Arthur Dahl's blog

Summary and Commentary on Laudato Si': the Pope's encyclical on the environment and poverty

Submitted by Arthur Dahl on 28. June 2015 - 0:06

Summary and Commentary on Laudato Si':
the Pope's encyclical on the environment and poverty

Arthur Lyon Dahl
International Environment Forum
Geneva, Switzerland

Download as pdf (253kb)

The long-awaited encyclical letter of Pope Francis, Laudato Si': on care for our common home, was released on 18 June 2015. The title comes from the canticle of Saint Francis, “LAUDATO SI’, mi’ Signore” – “Praise be to you, my Lord”, and sets the theme for a lengthy addition to Catholic Church teaching that addresses both the environmental challenges facing the world and persistent poverty, weaving the two themes together as aspects of the same spiritual illness facing the world today. The letter is framed as an integrated systems perspective on the material and spiritual challenges, and the need for spiritual solutions. As Baha'is we can welcome such a clear stand by the Catholic Church on issues where we share both the priority that they should be given, and the diagnosis of the fundamental spiritual illness behind both problems.

Karlberg: Meaning, Religion and a Great Transition - review

Submitted by Arthur Dahl on 9. January 2015 - 23:42

Meaning, Religion and a Great Transition

by Michael Karlberg
a review and commentary by Arthur Dahl

The Great Transition Initiative is an international collaboration for charting pathways to a planetary civilization rooted in solidarity, sustainability, and human well-being. It operates an on-line forum of leading intellectuals moderated by the Tellus Institute in Boston. Papers are commissioned for discussion, and then published. A couple of IEF members take part in these discussions, which have been largely on scientific, political and institutional themes. In November, for the first time, the topic was "Meaning, Religion and a Great Transition" with a paper prepared by Michael Karlberg which has now been published on line. The discussion was lively and controversial, with the more secular scientists contesting that religion could be considered a knowledge system or be anything more than subjective and not worthy of serious consideration, while others welcomed this as an essential part of any transition. At the end of the month, Michael responded to the debate, and his commentary is also on line.

Review of Paul Hanley's new book "Eleven"

Submitted by Arthur Dahl on 21. November 2014 - 0:10

Review of Paul Hanley's new book Eleven

by Arthur Dahl

Eleven by Paul Hanley. Friesen Press, Victoria, BC, Canada, 2014. 400 p.


"Eleven billion people will populate this marvelous planet by the end of this century. Adding almost 4 billion to an already overburdened world will force everyone to change everything. The sweeping changes that make an 11 billion-world work will wholly transform humankind, reshaping its inner life and external conditions. This process will result in the emergence of a new culture, a new agriculture, and ultimately a new human race." This is how Paul Hanley introduces his new book and explains the title "Eleven".

Book review: 2052

Submitted by Arthur Dahl on 12. March 2014 - 23:36


Book review by Arthur Dahl

Jorgen Randers has written "2052: A Global Forecast for the Next Forty Years" (Chelsea Green Publishing, White River Junction, Vermont, 2012) from a unique perspective. This report to The Club of Rome commemorates the 40th anniversary of "The Limits to Growth", the famous set of computer-generated scenarios that showed that economic growth could not continue forever in a finite world and would lead to the collapse of civilization, and that major changes from "business-as-usual" would be needed to put the world on a sustainable course. Randers was one of the authors of the original report and its updates, and after struggling for forty years to convince the world to make the necessary changes for its own good, he decided to analyze why they had failed and what that said about the next forty years ahead. This book in the result. It is not another scenario, but a forecast of the most probable future projecting the trends observed since 1972.

Worried about fracking?

Submitted by Arthur Dahl on 11. March 2014 - 23:33

If you are worried sick about greenhouse gases from fracking (hydraulic fracturing of oil shales) which are already being added to the fossil carbon from traditional oil and coal, with proven reserves five times the remaining capacity of the atmosphere to absorb CO2 before runaway global warming begins, stop reading now. The next great discovery of the coal industry is underground coal gasification (UCG). A report by Fred Pearce, "Beyond Fracking" (New Scientist, 15 February 2014, pp.

Book Review: War and Peace and War

Submitted by Arthur Dahl on 18. February 2014 - 23:31


Peter Turchin is an evolutionary biologist who has turned his expertise in modeling the rise and fall of animal populations to explore similar processes in empires. In his book "War and Peace and War: The Rise and Fall of Empires" (2006, Pi Press and Plume Book, Penguin Group, New York), he explores world history to understand what makes empires grow and then collapse, looking at Russia, Rome, Islam and Medieval Europe, among others.

Despite what sceptics say, climate change is still a problem

Submitted by Arthur Dahl on 4. February 2014 - 23:27

Climate sceptics have recently been claiming that global warming has paused since 1998 despite rising levels of greenhouse gases, confirming their belief that it is not man-made and therefore that no action is necessary. This is the latest argument in an on-going campaign of disinformation on the issue, complicated by the ideological and political dimensions that the debate has taken in some countries (USA, Canada, Australia).

Rethinking the economy

Submitted by Arthur Dahl on 29. September 2013 - 23:10

I have recently had the pleasure of reading Eric. D. Beinhocker's book The Origin of Wealth: Evolution, Complexity, and the Radical Remaking of Economics. Cambridge: Harvard Business School Press; London: Random House, 2006. 526 p. As someone whose whole scientific career has been in systems science, I found it encouraging that mainstream business people are finally waking up to the fact that traditional economics is based on the wrong premises about human nature and purpose, and about the way complex systems of all kinds work and evolve.

Reflecting on "The Limits to Growth"

Submitted by Arthur Dahl on 25. August 2013 - 23:06

A recent question about the famous 1972 study for the Club of Rome on "The Limits to Growth" touches on the heart of our challenge today as Baha'is and others working to transform society. Baha'u'llah warned us about civilization carried to excess, and said that the old world order would be rolled up (like an old carpet) so that a new one could be laid out in its stead.