Opinion: Finding Meaning

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Confessions of a Heretic

The Beautiful Wife invited three granddaughters for an overnight. They’re starting high school and find joy in everything. The girls played a joke on nearby friends by making a fake cake—cardboard decorated with frosting, topsoil inside for the right weight—as a gift. It’s a family joke and they were excited. The hardest part was to keep a straight face when they presented their cake. Kids laugh a lot at that age and our home overflowed with the girls’ carefree joy. But they have worries too, like climate change.

A while back, one anxiously reported that we have just 12 years to save the planet from human-caused climate change. Their school has a new textbook and that’s the current teaching. Scary as it sounds, it was actually a reprieve—14 years ago the movie “An Inconvenient Truth” gave us ten 10. She was concerned; I encouraged her to seek other viewpoints. Our planet has survived 4.5 billion years so it’s a stable platform. Doing the math, there’s about 168 trillion pounds of our good Earth for each of us inhabitants. That’s a solid foundation. Yet people do worry.

I confess that I don’t get the temperature issue. Taking the earth’s temperature is complex, we have a short history for comparison, and scientists seem to find the results they want. When I was young we were warned of a coming cold spell. In my middle years the problem was global warming. Now it’s simply climate change, which is seeming more a religious belief, a matter of faith. Climate change has its evangelists, like Al Gore and more recently young Greta Thunberg. There’s a theology, with a United Nations panel canonizing new studies. There’s plenty of proselytizing; you hear it everywhere. It even has a form of tithes, called carbon tax. Finally, they don’t like heretics, or “deniers” as they’re labeled.

The rise of atmospheric carbon dioxide is an issue. It’s been increasing since the start of the Industrial Revolution when scientists put it around 300 parts per million (ppm); it has now passed 400 ppm at Hawaii’s Mauna Loa Observatory. There’s a debate whether the approximately 25% increase is good or bad for the planet. You likely remember the “carbon cycle” from your science classes, how carbon dioxide acts as a fertilizer to grow plants, which pay us back by converting it to oxygen. Some refer to our higher carbon dioxide as the “CO2 fertilization effect.” Thanks to rising carbon dioxide, the earth is becoming more productive as our population grows.

Believing in a Creator with a divine plan, I asked the BW, could God be that smart? She gave me that look I get when I’m out of order. Yes, we need to care for our planet, and it’s important to respect other beliefs. I don’t want to offend the true believers, they just might return to that medieval practice of burning heretics. There’s meaning in that.

Skip fell in love with Laguna on a ‘50s surfing trip.  He’s a student of Laguna history and the author of “Loving Laguna: A Local’s Guide to Laguna Beach.”  Email:  [email protected]

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