Monday, December 31, 2007

God 'doesn't do waste'

Archbishop of Canterbury's New Year message:
God 'doesn't do waste'

By this stage of the holiday season, I imagine you might be looking with dismay at your overflowing rubbish bin, or the mountain of debris piling up outside your back door. Food, drink, presents - they all come with more and more packaging. Even the most eco-conscious of us is likely to have a bit of a bad conscience after Christmas.

Despite constant talk about recycling and thinking "green" - we're still a society that produces fantastic quantities of waste. From the big issues around toxic industrial and nuclear waste to the domestic questions of managing day-to-day waste and the build-up of stuff around us that can't be recycled, it's not something we can ignore. Look at the number of plastic bags flapping around by the roadside, in town and country alike - and you see what I mean.

What I wonder is - how much this influences attitudes in other parts of our lives?

In a society where we think of so many things as disposable; where we expect to be constantly discarding last year's gadget and replacing it with this year's model - do we end up tempted to think of people and relationships as disposable? Are we so fixated on keeping up with change that we lose any sense of our need for stability?

One of the buzzwords of recent years has been 'sustainability' - and, like all buzzwords, it tends to be used annoyingly all over the place, often for things it doesn't really fit. But what the word points to is the sense of obligation that most of us share at some deep level - the obligation to hand on to our children and grandchildren a legacy that helps them live and flourish. Building to last is something we all understand.

And if we live in a context where we construct everything from computers to buildings to relationships on the assumption that they'll need to be replaced before long - what have we lost?

Christians, like Jews and many other religious people too, talk a lot about God as 'faithful'. God is involved in 'building to last', in creating a sustainable world and sustainable relationships with us human beings. He doesn't give up on the material of human lives. He doesn't throw it all away and start again. And he asks us to approach one another and our physical world with the same commitment. The life of Jesus, the life in which God identifies completely with our flesh and blood is the supreme sign of that commitment.

God doesn't do waste.

He doesn't regard anyone as a 'waste of space', as not worth his time - from the very beginnings of life to its end, whether they are successful, articulate, productive or not. And so a life that communicates a bit of what God is like, is a life that doesn't give up - that doesn't settle down with a culture of waste and disposability - whether with people, or with things.

Perhaps a good resolution for the New Year would be to keep asking what world we want to pass on to the next generation - indeed, to ask whether we have a real and vivid sense of that next generation.

A lot of the time, we just don't let ourselves think about the future with realism. A culture of vast material waste and emotional short-termism is a culture that is a lot more fragile than it knows. How much investment are we going to put in towards a safer and more balanced future?

A big question. But too big to avoid.

And if we feel a bit paralysed by just how big it is - well, we can at least start by a visit this week to the nearest recycling bins.

God bless you all in this New Year; may you have patience for the long view - confident that God takes the long view of you and isn't going to give up.

Happy New Year.

Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury

Thursday, December 27, 2007

How many earths would we need if everyone lived like me?

What would the world look like if everyone lived like me?

Welcome to Consumer Consequences, our interactive game designed to illustrate the impact of our lifestyles on the Earth. It's part of American Public Media's™ special series, "Consumed," which explores whether the modern American lifestyle is sustainable in the long run. (Stay tuned to this site for more "Consumed" content).

Consumer Consequences will ask you a series of questions about your lifestyle, and as you play, it will show you how many "Earths" of natural resources it would take to sustain all 6.6 billion humans… if everyone lived like you.

Click here to play.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Archbishop of Canterbury "Green" Christmas Sermon

Eleven days ago, the Church celebrated the memory of the sixteenth century Spanish saint, John of the Cross, Juan de Yepes – probably the greatest Christian mystical writer of the last thousand years, a man who worked not only for the reform and simplification of the monastic life of his time but also for the purification of the inner life of Christians from fantasy, self-indulgence and easy answers. Those who’ve heard of him will most likely associate him with the phrase that he introduced into Christian thinking about the hard times in discipleship – ‘the dark night of the soul’. He is a ruthless analyst of the ways in which we prevent ourselves from opening up to the true joy that God wants to give us by settling for something less than the real thing and confusing the truth and grace of God with whatever makes us feel good or comfortable. He is a disturbing and difficult writer; not, you’d imagine, a man to go to for Christmas good cheer.

But it was St John who left us, in some of his poems, one of the most breathtakingly imaginative visions ever of the nature of Christmas joy, and who, in doing this, put his own analyses of the struggles and doubts of the life of prayer and witness firmly into an eternal context. He is recognised as one of the greatest poets in the Spanish language; and part of his genius is to use the rhythms and conventions of popular romantic poetry and folksong to convey the biblical story of the love affair between God and creation.

One of his sequences of poetry is usually called simply the ‘Romances’. It’s a series of seventy five short, mostly four line, verses, written in the simplest possible style and telling the story of the world from the beginning to the first Christmas – but very daringly telling this story from God’s point of view. It begins like a romantic ballad. ‘Once upon a time’, God was living eternally in heaven, God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, with perfect love flowing uninterrupted between them. And out of the sheer overflowing energy of his love, God the Father decides that he will create a ‘Bride’ for his Son. The imagery is powerful and direct: there will be someone created who will be able, says God the Father, to ‘sit down and eat bread with us at one table, the same bread that I eat.’

And so the world is made as a home for the Bride. Who is this Bride? It is the whole world of beings who are capable of love and understanding, the angels and the human race. In the rich diversity of the world, the heavens and the earth together, God makes an environment in which love and intelligence may grow, until they are capable of receiving the full impact of God’s presence. And so the world waits for the moment when God can at last descend and – in a beautiful turning upside-down of the earlier image – can sit at the same table and share the same bread as created beings.

As the ages pass on earth, the longing grows and intensifies for this moment to arrive; and at last God the Father tells the Son that it is time for him to meet his Bride face to face on earth, so that, as he looks at her directly, she may reflect his own likeness. When God has become human, then humanity will recognise in his face, in Jesus’ face, its own true nature and destiny. And the angels sing at the wedding in Bethlehem, the marriage of heaven and earth, where, in the haunting final stanza of the great poetic sequence, humanity senses the joy of God himself, and the only one in the scene who is weeping is the child, the child who is God in the flesh: ‘The tears of man in God, the gladness in man, the sorrow and the joy that used to be such strangers to each other.’

Well, that is how John of the Cross sets out the story of creation and redemption, the story told from God’s point of view. And there are two things in this that are worth our thoughts and our prayers today. The first is one of the strangest features of John’s poems. The coming of Christ is not first and foremost a response to human crisis; there is remarkably little about sin in these verses. We know from elsewhere that John believed what all Christians believe about sin and forgiveness; and even in these poems there is reference to God’s will to save us from destruction. But the vision takes us further back into God’s purpose. The whole point of creation is that there should be persons, made up of spirit and body, in God’s image and likeness, to use the language of Genesis and of the New Testament, who are capable of intimacy with God – not so that God can gain something but so that these created beings may live in joy. And God’s way of making sure that this joy is fully available is to join humanity on earth so that human beings may recognise what they are and what they are for. The sinfulness, the appalling tragedy of human history has set us at what from our point of view seems an unimaginable distance from God; yet God, we might say, takes it in his stride. It means that when he appears on earth he takes to himself all the terrible consequences of where we have gone wrong – ‘the tears of man in God’; yet it is only a shadow on the great picture, which is unchanged.

We are right to think about the seriousness of sin, in other words; but we see it properly and in perspective only when we have our eyes firmly on the greatness and unchanging purpose of God’s eternal plan for the marriage of heaven and earth. It is a perspective that is necessary when our own sins or those of a failing and suffering world fill the horizon for us, so that we can hardly believe the situation can be transformed. For if God’s purpose is what it is, and if God has the power and freedom to enter our world and meet us face to face, there is nothing that can destroy that initial divine vision of what the world is for and what we human beings are for. Nothing changes, however far we fall; if we decide to settle down with our failures and give way to cynicism and despair, that is indeed dreadful – but God remains the same God who has decided that the world should exist so that it may enter into his joy. At Christmas, when this mystery is celebrated, we should above all renew our sheer confidence in God. In today’s Bethlehem, still ravaged by fear and violence, we can still meet the God who has made human tears his own and still works ceaselessly for his purpose of peace and rejoicing, through the witness of brave and loving people on both sides of the dividing wall.

But the second point growing out of this is of immense practical importance. The world around us is created as a framework within which we may learn the first beginnings of growing up towards what God wants for us. It is the way it is so that we can be directed towards God. And so this is how we must see the world. Yes, it exists in one sense for humanity’s sake; but it exists in its own independence and beauty for humanity’s sake – not as a warehouse of resources to serve humanity’s selfishness. To grasp that God has made the material world, ‘composed’, says John of the Cross, ‘of infinite differences’, so that human beings can see his glory is to accept that the diversity and mysteriousness of the world around is something precious in itself. To reduce this diversity and to try and empty out the mysteriousness is to fail to allow God to speak through the things of creation as he means to. ‘My overwhelming reaction is one of amazement. Amazement not only at the extravaganza of details that we have seen; amazement, too, at the very fact that there are any such details to be had at all, on any planet. The universe could so easily have remained lifeless and simple…Not only is life on this planet amazing, and deeply satisfying, to all whose senses have not become dulled by familiarity: the very fact that we have evolved the brain power to understand our evolutionary genesis redoubles the amazement and compounds the satisfaction’. The temptation to quote Richard Dawkins from the pulpit is irresistible; in this amazement and awe, if not in much else, he echoes the sixteenth century mystic.

So to think of our world as a divine ‘prompt’ to our delight and reverence, so that its variety, the ‘extravaganza of details’, is a precious thing, is to begin to be committed to that reverent guardianship of this richness that is more and more clearly required of us as we grow in awareness of how fragile all this is, how fragile is the balance of species and environments in the world and how easily our greed distorts it. When we threaten the balance of things, we don’t just put our material survival at risk; more profoundly, we put our spiritual sensitivity at risk, the possibility of being opened up to endless wonder by the world around us.

And it hardly needs adding that this becomes still more significant when we apply John of the Cross’s vision to our human relations. Every person and every diverse sort of person exists for a unique joy, the joy of being who they are in relation to God, a joy which each person will experience differently. And when I encounter another, I encounter one who is called to such a unique joy; my relation with them is part of God’s purpose in bringing that joy to perfection – in me and in the other. This doesn’t rule out the tension and conflict that are unavoidable in human affairs – sometimes we challenge each other precisely so that we can break through what it is in each other that gets in the way of God’s joy, so that we can set each other free for this joy.

This, surely, is where peace on earth, the peace the angels promise to the shepherds, begins, here and nowhere else, here where we understand what human beings are for and what they can do for each other. The delighted reverence and amazement we should have towards the things of creation is intensified many times where human beings are concerned. And if peace is to be more than a pause in open conflict, it must be grounded in this passionate amazed reverence for others.

The birth of Jesus, in which that power which holds the universe together in coherence takes shape in history as a single human body and soul, is an event of cosmic importance. It announces that creation as a whole has found its purpose and meaning, and that the flowing together of all things for the joyful transfiguration of our humanity is at last made visible on earth.

‘So God henceforth will be human, and human beings caught up in God. He will walk around in their company, eat with them and drink with them. He will stay with them always, the same for ever alongside them, until this world is wrapped up and done with’.

Glory to God in the highest , and peace on earth to those who are God’s friends.

Rowan Williams - Archbishop of Canterbury

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Global Warming and churches

used by permission

Dave Walker at Cartoon Blog on Global Warming and the church's obsessions.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Exxon and Cordoba: failure of justice

Riki Ott, PhD., a community activist, former fisherm'am, has a degree in marine toxicology with a specialty in oil pollution and the author of Sound Truth and Corporate Myth$: The Legacy of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill, writes about the continuing saga of the Exxon Valdez oil spill, the effects on Cordova Alaska, and the failure of our justice system.

The Supreme Court's recent decision to hear ExxonMobil's reasons to void the $2.5 billion punitive award in the Exxon Valdez case hit the town of Cordova, Alaska, hard. This small coastal fishing community -- my hometown -- along with the Alaska Native villages in Prince William Sound have borne the brunt of the largest crude oil spill in America's waters; a spill that took place more than 18 years ago, but one that continues to hold the region hostage.

The second painful blow was the high court's decision to not even hear our reasons why the award should be restored to the full $5 billion that a jury of peers decided was necessary to punish the corporate giant back in 1994.

While media pundits, lawyers, and scholars play the Supreme Court's decisions back and forth like a ping-pong ball, people in Cordova share a completely different perspective of this story. It's not about whether the Supreme Court should hear the case. To us, it's about justice and reparation -- making us whole, a promise Exxon made to the community five days after the spill. A promise that Exxon broke before the trial even started five years after the spill.

To us, it's about more than an oil spill, the world's largest oil corporation, and a small fishing community in Alaska. It's about America's failed legal system that inherently cannot dispense justice in the face of corporate globalization.

Those affected by the spill offer some solutions for developing a just system that works for people.

First, post-disaster disputes could be minimized during preliminary planning and scoping of projects by negotiated, legally-binding agreements -- now that we are better informed of the ecological and human costs of disaster.

Second, financial incentives and rules could be created to encourage dispute resolution through non-adversarial negotiated settlements. Such techniques have proven successful even for disasters involving toxic exposure.

Third, incentives could be created to shorten litigation timelines by eliminating mechanisms that reward profits through stalling.

Fourth, if punitive damages are to be effectively applied, then they must be linked with corporate profits rather than compensatory damages and they should be shared not only among victims, but also among the injured communities to rebuild areas devastated by disaster.

In Cordova, we hope that it is just a matter of time before these suggestions or other similar ones are demanded by professionals, activists, and victims fed up with the American "injustice system."

We know that change will have to come from each of us, as there is little hope that the Supreme Court, or any other branch of the current judicial system, will take it upon itself to keep from doing more harm to those it was designed to protect.

Read it all here

Friday, November 2, 2007

Blessed Unrest

A new book by Paul Hawken:
A leading environmentalist and social activist's examination of the worldwide movement for social and environmental change.

Paul Hawken has spent over a decade researching organizations dedicated to restoring the environment and fostering social justice.
From billion-dollar nonprofits to single-person dot.causes, these groups collectively comprise the largest movement on earth, a movement that has no name, leader, or location, and that has gone largely ignored by politicians and the media. Like nature itself, it is organizing from the bottom up, in every city, town, and culture. and is emerging to be an extraordinary and creative expression of people's needs worldwide.

Blessed Unrest explores the diversity of the movement, its brilliant ideas, innovative strategies, and hidden history, which date back many centuries. A culmination of Hawken's many years of leadership in the environmental and social justice fields, it will inspire and delight any and all who despair of the world's fate, and its conclusions will surprise even those within the movement itself. Fundamentally, it is a description of humanity's collective genius, and the unstoppable movement to reimagine our relationship to the environment and one another.

Read about it here

Monday, September 24, 2007

100 Top Effects of Global Warming

Center for American Progress reports on the effects of Global Warming.

Global Warming Wrecks All the Fun

Say Goodbye to French Wines
Wacky temperatures and rain cycles brought on by global warming are threatening something very important: Wine. Scientists believe global warming will “shift viticultural regions toward the poles, cooler coastal zones and higher elevations.” What that means in regular language: Get ready to say bye-bye to French Bordeaux and hello to British champagne. [LA Times]

Say Goodbye to Light and Dry Wines
Warmer temperatures mean grapes in California and France develop their sugars too quickly, well before their other flavors. As a result, growers are forced to either a) leave the grapes on the vines longer, which dramatically raises the alcoholic content of the fruit or b) pick the grapes too soon and make overly sweet wine that tastes like jam. [Washington Post]

Say Goodbye to Pinot Noir
The reason you adore pinot noir is that it comes from a notoriously temperamental thin-skinned grape that thrives in cool climates. Warmer temperatures are already damaging the pinots from Oregon, “baking away” the grape’s berry flavors. [Bloomberg]

Say Goodbye to Baseball
The future of the ash tree—from which all baseball bats are made—is in danger of disappearing, thanks to a combination of killer beetles and global warming. [NY Times]

Say Goodbye to Christmas Trees
The Pine Bark Beetle, which feeds on and kills pine trees, used to be held in control by cold winter temperatures. Now the species is thriving and killing off entire forests in British Columbia, unchecked. [Seattle Post Intelligencer]

Say Goodbye to the Beautiful Alaska Vacation
Warmer weather allowed Spruce Bark Beetles to live longer, hardier lives in the forests of Kenai Peninsula in Alaska, where they killed off a section of spruce forest the size of Connecticut. [Alaska Science Forum]

Say Goodbye to Fly Fishing
As water temperatures continue to rise, researchers say rainbow trout, "already at the southern limits” of their temperature ranges in the Appalachian mountains, could disappear there over the next century. [Softpedia]

Say Goodbye to Ski Competitions
Unusually warmer winters caused the International Ski Federation to cancel last year’s Alpine skiing World Cup and opening races in Sölden, Austria. Skiers are also hard-pressed now to find places for year-round training. Olympic gold medalist Anja Paerson: “Of course we’re all very worried about the future of our sport. Every year we have more trouble finding places to train.” [NY Times]

Say Goodbye to Ski Vacations
Slopes on the East Coast last year closed months ahead of time due to warmer weather, some losing as much as a third of their season. [Washington Post]

Say Hello to Really Tacky Fake Ski Vacations
Weiner Air Force and former House Majority Leader Dick Armey are building a year-round ski resort in Texas, with “wet, white Astroturf with bristles” standing in for snow to make up for all the closed resorts around the country. [WSJ]

Say Goodbye to That Snorkeling Vacation
The elkhorn coral which used to line the floor of the Caribbean are nearly gone, “victims of pollution, warmer water and acidification from the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide seeping into oceans.” [Denver Post]

Say Goodbye to That Tropical Island Vacation
Indonesia's environment minister announced this year that scientific studies estimate about 2,000 of the country's lush tropical islands could disappear by 2030 due to rising sea levels. [ABC News]

Say Goodbye to Cool Cultural Landmarks
The World Monuments Fund recently added “global warming” as a threat in their list of the top 100 threatened cultural landmarks. “On Herschel Island, Canada, melting permafrost threatens ancient Inuit sites and a historic whaling town. In Chinguetti, Mauritania, the desert is encroaching on an ancient mosque. In Antarctica, a hut once used by British explorer Captain Robert Falcon Scott has survived almost a century of freezing conditions but is now in danger of being engulfed by increasingly heavy snows.” [AP]

Say Goodbye to Salmon Dinners
Get ready for a lot more chicken dinners: Wild pacific salmon have already vanished from 40 percent of their traditional habitats in the Northwest and the NRDC warns warmer temperatures are going to erase 41 percent of their habitat by 2090. [ENS]

Read it all here.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Sustainability is bad

The blog Good things to Eat comments on the new trend of sustainable luxury.
There's a vile new trend of "sustainable luxury" blemishing our so-called civilization, perpetuating our fantasy of cake that is both had and eaten.

Most of what the first world does is "sustainable," meaning it can go on and on. We have enough money and weapons to ensure that we can continue having more than our share of everything for as long as we want it. It can and will be sustained--at a cost to everyone else.

But that aside...

The idea of sustainable luxury presumes, first of all, that luxury is something essential. Absurd--the very definition of luxury is excess, something beyond what is needed. Spa-sellers and foot-rubbers have taken advantage of the purposeless feeling that comes with having too much by birthright to convince us that we need a weekend in a soaking tub, a nice hot wrap in a banana leaf. We don't. We don't need grand hotels, beachfront condos, jumbo jets or foie gras. They're luxury--in fact, they are gluttony.

Read is all HERE

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Thoughts on Eco-Religion

The Environmentalist writes on the role of religion in the "green" movement.

...environmentalism is not a Hollywood intellectual property. While the environment may have become topic du jour for some and a near religious calling for others, it is a religious issue for this Grist list of 15 "green" religious leaders that includes: the Patriarch of Eastern Orthodoxy, the Dalai Lama, an Episcopal Reverend, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Vice President of the National Association of Evangelicals, the Pope, the leader of the Islamic Foundation for Ecology, an Australian theologian, the head of the American Rabbis' Committee on the Environment, a Dominican Nun, a member of the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life, a Unitarian reverend, a Methodist theologian, and Father Thomas Berry, a Catholic priest who refers to himself as a 'Geologian.'

The comments on the Grist article are worthy of review, as well. They include suggestions for the list from other countries/world religions that are making a significant contribution.

And there's the robust environmental movement of South Asia (India, Nepal...) and Harvard's FORE (Forum on Religion and Ecology) research into the environmental traditions of Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, Daoism, Confucianism, Shinto, Indigenous American Indians, Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

Which all goes to say that those who label environmentalism as a religion in the hope that it will invalidate the movement are as out of touch with reality as those who cite religion as an obstacle to environmentalism. The truth is the environmental movement is as diverse as humanity itself. It includes those who are deeply religious, those for whom the environment has become a religion, those who keep their religion to themselves while they seek to validate the science and those whose need to deny climate change may have become a religion, as well.

It is a global epiphany.

Read it all here.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Confess your "green sins"

The Guardian tells of a priest who offers an opportunity to find forgiveness for sins against the earth. Found in Ruth Gledhill's column:
Forgotten to recycle any newspapers or tin cans recently? Feeling guilty because you neglected to carbon offset your flight to somewhere, anywhere, outside England this summer?

The Roman Catholic Church is at hand with a new line in “green confessions” to help eco-sinners to find forgiveness.

Dom Anthony Sutch, the Benedictine monk who resigned as head of Downside School to become a parish priest in Suffolk, will be at the county’s Waveney Greenpeace festival this weekend to hear eco-confessions in what is thought to be the first dedicated confessional booth of its kind.

Vested in a green chasuble-style garment made from recycled curtains, and in a booth constructed of recycled doors, he will hear the sins of of those who have not recycled the things they ought to have done and who have consumed the things they ought not to have done.

Read it all here.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Wild Rice Harvest Cancelled

Chippewa forced to cancel for 1st time ever

August 10, 2007
ASHLAND, Wis. -- The Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa has canceled its wild rice harvest for the first time in history.

The Bad River Tribal Council announced Wednesday that there would be no harvest within tribal boundaries this year because low water levels had dramatically reduced the rice crop.

Read it all here

Monday, August 6, 2007

Sermons on Saving the Planet

A recommendation from Episcopal Life Online

Earth and Word: Classic Sermons on Saving the Planet from the Continuum International Publishing Group, edited by David Rhoads, 300 pages, paperback, c. 2007, $24.95

[Source: Continuum International Publishing Group] With temperatures warmer than they have been in decades and major hurricanes and storms occurring with increasing frequency, the fragility of the environment is on everyone's mind these days. For centuries, the Christian religion has preached a dominion of the earth, which has turned into one community's exploitation of the environment in the name of religion.

As the sermons in Earth and Word demonstrate, a vast portion of the Christian community does not endorse or condone the destruction of the environment in the name of God. This singular collection gathers the voices of many environmentalists, theologians, preachers, and activists who have spoken in support of saving the planet. Included in this collection are compelling and provocative sermons from such influential figures as Wendell Berry, Thomas Berry, John Cobb, William Slone Coffin, Bill McKibben, Sallie McFague, Joseph Sittler, and Barbara Brown Taylor. In each of these sermons, the authors explore the deep relationship between thinking religiously and thinking ecologically.

To order: Episcopal Books and Resources, online here or call 800-903-5544
or visit your local Episcopal bookseller, find one here

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Measure your footprint

From the Church of England Gazette.

Are you Shrinking your Footprint? - test Defra's new CO2 Calculator

A public trial version of Defra's new CO2calculator has been launched which you can find here. It enables everyone to understand and measure their carbon footprint and consider appropriate actions to reduce it.

Defra have also issued a methodology paper to go alongside the calculator which sets out the detail that lies behind the rationale for the assumptions and factors used. You can find this here

The trial aims to give the calculator exposure to a wide range of specialist and non-specialist users. Defra hope to use feedback to improve the calculator before launching a full version later in the year and encourage and value any feedback on how it can be improved. Any feedback can be sent to Defra via the calculator website.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

My report card

After posting all the articles on what others are doing and suggestions for what each of us and our churches can do to conserve resources, I thought it was time to do my own check in.

I continue to drive 55 on our 65 mph Wyoming highways - earning the wrath of some who want to drive the speed limit. Nothing quite like having someone riding my bumper so closely that I can read the label on their t-shirt!. The 4-6 mpg savings of gas keeps me poking along. When driving across South Pass - one of the main immigrant trails - I think of my great-grandmother at age 12 in a covered wagon or perhaps walking, as children usually did, at the 10 miles per day average.

Walking or biking to town has slacked off due to the heat (105F high) and West Nile disease bearing mosquitoes at dawn and dusk. Mostly I just don't go to town. Not sure how that is balancing out.

The biggest savings came unintentionally. Just before 2 of our 3 kids and family arrived our dryer went out. We could not get a new one due to the 4th of July holiday. We strung up clothesline and began to air dry. I have a new dryer but as long at it is warm enough - I will continue to hang things out. I had forgotten how great the clothes smell after drying outside - of course one has to contend with dive bombing birds. The energy saving payoff is great.

I finished reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. I recommend it for the writing if nothing else. What other author can entertain wit a whole chapter on asparagus. I don't agree with all her premises - mainly we don't eat as much red meat and cheese as they do - but have been converted to seeking locally grown vegetables and fruits if at all possible and buying organic fair trade products. I am intrigued to make our own mozzarella cheese, though. The web site for the book with ideas and recipes is here

Friday, July 6, 2007

Cut the Carbon March

This summer, Christian Aid is asking people to walk the walk on climate change by joining the longest ever protest march in UK history.

Starting in Northern Ireland on 14 July, our Cut the Carbon march will last 80 days, cover 1,000 miles, and see marchers from rich countries and poor spread our cut the carbon message to companies and politicians.

The Cut the Carbon march will raise awareness all over the UK and Ireland of the fact that climate change is not just a future problem – it is a current crisis for millions of poor people. The march will start in Belfast before reaching the London Stock Exchange on 2 October, with several major rallies and smaller local events along the way.

More information is HERE

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Climate Change Bills Compared

Climate Change Bills of the 110th Congress

See a chart comparing climate change proposals from the World Resources Institute.

Climate Stewardship and Innovation Act (CSIA) - S.280
Introduced 1/12/2007
Sponsors Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-CT), John McCain (R-AZ), Barack Obama (D-IL), Olympia Snowe (R-ME), Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) and Susan Collins (R-ME)
Main Provisions
How does it work? Emissions cap and trade system
First year of emissions cap 2012
How much GHG emissions would the bill cut by 2020? 15 percent
How much GHG emissions would the bill cut by 2050? 65 percent
What sources are covered? Electric power, industrial, commercial, transportation petroleum
Can farmers participate? Yes. Agricultural offsets are limited to 30 percent of allowances. (What does this mean?)
Other Provisions
Establishes the Climate Change Credit Corporation to reduce costs to consumers resulting from this act.

Provides R&D funding for advanced coal, renewable electricity, energy efficiency, advanced technology vehicles, transportation fuels, carbon sequestration and storage, and nuclear reactor technologies.

Requires periodic evaluations (by Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere) to determine whether emissions targets are adequate.

Global Warming Pollution Reduction Act - S.309
Introduced 1/15/2007
Sponsors Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Barbara Boxer (D-CA)
Main Provisions
How does it work? Performance standards with the option for an emissions cap and trade system
First year of emissions cap 2010
How much GHG emissions would the bill cut by 2020? 15 percent
How much GHG emissions would the bill cut by 2050? 83 percent
What sources are covered? Electric generation, motor vehicles, fuel
Can farmers participate? Not specified
Other Provisions
Provides funding for R&D on geologic sequestration, among other projects.

Includes emissions standards for new vehicles beginning in 2016 and renewable fuels requirement for gasoline beginning in 2016.

Includes energy efficiency and renewable portfolio standards (beginning in 2008) and low-carbon electric generation standards (beginning in 2016) for electric utilities.

Requires periodic evaluations (by the National Academy of Sciences) to determine whether emissions targets are adequate.

The Electric Utility Cap and trade Act - S.317
Introduced 1/17/2007
Sponsors Sens. Diane Feinstein (D-CA) and Tom Carper (D-DE)
Main Provisions
How does it work? Emissions cap and trade system for electric utilities only
First year of emissions cap 2011
How much GHG emissions would the bill cut by 2020? 8 percent (electric utilities only)
How much GHG emissions would the bill cut by 2050? 41 percent (electric utilities only); Note: This bill is not structured like the others in that it pertains to electric utilities only. Total GHG emissions from all sources could increase by 62 percent by 2050 if other sectors are not phased in under the cap.
What sources are covered? Electric utilities
Can farmers participate? Yes
Other Provisions
Establishes the Climate Science Advisory Board to inform the administration and Congress of the state of climate science, and make recommendations to achieve climate stabilization.

Provides R&D funding for low- and zero-emitting carbon technologies, clean coal technologies, and energy efficient technologies relevant to the utilities industry.

Requires periodic evaluations (by Environmental Protection Agency) to determine whether emissions targets are adequate.

Bingaman Bill
Introduced January 2007 discussion draft
Sponsors Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM)
Main Provisions
How does it work? Emissions intensity cap and trade system (What is this?)
First year of emissions intensity cap 2010
What are its pollution-reduction targets? GHG intensity is reduced 2.6 percent per year from 2012 to 2021 and 3 percent per year in 2022 and after. Note: This bill is structured differently from the others. Total GHG emissions would increase 16 percent by 2020, and because of a contingency in the bill, total emissions could increase even more.
What sources are covered? Petroleum refineries, coal mines, natural gas processors, electricity generators, carbon-intensive manufacturing
Can farmers participate? Yes. Participation is limited to 5 percent of allowances.
Other Provisions
Includes a safety valve of $7. (What is this?)

Provides R&D funding for zero- or low-carbon energy technologies (e.g., high efficiency consumer products), advanced coal technologies, cellulosic biomass and advanced technology vehicles.

Global Warming Reduction Act - S.485
Introduced 2/1/2007
Sponsors Sens. John Kerry (D-MA) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME)
Main Provisions
How does it work? Emissions cap and trade system and performance standards
First year of emissions cap 2010
How much GHG emissions would the bill cut by 2020? 15 percent
How much GHG emissions would the bill cut by 2050? 67 percent
What sources are covered? Unspecified: "Sources and sectors with the greatest global warming pollutant emissions" to be determined by the administrator.
Can farmers participate? Yes
Other Provisions
Establishes passenger vehicle standards no less stringent than California's by 2014.

Gives consumer tax credits for advanced vehicle technologies (e.g., fuel cells, plug-in hybrids).

Mandates 60 billion gallons of renewable fuels by 2030; requires the installation of E-85 pumps at certain gas stations. (In 2006, the United States consumed 141.5 billion gallons of gasoline.)

Requires periodic evaluations (by the National Academy of Sciences) to determine whether emissions targets are adequate.

Olver-Gilchrest - Climate Stewardship Act - H.R.620
Introduced 1/15/2007
Sponsors Reps. John Olver (D-MA), Wayne Gilchrest (R-MD)
Main Provisions
How does it work? Emissions cap and trade system
First year of emissions cap 2012
How much GHG emissions would the bill cut by 2020? 15 percent
How much GHG emissions would the bill cut by 2050? 75 percent
What sources are covered? Electric power, industrial, commercial, transportation petroleum
Can farmers participate? Yes. Participation is limited to 15 percent of allowances.
Other Provisions
Establishes the Climate Change Credit Corporation to reduce costs to consumers resulting from this act.

Includes energy efficiency and renewable portfolio standards (beginning in 2008) and low-carbon electric generation standards (beginning in 2016) for electric utilities.

Requires periodic evaluations (by the Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere) to determine whether emissions targets are adequate.

Representative Waxman - Safe Climate Act - H.R.1590
Introduced 3/20/2007
Sponsors Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA)
Main Provisions
How does it work? Emissions cap and trade system
First year of emissions cap 2010
How much GHG emissions would the bill cut by 2020? 15 percent
How much GHG emissions would the bill cut by 2050? 83 percent
What sources are covered? Unspecified: "Sources and sectors with the largest emissions" to be determined by the administrator
Can farmers participate? Not specified
Other Provisions
Establishes passenger vehicle standards no less stringent than California's by 2014.

Establishes a national renewable energy standard in 2009; by 2020, 20 percent of electric energy generation must be from renewable sources.

Creates a national energy efficiency standard.

Requires periodic evaluations (by the National Academy of Sciences) to determine whether emissions targets are adequate.

Farmer participation: Farming and agricultural businesses can help solve global warming through innovative practices such as storing carbon in soils and managing manure. (Good manure practices can cut emissions of the potent greenhouse gas methane.) Some bills tap this agricultural potential by giving farmers the option to participate. Such provisions work like this: companies can buy agricultural "offsets" to satisfy a portion of their required emissions reductions. (The bills spell out how much of an industry's emissions cuts can come from offsets.) Some bills include similar provisions for forestry offsets.

Emissions intensity: Intensity-based emissions targets link greenhouse gas emissions to economic growth (usually gross domestic product, or GDP). GHG intensity actually measures energy efficiency, so declining GHG intensity indicates improving efficiency, or less energy consumed per unit of production. However, intensity-based targets cannot guarantee that emissions will go down. In fact, under such proposals, GHG emissions can increase. For example, from 1990 to 2004, even in the absence of climate policy, GHG intensity in the United States fell by nearly 20 percent. At the same time, total GHG emissions increased by 20 percent. The reason this happened is that economic output grew more quickly than emissions, even though both were growing.

Safety valve: Some parties concerned with the cost of climate policy believe the way to manage costs is to establish a safety valve, also called an "escape hatch" or "price cap." Under such policies, when the price of carbon reaches a pre-determined dollar value, emitters no longer have to rely on the market's supply of allowances. Instead, the federal government simply sells additional allowances at the capped price - potentially in an unlimited quantity. This kind of escape hatch stifles innovation and can effectively allow more GHG into the atmosphere.

Thanks to Bruce MacDuffie (Diocese of North Dakota) of the Episcopal Environmental Network.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

One Thing CAN Make a Difference

If every household in the US changed over only five lightbulbs to compact fluorescents, it would have the same impact as removing 8 million cars from the highway. Source: Sierra Club Newsletter.

Monday, June 11, 2007


HyperMiling is a word that describes saving gas while driving. Easy changes can add up to lots of savings as well as helping the environment.

Some Web sites, click to view:

Hypermiling Tips

Fuel Economy ideas

Find your car to see what your average MPG:
Average MPG for your car.

Two things you can start today:

Drive 55 mph on the highway - will save 4-8 mpg.

Bunch your errands - make one trip instead of driving every time you need something.

And of course - walk or bike whenever - no miles per gallon!!

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Katharine Jefferts Schori on Bill Moyers Journal

Bill Moyers Journal features Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church on the June 8, 2007 edition. Bill Moyers and Katharine Jefferts Schori discuss science, the environment, and the challenges in the Anglican Communion concerning issues of human sexuality.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Presiding Bishop Testifies Before Senate

Presiding Bishop's testimony to Senate on global warming

June 07, 2007[Episcopal News Service]
Written Testimony of The Most Reverend Katharine Jefferts Schori
Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church
Before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee

God has not given us a spirit of fear, but power, and of love, and of a sound mind. – 2 Timothy 1:7

Good Morning. Madam Chair, Senator Inhofe, my fellow panelists, it is my great honor and privilege to join you here this morning. I appreciate your kind introduction. I am the Most Reverend Dr. Katharine Jefferts Schori, elected last summer to be Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church. Thank you for inviting me to participate in this very important hearing on global warming—which I believe to be one of the great human and spiritual challenges of our time.

Before my ordination to the priesthood, I was an oceanographer and I learned that no life form can be studied in isolation from its surroundings or from other organisms. All living things are deeply interconnected, and all life depends on the life of others. Study of the Bible, and of the Judeo-Christian religious tradition, made me equally aware that this interconnectedness is one of the central narratives of Scripture. God creates all people and all things to live in relationship with one another and the world around them. At the end of the biblical creation account, the writer of Genesis tells us that "God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good."

I believe that each of us must recall ourselves to the vision that God has for us to realize in our own day. It is a vision in which all human beings live together as siblings, at peace with one another and with God, and in right relationship with all of the rest of creation. While many of the faith communities represented here today may disagree on a variety of issues, in the area of global warming we are increasingly of one mind. The crisis of climate change presents an unprecedented challenge to the goodness, interconnectedness, and sanctity of the world God created and loves. This challenge is what has called our faith communities to come here today and stand on the side of scientific truth. As a priest, trained as a scientist, I take as a sacred obligation the faith community's responsibility to stand on the side of truth, the truth of science as well as the truth of God's unquenchable love for the world and all its inhabitants.

The Church's history, of course, gives us examples of moments when Christians saw threat, rather than revelation and truth, in science. The trial and imprisonment of Galileo Galilei for challenging the theory of a geocentric universe is a famous example of the Church's moral failure. For his advocacy of this unfolding revelation through science, Galileo spent the remainder of his life under house arrest. The God whose revelation to us is continual and ongoing also entrusts us with continual and ongoing discovery of the universe he has made.

As one who has been formed both through a deep faith and as a scientist I believe science has revealed to us without equivocation that climate change and global warming are real, and caused in significant part by human activities. They are a threat not only to God's good creation but to all of humanity. This acknowledgment of global warming, and the Church's commitment to ameliorating it, is a part of the ongoing discovery of God's revelation to humanity and a call to a fuller understanding of the scriptural imperative of loving our neighbor.

Each one of us is also connected with our neighbor in many unexpected ways. The connectedness of creation is part of what Paul meant when he spoke of Christians being a part of the One Body of Christ. Indeed a later theologian, Sallie McFague, speaks of creation as the Body of God, out of the very same understanding that we are intimately and inevitably connected.

Each one of us is connected to those who are just now beginning to suffer from the consequences of climate change and to those living generations from now who will either benefit from our efforts to curb carbon emissions or suffer from our failure to address the challenge which climate change presents.

The scientific community has made clear that we must reduce carbon emissions globally by 15 to 20 percent by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050 in order to avoid the most catastrophic impacts of climate change. On behalf of the Episcopal Church, as a Christian leader representing today not only the concerns of Episcopalians, but the concerns of the many denominations that are part of the National Council of Churches, I implore you to make these goals a national priority. To my colleagues in the faith community who doubt the urgency of addressing global warming, I urge you to re-consider for the sake of God's good earth.

I join many of my colleagues and many of you on this committee in sharing a profound concern that climate change will most severely affect those living in poverty and the most vulnerable in our communities here in the United States and around the world. I want to be absolutely clear; inaction on our part is the most costly of all courses of action for those living in poverty.

The General Convention, (the governing body of the Episcopal Church), the National Council of Churches, and many Christian denominations have called on Congress to address both climate change and the needs of those living in poverty in adapting to curbs in fossil fuel use. On their behalf, I would like to offer into the record their own statements.

Over the past five years, Americans have become increasingly aware of the phenomenon of global poverty – poverty that kills 30,000 people around the world each day – and have supported Congress and the President in making historic commitments to eradicating it. We cannot triumph over global poverty, however, unless we also address climate change, as the two phenomena are intimately related. Climate change exacerbates global poverty, and global poverty propels climate change.

Let me give you a few examples. As temperature changes increase the frequency and intensity of severe weather events around the world, poor countries -- which often lack infrastructure such as storm walls and water-storage facilities -- will divert resources away from fighting poverty in order to respond to disaster. A warmer climate will also increase the spread of diseases like malaria and tax the ability of poor countries to respond adequately. Perhaps most severely, changed rain patterns will increase the prevalence of drought in places like Africa, where only four percent of cropped land is irrigated, leaving populations without food and hamstrung in their ability to trade internationally to generate income. By 2020, between 75 and 250 million Africans are projected to be exposed to an increase of water stress due to climate change.

Conversely, just as climate change will exacerbate poverty, poverty also is hastening climate change. Most people living in poverty around the world lack access to a reliable energy source, an imbalance that must be addressed in any attempt to lift a community out of poverty. Unfortunately, financial necessity forces many to choose energy sources such as oil, coal or wood, which threaten to expand significantly the world's greenhouse emissions and thus accelerate the effects of climate change. This cycle—poverty that begets climate change, and vice versa—threatens the future of all people, rich and poor alike.

This relationship between deadly poverty and the health of creation was not lost on the world's leaders when, at the turn of the 21st century, they committed to cut global poverty in half by 2015. Their plan, which established the eight Millennium Development Goals, included a specific pledge of environmental sustainability. This year marks the halfway point in the world's effort to achieve these goals, and while progress has been impressive in some places, we are nowhere close to halfway there. Addressing climate change is a critical step toward putting the world back on track.

Climate change and poverty are linked at home as well. We know that those living in poverty, particularly minorities, in the United States will suffer a disproportionate share of the effects of climate change. In July of 2004, the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation released a report entitled African Americans and Climate Change: An Unequal Burden that concluded "there is a stark disparity in the United States between those who benefit from the causes of climate change and those who bear the costs of climate change." The report finds that African Americans are disproportionately burdened by the health effects of climate change, including increased deaths from heat waves and extreme weather, as well as air pollution and the spread of infectious diseases. African American households spend more money on direct energy purchases as a percentage of their income than non African Americans across every income bracket and are more likely to be impacted by the economic instability caused by climate change, than other groups. That report makes a strong case for our congressional leaders to propose legislation to reduce carbon emissions that does not put a greater share of the cost on those living in poverty.

Climate change is also disproportionately affecting indigenous cultures. Nowhere is this more evident than in our Lutheran brothers' and sisters' northernmost congregation, Shishmaref Lutheran Church, located 20 miles south of the Arctic Circle on the Chukchi Sea, Alaska. The forces unleashed by global climate change are literally washing away the earth on which these 600 Inupiat Eskimos live. Due to increased storms, melting sea ice, thawing permafrost, and rising sea levels, their island home will soon be under water. They must uproot themselves and their 4000 year-old culture and find a new place to live.

In other parts of the Arctic, the exploitation of fossil fuels that contribute to global warming threaten both the subsistence rights of the Gwich'in people—more than 90 percent of whom are Episcopalian—and their culture as well. The calving grounds of the Porcupine Caribou in Alaska's North Slope are sacred to the Gwich'in people and the Episcopal Church supports the Gwich'in in calling for full protection of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Science, regardless of the field, is the pursuit of answers to questions that scientists raise in observing creation. While there may be great debate about how to deal with climate change, in fact the answer is known and the solution is clear. We must reduce carbon dioxide emissions. I find hope in this because it means the solution is simply good leadership and vision. And I am reminded by the Book of Proverbs that where there is no vision, the people perish.

In addressing climate change, Congress already has many of the necessary tools -- through existing programs and resources that could aggressively help those with limited means to adapt to climate change. Tax policy can be adjusted and targeted to encourage middle and low income taxpayers to take advantage of new technologies or to adjust to potentially higher energy costs. The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program could be fully funded and expanded where necessary to protect the neediest among us. Other policy options include a cap and trade system with a directed revenue stream that could be used to help vulnerable communities to access new technologies, equipment, or appliances.

In the spirit of our nation's historic entrepreneurial and innovative prowess, we can also find opportunity to lead the world with new technologies, renewable sources of energy and innovations not yet dreamed of, that will allow for new markets, new jobs, new industries and the ability to provide job training and transition for American workers as we move away from the use of fossil fuels.

Those innovations can benefit all of humanity. As the National Academies report "Understanding and Responding to Climate Change" concluded: "Nations with wealth have a better chance of using science and technology to anticipate, mitigate, and adapt to sea-level rise, threats to agriculture, and other climate impacts. . .The developed world will need to assist the developing nations to build their capacity to meet the challenges of adapting to climate change."

Madam chair, I will close where I began, by recalling the Scriptural account of creation and God's proclamation that each piece of it was good, and that the whole of it – when viewed together and in relationship – was very good. Ultimately, scripture is an account of relationships: the bond of love between God and the world, and the interconnectivity of all people and all things in that world. It is only when we take seriously those relationships—when we realize that all people have a stake in the health and well-being of all others and of the Earth itself—that creation can truly begin to realize the abundant life that God intends for every one of us.

As I conclude I offer you this prayer from the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer:

"O merciful Creator, your hand is open wide to satisfy the needs of every living creature; Make us always thankful for your loving providence; and grant that we, remembering the account that we must one day give, may be faithful stewards of your good gifts; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen"—BCP page 239.

I will pray for each of you and for this Congress that you will be graced with vision and truth. May the Peace of God be upon this Senate and this Committee. Thank you.

Read more from the Presiding Bishop HERE

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

UK Newspaper Runs Ad From God

Ekklesia reports that God has taken out an ad in the Independent newspaper.

In a move which may surprise media commentators and distinguished theologians alike, God – known primarily for moving in mysterious ways – has bought a full page advertisement in The Independent newspaper to persuade erstwhile admirer President George W. Bush to take climate change more seriously.

The advert appeared on page 39 of the UK daily’s print edition dated 4 June 2007 – under the banner “George, it took Me 7 days of hard work to create this planet, Please don’t ruin it for me.” The full text appears on a website entitled For God's Sake. It urges people to write to President Bush at the White House ahead of the G8 summit.

The ad urges readers to write to the President of the United States

You too can correspond directly with George.
Join me in asking him to lead the World in sorting out Climate Change.

Email him on:

Or write to him at:

Mr George Bush
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

See the ad online HERE

Read the whole story at Ekklesia

Earth Bishop Mourned:A Tribute to Jim Kelsey

Jim Kelsey:
A video tribute by Earth Keepers.
Click HERE

The world has lost its Earth Bishop.

Episcopal Bishop James Kelsey of the Diocese of Northern Michigan was killed in a traffic accident on Sunday June the third 2007 while on one of his many journeys to spread the word of God.

Bishop Kelsey was returning from the far eastern Upper Peninsula when his life was cut short.

No person was dedicated to environment and interfaith causes like Bishop Kelsey.

This video was taken a day before his death as the Episcopal Bishop met with Lutheran and Presbyterian pastors to discuss a new interfaith environment endeavor called the Turtle Island Project.

Bishop Kelsey was always the first faith leader to volunteer to help with numerous interfaith environment projects sponsored by two Marquette, Michigan non-profits - the Superior Watershed Partnership and the Cedar Tree Institute.

For the past three years, Bishop Kelsey had been a strong supporter of the Earth Keeper Initiative that involves 9 faith traditions with 140 churches and temples across northern Michigan.

Bishop Kelsey was with the Earth Keepers from the beginning - and was one of the original nine faith leaders to sign the Earth Keeper Covenant in 2004 - pledging to protect the environment and reach out to American Indian Tribes.

On Earth Day 2005, Bishop Kelsey helped collect over 45 tons of household poisons like insecticides and drainer cleaner plus tons of car batteries.

Following that first clean sweep, Bishop Kelsey said "we are delighted with the results of the Clean Sweep project throughout the Upper Peninsula."

Bishop Kelsey said the first clean sweep was "a sign of the commitment shared across our faith traditions to be faithful stewards of the Creation into which we have been born, and which sustains our lives."

Bishop Kelsey said "I think it's a really remarkable thing that this particular initiative has crossed boundaries that usually don't get cross in terms of different faith traditions."

More about Jim Kelsey at HERE

Monday, June 4, 2007

God Goes Green

Writing in USAToday, Oliver "Buzz" Thomas blogs:

Does the Bible actually advocate environmentalism? If so, might the movement become the next cause for religious Americans?

I used to marvel at how foolish an organism is cancer. It can't seem to pace itself. Left to its own devices, it will greedily consume its host until the host dies, thereby causing the cancer's own premature death.

Then, one day I had an epiphany. We're like cancer. Unable to pace ourselves, we are greedily consuming our host organism (i.e. planet Earth) and getting dangerously close to killing ourselves in the process.

The difference is that cancer has an excuse: No brain.

Consider that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has issued one of its most sobering reports to date. The hundreds of scientists and scores of nations participating in the project paint an apocalyptic future of flooding, drought, disease and food shortages. In the face of such a crisis, one might expect people of faith to flock to the cause of protecting the environment. After all, the theological issue appears a simple one. "The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof. The world and all that dwell in it!" proclaims Psalm 24:1. The earth is on loan. God owns it, and we are God's caretakers or "stewards," according to the Bible.

Read the rest HERE

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Prairie Climate Stewardship Network

A web site for the Northern Plains:

Prairie Stewardship Network recognizes that our response to climate change must be a cooperative one, involving all levels of society. We strongly urge individuals and families to take action in their personal lives, and our leaders in industry, agriculture and government to support scientific research, technological alternatives and policy initiatives to dramatically reduce global warming emissions.

We who live in North Dakota and the Northern Plains region are uniquely blessed with options that can both produce climate-friendly energy for the nation and sustain our rural livelihoods. North Dakota industry has helped pioneer the use of coal gasification technology both to produce energy while capturing and permanently storing the carbon dioxide emissions underground*. It has also initiated the planning and construction of new wind farms, and ethanol and biodiesel plants; these accomplishments demonstrate our economic and environmental potential in renewable energy. These developments hold great promise for reducing global warming and for reviving rural communities. Our Network promotes continuing concerted action at all levels in order that our region's potential is fully realized.

Prairie Climate Stewardship Network (PCSN) seeks to:
Increase public understanding of global climate change and climate stewardship;
Identify promising solutions and actions to reduce climate change and to revive the prairie's rural communities; and
Build public and private support for climate stewardship initiatives.

Opportunities, Resources, Challenges and Solutions, and other information on how people of the Northern Plains of North America are responding to the challenges of global warming. More HERE

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Green Bishop speaks for the earth

South Africa's 'green bishop' takes Christians to task on earth usage
by Fredrick Nzwili
May 30, 2007[Ecumenical News International]

South African Anglican bishop Geoff Davies stirred debate among church leaders and theologians attending an Ecumenical Water Network conference in the Ugandan capital when he asserted that Christians were making a mistake if they believed God only cared about humanity, while the rest of creation existed for the benefit of people.
"Everything God created is good and has value. We make a mistake of thinking God is only concerned about us at our peril," the former bishop of Umzimvumbu (which means "the home of the hippopotamus" in Zulu) told the May 21-25 conference in Kampala that discussed Africa's water crisis.

Davies quoted Wangari Maathai, the Kenyan environmentalist and first African woman Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, who says we cannot live without the rest of creation and that we are dependent on it.

Davies is currently executive director of the Southern Africa Faith Communities' Environment Institute and he said that human beings could not live separated from nature, nor see nature as an object to be exploited.

"If the natural environment does not survive, we won't," warned Davies, who shocked a congregation one Sunday, when he halted a service he was leading to tip a rubbish bag full of bottles, plastic and other junk onto the floor of Cape Town's St. George's Cathedral. "The reality is that we are now in the midst of the sixth extinction. There have been five previous ones, millions of years ago. The big difference is that this time, we humans are causing it," he said.

"We must remember water is an integral part of the natural environment and we must look after the totality of the natural environment, if we are to survive and if we are to have clean water," said Davies, who has been dubbed the "green bishop" by some of his peers.

His comments in Entebbe triggered strong reactions with some leaders agreeing with him while others stuck to the view that human beings were created to have dominion over nature and thereby had a right to use resources to live.

"The Church is being challenged to play her prophetic role in raising justice issues and viewing environment and water issues as part of faith," the Rev. Maritim Rirei, a Kenyan Anglican church leader, told Ecumenical News International during the meeting.

Rirei agreed with Davies that humanity is slowly destroying itself, by failing to take action to save the environment. "There's a need for a paradigm shift in the interfaith focus on environment, theological training and advocacy," he said.

The Rev. Canon Grace Kaiso, executive secretary of the Uganda Joint Christian Council said churches should lead the way in calling for responsible stewardship of the environment, because poor stewardship would undermine Jesus' mission of ensuring that people enjoy fullness of life.

Read it all HERE

Thursday, May 24, 2007

NPR and Climate

NPR has an ongoing series about the earth's climate. Currently they are asking for your questions and input. The story follows:

NPR and National Geographic are taking a yearlong journey around the globe, exploring how the Earth's climate shapes people, and how people are shaping the Earth's climate.

We'll see how, in the distant past, climate change sparked the evolution of humans in Africa and guided our migration to new lands. We'll also look to the future to see how we might be able to slow climate change -- and adapt to it.

Click HERE to add your thoughts and questions.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The Growing Connection

Here is a site for a grassroots project developed by the UN and American Horticultural Society. A way to grow locally and support others around the world to improve nutrition.

The Growing Connection links people and cultures in a revolutionary campaign that introduces low-cost water efficient and sustainable food growing innovations hand in hand with wireless IT connectivity. It provides a sound educational foundation, and offers hundreds of families, both in America and abroad, a concrete opportunity to earn income and climb out of desperation. Perhaps most important, The Growing Connection engages people – a network of committed individuals - in an elegant solution to one of mankind’s fundamental challenges.

How does it work? School gardening programs and community gardens in the U.S., Ghana, Mexico and Nicaragua grow vegetables in an EarthBox system. that becomes a common growing platform for all participants. Students grow food, conduct horticultural experiments and share their lessons and experiences with each other using IT connectivity. Through modern IT installations, The Growing Connection participants in U.S.,, Ghana, Mexico and Nicaragua are directly linked. And importantly, they are also connected to sources of vital information and advice on growing food. Those once the most isolated can now grow, learn, and chose their own opportunities and destinies.


Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The Theory of "Anyway"

From Georgia Interfaith Power and Light:

The Theory of "Anyway"
by Sharon Astyk

My friend Pat Meadows, a very, very smart woman, has a wonderful idea she calls "The Theory of Anyway." What it entails is this - she argues that 95% of what is needed to resolve the coming crises in energy depletion, or climate change, or most other global crises are the same sort of efforts. When in doubt about how to change, we should change our lives to reflect what we should be doing "Anyway." Living more simply, more frugally, using less, leaving reserves for others, reconnecting with our food and our community, these are things we should be doing because they are the right thing to do on many levels. That they also have the potential to save our lives is merely a side benefit (a big one, though).

This is, I think, a deeply powerful way of thinking because it is a deeply moral way of thinking - we would like to think of ourselves as moral people, but we tend to think of moral questions as the obvious ones "should I steal or pay?" "Should I hit or talk?" But the real and most essential moral questions of our lives are the questions we rarely ask of the things we do every day, "Should I eat this?" "Where should I live and how?" "What should I wear?" "How should I keep warm/cool?" We think of these questions as foregone conclusions - I should keep warm X way because that's the kind of furnace I have, or I should eat this because that's what's in the grocery store. Pat's Theory of Anyway turns this around, and points out that what we do, the way we live, must pass ethical muster first - we must always ask the question "Is this contributing to the repair of the world, or its destruction."

So if you told me that tomorrow, peak oil had been resolved, I'd still keep gardening, hanging my laundry, cutting back and trying to find a way to make do with less. Because even if we found enough oil to power our society for a thousand years, there would still be climate change, and it would be *wrong* of me to choose my own convenience over the security and safety of my children and other people's children. And if you told me tomorrow that we'd fixed climate change, that we could power our lives forever with renewables, I would still keep gardening and living frugally. Because our agriculture is premised on depleted soil and aquifers, and we're facing a future in which many people don't have enough food and water if we keep eating this way, and to allow that to happen would be a betrayal of what I believe is right. And if you told me that we'd fixed that problem too, that we were no longer depleting our aquifers and expanding the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico, I'd still keep gardening and telling others to do the same, because our reliance on food from other nations, and our economy impoverishes and starves millions, even billions of poor people and creates massive economic inequities that do tremendous harm. And if you told me that globalization was over, and that we were going to create a just economic system, and we'd fixed all the other problems, and that I didn't have to worry anymore, would I then stop gardening?

No. Because the nurture of my piece of land would still be the right thing to do. Doing things with no more waste than is absolutely necessary would still be the right thing to do. The creation of a fertile, sustainable, lasting place of beauty would still be my right work in the world. I would still be a Jew, obligated by G-d to Tikkun Olam, to "the repair of the world." I would still be obligated to live in way that prevented wildlife from being run to extinction and poisons contaminating the earth. I would still be obligated to make the most of what I have and reduce my needs so they represent a fair share of what the earth has to offer. I would still be obligated to treat poor people as my siblings, and you do not live comfortably when your siblings suffer or have less. I am obligated to live rightly, in part because of what living rightly gives me - integrity, honor, joy, a better relationship with my diety of choice, peace.

There are people out there who are prepared to step forward and give up their cars, start growing their own food, stop consuming so much and stop burning fossil fuels...just as soon as peak oil, or climate change, or government rationing, or some external force makes them. But that, I believe is the wrong way to think about this. We can't wait for others to tell us, or the disaster to befall us. We have to do now, do today, do with all our hearts, the things we should have been doing "Anyway" all along.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Green San Francisco

Grace Cathedral and all sorts of institutions are going green in San Francisco. Click HERE to see more.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Poverty and Climate Change

Reflections on poverty and climate change
Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori
Sunday, May 20, 2007
San Francisco Chronicle

Before I became a priest, I was a professor of oceanography. One of the things I learned was that oceanographers couldn't just study squid or fish in isolation. We had to study interconnected systems. We had to understand not only the animals' environment, such as the water, but its chemistry and circulation, the atmosphere above the ocean and the geology below it. And that, I believe, is how we must understand our world: We must see everything, and everyone, as interconnected and intended by God to live in relationship.

Two of the most significant crises facing our world -- climate change and deadly poverty -- offer an example of such interconnectedness. By understanding how the two crises, and the people they affect, are connected, we can begin to understand how humanity can triumph over both. Extreme poverty -- that is, poverty that kills -- afflicts more than a billion of God's people around the world. Nearly 30,000 of these people will die today. That's 1 every 3 seconds. The factors that propel this kind of deadly poverty include hunger, diseases like AIDS and malaria, conflict, lack of access to education and basic inequality. Climate change threatens to make the picture even more deadly. As temperature changes increase the frequency and intensity of severe-weather events around the world, poor countries -- which often lack infrastructural needs like storm walls and water-storage facilities -- will divert previous resources away from fighting poverty in order to respond to disaster. Warmer climates will also increase the spread of diseases like malaria and tax the ability of poor countries to respond adequately. Perhaps most severely, changed rain patterns will increase the prevalence of drought in places like Africa, where only 4 percent of cropped land is irrigated, leaving populations without food and hamstrung in their ability to trade internationally to generate income.

Conversely, just as climate change will exacerbate poverty, poverty also is hastening climate change. Most poor people around the world lack access to a reliable-energy source, an imbalance that must be addressed in any attempt to lift a community out of poverty. Unfortunately, financial necessity often forces the choice of energy sources such as oil and coal that threaten to expand significantly the world's greenhouse emissions and thus accelerate the effects of climate change. This cycle -- poverty that begets climate change, and vice versa -- threatens the future of all people, rich and poor alike, and of all things in the world that God so loves.

This relationship between deadly poverty and the health of creation was not lost on the world's leaders when, at the turn of the 21st century, they committed to an ambitious yet attainable plan to cut global poverty in half by 2015. This plan, which established the eight Millennium Development Goals, included a specific pledge to create environmental sustainability. 2007 marks the halfway point in the world's effort to achieve these goals, and while progress has been impressive in some places, we're nowhere close to halfway there. President Bush and other world leaders have made bold commitments, but many of them have yet to be realized. How can the United States help put the world back on track?

First, our nation should make good on the promises it has made to expand foreign aid targeted at fighting poverty, cancel the debts of poor countries and seek fairer international-trade rules that allow people living in poverty to empower themselves in the fight against poverty.

Second, our nation's leaders should recognize the emerging consensus that we can no longer ignore our role in safeguarding the health and balance of God's creation. We must take seriously our share in the global responsibility for reducing carbon emissions, and work with other nations to provide the resources and technology transfers that will allow poor countries to address their energy needs through clean-energy sources that will not hasten the rate of climate change.

Of course, it is not the United States alone that needs to deliver. When the leaders of the G8 meet in early June in Germany, climate change will be at the top of their agenda. The health and well-being of Africa is also on the agenda, but much further down. Now is an ideal time for Americans to write, call, or e-mail President Bush and urge him to work with other leaders in the G8 to consider climate change and deadly poverty side-by-side as facets of the same problem. The good news is that Americans are getting involved like never before. Faith communities such as the Episcopal Church, from which I come, are organizing in communities all over the country, as are citizens from many other walks of life. Millions of Americans have joined the call for comprehensive solutions to poverty through efforts like ONE: The Campaign to Make Poverty History, and groups like the U.N. Millennium Campaign are working with citizens in all parts of the world. To be successful, though, the effort needs even more voices. It needs all of us.

At the very beginning of the Judeo-Christian Scriptures, we hear of God's creation of the universe and his proclamation that the whole of it is very good. Ultimately, this story is an account of relationships: the bond of love between God and the world, and the interconnectivity of all people and all things in that world. It is only when we take seriously those relationships -- when we realize that all people have a stake in the health and well-being of all others and of the Earth itself -- that creation can truly begin to realize the abundant life that God intends for every one of us.

Katharine Jefferts Schori is presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church.

Read it all HERE

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Cathedrals going green

UK. Climate change poses an unprecedented challenge to Englands Cathedrals
Wednesday, 09 May 2007
BYM Marine Environment News

Climate Change and Environment Minister Ian Pearson said England's historic churches and cathedrals face the same tough choices forced on us all by climate change.
Speaking at the Cathedrals and Climate Change Conference at Lambeth Palace, organised by the Association of English Cathedrals, Mr Pearson welcomed the commitment of churches and cathedrals to join the national effort to cut carbon emissions and start adapting to the inevitable impacts climate change will have on our historic environment.
Mr Pearson said: "Cathedrals are important spiritual, historic and cultural buildings. Many of our churches and cathedrals have stood for hundreds of years. They play a vital role as a focus for worship, as the hub of faith communities, as a cultural symbol for the region and as international icons that make an important contribution to the tourism economy.
"Be that as it may, they are not immune to the effects of climate change. We need to take care of our cathedrals now, as they need to be prepared for the more extreme weather of the future and must start adapting if they are still to be standing a century from now.

Read the whole article HERE

More information on the Church of England's National Environmental Campaign can be found at: The contact for the Church of England is Alexander Nicoll.

Saturday, May 5, 2007


A year of food life
By Barbara Kingsolver, with Steven L. Hopp and Camille Kingsolver

I have just started reading this new book by Barbara Kingsolver et al. Already enchanted, as ever, by Kingsolver’s mesmerizing flow of words, I decided to do a running commentary on this blog. The first bit that jumped out at me is the idea that we may as well sit down and drink a quart of motor oil at every meal – it would save money and resources that go into our daily fare. According to A, V, & M, “each food item in a typical US meal has traveled 1500 miles. Besides transport, there is fertilizer, farm equipment, warehousing, processing, packaging, and refrigeration. Here is an option Kingsolver suggests that does not take much effort on our part:

“If every US citizen ate just one meal a week (any meal) composed of locally and organically raised meats and produce, we would reduce our country’s oil consumption by over 1.1 million barrels of oil every week.”

That is BARRELS, not gallons. With that and driving 55 on the highways – we will end
the fuel crisis.

Friday, May 4, 2007

UN Global Warming Meeting

Good news and bad news. Although a deal is in the making, many warn that it is not enough.

From Ekklesia

Experts and observers, including NGOs and faith groups, at the United Nations climate change conference in Bangkok say a deal has been done on ways to combat global warming, despite trenchant opposition by China to policies restricting economic growth.

The areas of dispute included language regarding the Kyoto protocol (about which the US remains skeptical), the true costs of cutting emissions and how they will be borne, and the role of nuclear power.

The third part of this year's assessment from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) looking at ways to curb emissions and the economic factors involved is due to be released later today (4 May 2007).

But environmentalists remain tight-lipped about what is really being achieved in the midst of much political horse trading.

"One direction seems to be that there isn't the investment going into renewable technologies and energy efficiency that's sufficient for them to meet the potential they have to tackle this problem," Catherine Pearce, international climate campaigner with Friends of the Earth UK, told BBC News in Bangkok.

The draft report assesses the likely costs to the global economy of stabilizing greenhouse gases at various concentrations in the atmosphere.

Aiming for a total greenhouse gas concentration equivalent to 650 parts per million (ppm) of carbon dioxide would reduce global Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by about 0.2%, it says, whereas a more ambitious target of 550ppm would cost about 0.6% of global GDP.

The current atmospheric concentration is approximately 425ppm, and many climate scientists now argue that only agreeing to keep below about 450ppm can prevent major climatic consequences.

Read more HERE

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Gasoline Tankers and Black Swans

Bishop Marc Andrus of the Diocese of California writes following the tanker truck accident in the Bay area.

Gasoline tankers and black swans
May 1, 2007 at 12:39 PM
“Huge leaping flames from an exploding gasoline tanker melted the steel underbelly of a highway overpass in the East Bay's MacArthur Maze early this morning, causing it to collapse onto the roadway below and virtually ensuring major traffic problems for weeks to come.”

This was the opening of the San Francisco Chronicle article on the MacArthur Maze crash on Sunday, April 29.

Monday night, April 30, we had the Taize’ service in Grace Cathedral. The diverse, devout crowd of 240 people who chanted and prayed for their communities’ deepest concerns had come from all over the Bay Area, many from areas affected by the crash. Students from CDSP took BART; people from Walnut Creek and other East Bay communities took BART. They were all smiling about the experience.

I think this crash, expensive, terrifying, inconvenient, is what we might call a “black swan” event. The great American poet, James Merrill, in his poem “The Black Swan,” has a very Anglo little boy, in a field of white and light, see a black swan on a pond. At the end of the poem, in ecstasy the boy exclaims, “I love the black swan.”

Unintended, unimagined events, wrecking our models and our plans, can lead us to where we need to be, can be occasions of love, and produce the happiness and mode of life for which we long at the deepest level of our being.

As many of you know, I didn’t have even our low emissions/high fuel efficiency hybrid car when I first came to the Diocese. Everything was walking, bus, or BART. I re-learned some things during those months: I was happier being with humanity while traveling, than in my wondrous car (even with its six-CD changer, and the GPS); the people on the bus and BART often spoke to me about their faith, their search for God, their desire to connect with a church, and moving on the earth while leaving a smaller carbon footprint was satisfying.

We need to make an effort to reduce our carbon emissions. Maybe this black swan event is an invitation to change our way of life, to consciously maintain the forced, unlooked for change and embrace it, to say, “I love the black swan.” Try to take public transportation twice during the workweek, or to walk or ride your bicycle to work twice a week. And, if you can afford it, look into your next car being a hybrid. Or, follow the example of my friend, Marion Grau, who teaches theology at CDSP, and do most of your smaller travel by foot and bicycle, and when you need to drive use a shared car. She says that the shared car organization of which she is a member works so well that even if she requests a car the day before she needs it, she usually gets it.

The spiritual truth here is that the ways of God, humility and simplicity, are not only good for our planet, our beautiful home that is in so much trouble, but also produce happiness in us, as we align ourselves with the image of God within and among us.