Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Say NO to Indoctrination

Please don't indoctrinate me with religion. Teach me to think for myself.

I would like to draw your attention to the word indoctrinate. Indoctrination is filling a child’s mind with one-sided subjective opinions that do not rely on facts. I guess we may reach an agreement to qualify those opinions and where they originate from as non-factual, mystical, spiritual or supernatural. I don’t mean necessarily they are bad or evil please note.

Influencing someone with non-factual opinions may not always be harmful. If someone believes fairies that glow at night in their backyard, or they believe star signs, or they believe a soul, or a spirit to grant everlasting life these seem pretty harmless and we should tolerate them.

Also if someone takes only peaceful messages from a religion and ignores the evil parts such as disrespecting or killing others, then perhaps pains religions inflicted in human beings throughout history may be set aside; we then may consider such benign realisations as cultural nuances, embrace those individuals, say “good for you”, and move on.

But it is one thing that a child believes in Santa Claus, it is another thing if you teach them other religions are evil and he should one day blow himself up and kill as many as possible from the other side for reserving a good seat in heaven.

Or it is one thing to teach peaceful attributes of a religion and respect for others and it is another thing to inflict hostility in the heart of an innocent child by labelling all other religions as fake and their believers inferior.

Or it could be another thing to teach a child all religions and atheism in the context of ethics and objective history along with science and theory of evolution, and eventually let them decide whichever religion to believe or not to believe anything at all.

The issue here is not about legislating how parents should raise their kids but whether world nations should any longer endorse religious indoctrination through publicly or privately funded faith schools.

In Britain recently the UK Government passed a law to abolish public funding of faith schools. This is an important step if we want to build peaceful democratic societies.

This is also a clear message from a Western government on the dangers of sponsoring faiths schools, which often singlehandedly indoctrinate kids with hatred and cause painful segregation inside the larger civil society they breed within.

Hence this is in my opinion the way the message on the billboard should be read.

Children are pillars of our future. Can we afford to let them be raised in intolerance?

Put another way do we need to tolerate the intolerant?

Just as we don’t indoctrinate children with racism and holocaust denial we should not indoctrinate them with subjective one-sided religious thinking, fear mongering, bigotry and hatred for others.

It is wrong.

I think anyone with common sense, religious or non-religious alike, would see merits of these arguments.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Recasting Malthusian Theory

The researches estimate that the carbon legacy of the average female in the United States is 18,500 tonnes of CO2 while that of a Bangladeshi woman is only 136 tonnes.

In other words, the future stream of carbon emissions following a decision by an American couple to have an extra child is 130 times greater that of a decision by a Bangladeshi couple.

Put another way, to have the same impact on future global carbon emissions, a decision by one American couple not to have a child would have to be matched by 130 Bangladeshi couples.

Therefore it makes no sense to single out population growth without linking people to their expected consumption.

Recognising that it is affluence rather than population growth that is mainly responsible for the climate crisis allows us to recast the famous Malthusian theory.


Requiem for a Species – Clive Hamilton
Malthusian Catastrophe - Wikipedia


I am reading a book called Requiem for a Species1 by Clive Hamilton. 

In Hamilton's terms: 
"This book is about why we have ignored those (Climate Change) warnings, so that now it is too late." 

In the 1990’s the IPCC2 developed a number of scenarios to reflect future influences on emissions and associated warming. The worst-case scenario is known as A1F1.

In A1F1 IPCC anticipated growth in CO2 emissions of 2.5% per annum through to 2030, yet we have seen that from around 2000 global emissions began growing at 3% a year.

The IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report, published in 2007, narrowed the likely range of warming to 2.4 to 4.6°C above pre-industrial levels by 2100 if we do nothing.

The upper limit of 4.6°C became the most likely outcome for the A1F1 scenario since emissions grew faster than projected by IPCC in 1990’s.

Climate scientists believe that the temperature threshold that would bring about the melting of the Greenland icesheet is between 1°C and 3°C, in other words well below the 4.6°C warming level expected under A1F1.

Melting of the Greenland icesheet would eventually result in the world’s oceans rising by around seven meters, dramatically redrawing the geography of the Earth.

A recent study3 concluded that a 4°C rise in the Earth's average temperature would kill of 85% of the Amazon rainforest, and that even a 2°C rise, now seen as unavoidable, will see 20-40% of it dies off.


1. Requiem for a Species – Clive Hamilton
2. IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change)
3. David Adam, 'Amazon could shrink by 85%, die to climate change, scientists say', Guardian, 11 March 2009.