Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Inconvenient Truths

I just finished watching the documentary "An Inconvenient Truth" by the-politician-formerly-known-as-the-next-president-of-the-United-States, Al Gore. I would recommend that everyone watch this movie (you can order a DVD at to get a sense of the danger global warming poses to the entire world and the need to get such issues higher up on the global agenda. However, the film does neglect to emphasise some inconvenient truths that most in the developed world would rather not acknowledge.

The first is that since the industrialised world is primarily responsible for the environmental mess we are all currently in, they should correspondingly shoulder the financial burden of sorting it out. It is all well and good to harp about the pollution from China (and there is some justification for insisting that the Chinese clean up their act). However from a historical perspective, the Chinese emissions pale in comparison to those of the West. It seems unconscionable to argue that the developing world revises its economic ambitions while the industrialised nations continue to enjoy the benefits of their environmental malfeasance.

The second inconvenient truth is the responsibility the rich countries bear for the deaths and impoverishment of millions of Africans (and others) through the relocation of precipitation. The film mentions this only in passing. Phenomena such as global warming, and its lesser known cousin global dimming, directly caused the devastating famines of the 80s in the Horn of Africa. Africans have contributed little to such phenomena but continue to bear a disproportionate burden of their effects in lives lost and social disruptions. The industrialised countries need to own up to this and pay reparations to the affected countries. What they currently give as "humanitarian aid" is a pittance in comparison to the destruction they have wrought.

Speaking of inconvenient truths, my attention was drawn last week to the claim by film maker James Cameron that he had found the "family tomb" of Jesus Christ. The Discovery Channel which aired the documentary, states on its website:
"New scientific evidence, including DNA analysis conducted at one of the world's foremost molecular genetics laboratories, as well as studies by leading scholars, suggests a 2,000-year-old Jerusalem tomb could have once held the remains of Jesus of Nazareth and his family. The findings also suggest that Jesus and Mary Magdalene might have produced a son named Judah."
Not to be outdone, Kenyan clerics (and their global brethren), most of whom had neither bothered to watch the documentary nor to familiarise themselves with the evidence it cites, quickly declared it a fiction "full of imagination". According to Newsweek, in the US the president of the National Clergy Council labelled Cameron and his project part of the “Anti-Christian Hollywood establishment” and urged his 90,000 constituents to boycott not only the film and the book, but also to stop watching the Discovery Channel

Now, without delving into the many issues raised by this film, it seems obvious to me that anyone wishing to come to an accurate understanding of the historical Jesus and of his teachings should at least consider all the evidence before coming to a conclusion. The Gospels do render an account of his life, but surely science can help us either confirm or refute what they state. Unless, of course, if we are afraid of the conclusions such enquiries might lead us to. In that case, what are Christians to make of this exhortation by the apostle Peter: "Do not be afraid of them....Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an accounting of (other versions read: a reason for) the hope that is in you" (1 Peter 3:14-15)?


jm said...

Gathara: Just as I am not scared of asteroids hitting the earth, global warming should not really scare us that much ...
UNCLE SAM, is guaranteed to act once they realize teh seriousness of the matter - that's why they are up there patrolling for near-earth asteroids ... coz a global catastrophe will not spare them either, and their urge for self-preservation is second to none ...

As for the bones of Jesus, I was actually watching the director being interviewed on Discovery Channel jana, it was HEATED. Guyz can't swallow the implications of that film, if there's even an iota of truth ...

Personally, I will see the film and hopefully decide 4 myself whether they make a convincing argument ... but the one thing I know is that challenges about Jesus, etc have always been put forward only to be dimmed by peoples' faith ... it's a mystery to me how people even the smartest individuals refuse to be rational when it comes to matters of religion - faith is a powerful force i guess.

Gathara said...

Watch the documentary, my guy. While asteroids may threaten us some time in the future, global warming is here already. People have already died from its effects, economies ruined. And it is not an American issue (though they surely created much of the mess and should bear the much of the cost of cleaning up). The effects are global and it is about time we got to work on saving our terrestrial abode.

coldtusker said...

Gathara - Reparations? For what?

Yes, the West has a MORAL obligation but that's where it ends...

Look at India & China that have become self-sufficient in food coz of technology & good management...

Famine in Africa is not the lack of food, water, etc but the ineptness of the "leaders" & populace.

Kenya - There is plenty of food in Central. Except for a severe drought, there is plenty of water in Nyanza.

The method/s for growing food crops is wasteful as are the increasingly smaller farms.

I do not advocate for mega-farms but there is a need to improve farming methods.

A major factor in declining yields is the population growth rate which has led to sub-dividing the land into smaller pieces.

Africa needs a change in mindset. We need to fight the subsidies that the West (esp USA, Germany, France & Japan) provides their farmers.

The "rise" in prices will encourage African farmers produce more to sell at a decent price.

Hopefully, local entrepreneurs will create the infrastructure to distribute the grains/vegetables to the urban centers thus making famine a thing of the past.

Tyrone Ferrara said...

You stated that "it seems obvious to me that anyone wishing to come to an accurate understanding of the historical Jesus and of his teachings should at least consider all the evidence before coming to a conclusion."

All of Cameron's evidence has been considered, it's inconclusive. If you need more evidence read what Paul wrote in 1 Corintians 15.

Aza said...

But provident, if you think that Cameron's evidence is inconclusive, what about the bible?

Gathara said...

The West has a moral obligation to do what? I am not looking for a handout and if you look at my previous blog posts, you will see that I locate the blame for our poverty squarely on the shoulders of our leadership. However, it is undeniable that the West has developed at our expense in environmental terms and it is manifestly unfair that we should have to cope with the problems they have created. I would suggest that a fair compensation package would include full debt cancellation and reform of the global trading system.

Provident 360,
Unfortunately, the witnesses Paul refers to are no longer with us. We only have his word, and that of other Christians of the time who claimed to have seen the risen Christ, to go by. Surely, we need to subject these accounts to a thorough cross-examination before we declare them to be the immutable truth. Just because they appear in the Bible (a book compiled centuries after Jesus' death, by people who had no first hand experience of the events and who rejected many other Gospels written by Jesus' contemporaries) is no guarantee of their veracity.

Anonymous said...

gathara, what would be the basis for reparations? what if kyoto is not enough and turns out to be ineffective and costly, would the proponents pay reparations? i can fully follow ur grievance...i just find the rationale for compensation rather circular and easily defeated. if our history is an anology to the west, should kikuyiys pay other tribes for reparations?

Gathara said...

If you concede the grievance, then you must surely ask what one is to do about it. Perhaps reparations is not the way to go. But, we do have a continuing effect here that undermines the very ability of the victims to make a full recovery. How do else do we resolve this?

Some people have proposed an environmental tax on emissions. That would help especially if the takings from such a regime would be used to help innocent victims in developing countries cope with the effects of global warming.

As for Kyoto, this was negotiated by countries who saw a need to takle the global warming issue. It is not something that was imposed on developed countries by the Third World.

Unknown said...

You are right in suggesting that the west should pay for the mess that they have created but I fear that the exact opposite is taking place. Right now the British Supermarkets Tesco etc are intending to label Fresh produce from Kenya with Carbon Mile labels because ati they add to CO2 emmisions because they are air lifted. Granted that this is true but when you look at the scale involved it is not even statistically significant.
It is my belief that we cannot rely on the west to be responsible nor for them to even heed our concerns they will only be interested in profits for their corporations and jobs for their countrymen. As Mwangi said Self preservation is their only motivation and they will look for any excuse to deny their obligations.
Haven't watched the documentary but I am open minded enough to watch it if I can. People shouldn't get all emotional about the movies I mean if you need proof for your faith then you dont have any faith at all.
Thanx for link to DVD.

Unyc said...

hey Gathara, nimemiss ile kung-fu of words

This issue of global warming should worry people. We van alerady feel the effects of it. In Norway for example, they did not experience the freezing rivers where they even skate. Right here in Kenya, the unpredicable weather changes are being attributed to global warming. This is the warmest year yet and might get worse.
Africans are suffering from the negligence of the west who emit CO2 into the atmosphere. They can afford to take care of it on their part but what about africans? Did u hear of the latest that global wamring will lead to increase of sexual activities? Yeah, apparently the heat will cause pple 2 wear no underwear n dress lightly hence the goods will be available 2 drool on n that will lead 2 sexual escapades.

As for Cameron, I never want 2 dwell into those issues. Pple r scared 2 think that smethin of the sort could happen. In class my pal n I were discussing about faith with sme really saved pple and my friend asked, "Since Jesus ws human n he passed adolescence, did he hv wet dreams." then she added, "or ever get horny?" Cant explain the look on their faces. It ws like taboo to even think that but smetmes we got 2 reason. afterall he was human.

Thats a whole post aki ya nani.

Rista said...

Met someone over the weekend who was going to sell their SUV 'cause they'd just watched "the al gore movie"... Me, I say global warming-shmoo boring. We've already lost our right to develop (by selling our forests as carbon sinks)... we should just lay down and die! Anywhoo, it'll be a while before we realize global warming in its full glory. Until then... wacha we jienjoi.

Gathara said...

Isn't that a rather cavalier approach to what is now becoming the single greatest threat to mankind's (and indeed all life's) continued existence on this earth?

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