Tuesday, 2 March 2021

Actions by Individuals to reduce global warming, water use & waste


 Project AIRGLOW

  Actions by Individuals to Reduce GLObal Warming, water consumption and waste

Don’t overdo it or make life tedious. If we all do a good proportion of these things the global problems of waste disposal , carbon emissions and water shortage would diminish without the necessity of drastic state enforced measures, which could do more harm than good.

MMT = mining, manufacturing and transport, all of which consume energy and emit pollutants such as CO2. Most new products entail all three.

NB: The less water you use the less pumping power is expended getting it to your home

Showers: shorter, less frequent, cooler, manual not power >>> Saves on water & load on national grid. Buy & fit more efficient shower? NB this would mean disposal of old one & MMT for the new one

Showers: fewer installations in the home  >>>  Less MMT

Baths: fewer, cooler, shallower. Use dirty water for garden  >>> Saves on water & load on national grid

Washing machine: avoid buying a new one >>>  No MMT

Washing machine:  lower temperature, less rinsing >>> Less electricity & water. Longer lifetime of machine means lower MMT

Avoid having a spin drier at all  >>> No  MMT. No waste. No electricity.

Avoid using spin drier so frequently >>> Less electricity needed.

Central heating: set lower and to manual >>> Less electricity or gas

Cooking: lower temperature, shorter cooking time >>>  Less electricity or gas

Lighting only when needed >>> Less electricity

Avoid using dish washer so much >>>Less electricity, less water, longer lifetime, lower MMT

 Avoid buying dish washer >>> No MMT

Cook at lower temperature, for shorter periods, less often >>> Less gas & electricity. Cooker lasts longer, less MMT

Lawn mower: avoid buying new one >>> No MMT

Avoid buying a new vehicle where possible >>> Less waste disposal , less MMT

Buy smallest, lightest vehicle practicable >>> Less MMT, less waste disposal at end of life.

Walk instead of drive where practicable >>> Less emissions, longer life of vehicle means less MMT

Travel by taxi or public transport rather than private car >>> Avoids need to buy a vehicle or reduces environmental cost of ownership

Computers & mobile phones: keep as long as possible >>> Less waste disposal . Less MMT

Clothes: wear longer, repair rather than dispose of >>> Less waste disposal. Less environmental cost of manufacturing new ones

Gardening: use power tools less, water garden sparingly >>> Less electricity & water used

House alterations: restrict to essential >>>  Less MMT, less electricity used

Friday, 12 February 2021

Lessons from Marx and Lenin

The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx, edited by Friedrich Engels, was published in English in 1888. The original document appeared in 1848 and went through a number of editions and translations. It inspired the Russian Revolution and attacked the rampant free-trade world economy which had already emerged, while the ruling class which grew wealthy through it was labelled the bourgeoisie.

Marx, a Jewish intellectual, was writing at a time of rapid de-Christianization of Germany by German Idealism, the Hegelian Dialectic and Friedrich Nietzsche, a nihilistic philosopher who was hostile to the very values emanating from Jesus Christ. The forces at work in the 19th century set the scene for both Nazi and Communistic totalitarianism.

To quote, Marx considered that

 the history of all hitherto existing societies is the history of class struggles...freeman and slave, patrician and plebeian, lord and serf, guild master and journeyman, in a word the oppressor and the oppressed.

 Each time the fight ended either in a re-constitution of society or in the common ruin of the warring classes. During the late nineteenth century, largely as a result of industrialization and global free trade, the opposing sections of society were the bourgeoisie (the oppressor) and the proletariat (the oppressed), and he maintained that the time was ripe for a new struggle that would lead to a new social order: communism. The proletariat would be victorious, religion would be exterminated and all would live in peace and harmony, a brotherhood of man.

 The Manifesto’s attack on the bourgeoisie reads like that of many a modern columnist on the global capitalist system of today, which again is based largely on free international trade, with little regard for the social costs of production moving according to market forces, be these of labour or goods or raw materials, and in which everything in life is reduced to a commodity or assigned a monetary value. Even debt itself has been made a commodity in the form of collateralised debt obligations and futures.

Christianity is attacked by Marx because it has allegedly colluded with the ruling classes in subjugating and exploiting the lower classes for monetary gain, while at the same time he implicitly recognises the reality of the sacred and holy – e.g. in talking about money and the way everything in life has been given a price he says 

...all that is solid melts away, all that is holy is profaned

Yet the means he proposes for providing what he must have been regarded as a more humanistically just way of organizing our affairs makes no appeal to the holy. Everything happens in a material world with no spiritual dimension and God either does not exist or is irrelevant, being replaced by man. Morality itself becomes meaningless other than as a set of man-made rules. It is impossible to declare anything morally wrong by any absolute standard if there is no holy source of morality.  Yet he obviously believed in the notion  of holiness without wondering where it came from or how it was to be sustained when its source was ignored. 'Without God anything is permissible' (Dostoevsky). Those who killed 100+ million  people for the sake of  Mao Zedong, Marx and Lenin were breaking laws  laid down on humanistic principles for the benefit and flourishing of human beings. It was all done for the good of humanity. Similarly with cruel and lethal medical experiments on pregnant mothers and disabled inmates of Nazi concentration camps, or even medical experiments in the UK, for example, in the wake of World War II. It was all done in the name of human flourishing.

  In attempting to sweep away all the church institutions, which undoubtedly did sometimes depart radically from the teachings of Jesus Christ, Marx ignores the provenance of Christian values, i.e. what happened during the life of Jesus and within a decade or so of His Crucifixion: the parables and commands of Jesus Christ recorded by His contemporaries, the empty tomb, the widely reported Resurrection appearances, the vision of Saul, the first conversions of gentiles, the Pentecost, the miracles of the apostles and the persecution by the authorities. The Romanized institutionalized  church and its ramifications, which Marx despised,  did not begin until almost three centuries later. Even then, with all its faults, you only have to take a look at the non-Christian world of the time to see the difference.

 Marx seems to be correct in seeing that every economic order grows to a state of maximum efficiency while simultaneously sowing the seeds of its own downfall. This probably applies to any system of organizing human affairs, since nothing in life is static: circumstances change. Even the societies which claimed to be working towards the communist ideal collapsed from within. But he failed to realize that although a society may wish to redistribute bread more fairly, it cannot live by bread alone. Reality is not a machine., an economy and society with no soul. Well over 100 million died in the last century (more than in all previous history) because of this mistake, this departure from basic divine wisdom, as human beings were systematically killed in the name of atheist values or the human gods which always fill the spiritual vacuum left behind when the real holy source of reality is ignored by society. 

What Marx and his disciples failed to realise is that no human being or group of humans  can decide what is good by reason alone apart from God: there must be humility, love and truth, and these do not come from genetically expressed protein molecules, which themselves ultimately originate from God,  but from submission to our Creator made incarnate in humanity through the Christ.  See also 1984 revisited: collective postmodernism

 Today, like Marx, we decry the folly and greed of bankers and borrowers. To the extent that a new system is needed perhaps it should lie somewhere between the unfettered market-based one of today and a modified socialism, more internationalised in some respects, more localised in others. Or maybe something we cannot even envisage. Whatever system emerges let’s not forget the lesson of history: every man, woman and child should treat each other in accord with this command from our Saviour: ‘...love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love each other.’ John 13:34. A command that must be held sacred in all the institutions of humankind as well as individuals. 

In western society we are subconsciously aware of this command largely through habit. However, this awareness needs to be refreshed and kept alive  by a nucleus of genuine, radical Christian believers. The Spirit needs to be consciously cultivated and encouraged throughout society in order to make it more like heaven on earth.

For this reason I believe that prayers and Christian symbols need to become part of public life. The values of the Sermon on the Mount are not likely to be adhered to rigorously but awareness of these through church going and the occasional media event can only be a good thing in re-establishing the trust and mutual respect needed for society to be viable at all. Recent problems with social media illustrate this.

Returning to the Soviet experiment I recently came across a quotation from V.I.Lenin made when he was close to death, in 1924. He recognizes too late that scientific atheism is unable to bring about net social progress:

I have deluded myself. Without doubt, it was necessary to free the oppressed masses. However, our methods resulted in other oppressions and gruesome massacres. You know I am deathly ill; I feel lost in an ocean of blood formed by countless victims. This was necessary to save our Russia, but it is too late to turn back. We would need ten Francis of Assisi.

Today it looks as though Christianity is returning to its true foundation of infinite redeeming love generated by the Trinity and flowing through the whole of creation, bringing about justice by restorative love rather then retribution. Franciscans are definitely in the ascendant and Christianity as a whole is spreading fast in the world as a whole and even beginning to revive in western countries corrupted by materialism and pagan influenced reward/punishment  models from medieval times. Hopefully it won't be too late to avert upheaval and collapse.

 John Sears
Author, 2077: Knights of Peace

Friday, 5 June 2020

Waste from the Western World

We are all aware of the huge amount of waste generated in the West but in our daily lives it is easy to forget this. In 2011 I came across some startling data in the seminal book Natural Capitalism: the New Industrial Revolution by Hawken, Lovins and Lovins (Rocky Mountain Institute, 1999), which I can thoroughly recommend.

The information below is for the USA but other developed countries need not feel sanctimonious!

The data will be an understatement because the world-wide industrial-cum-consumer engine will have grown a lot in the intervening 20 years, although some efficiency and recycling measures will have been taken.

On average the US citizen (1990s) generates 1 million pounds of waste per year. In the nation as a whole the annual wastage includes:

  • 3.5 billion (3,500,000,000) pounds of landfilled carpet

  • 3.3 trillion (3,300,000,000,000) pounds of carbon dioxide

  • 19 billion pounds of polystyrene peanuts (I’ve no idea what these are but this is not a joke)

  • 28 billion pounds of food discarded at home

  • 710 billion pounds of hazardous industrial waste

  • 3.7 trillion pounds of construction debris

Add to this the waste generated abroad on behalf of US citizens and subtract the 2% of waste which is recycled (mainly paper, glass, plastic, aluminium and steel) and we get 250 trillion pounds of US resources transformed into nonproductive matter each year.

One can only quake at the thought of these being scaled up globally. A third world country typically produces less than 10% of these amounts per person, yet they all aspire to develop western-type economies, including China and India with a combined population of over 2.5 billion, which is 8x the US population. Since the above data was compiled China's GDP has grown to be roughly equal to that of the USA. India has also greatly increased its output of waste.

Can anything be done about it? Yes, but it needs a change of mindset to make a real impact and with it the whole economic system and infrastructure would need to be transformed. International trade, agriculture, manufacturing, service industry, energy production, transport and education will have to change, since these all generate waste either directly or indirectly. It i. s also linked to the global warming problem.

The current coronavirus  pandemic has demonstrated the wastefulness of our way of life, especially in the West. Just a few months of reduced consumption and  transport have made visible impacts on the environment, which is encouraging. New methods of recycling plastics are being talked about and put into practice. There is also a growing awareness that nature itself is able to heal some of the injury we have inflicted. We need a few leading nations to cooperate to make a big difference.