Century Marks

Century Marks

On the other hand

In the first quarter of this year, U.S. carbon dioxide  (CO2) emissions reached a 20-year low, down 8 percent from the previous year, in part because of the increased use of natural gas instead of coal. Coal emissions alone fell 18 percent, the lowest level since 1986. Many power producers are shifting to natural gas, which is cheaper and more available. Natural gas emits about half the amount of CO2 that coal does. The Renewable and Sustainable Energy Institute warns against an energy strategy that relies on natural gas, however, saying that renewable forms of energy are critical solutions in addressing climate change (Worldwatch Institute, September 5).

Taxing situation

The more a corporation pays its CEO the more it saves in corporate taxes, according to a study by the Institute for Policy Studies. The tax code for corporations permits them to take unlimited deductions for performance pay to CEOs. IPS studied 26 CEOs who averaged $20.4 million in total compensation last year. Each one of the corporations surveyed paid their CEO more than they paid in federal taxes. The CEOs themselves benefit from a favorable tax code, which saves them millions in federal income taxes (Star Tribune, August 19).

Peace wanted

Gershon Baskin says that the common view among Israelis is that Palestinians don’t want peace with Israel and that Palestinians want to kill Israelis and take their land—and so there is no hope for peace. Baskin, who spends a great deal of time in the West Bank, including the volatile city of Hebron, sees a different reality. He is treated with respect as an Israeli Jew. “I cross borders, go beyond walls, break down barriers and refuse to allow fear of ‘the other’ to turn into hatred,” he said. One Palestinian security official told Baskin that the problem is that Palestinians no longer have contact with Israelis, owing to the separation wall. Baskin believes that both Israelis and Palestinians want peace, in spite of the sense of hopelessness (Jerusalem Post, September 11).

On the one hand

No comprehensive study has been done of the health implications of fracking, the method used to extract pockets of natural gas deep within the earth. Fracking uses fresh water under pressure, which releases a toxic flowback to the surface. Michelle Bamberger, a veterinarian, and Robert Oswald, a Cornell biochemist, have done a study of livestock, wildlife and people in the gaslands of Pennsylvania. They found that cattle exposed to fracking fluid have a high rate of stillbirths, cleft palates, contaminated milk and death. Cats and dogs have seizures, stillbirths, fur loss and vomiting. Humans experience headaches, rashes, nosebleeds and vomiting. In separate research, high levels of benzene were found in western Colorado communities close to fracking operations. In humans, benzene causes leukemia, birth defects and breast cancer (Orion, September/October).

Jesus’ complexion

Many Americans were disturbed when video clips of Jeremiah Wright surfaced in 2008 showing him preaching about a black Jesus crucified by white Roman centurions. Edward J. Blum and Paul Harvey, authors of The Color of Christ, point out that the features of another image of Jesus hardly get noticed: Christus, an 11-foot white marble Jesus at the Mormon visitors’ center in Salt Lake City, is a central part of Mormon iconography. The statue, a replica of a work by Danish sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen, shows a Northern European–looking Jesus. It fits with what Joseph Smith said was revealed to him about Jesus: that he had fair skin and blue eyes (Huff Post Religion, September 9).