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Father Shay Cullen is an Irish Columban missionary who has worked in the Philippines since 1969. In 1974, he founded the Preda Foundation, a charitable organization dedicated to protecting the rights of women and children and campaigning for freedom from sex slavery and human trafficking.

A climate catastrophe looms on the floodwaters of ignorance

A climate catastrophe looms on the floodwaters of ignorance

A journalist holds an interview under a globe at the World Leaders' Summit of the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow on Nov. 2. (Photo: AFP)

Published: November 03, 2021 04:01 AM GMT
Too many people are mindless tools of the corporate powers that rule our consumer-dominated lives

Pope Francis and religious leaders made an appeal for the success of the COP26 climate summit being held in Glasgow, Scotland. “Care for the environment is a moral imperative to preserve God's creation for future generations,” the pope said. "We have inherited a garden; we must not leave a desert to our children."

We must face the unpleasant and painful truth that the earth is turning into a desert, affecting 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 disaster that Pope Francis has addressed in recent years.

The first one is the effect of carbon dioxide, 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 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. In Russia, Europe, the US 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 to cause floods of biblical proportions. Few forests are left because of massive deforestation of the Amazon and parts of Asia and Europe. Forests absorb carbon dioxide and hold excess rainwater. Animals are dying from droughts or floods, while 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 involves corrupt politicians in cahoots with 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 gases or curbing the burning of fossil fuels.

The corrupt politicians work with scheming tycoons that lobby for laws that give them billions in subsidies to promote the oil and coal industries. Taxpayers’ money to US corporations amounts 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 $55 billion annually in subsidies to the fossil fuel industries. In the US, about $2.1 trillion was earned by the oil and gas industries in 2021, according to the Environmental and Energy Study Institute.

More coal plants are being built in many countries. The promises being made at the COP26 summit are just that — empty promises

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 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 and most get government support. Australia will continue burning coal and selling it abroad. More coal plants are being built in many countries. The promises being made at the COP26 summit are just that — empty promises.

The Philippines is coal-dependent with as many as 28 coal-fired power plants operating throughout the archipelago with 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 the bed of bribery with top government officials to get approval for coal projects.

Geothermal and hydropower from dams make up the other sources of energy. The present government wants to give full 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 is picking up pace. Studies show there was more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere in 2020. To keep global warming rises at 1.5 degrees Celsius and avoid disasters, the earth needs a reduction in greenhouse gases of 55 percent, but so far the pledges of 120 nations add up to only 7.5 percent cuts. The promises to cut emissions would need to increase seven times to save the planet from the point of no return by 2030. 

The third catastrophe is the ignorance, blindness, apathy and indifference of the public worldwide to the truth of climate change

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. US 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 is in the US, where Senator Joe 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. 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 hefty subsidies and he himself earns $500,000 a year from his personal investment in coal.

The third catastrophe is the ignorance, blindness, 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. Their platforms control the data and 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 Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who was executed for opposing Hitler, once said, the general public can be very stupid. They give up their independence and do not know it, but each person talks “with slogans, catchwords 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, the stupid person will also be capable of any evil — incapable of seeing that it is evil.”

So it seems in the Philippines and much of the world today as we travel towards a climate catastrophe carried on the floodwaters of ignorance where too many people are mindless tools of the corporate powers that rule our consumer-dominated lives.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official editorial position of UCA News.

1 Comments on this Story
BARBARA SALLETTES
Guide us Lord to protect your beautiful creation and all those who depend on it.
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia