientists, and I think to laymen.
Some remarks on science, pseudoscience, and learning how to not fool yourself. Caltech’s 1974 commencement address.

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Thankyou my friend for finding the time to provide feedback and resources. I will consider your response carefully when I find the time. :slightly_smiling_face:

A response to the second question - or rather the question that is implied by what I read to be a statement followed by a question mark.

I have attempted to set the record straight in the past. Which is why I now ask much more basic questions. Especially so in a forum focusing on early Buddhist texts (EBTs).

For instance,

  • does it makes sense to speak of Right View on climate change?

Of course the context of Right View as presented in the EBTs is arguably much different than a so-called right view on climate change. But how about right speech?

  • In the context of the EBT’s is right speech limited to only some subjects or a general ethical principle that covers more or all speech? I assumed the latter interpretation but I observe few signs from other Buddhists are keen to apply that precept to their own speech regarding climate change.

  • Or again, can the precept of Right Effort (samyag-vyāyāma ) be extended to include a effort to enact the kind of scientific integrity described by Richard Feynman..

    • Or does this precept rightly only apply to the traditional concerns of practice?
    • And if the scope of right effort is limited does it make sense to extend it’s scope when we consider secular issues that are of practical or material concern in this lifetime?
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An Ethical Case Study regarding the Science of Climate Change

George Monbiot is a well know figure in UK politics and is a strong campaigner / advocate for his views on climate change. In 2009 Monbiot wrote this for the Guardian

Pretending the climate email leak isn’t a crisis won’t make it go away

Lede sentence:

I have seldom felt so alone. Confronted with crisis, most of the environmentalists I know have gone into denial._

Final paragraph:

But the deniers’ campaign of lies, grotesque as it is, does not justify secrecy and suppression on the part of climate scientists. Far from it: it means that they must distinguish themselves from their opponents in every way. No one has been as badly let down by the revelations in these emails as those of us who have championed the science. We should be the first to demand that it is unimpeachable, not the last.


Questions to consider:

  • Does this article illustrate issues that are relevant to students of the EBT?
  • “We should be the first to demand that it is unimpeachable, not the last.”: Does the 8 Fold Noble Path apply in this situation? If so, in right speech? Right diligence?
  • Does this article illustrate issues that are relevant to Buddhist ethics?
  • Does publicly agreeing with Monbiot’s opinion give ammunition or support to climate deniers?
  • Does concern that information or opinions might be misconstrued by less ethical people (“giving ammunition to deniers”) pose a threat or trap for your ethical conduct?
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Why don’t you just argue directly for your positions rather than beating around the bush so often with leading questions and bullet lists?

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A relevant question, thank you.
The reason why lies largly in this: what you characterize as “leading questions” and “beating around the bush” are genuine inquiries on my part!

I do advocate the practice of distinguishing between advocacy and inquiry.
I also advocate and attempt to practice a balance of advocacy and inquiry WHILE also knowing that balancing advocacy and inquiry is a too rare practice! So I emphasize with you if you suspect my questions are rhetorical questions rather than inquiries.

2nd Answer: I think of this as a dialog. Each entry being one part of a longer conversation. Why write a ‘book’ if no one wants to read it. Also, in some of my comments I believe I do argue for a position.

3nd answer: I am a teacher. The great teacher seem in the EBT’s modeled skillfulness in questioning.
But back to the 1st answer above: I don’t teach this topic to Buddhists – so I really don’t think I have a good feel for what Buddhists, in this case students of the EBT, think and believe.

4th answer:
A forth answer: I advocate a dialectical approach. One not so different IMO from what lead to the “middle way” spoken of in the EBTs.
Specifically I am thinking of these issues from multiple perspectives. So I write about “both sides” or several sides of a issue. (Which , in my biased opinion, contributes more than most.)

I believe that these perspectives are on on view in both the comments and the questions.
Am I wrong in that?


Finally,< Irony Alert> :smirk: Did you just advocate your position with a rhetorical question?
Or was that a request stated indirectly as a “why” question?

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What topic do you teach?

I suspect our Mitra may have concluded through his exhaustive research that we need not be concerned with the fairy story - made up by the vast majority of climate scientists - that human-induced climate change is dangerous and, we need to do something about it.

Donald Trump believes it was made up by the Chinese so the U.S.A. would get bogged down in environmental regulations. This would slow the U.S.A.'s economic growth which would then give China an advantage.

Maybe it’s the climate scientists and the Chinese communists working together to destroy mankind?

Feynman might like playing with some of his cards held close to his chest. In the right company he might share a few secrets that most of us just don’t understand? He may like to contribute to the IPCC’s conservative reports - they are a bit dated by the time they are released?

Irony again. After all that has been written up to now by others your sole focus is on what seems to me to be the least relevant.

But since you asked … I teach patterns of skillfulness and unskillfulness in acting consistently with one’s own espoused beliefs and values. Blindspots, motivated reasoning and defensive reasoning have been a recent topic. Your responses provide illustrations of the latter points.

But I am sincere in telling you that your questions have been useful. I’d like to hear more of your questions.


My position parallels that expressed by George Monbiot in the piece referenced in a earlier post. That “those of us who have championed the science … should be the first to demand that it is unimpeachable”. I’ve had interactions with Buddhists that raised doubts in my mind about whether the EBT concept of right speech or diligence is relevant when speaking about science. Also how many Buddhists have extended those precepts to cover such ‘secular’ concerns.
My position is that in a western context a Buddhist, especially a western born, should give weight to ideals of the western liberal tradition, intellectual and scientific integrity when interpreting the EBT’s. Many elements of these western notions are consistent with the EBT’s and the EBT’s can be read to suggest the appropriateness of many of those western notions.

Unimpeachable is a high standard so I first go for the more obvious low hanging fruit – the more obvious errors For instance, melting Arctic sea ice will not cause sea levels to rise to any appreciable amount. That is a so-called bone head science error that an observant 12 year might catch. Yet instead of appreciating the fact checking , more than once the response from Buddhists has ranged from indifference to hostility. Further there was denial or indifference to the idea that hostile reactions might constitute wrong speech.

In this I want to be mindful of what I’m putting first. Am I privileging science, my vision of scientific integrity or Buddhism (Buddhist integrity anyone?). I say that it’s important for a group to have a sense of the basic ethics. Those ethics apply regardless, and independent of, ones specific beliefs about science, climate change, vaccines, GMO’s etc.
Furthermore, seeking such common ground is an act of right speech.


Now, to my western liberal sense having to “pass” a ideological and political purity test before expressing oneself on such issues is repugnant. But given @laurence need to concoct “fairly stories” and indulge in ad hominens I better answer a question sooner rather than later.

Yes. Kind of hard to demonstrate something to most Buddhist’s satisfaction if I didn’t. Don’t you think?

For instance, the impact of melting sea ice on sea level is one of the strongest issues of scientific consensus. The basic science has been known for hundreds if not thousands of years.

I say that my agreement or non-agreement or more likely degree of agreement on a list of issues has diminishing small relevance to the issues into which I was inquiring.
One who lives the values expressed in the original entry – one who is free of dogmatic views, preset conclusions, with the capacity for surprise and doesn’t view things from a fixed position – might not even ask. And if they did it would be something of only secondary interest rather than the focus of concern.

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It wasn’t irony.

How much of a sea level rise would you regard as appreciable? Do you accept the findings of this report?

https://www.amap.no/documents/doc/Snow-Water-Ice-and-Permafrost.-Summary-for-Policy-makers/1532

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From above: “But given @laurence need to concoct “fairly stories” and indulge in ad hominens I better answer a question sooner rather than later.”

In low lying countries like Bangladesh there are already coastal farmers whose fields have been destroyed by salt-water incursion due to sea level rise. Some of these vulnerable and desperate people have fled to the hell-hole of their capital to try and find work to support their families.

The problems posed by rising water in Bangladesh could trigger a massive refugee crisis due to its high population. Given the current trend this would seem a likely scenario looming on the horizon.

Low lying islands in the Pacific are also under threat due to existing sea level rise. A number of small nations are intending to sue the fossil fuel industry for the damage they are involved in - the environmental problems they are contributing to!

The developed countries in the first-world - and others - have been repeatedly warned by the mainstream science community that urgent efforts to reduce the human-induced carbon load in the atmosphere is critical for our collective welfare and wellbeing.

The scientific community and various other professional groups and NGO’s, have provided developmental guidelines that if implemented, could ‘turn the tide’ somewhere down the track.

The situation remains very dangerous as a consequence of a slow response to a situation requiring international cooperation as well as countless local initiatives.

You might want to explain to the Bangladeshi’s and the people on low lying islands in the Pacific how negligible sea level rise is not a cause for concern.

Coming to the aid of the needy is a core Buddhist value. It is not a realistic ‘option’ for Buddhists to ignore injustice - whether it is environmental or otherwise.

We may have different views about how to tackle these problems but to simply not engage, to sit on our hands, when bad things happen is unthinkable.

We advocate meaningful change and we assist in bringing it about. Without social and environmental responsibility, without care, concern and affirmative action, Buddhism would be reduced to a form of quietism.

Please explain to me how any of the above is a ‘fairy story’?

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It is commendable that you are involved in work in helping people to think more carefully about important issues. The email scandal you cited above was a good example of what you are concerned about. There is nothing unreasonable about your important observations regarding the need for objectivity and keeping an open mind. However, when you digress and you imply that negligible or non-appreciable sea level rise is a fatuous environmental concern, you then begin to reveal a hidden agenda.

You could put my suspicions to bed by stating in no uncertain terms, your understanding of the environmental crisis we ‘have to’ deal with. This is something you seem to have difficulty doing - is that the case? Try to answer a question or, answer the questions about the environmental crisis in more detail?

From the internet:
Ad hominem (Latin for “to the man” or “to the person”), short for argumentum ad hominem, is in which an argument is rebutted by attacking the character, motive, or other attribute of the person making the argument, or persons associated with the argument, rather than attacking the substance of the argument itself."

Who have I attacked? At best, I try to inquire into a misunderstanding and, at worst, I ask about hidden motives. It is no surprise that we have motives - some of them are hidden and others are barely understood.

It is best to be transparent when it comes to our intentions and motivation. You pointed to the importance of right speech in Buddhism - one important aspect of right speech involves ‘honesty’. This is an integral part of Dhamma inquiry. We need to uncover our underlying assumptions - both hidden and apparent - and ‘test them’ to see if they are aligned with the Buddha’s teachings.

Please provide an example of something I have written that directly attacks any Mitra on this site? It is possible to feel attacked when we are questioned - when our cherished ideas and pet-theories are brought into the light of Dhamma inquiry. I do try to ‘interrogate’ the issue - whatever it may be. Sometimes it gets hot in the kitchen!

In Buddhism we also question the Buddha’s teachings. We are also encouraged - by the Buddha - to ask questions about the teacher. He advised us to pay close attention to teachers - including him - to see if their words match their deeds. We can ask questions about the Buddha’s background and how he came to be the way he was? Open questioning is a prerequisite in Buddhism.

As Mitra’s and ‘fellow practitioners’ I hold everybody who contributes here in my heart - my motive is to help not hinder. I do take the Dhamma and the state of the planet seriously. This is not child’s play?

Please note that I was addressing sea level rise from sea ice not land based ice.
Land ice means largely glaciers.

The summary of the SWIPA report you sent me may help you understand the difference. Sea ice loss is not even mentioned as a contributor to sea level increase in the SWIPA SPM report that you sent me.

I used appreciable in the sense of ‘important enough to be noticed’. The amount is so small that it is not even mentioned as a driver of sea level rise in the reference sites that I know of. So I’m working from memory that the secondary impacts of sea ice melting, mostly from reduced albedo, is greater than zero.

During the period 2004–2010, melting Arctic land ice accounted for more than 1/3 of global sea-level rise, while thermal expansion caused by warming water contributed another 1/3 and contributions from Antarctica, other glaciers and changes in terrestrial storage contributed less than 1/3
– SWIPA SPM https://www.amap.no/documents/doc/Snow-Water-Ice-and-Permafrost.-Summary-for-Policy-makers/1532



The SWIPA SPM report makes no mention of sea level rise caused by sea ice loss.
It seems to me that if you read the SWIPA SPM report – the report that you asked my opinion on – you would realize that the amount had to be small.

So I’m thinking that a) you didn’t carefully read the report you asked me to comment on or_ b) you didn’t do us the due diligence and report on what the report did and didn’t say on the topic at hand.
It seems to me that you are not carrying your load in this dialog while making significant demands on the time of others. This smells of internet troll behavior. I’m not saying that you are a troll but I’m saying that it’s a very bad habit.



This article may help with your understanding of the physics.

… although sea ice is shrinking, it does not add to water levels as it melts because it is already part of the ocean’s mass. “You can freeze and melt the sea ice as much as you want—it’s not going to change the sea level,” Rignot says. “You’re just changing the state of the water.” Dutton provides an analogy: “If you’re sitting in a bar with a drink with ice cubes, and your cup is full and the ice cubes melt, it’s not going to overflow. That ice is already floating in the water, so it has displaced the volume of its own space.”
https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-is-worldwide-sea-level-rise-driven-by-melting-arctic-ice/

If my memory serves, there are mediating factors (including low level fog?) that the paragraph fails to take into account. But one notes that again no estimate of sea level rise due to sea ice loss is given.

Forgive me if I misunderstood this but who is “our Mitra”?

Who is this Mitra and how did this person become relevant in this thread?

The speculations about what this person may have concluded about a"fairy story" strike me as snarky, sarcastic, and ad hominem in the context.

I thank you for explaining your thinking. I am much more happy to feel I have better sense of your thinking. It helps me to think about how I can better craft my words in the future. It seems that your concerns are about dismissing sea level rise as fatuous and hidden agendas.

What you characterized as a “digression” I view as illustrating with my own lived experience why the questions I’ve raised are salient to Buddhist ethics.

Please see my earlier response to @DKervick.

If you think there is a “hidden adgenda” here then I say your complaint is with the climate science community. Because to my belief and knowledge the consensus opinion is that there are no direct effects on sea level rise from sea ice melt and that the total impact is a relatively minor issue. The fact that it’s not even mentioned in a summary for policy makers indicates those scientists level of environmental concern about the issue.

There is a strong consensus that the climate change issue is politicized. Among other things that means craving and attachment such that we get highly sensitized and even seek out all possible “offensives” against the good cause. In other words more reactivity, taints and poisons leading to suffering.

Telling me that “You could put my suspicions to bed by …” is consistent with that diagnosis. It feels to me like co-dependency. I don’t think I’m helping you by offering proofs of “right thinking” except to allow you to cope if you are overwhelmed and in over your head.