Archive for the ‘environment’ tag
by John Cotter
from The Star
Churches across Canada say they have a religious duty to speak out on the proposed Northern Gateway oilsands pipeline.
Next week, delegates at the United Church of Canada general council meeting in Ottawa will debate a resolution that calls on the church to reject construction of the $6-billion Enbridge project that would take diluted bitumen from Alberta to the British Columbia coast.
The resolution was drafted in support of aboriginals in B.C., who worry a spill would poison the land and water, and directs the church to send the results of its vote to the federal, B.C. and Alberta governments and the media.
Mardi Tindal, moderator of the United Church, said care of the Earth is an important part of the faith and the church can’t shy away from the pipeline just because it is controversial and politically divisive.
“People care so much about this. People understand that you cannot separate economic health from ecological health,” she said from Toronto.
“The church has a responsibility to contribute to the conversations that make for the best public policy for the common good.”
The United Church of Canada is not alone.
by Krista Tippett
from The Huffington Post
Earlier this month, His All Holiness Bartholomew, the Patriarch of 300 million Eastern Orthodox Christians, convened a two-day conversation on “environment, ethics and innovation.” We gathered on the tiny, ancient island of Heybeliada off Istanbul, which was once the Patriarch’s Constantinople and before that New Rome.
There were scientists there, and activists, and religious thinkers. Greenpeace was represented, and so was Dow Chemical. We did not solve any problem or draft a white paper or conceive a plan of action. There were no expectations of these things, and so it was not, like the recent Rio conference, roundly condemned as a failure. But our discussion did yield some fresh examination of the often-unnamed obstacle to all the good solutions and plans already out there: the human condition.
The gathering convened in a former seminary, which Ataturk’s successors closed as they secularized Turkey and which the present Islamic government seems poised to re-open. It was poignant, in this space, to hear James Hansen — the NASA scientist who seminally defined the relationship between atmospheric carbon dioxide and civilization as we know it — profess that scientists need the help of the religious in an urgent struggle for public understanding.
by Rabbi Jack Bemporad, Rev. Dr. James A. Kowalski, and Susan Barnett
from Huffington Post
We don’t honor God when 4,500 children die every day — but they do — from the lack of something so simple, each of us takes it for granted: a safe glass of water.
Four thousand five hundred children — that’s one every 20 seconds, a little life extinguished.
While the last couple of years have seen an increase in awareness about the global water crisis, it’s still the No. 1 killer of children around the globe. Safe water and sanitation remains the greatest under-recognized global humanitarian crisis we face and its impact is staggering. It’s the world’s dirty secret.
Almost a billion people do not have access to safe water globally and 2.5 billion lack the dignity of basic sanitation. This lack of access translates into more stunning numbers:
- 50 percent of all malnutrition is due to the lack of safe water and sanitation
- As is 80 percent of all disease
- Half of the world’s hospital beds are filled by patients suffering from water-borne diseases
- This leading killer of children under five kills more children than malaria, AIDS and TB combined
- The result is a catastrophic 2 million, mostly preventable deaths, every year.
We fight malaria but poor sanitation increases breeding grounds for malaria-carrying mosquitoes. We spend millions making sure HIV/AIDS patients get the anti-retroviral drugs they need, but they take these drugs with disease-ridden water.
Current U.S. funding for water and sanitation development amounts to less than one one-hundredth of a percent of the federal budget. Yet for every dollar invested, there’s an economic return of $8.
With all the good work the faiths do, from malnutrition to malaria, it’s all being undercut by the overarching absence of clean water and sanitation. Not prioritizing the global water crisis defies logic. It prevents productivity, increases poverty and inequality for women.
by Yaira Robinson
from State of Formation
This was my first visit to the Zen Center. One of the Buddhist priests had invited me to encourage his students to engage in interfaith environmental work. I was a little nervous, but something about this group—their open spirit, perhaps, and honest questions—quickly put me at ease and helped me speak from the heart. At some point, I found myself saying, “The Buddhist tradition has beautiful teachings about how all life is interconnected, and the world desperately needs this wisdom! Pleaseshare it.”
Global warming is a huge behemoth of a problem. It challenges us to work together across the globe in new and unprecedented ways—ways we clearly haven’t figured out yet, as international climate talks repeatedly fail to produce significant agreements. Meanwhile, individual people are waking up to the climate crisis, struggling to make sense of it, and wondering how to respond.
One of the ways that people of faith are responding is by turning to our religious traditions. From them, we seek teachings and practices that might inform our actions as we try to meet these challenges. And we are finding them! Each of the world’s religious traditions offers tremendous wisdom about how we should live in respectful relationship with the earth and with each other.
As I drove home from the Zen Center that evening, I got to thinking: If what the world in climate crisis most needs to hear from the Buddhist tradition is that all life is interconnected, what does it most need to hear from other religious traditions?
by David A Gabel
from Environmental News Network
A team of scientists from the University of Oxford are working on a world map which shows all the land owned or revered by various world religions. This “holy map” will display all the sacred sites from Jerusalem’s Western Wall, to Masjid al-Haram in Mecca, to St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City. Just as interesting, the map will also show the great forests held sacred by various religions. Within these protected lands dwell a wide variety of life and high numbers of threatened species.
The sacred land mapped out by the Oxford researchers is not necessarily owned by a certain religious community, but rather contains sacred connotations. They estimate that about fifteen percent of all land on Earth is “sacred land”, and eight percent of all land is owned by a religious community. Much of the land held sacred is forest.
Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders in the Holy Land joined forces Monday to launch a multi-faith environmental campaign, citing religious injunctions to protect the Earth across their three faiths.
Among their plans are the convening of an international conference of religious leaders in New York ahead of the 2012 United Nations General Assembly, a North America public relations campaign and training future clerics on the importance of environmental issues, one of the organizers said.
At the Jerusalem launch of the Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development, Rabbi David Rosen noted that the obligation upon humans to care for their surroundings comes near the very beginning of the Bible.
“That is the original charge in the first chapters of Genesis, given to the first man and woman, not purely to develop, to till the land, but also to protect it … to conserve it,” he said, to nods of agreement from a Roman Catholic bishop and the Palestinian deputy minister of religious affairs.
“The main religions should really study the ecological crisis together, because our destiny is common,” Bishop William Shomali said. “If Earth is polluted it is polluted for Muslims, Christians and Jews.”
On Saturday, June 18, 2011, individuals and groups all over the world gathered at the kinds of places most people tend to avoid: clear-cut forests, polluted inner-city rivers, Superfund sites, an autobahn in Switzerland, and the site of rare and endangered trees in Bolivia. The people who participated in the Global Earth Exchange didn’t go to these sites to protest. They weren’t even there to clean up the mess.
Instead they gathered to tell their personal stories about what these places meant to them, to spend reflective time there, and to make an “act of beauty” out of found materials, usually a bird, symbol of Radical Joy for Hard Times, the non-profit organization that sponsored the event.
According to Trebbe Johnson, founder and executive director of Radical Joy for Hard Times, “People love the natural places in their communities. When those places are destroyed, they feel sorrow, anger, guilt. The relationship doesn’t end just because the place has changed, even if it’s changed drastically. By reconnecting to these wounded places they affirm their love of the wild places in their communities and empower themselves to act in positive ways to take care of these places.” The organization, which was founded in 2009, is headquartered in Thompson, PA with a network that is worldwide.
The Australian philosopher Glenn Albrecht, who coined the term “solastalgia,” meaning “the pain experienced when there is recognition that the place where one resides and that one loves is under immediate assault,” joined the Global Earth Exchange at a dying forest in Jarrahdale, Perth, Australia. Students and faculty of Naropa University gathered at Valmont Coal Plant in Boulder, Colorado, and a native of Tucson tried to make peace with the housing developments that are spreading over the desert wilderness she used to hike in. Stories and photos can be found on the Radical Joy for Hard Times website.
by Priti Agrawal from the Times of India
The Rajyoga Education and Research Foundation together with the Prajapita Brahma Kumaris Ishwariya Vidyalaya recently organised a conference in the capital to focus on how to restore harmony between man and nature for better farming. The conference concluded with the recommendation that a spiritual and meditative approach to farming can have a positive impact on farm output.
BK Sarla, national coordinator, Rural Development Wing of the Rajyoga Education and Research Foundation in Mehsana, Gujarat, asked the delegates what was so special about the food made by our mothers. He went on to give the answer: “It’s the love that a mother adds to the food while cooking!” The feelings and emotions with which food is prepared affects its taste. It is the same with agriculture, he added. If farmers think positively, are peaceful, and nurture their produce in an eco-friendly way, then the foodgrains and vegetables they grow would be enriched and taste much better, he concluded.
Today, farmers use chemicals to kill pests and increase production, but this suffuses the crop with negativity as well as retains remnants of the pesticide, making the food unhealthy and in some cases, even toxic. Shashwat or perpetual yogic farming is the need of the hour. Yogic farming techniques can then help farmers grow healthier, sattvic and non-toxic food far less expensively…
From The Huffington Post
1. God created the universe.
This is the most fundamental concept of Judaism. Its implications are that only God has absolute ownership over Creation (Gen. 1-2, Psalm 24:1, I Chron. 29:10-16). Thus, Judaism’s worldview is theocentric not anthropocentric. The environmental implications are that humans must realize that they do not have unrestricted freedom to misuse Creation, as it does not belong to them. Everything we own, everything we use ultimately belongs to God. Even our own selves belong to God. As a prayer in the High Holiday liturgy proclaims, “The soul is Yours and the body is your handiwork.” As we are “sojourners with You, mere transients like our ancestors; our days on earth are like a shadow…” (I Chronicles 29:15), we must always consider our use of Creation with a view to the larger good in both time (responsibility to future generations) and space (others on this world). We must also think beyond our own species to that of all Creation.
The environmental crisis is one that is well documented in its various interlocking manifestations of industrial pollution, resource depletion, and population explosion. The urgency of the problems are manifold, namely, the essential ingredients for human survival, especially water supplies and agricultural land, are being threatened across the planet by population and consumption pressures.
With the collapse of fishing industries and with increasing soil erosion and farmland loss, serious questions are being raised about the ability of the human community to feed its own offspring. Moreover, the widespread destruction of species and the unrelenting loss of habitat continue to accelerate. Climate change threatens to undermine efforts to reverse these trends and to move toward a sustainable future for humans and nature.
Clearly religions need to be involved with the development of a more comprehensive worldview and ethics to ground movements toward sustainability. Whether from an anthropocentric or a biocentric perspective, more adequate environmental values need to be formulated and linked to areas of public policy. Scholars of religion as well as religious leaders and laity can be key players in this articulation process.