by Father Shay Cullen Profiles in Catholicism
We must face the unpleasant and painful truth about what is happening to the planet and our lives. You may think that the climate catastrophe facing mankind is global warming but in fact there are at least three catastrophes behind the climate change disaster.
The first one is the effect of CO2, nitrous oxide and methane that are covering the planet like a blanket and locking in the heat of the sun. It is like putting the planet in a glass-covered greenhouse. The heat is causing devastating droughts, leaving millions of people without food. This is causing massive migration of the hungry populations from the South to the North. The earth and forests are burning down. In Russia, Europe, the USA and Australia, enormous forest fires destroy all before them.
The oceans filled with plastic are heating up, reducing fish stocks, and the water is evaporating into clouds that bring massive rainstorms that overwhelm dams and rivers causing floods of biblical proportions. There are few forests left because of massive deforestation in the Amazon and parts of Asia and Europe. Forests absorb CO2 and hold excessive rainwater. The animals are dead from drought or floods and landslides are burying villages. Rising sea levels and wind-driven tides due to the melting of the Arctic ice add to the destruction. This we see on our television screens already and there is much more to come. The second catastrophe is the corrupt politicians in cahoots with money moguls of giant multinational corporations that get them elected to office. They support the oil, gas and coal industries and allow global warming to happen by doing little or nothing to mitigate the gasses or curbing the burning of fossil fuels.
The corrupt politicians work with scheming tycoons that lobby for laws that give them billions of payments in subsidies to promote the oil and coal industries. The payments of taxpayers’ money to US corporations amount to US$20 billion annually. From that, 20 percent is for the coal industry and 80 percent for oil and natural gas companies. The EU spends US$55 billion annually in subsidies to the fossil fuel industries. In the US, approximately $2.1 trillion dollars was earned by the oil and gas industries in 2021, according to The Environmental and Energy Study Institute. (https://www.eesi.org/papers/view/fact-sheet-fossil-fuel-subsidies-a-closer-look-at-tax-breaks-and-societal-cost)
The politicians in the pay of the corporations delay legislation to switch from coal and oil to renewables and block laws that mandate electric cars. However, in public, they are monster hypocrites and liars promising to end subsidies and change to renewables. The G7 nations made such a pledge recently, but will they do it? Since the year 2000, coal-burning plant capacity has increased by 100 percent led by China and India. There are 80 nations using coal plants to generate electricity, most get government support. Australia will continue burning coal and selling it abroad. More coal plants are being built in many countries. The promises that will be made at the COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland are just that- empty promises. As 18-year old environmental activist Greta Thunberg says, it is just Blah Blah Blah.
The Philippines is coal-dependent with as many as 28 coal-fired power plants currently operating throughout the Philippines, with total installed capacity of 9.88 gigawatts. The energy department has approved another 22 coal plants. The electricity to be generated by coal will be 53 percent by 2030. Environmental groups are protesting these plans. Philippine corporations have to get into a bed of bribery with high government officials to get approval for the energy coal projects.
Geothermal and hydro-power from dams make up the other source of energy. The present government wants to give full foreign ownership of new geothermal plants to foreign companies from Russia and China but local opposition is growing. However, the solar and wind sector is almost non-existent. The Philippine government will have no good news for the COP26 conference.
Global warming continues hotter than ever as a result. Studies show that there is more C02 in the atmosphere, not less, in 2020.To keep the global temperature at 1.5 degrees and avoid disasters, the earth needs a reduction in greenhouse gases of 55 percent and so far, the pledges of 120 nations add up to only 7.5 percent cuts. The promises and pledges to cut the emissions would need to increase seven times to save the planet from the point of no return by 2030. The politicians and corporations are successfully persuading the public with lies and fake news that their pledges and promises are true. The facts speak otherwise. President Joe Biden seems more honest. He is proposing strong legislation to support industry to change to renewable energy- wind and solar- not promises.
A case in point in the US where Senator Manchin has blocked the ambitious legislation of President Biden to change to renewable energy production and impose fines on those industries that release methane into the atmosphere. Senator Manchin’s vote for Biden’s legislation is vital. He is holding back because the biggest coal industry in his state of West Virginia gets big subsidies and he himself earns US$500,000 a year from his personal investment in coal. The third catastrophe is the ignorance, blindness and apathy and indifference of the public worldwide to the truth of climate change. Many stupidly allow it to happen without protest or demanding to know how and why.
This indifference allows multinational corporations like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google, the telecommunication companies and the fossil fuel corporations to rise to great power and their platforms control the data, the news feeds and distort and manipulate the public. The message of COP26 will be controlled by them and they can continue to perpetuate their lies that there is no real danger to the planet that they cannot control. They will continue to rake in trillions of dollars in profit and rip off the people How do they do it?
As the famous Dietrich Bonhoeffer who was executed for opposing Hitler said, the general public can be very stupid. They give up their independence and do not know it but each person talks “. . . with slogans, catch words, and the like that have taken possession of him, he is under a spell, blinded, misused and abused in his very being. Having thus become a mindless tool. . . ”
So it seems in the Philippines and much of the world today as we travel towards climate catastrophe carried on the flood waters of ignorance where too many people are mindless tools of the corporate powers that rule our consumer-dominated lives.