Triratna News

UK Buddhists call for fossil fuel divestment

On Mon, 4 April, 2016 - 23:26
Munisha's picture
Munisha

On 28th February, two British Triratna Buddhists and six from Gaia House (working together in the Dharma Action Network for Climate Engagement) carried out a small protest action at the Wellcome Collection in London.

Yogaratna writes: “The Wellcome Trust does excellent work funding medical research, but has large investments in fossil fuel corporations. Since fossil fuel extraction is exacerbating climate change, which is very harmful to human health, we were calling on the Trust to divest from these investments.

Our action was timed to coincide with the end of the ‘Tibet’s Secret Temple’ exhibition, about traditional Tibetan medicine and spirituality. Walking slowly in single file through the exhibition, chanting the Avalokitesvara mantra, we handed out many leaflets, unfurled a banner and stood in a line in the foyer. We chanted a text rejoicing in the great work the Wellcome Trust does, but calling on it to divest from fossil fuel investment. People seemed very interested, and a number applauded when we finished. 

We were adding our voices to those of many healthcare professionals who have expressed concern to the Wellcome Trust on its investments in the last year - as featured in the Guardian newspaper’s ‘Keep it in the Ground’ campaign.”

Read a longer article about Buddhism and activism by Yogaratna.

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Responses

Vajracaksu's picture

It’s great to read of some Buddhists protesting against climate change in this way, that’s congruent with the precepts, and taking Dharma practice beyond the merely ‘personal’. Sadhu Yogaratna and to the other 5 Buddhists…I enjoyed your longer article too Yogaratna. Keep up the good work! :)

Kind wishes from Turkey

Vajracaksu 

Yogaratna's picture

Thank you very much Vajracaksu!  With metta, Yogaratna

james murphy's picture

- Despite the fact the ‘man-made global warming’ is still debated by respectable scientists not affiliated to the oil companies. Yes. Sorry. I know this doesn’t fit into the Leftist worldview but it happens to be true.

Yours with very best wishes from a-Buddhist-who-doesn’t-sign-up-automatically-to-every-crazy-Leftist attack-on-Western-culture.

Vajracaksu's picture

I am aware that some highly respected climate scientists like Curry, Spencer and Lindzen are climate change sceptics and as far as I’m aware don’t receive money from the fossil fuel industry and  that some Mitras and Order members are also climate change sceptics too. But the overwhelming majority of climate scientists (I belive there are around 70,000 in the world) do hold the view that human activity is a major contributing factor to climate change over recent decades. To the best of my knowledge there is not even one scientific organisation anywhere in the world that doesn’t hold the ‘man-made global warming’ view, even Christopher Monckton (a very vocal climate change sceptic) couldn’t provide me in email correspandance with a single current example of a scientific organisation that holds the view that AGW is not real.

It seems to me to be a huge risk indeed to assume that human activity is not an important or crucial contributing factor to the the increasing climate chaos and harm. Even Spencer thinks human activity is between 10-90% responsible for recent climate change…that’s an extremely wide estimate.  

james murphy's picture

Appreciate your measured response and the figures you quote, but are you sure they’re trustworthy and not just a reference you use to shore up your unconscious anti-capitalist animus? I ask as far too many (all?) eco-warriors seem to come to the table already mentally dressed in the colours of the side they wish to represent, already convinced of their side of the argument, as it were. In this context I’m afraid the whole AGM just doesn’t work for me. Smacks way too much of an organised Leftist culture war kind of thing. As for organisations; I admire (or pity) your faith in them as a conscience or mouthpiece for us, the silenced masses. I intuitively prefer those individual scientists who go against the grain of organisations, those who stand out and have something to lose by so doing. Call me old-fashioned, I just don’t like the way organisations bully individuals. Climate-change organisations have a terrible reputation for dishonesty and aggression in this regard, as you probably know. The IPCC being th worst. (Btw, you should know I have ‘previous’ on this subject on this page! :) It bores me to witter on about it but I do feel a certain social conscience to stand up for an objective, slightly less crazed approach to the AGM debate. Nor can I comfortably stand by and watch the transcendent nobility of the great BuddhaDharma presumptuously and somewhat disrespectfully enlisted to support an essentially wordly, political argument. That said, I’ll let you have the last word. Peace.

Munisha's picture

Here is the link for previous debate on this topic on TBCO.

https://thebuddhistcentre.com/news/more-triratna-climate-change-actions

werdnaydarg's picture

Dear James,

You characterise AGW as a leftist conspiracy, when to my mind, it would be just as fair, if not more so, to characterise climate change deniers as right-wing lunatics. You seem to be rejecting AGW arguments due to some long-lasting personal inner resentment against leftist ideas rather than because of the facts.  Nobody is bullying you to change your lifestyle, but given the great difficulty in getting people to become more responsible for their own harmful behaviour even a lonely voice like yours needs to be replied to.  Not bullied - replied to. I agree you do represent the silent passive majority.  That, to my mind, is exactly the problem.

Yours in peace and respect 

Werdna

 

james murphy's picture

Dear Werdna,

Not sure I suggested AGW was an exclusively Leftist conspiracy, only that it had well-rooted support from the Left who dislike capitalism and the engines of capitalism. Let me say another thing: you won’t find a more passionate lover of nature than me; as a poet my connection with it is mystical and deep: I just do not believe climate warming is significantly due to human generated emissions, and I refuse to be bullied into changing my mind by those whose life-styles and incomes (the AGW sector IS an industry) depend on it. Despite what is pronounced in the MSM, the science is not yet in: several much cleverer people than you and me harbour significant doubts about AGM, but their statistics are either rubbished or their voices silenced completely by not being reported in the first place! Add to this the shoddy morality of many AGW ‘scientists’ in the UEA scandal a few years back, and the complete discrediting of the so-called ‘hockey-stick’ analogy for accelerated warming, and you have several very substantial reasons for doutbing the official AGW position. Let me ask you this: given that you’re not a climate scientist yourself, what makes you so sure the AGW scientists must be right? How do you know? On what basis, other than blind faith or unconscious prejudice can you rationally come down on their side of the fence? This is my point: most people’s ‘belief’ in AGW is precisly that: a sort of quasi-religious faith dressed as a virtuous rationalism. Conversely, I base my scepticism on personal experience: I don’t perceive the climate changing grotesquely anywhere in the world: I DO see cyclical, probably solar flare-caused fluctuations. That being the case I wish to wait and see. I do not want to see the world’s beautiful wildernesses, sea-scapes and landscapes straddled, desecrated and ruined by gargantuan turbines or any other form of grotesque ‘alternative’ energy generator - all for the sake of a problem which very likely does not exist. That said, I cannot stand the modern urban landscape of faceless factories and warehouses either. Where this leaves me I know not: no doubt at the extreme margins of a bizarre, post-industrial, culturally exhausted Western empire! Kind regards, James

werdnaydarg's picture

Dear James,

Not sure how you assessed my credentials to speak on scientific matters, but I’ll let tat one slide for now. One reason for my doubting the word of AGW deniers is that I have studied the data.  I know that the correlation between the number of solar flares actually impacting earth and the clear irrefutable proof of global warming is very weak. Although correlation is not sufficient , in the absence of any other data or explanation, it is a necessary condition.  There is simply no data or scientific argument to back up your assertion that GW is caused by solar flares.

The evidence for Global warming is all around you. Visit the alps and ask the locals how much the glaciers have shrunk in the last 20 years.  Study the widely available data on mean temperatures throughout the world.  

You are right to be skeptical about the assertions of those who urge you to change your lifestyle for scientific reasons. But you should be just as skeptical about those who tell you that they have scientific reasons why you should carry on as usual.  Doing nothing is picking a side.

Don’t one of those people who say, ‘I may not know much about science, but I know what I believe.’ It sounds so crass.

yours respectfully

Werdna

james murphy's picture

Dear Werdna, 

I sense there is no moving either of us from our POVs in this matter, thus confirming my earlier point that in the absence of any definitive data (pace your confidence in your own expertise) the source of most people’s conviction in the AGM debate is emotional rather than objective. I say again, I personally do not experience any massive Global Warming that cannot be quite adequately explained by cyclical meteorology. (Btw, the Alpine snow, which I skied in six weeks ago, seemed just fine.) As for my sounding ‘crass’ to you: I guess I’ll just have to try and live with that one….

Kind regards,

James.