As northern summer reaches its end the extent of melting becomes known…
As northern summer reaches its end the extent of melting becomes known…
This recent article by UNDP describes some catastrophic changes that have occurred but reminds us of a bright way, very much in harmony with Buddha-Dhamma - boundless love in action - being a biodiversity champion while world stands still and people grieve over Covid.
Indeed, this was shocking news. We shouldn’t take our eyes off the ball; global warming isn’t waiting for Covid-19 to be over. Just today, this terrible development from India, which invokes almost all of the worst aspects of environmental mismanagement.
@faujidoc1 I know it’s only a cartoon, but I think there is really a deep truth to it. We have to stop imagining that one fine day, people will just get it. The rivers of delusion run so very deeply. It’s telling how, even now, in the face of such a massive pandemic, the people who are in denial over the very obvious reality of the pandemic are the very same who have been in denial of climate change. No amount of research or evidence will ever shift them.
This is a lesson I learned, in fact, during the Hamburg Congress on bhikkhuni ordination. At the end of it all, after decades of thorough and detailed research had been presented, the Dalai Lama called for “more research”. It was on that day that I understood that for some people, “research” was a method for indefinite postponement of change.
Thanks Dana for the article. The UN has been one of the organizations that has tried to stand up for the environment, and made the link strongly and early between environmental destruction and the Covid-19 pandemic. Any solution to our problems rely on strengthening such responsible global institutions in their responses.
In my circles it is quite opposite tendention Bhante. A lot of people who are into climate change and saving environment thinks COVID-19 to be overreaction (at least in high developed countries).
I think there is a huge difference, because COVID-19 is dangerous to people right now. And climate change is “far off” in the future (for people who care only for “next month”). So people who have totally wrong view, and just want to get as much fun and profit as possible until they die, no matter the consequences, they don’t care about climate change, but still can fear getting COVID-19, cause they might soon suffer unpleasant time or even health loss or death in worst cases.
In my observation COVID-19 shown how much most people are egoistic or thougtless. And it is vipallasas that I’m pointing to here. If people care only for their sense of self and self-gratification - this bends their perceptions, views and interpretations.
What is most sad, they don’t care about animal abuse which caused all zoogenic diseases like COVID-19 and many more like it. Instead of talking about stopping meat and dairy industry once and for all, which would hinder arising of such dangerous mutations in the future and stop all atrocities that happen in slaughterhouses, we are generally talking just how to save humans. All they care about is precious human lives, while it is humans that are generally the worst animal destroying the planet, and not many people care about most innocent beings that are “industry” animals, who were born just to be used as food without caring at all for their well-being. All these SARS, bird-flu, swine-flu etc. were zoogenic diseases caused by meat and dairy industry. Veganism is very importaint answer to both climate change and zoogenic diseases like COVID-19. Most people could easily live very healthly lives on vegan diet, and it would be more economically and enviromentally and morally efficient. Personally I think COVID-19 is kammic consequence of human cruelty towards innocent animals, because it is one of most un-dhammic thing happening in the world.
I find humans to be most egoistic and anti-enviromental beings on the planet. Of course few humans are most compassionate beings on the planet, but most humans care only for themselves. And while animals are regulated by their instincts (for example most animals don’t kill for fun, and don’t procreate when not needed), most humans indulge in defilements greatly. So they fear COVID-19, but they don’t care about climate change, because COVID-19 is dangerous to them right now, and climate change they perceive as not their future. Which confirms the fact that most people who care about climate change are young people, because it is their future. So it all again comes down to sense of self.
Such is my take from a perspective of living in Europe. I know I’m very cynical here, but sadly I believe this is the sad truth of the matter. Ignorance, greed and pride (and general strong selfing) are greatest defilements of modern times. COVID-19, “animal industry” and climate change taken together is such deeply samvega inducing phenomena for me that it made me much more dedicated practitioner, including taking more precepts and deciding to ordain, because Buddha-Dhamma is the only refuge I find in such world, and a best antidote for the defilements at the same time.
I’m sorry if I sound too apocalyptic or negative, but I feel and think that my perspective simply is adequate to the very bad situation of moral condition of human population and its effects on enviroment and all beings living on Earth. I really hope that this madness will stop, but I don’t know if reason and heart will win with the defilements and I sadly doubt it and IMO at least big crisis is almost sure. Worst case scenario is that most life on earth will perish.
A few images that can provoke some thinking:
With Metta and Karuna.
This is very worrying…
“(…) most water in the Indus, which flows west from Mount Kangrinboqe, comes from the snows and glaciers of the Himalaya, the Karakoram, and the Hindu Kush. Glaciers especially are “water towers”:
They store winter snowfall as ice, high in the mountains, and they surrender it as meltwater in spring and summer. In this way, they provide a steady flow that nourishes humans and ecosystems.
Downstream, in the plains of Pakistan and northern India, the world’s most extensive system of irrigated agriculture depends on the Indus.
The glaciers that feed it are a lifeline for some 270 million people.”
A water crisis looms for 270 million people as South Asia’s glaciers shrink
Interesting. I guess I was thinking of the situation in the States. I can see how you’d think that in the long term, climate change is vastly more significant than COVID. Still, they are really both symptoms of the underlying problem, our destruction of nature.
I know exactly how you feel! It is sad and scary and happening all around every day.
A pertinent article:
The article links to this, which is an interesting project:
Unfortunately, the situation in the States is far worse than these problems of convincing somewhat rational people what’s more or less an immediate crisis. Even if we manage to get a different administration, I doubt our culture will be righting itself for quite some time. We’ve been sliding down this slope of schizoid thinking for nearly 20 years now. It seemed like the Obama presidency would correct it, but it just accelerated during his tenure.
Earlier this year, in March, I was talking to a friend about COVID-19 and the national lockdown. He’s 10 years older than me and lives in a small town in the Midwest. I live in Long Beach, California. While chatting with him on the phone about all the unexpected difficulties that have arisen from teaching my English classes online, he suddenly volunteered the opinion that COVID-19 would be a positive development in 2020.
“Yeah?” I asked. “How so?”
He proceeded to tell me, with complete sincerity, that after Trump is re-elected in 2020, he will deliver “free energy” to the people of America. Not only that, he’s also going to abolish the income tax. Right now, at this very moment , United States troops have been deployed underground where they’re busy “cleaning out” covert subterranean tunnels, “saving hundreds of children from satanic slaves,” and kicking out the “black hats.” Without skipping a beat, my friend then insisted that news of this game-changing development would be “coming out” soon.
“It’s a great thing,” he told me in measured tones. “Trump will have to use the Emergency Broadcast System to give this news to the American people because the media keeps lying and social media like Twitter and YouTube are censoring and deleting videos that report reality the way it actually is.”
Furthermore, my friend said in tones of absolute certainty, Trump supporters working behind the scenes (referred to by my friend as the “white hats”) had recently wrested control of the entire Google corporation from devil worshippers, which is why you could now retrieve “accurate information” from that particular search engine.
What scares me is that possibly humanness manifests in other parts of the universe, i.e. other planets, and very much likely the same situation takes place there. I mean, the rupa grasping aggregate must take other shapes, but certainly the impact and effect to the surroundings must be the same…
Reminds me of SN15.3
At Savatthi. There the Blessed One said: “From an inconstruable beginning comes transmigration. A beginning point is not evident, though beings hindered by ignorance and fettered by craving are transmigrating & wandering on. What do you think, monks: Which is greater, the tears you have shed while transmigrating & wandering this long, long time—crying & weeping from being joined with what is displeasing, being separated from what is pleasing—or the water in the four great oceans?”
“Long have you (repeatedly) experienced the death of a father… the death of a brother… the death of a sister… the death of a son… the death of a daughter… loss with regard to relatives… loss with regard to wealth… loss with regard to disease. The tears you have shed over loss with regard to disease while transmigrating & wandering this long, long time—crying & weeping from being joined with what is displeasing, being separated from what is pleasing—are greater than the water in the four great oceans.
“Why is that? From an inconstruable beginning comes transmigration. A beginning point is not evident, though beings hindered by ignorance and fettered by craving are transmigrating & wandering on. Long have you thus experienced stress, experienced pain, experienced loss, swelling the cemeteries—enough to become disenchanted with all fabricated things, enough to become dispassionate, enough to be released.”
But you know what? I have an alternate theory. (After all, this is the Watercooler!)
My theory is that Artificial Intelligence, Robots etc are simply another step forward in the Evolution of Species. Life is preparing to leave the planet… just like the tadpole becomes a frog to leave the pond. Mere flesh cannot bear interstellar space, but the rupa of metal and silicon can!
It turns out, rationality is a lot thinner than we supposed.
One of the devastating results of conspiracy thinking is, as the quote you give so well illustrates, that people—even in the same family—end up living in entirely different realities. There are endless stories of people watching their relatives, often but not always, elderly, getting sucked into Fox news, and now QAnon. Heck, I’ve heard it, even in Oz, the shift into this bizarro alt-reality. It’s really devastating.
This conversation with mental health professionals is a good primer for how this happens.
Rats! We’re all going to die.
It seems I’m fairly late to the topic. Something which hasn’t been discussed is the origin of the article in the original post. To the uninitiated, it may seem like the study was published in Nature. In fact, it was published in Scientific Reports, which has radically different editorial policies than Nature itself—even though it is a subsidiary of Nature Research. Scientific Reports accepts far more manuscripts (~48% vs. ~7%), has a much lower impact factor (4.0 vs. 42.8), and has been involved in far more controversies, including publishing junk science and plagiarized manuscripts, the latter leading to the resignation of 19 editorial board members (Scientific Reports - Wikipedia). This should be enough to remain somewhat suspicious of the author’s claims regarding catastrophic collapse.
Thanks Robbie. For those of us outside academia, can you give a little explainer on how to go about checking these details for journals?
I think, in general, I always like to go back to the primary source of information. E.g., a bit of searching reveals that the Bloomberg article shared by Gabriel above is based on Guarino et al. (2020), published in Nature Climate Change. I happen to be already familiar with this journal, but if I wouldn’t have been, I’d first want to roughly know what kind of journal this is. (Top-of-its-field? Predatory? Something in-between?) From its Wikipedia page, I notice that it seems to have a high impact factor of 20.9 (but be careful: interpreting impact factors is tricky). Based on that I suspect Nature Climate Change (let’s abbreviate this as NCC) is a top journal in the field of environmental sciences, but to be sure I check with Google Scholar’s Metrics tool. Out of all journals, NCC is ranked 70th in terms of its h5-index (for a brief explanation of h5-indices, see Google Scholar Metrics Help). But how does it compare to other journals in the field? If the top 100 contains 20 environmental science journals, NCC might not be top-tier after all. So we plug in the relevant category and subcategory: “Life Sciences & Earth Sciences” and “Environmental Sciences,” and the top EnvSci journals are Environmental Science & Technology, Nature Climate Change, and Science of the Total Environment. So, NCC seems to be a top journal in its field after all. Coming back to Guarino et al. (2020), we also need to know what type of content this is! It’s a misconception that academic journals only publish peer-reviewed research. This step may seem like nitpicking, but it’s crucial—and super easy to do after a few times. Most journals include different types of content in each issue, which are subject to varying levels of scrutiny. For example, here is the list of content types for NCC: https://www.nature.com/nclimate/about/content. Notice the difference between (a) articles (“a substantial, novel research study of high quality and general interest to the broad climate change research community” which are “always peer-reviewed”), (b) comments (“opinionated pieces that focus on a topical issue in climate research that is relevant to policy, the economy or society” which “may be peer-reviewed at the editors’ discretion”), and (c ) perspectives (“intended to provide a forum for authors to discuss models and ideas from a personal viewpoint. They are more forward looking and/or speculative than Review Articles”). It turns out that Guarino et al. (2020) is an article, and hence peer-reviewed and supposed to be reliable. Now, what about the first arctic summer? Will it arrive in 15 years as the Bloomberg headline wants us to believe? Guarino and co-authors write that “The Last Interglacial (LIG), a warmer period 130,000–116,000 years before present, is a potential analogue for future climate change” (abstract), and “The ability of the HadGEM3 model to realistically simulate the very warm LIG Arctic climate provides independent support for predictions of ice-free conditions by summer 2035” (conclusion). This already sounds more nuanced (and more sciency!) than the Bloomberg headline. Natural questions (which I won’t try to answer) might be: “To what extent can the last interglacial be considered analogous with the present?”, “What about other models besides HadGEM3?”, and “What other evidence or counterevidence is there for an ice-free 2035 summer?”
So far, we have (1) checked the reliability of the source, (2) its type, and (3) what it actually says about an impeding Arctic summer. We also briefly considered potential limitations of the study in the form of follow-up questions. What we haven’t done is (4) scrutinizing the article itself. (Who are the authors? What are their backgrounds and affiliations? Any hidden or non-hidden conflicts of interest? What data and methodology did they use? Has another research group independently confirmed their findings? Etc.) Such due diligence takes a lot of effort and practice, but luckily (1)-(3) already weeds out a lot of junk science, and gives a more nuanced understanding of whatever information we find.
Thanks so very much Robbie, this is fantastic. It’s so important to know that there are ways and means of assessing such things.