Pope Francis calls for swift action on climate change (New York Times)
The vision that Francis outlined in a 184-page papal encyclical is sweeping in ambition and scope: He describes relentless exploitation and destruction of the environment and says apathy, the reckless pursuit of profits, excessive faith in technology and political shortsightedness are to blame.
The most vulnerable victims, he declares, are the world’s poorest people, who are being dislocated and disregarded.
In a follow-up article, the NYT looks at the long tradition of Papal involvement in environmental and other issues which may at first seem outside the realm of the church. Excerpt:
Among those presenting the encyclical at a Vatican news conference on Thursday was an Eastern Orthodox theologian, Metropolitan John Zizioulas, who said, “The ecological crisis is essentially a spiritual problem.”
“The proper relationship between humanity and earth has been broken by the fall, both outwardly and within us. This rupture constitutes what we call sin.
He said, “The church must introduce in its teaching the sin against the environment. The ecological sin.”
Vatican City may be a country (albeit a tiny one) but the issue here is obvious: although the Pope may be the spiritual leader to millions of people across the globe, the Vatican has zero authority over the kind of environmental regulations that could curtail greenhouse gas emissions.
Perhaps that doesn’t matter. Oftentimes in history, people have proven ahead of their leaders. We all have choices, to some extent, about the resources that we use and consume and it seems to me that the Pope’s appeal is more to everyday people than the governments who will almost certainly ignore him. As Elizabeth Kolbert wrote on the New Yorker’s website:
Whether the Pope’s message will have any influence—on the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics, on the delegations currently trying to devise an international climate agreement, or on anyone else—remains to be seen. Up to now, the sowers of discord have done a good job blocking action on climate change, and, if the leak of the encyclical is any guide, they are still hard at work. Meanwhile, as@Pontifex tweeted to his 6.3 million followers Thursday, “The earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth.”
Quasi-related: taking transit, even occasionally, instead of driving (especially alone) is generally speaking one way to reduce your carbon footprint.
Mapping 7 million gallons of oil spills (High Country News)
In the wake of the recent spill near Santa Barbara, here is a good Google Map of roughly 1,000 pipeline spills or ruptures over the past five years. Surprising fact: lightning has been a factor in some big spills.
What that car really costs to own (Consumer Reports)
Metro held a Dump the Pump event on Thursday with the agency saying the switching from driving everyday to transit can save consumers nearly $13,000 a year. That’s a number that comes from the American Public Transportation Assn (APTA).
There’s no doubt that transit is less costly than driving, but the APTA number doesn’t necessarily reflect the wide range of cost of different type of cars. The Consumer Reports article — from 2012 — has a list of the five-year cost of different models and, as you would expect, it’s all over the place. At the time the article was published the average cost of owning a car for the first five years of ownership was $9,100. (There are a number of cost articles/calculators online).
There are also some interesting charts that show what many of you already know: one way to reduce the costs of a car is to keep it. The average cost of cars after year six of ownership is shown at about $6,000. I have a 2007 Subaru that I own outright and that number is a bit higher than what I pay — but I also don’t drive as much as I used to. And I’ve definitely extended the life of my car by using transit, my bike and my feet when possible.
That’s not as sexy a message as saying “dump your car” but I do think it’s a message that could have the most impact on the most people. One of the big challenges, I think, for transit agencies across the country is coming up with the kind of fare products that will appeal to the discretionary riders and provide a bigger incentive to occasionally leave the car at home or the transit station.
Some day I’ll get around to going back to Denmark (Zocalo Public Square)
The latest in Zocalo’s ongoing series of Metro rider profiles.
Because it’s Friday….Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl playing “Walk” shortly after breaking his leg during a show in Sweden.
Categories: Transportation Headlines