August 21, 2013

Into the Fire

Food in the Age of Climate ChangeVen. Bhikkhu Bodhi

Lester Brown, founder of the Earth Policy Institute, points out that earlier civilizations often collapsed because of food shortages brought on by unsound agricultural practices. The Sumerian civilization sank because their soil was ruined by rising salt levels, the result of a design flaw in their irrigation system. The Mayan empire fell due to soil erosion, caused by excessive land clearance to feed their population. We now stand in a similar position, facing an acute threat to our own food system, and the immediate danger comes from a changing climate. But there is a major difference between our civilization and earlier ones: we have a clear scientific understanding of the roots of the crisis and are thus in a better position to respond to it. Collapse is not inevitable. The big question we face is not a “why” but a “whether”: whether we will act effectively before it’s too late.

Brown also says, in the same context, that economic and social collapse was almost always preceded by a period of environmental decline. This indicates that there is generally a margin of time in which we can pull back from the brink. We’re now in that phase of decline, and the need to act promptly and decisively to preserve the world’s food system cannot be overemphasized. We’ve already delayed too long. At present close to a billion people suffer from chronic hunger and malnutrition. If the food system fails to produce enough food to feed the planet, millions more, mostly children, will be consigned to a life of perpetual want, even to death by starvation. In countries stricken with food shortages, social chaos will erupt and food riots will break out. Migration will increase from poor countries to more affluent ones, triggering a backlash of resentment. States in the poorest regions will totter and fail, perhaps unleashing more waves of violent terrorism.

Avoiding such a fate requires rapid changes to our energy system, a transition from an economy driven by fossil fuels to a leaner economy powered by benign sources of energy. At the same time, we must promote greater equity between the global North and South in a collaborative effort to end hunger everywhere. Such changes, however, could not be easily implemented on the basis of our present scale of values, which exalts profits and economic expansion even by ripping apart the natural systems on which the economy depends. Our culture will have to change in its fundamentals: from one that celebrates luxury, power, and consumption to one that honors sufficiency, generosity, social justice, and the integrity of the biosphere.

The problem of food security is exacerbated by the projected rise in global population from 7 billion to 9.3 billion people by 2050. A growing population exerts more pressure on the world’s food supply not only because there will be many more mouths to feed, but also because more of those mouths will be eating higher on the food chain. As people in developing economies rise in social status they choose a diet rich in meat and dairy over one based primarily on plants. Since it takes several pounds of grain to produce a pound of meat, grain stocks that would otherwise go to feed hungry people would instead be used to feed livestock in order to provide meat and dairy for the affluent. According to a recent report from the World Resources Institute, unless the affluent restrain their demand for animal products, worldwide food calories will need to increase by about 60 percent from 2006 levels if we’re to feed everyone adequately.

But while agriculture must be empowered to feed a larger population, it will have to employ methods of cultivation that minimize its negative impact on the environment. Modern industrial agriculture harms the environment in at least three ways: (1) by the degradation of ecosystems, particularly through deforestation and loss of biodiversity; (2) by its demands on the world’s sources of fresh water, 80 to 90% of which is used by agriculture; and (3) by emitting massive amounts of greenhouse gases, which aggravate climate change. At present, agriculture accounts for about 25% of greenhouse gas emissions. These include methane from livestock, nitrous oxide from fertilizer use, and carbon dioxide from machinery, transport, and land use change. Meat and dairy production emits far higher amounts of greenhouse gases than crop cultivation, ranging from 16 times more for beef to 4.6 times more for chicken. This provides another strong argument for reducing consumption of meat.

The ecological footprints of six foods

Source: Oxfam, “Growing a Better Future”

While agriculture contributes to climate change, a changing climate rebounds on agriculture both suddenly and gradually. As the climate warms, such periodic phenomena as long droughts, blistering heat waves, and torrential floods become more common, ravaging land, devastating harvests, and pushing up food prices. In the years ahead, such violent fluctuations in the weather are bound to become still more frequent—“the new normal”—further reducing yields and increasing world hunger. What makes such attacks of nature so scary is that they are erratic. Since the climate is a closed integrated system, abuses in one region can trigger effects anywhere and everywhere, and our ability to predict them is very limited.

Though freak weather events are certainly destructive and costly, incremental climate change, the slow warming of the planet, may be even more insidious. This is particularly the case because the gradual increase in global temperature occurs beneath the threshold of perception and thus tends to escape notice. Yet the plants themselves notice. Agro-ecologists report that for each degree of Celsius rise in temperature above the norm, crop yields decline by 10%. On current projections, in a world where global temperature increases by 3 °C above pre-industrial levels—which is almost inevitable on our current trajectory—virtually all of Africa, Latin America, South and Southeast Asia, and southern China will witness drastic reductions in fecundity. Large chunks of the U.S., including much of the Grain Belt, will also become less fertile. The big winners in agricultural productivity will be Canada and Russian Siberia.

Rising global temperatures also impinge negatively on our water supply. Almost all modern agriculture depends on irrigation systems, many of which draw their water from rivers. In much of the world, the rivers get their water from mountain glaciers, which store snow in the winter and discharge the snowmelt into the rivers in the summer. However, as the climate grows warmer, the glaciers have been losing mass at alarming rates, putting at risk many of the world’s most fertile growing regions. Major glaciers—in the Himalayas, the Kush Mountains, and the Andes—are visibly shrinking, threatening the food security of the huge populations of India, China, Southeast Asia, Pakistan, and the Andean states of South America.

The danger that climate change poses to the world’s food security should move us to action. If we acknowledged the threat with utter seriousness, we would already be doing our utmost to stem the tide of global warming. We would not tolerate the evasive lies and denials passed off on us by servile politicians beholden to their corporate benefactors, nor would we settle for flabby regulations that seldom cut emissions more than minimally. The world’s food system—our food system—is at stake, and that depends on a stable climate, an asset we cannot lose.

On a hotter planet global food security will become a pipe dream. Fertile land will turn barren and harvests will collapse, bringing more hunger, reducing more young bodies to skin and bones, chalking up more deaths from malnutrition and diet-related illness. The future is already in our midst. The Oxfam report “Growing a Better Future” drives home this point when it says that the risk “is not a remote future threat. It is emerging today, will intensify over the next decade, and evolve over the twenty-first century as ecology, demography, and climate change interact to create a vicious circle of vulnerability and hunger in some of the world’s poorest countries.”

If we could accept this fact viscerally, and not just as an object of thought, we would be working at breakneck speed to break our dependence on fossil fuels, replacing them with climate-friendly sources of energy such as wind, solar, and geothermal power. We would also be seeking meaning for our lives elsewhere than in the consumption of empty “goods” that provide little by way of a genuine sense of good. We would instead be recovering other dimensions of meaning driven into the background by the blind imperative of economic growth: the dimensions of human relationships, community service, aesthetic enjoyment, and spiritual cultivation. It is only a life of meaning, not quarterly dividend figures or an assortment of clever gadgets, that can bring deep fulfillment to the human spirit.

The question hangs before us as a clear-cut choice: Will we make the changes called for, and do so in time, or will we instead continue to drift along a track fraught with peril?  A short sutta in the Udāna (§59) sheds light on our current predicament. The Buddha is sitting out in the open on a dark night while oil lamps are burning in front of him. Many moths are flying around the lamps and some fly straight into the flames, where “they meet with misery and destruction.” The Buddha sees this as a simile for how people, “attached to what they see and hear,” head straight for their own destruction.

The danger to the moths was not external but came from their instinctual attraction to the flame. Similarly, the biggest obstacles we face to making the necessary changes to our social and economic systems are rooted in human nature itself. Responding to the imminent danger to global food security should activate two distinctive faculties of human beings. One is the capacity to act rationally, with deference to facts and insight into cause and effect. The other is the capacity to act morally, to guide our choices by consideration of their consequences for others. But too often we are disposed to act from other motives besides rational self-interest or the prodding of moral conscience. And thus we fly straight into our own flames.

Since greed, hatred, and delusion, being dispositions inherited from our primeval past, are deeply ingrained in us, we would often rather remain comfortably settled in the status quo than see the danger lurking beneath our feet. Keen on buying and spending, we balk at the thought that happiness might lie in the opposite direction, in simplicity and contentment. We swallow as fact the misinformation churned out by the fossil fuel propagandists, whose campaigns of deception put blinkers over our eyes and ensure that politicians and policymakers do their bidding.

Time is running out, but if we act with determination to shift away from fossil fuels to clean sources of energy, we can still prevail. Lester Brown finds hope and inspiration in the speed with which, after the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, the U.S. economy changed almost overnight from one designed for peace to one that could sustain war on two major fronts. The point, he says, is that “if we could restructure the U.S. industrial economy in months, then we can restructure the world energy economy during this decade.”

As Buddhists, we might see the task of preserving the world’s food system as entailed by our commitment to the twofold good: to achieving our own good from a pragmatic concern for our own long-term welfare, and to promoting the good of others from a compassionate concern for those whom our actions may affect, whether they be our contemporaries or generations as yet unborn. We might also consider it integral to our efforts to eliminate greed, hatred, and delusion, the roots of suffering. To overcome greed, we must curb our fascination with endless commodities that devour vast quantities of carbon-based energy and leave the earth in shambles. Tackling hatred entails opening our hearts to the suffering of the hundreds of millions of people whose fate would be sealed by our own indifference, by our refusal to renounce our own privileged status in order to preserve their lives. And the task of uprooting delusion demands of us that we lift our heads out from the sand, inquire into the powerful forces that are subverting the world’s food security, and gain insight into the actions we must take to ensure that everyone on this planet might thrive.


Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi is a Theravada Buddhist monk originally from New York City. He is the former editor of the Buddhist Publication Society in Kandy, Sri Lanka, and has many important publications to his credit, the most recent being his full translation of the Anguttara Nikaya (Wisdom Publications, 2012). In 2008, he founded Buddhist Global Relief, a nonprofit sponsoring hunger relief and education in countries suffering from chronic poverty and malnutrition.

Images courtesy of Flickr/World Bank Photo Collection, GonchoA, and [CHRIS VUGTS].

Further Reading

A Moral Politics: Nourishing change in US food policy

The Attack at Home: A new bill threatens the food security of millions 

Preserving the Fecundity of the Earth: Climate change poses the single greatest threat to the world’s food supply. But we can stop it.

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Halflotus's picture

Yeah the food supply is in danger, and not because of climate change, but because of globalization.

buddhaddy's picture

While we should all strive to PERSONALLY do all we can to help other countries, and those in our own neighborhood, having our governments involved will do nothing to enhance anyone's life anywhere. government programs will take from many who do not believe as you do, and spend it poorly and inefficiently. the resentment it creates will just produce more bad Karma. i believe it is lazy to ask our governments to help. if we feel strongly, we should give up what we need to PERSONALLY to help, to organize, to go out and find others to help. And on a more fundamental Buddhist level, the struggle to find food, create shelter, and a better life is part of our Karma. i think many of us a buddhists have forgotten one of the most important precepts of the Buddha. that we must change ourselves to change the world. not change other people, not invoke government programs, but change OURSELVES. if we do good works personally, or bring others WILLINGLY into our cause, we have made a real difference. bringing about a government program is just Lazy, and we can have the false illusioni that we have helped, to make ourselves feel good.
the world we see around us is an illusion. our goal is to pierce the illusion, not to make it stronger.
Or are we all now just buddhists in name only, just another political group?

wilnerj's picture

And government programs help private non-profits serve the public as well.

buddhaddy's picture

Can you explain the details of how that is done?

wilnerj's picture

1) Subsidies such as in the form of block grants.
2) Government takes on the hard cases that nonprofits are ill equipt to handle an example of this, though extremely controversial, would be the case of hard to place foster care children.

zumacraig's picture

Yes, more lazy, deluded libertarian unfounded assertions. Keep it up!

wilnerj's picture

It is a very old rhetorical approach to preach doom and gloom. The old canard of gong to hell in a hand basket if we do not abide by one particular point of view to what is perceived to be a problem is rather a warn out propagandist approach pandering to public fear. The Club of Rome's predictions did not exactly pan out. And this one of worldwide disaster might also fizzle. The challenge for us is that we do not know for sure. We do not know the future. And, this serves as a basis for our inherited insecurity as mortal beings. Such doom and gloom preachment merely exploits our shared insecurity.

Is there global warming? Glacier core samples indicate that we have entered into an unprecedentedly rapid rise in the average surface temperature. Is the root cause our carbon footprint? Now, here's the rub. Those who assert this are guilty of a fundamental fallacy; that of post hoc ergo propter hoc. This global warming appears subsequent to the Industrial Revolution. But is industrialization and the continued use of fluorohydrocarbons the root cause of global warming? Are we underestimating nature's resiliency in compensating for humanity's growing footprint? The fact as they appear at present indicate that we do not know. The risk of acting now is to undergo unwarranted hardships. The risk of not acting might lead to this doomsday scenario or it might not. We do not know and we can never really know.

zumacraig's picture

Everyone agreeing is not gonna work. We have to change the collective mind away from individualism and towards collectivism. Poverty, environment etc. will no longer be issues when all are all thinking together. Rob, you are right on!

wilnerj's picture

And so it goes: attempting to transform our ways from the ground up by building a political praxis. This notion of changing the collective mindset reminds me of vanguardism which is a bane of the far left. It assumes there is an educated elite who have a superior view of things and will lead the masses onward to storm the gates of those who govern to establish a new society.

zumacraig's picture

Collective mind is a buddhist notion. And, it is your dismissal of anything I said rather than engagement which dwindles any hope of actually changing said mind. Vangardism couldn't be any further from the truh of what I'm suggesting about evolving the collective mind. If anything, it's the exact opposite. You have little understanding of Buddhism or the Left.

buddhaddy's picture

Can you "evolve" the collective mind in any other way than by each mind voluntarily changing to exactly match all the others? which mind should come up with the right paradigm for them all to "become"? Is there a perfect person out there that has it all correct? is that you? This is fun. it's becoming a "pod people" discussion.

wilnerj's picture

Interesting, I have never come across this notion of collective mind in Buddhism. I have not found it in the vajnavada (yogacara) tradition within Chan and Zen Buddhism. Where do you find this notion in the dharma?

Willfully changing what you deem as mind implies separation between the changer (i.e., change agent) and that which is to be changed. This by its own inner logic implies that the changer ( a self-appointed group or elite) is duty bound to change others, that is, the masses (what you deem as mind). How does this notion of changing the collective mind not smack of vanguardism?

zumacraig's picture

It's not vangardism because of the nature of the collective's collective. There is no individual mind. Only individual brains tuned into the created language symbol oriented collective mind. Awareness of this can only come collectively, not from an elite group or individual.

Our mind is a myth, but does have causal power. US law is made up and has power because we allow it to. So, we can change this mind from its current focus on consumerism, individualism, profit, a mind of truth seeking, non violence, ideological awareness....etc.

The Buddhist aspect of this is quite clear when you take no-self and dependent origination at full strength. The cause of much of the world's suffering is humanity's belief in the man-made capitalist system as natural. As a faithful buddhist, I'm working to end this delusion and end the capitalist system that causes such suffering.

wilnerj's picture

" There is no individual mind.. . Awareness of this can only come collectively, not from an elite group or individual. . . ..I'm working to end this delusion and end the capitalist system that causes such suffering."

This sounds a bit contradictory to me.

So then who are you?

Rob_'s picture

And it's an old as dirt rhetorical approach to put disparaging labels on what is said, and never try to rebut the content of what is being said. How about discussing the shortcomings of what is said, provide some information refuting or putting into question what is being said? Nah, that would take effort and intelligence.

This repeated notion of "we do not know and we can never really know" is just sophistry b.s. Can we know precisely? That I would agree is problematic. But living in some non-thinking, non-knowing world is giving up your birth right as a human being. We can talk about some issues intelligently without exact precision. If you wish to ignore a near consensus from the scientific community that studies climate change, by all means live in your dark little hole. Nihilism doesn't serve much, except the selfish joy of tearing everything down.

buddhaddy's picture

I agree with most of that last, but can you give me the actual details of the "near consensus"?

Rob_'s picture

I already posted a link where you asked elsewhere. But you should already know about this because you claimed to have studied the science. You haven't studied the science. On top of all your repeated fallacies, now you've added lying.

wilnerj's picture

The shortcoming of what is being said is this doom and gloom prophecy which exploits our existential angst towards our unknown future. This alone puts the entire case as presented by Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi into question. And yes, there is an appropriate label for this type of polemical writing. It is termed soft demagogy.

Consensus? There was consensus among the soviet intelligentsia including its scientists that Lysenkoism theory was valid while genetics was not.

Rob_'s picture

You can repeat doom and gloom all you want. It's still just a disparaging label without discussing the content of what is said. So no, this alone does not put the entire case as presented into question. You question the cases being made, you don't put labels on it and say "A hah, you're wrong!" Where did you learn to think?

Ad hom him all you want by calling it polemical. I can only explain this to you in so many ways. Calling it polemical does not make it so, you present information on how it's polemical.

Ah, so you have one example of a failure of consensus, that must mean we should pay no attention to climate scientists! Again, wrong. Try again, one example is not a convincing argument. We also have cold spells, and then all the climate change deniers proclaim sarcastically, "and they say there's global warming!".

Stick with your silly, "we don't know and we can never really know" as your standard argument against everything.

wilnerj's picture

Why are you ignoring the meteorologists?

buddhaddy's picture

Joe Bastardi is a meteorologist, and quite an accomplished one. he has successfully predicted our recent storm seasons. He doesn't buy into this at all. And amazingly in this current "scientific" climate, he gives details, history, etc. Look him up and refute him.

Rob_'s picture

Here's some information debunking Joe Bastardi's ridiculous claims. Your 1 "expert" against 97% of the climate scientists.

But I doubt any information on that page will penetrate that steel skull of yours. Like I mentioned before, I think you spend too much time getting "information" from Fox News.

buddhaddy's picture

steel skull? I guess that insigtful buddhist remark ends this discussion.

Rob_'s picture

No problem. Focus on the fact I called you obstinate, so you don't have to address any of the information I've presented. Because you have no intelligent answer to it. See, you do have a steel skull. You won't give up your simple-minded beliefs in the face of anything that shoots them down. Now that's stubborn ... and ignorant.

Rob_'s picture

I guess you're just ignoring my comments on your incessant fallacious statements. We're moving on to the next try. You know, you can look up this information yourself. I think you must have a filter that shuts out all dissent to your beliefs.

So as you can see, meteorologists in general are not as educated in climate science, if at all. Climate scientists not only study climate science, they most likely have higher degrees. And than there's the fact that some weathermen are simply journalists. It's not the domain of a meteorologist to study long term climate change (and most likely they don't have the qualifications anyway). They do short term predictions.

If you want to believe it's all a scam, by all means. Believing that scientists from many countries, and many different institutions are all in collusion to keep the money rolling in is conspiracy thinking. But hey, don't let real knowledge and a thorough discussion of the situation get in the way of your "gut" feeling.

buddhaddy's picture

It's conspiracy thinking to think that people are promoting an idea to keep their place in the group, and/or to bring themselves more money? Do I think they are all doing that? no i do not. However, when I look at the science, and then look at the science from the other side, I don't see anything that can make a definitive statement. There are too many variables. I have to fall back on quantum physics and the uncertainty principle. It may be mostly analyzable related to elementary particles, but it expresses itself in the macro world as well. If we could truly state the exact nature of the weather, in such a fine detail as to make such a definitive statement, then we could predict the weather with much better accuracy. Frankly the meteorologist i see doing that with the best rusults says this global warming, or climate change, or whatever it will evolve into next, is bad science.

Rob_'s picture

You haven't looked at the science. You weren't even aware of the 97% climate scientists figure. And this notion of the uncertainty principle is a distraction and outright b.s. to this discussion. Once again, and again, you're promoting nirvana fallacies. Humans can't be perfect in their prediction of the weather. Even though in a previous post you highlighted the excellent credentials of a meteorologist who successfully predicted your storm seasons. One guy vs. 97% of climate scientists. So you contradict yourself once again. Changing opinions when it suits your fancy to make points depending on context.

Believe whatever you want. I can send you information, and you always have an escape hatch with some b.s. reasoning. I can point out all of your b.s. reasonings. I can point out your contradictions in your own thinking. You won't stop, you won't concede, you won't even read and understand what I'm saying. You have your views and you'll shore them up with whatever unsound reasoning you can find.

buddhaddy's picture

So you're climate scientists say that the uncertainty principle is bunk? Then I can see where they will always disagree with mainstream science. Argument over, you win. (in the same way that a fundamentalist christian will always win their argument when the reference source is restricted to their interpretation of their bible).

Rob_'s picture

You're just an outright clown. The uncertainty principle applies to quantum mechanics. It's not some all inclusive term used to debunk any science that YOU wish to ignore and not understand. Climate scientists are mainstream science. I'm sorry, you're the fundamentalist. You can't seem to read and understand anything I say. You believe things on faith consistently without any rational. Although you do attempt your own brand of pseudo-rational. You can't even realize your usage of the "uncertainty principle" is irrelevant to this whole discussion. You understand it in a very simplistic sense, "everything is uncertain", thus we can't really believe this science. Than that would go for all that science studies. Just sheer simple mindedness.

You just don't know when to quit. You have no understanding that you have no understanding of these issues.

buddhaddy's picture

thank you for that enlightening attack on me. I am not wise enough to find an answer buried in your personal attacks on me, and your unfounded statement that "climate scientists are mainstream" because within their own recently created field, they are almost all in agreement. So I will ponder all of these deep statements, and try to attain more wisdom.

Rob_'s picture

You implied that climate scientists are not mainstream scientists. That was a conclusive statement. What did you offer to substantiate such a claim? Nothing. So your statements are beyond question in your own eyes. So I'm supposed to prove the opposite of what you have not shown to be true? You're using an "ad ignorantiam" fallacy. Look it up.

And if you really wish to believe climate scientists are not scientists, I just can't help you. Formulate reality however you see fit to conform to your own personal beliefs. You continue to grasp for unsound thinking to support your nonsense.

Continue whining about personal attacks. Mine at least are based on something. Your continued ignorance on how to formulate arguments (which I've demonstrated ad nauseam). Your avoidance of addressing these, and your avoidance of cogently addressing information I send you.

Quite frankly, this is all you have to talk about. I slip up and call you a clown, but at least I've shown how you are clownish. So you get all caught up in the impoliteness of it all. And also keep ignoring the personal attacks you've leveled at others. Get all self-righteous about it. It doesn't make what you're posting here any more true or correct. I've shown how incorrect you are about many things you've said.

So as you've often said to others, how about you get out of the blogs, get out of your Mom's basement. Educate yourself.

buddhaddy's picture

First you said i "implied", then you said it was a conclusive statement. which is it? And i didn't say they were not scientists. I merely said that your statement that they conclusively were had no foundation of absolute trugh. My implications are just that they are not the final authority just because they say, as a group, that they can prove conclusively that the climate changes we see are a unique event, or that they are definitely caused by humans, or that anything we do to change it may not result in more harm than good. Other well respected scientists, who are not part of a "group-think" have explanations just as valid, and based upon actual history, not theory. I don't need to call names, or denigrate those who disagree with me. I just study a lot of sources, and come to my own conclusions. As to your last line. I provide jobs and income for my employees, treat them very well, and don't ask others to provide for me. I never had a parent's basement to live in. I had to provide for them often. You haven't shown anything but that you believe whatever a scientist says because it fits your world view, And I'm not in the blogs to get my information, only to argue with the likes of you. but your "examples" clearly show that you are there to find your links that you cite as absolute proof. How does "how to formulate an argument" have anything to do with finding the truth? we have a host of politicians and lawyers who can "formulate arguments" constantly, based upon no truth at all. If it's any consolation at all, while much of the rest of the world is finally waking up, My corner of it, (the United States of America), is moving in the directions you seem to desire it to. Good luck with that.

Rob_'s picture

Yes, you did imply it, and it's a conclusive statement. They aren't contradictory. You're simply desperate for an argument.

No one said they are the final authority. More strawman. And saying they aren't the final authority is not an argument. It's simply whining because you can't formulate anything cogent to support your views. Your implication that they aren't mainstream scientists is simply bunk.

Why did you even bother to argue from some "scientific" vantage point. i.e. your bringing in the meteorologist. Now that I've shot him down via the links I've posted. Shown you criticisms of him and his incorrect scientific statements. Now it's time to start a new argument and say climate scientists aren't mainstream scientists. And again, you base this on what? Your own whims?

So you can quaintly apply a pejorative term like "group think" on this 97% consensus. Do you have anything to support this notion of group think? Of course you don't. It's mere name calling. Try another tactic.

And why are those who disagree basing their disagreement on history, while those in consensus base theirs on theory? Oh, because this is your imagination going wild again. You can't just say crap out of the blue based on nothing. You keep doing it. Again, you're simply desperate. And if you even have followed this issue at all you would know that there are periodic updates from climate scientists. Usually updates made on a more thorough analysis of data. Data, not theory.

You don't have to call people names? You have. You're lying again. And you started way before I dropped a few names on you. But really I'm at my wits end. How do I kindly say that you are simply a dumb ass on this issue.

You have NOT studied a lot of sources. Where are all these sources? You haven't shown me any. All you've mentioned is the meteorologist, who I easily showed as incompetent on this matter.

As to my last line? The one about living in Mom's basement? I was simply mocking you. You're the one who's thrown that line at several people. Remember? That name calling that you claim not to have done.

And dear listeners we have a winner!! One of your best lines. "How does "how to formulate an argument" have anything to do with finding the truth?" You say stupid crap like that, and I can't call you a dumb ass? You're amazingly obtuse. I have to explain to you that to have an open and honest discussion with someone, the ability to explain your view is vital? I mean that's what formulating arguments is about, not about winning, about explaining your viewpoint. You are simply a fool.

But in your world you want to happily express your viewpoint without any support for where the damn thing came from. You don't want to bother to clarify and explain. Sorry to bust your bubble brother, but there's no real communication in that.

Keep practicing your freedom. Your freedom to say whatever you want without being able to back it up.

wilnerj's picture

Speaking of filters and also of reading into what another person is stating . . .Hmmm. Is the pot calling the kettle black?

Rob_'s picture

I'll be more direct. So far you've stated a bunch of b.s. You're free to refute anything I've said. You haven't even tried. Just your quaint, suggestive little questions. So it's pointless having a discussion with someone unable to participate.

wilnerj's picture

And I hold up a mirror to your words.

Rob_'s picture

And another clever witticism, but no comments addressing anything I've said. Your evasiveness is cute, but adds nothing to the discussion. Thanks for the reaffirmation of your inability to participate.

zumacraig's picture

Reactionary conversation stoppers. This site is full of them and they are quite predictible.

Look at any response by wilnerj or buddhaddy and you'll see classic reactionary comments that can be thoroughly refuted with facts. Yet they are not interested in learning or discussing. I'm not really sure what they are interested in and I don't think they are either. They are either willfully ignorant, lazy, stupid or mentally ill. I say that with all seriousness and no sarcasim or ad hom.

buddhaddy's picture

thanks for confirming rob's suspicions. I just read a paragraph that says it all, by saying nothing. you know, if the internet doesn't provide what you want, there is a library somewhere outside your parent's basement.

wilnerj's picture

Such is the case you build for an ad hominem.

When feeling threatened lash out in the form of a personal attack. This is a quick way of discrediting your own case.

And yet silently I bow with hands together in respect even as epithets are hurled about.

buddhaddy's picture

That last was a good buddhist statement. Love your enemies, as they are your best teachers.

wilnerj's picture

Well, you don't have to love your enemies but there might be a bodhisattva or two among them. :)

buddhaddy's picture

very true.

mahakala's picture

Once upon a time there was a royal fig tree called Steadfast, belonging to king Koravya, whose five outstretched branches provided a cool and pleasing shade. Its girth extended a hundred miles, and its roots spread out for forty miles. And the fruits of that tree were indeed great: As large as harvest baskets — such were its succulent fruits — and as clear as the honey of bees.

One portion was enjoyed by the king, along with his household of women; one portion was enjoyed by the army; one portion was enjoyed by the people of the town and village; one portion was enjoyed by brahmans and ascetics; and one portion was enjoyed by the beasts and birds. Nobody guarded the fruits of that royal tree, and neither did anyone harm one another for the sake of its fruits.

But then a certain man came along who fed upon as much of Steadfast's fruits as he wanted, broke off a branch, and wandered on his way. And the deva who dwelled in Steadfast thought to herself: "It is astonishing, it is truly amazing, that such an evil man would dare to feed upon as much of Steadfast's fruits as he wants, break off a branch, and then wander on his way! Now, what if Steadfast were in the future to bear no more fruit?" And so the royal fig tree Steadfast bore no more fruit.

So then king Koravya went up to where Sakka, chief among the gods, was dwelling, and having approached said this: "Surely you must know, sire, that Steadfast, the royal fig tree, no longer bears fruit?" And then Sakka created a magical creation of such a form that a mighty wind and rain came down and toppled the royal fig tree Steadfast, uprooting it entirely. And then the deva who dwelled in Steadfast grieved, lamented, and stood weeping on one side with a face full of tears.

And then Sakka, chief among the gods, went up to where the deva was standing, and having approached said this: "Why is it, deva, that you grieve and lament and stand on one side with a face full of tears?" "It is because, sire, a mighty wind and rain has come and toppled my abode, uprooting it entirely."

"And were you, deva, upholding the dhamma of trees when this happened?" "But how is it, sire, that a tree upholds the dhamma of trees?"

"Like this, deva: Root-cutters take the root of the tree; bark-strippers take the bark; leaf-pickers take the leaves; flower-pickers take the flowers; fruit-pickers take the fruits — and none of this is reason enough for a deva to think only of herself or become morose. Thus it is, deva, that a tree upholds the dhamma of trees."

"Then indeed, sire, I was not upholding the dhamma of trees when the mighty wind and rain came and toppled my abode, uprooting it entirely." "If it were the case, deva, that you were to uphold the dhamma of trees, it may be that your abode might be as it was before." "I will indeed, sire, uphold the dhamma of trees! May my abode be as it was before!"

And then Sakka, chief among the gods, created a magical creation of such a form that a mighty wind and rain came down and raised up the royal fig tree Steadfast, and its roots were entirely healed.

- Dhammika Sutta

wilnerj's picture


This is a lovely quote from the suttas. But in reality the birds and the beasts do not possess the inner discipline to eat only their portion of that tree. They are ruled by desire. Before that evil man came to tear off a branch, these creatures would have consumed most of its fruit leaving none for the rest of us. This is why in certain parts of the world homeowners and even those in monastic quarters will tend gardens fenced in with tall barriers keeping both deer and rabbits away.

boiester's picture

Ah if only the choice was clear. We have so many impediments to justice. It is easy to despair. I do what I can, within my own life and community,

Slouching Toward Bethlehem
by Joni Mitchell

Turning and turning
Within the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer
Things fall apart
The center cannot hold
And a blood dimmed tide
Is loosed upon the world

Nothing is sacred
The ceremony sinks
Innocence is drowned
In anarchy
The best lack conviction
Given some time to think
And the worst are full of passion
Without mercy

Surely some revelation is at hand
Surely it's the second coming
And the wrath has finally taken form
For what is this rough beast
Its hour come at last
Slouching toward Bethlehem to be born
Slouching toward Bethlehem to be born

Hoping and hoping
As if by my weak faith
The spirit of this world
Would heal and rise
Vast are the shadows
That straddle and strafe
And struggle in the darkness
Troubling my eyes

Shaped like a lion
It has the head of a man
With a gaze as blank
And pitiless as the sun
And it's moving its slow thighs
Across the desert sands
Through dark indignant
Reeling falcons

Surely some revelation is at hand
Surely it's the second coming
And wrath has finally taken form
For what is this rough beast
Its hour come at last
Slouching toward Bethlehem to be born
Slouching toward Bethlehem to be born

Raging and raging
It rises from the deep
Opening its eyes
After twenty centuries
Vexed to a nigcfmare
Out of a stony sleep
By a rocking cradle
By the Sea of Galilee

Surely some revelation is at hand
Surely it's the second coming
And wrath has finally taken form
For what is this rough beast
Its hour come at last
Slouching toward Bethlehem to be born
Slouching toward Bethlehem to be born

© 1988, 1991; Crazy Crow Music

wilnerj's picture

Do you know who wrote this?

dpendlet5326's picture

Most people in the world who can afford meat will continue to consume it as long as they can afford it (regardless of the global situation), and this is also true for a large fraction of buddhists. All cultures and sub-cultures reward conformity. But hard times are coming. It IS time to start a garden.

buddhaddy's picture

It is true. As a buddhist, I struggle with the desire to eat meat or fish, every day, usually failing. But it is not conformity. It is my own desire for the flavor and texture of meat. When enough of us PERSONALLY give up the eating of meat, the evil, (to some), entity of capitalism will respond, and the killing of animals will diminish to that degree.

vasmabill's picture

The real problem - is vision - to see (ie stop, turn right around), opening of eyes and heart long closed.