Australia's aid budget has fallen again: e.g. see this statement from CARE
The response to BODHI Times 49 has so far been very poor. Can someone please respond with suggestions as to how we can do better? Are donations to BODHI falling because Australians are feeling poorer? Or, are we becoming more selfish? Or both?
Meantime, in India, conditions in part due to climate change, in part poverty and in part high fertility are just getting worse, including in Arunachal Pradesh.
The religion and ethics report later today will discuss this. I will update this blog after that. (I haven't.)
I'm quoted in the New Daily in an article called "Hot March breaks temperature records"
University of Canberra’s Professor Colin Butler, a researcher on the social impact of climate change, said he was dismayed by the stream of broken temperature records, as he had tried and failed to warn of the problem for 25 years.
“It’s accelerating faster than most conservative scientists expected,” Prof Butler told The New Daily.
“I’ve almost given up. What can you do?”
The expert predicted global “social collapse” through war, sea level rise and population displacement within 50 years if the problem persisted. He pointed to the Syrian civil war and mass migration in western Africa as examples of this potentially climate-caused conflict.
“If we keep going the way we’re going, I don’t know if we’re going to have civilisation in 50 years,” Prof Butler said.
“I don’t think there’s any point keeping my thoughts to myself or burying them in journal articles.”
I would modify this mainly to say: the Syrian civil war and mass migration in western Africa are examples of this climate-aggravated effects. This is not an example of so called environmental determinism.
In 2014 I became the first Australian contributor to the IPCC to be arrested over the issue of climate change; even that has had little effect. Mainstream media largely ignored it.
The late Frank Fenner, also shared these concerns. His work was so well-known that Tony Abbott knew his name. When Frank did speak like this he was sometimes dismissed as being senile.
Prof Andy Pitman, director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science. at UNSW is quoted in the same article as saying "world governments must react as if the planet was being invaded to prevent further harm.",
Dr Itamar Bashan, co-founder of Bhavana House, a Dhamma sanctuary in Tel Aviv, Israel, has sent a link to a very thoughtful article called "Dependently Ceasing in the Middle East: A Personal Account" which he presented to the Buddhist World Peace Conference, at the Sagain International Buddhist Academy, in Myanmar, January 2016.
It resonates with my "fortress world" article in BODHI Times 49.
I have asked Itamar if there was any reflection on rising Buddhist extremism in Myanmar at the conference.
Itamar writes, in part
"For many years I could not understand how the citizens of Nazi Germany kept silence when Hitler came to power, declared war and conducted the Final Solution, the demonic plan for the mass murder of all Jews in the world, based on a racist ideology. I could not understand how ordinary people - teachers, merchants, artists, journalists, politicians, intellectuals, people of law and justice - most certainly honest, decent, educated people - could keep silent. How could they remain silent in view of the human monster that developed right before their eyes. That silence was incomprehensible to me, a crime that was second only to the atrocities of the Nazi regime.
As a karmic irony, the answer is given to me now on a daily basis. And that answer is painful. As an Israeli, I am a citizen of a country that lives by the sword. A country that was founded to address the needs and to protect the rights of Jewish war refugees to have a new and just life, but gradually became violent and oppressive towards a population that lived in this country for many generations, the Palestinians. Gradually, after its greatest military victory in the Six Day War in 1967, Israel has become an arrogant, depriving, occupying state, violating the international law and trampling basic human rights. Last year, following the strengthening of the extreme right wing forces in the Knesset (Israeli parliament) and in the government, this process gained momentum, and I see how ordinary people - teachers, merchants, artists, journalists, politicians, intellectuals, people of law and justice - most certainly honest, decent, educated people - keep silent. I see first hand the mechanisms of incitement, I see the threats and violence that are directed towards those protesting against the repressive actions, and I understand directly how this was possible in Nazi Germany, how it is possible today in Israel, how it is possible anywhere. We, human beings, have the potential to be either pure or evil. It is our responsibility to choose, we are the owners of our actions and we inherit the results."
My only long term solution to the problems humans face is to slow their growth and greed. But there are too many “demographic arms races” in progress. Europe slowed its demographic momentum a few decades after World War II but most Europeans forgot about too much of the rest of the world. Now, chaos outside Europe, not only in the Middle East, but also the Sahel and northern Africa threatens European security.
Neoliberalism (seeing humans as primarily rational actors in markets, so that unrestrained market forces will generate maximal prosperity for most) is part of the problem, but even the author of this piece, George Monbiot, is blind to the harm that unrestrained population growth does to development. He appears to not understand the "demographic dividend", the absence of which underpins many failed states. (See also Development, inequality and climate change [PDF] via this link for a recent paper discussing the demographic dividend).
Perhaps there is no solution. We do live in samsara. But, if we use that as reason for defeatism and indifference, then surely we create the karma to ourselves be treated with indifference or hostility.