Nature and Spirituality
Carl Pope is Executive Director of the Sierra Club. Since Pope’s appointment in 1992, Sierra Club has added 150,000 new members, bringing the total membership to 700,000. Pope has a distinguished record of environmental activism and leadership.
Prior to his work with the Sierra Club, Pope served on the Boards of the California League of Conservation Voters, Public Voice, National Clean Air Coalition, California Common Cause and Public Interest Economics, Inc. He is the co-author of Strategic Ignorance: Why the Bush Administration Is Recklessly Destroying a Century of Environmental Progress, and other books including Hazardous Waste in America and Sahib, an American Misadventure in India. Pope was educated at Harvard University and spent two years in the Peace Corps in India on graduation.
Question: How does nature fit into a good life?
Carl Pope: I wouldn’t advise you to try living without it. You wouldn’t last very long. The fact is the services that make the planet habitable are provided for us by several million species all making their own living in their own way. The difference . . . There’s actually . . . Somebody this weekend was saying . . . I can’t remember who it was now. But the Earth and Venus in many ways are very similar. They’re about the same size. They each have about the same amount of carbon in their planetary system. Big difference is on earth most of the carbon is sequestered underground, and the temperature is about 59 degrees Fahrenheit. In Venus all of the carbon is out in the atmosphere, and the temperature is about 850 degrees Fahrenheit. Primates . . . People, even chimpanzees cannot sequester a single ounce of carbon dioxide in their lives. The only thing that can is little animals like the ones in the ocean; grasses; plants. We are absolutely dependent . . . Every time we burn fossil fuel, the only reason most of it gets sequestered is that living creatures provide these services for us. So we are a part – and we’re by and large and not a contributory part – of this incredible planetary balance wheel that works together to make Earth not Venus. So nature is incredibly important. It also happens to be incredibly beautiful, but I think we get confused. It’s not important because it’s beautiful. It’s beautiful because it’s important. The reason we like it is because in an evolutionary sense it’s what keeps us alive. We are hard wired to respect and love our parents because they keep us alive. And we are hard wired to respect and love nature because nature keeps us alive.
Recorded on: September 27, 2007.
You would't last long without nature, says Pope.
Swiss researchers identify new dangers of modern cocaine.
- Cocaine cut with anti-worming adulterant levamisole may cause brain damage.
- Levamisole can thin out the prefrontal cortex and affect cognitive skills.
- Government health programs should encourage testing of cocaine for purity.
Civil discourse has fallen to an all time low.
The question that the American populace needs to ask itself now is: how do we fix it?
Discursive fundamentals need to be taught to preserve free expression
In their findings the authors state:
upholding First Amendment ideals.
Talking politics at Thanksgiving dinner
- Progressive Activists: younger, highly engaged, secular, cosmopolitan, angry.
- Traditional Liberals: older, retired, open to compromise, rational, cautious.
- Passive Liberals: unhappy, insecure, distrustful, disillusioned.
- Politically Disengaged: young, low income, distrustful, detached, patriotic, conspiratorial
- Moderates: engaged, civic-minded, middle-of-the-road, pessimistic, Protestant.
- Traditional Conservatives: religious, middle class, patriotic, moralistic.
- Devoted Conservatives: white, retired, highly engaged, uncompromising,
It's interesting to note the authors found that:
"Tribe membership shows strong reliability in predicting views across different political topics."
Here are some statistics on differing viewpoints according to political party:
- 51% of staunch liberals say it's "morally acceptable" to punch Nazis.
- 53% of Republicans favor stripping U.S. citizenship from people who burn the American flag.
- 65% of Republicans say NFL players should be fired if they refuse to stand for the anthem.
- 58% of Democrats say employers should punish employees for offensive Facebook posts.
- 47% of Republicans favor bans on building new mosques.
Here are some guidelines for civic discourse that might come in handy:
- Practice inclusion and listen to who you're speaking to.
Civic discourse in the divisive age
dangerously tribal, fueled by a culture of outrage and taking offense. For the combatants,
the other side can no longer be tolerated, and no price is too high to defeat them.
These tensions are poisoning personal relationships, consuming our politics and
putting our democracy in peril.
Once a country has become tribalized, debates about contested issues from
immigration and trade to economic management, climate change and national security,
become shaped by larger tribal identities. Policy debate gives way to tribal conflicts.
Polarization and tribalism are self-reinforcing and will likely continue to accelerate.
The work of rebuilding our fragmented society needs to start now. It extends from
re-connecting people across the lines of division in local communities all the way to
building a renewed sense of national identity: a bigger story of us."
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