In May, the bishops of the Church of Sweden called climate change "the greatest challenged ever faced by humanity."
In a recent interview, the archbishop of Uppsala, Antje Jackelén, noting that it had taken 850 years for a woman to become an arcnbishop in Sweden, noted also in regard to climate change:
We are most concerned because, as the church, we are part of a global movement, and we have relationships with people of—Christian people and people of other faiths in other parts of the world who are already affected and ask the questions of justice. And the question of justice is at the heart of the Christian Church. So, it’s a question of climate justice, as well. That’s just one reason why we do this.
The other reason is that it is not just an issue you can solve with technology and science. We need that, of course. It’s not just an issue about economy, although we need a lot of development in the economy. But it is also an issue of what do we believe, what can we hope for, what is the role of the human being in the world. So it’s utterly an existential and religious question, and we should address it as people of faith. And we should ask the question: What really is realistic to hope for?
Global temperatures are rising. Many have talked of discomfort and dislocation in regard to climate change, but let's at least start to face this hard fact: It is entirely possible that global warming may kill off the human race. When the day time high hits 170 degrees in Phoenix, anyone still living there will drop dead as soon as they step into the heat. That day could be as soon as 50 years away.
In the meantime, people will begin moving north. The temperatures will be (relatively) cooler, and, in most cases, a water supply will still be available. Even at that, Minneapolis or Calgary (then) is likely to be hotter than anyplace on earth at the present time.
Desert cities will become ghost towns as will a good number of towns and villages in more arid locations, including the Amazon basin, India, parts of Africa, China, Australia and the south-eastern US. Global warming could get so bad that even northern climes become uninhabitable. If that should happen, the human race would be doomed.
The demise of the human race would be a calamity for all life on earth. The sun will eventually expand and doom our planet. As the sun gets bigger, all water will evaporate from the earth. We need to find another planet, one which can sustain human and animal life, and we have about 300,000 to do it. If we haven't found a way off planet earth by then, no life will survive.
At present, humans are the only earthly beings scientifically advanced enough to find a way off this planet in 300,000 years. Given enough time, dolphins, or perhaps bees, could take over and find a way to do it, but 300,000 years is probably not enough time for that evolution to take place. Therefore, it's up to us not to kill ourselves off before we have a chance to make the move to another planet.
In the past five days, we've had about 15 inches of rain--some areas more. We call it a "100 year flood", but nobody can remember anything like it. The Big Thompson Canyon flood, back in the 70's was devastating, but localized.
Whole towns are being evacuated. Virtually every town and city along the northern front range is flooded. Boulder got hit first, but that was for starters. The rest of the towns fell like dominos--Lyons surrounded by water, roads to Estes Park impassable. Estes Park itself, a mountain town, is flooded.
Five people are confirmed dead, and, according to the Sheriff's Department in Boulder and Larimer counties, about 580 people are unaccounted for as of this afternoon. Property damage is massive and extensive.
This afternoon, six inches of rain fell in Castle Rock in about two hours. Here in Aurora, we must have gotten three or four inches again this afternoon, with high winds, and about three or four inches of nickel-sized hail, and flash floods again all over the city.
This is not normal, especially in this region. If there weren't a city here, this would be considered high desert. Our average precipitation for the entire year, counting snow, is about 14 inches. We've had 15 inches in five days.
We count ourselves lucky that we are, usually, shielded from the natural disasters that afflict other parts of the world. Tornados are relatively rare (though increasing in frequency). At this elevation, we really don't get all that much snow, except for the occasional blizzard, which strikes about every decade or so. There is some risk of earthquake, but far less than many other places in the United States. We have wildfires, but no hurricanes.
We do have floods occasionally, but nothing like this. Something like this never really occurred to anybody until just now. Aren't we having these 100 year floods many times more frequently than once in 100 years? Is this the "new normal"?
The Department of Energy sponsors a "solar decathlon" each year. It invites collegiate architects to design and build solar-powered energy efficient homes. Two years ago, the winner was a German company whose house cost $2,000,000 and couldn't have looked like much since it was covered in solar panels.
In this year's competition, a team of students from Stevens Institute of Technology, Parsons the New School for Design and Milano School for International Affairs, Management and Urban Policy wanted to build a home that made use of the latest technology, but that was also affordable for the average person.
They managed to build an "energy neutral" house in partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Metro DC at a cost of $200,000. The home is a prototype. Habitat DC will be building six similar homes in the area.
Habitat homeowner, Lakiya Culley, was able to purchase the home for $133,000 on a no-interest, thirty-year loan. Habitat follows the principles of what Habitat Founder, Millard Fuller, called "Biblical economics," one aspect of which is that the poor are not charged interest. Think Progress:
Lakiya’s house was built based on passive house design principles. The basic concept of passive house is to lower energy consumption by being super-insulated and practically airtight. Empowerhouse has 12-inch thick walls and triple-glazed windows and, as a result, uses up to 90 percent less energy for heating and cooling than an ordinary house. Such low energy consumption enabled Empowerhouse to have one of the smallest solar panel arrays in the competition, which helps keep construction and maintenance costs down.
Habitat and its partners have done it. They have created an attractive, solar-powered, energy-efficient house that is affordable. It's possible that Lakiya Culley will never see a power bill, which could save her $72,000 over the life of her loan.
The Boston bombing killed three and injured 150. The West, Texas fertilizer explosion killed 15 and injured 200. Both are horrific events, of course, but the West, Texas explosion did more actual damage to life and property than the bombings. Yet, 95% of the news coverage has been about Boston.
Terrorism kills relatively few people, yet we can't stop ourselves from obsessing about it. Meanwhile, industrial accidents--if that's what the West, Texas explosion proves to be--kill and maim many, many times the people directly affected by terrorism.
The Dallas Morning News has some stunning photos of the effects of a lack of regulation. Local officials assess damage: