Category : Ethics / Moral Theology

(NYT front page) A Slow-Motion Climate Disaster in Brazil: The Spread of Barren Land

CARNAÚBA DOS DANTAS, Brazil — The land has sustained the Dantas family for more than 150 years, bearing fields of cotton, beanstalks up to a grown man’s hip and, when it rained enough, a river that led to a waterfall.

But on a recent day, with temperatures approaching 100 degrees, the river had run dry, the crops would not grow and the family’s 30 remaining cattle were quickly consuming the last pool of water.

“Fifty years from now, there won’t be a soul living here,” said Inácio Batista Dantas, 80, balanced in a frayed hammock. “I tell my grandchildren that things are going to get very difficult.”

His granddaughter, Hellena, 16, listened in — and pushed back. She grew up here. “I plan to work this land,” she said.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Brazil, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Science & Technology, Stewardship

(Church Times) Evangelicals encouraged to engage in soul-searching after abuse

The Church of England Evangelical Council (CEEC) has published material intended to initiate conversations about “issues of culture, power and abuse” within its constituency.

The materials, published on Wednesday, are “designed to help Evangelical churches review, repent and reshape their cultures on the back of the recent Thirtyone:eight independent reviews into two prominent Evangelical churches and their leaders”, a press release says.

The reviews to which it refers are those of Emmanuel Proprietary Chapel, Ridgway, in Wimbledon and the Revd Jonathan Fletcher (News, 26 March), and the Crowded House, a non-denominational Evangelical church in Sheffield, at which “some instances of emotional and/or psychological abuse took place as a result of persistent coercive and controlling behaviour”.

The resources include an introductory film and a “liturgy of lament” for churches to use. There is also a booklet, Church Cultures Review Questions, which contains more than 100 questions for churches.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Violence

(The Economist) How to manage the Great Resignation–High staff churn is here to stay. Retention strategies require a rethink

The spike in staff departures known as the Great Resignation is centred on America: a record 3% of the workforce there quit their jobs in September. But employees in other places are also footloose. Resignations explain why job-to-job moves in Britain reached a record high in the third quarter of this year.

Some of the churn is transitory. It was hard to act on pent-up job dissatisfaction while economies were in free fall, so there is a post-pandemic backlog of job switches to clear. And more quitting now is not the same as sustained job-hopping later. As Melissa Swift of Mercer, a consultancy, notes, white-collar workers in search of higher purpose will choose a new employer carefully and stay longer.

But there is also reason to believe that higher rates of churn are here to stay. The prevalence of remote working means that more roles are plausible options for more jobseekers. And the pandemic has driven home the precariousness of life at the bottom of the income ladder. Resignation rates are highest in industries, like hospitality, that are full of low-wage workers who have lots of potentially risky face-to-face contact with colleagues and customers.

Read it all (requires registration).

Posted in --Social Networking, Anthropology, Blogging & the Internet, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Science & Technology

(C of E) ‘Virus knows no national boundaries’–The Bishop of Durham calls for vaccine equity

Asking a question in the House of Lords, Bishop Paul Butler said the omicron variant showed that the virus “knows no national boundaries.”

He said: “In the light of the new omicron variant that has dominated the news over the weekend, my colleague Archbishop Thabo Makgoba of Cape Town urged those of us in rich countries to do better at narrowing inequality of vaccination rates, which are 7% in Africa and 70% in Europe.

“We must acknowledge that this virus knows no national boundaries and will spread, mutate and return to us in the way that we are seeing, so we need a global approach, not simply a bilateral approach.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Health & Medicine, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, South Africa

(Bloomberg) Disney+ Omits ‘The Simpsons’ Tiananmen Episode in Hong Kong

On Disney+, which launched in Hong Kong on Nov. 16, episodes 11 and 13 of season 16 are viewable in the Chinese territory, but not episode 12, which first aired in 2005. That episode was available over the weekend in Singapore, where Disney+ launched earlier this year.

“This is the first notable time an American streaming giant has censored content in Hong Kong,” said Kenny Ng, an associate professor specializing in film censorship at Hong Kong Baptist University.

“Basically, the whole story is for streaming companies to be more tailored to a Chinese audience and to not offend the Chinese government,” he added. “This is likely to continue in the future with more companies with financial interests in China.”

Read it all (subscription).

Posted in China, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Movies & Television

(C of E) Transition Pathway Initiative energy report finds only 1 in 10 companies are ambitious enough to keep global warming to 1.5°C

The first annual analysis of major energy company transition plans to be released since COP26 has found that only 1 in 10 are ambitious enough to keep global warming to 1.5°C.

This energy sector report is the first to feature TPI’s 1.5°C benchmark which assesses corporate targets against the IEA’s pathway to keep to 1.5°C of warming.

TPI assessed 140 of the largest energy companies (76 electric utilities, 58 oil & gas, 6 diversified miners involved in coal mining) on ‘Carbon Performance’ finding that 10% were aligned with a pathway to keeping global warming to 1.5°C, and a further 24% were aligned with a ‘Below 2°C’ pathway.

Read it all.

Posted in Climate Change, Weather, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Stock Market

(Deseret News) ‘We can change the air that abusers breathe’: How faith communities are addressing domestic violence

They looked like the poster couple for faith and family. He was a successful professional, who provided for his wife and children and led them in prayer. She was a stay-at-home mom with a leadership position in their religious community. They seemed to exemplify how great a life rooted in belief could be.

But behind closed doors, Amy, who asked to be identified by a pseudonym, endured years of spiritual abuse as her husband turned aspects of her faith against her.

Shortly after they married, Amy says, her husband became obsessed with the idea that she wasn’t telling him the truth about her past. He forced her to pray with him about it. Constantly. He insisted she share with him every detail of her unmarried life.

After these discussions, he would manipulate and coerce his physically and emotionally exhausted wife into having sex. Only later did she realize the pattern amounted to sexual abuse, though he claimed he was driven by love and a desire to make their relationship perfect and eternal.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Islam, Judaism, Marriage & Family, Men, Mormons, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Sexuality, Violence, Women

(NYT front page) The Woman on the Bridge Police and prosecutors spent five years chasing a domestic violence case. Would it be enough?

Frustration was nothing new, not for any of them. Ms. Burns, who specializes in domestic violence, describes the criminal justice response to these crimes as ineffectual, like “putting Band-Aids on bullet wounds.” She spends much of her time scraping for evidence that can be admitted in court, but so many of the assaults she prosecutes take place behind closed doors, she said, that not guilty verdicts are common.

Ms. Neal’s suicide — the way she had slipped away from them — made this failure different, more agonizing.

“From the criminal justice side of it, we had a piece of paper telling Nelson not to contact her, that’s what we had,” Ms. Burns said. In domestic violence cases, she added, “the dynamics and the history are too deep” to be altered by “a piece of paper from a judge.”

Domestic violence cases are so challenging that some experts, like Rachel Teicher of John Jay College’s National Network for Safe Communities, argue that arrests and prosecutions are simply inadequate as a response, and should be supplemented with other kinds of interventions.

Perpetrators and victims become accustomed to a cycle — charges dismissed or reduced, restraining orders violated — and conclude, she said, that “these are systems I don’t have to take all that seriously.”

“The folks at the front lines are often using every tool they can,” she said. “Sometimes our tool kit isn’t big enough.”

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Men, Pastoral Theology, Police/Fire, Psychology, Suicide, Violence, Women

(WSJ) Walter Russell Mead–China and Russia form an entente to hobble America, with a little help from Iran.

Asia First does not mean Asia Alone. That is the hard lesson the world is busy teaching the Biden administration and the U.S. In Europe, American diplomats last week scrambled to respond to Belarus’s weaponization of migration on its border with Poland, warned that Russia is positioning itself to invade Ukraine, and worked to defuse a crisis in the western Balkans. In the Middle East, as Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin tried to reassure key allies about America’s continuing commitment to their security, U.S. naval forces participated with Israel, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates in the unprecedented joint Arab-Israeli military exercises in the Red Sea.

This shift from an Asia First policy to Global Engagement isn’t something the Biden administration is voluntarily choosing. It is a change forced on the U.S. by the actions of adversaries who believe that by keeping America off-balance and overcommitted, they can hasten the process of American decline.

President Biden’s original plan to focus on Asia made good political sense. Progressive Democrats are dead-set against the military spending and political engagement that a truly global American foreign policy would require. And it isn’t only progressive Democrats who are weary of endless wars, freeloading allies, and American diplomatic and sometimes military engagement in faraway hot spots like the western Balkans and Sudan. If we could get Iran back into the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action nuclear deal and reach at least a temporary understanding with Russia on some issues, Team Biden hoped, reduced engagement in Europe and the Middle East would help make a tougher China policy easier to sell back home—and to pay for.

Team Biden is right about that. Unfortunately, China, Russia and Iran understand the situation as clearly as the White House does, and these powers want Mr. Biden and the nation he leads to fail.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., China, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Politics in General, Russia

(Church Times) Faith groups were sidelined at COP26, says Bishop of Norwich

The Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Revd Graham Usher, has criticised the Government for its lack of engagement with faith groups at the COP26 climate summit and urged it to make climate change a priority over the coming year.

Bishop Usher, who is the lead bishop on the environment, was at the UN talks in Glasgow which ended on Saturday, when countries had agreed to phase down coal use, end fossil-fuel subsidies, and come back next year to strengthen their commitments. But the promised financial support for poor and vulnerable nations remained lacking.

Bishop Usher said on Tuesday evening: “There was a powerful sense of solidarity across the faith groups and denominations at COP26. All faith traditions value the sanctity of creation, and before the summit many of us met at the Vatican to present our call to COP26 President Alok Sharma, where there was probably 85 per cent of the world’s population represented.

“In Glasgow, it was disappointing to see no space for faith groups at the summit. The Anglican Communion delegation struggled to find spaces to meet. It was a great shame the British Government didn’t put more emphasis on the role of faith communities.”

Bishop Usher applauded the efforts of Mr Sharma, however. He said: “I want to praise the commitment of Alok Sharma and his team, who have worked incredibly hard. The UK has the presidency of the COP for the next 12 months, and I would like to see them making use of this in the lead up to COP27 in Egypt.”

Read it all.

Posted in --Scotland, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Science & Technology, Stewardship

(ABC Nightline) How an underwater solution in the Faroe Islands could combat climate change

‘ABC News’ Maggie Rulli travels to the Faroe Islands, where scientists believe that seaweed farming could be a solution to the climate crisis.’

Watch it all.

Posted in Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Norway, Science & Technology, Stewardship

(Guardian) Justin Welby admits he was wrong to say there was a cloud over George Bell

The archbishop of Canterbury has apologised for saying there was a “significant cloud” over the name of one of the most venerated figures in the Church of England who was accused of sexual abuse.

In a move that may end a protracted and acrimonious battle within the C of E over the reputation of George Bell, a bishop of Chichester and a leading 20th-century figure, Justin Welby issued a personal statement admitting his earlier position had been wrong.

In a remarkable volte-face, Welby said a statue commemorating Bell as “one of the most courageous, distinguished Anglican bishops of the past century” would be erected at Canterbury Cathedral.

In 2015, 57 years after Bell’s death, the C of E paid compensation and issued a formal apology to a woman who alleged that Bell had sexually abused her when she was a child.

Read it all.

Posted in --Justin Welby, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church History, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Theology

Personal statement from Archbishop Justin Welby on Bishop George Bell

What I say today that is new and should have been said sooner is this: I do not consider there to be a ‘significant cloud’ over Bishop George Bell’s name.

Previously I refused to retract that statement and I was wrong to do so. I took that view because of the importance we rightly place on listening to those who come forward with allegations of abuse, and the duty of care we owe to them. But we also owe a duty of care to those who are accused. I apologise for the hurt that my refusal to retract that statement has caused to Bishop Bell’s surviving relatives, colleagues and longstanding supporters. They have all raised this issue, often powerfully, and I have recognised my error as a result of their advocacy.

Bishop Bell was and remains one of the most courageous, distinguished Anglican bishops of the past century, committed to the peace and hope of Jesus Christ in a time of conflict and war. The debt owed to him extends far beyond the Church that he served and is one that we share as a society. I am delighted that the statue to him that was planned will be erected on the west front of Canterbury Cathedral, where he served as Dean, as soon as the extensive repair and maintenance works are complete.

Read it all.

Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church History, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology

(NYT front page) When Some Are Back in the Office, and the Rest Are Still in PJs

For months, the putt-putt course sat unused. The beanbag chairs lay empty. The kitchen whiteboard, above where the keg used to live, displayed in fading marker “Beers on Tap” from a happy hour in March 2020.

But on a recent weekday, over in the common area was a sign of life — fresh bagels.

As employees at the financial technology start-up CommonBond got Covid vaccines, and grew stir-crazy in their apartments, they started trickling back into the office.

“We call it Work From Work Wednesday,” said Keryn Koch, who runs human resources at the company, which has 15,000 square feet of sunlit SoHo real estate.

At one point, autumn had been billed across corporate America as the Great Office Reopening. The Delta variant intervened, and mandatory return-to-office plans turned optional. Still, many people chose to report back to their desks: The share of employed people who worked remotely at some point during the month because of Covid, which had peaked in May 2020 at 35 percent, dropped in October to 11 percent, the lowest point since the pandemic began, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Psychology, Science & Technology

‘We must now keep up the moral pressure so that pledges are urgently turned into measurable action’: Bishops respond to COP26

Graham Usher, the Bishop of Norwich and the Church of England’s lead bishop for the environment, and Olivia Graham, the Bishop of Reading, have spoken at the conclusion of COP.

In a statement they said: “At COP we called for keeping global warming to below 1.5 degrees, ending fossil fuel subsidies, and securing finance for the world’s most vulnerable people who are already effected by climate breakdown.

“Progress was made in all these areas, plus cutting methane emissions and halting deforestation. We were particularly inspired to hear powerful testimonies from young people and representatives of indigenous peoples.

“We pay tribute to the work of Alok Sharma MP, the COP26 President, and his team.

“Negotiations always have some compromises and disappointments. These impact the world’s economically poorest the most. We must now keep up the moral pressure so that pledges are urgently turned into measurable action….

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Science & Technology, Stewardship

(NYT front page) Europe Toughens Rules for Unvaccinated as Fourth Covid Wave Swells

As temperatures drop and coronavirus infections spike across Europe, some countries are introducing increasingly targeted restrictions against the unvaccinated who are driving another wave of contagion and putting economic recoveries, public health and an eventual return to prepandemic freedoms at risk.

On Monday, Austria set a new bar for such measures in the West. Facing a 134 percent increase in cases in the last two weeks, the Austrian government cracked down on its unvaccinated population over the age of 12, restricting their movement to traveling for work, school, buying groceries and medical care.

“Our task as the federal government is to protect the people of Austria,” Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg told a news conference on Sunday. “We are fulfilling this responsibility.”

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Austria, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Health & Medicine, Politics in General

(FT) Ukraine warned of ‘high probability’ of Russian military escalation this winter

Western intelligence suggests a “high probability of destabilisation” of Ukraine by Russia as soon as this winter after Moscow massed more than 90,000 troops at its border, according to Kyiv’s deputy defence minister.

Hanna Maliar told the Financial Times at the weekend that while interpretations of western intelligence “need further discussion”, they underlined “the high probability of escalation of the situation”.

When asked if the risk of Russian military aggression was higher than during the past years, she said: “Information of our [military intelligence services] coincides with the information of partner countries about the high probability of destabilisation of the situation in Ukraine this winter.”

Maliar added that allies’ conclusions were “based not only on information about the number of Russian troops along the Ukrainian border”, suggesting Washington had additional intelligence about Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s intentions.

Read it all.

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Military / Armed Forces, Politics in General, Russia, Ukraine

A NYT article on Marvin Olasky and World Magzine

When Marvin Olasky gets angry emails from readers — more often than not about an exposé of wrongdoing at an evangelical church, or about a story that reflects poorly on Donald Trump — he has a stock reply.

“We think this is useful to the Church,” he tells disgruntled readers, “because we are also sinners.”

As the longtime editor of World, a Christian news organization that has a website, a biweekly magazine and a set of podcasts, Mr. Olasky has delivered a mix of hard news and watchdog articles about the evangelical realm under a journalistic philosophy he calls “biblical objectivity.”

It involves taking strong stands where the Bible is clear, which has led World to oppose abortion rights and support refugees, he says, and to follow reportable facts where the Bible doesn’t provide clear guidance.

Read it all.

I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Media, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

A BBC Interview with Imogen Nay, Canon for Evangelism and Discipleship at Chelmsford Catherdral, on how the local church can make a big difference in combatting Climate Chnage

Read it all.(The interview starts from around 1:28:45 and last about 7 minutes.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Climate Change, Weather, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship

(Guardian) Cop26: world on track for disastrous heating of more than 2.4C, says key report

The world is on track for disastrous levels of global heating far in excess of the limits in the Paris climate agreement, despite a flurry of carbon-cutting pledges from governments at the UN Cop26 summit.

Temperature rises will top 2.4C by the end of this century, based on the short-term goals countries have set out, according to research published in Glasgow on Tuesday.

That would far exceed the 2C upper limit the Paris accord said the world needed to stay “well below”, and the much safer 1.5C limit aimed for at the Cop26 talks.

At that level, widespread extreme weather – sea-level rises, drought, floods, heatwaves and fiercer storms – would cause devastation across the globe.

Read it all.

Posted in Climate Change, Weather, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Politics in General, Science & Technology

(NYT front page) Climate Talks Bring Promises Slim on Detail

The international climate summit here has been billed by its chief organizer as the “last, best hope” to save the planet. But as the United Nations conference enters its second week and negotiators from 197 countries knuckle down to finalize a new agreement to tackle global warming, attendees were sharply divided over how much progress is being made.

There’s the optimistic view: Heads of state and titans of industry showed up in force last week with splashy new climate promises, a sign that momentum was building in the right direction.

“I believe what is happening here is far from business as usual,” said John Kerry, President Biden’s special envoy on climate change, who has been attending U.N. climate summits since 1992. “I have never counted as many initiatives and as much real money — real money — being put on the table….”

Then there’s the pessimistic view: All these gauzy promises mean little without concrete plans to follow through. And that’s still lacking. Or, as the Swedish activist Greta Thunberg put it, the conference has mostly consisted of “blah, blah, blah.”

Read it all.

Posted in --Scotland, Anthropology, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General, Science & Technology

(BioEdge) Euthanasia has had negative effect on palliative care in Canada: report

Canada’s Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD) act began to operate in 2016. It is a laboratory for how legalised euthanasia will operate in a largely English-speaking country. And, according to an article in the journal Palliative Care written by five Canadian specialists, it has had a very negative effect upon palliative care.

The authors interviewed 13 doctors and 10 nurses about their impressions. Some of the feedback is unexpected.

First, all of them spoke about an inherent conflict between the provision of palliative care (PC) and eligibility for MAiD. To ensure that their patients remained eligible, they had to withhold medications which would have otherwise removed or alleviated their pain. “Maintaining lucidity and eligibility for assisted death, by avoiding sedative medications, took priority over achieving good symptom control for some patients,” they write. Both the patients and the PC providers found this distressing.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Aging / the Elderly, Anthropology, Canada, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics

(WSJ) Inside the World’s Most Blatant Covid-19 Coverup in Tanzania: Secret Burials, a Dead President

Tucked away in a northern suburb of this sprawling East African city is a burial site that is evidence of one of the world’s great coronavirus coverups.

At the Kondo graveyard in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, unmasked volunteers have been digging holes and felling trees to expand a compound that has tripled in size since last year. During the pandemic’s first wave, hazmat-suited government officials came at night to secretly bury the dead, graveyard workers and bereaved families said. Now, small groups of mourners gather for hasty ceremonies next to floral tributes.

Kondo’s gravediggers said those buried there since last year have one thing in common: All died as a result of the coronavirus, yet none were recorded as suffering from Covid-19. They said they know by speaking to the families and officials from the municipality.

“This is one of the government’s coronavirus cemeteries, but we’re not allowed to call it that,” said Said Ali Salum, a caretaker who has worked there so long that locals call him “Mzee Wa-Makaburi,” or Mr. Graveyard. “We used to bury one a week [before the pandemic], but over the past year we have reached 17 a day.”

Tanzania, a country famous for Serengeti safaris and a turquoise coastline, has engaged in a grim experiment with implications beyond its borders: denying the existence of Covid-19. How that is playing out offers clues on the hidden toll of the pandemic across the developing world.

Read it all.

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Politics in General, Tanzania

(Church Times) COP26: Faith leaders ‘all on the same page’ about climate

The Anglican Communion is helping to give a voice to vulnerable communities during the COP26 summit in Glasgow, the Bishop of Reading, the Rt Revd Olivia Graham, has said.

Bishop Graham, a member of the Church of England’s environment working group, has been at the summit this week, among the many Christian people and organisations lobbying and praying in Glasgow.

“Leaders from all faiths are on the same page about climate chaos and environmental crises,” she said. “When we focus on something as big as this, our differences fall into perspective.

“With tens of millions of members across 165 countries, the Anglican Communion brings a global perspective to the conference that’s untainted by national interests. One of the many benefits of an Anglican presence here is giving voice to the plight of the small island states, which are already becoming slowly submerged by rising sea levels.”

Read it all.

Posted in - Anglican: Latest News, --Justin Welby, --Scotland, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Stewardship

(Reuters) Uganda’s president Museveni calls for East African leaders’ summit to discuss Ethiopia conflict

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has called an East African bloc leaders’ meeting on Nov. 16 to discuss the conflict in Ethiopia, a senior foreign affairs ministry official said on Thursday.

Read it all.

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Ethiopia, Politics in General, Uganda, Violence

(C of E) Church Commissioners among leading financial institutions to commit to actively tackle deforestation

More than 30 leading financial institutions, representing over US$ 8.7 trillion in assets under management, including the Church Commissioners for England, have committed to tackle agricultural commodity-driven deforestation as part of broader efforts to drive the global shift towards sustainable production and nature-based solutions.

Ending deforestation and implementing natural climate solutions could provide a third of the solution to achieving the Paris climate target, help halt and reverse biodiversity loss, and support human rights and food security.

With most deforestation driven by unsustainable production practices for palm oil, soy, cattle products and pulp and paper, resulting in more carbon emissions annually than the EU, action on these commodities is particularly urgent, which is the focus of the commitment made today.

Today’s commitment – to use best efforts to eliminate agricultural commodity-driven tropical deforestation from portfolios by 2025 – is clear evidence of the increasing awareness of the systemic risks and associated actions needed to address deforestation related to production of these commodities and accelerate the transition to sustainable commodity production.

Read it all.

Posted in Animals, Church of England (CoE), Corporations/Corporate Life, Ecology, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Science & Technology, Stewardship, Stock Market

(PD) Robert Miller–Academic Freedom and the Community of Scholars: A Response to Nathanael Blake

Still, Blake raises a good question when he asks why universities tolerate professors who support morally reprehensible ideas. Blake thinks the answer is “moral relativism,” but that cannot be right, for, as we saw above, universities have no trouble enforcing moral norms against plagiarism, embezzlement, and the rest. So why mention moral relativism? I suspect the answer is that, if the university held that all ideas were equally good and equally bad, then it would make little sense to punish a professor on the basis of his ideas, and so the university would have a strong policy of academic freedom. In other words, moral relativism implies academic freedom. But even conceding this point arguendo, it is just a logical fallacy (the fallacy of affirming the consequent) to infer the converse and conclude that academic freedom implies moral relativism.

The fallacy becomes obvious when we reflect that there are strong arguments for academic freedom based on objective moral theories. For example, although some academic speech is objectively good and other academic speech is objectively bad, nevertheless limiting academic freedom requires empowering university administrators to decide which speech is good and which is bad, which should be allowed and which suppressed. Empowering people in this way is so dangerous that it is objectively wrong, just as giving teenage boys whiskey and automobiles is objectively wrong. Even when university officials act in good faith, there will be many close calls, and history teems with examples of speech once widely considered bad that we now believe is good, and vice versa. Hence, in any system of speech regulation, the decisions of those running the system will involve a very high error rate, and, even worse, the errors will not be randomly distributed but will skew strongly in favor of ideas with which the officials themselves agree and against ideas with which they disagree.

The fact that there are some easy cases (bestiality is wrong) does not change this; once officials are empowered to decide which speech will be allowed and which suppressed, they will decide not only the easy cases but the hard cases as well. Moreover, the people running the system will not always act in good faith but will sometimes abuse their power to punish those with whose speech they disagree. Indeed, the history of censorship strongly suggests that such abuses are common. On this view, although free speech and academic freedom come at a cost (bad speech is permitted and causes real harm), the costs of a system of censorship are much worse.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Philosophy

(NYT) At Cop26 A pledge to end deforestation aims to protect ‘the lungs of our planet.’

In a sweeping accord aimed at protecting the world’s forests, which are crucial to absorbing carbon dioxide and slowing the rise in global warming, leaders of more than 100 countries gathered in Glasgow vowed on Tuesday to end deforestation by 2030.

President Biden said the United States would contribute billions to the global effort to protect the ecosystems that are vital for cleaning the air we breathe and the water we drink, and keeping the Earth’s climate in balance.

The pact — which includes countries like Brazil, Russia, China and the United States — encompasses about 85 percent of the world’s forests, officials said.

“These great teeming ecosystems — these cathedrals of nature,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain said in announcing the agreement, “are the lungs of our planet.”

Read it all.

Posted in Corporations/Corporate Life, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General, Stewardship

(EDP) Bishop Graham Usher of Norwich–Climate change is making world less stable, COP26 needs action

Our eyes should at least be seeing. The impact of climate change is frequently in the news. Extreme weather events – heavy rainfall, drought, heatwaves, tropical storms – are becoming more unpredictable, intense and frequent.

Climate change knows no international borders yet it is frequently the poorest nations, who have not been pumping carbon into the atmosphere, who are impacted the most and are the least able to adapt.

It is said that we are the first generation to feel the impact of climate change and the last generation who can do anything about it.

Earlier this month I was at an event in the Vatican where Pope Francis had called together the leaders of the world’s faith communities. Their shared ‘appeal’, on behalf of perhaps 80 per cent of the world’s population, called for urgent action to be taken – both by individuals and nations.

There is no time to lose.

Read it all.

Posted in --Scotland, Church of England (CoE), Climate Change, Weather, CoE Bishops, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Science & Technology

(World) The search for truth takes a hit at MIT

To test one’s convictions, an honest thinker must consider competing viewpoints to confront one’s own dearly held beliefs and presuppositions. Perhaps, after considering an opposing view, one sees an error in one’s own view. Perhaps a seeker after truth sees how he or she was right all along. But there may be nuances and contours and depths newly discovered through considerations of an opposing view. Or perhaps one sees the same view but now from a new confidence, a different vista, ever enriching the perspective. Truth is likened to a diamond, where beholding different dimensions of it only adds to its beauty and goodness.

Free speech is worth defending not just for the sake of freedom—it is for something far grander. It is worth defending for the sake of truth. Freedom of speech is good and wonderful, but it is an instrumental good in the service of the intrinsic good of knowledge and wisdom—ultimately, truth. As G. K. Chesterton said, “The object of opening the mind, as of opening the mouth, is to shut it again on something solid.” Solid, like rock-solid truth.

These are dark days when free speech is stifled, such that the vocation of academia for truth-seeking is severely hindered. But there are glimmers of hope. The Academic Freedom Alliance (AFA) is a new organization dedicated to defending academic freedom. (I am a member.) It condemned MIT’s decision to disinvite Professor Abbot. After MIT’s embarrassing surrender, one of AFA’s founders, Robert P. George of Princeton University, invited Professor Abbot to lecture at Princeton. Professor Abbot then delivered the same lecture on the same day that he had been scheduled to lecture at MIT—but he spoke at Princeton’s James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions instead. Enrollment in the Zoom event for the lecture grew so large that Princeton had to increase its Zoom capacity for it. Thousands of people attended or viewed the lecture.

Read it all.

Posted in Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General, Psychology