And I saw the beast, the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army. Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone.  And the rest were killed with the sword which proceeded from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse. And all the birds were filled with their flesh. — The Revelation of St. John The Divine, Chapter 19

“There’s something you don’t see every day.” — Bullwinkle

NOW THAT WE KNOW DEFINITIVELY  that the Rapture will absolutely and positively without a doubt occur on Saturday, you have to figure this can’t be good for the environment. Or could it?

After careful study of the great theologians, environmental scientists and bartenders of our day, I’ve come up with a list of Rapture pros and cons.

Pro: These raptures seem to involve lakes of fire and flaming rivers. In other words, a hydro-geo-thermal energy-palooza!

Con: They also involve seas of blood, which can get messy and attract flies. Plus it’s hard to swim in a lake of fire, but at least beachfront property would be cheap.

Pro: A big-ass bottomless pit is supposed to open up after the fifth trumpet sounds. Overcrowded landfill problem solved!

Con: Locusts and scorpions = pest control nightmare.

Pro: For every person who gets sucked into heaven, we reduce energy consumption by about 8,000 TOE (Tonnes of Oil Equivalent) a year — if they’re from the industrialized West. If they’re from the Third World, it might only be a thousand TOE each, but either way it’s a win.

Con: All those bodies flying through the air will wreak havoc on air-traffic control. And if they happen to be driving at the time, it’ll leave God knows how many engines idling and spewing carbon monoxide and other crap into the air.

Pro: Props to the Four Horsemen for using alternative transportation.

Con: Methane from horse farts is a greenhouse gas.

Pro: Fewer people = less agricultural consumption, easing food shortages.

Con: If  all our farmers get raptured, the organic movement is screwed.

Pro: Earthquakes and meteors could wipe out Utah, the Arizona Legislature and the set of Dancing With The Stars. Not really an environmental issue, but a bonus nonetheless.

Con: With all that sulfur, brimstone and wormwood, there’ll be hell to pay with the EPA.

Pro: If your mom gets raptured you can finally get a puppy.

Con: Every Starbucks bulletin board will be so filled  with found pet ads that there won’t be room for you to promote your blog.

Pro: Screams From Souls of the Damned would make a really cool band name.

Con: It might be hard to sleep with all that racket.

— John D’Anna

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Earth Day has been around 41 years. Good Friday has been around for about 2,000. But today is the first time they’ve ever converged, and it won’t happen again until 2095, when we’re all worm food. Most of us anyway.

So today seems like as good a time as any to ask, WWJD about the environment?

We don’t have to look far for evidence. The Bible – go ahead, I’ll wait while you dust yours off or find another book to prop up that broken leg on your night stand – says quite a lot about the environment, starting with Genesis where it says God made man a steward of the Earth.

In fact, The Good Book contains some of the earliest – and finest — examples of environmental writing in the Western tradition.

 Bill McKibben, the founder of 350.0rg and the author the first and perhaps best book about climate change, points out that the 38th and 39th chapters of the book of Job contain some of the most gorgeous environmental descriptions ever written. It start’s with God’s question to Job about who created the glories of the earth, and culminates in Chapter 39 as God continues the interrogation:

 Do you give the horse his strength, and endow his neck with splendor?  Do you make the steed to quiver while his thunderous snorting spreads terror? He jubilantly paws the plain and rushes in his might against the weapons. ..Is it by your discernment that the hawk soars, that he spreads his wings toward the south? Does the eagle fly up at your command to build his nest aloft? On the cliff he dwells and spends the night, on the spur of the cliff or the fortress. From thence he watches for his prey; his eyes behold it afar off…

Elsewhere in the Old Testament, odes to the glories of creation abound. Genesis, Isaiah, The Song of Solomon and the Psalms.

In fact, Psalm 104 echoes the language of the book of Job, only as praise instead of rebuke:

The trees of the LORD are well watered,
   the cedars of Lebanon that he planted.
 There the birds make their nests;
   the stork has its home in the junipers.
 The high mountains belong to the wild goats;
   the crags are a refuge for the hyrax.

 He made the moon to mark the seasons,
   and the sun knows when to go down.
 You bring darkness, it becomes night,
   and all the beasts of the forest prowl.
 The lions roar for their prey
  and seek their food from God.
  The sun rises, and they steal away;
   they return and lie down in their dens.

The New Testament as well gives us guidance:

Matthew 6:26 – Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?

Romans 1:19-20 – …since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

And Revelation 11:18 – The nations were angry; and your wrath has come. The time has come for judging the dead, and for rewarding your servants the prophets and your saints and those who reverence your name, both small and great — and for destroying those who destroy the earth.

It’s pretty clear that God would not be happy with the way things are now. In fact, there’s  an old bumper sticker that said “Jesus is coming, and boy is he pissed,” which later became the lyrics to a country song, so you know it’s got to be true.

Witness:

  • An effort to extract oil from the tar sands in the stunningly beautiful boreal forest in Alberta, Canada, has resulted in a denuded toxic quagmire the size of England. And they want to do the same thing in Utah.
  • A year since BP’s ill-fated Macondo off-shore  well dumped nearly 5 million  gallons of crude into the Gulf of Mexico, followed by  2 million gallons of chemical disbursing agents, we still can’t calculate the damage to fragile marine life, coral and delicate coastal marshlands, where tar balls are still washing up.
  • And in Japan, well, only God knows how that mess will wind up.

A few years ago, a controversial Anglican priest in the U.K. named Rev. Jonathan Hagger delivered a sermon on climate change and creation.

Unfortunately, it no longer appears on his highly entertaining and considerably irreverent blog, which is titled “Of Course I Could Be Wrong…,” but I did manage to save a portion of it:

“When God became human in Jesus Christ, God did not just take on the appearance of a human being, he took on the substance of a human being. The molecules that formed the body of Christ, were exactly the same, with nothing subtracted, as the molecules that form all our bodies. And these molecules can be found, in some form or another, in all animal life and plant life. In fact, they come from the very ground we stand on. They come from the very stars we would see in the night sky if we didn’t have such appalling light pollution in our city. They come from the beginnings of the universe. Therefore, just as we are part of everything, so was Jesus.

That is why we are told, that, at the moment God died on the cross, the whole of creation responded. The very fabric of our planet screamed out in pain and anguish because, it felt the crucifixion. Most human beings, alive at the time did not feel the crucifixion because in their arrogance they had cut themselves from creation. We still do not feel the crucifixion because we are still too arrogant. We do not feel the crucifixion of Christ and we do not feel the crucifixion of our planet. In our arrogance we believe Jesus died just for us. But Jesus is God incarnate in creation so he redeems all creation not just the miniscule little bit of creation that comprises of human beings.

God looked at everything he had made and he saw that everything was good. Everything pleased him.

It would be pleasing to God if we took more care of those things that please God. If we begin now to take proper care of the earth, to live in creation, not against creation, we just might, with the help of God, end up with a habitable planet to hand on to our children. But to achieve this we are first, like Saint Francis, going to have to learn to live in union with creation not at the expense of creation.”

I hope you’ll give that some thought this Earth Day. This Good Friday.

— John D’Anna

An excerpt from our forthcoming column in The Mesa Republic:

We’re glad to see our fair city is encouraging everyone to participate in Earth Hour.

In case you didn’t get the memo, Mesa will be among 4,100 cities from 87 countries whose residents will dim their lights for an hour Saturday night at 8:30 p.m. local time to call attention to climate change and energy conservation.

Around the country, monuments such as like the Empire State Building, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Mormon Temple in Salt Lake City, the Las Vegas Strip and Simon Cowell’s soul will go dark for an hour.

The Earth Hour Web site, myearthhour.org, has a bunch of cool videos with ideas on how to observe the event, but frankly if you can’t figure out what to do for an hour in the dark, you’re not watching enough Cinemax.

We know some of you don’t believe in climate change, but, still, turning out the lights can save you a few bucks, which you could then donate to your favorite charity. Did we mention we were on furlough last week?

Anyway, it must be OK because a bunch of red states like Florida, Arkansas and Georgia are doing it along with as well as the pinko states.

— John D’Anna

So even if you don’t care about the polar bears or the guy in the Maldives whose whole country is about to get swamped, or the melting glaciers or disintegrating ice shelfs or the killer hurricanes or any of that other stuff, here’s why you should care about climate change.

It’ll cost you more to get hammered.

Last month, a scientist in the Czech Republic (motto: Like Czechoslovakia but easier to spell) reported that climate change is adversely affecting both the quality and the quantity of the hops they grow there for their fine Pilsners.

According to a report in Discovery.com, Martin Mozny,  a climatologist at the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute and Bar and Grill, studied weather patterns, crop yields and the acid levels of the delicate Saaz hops, which make the best Pilsners. His team looked at data from1954 t0 2006 and determined that  acid levels had dropped 0.06  percent every year. To maintain their bitter taste, hops need to contain alpha acid levels at a certain percent, but Mozny’s team found that the levels are dropping dramatically and predicted it’s only going to get worse because of continually rising temperatures in the Czech Republic as well as parts of Germany and Slovakia.

But it’s not just beer.

For several years, the French have been complaining about the quality of the wines they’re getting from certain regions and how the woeful grape yields are driving up the cost. In fact, Greenpeace just released a huge report saying basically the same thing the Czechs found, but with wine.

“The average annual temperature (in wine-growing regions) has significantly increased, leading to major shifts in the wine production calendar. The harvesting season is occurring much earlier than normal and higher temperatures are proving detrimental to the vines,” the report says. “Wines end up having higher sugar levels and alcohol content while retaining less acids – which means they are unbalanced with an overripe flavour and heavier texture.”

Now we know what you’re thinking — who cares about the French? We feel the same way, although that Carla Bruni is quite the dish. What’s she doing with that dopey Sarkozy guy anyway?

But the point is it’s not just France and the Czech Republic or even Europe. There’s a reason they call it global warming.

Which brings us to Mexico.

Several studies have shown that tequila production is a nasty business and creates a pretty big environmental mess — and that’s before you drink it. Basically, it takes 10 gallons of water to produce one gallon of tequila. Much of that water is then discharged back into the environment, along with the used agave pulp, which emits a putrid oil. It’s not treated as wastewater before it’s discharged back into the water table, which has created a pollution nightmare for the indigenous people who try to make a living farming the land.

So what’s that got to do with climate change? To begin with, tequila is made in a desert environment that can ill afford to contaminate its very finite water supply. And like grapes and hops, agave plants depend on certain levels of acidity in the soil and stable annual weather patterns.Yet increasing droughts and desertification from climate change is changing the quality and quantity of the crop yields.

So what can we do about it? There’s the usual baby steps — walk more, drive less, compact fluorescent bulbs. But the big thing you can do is go to 350.org and participate in the worldwide call to action on climate change Oct. 24.  You can also sign a sort of virtual petition calling upon our leaders to address the climate crisis.

The number 350 represents the parts per million of atmospheric carbon dioxide that most scientists say we need to get to before we can stabilize our changing climate and head off the violent storms, melted ice caps and floating polar bear carcasses that will almost certainly be the consequence of doing nothing. Currently we’re at about 390 — before the Industrial Revolution, it was 280.

And we here in the U.S. are among the largest greenhouse gas belchers in the world, even though we represent a small portion of the world’s population. 

In December world leaders will gather in Copenhagen to negotiate a global response to climate change.

Today is international Blog Action Day, and we’re proud to be joining writers around the world in asking our readers to take action.

Some folks say there’s nothing to worry about. We respectfully disagree. We’ve been writing on this issue for a while now. We’ve interviewed some of the smartest people in the business and read their research. We don’t pretend to know everything, but we’ve seen enough disinformation and hidden financial motives from the deniers to set our B.S. detectors to DefCon 5.

But don’t take our word for it. Do your own research. And after you do, go to 350.org and send a message to our leaders that you care about our planet, that you’re tired of the way big oil companies are ruining our environment. And tell them that if our politicians are going to continue to drive us to drink, we at least want something better than Sterno.

— John D’Anna