Greetings, fellow Coppertops! For this week's mission, we'll be sent to study the latest White House report warning about the immediate effects of Climate Change; we'll also observe the worrying lynching of a Brazilian woman, which was triggered by accusations of witchcraft over Facebook; we'll revisit the alleged piece of papyrus from the Gospel of Jesus' wife due to recently surfaced new evidence, and after that assess our civilization's preparedness in case ET finally decides to come down & say Hi. Finally, we'll conclude our mission with one of the pioneering explorers of the Final Frontier: Captain Kirk, who in his retirement after leaving the Enterprise's bridge has taken a look in the controversial subject of alien abduction. I don't know about you, but if it was the Orion slave girls the ones conducting the abductions, I wouldn't mind be part of that clandestine inter-species intermingling!
Last Tuesday the White House released a report with the type of bad news Americans have been in denial to admit for the last 20 years: Climate Change is not just hypothetical phenomenon looming over the horizon, and which might prevent their great-grand kids to ever see a polar bear in the wild; Climate Change is happening RIGHT NOW, its immediate effects are the freak super-storms & droughts affecting many areas of the United States much more regularly --and things are just going to get worse.
[The study] predicts sea levels will rise at least a foot by the end of the century and perhaps as much as four feet, depending on how much of the Greenland and Antarctic ice shelf melts.
Such an outcome could be catastrophic for millions of people living along the ocean, submerging tropical islands and encroaching on coastal areas.
Low-lying U.S. cities already experience high flooding, with Miami planning to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to address the problem, noted Jerry Melillo of Marine Biological Laboratory, who chaired the advisory committee that produced the new assessment.
The Great Plains could experience heavier droughts and heat waves with increasing frequency, while more wildfires in the West could threaten agriculture and residential communities, the report notes.
Obama's week-long focus on climate change continues Wednesday, when the White House convenes a summit focused on green building tactics. Later in the week, Obama will announce new solar power initiatives, according to Podesta.
The time when we could discuss ways to stop or prevent the worse effects of Climate Change has long gone. Now is the time to discuss how we're going to cope with the type of extreme weather that is bound to become 'the new normal.' Our species has proven very resilient in finding ways to adapt to new situations, but let's not kid ourselves: Sacrifices are going to be needed, and our generation is probably the one who will find it harder to get used to this new world.
East Anglia climatologist Phil Jones suffered a modern witch-hunt when the so-called 'Climate Gate' scandal erupted in 2009. Of course, in that instance the term 'witch hunt' is used metaphorically, because we all know women are no longer pursued & killed over accusations of black magic & communing with the Devil, right?
WRONG. It's sad for me to inform that the age-old paranoia about witchcraft is very much alive, and not just is some remote regions of Africa. Last week a 33-year-old housewife named Fabiane Maria de Jesus was lynched to death by an angry mob in the coastal town of Guarujá, near São Paulo, Brazil. The poor woman was accused of being a witch involved in the kidnapping of children in the region --she was seen in the market offering a fruit to a kid, the worst possible way to misinterpret an act of charity IMO-- and her horrible death was recorded on two videos which I'm not going to link in the column.
According to lawyer Airton Sinto, who represents Fabiane's family, part of the blame for the beating can be attributed to a news-related profile on Facebook called "Guarujá Alerta."
The profile circulated a "rumor" that a woman was abducting children to use during black magic rituals. Also according to Sinto, a composite sketch of the supposed witch was published on the profile.
If you interpret this crime as the result of ignorance & foolish superstitious beliefs, you'd be wrong. What about the vigilante Redditors who took it upon themselves to catch the Boston bombers, and ended up framing the wrong guy? The problem is not in superstition, but in misusing the underestimated power of social networks.
If we're talking about persecuted women, then perhaps no one has suffered most accusations & persecution than Mary Magdalene. Over the centuries the church has labelled her as a repented whore, where in reality she could've been the closest person to Jesus in his circle of followers.
Last month we mentioned a small piece of papyrus said to be part of a gnostic text in which Jesus mentions his wife, and how apparently a team of experts have concluded that it was not a modern forgery. But now new evidence has been uncovered raising doubts about the authenticity of the text.
Dr. Christian Askeland, a young American--& IMO, with the perfect name for a theological academician-- doesn't have objections with the the Gospel of Jesus' Wife's content, but with its handwriting style & the ink used by the author. He found another fragment of papyrus said to be from the Gospel of John --both of these were given to historian Karen L. King by the same owner-- and he compared the John text with another copy called the Codex Qau, which is an authenticated ancient relic; his results: both of the John texts were IDENTICAL.
Dr. Askeland’s theory is that a modern-day forger copied from a photograph of the Qua codex off the Internet. If the John text is forged, he reasons, so is the Gospel of Jesus’ Wife, which seems to be written by the same hand.
Not only that, but he found that both these John texts were written in the Lycopolitan dialect, which experts believe died out before the seventh or eighth century, when the Gospel of Jesus’ Wife was supposedly written, according to radiocarbon testing.
I guess this puts the nail on the cross, huh?
Maybe Ridley Scott was right. Maybe the reason the aliens haven't come down is because they're bothered to what we did to their last envoy --we killed him like a criminal & then turned him into a deity.
Even among reputable scientists the issue of contact with an ET civilization --either over long distance radio signals or physical interaction-- is not a matter of 'If' but of 'When'. Seth Shostak & his SETI boys are promising we'll detect an extraterrestrial intelligence by 2040; a ballsy prediction, but I'm sure they'd come up with the perfect excuse if proven to be false.
But even if it happen tomorrow or next year, would we be ready for such a psychological collective impact? That's what neuro-psychologist Gabriel G. De La Torre, a professor at Spain's University of Cádiz wanted to find out; he applied a written questionnaire to 116 Spanish, Italian & American college students to assess their knowledge & level of perception in matters related to Astronomy, our world & the environment, our place in the Cosmos & their religious beliefs; he published the preliminary results at the International Academy of Astronautics online journal Acta Astronautica, and his conclusion will be veeery disappointing for anyone eager to experience a close encounter of the 3rd kind.
Our empirical study shows a deficiency of astronomy and Space-related knowledge among subjects of our sample, but we suspect that this is a generalized effect. This effect together with other factors such as religious beliefs and self and global consciousness levels as a species may represent key modular aspects to higher levels of awareness of our cosmic nature. A possible explanation can be related to the current modus vivendi in our industrialized society. It is interesting to note that the current global communications era does not seem to affect global or cosmic consciousness. On the basis of the results of our study, most transcendent factors for existential concerns continue to be related to religion instead of ecology or cosmology. It is strongly recommended that we try to develop a road map for contact that includes education as the most important factor.
Instead of relying on second-hand opinions in the media, I decided to read the original paper to make my own conclusions. You can read my extended op-ed at The Daily Grail, but to briefly summarize it here I found De La Torre's study to be quite biased in his hypothesis & methodology. Dude puts way too much emphasis on religion IMO, given how his sampled test subjects ALL come from Christian nations --and Spain, where the core of the group came from, is still a very Catholic country despite modern secularization trends. Religion can color your beliefs & expectations, but so too can materialism; which is why even among bright individuals you can find a very unreasonable dismissal of the UFO phenomenon.
But in the end the main problem with De La Torre, is something Richard Dolan has mentioned many times when he equates ET contact with parenthood: No matter who you are & how ready you feel you are, you're NEVER fully prepared to become a parent; but once you do, you learn the ropes as you go along.
I suspect the same happen when we finally meet with the big boys in the galactic playground.
If we today are having the serious discussion of getting in contact with ET intelligences, I think it's largely due to the huge impact shows like Star Trek had in our modern society. If nothing more, we have a great debt with Gene Roddenberry for allowing us to envision how our lives could change once we grew out of our current cultural adolescence.
William Shatner has had a long & fruitful career in Hollywood, but he'll forever be remembered as the intrepid Captain Kirk, leader of the USS Enterprise crew. But aside of being a famous actor, he's also a prolific writer of both fiction & non-fiction books. In a recent interview with Larry King, he discussed the topic of his latest Sci-Fi novel: Alien abductions.
Yeah, Will makes John Mack's death sound like a big conspiracy --and to be fair, there's still many in the UFO circles who believe that-- but aside from it I must say I found his observations about the UFO phenomenon in general, and so-called alien abductions in particular, to be very poignant, despite being poorly articulated. "Do UFOs exist?" he asks, "it depends on what you mean (by) 'exist.'"
I myself have arrived to similar conclusions, and sometimes get exasperated with some UFO researchers who are only interested in the 'nuts-and-bolts' aspect of the UFO phenomenon. We have this skewed notion that 'physicality' = Reality, and that the more physical a phenomenon is, the more valid it is than some phenomenon which leaves no physical traces we can examine with our current scientific instruments.
UFOs are not only a threat to our petty assumptions about life in the Universe. They are a threat to our most basic assumptions about the nature of Reality itself.
Until next time, this is RPJ jacking out. Encouraging you to boldly go where no Paradigm has gone before.