Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Eat less meat, save the planet

Mark Bittman, writes in the New York Times: We Could Be Heroes
...Two environmental specialists for the World Bank, Robert Goodland (the bank’s former lead environmental adviser) and Jeff Anhang, claimed, in an article in World Watch, that the number was more like 51 percent. It’s been suggested that that number is extreme, but the men stand by it, as Mr. Goodland wrote to me this week: “All that greenhouse gas isn’t emitted directly by animals. ”But according to the most widely-used rules of counting greenhouse gases, indirect emissions should be counted when they are large and when something can be done to mitigate or reduce them.” ... If you believe that earth’s natural resources are limitless, which maybe was excusable 100 years ago but is the height of ignorance now, or that “technology will fix it” or that we can simply go mine them in outer space with Newt Gingrich, I guess none of this worries you. But if you believe in reality, and you’d like that to be a place that your kids get to enjoy, this is a big deal. A primer: The earth may very well be running out of clean water, and by some estimates it takes 100 times more water (up to 2,500 gallons) to produce a pound of grain-fed beef than it does to produce a pound of wheat. We’re also running out of land: somewhere around 45 percent of the world’s land is either directly or indirectly involved in livestock production, and as forests are cleared to create new land for grazing animals or growing feed crops, the earth’s capacity to sequester greenhouse gases (trees are especially good at this) diminishes. I could go on and on about the dangers of producing and consuming too much meat: heavy reliance on fossil fuels and phosphorous (both in short supply); consumption of staggering amounts of antibiotics, a threat to public health; and the link (though not as strong as sugar’s) to many of the lifestyle diseases that are wreaking havoc on our health. Here’s the thing: It’s seldom that such enormous problems have such simple solutions, but this is one that does. We can tackle climate change without inventing new cars or spending billions on mass transit or trillions on new forms of energy, though all of that is not only desirable but essential. In the meantime, we can begin eating less meat tomorrow. That’s something any of us can do, with no technological advances. If personal choice enacted on a large scale could literally save the world, maybe we have to talk about it that way. We could be heroes, like Bruce Willis in “Armageddon,” only maybe the sacrifice is on a more modest and easier scale. (You already changed your light bulbs; how about eating a salad?)

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A time to act

An evangelical calls for action by Christians on behalf of the environment and the poor. Evangelism and Environmentalism: A time to act I face a question and a challenge as I grope my way into activism. The question: What do I do when the river that swept me into the life of Christ now empties into a toxic swamp? The very word, "evangelical," which once conjured images of joyful Jesus Freaks, conveys political intimidation. It's as if Ayn Rand's spirit descended and screeched on Pentecost: "Be selfish and shrill!" But then comes the challenge: Why am I so late? Why did I hide behind the term, "peacemaker," and avoid the loving confrontation so necessary for true shalom? Why did I wait until I was personally hurt? The challenge humbles me as I offer this confessional testimonial: I'm joining the growing movement to bring evangelicals back to their true heritage, which includes compassion for the poor and environmental care -- and I'm adding my personal caveat: "Don't be like me. Don't wait. Act now."

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Tuvalu is drowning: a plea to the world

Archbishop Winston Halapua has just returned from a visit to Pacific Island nation of Tuvalu according to the The Anglican Communion News Service. While there he witnessed the effects of climate change with rising sea levels inundating the nation, poisoning the drinking water and ruining crops.
Dr Halapua, who was born in Tonga, and who is a trained sociologist, says that because of the particular vulnerability of low-lying island states such as Kiribati, Tokelau, Tonga and Tuvalu – which, at its highest point, is less than 5m above sea level – he's been following the debate about climate change for 10 years.

"For me, to go to Tuvalu – that's all the information that I need.
"We need to pray," says Archbishop Winston.

"We need to say very, very clearly to the church that we need to pray because this is something way beyond us.

"We need to pray that we will be empowered to speak clearly to our elected agents in government who make decisions about climate change."
"Please do something about climate change."
Archbishop Winston says there are four ways people in the wider Anglican communion can help Tuvalu.
"Pray. Pray in your personal devotions, in your churches, and your home groups. Pray first for rain for Tuvalu. Then pray that the issues of climate change and rising sea levels are tackled.

"Donate. Donate to the Anglican Missions Board. Earmark your donation ‘Tuvalu Appeal' – and the AMB will forward any money it receives to our ecumenical partners, the Church of Tuvalu, so that people there may have enough water to drink and food to eat. "Any money given will bring relief not only to the people of the main island but also to pockets of people on other islands to the group."

"Respond to appeals by other agencies to help the people of Tuvalu.

"Become more aware of the causes of climate change, and of its impact on marginalised people."

Friday, October 21, 2011

Green Pilgrimage

Alliance of Religions and Conservation announces a global network Green Pilgrimage:
The first global network aimed at greening pilgrimage – the largest movement of people worldwide – will be launched in the presence of His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh KG, KT, at the Sacred Land celebration in Assisi, Italy, from October 31 to November 2, 2011. The event is organised by the Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC) in association with WWF.

The Green Pilgrimage Network will help the faiths make their holy cities and sacred sites as environmentally sustainable as possible according to their own theologies and understanding. Pilgrimage is the world’s biggest travel event, with millions of people becoming pilgrims every year, whether for a few hours, days or even weeks. The largest human gathering in recorded history was the Maha Kumbh Mela, a festival held every 144 years in Prayag, Allahabad, India, which in 2001 attracted more than 60 million Hindus.

Ten faith traditions have nominated pilgrim cities or sacred sites to become founding members of the Green Pilgrimage Network, ranging as far afield as Louguan in the People's Republic of China for Daoists to St Albans in the UK for Anglicans and Amritsar for the Sikhs (1). The city authorities of Jerusalem, a major pilgrimage destination for three faiths – Judaism, Christianity and Islam – will join the network to green the city for all pilgrims.

Also launched at Sacred Land will be the first Green Hajj Guide aimed at the two million Muslim pilgrims who visit Mecca (Makkah) in Saudi Arabia each year for the Hajj, the biggest annual pilgrimage in the world. Sacred Land will also celebrate 25 years of faith action on the environment since the first Assisi gathering in 1986 when, as International President of WWF, Prince Philip invited faith leaders to consider how their beliefs, practices and teachings could help protect the environment.

Read more here

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Year of the Forests

Interfaith Power and Light is asking everyone to support the Year of the Forests.
Today, I want to share an update about our project with the Presbyterian Chuch in Ghana. The project team planted 2540 seedlings this year, establishing a brand new three-acre community forest. Now, funding is needed before the end of the year to maintain the farm and protect the land from fires. Also, the project teaches alternative livelihoods to locals — from bee keeping to snail farming — that prevent further land degradation. The project presents an opportunity to rebuild our relationship with both the natural world and communities on the front lines of climate change, honoring our sacred call of stewardship as well as loving our neighbors.

Protecting the climate will require international as well as interfaith cooperation and solidarity. One country, or one religion, can't do it alone. We in the U.S. must reduce our own oversized carbon footprint, as I know so many of our congregations have done, and we must also find ways to help vulnerable people around the world be part of the solution. That's why we call this project Carbon Covenant.

Forests are the lungs of the world, and play a crucial role in the climate by absorbing CO2 emissions. We all depend on the forests for survival. As people around the world focus on forests this year, it is fitting that the faith community is poised to play a leading role. I hope you will get your congregation, diocese, judicatory, province, or community involved, and sponsor a project. We also welcome your support as an individual.

On a personal note, I can't finish this letter about forests without saying how saddened I was by the passing last week of my friend and colleague Wangari Matthai, who won a Nobel Peace Prize for her extraordinary tree planting and women's empowerment efforts in Africa. But I take heart in knowing that her legacy lives on with her Greenbelt Movement, and with the enormous hope and inspiration she gave to people in Africa and all over the world.

Join the Carbon Covenant

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Be a Hummingbird

Rise in glory, Wangari Maathi!