The Peace of Christ

Here is the sermon I delivered to Kippax Uniting Church on Sunday 5 July 2020

Bible readings: Zechariah 9:9-12, Matthew 11:28-30, Psalm 145:8-14

Sermon – The Peace of Christ
The prophet Zechariah lived more than 500 years before Christ, shortly after the captive Israelites returned from Babylon to Jerusalem. Zechariah’s vision of the coming Messiah is one of the most thrilling stories in the Bible, telling of the presence of God in history. Handel used this text for the wonderful soprano Air in The Messiah, Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! I have put a link to this Messiah piece on the Kippax Uniting Church Facebook page if you would like to listen to it. Here is a short excerpt.

Zechariah’s statement that the Messiah would command peace to all the nations is similar to Isaiah’s prophecy of the Prince of Peace, preaching a fellowship of reconciliation, a community of forgiveness and mercy, a world of restorative justice. These teachings envisage the advent of Jesus Christ as transforming our prevailing beliefs, including our systems of military security. Rather than seeking safety in war horses and chariots and armies and swords, the prophets predict a time when security will be delivered through shared universal faith in God, mediated by Christ.

Security is a primary theme for the prophets, with the idea that Israel as a small nation surrounded by large empires can only achieve durable peace by building friendly cooperative relations with its neighbours, removing any incentive to invade. Hence the ultimate security emerges through the shared identity and solidarity that comes through the trust of a common faith, the connection arising from open regular communication and friendship, a goal that of course has been elusive.

Zechariah points to the paradoxes of Christianity with his vision of Christ as King. Power will come through love rather than physical strength. The true leader is humble rather than proud and arrogant. The Saviour of Israel will humble himself to ride a donkey rather than a war horse. Triumph and victory come from speaking of peace and respect. What God sees within the inner life of our heart is more important than our reputation in the world.

Looking to the theology, the message is that actions that advance the Kingdom of God often conflict with the prevailing assumptions and values in human life. Many people who gain worldly power seek prestige and control and fame and wealth, whereas Jesus tells us in the Sermon on the Mount that the blessing of God is for the peacemakers, the meek, the poor in spirit and the pure. Christ tells us in the Last Judgement that if we want salvation, we should perform works of mercy such as feeding the hungry and visiting prisoners. Creating peace in the world is all about building deep connection.

We can well imagine how these teachings must have infuriated and confused the powers of Jesus’ day. The Gospels tell us the consequences when Jesus Christ proclaimed these teachings about the path of peace. He struck such fear into the local leadership in Jerusalem that they arranged for the Roman Empire to execute him as a seditious political criminal, in the most cruel and gruesome and painful way possible, mocked and scourged and nailed to a cross.

This idea from Zechariah of peace through a transformative faith looks idiotic to rulers when their nation faces invasion and military occupation. The leaders of Jerusalem wanted to send a signal to Rome that they rejected messianic prophecy as a practical government policy. And so they failed to see the true identity of Christ.

As Saint Paul wrote in First Corinthians, the message of the cross seems like foolishness to the world. However, the story of the resurrection tells us there is an eternal power of God in this apparent worldly weakness and failure. We need patience to await a time when such transforming ideas will get a serious audience. Jesus himself said in Matthew 24:14 that the sign of his coming would be that this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations. That is something that has only occurred with the global connections of modern times.

The world was certainly not ready for this prophetic message of peace two thousand years ago. So how remarkable that Zechariah brought such tidings of great joy, the prophecy of the Messiah as king of the world. The powerful story tells of Christ ruling the world in truth and grace through the wonders of His love, as the hymn Joy to the World proclaims. Zechariah imagines a time when Jerusalem will be a centre of peace and love rather than war and hatred. He calls his readers “prisoners of hope”, a very peculiar phrase. Zechariah seems here to suggest that people of true faith are captured by this seemingly impossible vision of a world transformed, that we are compelled to proclaim the good news of Christ. We are probably still not ready for such a paradigm shift in world politics, understood as a kingdom of this world. Yet as Christians we are called to imagine what it could mean.

What would it mean for Christ to rule the world as Zechariah imagines? Jesus himself tells us in the text for today that his aim is to lift our heavy burdens and relieve our weariness. He says his gentle and humble heart will lead us with an easy yoke and a light burden. This image of liberation from our troubles and traumas rests on faith in God as the source of transformation. Jesus calls us to overcome the weight of worldly corruption through the power of love, creating a path toward a universal life of grace and peace for all. That is not something that will happen quickly or easily, but it invites us to think about what the peace of Christ really means.

One text that I have always admired in this light is the old Chinese wisdom book from Taoism, the Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu. The title Tao Te Ching translates as the Book of the Way of Integrity. It includes a remarkable statement about leadership that I think bears comparison with the messianic vision of peace in Zechariah. Lao Tzu tells us that the best rulers are scarcely known by their subjects, while the next best leaders are those who are loved and praised. He says bad leaders are feared, while the worst are despised. When the best rulers achieve their purpose, their people claim the achievement as their own.

I was reminded of this text firstly by the comment from Jesus that his yoke is easy, rather like the leader who is not even known. A yoke keeps two oxen in line to pull a plough, joining their strength together. This forced obedience of the yoke is often used as a symbol of political oppression, but Jesus inverts the symbol to suggest that obeying the light yoke of his teachings will create freedom. This is the type of king who Zechariah suggests can bring universal peace to the world by tuning in to the will of God, liberating rather than dominating. The king who freely chooses to make his triumphant entry riding a donkey displays that his concern is not for his own advantage, but entirely for the good results that will come from his decisions and actions. As Saint Paul explains in his letter to the Philippians, Jesus emptied himself of all but love, making himself a slave to God. This obedience to the moral call of God is what Zechariah called becoming a prisoner of hope. The eastern philosophy that sees the individual as united to the whole universe expresses this self-emptying idea by comparing our personal identity to a drop of water in the ocean.

We are so far away from rule by the unknown king of love that it seems impossible. Yet this high prophecy calls us to imagine and create the world we want to eventually build, a world of complete freedom and justice and peace. As the Lord’s Prayer puts it, a world where the will of God is done on earth as in heaven. This is a utopian dream of universal abundance and trust, where material needs are fully met and everyone can focus on spiritual fulfillment, creating a situation of high ethical values and education. In this imaginary future, good governance will arise naturally and democratically from shared values. Ability to make local decisions will be so strong that there will be no role for rulers other than to gently guide and coordinate the decisions that people have made for themselves. As Lao Tzu suggests, the best leaders will bring peace and justice to the world in a way that is not even known to the people, because these values of trust and care will be so strongly ingrained in the structure of society. The yoke of government will be easy to bear. These things do all sound fanciful. And yet we have been constantly amazed at how technology has transformed our lives in a few short years. Perhaps in the future such a vision will become reality, although changing people is probably much harder than changing technology. The timeline of the ancient wisdom of the Bible sees a thousand years as a day for God, which is the sort of period that would be needed for such a change in human nature through broad acceptance of the values of the gospel.

Jesus tells us that the gospel values that are needed to gradually aim toward such a heaven on earth are all about caring for the least of the world as though they were him. That is an integral vision that includes care for the poor as well as care for nature, as Pope Francis proposed in his Laudato Si encyclical. The scale of trauma in the world means that such a vision might well take another thousand years to bring about, but if the goal is set clearly, then gradual steady progress can occur. Setting such a positive hopeful goal and discussing it can support the social purpose of confronting the negative values that are dragging us towards conflict and collapse.

As the Psalmist said in our reading, God is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. The immense problems in our world mean the slow anger of God is gradually building. And yet the presence of authentic faith has a redeeming quality, with capacity to help to atone for all our heedless destructive actions. The abounding steadfast love and gracious mercy of God will remain with us and protect us through the holy word of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour.


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2040 Movie Review

2040 Movie Review
Robert Tulip (1000 words)

Damon Gameau is the writer, director, narrator, genius and star of his superb new movie 2040. Constantly friendly, engaging and upbeat, Damon enlists his sweet four-year old daughter Velvet as his model for the comparison between life in 2019 and 2040, with his innovative positive vision of how our world could be transformed over the next two decades to produce sustained abundance and peace, especially through innovative methods to stop climate change. The principle is to examine the best ideas of today to see how scaling them up can address the massive risks facing our planet, flicking between the present and the imagined future.

Damon’s last movie was That Sugar Film, in which he humorously confronted the sugar-industrial complex by switching for a month to a diet of processed “health food” that is high in sugar. The rapid collapse of his health, measured under careful medical supervision, proved how corrupted our advertising standards are when such a dangerous poison as sugar can be marketed as benign on a mass scale. Sugar causes our planetary epidemics of obesity, diabetes, tooth decay, heart disease and cancer, co-opting our incompetent political systems using the powers of money and instinct.

2040 uses similar analysis to attack the fossil fuel-industrial complex, showing the scale of deception and propaganda involved in maintaining our current energy system with its trajectory to conflict and collapse. Despite this scene setting, the main focus of the movie is positive, on new alternative ideas that offer practical solutions to primary global problems such as climate change, with the philosophy that a solution must be emerging before a problem can be solved.

The two big ideas explored on climate are soil and seaweed. A farmer, Fraser Pogue, tells the story of how industrial agriculture left him with fields with no worms, and how that scared him into adopting regenerative farming methods that can shift massive amounts of carbon from the air to the soil while delivering higher yields and fertile soil and retaining water.

The most important story in 2040 is Marine Permaculture. Brian Von Herzen is the brilliant genius inventor of methods to grow giant kelp on industrial scale in the world ocean to shift carbon out of the air and reduce ocean acidity while solving problems of food, fertilizer and fuel. Damon interviews Brian at his pilot kelp farm, and provides clear simple depiction of suitable places around the world where permaculture arrays could be deployed, such as in the Bay of Bengal and off the coast of East Africa.

The big theme here is carbon dioxide removal, that we need to work out how to remove more carbon from the air than we add, and how this requires practical profitable strategies that work with mother nature rather than against her, using the vast area, nutrients and energy resources of the world ocean. Seaweed forests are the fastest growing trees in the world. The proposed permaculture system will pump nutrients from the deep ocean to create biomass on a scale large enough to help achieve global carbon neutrality by 2040 while feeding ten billion people and starting a path to draw down excess CO2. Marine permaculture should be the start of a pioneering frontier use of the world ocean to restore climate and biodiversity, catalysing investment from governments and the private sector.

Damon Gameau is a card. He films his interview with Paul Hawken, author of the important climate restoration book Drawdown, apparently sitting high on top of a wind turbine, enough to give the viewers a highly disturbing case of vertigo. And his other expert speakers in the movie, such as Tony Seba, Kate Raworth, Eric Tonesmeier and Colin Seis, pop up as midgets sitting on tree branches or with other computer generated imagery, keeping their serious stories entertaining. Other innovative ideas covered include autonomous electric cars and decentralised solar power grids, showing an optimistic vision for how technology can transform our world for the better, through bottom up rather than top down solutions.

2040 is a conversation starter, with potential to help tip us over the edge into recognition of the need for global climate action, recognising that emission reduction is nowhere near enough. A theme I am eager to discuss in this context, having worked on carbon removal ideas for over a decade, is that methods of confrontation in climate politics pose unacceptable risks of proving too small and slow. Climate analysts need to do much more tactical and strategic work on political economy, philosophy and theory of change, for example recognising the urgency of solar radiation management, and the potential for carbon dioxide removal to enable a slower path to decarbonisation than some climate models suggest.

I would like to see the fossil fuel industries engage constructively on ways to transform their business models, but that seems to be a very difficult task. 2040 only mentions Exxon to demonise them for funding the Heartland Institute, showing how badly world politics are now polarised. The difficult but essential question is whether entry points can be found so forces of destruction can be converted into forces for good, for example through tax rebates for investment in carbon removal technology. We need to encourage an end to climate denial and more discussion of climate security problems in the media, while recognising that speeding up the decarbonisation of the economy is likely to only be a small factor in stabilising the climate compared to geoengineering methods.

Rather than using political confrontation, effective solutions often involve dialogue and reconciliation. A provocative theme I would throw into the 2040 mix is religion – opening discussion about how the seemingly obsolete patterns of thought involved in supernatural fantasy could actually still have some power to save us. Old ideas like the Christian myth of the apocalypse could be reconciled with modern scientific understanding to generate political will for action on climate change, building on religious values of faith, love, forgiveness and hope.

2040 is a visionary movie of hope and action. But the fact is, as a review in The Conversation notes, we are in a dire climate emergency, consumed by a vast and fearful blindness that seems unwilling to respond to the danger. The great ideas offered in 2040 may not be enough to solve the strategic security and stability situation facing our fragile planetary home. 2040 offers a framework of thinking, a starting point on this journey of transformation, a recognition that despite our flaws, humanity has the potential to rebuild the earth and restore the climate, finding the courage and honesty to evolve into a stable and sustainable global civilization.
Robert Tulip

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Cut Emissions Or She Gets It!

Moral Blackmail over Emission Reduction
The challenge posed by this new IPCC warming report is to intrude an authentic ethical perspective into public conversation about the existential realities of climate change.

Unfortunately, the IPCC report is morally bereft on several points. Its key message is moral blackmail – decarbonise or the planet gets it. The alternative strategy, immediate focus on cooling through Solar Radiation Management coupled with massive research and development of Carbon Removal, is ignored and belittled. The IPCC simply refuses to discuss the risk-reward analysis of this alternative strategy for political reasons, regardless of the scientific evidence.

Seeing the horrendous damage from Hurricane Michael makes me deeply angry at the inability of the political system to engage with the urgent need to cool the ocean to deal with the symptoms of global warming.

The medical system does not say to patients ‘just put up with the symptoms to give us a moral incentive to find a cure.’ But somehow that immoral line is accepted when it comes to the immense global problem of climate change with its consequences of extinction, hothouse earth and other grave risks.

A range of geoengineering technologies including marine cloud brightening and newer ideas on iron salt aerosol could cool the waters of the Caribbean and Atlantic to reduce hurricane intensity.

Where is the insurance industry in engaging with this major damage factor in its actuarial risk projections?

The political strategy of shifting from fossil fuels to renewable energy should be an important component of climate action, but instead in this report the demand to cut emissions drives and corrupts the entire logic of the IPCC argument, leading to a series of false claims.

The morally coherent path, prevented by UN politics, would instead be the scientific approach of weighing the evidence for feasible alternative options. That is excluded because it would reduce the political pressure for decarbonisation of the world economy, regardless of feasibility, safety and efficacy.

The Summary for Policy Makers opens with an egregious blunder, saying (A2) “warming from anthropogenic emissions from the pre-industrial period to the present will persist for centuries to millennia (high confidence).” This mode of thinking is so pervasive that its falsity just gets ignored. As stated, it logically excludes the possibility of carbon dioxide removal and solar radiation management at scale sufficient to end the persistence of warming from previous emissions. The report should include the caveat ‘unless methods for carbon removal are developed.’ No such caveat is applied to the categorical high confidence of its false assertion by the IPCC. Their unstated reason is that UN politics sees the war on fossil fuels as the only climate strategy, and censors from view anything that could cause hazard to the decarbonisation approach.

Unfortunately, this recipe for political conflict against the current economy will leave the climate and our grandchildren as the losers. While we bicker over the alleged immorality of climate restoration, and governments such as the US, Brazil, China, India, Australia and Russia continue to drive ever higher emissions, ignoring climate science, the peril of a hothouse security catastrophe grows by the day.

The muddled thinking in the IPCC Summary is reflected in its blatantly contradictory graphs Ib and 3a. Fig SPM 1.b is titled Stylized net global CO2 emission pathways. It presents emissions growing to 2020 then a linear fall to “net zero” by either 2040 or 2055, followed by a flatlining at zero over the next century. As I have pointed out at HCA before, the absurdity of this “net zero” concept reflects its pure political origins.
Net Zero makes no sense

Net zero means positive emissions are exactly balanced by an equal amount of negative emissions, removing carbon from the air. But negative emissions could be a lot bigger than positive emissions, so the stylised straight line of exactly net zero emissions after achievement of a decarbonised new world is absurd. If net zero is good, then net negative is far better, and indeed essential to remove embedded warming. But Figure 1b ignores this simple logic.

The Net Zero graph 1b is contradicted at Figure SPM 3a, which corrects the absurd flatlining involved in net zero thinking by showing the moment of Net Zero as followed by Net Negative emissions of up to 20 GT per year. It shows the toxic politics of the IPCC that these contradictory graphs could survive its alleged rigorous peer review process. The real issue behind this absurdity is the failure of IPCC to advocate to governments for least cost abatement, which would shift funding from renewable subsidies to CDR R&D.

When Negative Emissions is discussed at Section C3, the Summary downplays the urgency by saying “CDR deployment of several hundreds of GtCO2 is subject to multiple feasibility and sustainability constraints (high confidence).”

The IPCC dismissal of Solar Radiation Management (SRM) at C1.4 is peremptory, saying “SRM measures are not included in any of the available assessed pathways. Although some SRM measures may be theoretically effective in reducing an overshoot, they face large uncertainties and knowledge gaps as well as substantial risks, institutional and social constraints to deployment related to governance, ethics, and impacts on sustainable development.”

This IPCC dismissal of SRM is a purely ideological position, calculated to minimise political opposition to emission reduction by wrongly suggesting there is no alternative. SRM advocates can easily see that SRM alone is not sufficient to stabilise the climate, and only propose SRM as critical to buy time to prevent dangerous tipping points while the optimal mix of CDR and emission reduction can be developed. Instead of such a practical approach, the IPCC just rules out SRM in order to support its gun at the head insistence on an immediate end to coal.

Against the ideology of emission reduction alone, Ocean Pastures could be a least cost abatement strategy. Astoundingly, the Summary completely fails to mention ocean fertilization. And yet, it does point out at SPM C1.2 that cooling aerosols, now added to the air by iron-rich dust and fossil fuels, have mitigation effects that decarbonisation would reduce. Surely we should be looking at how to retain these important mitigation effects, especially if in doing so we can restore the climate at far lower cost than any other method of abatement?

Robert Tulip

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Ethics of Carbon Removal

A climate policy comment published in the leading scientific journal Nature presents widely shared views about the ethics of Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR) as a response to global warming (Lenzi et al, Weigh the ethics of plans to mop up carbon dioxide, Nature Comment, 20 September 2018).

My view is that their approach is misconceived, and fails to place CDR, and by extension climate restoration, in a balanced and realistic ethical framework. This problem illustrates the strategic political challenges obstructing key programs supported by Healthy Climate Alliance.

The lead authors of this paper are from the Mercator Institute, whose close involvement with IPCC analysis of possible 1.5° pathways illustrates the importance of their analysis. For the reasons discussed below, their assessment of the policy context is deficient, and their emphasis on CDR dangers is unbalanced. The unfortunate result is that following their recommendations would worsen the risks of dangerous warming.

The policy context for debate about climate ethics should start from the recognition that failure to stop climate change poses high risks of catastrophe for human civilization and planetary biodiversity.
Global warming is the primary planetary security threat over the next century, with climate stability highly fragile under the impact of strong expected carbon forcing. Every delay in formulating effective response worsens the impact of the sixth extinction and the risk of a permanent phase shift in global climate to a new hothouse stability, with grave risks of extinction, conflict and collapse. The moral imperative is to find practical ways to step back from this hothouse precipice.

Neglecting CDR is far more dangerous than embracing it. Ethical analysis should recognise the urgency of research and development of CDR within the broader discussion of climate science and politics. The passionate moral cause underpinning all CDR advocacy is to save the world from unchecked warming. The ethical focus should be to determine whether that passion is matched by evidence, requiring expanded analysis and testing, not the barriers suggested by these authors.

The big problem behind this discussion is that opponents of CDR believe that ramping up emission reduction could be an adequate response to climate change, even though the science flatly contradicts that dangerous false assumption. The New York Times study of the numbers showed that Paris Accord commitments if fully implemented would only slow the increase of CO2 and its equivalents by 10%, to an annual growth of about 54 GT in 2030. Putting all our eggs in the emission reduction basket is therefore a highly risky and ethically dubious strategy.

Full implementation of current Paris commitments, even with the proposed ratchet mechanism, cannot stop dangerous warming without CDR. The strategic vision of emission reduction will not be enough for a number of reasons. Widespread opposition to emission reduction makes the decarbonisation model subject to strong political conflict, and in any case, emission reduction can only marginally slow the increase of warming, doing nothing to reverse the danger from accumulated emissions. By contrast, if CDR is given political leadership and resources, the world could potentially slow CO2 increase by more than 100% in the next decade, starting a practical planetary path back to climate stability and restoration, and helping to remove the partisan politics from climate change.

Looking at climate action in the context of moral philosophy, two rival ethical frameworks can be considered. These frameworks focus respectively on consequences and on principles. The moral theory of consequentialism assesses the moral worth of an action by its results. This means when an action is demonstrated to have harmful consequences, with risks outweighing rewards, alternatives should be examined to define an optimal path. Ethical justification of CDR uses this consequentialist line of reasoning, examining a range of climate responses against likely outcomes and impacts, looking for ways to abate warming in the most safe, fast and economic way possible.

By contrast, advocacy of emission reduction alone is more a principle-based morality. The organising moral principle in the thinking behind emission reduction is economic decarbonisation, the idea that if only the world could shift from fossil fuels to renewables then our climate problems could be solved. Unfortunately, the problem with this principled approach is that it treats results as secondary to the moral principle. The strategic primacy given to emission reduction in the thinking reflected by Lenzi et al and dominant influences in the UN system places decarbonisation as an overriding duty. This approach sees shifting away from fossil fuels as even more important than the goal of stabilising temperature. Decarbonisation should be viewed as a means to the end of climate stability, but has come to be viewed as an end in itself, thereby crowding out discussion of other strategies such as CDR, preventing robust analysis of the weaknesses of the decarbonisation strategy. The practical urgency of stopping climate change should cause us to debate such principles if evidence indicates they are likely to produce suboptimal consequences.

In their Nature Comment, Lenzi et al make a welcome call for systematic evaluation by the climate assessment community and professional philosophers of the ethics of carbon removal methods. They rightly focus on human rights, sustainable development and environmental protection, but do not assess these important themes in a robust risk framework where all scenarios are given due weight. Such analysis of carbon removal methods in the context of climate policy pathways is exactly what is needed to develop a sound strategic vision of climate priorities, but it should be considered against all alternatives, including the ethics of continued failure to reduce emissions.

The policy context requires broad public dialogue on the ethics of continuing to rely solely or even mainly on emissions reduction. This article does not discuss this ethical problem. If governments only provide lip service or worse to emission reduction, and do nothing to support CDR due to arguments such as this critique, then the world will face an existential problem over the next decade, with no effective response.

In my own research field, ocean carbon sinks, the misconceived ethical framework of these authors lead to wrong conclusions. They assert that seeding the oceans with iron could undermine marine ecosystems, using unproven claims of environmental harm as a reason not to conduct field research, ignoring research on how expanding ocean carbon sinks would deliver ecological benefits. Sound ethical approaches need to weigh options, for example by recognising that ocean fertilization could help protect biodiversity in ways that outweigh any risks.

In moral theory, risks must be weighed against rewards. In this case, the failure to weigh options means the claims of likely risk from ocean research unfortunately have the appearance of a political scare campaign, motivated only by perceived moral hazard to the principle of decarbonisation. Such claims need to be tested through science-based analysis. As the London Protocol stipulates, ocean climate research must be scientific and incremental, but the absence of field research over the last decade illustrates that the political signals have induced excessive caution on this topic.

The dismissive attitude in this Nature Comment reflects a wider lack of engagement with calls to use the world ocean to reverse climate change. A coherent ethical critique would engage with how the scale, resources and energy of the world ocean could make it the primary location for CDR research.

The main moral argument against CDR, termed a moral hazard, is that it could reduce pressure on governments to force decarbonisation of the economy. Lenzi et al use moral hazard language to describe CDR as “an unjust gamble that uses future generations as collateral”. Sadly, this claim is not a sound approach to moral philosophy. Putting the shoe on the other foot, the gamble that emissions reduction alone could deliver climate stability is a far worse bet than encouraging the diversity of approaches supported by CDR research. The authors allege risks in designing climate policy around unproven CDR technologies. They are in effect saying we now have all our eggs in the emission reduction basket, and should not diversify this strategic investment portfolio, despite the poor prospects of emission reduction.

The realistic analysis is that CDR will be far easier to scale than emission reduction and has far greater potential to contribute to climate stability and deliver least cost abatement. A useful analogy here is a bathtub with the taps turned on full and the drainplug in place. Emission reduction partly turns down the taps while leaving the plug in, whereas CDR pulls the plug. On this model, emission reduction can only briefly delay overflow, while CDR can prevent flooding by draining the bath.

The moral hazard critique of CDR is fundamentally confused. Lenzi et al display this confusion by citing IPCC scenarios that exclude relevant data and posit implausible options. With CDR, they say the target would be annual emissions of 32 gigatonnes of CO2 in 2030. Without CDR, they say CO2 emissions would “have to be reduced” by 40%, to 23 gigatonnes. This analysis is highly arbitrary. For a start, their target of 23 GT CO2 is less than half the UN estimate of global warming potentials arising from full implementation of Paris Accord commitments, which as noted above will result in 54 GT of CO2 equivalents in 2030. Focus only on CO2 ignores that other GHGs provide a third of all warming (IPCC Fig. 8.6). But even more worrying is the air of unreality in these scenarios. Their assertion that emissions would somehow “have to be reduced” lacks any mechanism for compulsion. What if major governments simply refuse to enforce emission reduction? The UN is impotent against nation states. A realistic ethical strategy is needed, which means CDR.

The even more pointed problem with the moral hazard scenarios is that CDR could potentially deliver a net emission result far better than their 23 GT scenario if R&D is funded at scale. CDR methods such as iron salt aerosol could remove atmospheric methane and other potent GHGs, which now cause one third of all warming but are largely ignored under CO2 emission reduction analysis.

Taking the full picture into account makes calls to delay CDR immoral. Failure to halt climate change would overwhelm these imagined ethical issues with CDR. As Klaus Lackner has argued, the real moral hazard is the reverse from the Mercator argument, arising instead from the perverse incentive to obstruct research into CDR. The false messages that CDR won’t be needed undermine effective climate action.

The bottom line is that we have a real if difficult potential for good results from CDR versus an atmosphere of spin and denial within the official climate movement, as demonstrated by the recent disgraceful climate speech by UN Secretary General Gutierrez, who totally failed to mention CDR. The most urgent moral cause in climate politics today is to broker large investment in CDR as the best option to restore and stabilise the climate and give our grandchildren a liveable planet. If the Mercator authors open a conversation that enables that result, they will have delivered a great ethical service.

Robert Tulip

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UN ignores carbon removal

Last week, UN Secretary-General Gutierrez delivered a major speech on climate change that was utterly stunning for its vacuous failure to engage on key issues in climate science, by completely leaving out any mention of Carbon Dioxide Removal.

While the IPCC recognises that removing carbon from the air is essential to stabilise the climate, the Secretary-General apparently has not heard this new science, since he completely failed to mention it in his 3200 words of fatuous pieties, except in an oblique reference to net zero emissions. The impression created by this failure is that the United Nations has been corrupted by vested interests in renewable energy, leading it to accept the false moral hazard argument that carbon removal undermines emission reduction.

It appears Gutierrez is signalling that the UN has made the political decision to ignore any suggestion that carbon removal is the key security agenda for climate stability and restoration. This is a highly disturbing and dangerous situation, since carbon removal can achieve far more than emission reduction in preventing warming.

Gutierrez presents the political war on fossil fuels as the only climate strategy acceptable to the UN, along with rather forlorn efforts to raise a hundred billion dollars in alms for the poor. Sec Gutierrez says “The mountain in front of us is very high. But it is not insurmountable. We know how to scale it. Put simply, we need to put the brake on deadly greenhouse gas emissions and drive climate action. We need to rapidly shift away from our dependence on fossil fuels. We need to replace them with clean energy from water, wind and sun. We must halt deforestation, restore degraded forests and change the way we farm. We need to embrace the circular economy and resource efficiency. Our cities and transport sectors will need to be overhauled. How we heat, cool and light our buildings will need to be rethought so we waste less energy. And this is exactly where this conversation can become exciting.”

No, this is not where the conversation becomes exciting. These established strategies miss the central point that addressing climate change requires investment in the lowest cost scalable methods to abate CO2. The scientific message that the UN should be promoting is that preventing dangerous warming requires carbon removal. It is completely astounding that such a major element of climate politics can be so comprehensively ignored by the UN, even in a speech devoted to raising alarm about the dangers of inaction.

Gutierrez rubs salt in the wounds by hypocritically saying “we will have to muster the full force of human ingenuity,” while failing to mention the primary area requiring ingenuity, carbon removal, and then repeating the nonsense that “net-zero emissions by mid-century” is an adequate target, ignoring that embedded warming means negative net emissions are crucial.

Finally, we see the nostrum that “it is important to note that, because carbon dioxide is long-lasting in the atmosphere, the climate changes we are already seeing will persist for decades to come.” It might help if the Secretary-General recognised that a primary research focus should be to reduce this problem through carbon dioxide removal.

Sadly, this speech will be a major factor in setting the tone for investment priorities in climate response, making it far harder to get engagement on the critical needs. This speech is a political and scientific disgrace, setting the stage for global failure to stop the many dangers of climate change that Gutierrez lists. The diplomats and sycophants will admire the emperor’s new clothes, but the UN policy framework on climate change is bereft of strategic vision.

Robert Tulip

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Blessed Are The Meek – An Evolutionary Perspective

The statement by Jesus Christ in the Beatitudes that the meek will inherit the earth is counterintuitive and controversial. We usually think the strong, the powerful and the assertive will inherit the lion’s share. The meek are seen as weak and ineffectual. The Bible tells us that this vision of the meek inheriting the earth will be despised and rejected.
However, we can also read the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5 as Jesus presenting an accurate long term vision of power, seeing the power of love and integrity as the key to the kingdom of God, not as an afterlife but as a necessary vision of sustainable living on earth.
Implementing the prayer of Christ that the will of God may be done on earth as in heaven means transforming the current fallen state of depraved corruption into an enlightened community of grace and love, confronting flawed worldly assumptions with a higher wisdom. The divine blessing on the meek challenges our instinctive beliefs with a vision of salvation that we can interpret in terms of natural evolution.
What does it mean to inherit the earth? Natural evolution is all about scientific understanding of who will inherit the earth. The biological question is which genes will prove most stable, durable and fecund over the long term.
Think about the long term – not just decades and centuries, but millions of years. Who will still inherit the earth in a million years?
For humans to survive that long, we need to engage with the earth with humility. In evolutionary terms, those who inherit the earth are those who adapt to selective pressures. Will humans have overcome our current madness? Will we go extinct? Will the earth be inherited by bacteria, algae and insects? Do humans have the brains to transform our destructive culture to create a path of sustained flourishing and abundance for all?
The Bible presents a stark challenge to this prospect of evolutionary transformation, with the apocalyptic vision of global catastrophe. The bleak prophecy of the future is that the power of evil delusion is so great that civilization collapses and human population falls to a tiny number. War, famine, plague and death stalk the planet as the four horsemen of the apocalypse.
The only hope of salvation the Bible presents from this destructive outlook is through Christ, who provides a vision of how to connect our lost culture to the enduring eternal truths of God.
Such prophecies can be read as more than supernatural fantasy, in presenting symbolic parables for the current planetary risks posed by climate change, and how we can respond to these risks. Human arrogance imagines we can ignore the power of nature. The last great catastrophe was 65 million years ago with the asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs. Only the meek survived, while the powerful creatures that required a large quantity of energy could not endure the crisis. We are now causing the sixth planetary extinction, illustrating that on the current trajectory, humans could well follow the example of the dinosaurs and go extinct.
Our world is highly fragile, even though at first glance things might look robust. We need to think and plan carefully if we are to understand the forces at work determining our planetary fate. Against this planetary agenda, we can read the ideas of Jesus in terms of the power of meekness as a way to respond to the power of evil.
Jesus says in the story of the sheep and the goats in Matthew 25 that in the global clash between good and evil, victory will go to those who feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, visit the sick, visit prisoners and welcome strangers. These works of mercy provide a definition of meekness as the moral understanding that what we do to the least of the world we do to Jesus Christ. This old parable of the saved and the damned is not a story of supernatural magic but a deep prophetic analysis of our evolutionary situation today.
How can being meek be an adaptive evolutionary trait? In evolution, we can look at traits in the animal kingdom to see how they might apply in human culture. The opposite of being meek is dominating and controlling. In nature, any organism that has a dominant role is an apex predator. Everything else must meekly submit to its fate, relying on its natural abundance to prosper in the ecological system. Generally only a small number of apex carnivores are sustained by a large number of herbivores, who in turn rely on abundant plant food which depends on the microbes forming healthy soil and stable climate, and similarly for the food chain in the ocean. The predator can only flourish when the whole food chain is healthy and productive.
The evolutionary principle of survival of the fittest does not at all refer to the strongest physically, but favours creatures which are best adapted to their niche. Natural selection favours the genes that are stable, durable and fecund. In terms of cultural evolution, this natural law has a long term power, including through our ability to see love and compassion as adaptive traits.
Evolution points to a human path of cooperation rather than competition as the main condition for success in our global civilization. Human adaptation requires that we harness intelligence as our primary selective advantage, overcoming the dangers of a world run by dumb instinct. This triumph of intelligence over instinct is a key to understanding what Jesus meant by saying the meek will inherit the earth.
For cultural values, who are the meek? Those with the humility to adapt to the world as they find it. Those with the detachment to avoid being ensnared by ideological delusion. Those who do not try to force false beliefs onto others in order to control the world through the power of money and weapons and ideology.
What does this say about the story of Jesus? The long term vision in the Bible presents a story of human fall from grace, and then Jesus showing the way to transform our culture to achieve redemption. Jesus is portrayed as coming at the bottom of the cycle of grace and depravity, representing the spirit of truth in a world ruled by lies.
The resurrection shows the vision of grace and love gaining victory over the instinctive impulses of control represented by the cross. The inheritance of the meek is about the victory of a messianic faith as a basis of planetary salvation, as distinct from the traditional Christian focus on the power of the church.
We tend to imagine that victory goes to the strongest, not to the meek. The Bible reverses this assumption by setting spiritual vision above the power of instinct. Jesus tells us the least of the world will be first in the kingdom of God, with the metaphor that the stone the builder refused will be the keystone of the bridge. The meek are like the stone that the builders ignore, the ones who do not conform to the superficial patterns of worldly success, but who seek integrity and honesty, aiming to achieve results through respect and dialogue, not through domination.
Jesus’s vision of how we can inherit the earth is summed up in his statement in Matthew 25 that what we do to the least of the world we do to him. His statement that we are saved by works of mercy for the hungry, thirsty, imprisoned, sick, naked and strangers tells us the values of the world are the opposite of the values of God. The values of God are the practices that are sustainable, that will deliver long term stability and prosperity to human societies, clashing with the instinctive desires for power and control.
Transition to the values of Jesus Christ involves a paradigm shift for our global culture. The story of climate change shows we are on a trajectory towards destruction. Even looking at the Paris Accord, there is no globally agreed vision of how to avoid dangerous warming that could turn our planet into a hothouse. It is possible to turn that trajectory around, but the shift has to understand evolutionary process. Evolution in a stable system builds incrementally on precedent, and in culture that means defining a theory of change that can transform our current world into a sustainable global culture.
The Biblical value of meekness is confronting for the dominant values of the world. Nations and companies cannot deliver stability and prosperity by meekly giving in to every pressure they face. Nor can these goals be achieved by arrogantly ignoring the real pressures at work.
Competition is central to human life, and is recognised in the parable of the talents, also in Matthew 25, with its vision that the works of mercy of the Kingdom of God can only be paid for through the abundance created by everyone using their skills to the full, including by taking risks rather than the safe course. We should not meekly bury our talents in the ground or hide our light under a bushel, but work in the world to develop a vision of transformation.
The model of the meek inheriting the earth is speaking about a long-term transformation of human values. Saying the meek shall inherit the earth is not calling for a revolution to a communist or anarchistic society, but rather an evolutionary vision of a gradual transition to an ethical vision of the values of the kingdom of God, understood in a practical and scientific way as central to our ongoing life on earth, as we transform our communities to make earth as in heaven, seeing the vision of Christ in the Bible as our moral guide.

Robert Tulip

Talk given at Kippax Konnex Retreat, 15 September 2018

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Commentary on Carl Jung’s Answer to Job

The Canberra Jung Society has uploaded the draft essay I used for my talk on Jung’s book Answer To Job on 6 July, as well as recordings of the talk and of the question and answer session.

The link above is to the Society’s home page. Direct link to the talk is here. I will revise this paper for publication in the Canberra Jung Society Journal.

Here is the diagram mentioned in the essay, providing an astronomical framework for mythology.
Orbital Drivers of Mythology and Cultural Evolution

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The Place of Ethics in Heidegger’s Ontology

My Master of Arts Honours thesis in philosophy, completed in 1991 at Macquarie University, with degree awarded in 1992, is at this link.

I have edited the PDF document into a single file, correcting some typographical errors and formatting problems that happened when I typed it nearly three decades ago. I decided after I completed the degree that philosophy is a topic that requires life experience to conduct properly, so I did not want at that time to become an academic philosopher, and instead have worked since then in international development. Since leaving paid employment last year, I have had time to focus on my original interests, including reviewing my thesis. There is nothing in it that I would want to change. There are many ideas in it, looking at how ethics can be grounded in a coherent philosophical perspective, that have shaped my attitudes and beliefs, but that seem to be quite difficult to discuss against prevailing views. I would warmly welcome any questions or comments.
The Place of Ethics in Heidegger’s Ontology: Robert Tulip Masters of Arts Honours Thesis 1991

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Platonic Christianity

Platonic Christianity
The text below is from an essay I wrote on The Precessional Structure of Time. PDF with diagrams is at Platonic Christianity.

Platonic Origins of The Christ Precession Story
The precessional model indicates that orthodox Christianity evolved from philosophical ideas about Jesus that have only survived in coded fugitive traces in the Bible. These ideas most plausibly arose from Gnostic Platonic schools. The Christ Precession hypothesis sees Christian origins in Gnostic philosophy and cosmology, syncretising Greek philosophy with Judaism. This syncretic vision defined Jesus Christ as the turning point of time, the beginning and end of successive zodiac ages, in a messianic theory to explain a terrestrial reflection of the observed heavenly movement of the equinox point from Aries to Pisces. This zodiac interpretation is not compatible with literal Christian orthodoxy about Jesus of Nazareth as a real historical person, and instead sees these stories as symbolic parables of hidden wisdom.
Given how astrology is despised and rejected, any effort to discuss such a framework remains a highly controversial and misunderstood reading among both religious and secular scholars. Esoteric Christian traditions were suppressed as heresy due to their incompatibility with literal myths about Jesus. Throne and altar entered a longstanding alliance under Christendom, requiring compliance, control and conformity, as part of the security apparatus of western empires, integrating church and state as a single power system with a single dogma. Such uniformity of belief had no place for the heterodox mystery traditions involved in seeing astronomical messages embedded in the Gospels.
It can be shocking to encounter advocacy for such a perspective that is so different from traditional interpretations, so I seek the reader’s patience in working through the claim that a Platonic Gnostic cosmology based on observation of precession had primary responsibility for the origins of Christianity. The broad problems of Christendom theology with its simplistic myths of salvation through belief have been analysed from a range of angles. Modern scholars have discovered a range of contradictions and factual errors in the literal text of the Bible, a process of criticism that has expanded to a broad public suspicion of the church and of theology as an intellectual field. It is a hard question how Christianity could recover credibility given its broad disrepute for placing political stability and institutional loyalty above the human liberation and solidarity advocated by Christ in the Gospels. This recognition that Jesus Christ was fictional provides a simple and elegant way to resolve the numerous factual anomalies that surround the old paradigm of literal faith.
As we move now into a new age, the Age of Aquarius, the dogmatic limits of the former age need no longer apply. The story of precession enables us to analyse Christian myths in a new light. The core Gnostic observation is that the imaginative placement of Jesus Christ at the dawn of the Age of Pisces reflected his avatar role for the earliest Gnostic Christian Platonists, defining the turning point of time from BC to AD, the alpha and omega or first and last. This messianic myth of salvation reflected ancient knowledge of precession as the structure of time, as something that astronomer-priests could see and predict for centuries beforehand in a purely scientific way, and use as a basis for the idea that events on earth reflect events in heaven. The placement of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ at the dawn of the Age of Aquarius is equally something that could readily have been imagined by the authors of the Gospels, with the idea that the world of their day was not ready to engage with the ideas of Christ, which would take a full age to become accessible. The Gospel authors could see that the spirit of truth had to percolate through the world for the whole Age of Pisces before it could be understood, as reflected in Matthew 24:14 “this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”
An excellent piece of evidence for how the precession hypothesis shows natural cosmology was used and then suppressed in the origins of Christianity is the major Christian symbol the Chi Rho Cross. There is a clear correlation between the Chi Rho Cross and the precessional hypothesis of the original Christ story, explaining the use of astronomical observation of the slow shift of the heavens as the foundational structure of Christian myth. The arms of the Greek letter Chi (X : χ) match exactly to the observable heavenly circles formed by the path of the sun and the equator. The Rho (P : ρ) matches the line of stars in the first fish of Pisces, the symbolic point of the new Zodiac Age started by Christ.
A Chi Rho Cross formed in the sky in 21 AD as these calculated celestial circles moved into Pisces is shown in this star map. Ancient astronomer-priests could have predicted this precession timing for centuries beforehand to within a decade, giving reason to suggest the prophecy of the advent of Christ in Daniel 9 could have reflected a combination of Jewish messianism with Babylonian and Greek astronomy. The location of the imaginary cross in the sky between the constellations of Aries and Pisces is at the triple intersection point ‘anointed by the lamb’ as depicted with the traditional zodiac figures, indicated by the pointing hoof of the Aries ram. The location, timing, purpose and method are entirely possible, simple and explanatory for the ancient astronomer-priests and philosophers who invented the original framework that became Christianity.
This star myth at the origin of Christianity, matching directly to the primary chi-rho symbol, is compelling and simple as an explanation of how Jesus was imagined as connecting time to eternity, humanity to divinity, and earth to the heavens. This hypothesis sets Christ in the heavens in a comparable way to how other constellations are associated with mythological figures, like Hercules and Andromeda, suggesting this source code was suppressed for the political reason of its clash with literal faith. This placement of Christ in the stars differs from the conventional constellations in that it reflects a dynamic moving analysis, placing the shape at a specific moment in time using complex astronomical calculations of precession, rather than a static depiction based on a star group alone.
Despite the complexity, this knowledge of precession was fully available to ancient astronomers. This star story explains this core symbol of the chi rho cross, based on Plato’s cosmology, as the basis for Christianity placing Christ on earth as in heaven. It is an example of the widespread ancient practice of telling stories about the stars, in this case using the motion of the point where the sun begins the natural year, a physical location in the sky that also relates to Jesus Christ through solar metaphors like Jesus as the light of the world (John 8:12) and the sun of righteousness (Malachi 4:2).
Big questions for this chi-rho star correlation as a symbol for precession include why nobody in modern times has noticed or discussed it, and what it could mean for us today. The ancient suppression of this Gnostic symbol accords with the overall precession hypothesis I have presented here. A simple literal surface reading of the Bible won out over any allegorical interpretation that would cast doubt on the true existence of Jesus of Nazareth. The apparent centrality of the cosmology of precession as defining the timing and nature of the advent of Christ made this entire type of discussion a heretical taboo and capital crime, to be expunged from all records by imperial edict.
To reconstruct the most plausible account of how Christianity actually evolved requires a reverse engineering of the surviving texts using the stars as a blueprint. The consistency of the precession hypothesis with Platonic philosophy, in method, motive and opportunity, provides strong supportive evidence. Early Hellenistic Platonism was involved in creating Serapism in Egypt, Christianity in Israel and Mithraism in Babylon. Of these three competing memes, Christianity won the evolutionary struggle, and incorporated features of Serapism and Mithraism in the Constantinian settlement defining literal faith for Christendom half a millennium later. The original Christianity was a Platonic Gnostic mystery secret wisdom cosmic philosophy for initiates, constructing Jesus Christ as imaginative fiction, but this enlightened vision was taken over and corrupted by the literalist church. Therefore, recognition that Christ was a precessional myth represents a return to the original high pure form of Christianity.
Plato‘s dialogue The Timaeus describes the creation of the World Soul in a way that aligns with the hypothesis that Christian Gnostic theology was grounded in observation of precession and evolved from Platonist philosophy. Plato describes observable planetary reality on the model of the letter chi, in a camouflaged explanation of the precession of the equinox, with the structure of reality presented as two circles joined together. This is traditionally read as an accurate coded description of the celestial equator and the path of the sun. Plato called these two great celestial circles ‘the same’ and ‘the different’, appearing to reflect how the stars are always the same but they shift around the seasons by precession. The equinox points are the locations of the two opposite intersections between the path of the sun and the celestial equator. Attribution of hidden knowledge of precession to Plato is why the Great Year is called the Platonic Year, and the Zodiac Age is called the Platonic Month.
The power of this celestial cross image in Western culture is shown by Dante’s references in The Divine Comedy to the ‘love that moves the sun and stars’ as represented by ‘four circles with three crosses’. This cryptic coded description of an X in the sky is like the heavenly X that Emperor Constantine allegedly invoked to establish Christendom in the Fourth Century AD, with the famous phrase ‘in this sign you will conquer’.
The Biblical blind beggar ‘Son of Timaeus’ whose sight Jesus miraculously restores serves by this interpretation as a parable for how the world had become blind to the deep truths of astronomy explained by Plato in Timaeus, and how initiation into the secret wisdom of Christ could restore this vision under the guidance of Gnostic philosopher kings. The blindness includes inability to see the real meaning of the chi-rho cross, which extends Plato’s visual cosmology of the world soul to describe the incarnation of Jesus Christ, presenting a coded map of the equinox stars at the alpha and omega moment when the spring point crossed into Pisces.
My calculation, using the astronomy software SkyGazer 4.5, is that the equinox crossed the line connecting the stars of Pisces in 21 AD. This ‘alpha-omega moment’, in Christian terms the union of first and last, illustrates why the alpha and omega letters appear in the Chi-Rho Cross symbol as shown in the star map above, and why Christianity said the advent of Jesus Christ occurred under Pilate, at the exact time the equinox crossed into the new constellation marking the new age. This hidden celestial meaning was that Jesus as the ‘ρ’ or rho of the chi-rho symbolises the first fish of Pisces, while the chi or χ symbolises the slowly precessing intersection of the path of the sun and the celestial equator.
The concealment of ancient teachings on precession is understandable, given the repressive context of the Roman Empire. Any such discussion, presenting Jesus Christ as a necessary product of visual astronomical reasoning, would have been initially concealed by its Platonic advocates as a secret mystery, in line with their objective of growing the Christian movement by presenting the general public with highly simplified teachings and reserving more complex ideas for initiates. Then, as the literal Gospel story became more popular, the original Gnostic ideas were suppressed as heresy by the fallen world of Christendom. The Roman Empire, once it made Christianity the state religion, made any questioning of dogma or possession of heretical literature a capital crime as part of its incorporation of the literal gospels into its security and stability doctrine from the settlement of Constantine in the fourth century. This intimidating literal approach to faith remained the dominant social paradigm of western Christendom for over a thousand years, systematically suppressing and destroying alternative visions, and only starting to break down with the modern scientific enlightenment.
Based on these observations, the most plausible theory of Christian origins is that Jesus Christ was an entirely fictional invention produced by syncretism between Judaism, Platonic philosophy and other older religions. The core idea from Plato was that good philosophers should rule the world. As Hellenistic culture emerged to rule Israel and Egypt after Alexander’s conquests in the fourth century BC, the Greeks first invented Serapis, a Greco-Egyptian proto-Christ figure designed to enable cultural interaction between Greeks and Egyptians, pictured here in an ancient image surrounded by the signs of the zodiac.
Greek philosophy also co-invented the religion of Mithraism, a Hellenised version of Persian Sun God worship. In the iconic Mithras image of the Tauroctony, slaying the bull, Mithras is accompanied by the constellations of the celestial equator and surrounded by the signs of the zodiac, the sun and moon and the symbols of the rising and falling equinoxes, as shown in this reconstruction.
Mithraism appears to have focussed specifically on precession with its Time God, Aion, depicted with the head of a lion, body of a man and wings of an eagle, surrounded by six coils of a snake. The globe that Aion is standing on is often depicted with the X of the chi cross to show the precession of the equinox. The placement of the snake’s head at the lion’s forehead matches the point of the end of six ages at the dawn of the Aquarius/Leo Age. Unfortunately, almost all Mithraic writing is lost, so direct ancient explanation of these symbols is not possible. Carl Jung’s book Aion recognises this Mithraic heritage in exploring the link between Christ and the Age of Pisces.
My hypothesis of how these cosmic ideas found their way into Christianity is that the Jewish Old Testament prophetic tradition of hope for an Anointed Saviour (a ‘Christ Jesus’ in Greek) was combined with the Serapis and Mithras inventions to produce Jesus Christ, the anointed saviour of the world. Based on the calculation of precession by the renowned ancient Greek astronomer Hipparchus and possibly other earlier writers, the timing of the incarnation of Christ under Pilate was a necessary product of the astronomical vision of the turning of the ages of the zodiac.
The Gospels can be understood as a product of the Platonic doctrine of the Noble Lie. Plato said in The Republic that philosopher kings could rule the world by presenting the masses with fictional stories dressed up as fact. His example of the Noble Lie specifically drew from the old myth of the descent from a Golden Age into an Iron Age. Platonic philosophers after Alexander’s conquests could have first helped to construct the myth of Serapis, the Greco-Egyptian synthesis of Zeus and Osiris, and then added Jewish prophecy and Babylonian cosmology into the Serapis myth to invent Jesus of Nazareth in the Gospel of Mark, together with themes from Homer’s Odyssey, timed to match the zodiac age.
This process could only have occurred in secret, within Gnostic mystery societies, in keeping with Plato’s Noble Lie agenda, aiming to use the Gospels to initiate newcomers into a secret mystery philosophy religion, in line with the traditional secrecy of such groups. However, the political context was that the Roman Empire was unwilling to allow secret philosopher kings. The church and state completely suppressed and distorted the actual Gnostic origins of Christianity, condemning all such discussion as heresy. Working with the empire in a successful alliance of altar and throne, the church replaced its original Gnostic Christian philosophy with the literal orthodox dogmas that achieved such enduring support throughout Christendom. So, we have an origin of Christianity in high philosophy, as a new paradigm of history completely at odds with received opinion.
Extensive similarities between the Gospels and the works of Homer support this Platonic Gnostic hypothesis. Studies by Dennis R. MacDonald, including The Gospels and Homer (2014), show how the Gospels drew on Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey. This demonstration of Greek sourcing helps also to place the Gospels in the old secret oral tradition of knowledge as the source of power described in The Memory Code, a tradition that was overwhelmed by the structures of civilization.
The hypothesis of a Platonic Gnostic precessional origin for the Gospels coheres with the Christian idea of cosmic reason or ‘logos’ incarnating in the world as Jesus Christ. The theme of logos as embodied reason in Christ is a focus of Christian theology, and draws from the Greek Pre-Socratic philosophy tradition of logos as the eternal unifying word of the cosmos. The Old Testament prophet Amos says at 4:13 that Christ is the mind of God causing the cycle of day into night. In the New Testament, John 1 describes logos as the word made flesh, and the Pauline Letter to the Colossians says through Christ all things hold together. Rev 15:3 calls Christ the King of Ages. Such ideas present God as cosmic order, manifest on earth in the person of Christ.
This Christology of Christ as pre-existent Cosmic Reason coheres directly with ancient knowledge of precession of the equinoxes in a highly consistent and explanatory way, premised on Christ as allegory for the sun and seeing precession as an eternal astronomical logic. The ancient unity of astronomy and religion was organised by the hermetic principle of the Lord’s Prayer ‘on earth as in heaven’. This vision of history as reflecting the stars explains the motive for seeing the slow movement of the solar equinox point against the stars as the basis for mythological prediction. This hypothesis provides a simple and elegant explanation of Christian origins, and a sufficient basis for a scientific approach to Christian faith. The Gospel of Mark set the incarnation of Christ in the time of Pilate in order to accord with the visual observation of the stellar precession of the position of the sun at the start of the solar year into Pisces.
Cosmic reason appears as a key theme in Plato’s Republic in his allegory of the sun as the symbol of logic. Socrates calls the sun the “child of goodness”, proposing that just as the sun illuminates, bestowing the ability to see and be seen, so the idea of goodness illumines the intelligible with truth. There are many points at which Jesus Christ serves as a similar logical analogy for the sun, for example in John’s ideas that Jesus is the source of light and life, and in the passion story of dying and rising as metaphor for the solar cycles of the day and the year. There are therefore strong grounds to see Mark’s Gospel as a practical product of the agenda presented by Plato in The Republic, constructing a new coherent myth of the world-soul based on precession, aiming to gain mass appeal in order to enable philosophers to rule the world.
If Christianity originated in Platonism in this secret solar symbolism, then the entire traditional framework of the growth of the early church from a man called Jesus of Nazareth is revealed as symbolic fiction, as an imaginative answer to the question of what the messiah would have done if he had actually lived, and of how messianic images can be presented in human terms. The Gospels indicate this hidden symbolic agenda when they state that everything Jesus says to the public is a parable while ‘the secrets of the kingdom’ are reserved for initiates.
A principal anomaly in the paradigm of literal Christianity is that the town of Nazareth did not exist until well after the time of Pilate, as far as reliable archaeology can show, as documented by Rene Salm. Drawing from the hypothesis that Jesus was invented, the most plausible reason for Mark to say Jesus came from Nazareth is as political cover for the Nazarene and Nazirite Gnostic sects in Israel who were under pressure from Rome for sedition. Saying Nazarene meant “from Nazareth” rather than “member of the Nazarenes” could have provided an effective deflection when persecutors sought to suppress the early secret society that later became the Christian church.
Mark’s descriptions of Jesus as the Nazarene make no sense if they mean one from Nazareth. For example at Mark 14:67 a servant girl says Peter was with the Nazarene, but such language was completely unknown at that time as meaning a person from Nazareth, which was not mentioned as a town in any lists from Galilee until centuries later. Similarly, the angel in the tomb at Mark 16:6 calls Jesus the Nazarene, implying a far broader meaning than a person from an unknown hamlet. The description at Luke 4:16 of a synagogue at Nazareth is completely impossible.
The fictional origin of Jesus means that Gnostic imagination preceded orthodox literal faith as the basis of the story, reversing the popular assumption that the orthodox gospel ideas came before any Gnostic movement. The original Christian ideas were Gnostic, grounded in the integration of Greek philosophy and astronomy with Jewish prophecy and other traditions. The orthodox belief in the literal truth of the Gospels therefore only emerged as a corrupted political degeneration of a high Gnostic philosophy that was suppressed, forgotten, ignored and denied. The Gnostic origin of Christianity is what the Gospels and Psalms call the stone the builder rejected that will become the cornerstone, and what Isaiah 53 called the despised and rejected man of sorrows.
An implication of this hidden Platonic Gnostic origin for the Gospels is that writings now seen as representing Gnostic thought are only a shadow of the original high tradition that produced the Gospels and was then destroyed. The Platonic secret mystery philosophy was transmitted only from mouth to ear, with the written text serving as prompter and camouflage for the oral instruction. This traditional secret method of transmission of sacred knowledge is abundantly documented in other initiatory traditions. The secrecy proved almost completely vulnerable when attacked by a suppressing state religion armed with pen and sword.
The existence and nature of such an ancient precessional cosmology at the centre of Christian origins can be extracted from the surviving documents of the New Testament, explaining the most plausible way these texts could have come into existence. The Platonic theme of God as the orderly nature of the cosmos revealed in precession is the best explanation of the traces of the introductory ideas in the Gospels. We can only begin to understand how knowledge of precession influenced ancient culture by recognising the coherence of the argument that Jesus Christ was invented as a symbolic anointed messiah and avatar of the Age of Pisces.
If Jesus was in fact a fictional invention, then the general belief that he was a real person is a primary example of the susceptibility of human psychology to persuasive suggestion on a mass scale. This precessional interpretation is a way to help reform Christianity to be more honest and evidence-based, aiming for a coherent account of what the founders meant by seeing Jesus as representing God in the world. Part of the problem of cultural change described as the fall from grace into corruption includes how popular thought can be swayed by comforting delusional memes, with the pervasive willingness to believe myths such as the historical existence of Jesus Christ.
The precession code behind the Gospels and the Apocalypse appears to have been almost entirely lost from view, apart from concealed knowledge among artists like Leonardo Da Vinci, as discussed below. The principle that the Bible encodes a deeper truth of cosmic order was also glimpsed by adherents of literal Christianity, but acceptance of dogmatic faith diverted writers such as Sir Isaac Newton from seeing the symbolic intent and meaning. The scale of paradigm shift in recognising that the Gospels are fiction while seeing their original high message is immense.
The explicit evolution of Christianity to meet contemporary needs now requires open discussion about the possibility that the Gospels are entirely fictional, as a basis for a new reformation of Christian faith to cohere with reason. This hypothesis that Jesus was invented as a precessional myth labours under heavy social taboos, especially regarding the core role of ancient astrology in defining the identity of Christ as an idealised human reflection of the movement of the stars. Such ideas are shocking and unbelievable to those who have grown up into Christian belief. These ideas have few avenues for open discussion. Yet this recognition of the primacy of symbolic meaning provides the most compelling and elegant scientific hypothesis of the truth of Christian origins, part of the transformative new paradigm built around precession of the equinox.
Robert Tulip

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Robert Tulip Comments on New York Times Article ‘Losing Earth’ Nathaniel Rich

Losing Earth by Nathaniel Rich is an elegy for the inability of the emission reduction movement to slow global warming. The article is an interesting political history of climate activism, but in my view it fails in the core task of policy guidance, failing to address the potential of carbon removal, the security dimension of climate change or the inherent difficulties of emission reduction. These problems illustrate that the barriers to climate action are primarily political, not technical, due to the pervasive assumption that emission reduction is the only means to achieve the goal of climate stability.

The ideology at play in this major New York Times report is that emission reduction is the only real solution to climate change. Any alternative is presented in a negative light, even though information about alternatives is available. Rich relies on James Hansen’s argument that carbon removal would cost trillions of dollars, without any indication that focussed research might cut that bill by orders of magnitude.

Climate change is the primary security problem facing our planet, posing threats of creating many millions of climate refugees and destroying crop yields, with potential to cause famine, war and extinction by tipping earth into a new hothouse stability. Unfortunately, emission reduction cannot stop or even markedly slow climate change, and has manifestly failed as a solution. The inability of emission reduction to solve climate change is shown by the fact that the Paris Accord will at best only slow CO2 growth by 10%. That result is like slowing the speed of an invading army by 10%, only briefly delaying the inevitable path to defeat.

Rich writes that “at the start of the 1980s… if the world had adopted … a freezing of carbon emissions, with a reduction of 20 percent by 2005 — warming could have been held to less than 1.5 degrees.” Here we get the first hints of the intractability of carbon emissions, and how Rich seems to represent a widespread political denial about this intractability. There is no way that countries like India and China will deny energy to the poor to address warming, but Rich appears to slight the aspiration of billions of poor people for access to affordable and reliable grid energy, suggesting a light bulb in every village would drastically increase emissions. The unfortunate political reality is that even an emission freeze is unenforceable, let alone cuts of the speed and scale that would be needed to impact climate. The general public sympathise with emission reduction until they see the costs, leaving such transformative visions incompatible with democratic governance.

Rich maintains the illusion that “a broad international consensus had settled on a solution: a global treaty to curb carbon emissions.” This alleged consensus confuses elite negotiations with popular support. The syndrome at play here is to ignore how the Paris treaty engages in spin and lies. The failure of the global treaty path is vividly displayed by Rich’s conversation with George Bush’s Chief of Staff John Sununu, who bluntly explained why the ‘global treaty emperor’ has no clothes: a global treaty “couldn’t have happened because the leaders in the world… were all looking how to seem like they were supporting the policy without having to make hard commitments that would cost their nations serious resources.”

This observation of political duplicity is a central point whose implications seem lost on some climate activists. Climate treaties are all hat and no cattle, as they say in Texas. When governments enter negotiations only for appearances, UN talks are a waste of time. Signing agreements based on electoral calculations, with no intention to honour their pledges, makes the Paris Accord a Big Lie. The big lie is that Paris committed to the two degree limit, even though the actual pledges lead to four degrees. The so-called ratchet mechanism to ramp up decarbonisation will only prove a political noose.

Climate science failed to gain political traction for reasons explained by the author of a major US climate report in 1983. Paraphrasing, Rich says the official view from the report ‘Changing Climate’ was “better to bet on American ingenuity to save the day. Major interventions in national energy policy, taken immediately, might end up being more expensive, and less effective, than actions taken decades in the future, after more was understood about the economic and social consequences of a warmer planet.”

Rich invites the reader to share his contempt for this policy line, but I am not so sure. Climate scientists have done a great job in explaining the causes of warming, but have not proven up to the task of explaining what to do about it. The rush to focus on emission reduction as the sole climate response has crowded out more considered strategic reflection on how to fix the climate using technological ingenuity.

Fixing pollution can work either by limiting the source or by cleaning up the results, like in sanitation. Global warming is settled science, but the science is far from settled about effective responses, leaving the world highly insecure in the face of major perils. My view is the key strategy will be large scale industrial carbon mining aiming to convert carbon waste into productive assets, including methods that employ the scale, energy and resources of the world oceans. Unfortunately the dominance of emission reduction in the climate debate leaves little oxygen or resources for such innovative discussion.

Advocacy of emission reduction has the perverse effect of making climate an issue of political polarisation. People who are against radical social and economic transformation are hardened in their resistance, seeing climate action as part of a suite of progressive policies, together with other left wing causes like population control, gay marriage, abortion, wealth redistribution, etc. Conservatives who deplore these reforms, whatever their merits, see emission reduction mainly as a way to increase the intrusion of the state into private life, and are therefore highly suspicious of the motives and agenda of the scientific community and its allies. This toxic mistrust makes effective progress almost impossible.

Scientific debate about what will work to stop global warming is as much a question of political science as of physical science. If the political science indicates that a suggested physical strategy will face insurmountable cultural obstacles to implementation, the scientific requirement should be to investigate alternatives. The depth of political opposition to effective emission reduction is illustrated by Sununu’s statement quoted above about the duplicity of political commitment. Opponents have restricted decarbonisation to a token level, while ignorant anti-science denial of climate change grows louder by the day. Against this pessimistic context, the alternative strategy of carbon removal holds out the prospect of helping to depoliticise global warming. Through a strategy of climate restoration, carbon removal stands a good chance of gaining investment from economic and political partners who will not actively support emission reduction, working in concert with dominant prevailing incentives.

Scientific consensus on the greenhouse effect is not matched by consensus on what to do about warming. Instead there is scientific arrogance in the assertion that a global treaty is the best way to fix the climate. The science of politics suggests that political agreements on emission reduction are a dead-end street, assigning too central a role to government intervention in the economy. Instead of decarbonising the economy, a better approach is a long-term focus on removing carbon from the air combined with a short-term focus on reflecting more sunlight. These climate restoration strategies may prove the only way to prevent dangerous tipping points, in view of the strong likelihood of generating accelerating feedback processes.

Emission reduction is needed for pollution control and economic efficiency, but Rich’s assumption that cutting emissions must be central to climate security is debatable. With the total expected emission reduction under the Paris Accord about 5 GT CO2e/y, no emission reduction at all would be needed if carbon removal can develop methods that remove ten times as much carbon as Paris. His article reflects how the debatable focus on decarbonisation has hardened into a political mythology. In accepting secular climate myths, Rich ignores some basic mathematics of climate change. First there is the 10% problem of Paris, that it only addresses 10% of the expected emission growth, a problem which cannot possibly be addressed by doubling down on emission reduction. Second, the key climate security equation is that the only way to put the world on a path back to climate stability is to remove more carbon from air and sea than total emissions. That implication may seem horrifying for the Paris crowd to contemplate, but the global security problems are too serious to allow the unworkable strategies of decarbonisation to dominate the debate on climate change.

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