In 2007, a fly appeared in the ointment of reason. UUWorld published “Eating Ethically,” telling UUs to eat organic food. The article omitted organic farming’s lower yields and the fact that organic food costs more and not all UUs would be able to afford it. Shades of Calvin, who thought you could discern the worthy because they were rich.
Local food was likewise recommended. Do UUs believe in the interdependent web of existence but not in an interdependent economy? Don’t out of town people have the same inherent worth and dignity as locals? Also, the article dismissed the Green Revolution (advances in plant breeding and agricultural technology) as unsustainable. Shouldn’t UUs celebrate a billion people saved from starvation?
The article admonished UUs to shorten their food miles, yet the food miles concept is fallacious because the significant variable is not the distance the food travels, but how much fuel is needed per pound of food transported. I calculated that it’s more efficient in terms of pounds of food transported per gallon of gasoline to ship it long distances in big trucks compared to short trips to a local farmer (which the article recommended) to buy a week’s worth of produce for the family.
The official UU magazine was wrong! What a disillusionment! If they were wrong about food miles what else would they be wrong about? However, we haven’t heard much about food miles for the last five years. Other people besides me must have done the math.
Historical logic likewise flies out the door. According to Susan Frederick Gray, newly elected Unitarian Universalist Association president: “Global climate disruption is a direct result of the paradigm of dominance that also perpetuates racial, social, and economic inequities,” she writes, “as well as systemic violence of against women, indigenous communities, people of color, and the poor.” The two other UUA presidential candidates submitted similar statements.
Their reasoning is specious. The “paradigm of dominance” perpetuating racism, economic and social inequities, enforced by violence, has been around for the last 10,000 years of human history. For instance, the Bible says, “Slaves, obey your masters.” So why has the climate changed only in the last 150 years since the Industrial Revolution with its increased carbon dioxide emissions? Moreover, violence -- against women, indigenous communities, people of color, and the poor -- has been decreasing during the same time the climate has been warming. In the US, the slaves got freedom, women got the vote, and gays got marriage.
As Steven Pinker explains in The Better Angels of our Nature 2011, modern communications technology allows people to empathize with each other, thus reducing violence.
When UU leaders make pronouncements, I wish they would follow their own venerable traditions of logic and reason.