by: Warren Blumenfeld on October 15th, 2014 | Comments Off
Thousands crowded Central Park in New York City for the Global Citizens Festival on September 27. Credit: Creative Commons/ Anthony Quintano
Over 60,000 people in New York’s Central Park and millions more around our planet were treated to the eclectic sounds of world-class performers at the third Global Citizens Festival on Saturday, September 27. Performers included Jay Z, Beyoncé, Carrie Underwood, The Roots, Tiesto, No Doubt, Sting, and Alicia Keys.
The organization Global Citizen, whose goal is to eliminate extreme poverty worldwide by 2030, sponsored the event to shed light on poverty, which continues to affect an estimated 1.2 billion people, and to empower individuals and the world community to take concrete actions to end this scourge. Specifically, Global Citizen urges people to contact world leaders to focus on issues of providing vaccines, education, and sanitation to all the world’s citizens.
Internationally, more people have mobile phones than have clean potable water and sanitation facilities. An estimated 3.4 million people die each year of diseases caused by lack of access to clean water and adequate sanitation infrastructures. This shortage kills people around the world every four hours. This lack of clean water and vaccinations significantly lowers a person’s chances for quality education, keeping them in extreme poverty. The vicious cycle continues.
by: Paul Koberstein on October 7th, 2014 | Comments Off
Dust swirls around the GMO test fields on the Hawaiian island of Kaua`i near the town of Waimea. Data reported by the state of Hawaii shows that heavy amounts of the insecticide chlorpyrifos are being applied to these fields. Photo by Klayton Kubo
The bodies and minds of children living on the Hawaiian island of Kaua’i are being threatened by exposure to chlorpyrifos, a synthetic insecticide that is heavily sprayed on fields located near their homes and schools.
For decades, researchers have been publishing reports about children who died or were maimed after exposure to chlorpyrifos, either in the womb or after birth. While chlorpyrifos can no longer legally be used around the house or in the garden, it is still legal to use on the farm. But researchers are finding that children aren’t safe when the insecticide is applied to nearby fields.
Like a ghost drifting through a child’s bedroom window, the airborne insecticide can settle on children’s skin, clothes, toys, rugs, and furnishings.
In fact, it’s likely that the only people who needn’t worry about exposure to chlorpyrifos are adults living far from the fields in which it is sprayed. That includes civil servants who work for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which regulates the stuff, and executives with Dow Chemical, the company that manufactures it.
In a regulatory process known as re-registration, the EPA will decide in 2015 whether it still agrees that chlorpyrifos is safe for farming, or whether it will order a complete ban, as Earthjustice, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Pesticide Action Network have demanded in lawsuits filed in 2007 and in 2014.
by: Donna Schaper on September 29th, 2014 | Comments Off
Credit: Creative Commons/South Bend Voice
Originally published in National Catholic Reporter
Religious folk are not so good at a lot of things but we are experts at ritual. The mass. The wedding. The baptism. The Bar Mitzvah. The funeral. The Praise service.
At the climate march we multifaith types joined the rest of the people who love the earth enough to march and create a ritual. When a ritual works, people feel something. They are changed. They come in the door one person and go out another.
The best moment was at 12:58 p.m. when a call went out for two minutes of silence. It was real. Quiet in New York City? Very much so. And then a secular ritual – the wave – joined the quiet, starting from the back and waving all the way through the thousands gathered. Like an ululation – an Arabic shout that accompanies ritual – the sound built its joy and pierced the quiet with happiness. EVERYBODY I know says that was the moment worth the bus rides, the sleeping on the floor and the expensive packaged food. For me, it was an urban bliss, a sacralization of all that has been desacralized, a punctuation marking off the time before we had hope we could love the earth from the time when we forgot or did not. Hope waved its arms and its voice at us, and we waved back. I know this mostly happens at large sports events. So what? The blend of the sacred and the secular, the earth and the heavens was everywhere.
by: Rick Herrick on September 26th, 2014 | Comments Off
Credit: Creative Commons/Intel Free Press.
In the late 1970s I read a fascinating article in the New York Times regarding the Mobil Oil Corporation. According to the Times, several African-American leaders purchased small positions in the company. Their ownership of Mobil Oil stock gave them the right to lobby for change.
Their target was South Africa. These black leaders began speaking at general shareholder meetings of the corporation. They also lobbied corporate officers. They had two goals in mind. The first was to integrate the dining facility in the South African plant. The second was to achieve equal pay for equal work. They achieved both goals. Their victory was an important symbol of change in the anti-apartheid movement.
At about the same time Leon Sullivan, an African-American minister in Philadelphia, came onto the scene. Reverend Sullivan was a board member of the General Motors Corporation. In the late 1970s he devised a set of principles requiring corporations with divisions in South Africa to treat all employees fairly. If the company violated the Sullivan Principles, American corporations were to cease doing business with them. Reverend Sullivan worked tirelessly to have these principles adopted and was able to achieve some notable successes.
Again, at about the same time, the anti-apartheid disinvestment campaign emerged. This movement required pension funds and college endowments to sell their equity holdings in companies with operations in South Africa. Students lobbied and protested boards of trustees in many universities to achieve these goals. Anti-apartheid activists made similar demands of state and local pension funds.
American military forces participating in Nevada Atomic testing.
I was only eleven years old when The United States dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. I remember the moment well for I was sitting across the street at the Thompson Club in Nahant, Massachusetts waiting for my twin brother to join me to play baseball. Suddenly I felt an immense sense of collective loss, and then a short time later my twin brother came running from across the street telling me that we had dropped an atomic bomb on Japan. Even at that young age, I somehow sensed we had released an evil, powerful genie that could eventually destroy the planet and ourselves.
Power corrupts. Absolute atomic power absolutely morally corrupts, particularly when it is in the hands of the Military/Industrial complex with the power to control and destroy the world – whereas human life eventually becomes collateral damage as it did with the atomic testing during the sixties in Nevada.
Hundreds of thousands of us marched against climate change Sunday to emphasize to the political leaders of the world assembling at the UN in the next few days that this is an issue of intense concern for the people of the world. We demand action, not just pious statements of concern!
There were people from around the world marching down the streets of NY, including people of every imaginable religion and ethnic group. It was an immense outpouring of people who were not content to sit back and just wait some more. And the spirit was one of joyful affirmation of our caring for the earth and the life support system of the planet. There was very little anger – the feeling was one of elation that so many people had come together to show their upset and their caring for the fate of Earth. They came with walkers and with baby strollers, young and old, many people in every age group. They sang, they danced, they cheered, they chanted their messages, and it was a beautiful manifestation of all that is good in human beings! And this scene was repeated around the country in dozens of cities and around the world as well.
by: Warren Blumenfeld on September 22nd, 2014 | Comments Off
“Only after the last tree has been cut down,
only after the last river has been poisoned,
only after the last fish has been caught,
only then will you learn that you cannot eat money.”
– Cree Proverb
Protestors in Melbourne in 2009 share an important message on the climate crisis. Credit: Creative Commons/Takver
The White House recently released its National Climate Assessment that reported our global climate is, in fact, changing, and this is due primarily to human activity, in particular, the burning of fossil fuels. The Assessment investigated approximately 12,000 professional scientific journal papers on the topic of global climate change, and discovered that in the articles expressing a position on global warming, 97 percent fully authenticated both the reality of global warming and the certainty that humans are the cause.
Additional studies released since the White House report signaled the beginning of the depletion and ultimate total collapse of glaciers in Antarctica, which can continue to raise worldwide sea levels an additional 4 feet. This depletion is now irreversible.
What seems clear to the scientific community seems like science fiction to many key politicians, including Lamar Smith (R-TX), paradoxically the Chair of the U.S. House of Representative’s Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, who has been a perennial skeptic of human-produced climate change. He stated on the floor of the House:
“We now know that prominent scientists were so determined to advance the idea of human-made global warming that they worked together to hide contradictory temperature data.”
He quoted no sources, and his accusations were later proven false.
copyright 2013 Eiren Caffall
There is a theory out there in nature education circles that preparing children for climate change means steering clear of scaring them until they are old enough to handle it. David Sobel, author of Children’s Special Places, is often credited with the mantra, “no disasters before fourth grade,” and he writes eloquently about the notion that you must first ask children to love nature before you ask them to save it.
There are lots of people who champion this view. Recently, Grist published a profile of Liam Hennegan, a professor of environmental science at DePaul University, who has strong opinions about what books should be on a children’s environmental curriculum. He lists classics like The Hobbit, Where the Wild Things Are, and Bridge to Terabithia, not one of them mentioning a word about rising carbon emissions. Instead, the books are gorgeous works that you and I might remember from our own childhoods, full of the pleasures of being in nature, the desire to know and change a special place, and to build story, history, and relationship with it.
I was obsessed with Bridge to Terabithia as a kid. And, I was lucky enough to have access to a stream in my back yard, one that was like the stream in the book. I had hours of time to explore it, with no adults supervising my play. This stream was in the back field that ran behind our house in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. We lived over a gas station during the gas crisis of the 1970′s. My mother was in training for her eventual career in hydrogeology, meaning that I grew up hearing about the oil crisis, waste water runoff, leach fields, and superfund clean-up sites.
I had access to plenty of information about disasters before fourth grade.
Fires are burning week after week again this year here in rural Northern California. The smoky skies aggravate asthma, give people headaches, burn people’s eyes, and make people grouchy. We are warned to stay indoors due to unsafe levels of particulates. As climate change continues to accelerate, other people in other places are also experiencing record-setting fires, heat waves, droughts, floods, and other extreme weather events.
Do we have the wisdom to survive? Will humanity rise to the challenge presented by climate change? Will we change our ways of thinking and acting, will we transform our institutions and systems, in time to prevent climate chaos? This question is always with me, even as I gather my grandchildren close to me and play and laugh and learn with them. What will this overheating planet be like for them in twenty or forty or sixty years?
I do have hope. I am grateful to be part of a world-wide community of people who are aware of what is at stake with the earth’s changing climate and who are willing to take action. Tomorrow, the largest People’s Climate March in history will be held in New York, as world leaders gather in New York to discuss the climate crisis. There will be solidarity demonstrations around the world, including in Oakland, Davis, Sacramento, and here in Nevada City. I hope that everyone who can come out will come out. The time is now.
Regardless of what you think about climate change, I recommend the film “Wisdom to Survive.” Here is the blurb I wrote for Old Dog Documentaries to help get the word out about the film:
“Wisdom to Survive: Climate Change, Capitalism, and Community is an exquisitely filmed documentary that presents an overview of the climate crisis, including its causes, effects, and directions of hope. Poignant scenes illustrate the sacred beauty of the natural world, the tragedy of its diminishment, and our human interconnectedness with the rest of creation.
by: Donna Schaper on September 17th, 2014 | Comments Off
Originally published on National Catholic Reporter
The ark comes to mind as a good symbol for crowded, unpleasant conditions, ones we get when try to repair or resurrect the environment, along with Noah. Credit: Creative Commons/Taiwan boi
We are five days out from the People’s Climate March in New York. The ark, a float in the upcoming march, is built and on its flatbread truck on its way to Manhattan.
You are probably wondering why the ark became the symbol for Green Faith. Obviously, we are looking for a miracle to happen on September 21. We want God to repent God’s anger and give us one more chance. We want to see the bow in the sky. And we are mightily interested in all the colors of all the animals on earth coming together to create a new beginning for humanity. In fact, the biggest question being asked internally about the march is why people of color should participate in it. The answers so far are less invitational than they might be. But I’ll get to that.
We know the march will be big, if for no other reason than our phones are ringing off their hooks. We don’t yet know if it will be a miracle or not. Miracles are something the divine pulls off, even if we assist mightily as partners in miracle making. Plus, there is always the possibility it is too late for the climate and that repair, not restoration or new beginning, is all that we can hope for.