Does morality need a bigger role in climate talks?

August 23, 2008

Accra conference hallMorality needs a bigger role as a spur to a talks on a new U.N. treaty to slow global warming, according to a group of Christians I spoke to today in Accra, Ghana.

 They were lobbying delegates at 160-nation talks to do more to combat climate change. For the story, click here

Around a table with me in a crowded conference hall in Ghana, they argued that economic and political arguments for action are simply not enough to solve an issue that is already affecting people’s livelihoods, especially in Africa, the poorest continent.

So should ethics and morality have a bigger role in working out international treaties? Or are there risks, for instance of opening the door to differing religious views of how far humans should be stewards of creation?


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I would suggest that the question goes much deeper than simply “morality”.

It has to do much more with the *doctrines* that are taught about what happens after death.

People who are concerned almost exclusively about their own *personal* salvation and getting themselves into a metaphysical ‘heaven’ after death cannot be expected to be overly concerned about what happens either to other people ior to this particular planet. After all, they will soon be gone. And the destiny of the “good” people is heaven *anyway*; which, of course, is MUCH better than anything that the earth has to offer (at least according to the doctrine). So there is no particular allegiance to preserving this planet.

On the other hand, if people are taught that, instead of a metaphysical heaven or hell (people expecting to go to hell wouldn’t be expected to care in *any* case), they will return to live on the *earth*, they may very well be more concerned about what kind of an earth they are going to return to 50 or 100 or 200 years after this life. Any *serious* belief in a Doctrine of ‘Rebirth’ would, by its very nature, induce people to think not so much in the immediate terms of just this one life, but in the much longer term of what this planet will look like several *lifetimes* from now if unwise policies are put into practice now.

What will be the quality of human life not merely over the next 10-20 years, but over the next several hundreds of years if humanity as a whole does not take a much more active interest in preserving this planet’s natural resources etc.?

Morality can then be discussed within this larger doctrinal context; but, as long as people believe that they will only live ONE life on this planet, any moral requirements in relation to protecting this planet for future generations would not really be grounded in reality but in merely political pressure of one kind or another.

But, of course, this Doctrinal context *cannot* be presented to Western civilization because the media, in the interest of preserving the ECONOMIC interests of the religious ‘authorities’, REFUSES to publicize that the monotheistic Doctrine of “resurrection” is a Doctrine of ‘Rebirth’–the result being that there is a noticeable shift to political authoritarianism of one kind or another in an effort to IMPOSE a ‘moral’ view with regards to the environment.

Michael Cecil

Posted by Michael Cecil | Report as abusive


Such terms as carbon credit find a place in newspapers almost daily. I don’t know what is all this about. To me CO2 sustains life on earth. Has the level of CO2 in the atmosphere gone up? Has it been proved experimentally?

Before Industrialization
The whole of America and most of the old world were inhabited by a comparatively small population, a majority of whom depended upon meat and fish. Farming depended entirely on rain water as big dams were unknown. The grasslands of America and Australia didn’t produce food grains. Coal and other fossil fuels were not commercially exploited. In those days we may presume that a proper balance existed between CO2 and other ingredients of the air like N2 and O2 in spite of forest fires, the like of which we witnessed in California recently.

After Industrialization
Commercial exploitation of coal began first followed by oil and natural gas, resulting in increase in the level of CO2 in the atmosphere. Simultaneously two other developments followed: increase in population (both human and animal) and corresponding growth in food grains production. Big dams were constructed and more and more areas of land were brought under cultivation. Mechanization and the use of artificial fertilizers made leaps and bounds in production of food grains, fruits and other commercial crops. The Prairies of North America became the granary of the world. Compared to grass, food grains and sugar fix a large quantity of CO2. The major items responsible for such CO2 fixation are:

1. food grains like wheat, corn, rice, oats, soya bean etc
2. underground vegetables like potato, tapioca, beetroot etc
3. fruits like apple, grapes, banana, dates, cherry, pineapple etc
4. sugarcane etc

Experts can calculate the total quantity of CO2 produced by industry and that absorbed by vegetation as mentioned above and the marine vegetation in order to find out whether the net balance is favoring CO2 concentration in the air. An easier way would be to experimentally ascertain the percentage of CO2 in the atmospheric air (being heavier than air CO2 is available near the surface of the earth). If CO2 level increases O2 level should decrease. In my childhood (I am 70+) O2 level was 20% as mentioned in my textbook. Has it changed? An atom of carbon combines with two atoms of oxygen to form CO2 which is absorbed by the leaves of the plant to form starch. In the process two atoms of oxygen are released into the atmosphere. We may say that each carbon atom burnt ultimately results in the release of two atoms of oxygen, thus resulting in increase in the level of O2. Level of CO2 dissolved in the ocean water should also be checked. If this level increases, fishes would die en mass. Has this happened? If the level of CO2 dissolved in ocean waters decreases, plant life in the ocean cannot produce enough starch by photosynthesis. This will be a hazard for fishes and other marine life.

The volume of animal and hence plant life in the oceans is much more than that on the continents. This is because the area of the oceans is seven times the area of the continents. Also, the oceans are deep. Hence the volume of water is very much more and can contain a large population of marine life. The necessary starch has to come from plant life. So, the total bio mass in the oceans is considerably higher than that in the continent. The carbon di oxidePlant starchAnimalsCarbon di oxide cycle is there in the watery medium, just as in our atmosphere. All the gases, including nitrogen, will be present in dissolved state in the oceans too. Here industrialization has not affected the ‘atmosphere’ of the ocean. This fact has to be recognized in any discussion on Global Warming.

[The percentage of various components of atmospheric air as obtained from the websites is given below:

Nitrogen 78.1
Oxygen 20.9
Argon 0.9
Neon 0.002
Helium 0.0005
Krypton 0.0001
Hydrogen 0.00005
Carbon di oxide 0.035!!!!!!!! (Poor, innocent CO2 has been maligned unnecessarily)
Methane 0.0002
Ozone 0.000004

This would suggest that the percentage of oxygen has slightly increased. If this is true it augers ill, as forest fires may become uncontrollable with increase in the level of oxygen in the coming years. Therefore, this line should be investigated separately by experts. My guess is that with unchecked use of nitrogenous fertilizers, the total bio mass in the earth could have increased. The requisite extra nitrogen must have been drawn from the atmosphere along with CO2 releasing extra oxygen into the atmosphere as pointed out above.]

The importance of proper scientific study cannot be over emphasized. Mother Nature maintains her balance, whatever her children may do!

For my booklet ” Global Warming is a Myth” – contact

Posted by k. k. subramanian | Report as abusive

Yes, a sense of “morality” would go a long way toward influencing the climate debate. For example, if the climate-change sensationalists would simply stop LYING, much of this hysteria would quickly fade from the public consciousness.

There is no 100% proof-positive scientific evidence that “global warming” is due to manmade greenhouse gases. No hard evidence whatsoever. There is more evidence to suggest that human-generated pollutants in the Earth’s atmosphere are actually SHIELDING us from a solar-system-wide warming trend. Witness the extraordinarily mild summer we’re enjoying — the coolest in the last 5 years, and certainly the coolest month of August that I can recall in the last 48 years.

It doesn’t help the cause of climate-change doomsayers when they mix their messages, seemingly on a daily basis, seemingly to accommodate unexpected weather trends that develop in direct opposition to their dire predictions. First we were warned that the planet was warming beyond our capacity to affect any appreciable “repair”… Now we’re admonished that we’ll first experience a “mini-ice-age” for several years before global warming resumes.

This is patently absurd.

So, yes, a bit of morality and better judgment on the part of the scientific community would be quite refreshing, instead of the torrent of hysterical and half-baked theory they are currently dispensing for public consumption.

Posted by Charles Miller | Report as abusive

Rather than merely tweaking an unstable system of environmental administration, it seems as though nothing less than a complete shake-up will help us reach the goal of a balanced environment: -affairs/2008/03/17/a-sacred-environment -part-2-%e2%80%93-the-situation/

Posted by schemer | Report as abusive

What Africa needs, is trade, not aid, not morality, not occidental churches lobbying people to feel guilty.
What Africa needs is the western world giving it’s newest and cleanest technologies (agricultural, energy systems, etc) for free, allowing Africa to develop in a clean and “environmentally-friendly” way, and allowing “poor african farmers” to be able to grow real crops, with real technology and let them join international markets.

Africa does not need more western hipocrisy.

Posted by Arnau Fuentes | Report as abusive

What Africa needs is the backbone to stand on its own, as well as the integrity to strike down the corrupt organized crime figures posing as government officials. What is hypocritical about the West pouring untold BILLIONS of dollars into Africa and expecting Africans to act responsibly in return? The true hypocrites are the African nations themselves, demanding free handouts and technology from the West, and then BLAMING the West for Africa’s inability to learn, adapt and excel.

Posted by Charles Miller | Report as abusive

Mr. Miller’s comment is a bit off topic, but it still needs a response because it is so alarmingly inaccurate. The billions of dollars in “aid” that our “poured” into African nations often take the form of our farm surpluses. We dump them (for free) on African nations to help keep the supply lower and the prices higher for Western farmers. This, however, destroys the market for the African farmer. Even though he can produce a product for much less than a Western farmer, he can’t compete with FREE and he quickly goes out of business, moves to the city, and a host of urban problems escalate. We need to face the facts that this “aid” that we’re so proud of often hurts African nations more than it helps them. It’s designed to help us, not them.

Posted by Rebecca Southers | Report as abusive

I can’t believe the lies either by the Climate alarmist! I just read an article in Reuters that trees store co2 then release it when it burns. This is a lie. Trees separate the carbon fron the oxygen emits the oxygen and uses the carbon as all plants are carbon based. Any excess is put into the ground through the roots. Its been recently discovered that grasses put more carbon in the soil than trees.Burning conbines oxygen in the air with some of the carbon but the ash it leaves on the ground is carbon and is not in the air so only a very small amount of it is emitted in the air. The oceans use co2 in the plant and the excess is turned into sodium bicarbonate which then release the oxgen into the air and the carbon sinks and stays there. Also Co2 is 3.5 time heavier than air so it falls to the ground like a rock, while some blows in the wind being heavier it falls. If it didn’t trees plants and grasses wouldn’t grow. And a CO2 fire extinguiser would not work, the CO2 covers the fire and smothers it like a blanket……….

Posted by Jim | Report as abusive


As usual, people who should know better but are too lazy to make the distinction, are confusing “morality” with “religion”.

The dictionary definition of morality is “the ability to distinguish between right and wrong”.

Religious people have got no monopoly on morality. In fact they have been the major cause of death and destruction throughout history, and still are. Where is the “morality” in that?

The climate change debate has been corrupted by individual scientists, politicians, “action” groups and assorted nutters all peddling their own self-interested views of whether there is a problem and, if there is, what should be done about it. There is no mention from any of them as to whether a particular course of action is right or wrong in the literal sense.

Involving the bishops, mullahs, rabbis and witch doctors will do nothing but throw an additional blanket of hypocrisy over the subject.

Posted by Peter | Report as abusive

This whole debate on climate-change and whether it’s actually happening or not should now be over. We’re already experiencing major climatic disasters every year. Abnormally high rains in historically arid regions and droughts in others. Global warming might not be harming us big way currently but it’ll definitely end up in a big mess. So we need to secure our climate instead of fighting.


Posted by Saad Khan | Report as abusive

Morality is dead at the Democratic Convention. This convention is one tacky event! The billboard and Greek columns are downright un-American. Is this how our tax money will be spent if Obama gets in the White House? We don’t need a rock star!

What happened to voting for someone with class and dignity to represent our country? Obama will “change” America all right!

The McCains have more class and dignity in one finger than the Obamas and Dems have in their entire bodies.

Senator McCain has always been sensitive to national crises. In the 2000 race he postponed his announcement — “because of the situation in the Balkans and we are monitoring the situation very closely.”



YES, the Clinton’s both gave good speeches. However, read between the speech lines people! What they are saying isn’t close to what is happening, nor to what either of them believe!



Posted by STOP THE DRAMA-NO OBAMA — GET A BRAIN-VOTE McCAIN! | Report as abusive

Saad sed: “So we need to secure our climate instead of fighting.”

Saad, climate change is actually a CONSTANT on planet Earth, just as is extinction. 99% of all species that have ever lived on Earth are EXTINCT, due entirely to climate change over hundreds of millions of years. There is NO WAY for humans, with our current intelligence and technology, to “secure the climate,” regardless of the propaganda from climate-change doomsayers. We can’t “destroy” the climate, and we can’t “repair” it. Those who are pushing this climate-change hysteria, which you obviously choose to believe, are setting you up for a new economy, plain and simple. Follow the money trail. You will be TAXED and FINED for your contributions to climate-change, as judged by a handful of scientists and bureaucrats who are pursuing their “Green Agenda” based on incomplete data. This is about MILKING THE PUBLIC, Saad, so you go out and do your part by purchasing outlandish “green technology” and trading your “carbon credits” and all of that other nonsense. In the meantime, the true SURVIVORS out here will simply ADAPT to climate change.

Posted by Charles Miller | Report as abusive

Yes, to tackle climate change, we must invoke our inner selves especially here in Africa. We have blamed the west so much of ‘working to annihilate us’ but continue to show the least care on environment. For example, our leaders and the rich still consider riding in fuel guzzlers and polluters as classic, waste energy by installing unnecessary gadgets in their homes, government offices waste kilowatts of energy that could run ten tea packaging industries a year and do other staff that is unfriendly. Then they show up on environment day plant a tree that they may never try to find out what how it will be for the rest of their lives.
Africa must take responsibility before it can seat around with bowls waiting for the Global Environmental Facility fund, CDM funds among others. Charity must begin with us.
The west also needs to be sincere. Why talk about clean technologies and continue bringing the same old energy wasting, polluting technologies to Africa?
Reversing the effects of climate change needs conscious steps. That is the inconvenient truth.

Posted by Rose | Report as abusive