Saturday, November 29, 2008

Bio-fuels contribute to hunger and climate change

Anglican Journal reports:
...there are people around the world who are starving because more and more land is being dedicated to cash-rich fuel crops like corn instead of food.

These were some of the points raised at a recent forum, Connecting the dots on the food crisis, sponsored by Kairos, the Canadian ecumenical justice organization, of which the Anglican Church of Canada is a member. The forum explored the root causes of the food crisis in the Global South, including the push for agro-fuels in rich countries like Canada and the U.S., the decades-long liberalization policies of governments, and the growth of agri-business transnational corporations.

John Dillon, program co-ordinator of Kairos, talked about how large-scale agro-fuel production for export has not only given way to hunger but also to exploitation of farmers who work in “slave-like conditions” in plantations, most of which are owned by trans-national corporations that enter into joint ventures with local landlords. (For example, since the U.S. cannot supply all the demand for corn ethanol, agri-business corporations have been importing agro-fuels from Asia, Latin America, and Africa.)
Ethanol was supposed to have been a better, cleaner fuel, but studies have shown that its production actually accelerates climate change. “While burning ethanol produces about 12 per cent to 13 per cent less greenhouse gases than petroleum, it is not a ‘clean’ fuel since it also emits carcinogens and increases atmospheric ozone,” said Mr. Dillon in a briefing paper published in 2007 where he cited a study conducted by the U.K.-based Institute of Science in Society. For instance, sugarcane is burned before harvest or forests are burned in order to clear it for palm oil plantations, causing a massive release of CO2 into the atmosphere.

With ethanol increasingly getting a bad reputation, many corporations are now looking for the next big fix, said Mr. Dillon, adding that cellulose is now being touted as an alternative. Mr. Dillon said groups like Kairos prefer to push governments to push in the direction of energy conservation and efficiency, and a re-examination of the pattern of consumption in the West.

“A study by the U.S. Congressional Budget Office found that reducing gasoline consumption by 10 per cent through an increase in fuel economy standards would cost consumers and industry about U.S. $3.6 billion a year,” said Mr. Dillon in his paper, Are agrofuels alternatives to oil? “To replace the same amount of gasoline by producing more ethanol would cost over US$10 billion in government subsidies.”

Friday, November 28, 2008

Low carbon Christmas

I know it is only the beginning of Advent - but here are some suggestions for 12 Days of Low Carbon Christmas from the National Council of Churches. Some good ideas - not so sure the group who wrote these know what it is like to live at 5000+ feet in Wyoming in the winter!!

The Low Carbon 12 Days of Christmas

1. Send Electronic Christmas Cards: Sending your Christmas greetings electronically is good for Creation because it saves trees. If you want to send a personal Christmas greeting to close friends and family, use recycled paper to make your own Christmas Cards.

2. Make Your Own Decorations: This can become a wonderful family tradition. Use recycled materials or natural materials like pinecones, leaves, vines. Making your own Christmas wreath out of materials you collected is carbon neutral and positively fun!

3. Buy a Living, Local Christmas Tree: Start a tradition of planting your Christmas tree in your yard or on your church grounds after Christmas. You can even put a message in a bottle underneath the tree thanking God for the year’s blessings. Your planted tree becomes a Christmas gift for creation and a living family memory for years to come!

4. Use LED Christmas Lights: These lights use around 90% less energy than incandescent Christmas lights. Look for lights that are Energy Star approved. Remember to conserve energy and not to leave them on all day or overnight. 

5. Do Your Christmas Shopping with Reusable Bags: Less plastic bags means less energy is used to produce them, and therefore less carbon is released into the atmosphere.
6. Give Responsibly: Buy gently used gifts like books and toys or non-material gifts like a national parks pass or event tickets rather than products. If you are good at making crafts, consider making gifts for your loved ones.
7. If you buy traditional gifts, minimize your carbon foot print by purchasing Local and energy efficient gifts that are minimally packaged. Click here for ideas.

8. Use Reusable or Recycled Gift Wrap: You will save energy by reducing the need to produce wrapping paper and help reduce global warming pollution.

9. Practice Alternative Giving: Donate to a charity in a friend or family member’s name. Ideas here

10. Limit Your Travel: If you need to travel to be with family ride with other friends and family to reduce the per person carbon emissions or take the train. In general, driving results in fewer carbon emissions than flying, especially when driving a moderately fuel efficient vehicle at or below the speed limit with properly inflated tires.

11. Serve Local Food for Christmas Dinner: Consider serving a locally raised main course, but if a local ham or turkey is too pricey, serve a few side dishes made with local vegetables. This is a tasty way to reduce the number of miles food has to travel to get to your plate, which in turn helps reduce carbon emissions.

12. Remember Why We Celebrate! Christmas is a time to celebrate God’s gift of Jesus Christ, a savior who will bring peace to Earth (Luke 2: 11-14), through whom all things came into being (John 1:3) and through whom God reconciled all things (Colossians 1:19).

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Religious recycling

Treehugger reports:
Fifty years ago the Heineken Beer company looked at reshaping its beer bottle to be useful as a building block. It never happened, so Buddhist monks from Thailand's Sisaket province took matters into their own hands and collected a million bottles to build the Wat Pa Maha Chedi Kaew temple. It puts every other bottle building we have shown to shame.

Read more at the Treehugger website.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Monday, May 26, 2008

Is buying green really green?

Mr. Brueghel reports a Wired Magazine article:
The new issue of Wired magazine has a great article about the many fallacious "solutions" to global warming that are really just guilt-sops. I don't want to get political here (I swore off it; I'm not even reading the news and the apocalypse is getting on just fine without my attending to it), but I still get CRAZY MAD when people talk about buying green stuff. BUYING THINGS IS NOT GREEN. Wired's case in point: manufacturing a Toyota Prius uses the BTU equivalent of 1,000 gallons of gasoline. A used car, on the other hand, has already paid its carbon debt, in terms of lifetime emissions per mile including emissions from the manufacturing process. BUY USED. SHOP GOODWILL.

Another item on this blog is a reflection taking the bus. Read it here.

And a sea level rise map:

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Arizona Nature and Spirtuality has a new Carbon Footprint Calculator at their site.
This particular calculator does a quick calculation of your carbon emitting activities, and provides you with an estimate of your overall personal carbon footprint. Toggle with the answers to see how small changes can make a big difference to your footprint, then make pledges or learns tips to reduce. Keep in mind this only tracks you personal actions, and that in terms of a national average, industry and public services actually pull individual averages up quite a bit higher.

Click here to do a quick calculation. For kids click here.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Living in gratitude

No Impact Man has tagged gratitude as needed for living more thoughtfully on the earth. He writes:
This could be totally wrong, but I’m guessing that the decline of religious life in our culture has brought with it a decline in gratitude. Not that I am laying some sort of a religious trip on everyone—I am the first to cop to not maintaining an attitude of thankfulness.

But I do feel as though we (and I include me) have come to worship desire. Here in the United States, I sometimes despair that our state religion is consumption and our main prayer is for more.

I’m not even religious, but I sense from people I’ve known who take the spiritual aspects of their religions to heart an emphasis on being grateful for what God or the Universe or the Oneness has given them rather than on what they don’t have. I admire that. I’d like to have more of that in myself, because I, too, often find that my prayer, if I’m not careful, is for more.

Here is what I think: that being grateful for what I have makes me want less. Wanting less makes me consume less. Consuming less makes me treat the planet more kindly. The equation goes, therefore, gratitude equals kindness.

Read more here.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Running the Numbers

Chris Jordan depicts statistics in graphic style. As he says at his site, Running the Numbers:
An American Self-Portrait

This series looks at contemporary American culture through the austere lens of statistics. Each image portrays a specific quantity of something: fifteen million sheets of office paper (five minutes of paper use); 106,000 aluminum cans (thirty seconds of can consumption) and so on. My hope is that images representing these quantities might have a different effect than the raw numbers alone, such as we find daily in articles and books. Statistics can feel abstract and anesthetizing, making it difficult to connect with and make meaning of 3.6 million SUV sales in one year, for example, or 2.3 million Americans in prison, or 410,000 paper cups used every fifteen minutes. This project visually examines these vast and bizarre measures of our society, in large intricately detailed prints assembled from thousands of smaller photographs. The underlying desire is to emphasize the role of the individual in a society that is increasingly enormous, incomprehensible, and overwhelming.

My only caveat about this series is that the prints must be seen in person to be experienced the way they are intended. As with any large artwork, their scale carries a vital part of their substance which is lost in these little web images. Hopefully the JPEGs displayed here might be enough to arouse your curiosity to attend an exhibition, or to arrange one if you are in a position to do so. The series is a work in progress, and new images will be posted as they are completed, so please stay tuned.

~chris jordan, Seattle, 2007

See images here

More on Chris Jordan's work here

Monday, April 14, 2008

Schools eating green

Episcopal Life Online reports on how Episcopal schools are linking their lunches with the garden and creating awareness about maintaining a healthy planet.
The link between the health of our planet and of ourselves comes into focus when we consider our food system. School lunches, school gardens and even school composting play an important part in that system for children at Episcopal schools.
When parent Rob Gaon approached the Rev. Jesse Vaughan, headmaster at St. Michael's Episcopal Day School in Carmichael, California, in the fall of 2005 with his dream of a school garden, he wasn't sure what the response would be. Gaon had started gardening when he moved to the Sacramento area a few years earlier and had fallen in love with the practice.

In the spring of 2006, Vaughan walked Gaon out to the space where he thought the garden should be, and the dream began to be realized.

"The amazing thing is how the whole school community has embraced the garden," says Gaon.

That summer, a group of parents put the garden together.

Now there is a garden parent for each classroom, and grandparents' club members support the garden with their labor and fund raisers.

"The teachers have received it with open arms," says Gaon. The lower grades have been most active, but even the seventh- and eighth-grade classes are involved, planting a Shakespeare garden to complement their English studies.

The children are excited to pick and eat snap peas or strawberries, and the harvest is included on the school cafeteria salad bar and vegetarian soups. "We have an amazing woman in our cafeteria," says Gaon. Signs are posted identifying produce from the school garden when it is a featured part of any menu.

Read about it here.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Spiritual Leaders

Joel Connelly, columnist for the Seattle Post Intelligencer writes about the spiritual leadership of the Dalai Lama and the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, Katharine Jefferts Schori. He asks how their vision might stem the tide of consumerism, violence, and global warming in our day:
The Dalai Lama will find himself lionized, praised, honored and listened to with reverence during his upcoming visit to the Emerald City.

The man's message, however, is likely to be ignored.

"Cultural genocide" in Tibet, as the Dalai Lama aptly describes it, hasn't caused a moment's pause in the courtship of China by our business and political leaders. A lust for commerce trumps the evils of Communism.

The upcoming comings and goings of religious leaders -- Episcopal Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori hits Seattle on Wednesday, and Pope Benedict XVI visits the East Coast next week -- underscores how hard it is to find a role for global ethics in this era of "globalism."

We start with a consumer society, fed by a ruthless new global economy that lays waste to land and people and fuels consumption and lavish temples to wealth.

He writes of the upcoming Healing our Planet Earth: Singing a New Song of Hope conference in the Seattle area:
Schori is, in a sense, returning home with her Seattle trip. She was raised in Lake City, converted from Catholicism to the Episcopal Church with her family and was an oceanographer before receiving a call to the priesthood. She has climbed 9,415-foot Mount Stuart.

She is here for the kind of event that represents renewal to many in her flock, while others see invasive secular issues capturing the church.

It's a national conference titled "Healing Our Planet Earth: Singing a New Song of Hope."

Schori is not hesitant to embrace science, even linking it to revelation.

"As an oceanographer, I practiced a discipline that understands that no life form can be studied in isolation from its surroundings: As a Christian, I continue to practice a discipline that understands that God created all beings to live in relationship with each other and the rest of creation," she said in a written statement.

"Science has revealed to us unequivocally that climate change and global warming are real, and caused in significant party by human activity.

"These changes are a threat not only to the goodness of God's creation but to all of humanity."

The conference will hear from the Rt. Rev. Steven Charleston, a seminary dean and former Alaska bishop who heralds "The Genesis Covenant."

The covenant is an interfaith effort that calls on religious communities to make a "public commitment" to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by a minimum of 50 percent in the next 10 years.

Not even our solemn, secular greens -- the Sightline Institute and Cascade Chapter of the Sierra Club -- dare talk of such an ambitious goal.

Read more here.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Give it 4 Good

Soon you will be receiving a check for you to spend to stimulate the economy - here is a suggestion for using it for the global good.

For more information click here.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Earth Day resources

Since the first Earth Day, April 22, 1970, Earth Day has been an annual event for people around the world to celebrate the earth and renew our commitment to building a safer, healthier and cleaner world for all of us. It is a wonderful opportunity to embrace all of God's creation, raise awareness and pray for "this fragile earth, our island home." (Eucharistic Prayer C)

There are many resources and websites to assist in the planning of your education offerings and worship celebrations on this day - click on resource for link:

Earth Day Network

Take the Ecological Footprint Quiz!

Green Stories from Episcopalians

Update on Greening Efforts around the Episcopal Church

Worship and Formation Resources

Sample Sermons

Congregational Greening Resources and Ideas

Millennium Development Goal #7 resources

Climate Change and the Church

Healing God's Creation

Lord of Creation: Celtic Spirituality

Lessons Plans from the NCCC Eco-Justice Network! The Poverty of Global Climate Change . .

Thanks to Living In-Formation - a newsletter from Church Publishing.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Beef and the environment

Why going meatless saves the Earth. Michael Bluejay offers some reasons for becoming a vegan. Charts show how much fuel, water and land it takes to make one calorie of of protein from various foods.

This chart shows the calories of fossil fuel used to make 1 calorie of protein for various feeds:

Read more here.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Earth Hour

World Wildlife Fund is sponsoring Earth Hour around the world. According to a press release:
With less than a week to go, participation in Earth Hour has grown dramatically as nearly 200 cities, including 35 in the U.S., join millions of individuals and businesses around the world in turning off their lights on Saturday, March 29th from 8 – 9 pm local time in a dramatic symbolic gesture in support for action on climate change.

Find out more here.

Christian Science Monitor reports plans in Chicago:
Guests at the Inn of Chicago on the city's Magnificent Mile will walk into a darkened, candle-lit lobby. And when they look out at the iconic skyline, it will look different: the Sears Tower, the Hancock Building, the Ferris wheel on Navy Pier, and some 200 downtown buildings plan to turn out the lights at 8 p.m.

It's all part of "Earth Hour," an international climate-change awareness campaign that started last year in Sydney, Australia and that the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) is taking global this year. Starting in New Zealand, and rolling out through dozens of cities, including Bangkok, Thailand; Dublin, Ireland; and Tel Aviv; the campaign is urging individuals, businesses, and landmarks to go dark between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m.

Read more here.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Healing Our Planet Earth

Friday, April 11 and Saturday, April 12, a national Episcopal conference seeks to engage the Church in understanding and actively addressing the crisis of climate change. While this conference is hosted by Episcopalians, it welcomes participants from other denominations and faith traditions.

“The crisis of climate change presents an unprecedented challenge to the goodness,interconnectedness and sanctity of the world that God created and loved." Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori

“Ultimately, the control of climate change and the welfare of the environment is an issue of survival for everybody. It’s not a question that can be addressed by one society alone, by one religious tradition alone, by one state alone; it’s something that demands collaboration…. So the challenge that faith communities in particular face at the moment is the challenge of holding up before our governments and our societies, a clear moral vision.” Archbishop Rowan Williams

Now is the time to step forward as people of faith - all faiths - to address the crisis of global climate change. We invite you to join others from around the nation to learn how we can "get the word out" and join in a covenant to make a difference.

Watch Bp. Charleston's Sermon on the Genesis Covenant at Washington National Cathedral on February 24, 2008

Major Presenters
Dr. Katharine Jefferts Schori is the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church USA. In addition to her theological expertise she has a Ph. D. in oceanography and worked for NOAA for twenty years.

Dr. Steven Charleston is President of the Episcopal Divinity School, Cambridge, MA. Prior to this position he served as the Episcopal Bishop of Alaska. He is a Native American elder.

Dr. Sallie McFague is a Distinguished Theologian in Residence at Vancouver School of Theology, in Vancouver, B.C. Prior to that she was Professor of Theology at Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee. She has written extensively on environmental theology.

More information on The Genesis Covenant here.

To register for the conference Click here.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

How it all ends

YouTube Video Series Leads Global Warming Discussion

By Holly Van Woerkom, BYU Newsnet, February 19, 2008.

Exploding balloons and test tubes? Check. Average-looking guy with a funny hat? Check. Low-tech filming techniques? Check. These elements included in the… video How It All Ends [10 min] may have contributed to its extreme popularity among YouTube viewers. But unlike other YouTube sensations, which are typically anything but thought provoking, this is a video with a cause - its creator hopes to change public opinion on global climate change. Oregon high school teacher Greg Craven's quest to spark discussion about global climate change began in August 2007, when he posted a video on called The Most Terrifying Video You'll Ever See [9 1/2 sec] which quickly gained more than 3 million hits in its first six months. After thousands of comments and criticisms from viewers, Craven created the equally successful How It All Ends, part of a 44-part, six hour expansion pack, which he says 'answers every single objection or question to my argument that I've come across to date.'

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Listen to the Wombat

Carbon Fast for Lent

Episcopal Cafe has a proposal for a greener Lent.
By James Jones

Traditionally people have given up things for Lent. Last year in the Diocese of Liverpool many parishes took part in a Carbon Fast. Through it we were able to focus on God’s Earth and its poorest people in whom, Jesus said, we were to find him.

This year, in Lent 2008, we invite as many as can to join us in a Carbon Fast.

Suggestions for the first week:
Ash Wednesday: Remove one light bulb (without inviting danger).

Thursday: Check your house for draughts with a ribbon or feather. If it flutters, buy a draught excluder.

Friday: Whatever mode of transport you usually use, try to make at least one of your journeys more environmentally friendly.

Saturday: Consider whether or not you’re using all available avenues for recycling (don’t forget that charity shops play a valuable role).

Week 2

Sunday: Find the most environmentally friendly way you can to get to church today (e.g. walk, bike, car share).

Monday: Turn your central heating thermostat down by one degree. If you have separate thermostats on radiators, adjust them to suit the use of the room.

Tuesday: Check that all electrical equipment is switched off rather than on standby when not in use. Screen savers do not save electricity.

Wednesday: As chocolate is still on the menu this Lent, be sure to reward yourself with Fair trade chocolate.

Thursday: Ensure your mobile phone charger is unplugged when not in use.

Friday: Plan your menu for next week and buy only enough food to avoid waste.

Saturday: When shopping, employ the LOAF principle – that is buy Locally produced, Organic, Animal friendly, and Fairly traded goods.

All six weeks here.

More resources here.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

No impact man

A guilty liberal finally snaps, swears off plastic, goes organic, becomes a bicycle nut, turns off his power, composts his poop and, while living in New York City, generally turns into a tree-hugging lunatic who tries to save the polar bears and the rest of the planet from environmental catastrophe while dragging his baby daughter and Prada-wearing, Four Seasons-loving wife along for the ride.

So says No Impact Man at his blog. Lots of links and ideas for going green.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Conserving Water

A calculator to measure your water usage at H2O Conserve. Click here to check yours. Also tips for water conservation.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

God does not make waste

The Archbishop of Canterbury's message for the planet.