Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Humanism and Climate Change

Members and Friends,

As humanists, we should be not only concerned with the needs of people living today, but those who are not even born yet. It is imperative that we strive to keep our planet habitable for future generations. Protecting the environment goes hand-in-hand with the ideals of humanism.

Recently, one of our members wrote a letter to President Obama, urging him to take action on this issue. He has allowed us to post this letter here, so that others may use it to craft their own letters. Maybe write your senator or representative also.

December 5th, 2012
President Obama:
I’m a 36-year-old physician in Florida, and I write to you as a citizen and a strong supporter. I want to talk about climate change. I know you are very aware of the science and of what is at stake. You must be. I write to you to make an argument for going out on a limb. I suspect you understand the issue based on your quiet support for alternative energy development, but I need more from you. You should take a stand. You should support a plan to rid ourselves of fossil fuels. For example, put your weight behind a carbon tax with 100% dividend payment to tax payers, and sound the alarm on the shortcomings of cap and trade policies. You should be pushing for 4th generation nuclear power development and the end of fossil fuel industry subsidies. You should be helping Americans wake up from the slumber and denial related to climate change. That would be political suicide, you may think, and I need to tell you – so what!
What good is it to be a two-term president but be known forever as one of the global leaders at the helm when we failed to act to avert this great disaster? How hollow to win re-election and fail to provide a better future for your daughters and my sons! A tipping point in climate change could be reached very soon. If you are waiting for absolute certainty before risking your political career and your party, sorry. It doesn’t work that way. The scientific method is as close to truth as we can get. Climate experts such as James Hansen have been for years making a very scientifically sound argument for immediate action. Outside of a few discredited scientists bought by oil companies, climate experts worldwide are very confident about what our binge on fossil fuels is doing to our planet and our future.
I believe making climate change a principal subject in your communications with staff, congress, foreign leaders and the people can help us get started down this difficult but unavoidable path to a life with minimal fossil fuel use. I know you are not a dictator and that your powers are limited. But your leadership can help create massive public pressure with protests and other forms of activism to overcome special interest in Washington and maybe help pass the needed bills to get started. Organizations like 350.org are already creating the infrastructure necessary for this fight. Finally, continued silence on this issue, with all the scientific evidence available, is criminal and unethical. The well-being of our children and future generations is much more important than your political career or the Democratic Party. I see this as a civil rights issue, the right of our children and future generations to a livable planet where they can be free and pursue their happiness.
Your critics do not expect you to go on principle, and risk your credibility and political clout. But I and many more do. My bet is: if you put your heart into it you will remembered always at the vanguard of the environmentalist movement that gave our species a new lease on life, and better yet, your daughters and my sons will have a brighter future. If you find this letter harsh in tone, it is by design. I am appealing to your rational mind and not your vanity. I believe you are a man guided by reason and not ideology. I trust you are honest with others and with yourself. That is why I voted for you and contributed to your campaign both times. That is why I write this letter full of hope.
Yours truly,
[Name Omitted]

Monday, January 14, 2013

Upcoming Meeting Reminder

Humanist Society of Gainesville Members and Friends,

Our January meeting will be held at our usual location, the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, located at 4225 N.W. 34 Street on Wednesday, January 16, at 7 pm.  Our program will be based on the work of Jonathan Haidt, who recently spoke at the Graham Center on the UF campus.  He calls himself a moral psychologist meaning that he is interested in what basic ideas people worldwide value when they form their ideas about right and wrong.  His latest book was written to help us understand the differences between political liberals and conservatives by looking at the core differences in the value systems of both groups.  Haidt doesn’t take sides but rather seeks to understand how our core values can divide us and yet allow all sides to honestly feel that they occupy the moral high ground.  A presentation of this work will, of course, be followed by discussion.  As humanists we are all interested in what values motivate our decisions about right and wrong and I think you will find Haidt’s explanations very thought provoking.

We will also be electing officers and board members for 2013.

Also, our HSG dues are based on the calendar year so most of you who were members in 2012 are currently eligible for renewal.  You may download membership applications from our Humanist Society of Gainesville web site and renew by mail or we will have membership forms available at the meeting.

As usual we will be accepting donations, cash, check, or food for the Food4Kids backpack program that we continue to support.

I hope to see you all at the meeting,

Jim Sullivan, President