Friday, January 30, 2009

21st Century Indulgences

This occurred to me today as I was looking over the bleak piles of snow and cold. Let me start with a tangent, then I'll meander to the point. I work that way when I write.

One of the interesting things I've discovered is that when I do my minimal research so that I don't have completely wrong facts (to back up my always correct opinion), I always end up on a tangent. Today's tangent is into the world of indulgences. The Wikipedia entry defines it thus:
An indulgence, in Roman Catholic theology, is the full or partial remission of temporal punishment due for sins which have already been forgiven. The indulgence is granted by the church after the sinner has confessed and received absolution. The belief is that indulgences draw on the storehouse of merit acquired by Jesus' sacrifice and the virtues and penances of the saints. They are granted for specific good works and prayers.
This threw me a little because I, as many people do, associate the word with the abusive practice of selling them, and with the idea of them being an instrument of forgiveness. I blame Kevin Smith for this:

This was the only clip I could find. The relevant part is at 6:30, runs for less than a minute. Check out the whole flick on your own time.

Eventually, I got to a Catholic site that had cleared up all misconceptions.

But, for the purpose of my point, let's look at my misconception as reality.

Imagine a system where you were allowed to commit the sin of your choice, and then buy an indulgence to offset it. Or even better, you knew you wanted to sin your ass off for a week or so, and you went and got yourself a prepaid indulgence.

There could even be a system where everyone is granted a certain amount of indulgences you were capped at, and if you were going to need to sin more, you could always trade with someone that wasn't as big on the sin.

Sounds like a lot of smoke and mirrors and bullshit to me. You? Thought so.

Now replace the sins with producing greenhouse gases, indulgences with carbon credits, and consider that cap and trade is simply excusing, and the insanity and bullshit of the carbon credit is obvious.

Then look at the biggest proponent of carbon credits. He makes good money selling them. He even sells them to himself to "offset" his big-assed mansion, his private jets, etc.

His name is Algore. And he is dedicated to selling global warming and raking in the dough.

And my liberal buddies wonder why I'm skeptical?


TAO said...

Yeah, I have a college buddy who is in this business....he worked for Ducks Unlimited which also has a program to sell offsets and now he works with some company that does the same with the Amazon.

I told him I was going to start a cholesterol and obesity offset program. Basically someone with high cholesterol and or one that is fat could buy offsets from someone who has low cholesterol or very thin...

I think I am really on to something! We will get all the paper thin models to bulk up with selling offsets!

Overnight I believe we could improve the overall health of the world.

rockync said...

It is unfortunate that a media whore like Al Gore has become the environmental mouthpiece. I think he does more to detract than attract to the cause.
But that is no excuse to continue our wanton, wasteful ways. Each week, I'm appalled at the amount of extra wrappings, paper, plastic, etc that my food and other sundries come in. While I try to recycle what I can, there is still a lot of waste that is going to end up in the landfill.
Driving down the road, viewing the trash carelessly tossed out and piling up is also distressing. Polluted water ways, smog, acid rain - all mostly man made. Taking care of the Earth should be a number one priority for all and I see no reason for skepticism about that!

Arthurstone said...

Turn off the television Patrick.

Al Gore doesn't own a jet.

Satyavati devi dasi said...

Didn't we just finish this argument?

Global warming is real.

Whether you have an issue with Al Gore or anything Al Gore does, global warming remains real. If you haven't noticed, the military apparently thinks it's real; they are having meetings to determine what changes they need to make now that the Arctic is melting.

So make your beef with Al Gore, not his cause. Global warming is a real thing, Patrick, whether you want to believe it or not. If you can logically explain to me how you think you can take a recipe for bread dough and instead of adding four cups of flour and two teaspoons of yest, add two cups of flour and a quarter cup of yeast, and still come out with the same loaf of bread you would otherwise.... have at it.

Didn't we just discuss NASA? The same articles you cite to disprove global warming tell how there is detailed climate data in the ice stretching back over hundreds of thousands of years. Paleoclimatologists use all kinds of varying sources to compile data reaching back further than that. We can put together a fairly clear picture of how things have been.

We have already beaten this horse into a pulp. You cannot take an established system, completely unbalance it, and expect that it continue as per normal. That's irrational.

This fascination you have with 'oh yeah, it's warming, but is it OUR fault?' verges on the ridiculous. It's a cheap excuse to make it socially and ethically acceptable to keep on doing what we're doing without regard for the changes we see happening or any sense of responsibility for them. It's HAPPENING. The changes coincide with the onset of the Industrial Revolution. They are moving much more rapidly than a natural process could account for. No amount of excuses, delusionalism, or hiding in the sand is going to change this.

And I'm not buying any of that 'indulgences' propaganda until they define exactly what they mean by 'temporal punishment' and how, if it refers to something that occurs after death, it isn't purgatory, and if it refers to something before death, if it means that you only have to say one Hail Mary instead of five.

I was raised Catholic too.

Patrick M said...

Tao: So where do I get the fatass offsets?

Rocky: My skepticism is not about conservation and keeping the world clean. It's about the idea of buying these bullshit offsets to justify behavior that someone believes is wrong. Thus the extended analogy.

Arthur: He sure does fly on them though.

Saty: No, that was an argument about global warming. This is about the disingenuousness of the feel good "carbon credit" market. Because even if I agreed that the manmade global warming hysteria (as opposed to global warming) was real, it wouldn't change the fact that carbon credits do NOTHING but assuage guilt.

And the fact that the leader of the MMGWH is also a dealer in this placebo eco-drug would be a reason, if I knew nothing else on the subject, to inject some skepticism.

It's kind of like trusting the internal testing of a company for salmonella without independent verification. And if you don't understand that, I have some peanut butter for you.

And all I can say about the indulgences is that it's the Catholic church, after all.

dmarks said...

Tao: "I told him I was going to start a cholesterol and obesity offset program"

Tao, you might want to think twice before attempting an obesity offset exchange agreement with Al Gore....

rockync said...

I also do not ascribe to buying offsets. It seems terribly counter productive to pay ahead of time to use the toilet and then crap on your dinner plate, believing you should get a new plate.

"We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect." - Aldo Leopold

You can't pay for the privilege of polluting the environment and expect the rest of us, the unwashed masses, to make the sacrifices which is why I have a real problem with Gore and his ilk.

AS for Catholic indulgence, you forgot an important part - "The indulgence is granted by the church after the sinner has confessed and received absolution."
AND after said sinner has made a substantial contribution. Absolution and indulgence are the religious escape clause invoked by the lazy and the criminal and fostered by a corrupt Vatican.

Come to think of it, Patrick,good analogy... :)

Arthurstone said...

At least Big Tobacco had to pay for their phonies up science all those years they resisted accountability for killing and crippling millions.

Big Energy has bloggers who do the work for free.

Patrick M said...

Arthur: As does Big Labor, Big Veg, Big Environment, etc.

It's a level playing field now....

Arthurstone said...

Big Veg?

Arthurstone said...

Get back to us when the body count, disease rates & enviromental degradation from efforts by Big Labor, Big Environment and Big Veg anywhere near tobacco and energy. Clean coal anyone?

Satyavati devi dasi said...

Actually, Big Veg is a reality. Companies like ConAgra and Monsanto are pushing their GMO agendas to the point that farmers are being sued and taken to court for alleged patent violations and so on. The pressure on small farmers is intense and many of them have been forced out of business by the agrigiants. And the money they control buys them legislation that protects them from anti-GMO actions.

So yeah, Big Veg is a real thing. And by the way, just as a point of reference, I live in a county where at least 80% of the economy is based on tobacco. So if there's anything you might like to know about it.. I'm your girl.

Patrick M said...

Saty: Can you send us all some cheap tobacco? I can find some way to smoke it.

Satyavati devi dasi said...

Umm.... I can't send it to you because unless I can somehow break into a warehouse I can only get the fresh barely-wilted kind, and I don't think you'd want that. However, I can more or less teach you how to grow it, which is where we're headed unless Scott decides to quit (again).

Did you know in Virginia you need a permit to grow tobacco? But not here. And there are different kinds.. but then it gets technical....

Patrick M said...

Then send the uncured stuff and I'll figure out the rest. It can't be that hard. They've been doing it for centuries.

Toad734 said...

No, we are skeptical because the people who say carbon emissions don't alter the climate make billions and billions more by producing these emissions and have billions at stake if it is proven (which it has been) that they are responsible for risisng sea levels.

Patrick M said...

Toad: Estimate aren't proof. Assumptions are not proof. And while there appears to be a relationship, the numbers are, at best awfully thin.

You're the one who is definitive on the question of MMGWH (in other words, not skeptical at all). I'm not clear on the facts, because everybody seems to be massaging them.

And that's the point of the initial post.

Satyavati devi dasi said...

I'll see what I can do, but if I get shot....

Toad734 said...

No, I am not skeptical that man has doubled CO2 in the Earths atmosphere and I am not skeptical that CO2 is a greenhouse gas and I am not skeptical that a greenhouse gas traps heat nor am I skeptical that Coal plants and automobiles produce CO2 and that our agriculture and eating habits produce methane which is an even more powerful greenhouse gas. Nor am I skeptical that for at least over the past 400k years, every spell of peaks in CO2 and greenhouse gases in the atmosphere was followed by warming trends.

That doesn't mean that I don't think that there are other things that factor into the equation. Could there be sun bursts, solar winds, are there natural cycles of warming and cooling, sure but none of those have ever been able to reach the CO2 particles in the atmosphere today. So if there are natural phenomenon at work here which is making it warmer, then we are really fucked because that will just be insult to injury and could explain why scientist never predicted such a quick melting of the ice caps; they didn't account for natural cycles in their climate models. Perhaps those are more difficult to predict. And as George Carlin said, the planet will be fine but we’re fucked.

You can even see a rise in CO2 levels and thus temperatures during the early 1940s. Gee, I wonder what was happening in the early 40s and if maybe we were burning a whole lot of fossil fuels flying back and forth to Europe and Germany and Japan mobilizing their armies to take over the world and factories were running at full speed. Can all that be a coincidence, sure maybe mathematically it is possible but unlikely. The problem is you don't have anything to back up your skepticism except for people on Exxon's, GM's and Duke Energy’s payroll.

I say, follow the money. Sure Al Gore has sold some books but where does the real money lie in this debate? Exxon just posted 44 Billion in profits last quarter. How much does Al Gore make? Who has the bigger incentive to lie? That is who you should be skeptical of.

dmarks said...

"How much does Al Gore make? Who has the bigger incentive to lie? That is who you should be skeptical of."

Well, Al is a politician, so there is a big incentive to lie right there. And he has quite a reputation for it.

I'm just waiting for the "Chicken Little Fad" thing to revolve back from "global warming" to "the new ice age" like it was in the 1970s.

Gordon said...

RockyNYC wrote: "Each week, I'm appalled at the amount of extra wrappings, paper, plastic, etc that my food and other sundries come in."

Rocky, you can sleep easy. A few years back, a researcher did a comparison of Mexican landfills versus US landfills. He found that in the US, we throw away a lot of packaging. In Mexico, where they use much less packaging, they throw away a lot more food (because it spoils).

In any case, landfill space is not, nor was it ever, a problem. It was all hype based on a garbage barge. All of the waste the whole country produces for the next 100 years would fit into Cherry County, Nebraska--and that's without recycling anything.

Toad734 said...


No, Al Gore was a politician.


That is actually true but there is money involved in recycling. recycling plastic, metals and paper, keeps the cost of our goods down and creates jobs in the mean time and reduces our dependency on foreign oil in the case of plastics. The bag bans are one of the dumbest things ever. What it does is force people in California to use lesser quality, more expensive, biodegradable bags. What that does is ruin every recycling stream on the West Coast because any plastic waste stream contaminated with biodegradable materials is no longer recyclable.

Patrick M said...

Toad: I'm not going to argue anything on the CO2 levels. However, in addition to the incessant cackles of the believers who's predictions have been wrong for decades, I have one thing that makes me skeptical.

The scientific method.

The biggest problem I have scientifically with MMGWH is that the current crop of warnings is based on modeling. And while there are indications that we should be looking to reduce CO2 emissions, the simple fact that we can't accurately predict the weather a week in advance leads me to question whether these models are taking every variable into account.

Let me stop and reiterate: we should be looking to reduce CO2 emissions.

I wanted to at least make sure you understand that. However, the point where we differ is how. And government force, especially in a shaky economy, is the worst way possible to do it. The only way to get good change is to change demand, not manage supply.

And again, you don't do it by using the big gun of government.

Freedom sometimes means bad things may happen.

BTW, biodegradable materials don't need human recycling because the planet recycles it. And I am glad you're making sense on things like bag bans.

Toad734 said...

No they don't need to be recycled nor can they. When one of those bags end up in a stream of HDPE grocery bags, you can then no longer recycle those HDPE bags. So now instead of just the Biodegradable bag going into the landfill, everything goes into the landfill even though before the biodegradable bags came along, everything was being recycled and creating jobs.

If Freedom means Miami, NY, LA, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, Charlestow, Jacksonville, New Orleans, Mobile, etc all end up underwater then we have too much freedom.

And do you really think a baby toy factory in China, which is already sending poisoned toys and baby bottles to us to begin with, will really decide to cut their emissions on their own out of goodwill without the regulation by the authoritarian chinese government?

Sure we can't always predict the weather but guess what, on Monday the weather guy said it would be 8 degrees today and guess what, it was 8 degrees. But when those models tell us that the ice caps are going to start melting in 50 years but then they start melting in 10 years, like they are doing now, and weather patterns all over the world are getting erratic, and we know how C02 works, we know we are putting tons of it into the atmosphere, thats about as close to empirical evidence and occams razor as you can get. Especially when you have no real alternative explanations. You wont start buying 0 emissions cars until that's the only thing on the market. That's where the government comes in. They are doing it for them, not to them.

Arthurstone said...

Gordon typed (presumably humming 'Don't Worry, Be Happy':

"In any case, landfill space is not, nor was it ever, a problem. It was all hype based on a garbage barge. All of the waste the whole country produces for the next 100 years would fit into Cherry County, Nebraska--and that's without recycling anything."