From language contests to sports, these students are winners

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2014 CJCL convention

Linguistic prowess 
Latin language students at Holy Family High School in Broomfield participated in the annual Junior Classical League convention in Estes Park. Students earned ribbons for academic and creative competitions. Latin language students also joined Spanish and French language students for the World Language Day at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley. Tenth-grader Kylie Prymak, pictured above, and 12th-grader Palmer Fallet, were among students who competed in academic tests, arts and crafts, native speaking, wardrobe and other categories.

Annie Nguyen - President's Volunteer Service Award 2014

President’s award
Holy Family High School senior Annie Nguyen received the President’s Volunteer Service Award for her for exemplary volunteerism. Nguyen has helped Holy Trinity Parish’s religious education program in Westminster and answered phones at the Good Samaritan Medical Center in Lafayette. She said it is “better to get out in the community than to stay at home, and it is a nice way to get to know people.”

Saraiah Morton
Try prayer—it works

Seventh-grader Saraiah Morton (top, far right) of St. Louis School in Englewood won second place in a national contest called “Try Prayer! It Works!” Sponsored by Family Rosary, a ministry that encourages family prayer, the competition asks students across the nation to express their faith through art, poetry and prose.

StLouisLouisville_ JV girls bballUndefeated
The junior varsity girls’ basketball team from St. Louis School in Louisville finished first in the JV Division 4 class of the Catholic Schools Athletic League last season. The team of fourth- and fifth-graders won all regular season games followed up with an undefeated playoff and championship tournament. Members of the undefeated Lady Crusaders are pictured here: (front row from left) Addy Dalton, Kelly Bondurant and Bitsy Hayes; (back row from left) Kaitlyn Owens, Abby Coufal, Jaelen Giron and Marissa Frotten.

STMAcademicDecathlon2Academic decathletes shine in Cali
The Catholic Schools Academic Junior High Decathlon team from St. Thomas More School in Centennial, who finished first in the archdiocesan competition March 1 at St. Mary School in Littleton, competed at the California state competition April 5 in San Bernardino, Calif. Representing the only archdiocese outside of California, the seventh- and eighth-graders competed against nine other schools in a Logic Quiz, individual quizzes and the Super Quiz. The team is pictured here: (front row) Will Dennen, Justin McMichen, Gabrielle East, Makena Baldwin (Super Quiz captain), Lauren Olczak and Megan Rider; (back row) Sean Zoellner, Henry Holt, Gigi Pacheco, Rachel Searle, Theresa Nelson (Logic Quiz captain) and Mary Oancia. Nelson placed second in the fine arts category, Dennen placed third in literature, and overall the team placed sixth. Coaches included Cathy Dennen, Caroline McMichen, Robbin Yeager; and school sponsors are Barbara Markulik and Barbara Bafundo.

COMING UP: Gaia, false gods, and public policy

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I claim no expertise in climate science. I do claim a certain competence in detecting spin in the media; for I’m a card-carrying member of that clan, as I’ve committed print journalism for more than 40 years and worked in television for over 20. Thus credentialed, I rise to note that serious spin has dominated media coverage of climate change for a long time now. There are, to be sure, exceptions to this rule. Since Hurricane Katrina, though, it’s generally been all-hysteria-all-the-time in reporting and commentary on weather and climate change. This may get eyeballs onto screens and newspaper pages; it doesn’t do much for cool, calm public debate.

So when the chief scientist in the Obama administration’s Energy Department, who’s also a professor of physics at Cal Tech, challenges the spin and the hysteria, attention should be paid. That’s precisely what Steven E. Koonin does in the recently published Unsettled: What Climate Science Tells Us, What It Doesn’t, and Why It Matters: he takes on just about every shibboleth emboldening today’s crusaders against climate change. Professor Koonin doesn’t deny that the planet is warming and that human beings have something to do with that. He does question some of the claims behind the present drive to Do Something! through massive governmental interventions.

Thus, to quote from the Wall Street Journal review of his book, Professor Koonin shows, from the scientific data, that “tornado frequency and severity are…not trending up; nor are the number and severity of droughts. The extent of global fires has been trending significantly down. The rate of sea-level rise has not accelerated. Global crop yields are rising, not falling. And while global CO2 levels are obviously higher now than two centuries ago, they’re not at any record planetary high – they’re at a low that has only been seen once before in the past 500 million years.”

Not shocked (or angry) at Professor Koonin yet? Then try his own words: “Heat waves in the U.S. are now no more common than they were in 1900…the warmest temperatures in the U.S. have not risen in the past 50 years….Humans have had no detectible impact on hurricanes over the past century….Greenland’s ice sheet isn’t shrinking any more rapidly today than it was 80 years ago… The net economic impact of human-induced climate change will be minimal through at least the end of this century.” 

As I said, I’ve no credentials to judge the accuracy of Koonin’s assertions. I do like his against-the-grain boldness, and I certainly agree with his argument that the science – not media and activist spin on the science, but the actual data from the many authoritative reports he cites – should govern decision-making about public policy and climate change. I also have an idea of why the climate debate has become so emotionally fraught. It’s not just because of media spin and political opportunism, although both of those play their part. It’s because environmentalism has become an ultramundane pseudo-religion.  

That religion has a deity: Gaia, the Earth. It has a sacred text: Rachel Carson’s 1962 book Silent Spring, which began the transformation of the American conservation movement (which respected the natural environment without deifying it) into contemporary environmentalism. It has its religious holidays, “Earth Day” being the Pentecost of the new religion and the occasion for homiletics that mimic Peter in Acts 2:14-36. (A pre-K student, I’m told, brought home from school this past April 22 the revelation that “we should get rid of our cars because they’re bad for the air.”) Gaia-religion has a kind of ersatz sacramental life: I’ve been in circumstances where there are seven recycling bins, which certainly rings bells in the Catholic mind. It inculcates a moral code; some of it makes sense – How can anyone object to the fact that our highways and national parks are virtually litter-free these days? – but other parts of it veer into the worst forms of elitist, anti-natalist zealotry, as when some of the new religion’s prophets urge shrinking the planet’s human population by six billion people in the name of saving (or appeasing) Gaia. And I certainly can’t be the only person who’s noticed that carbon trade-offs are the new religion’s form of indulgences – the selling of which in the 16th century led to a lot of trouble.

Is ours a secular world? Or is it a world that’s traded authentic religion for a modern form of idolatry – one that’s corrupting our politics because it displaces reason with the kind of existential dread the ancient Canaanites once felt about Moloch?