Tag Archives: global

We Know Better, Part 3: A Sustainable Energy Future

Humankind is wildly and wonderfully inventive. From harnessing fire to cook our proteins to replacing foraging with farming, we historically keep developing ways to enhance our lives. From indoor plumbing to access to transportation, from electricity to the internet, we continually elevate our access to goods and services. In the last seven decades, abject poverty in our world has declined from 40% to 15% of the global population.

In the area of energy, the last three centuries have been amazing. From steam to coal to oil and gas, from geothermal and natural gas to nuclear and solar power, we keep inventing new ways to give more people access to affordable energy.

Development has its price, and we have had to work hard to clean up the ecosystems we damage with our progress. We all know about environmental disasters, from Three Mile Island to Love Canal, Chernobyl to Great Lakes pollution. For many sensitive to environmental concerns, these and other moments are a call for drastic action and the immediate end to fossil fuels. Add to this the apocalyptic language of climate change advocates and the stage is set for increased coercive national and international power to regulate energy and compel change.

What this history is lacking is the positive contributions of free markets and scientific progress to a cleaner future without massive transfers of wealth impoverishing the working and middle classes. All the policies of the UN, Davos, and a variety of non-binding agreements call for massive bureaucracies and wealth transfers that have no guarantee of any improvements in global temperatures. The price tag and Leviathan controls keep increasing. Several UN officials have admitted that even if all nations signed on to the Paris Accords and take drastic action, that the impact would be negligible. All officials affirm the real goal – wealth concentration and transfer that impoverished the middle class in the West as well as developing economies globally.

The current Administration has deliberately moved the USA from energy independence to skyrocketing prices and programs costing trillions in inefficient green technologies. What is never highlighted in most media are the tremendous quantum leaps in lowering emissions, increasing efficiency, and the research into true alternatives to fossil fuels. European nations have refired coal plants to power electric cars. Nuclear energy sustains much of Western Europe. The rare minerals and slave labor employed for batteries is not part of the narrative. We CAN recycle plastics better, make current fuels cleaner, AND develop new technologies.

The same people telling us to drive expensive electric vehicles buy their organic produce in local markets, with their arugula transported from family farms in diesel trucks. Line-caught salmon and tuna come to our shores in boats using regular fuel. Celebrities take private jets to lecture the masses about conforming to global governance. We can do better.

The way forward is not the “Good old days” of gas guzzlers and no environmental standards. We have come too far for that. We must refine current energy sources while we develop cost-effective new ones. Free markets must lead the way, not inefficient federal agencies. We need new oil and gas leases properly administrated. We need to commend Israel’s ability to supply energy to Europe without hindrance and favoritism to an aggressive Russian empire. Reasonable incentives for cleanliness and efficiency are helpful, but current draconian laws in California and elsewhere will only continue shrinking the working and middle classes.

This both/and prudential approach is what most people favor, except for the political and technological elites that believe they are the smart ones and should tell “the people” what they really need. We must shrink federal and global bureaucracies, and have more local and regional governance. We can improve our ecosystems while expanding economic opportunity, if we have courage and wisdom empowering creativity and innovation through free markets.

Pre-Election Insights and Prayers

Regardless of the outcome of the 2016 Presidential Election, our national experiment in virtue-based liberty is in a fragile and fraying state, with unprecedented private and public anger. Thoughtful women and men are distressed that the major parties offer two such deeply flawed candidates. Journalistic bias and agitation propaganda have replaced careful research and measured writing. Lost in all of the presidential chaos are the important local and state elections that immediately affect citizens where they live.

I offer these prayers and reflections as a cri de coeur – a cry of the heart – for divine mercy and decisive repentance and renewal in all of us. Underneath the public scandals focused on money, sex and power are deep moral and spiritual ambivalence, with various elites perverting ethical values for their own ideological agendas.

There are three insights and three prayers I invite all to consider and confess as we prepare the election and the aftermath.

Insight One: We are dehumanizing and disintegrating human identity and wholeness. When we ignore biological gender, separate sexual intimacy from marriage and fostering the next generation and reduce identity to current erotic impulses, we are not progressing past religious restrictions. We are actually regressing into primordial impulses that ruin health, oppress non-conforming people and hinder productive life. When we separate “personal morality” from “public policy”, arguing that one can be messed up in private and still lead effectively, we are destroying the foundations of the common good and true liberty. Everyone should bring their whole self to their work, and allow their values to inform their actions and policies. I am not advocating religious tests or totalitarian uniformity of adult relationships. I am asserting that healthy people make better leaders.

Our prayer: “O God, Creator of heaven and earth and fashioner of humankind, forgive our pride and rebellion. Forgive our attempts to improve on your design and destiny. Help us rediscover the dignity, equality and uniqueness of each person and desire for all others the responsibilities and rights we affirm for ourselves. By your grace, empower us for work that expresses neighborly love, creates value and helps generations yet unborn to flourish. Help us to realize that your moral precepts are for our good and any restrictions of our behaviors are for our protection and ultimate fulfillment. Amen.”

Insight Two: We are so ideologically polarized that we are often missing creative solutions for seemingly intractable problems. Economic growth and opportunity include private investments and wise public policies. Rapprochement with Islam and the West must engage both the historic mistakes of colonialism and the rapacious history of Islamic empires and jihadist movements. Peace in the Middle East will never come until Muslim leaders can say the words, “Israel in the national state of the Jewish people.” We can balance the budget and pay off our national debt in a generation, if we will stop seeing wise stewardship as “starving children” and insist on best practices for all that manage the public trust. Urban transformation requires mobilizing servant-leaders from all fields and includes personal transformation and systemic change. Will we roll up our sleeves and serve, or merely keep accusing others?

Our prayer: “O Lord, forgive our arrogance, thinking we could solve every problem with human engineering. You invite us to cry out for wisdom and you promise to bestow it generously, if we come with humility. The signs of divine wisdom include peace, justice, courage and love, fostering harmony and generating hope. Lord, we need the ‘wisdom to do justice’ that Solomon requested as we navigate so many difficult issues, most of which we have generated though our varied intentions and actions. Help us seek you, listen deeply to one another and discover new ways to help people and communities flourish. Amen.”

Insight Three: We need a fresh vision of what personal, local, and national flourishing look like, especially in a global world where we are blessed and informed by so many cultures. This is not wholesale abandonment of the first principles of America’s Declaration and Constitution. In fact, a reaffirmation of the deepest values that informed our founders will help us define citizenship, national identity and liberty in a rapidly changing world. We must reaffirm the virtues of personal responsibility, healthy families, hard work, civil and religious affiliation and local civic engagement. We will not always agree on every definition and policy, but shared vision helps us forge a preferred future.

Our prayer: “Gracious and loving God, you remind us that without vision we will lose restraint and without a sense of purpose, we often compromise our principles. Forgive us, merciful Lord, for all the competing fantasies, the dystopian and utopian visions that do not align with your kind and loving desires for us. Forgive our focus on momentary pleasures at the expense of the coming generations. Transform our shortsighted lusts into loving service. Help us strive for excellence without perfectionism, and principled living with true toleration for other perspectives. How we need your help as we find new common ground for the common good. Amen.”

Our presidents, governors and majors are not messiahs. The finest laws fail without personal and community virtue. The best of our human nature is often corrupted by the worst of our fallen state. All of these insights and prayers are mere words without a thorough spiritual awakening rooted in the good news of Jesus Christ. When confessing Christians repent of compromise and begin compassionate service for their neighbors, such integrity overflows and blesses those that do not have the same religious commitment. When the common good is understood, alliances are formed and people of conscience find ways to work together. Even while we (with civility) argue about our differences (and they do make a difference!), we can act sacrificially for our neighborhood and nation.

May God grant us courage, love and wisdom in these days. Today’s discipline is tomorrow’s destiny, for by divine design, our decisions matter.

Telling the Truth: Political Realities, Part 1

Every Presidential election in the USA is important and 2016 is no exception. Economic uncertainly, global and local Islamic enemies, racial tensions, immigration debates and the values and visions of our future are all part of the mix. Conservatives feel more alienated every day, with uncontrollable federal (and some cases state and local) deficits, attacks on free speech and gun ownership and a militarized EPA declaring almost every private puddle a protected watershed. Progressives are frustrated by the lack of enthusiasm for global governance on climate change and the stubborn refusal of millions to see the light on abortion and alternative sexual identities and lifestyles.

The conservative and progressive lists above are, of course, generalizations – written to call attention to the hot button issues.

Telling the truth means that facile opining, straw man arguments and exaggeration must yield to critical thinking, examination of foundational values and principled compromise that produces proximate justice on the way to a preferred future. This will not be easy in a culture used to bumper sticker wisdom and sound bite debates.

Our “ADD” culture is not used to careful listening and critical thinking. In 2008 millions voted for “Hope and Change” and even said, “I pledge!” with little idea of the ramifications of President Obama’s radicalism and post-American global vision. Facile reflection is not the preserve of the Left. Conservatives salivate at the sound of military drums or pro-life slogans, but often turn a blind eye to cronyism and rapacious environmental policies.

How about “I pledge…to read the Constitution, study the local and national issues and demand accountability from elected officials.” That is a pledge worth making, regardless of party or positions.