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Tonight's Homework from Christian Aid

Tonight the Englishettes brought this home from school...

Count%20your%20blessings.jpg

(Slices from several sheets for brevities sake, and I don't think it would be good for your blood pressure to read it all.)

Comments

I am so glad that my kids have grown up, and away from this claptrap. I would be hammering on the headteacher's door, baying for blood.

If you want to print it off for your own children. Here it is

And when the Englishettes go back with cheques for only a couple of quid, be sure to enclose a letter telling their teachers how you use kerosene lanterns and wood stoves... you being a poor farmer and all.

I can't describe how low my opinion of this charity is now. They will not receive a penny from me ever again.

Having had a quick skim through that (thanks, Kit) I can't see anything that's wrong with it in principle. It does have dodgy references to things being "not fair" (even using the word "just" for added annoyance) and to climate change but it is essentially a document saying that some benighted foreigners are poor and you are not, so would you please give them some money? As long as Christian Aid don't demand that you be relieved of that money at gunpoint by the state then there's not that much of a problem.

I'm inclined to agree with knirirr, as far as the *existence* of these sheets goes, but what are they doing coming from *school*?

I'm annoyed with Christian Aid for dumbing down the message so much that they lose the whole point of lent. Lent is not a time to count your blessings it is a time to meditate on your sins and to fast - basically a religious inspired 40 days of detox. I've always thought it was a nice idea to give the money that you save from fasting to a charity such as Christian Aid but the point of lent isn't the charitable giving its the fasting!

OH and the PDF says "Lent is the 40 or so days leading up to Easter". WTF??? Lent is PRECISELY 40 days from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday

From the first sheet:

"You’re probably using these sheets with an adult in your family who has their own version of Count Your Blessings."

I can't see any problem with that although I also don't like burdening a child with guilt by saying it's "not fair".
Where the problem comes is with imposing it from school. Such things should be done in and through families (if at all).

Rob Fisher said: "OH and the PDF says "Lent is the 40 or so days leading up to Easter".
WTF??? Lent is PRECISELY 40 days from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday"

Not quite true, Rob. I think Christian Aid have it better:

From Wikipedia (and supported by other, better, sources):

"In Western Christianity ... Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and concludes on Holy Saturday.
The six Sundays in Lent are not counted among the forty days because each Sunday represents
a "mini-Easter", a celebration of Jesus' victory over sin and death."

You can't see anything wrong with it?

"Climate change is making life difficult for the world's poorest people."

Really? How? Where? The problem for poor people is that enviro-fascists are preventing them from getting cheap energy under the guise of environmental causes and "Noble Savage" crap. Ask a sub-Saharan African if he'd rather have A/C and refrigeration.

"We can help reduce the effects of climate change by using less electricity."

False. Strawman.

"Give 10p for every item in your room that is using electricity."

Get them used to paying a levy for using electricity is the underlying goal. There is no proof that anthropomorphic climate change actually exists. There is no causal relationship between having a lamp in your room in England and people being poor somewhere else. Causal! There isn't even correlation!

If getting children used to strawman arguments and extraneous, superfluous and illogical argument is the goal, they could hardly have done better.

If the classroom exercise had been about how to see through fallacious arguments and think critically and unemotionally when presented with guilt-filled propaganda like that, then it would have been interesting. I doubt that was the case or purpose for distributing the flyers.

To be honest, this is not that bad. And in a way, that is the problem. If it was all totally awful, it would be easier to condemn it.

IMHO, there are three problems:

1) "Some people in other parts of the world have almost nothing, and that's just not fair." This begs the question "What constitutes fairness?" Is it intrinsically unfair that some people have a lot less than others? Is it unfair that some people are poor? The Bible teaches that it is unjust to treat the poor badly, and that it is right to be generous to them, but I am unaware of any place in the Bible that teaches that it unfair that some people are poor. This doctrine is socialism, not Christianity.

2) "Climate change is making life difficult for the world's poorest people. We can help reduce the effects of climate change by using less electricity." The first statement is basically true. Even if you don't accept that anthropogenic climate change is taking place, no one doubts that there have been changes in climate, and that these changes make life difficult for the world's poorest people. (However, even if the climate didn't change, the weather would make life hard difficult for them.) The second statement is debatable, but even if true, the implication is that the amount of difference we can make would be significant. This is highly questionable.

3) The school is basically encouraging children to give money to an organisation that is a) involved in socialist propaganda and b) making scientifically questionable statements which are, at the moment highly politically contentious.

I might add that I approve of aid agencies, because I do not believe that it is the government's job to be charitable with my money, but I find that most aid agencies feel the need to indulge in what they call 'education', but which I prefer to call propaganda.

AlanB wrote regarding Lent

"In Western Christianity ... Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and concludes on Holy Saturday.
The six Sundays in Lent are not counted among the forty days because each Sunday represents
a "mini-Easter", a celebration of Jesus' victory over sin and death."

This is odd and I beg to differ. Take a look at the Book of Common Prayer - http://www.eskimo.com/~lhowell/bcp1662/communion/lent.html

Ash Wednesday is the first day in Lent. The next collect epristle gospel is for the First Sunday IN Lent. The Sunday may be a slight relaxation of the fast (which Christian Aid ignores anyway) but they sure as heck are part of the 40 days of Lent according to the Church of England (or were perhaps in these clappy happy days they aren't).

[Yes I'm being a pedant]

no one doubts that there have been changes in climate, and that these changes make life difficult for the world's poorest people.

Yes, I do doubt it, as well as many others. We doubt ALL of it, because the science isn't even remotely close to using the scientific method. Other than "climate changes and has throughout history" there is no evidence to suggest that "global warming" or "global cooling" are anything other than specious fear mongering.

Further, you've based your extrapolation by assuming the first theory is correct, and it isn't (in science, that's a no-go). There is no evidence to suggest that warming in one place equates to warming in another place, or that the warming in another place is "bad." There is no reason to believe that warming causes problems for others, including "poor people." If the warming, that you're so confident about, occurred in Greenland, allowing a greater crop yield in any given year, how does that "harm" poor people if someone in Britain had three lamps in their room?

You've assigned a value judgment to warming... that it is "bad" and harms "poor people." Based on what evidence?

It's entirely illogical.

If weather in Chicago or Liverpool is in a warming trend for 10 years, there is no evidence that there is any warming in a specific village in Africa, or that if there was, that it caused harm to them in some way. The temperature readings are dipstick measurements that have been extrapolated to the whole, and that's WRONG:

Sources of error

1. One important error is due to the large variability in the the land and ocean temperature from region to region and month to month. Temperatures on land vary up to approximately 15-20 degrees C during the day at mid latitudes, and by up to approximately 50 degrees C from summer to winter. Over the oceans, the range is much smaller, approximately 7 degrees C from summer to winter.

2. The biggest error in the calculation is called the sampling error. We do not have enough measurements to determine if temperature is changing before about 1850, and we barely have enough even today. The error leads to some the year-to-year variability in the plot of global averaged surface temperature as as a function of time. Also read about the sampling error in oceanography (scroll down to find the box on sampling error.

3. Smith and Reynolds report that the 95% confidence uncertainty for the near-global average is 0.48C or more in the nineteenth century, near 0.28C for the first half of the twentieth century, and 0.18C or less after 1950.

4. Instruments have some error. For example, water in buckets made of canvas used from 1900 to 1940 cooled off quickly compared with water in wooden buckets used before 1900. This introduced systematic, small errors into global averages of sea-surface temperature. See Box 2.2: Adjustments and Corrections to Marine Observations in measurements of sea surface temperature and ocean air temperature in Climate Change 2001.

5. The urban heat island effect. Most measurements on land are made near cities. As cities grow, they heat the atmosphere over and near the city. This heating is due to the city, not to global warming. About 50% of the warming in the US may be due to heat islands and land use changes (Kalnay, 2003).

Hello, Mrs du Toit.

You appear to be disagreeing with me, which rather surprised me. I wrote "no one doubts that there have been changes in climate." What I meant was, to use your words "climate changes and has throughout history" - and I rather thought that it was pretty obvious that I meant this. Sorry for confusion caused.

Similarly, when I wrote "these changes make life difficult for the world's poorest people," I simply meant that if one is very poor, almost any change will bring difficulty.

To put it another way, the statement by Christian Aid that "Climate change is making life difficult for the world's poorest people," is virtually a truism. It may not mean what they think it means, and what they want us to think it means, but on one level it is difficult to deny.

By the way, I do have one scientific question for you. You wrote "There is no proof that anthropomorphic climate change actually exists." How exactly is anthropomorphic climate change different from anthropogenic climate change?

anthropomorphic climate change different from anthropogenic climate change

"Anthropogenic" is likely more accurate, but "anthropomorphic" is common use. (Which is why I generally use "man-caused" to be clear, but didn't here... coz I'm a ditz.)

I don't think it is correct to assert that "change" in weather is bad or good. If you live in a place that is too hot for crops to grow, then hotter weather will either make no difference, or it will be the same. If it cools, it would be more pleasant and crop yields (and animal life) would be more abundant. If you live in a colder place, with lower crop yields because of it, warmer weather will see greater yields, and more abundant animal life. Unless the more abundant animal life is lions or snakes, even more abundance in that arena could be a bad thing (if you lived in the wild).

Change is just "different." We can't make sweeping generalizations that is a bad or good and harms "poor people." Each place and weather change has to be looked at in isolation, and only then can we come to an agreement on bad or good in that one place. Even then it is open to disagreement. It would depend on what you got more or less of, based on the change, and it is likely to be mixed bag of some good, some not so good, some worse, etc.

"Climate change is making life difficult for the world's poorest people," is virtually a truism.

No, it isn't a truism. It's a sweeping generalization with no evidence to support it.

It was warmer in the Arctic over the last X years, but it was cooler in the Antarctica. Is that "better" or "worse" for either area? If a ski area gets more snow in winter, is that "bad" or "good"? If Mr. Englishman can grow wine grapes on the Castle farm, but can no longer grow blackberries, is that good or bad? (I think I know what he'd answer.)

Man has had more direct impacts on "poor people" by killing farmers in Africa, parceling out the land to "the poor" and leaving regions like Zimbabwe, once food exporters, starving. The direct effects of man's actions are having a lot more impact than a slight/trivial 1 degree temperature change. There are all sorts of wild reports about the decline in food production in Africa, and global warming is often the cited reason. Bollocks! Socialism and environmental do-goodism are the major reasons. Is the response to build nuclear power plants to help "the poor" come in from the cold or hot? Of course not! That would be damaging the environment of the noble savage. Western medicine, increasing life expectancy and improving infant mortality has strained specific regions. When cyclical droughts and flooding hit those area, MORE people die than before, because we interfered by keeping more alive, without requiring any change in the behavior of people having fewer children. A drought, that at one time killed 10,000, now kills 100,000. We've radically increased populations by bringing Western medicines, but the people have not altered their behavior, or modernized, to adapt their environment to their larger populations. These are all big "DUHs!" in the cries to do something about the world's poor.

If we REALLY want to help "the poor" we should be sending them bullets to shoot their tyrannical leaders. I don't think the Christian Aid society would champion that message, however.

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