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Archive for the ‘Environment’ Category



Esther Was Vegan Too: On Purim, Let’s Renew Our Struggle to End Factory Farming

Mar3

by: Katie Cantrell on March 3rd, 2015 | 1 Comment »

On March 4, there will be much drinking, dancing, and revelry to commemorate Queen Esther’s heroic action that saved the Jews of Ancient Persia from extermination at the hands of the villainous Haman. Esther is celebrated primarily for her bravery, while another intriguing trait is often overlooked: her veganism.

hamantaschen

In honor of Esther's veganism, why not prepare vegan hamantaschen this Purim? Credit: theppk.com/IsaChandra.

According to legend, Esther maintained a vegan diet, while living in the palace of the King of Persia, to avoid violating the laws of Kashrut without revealing her Jewish identity. She dined primarily on a diet of seeds, nuts, and legumes and abstained from all animal products. Thus Esther could be regarded as the first Jewish vegan.

While she may have been the first, Esther was certainly not the last. The community of Jewish vegetarians and vegans is growing, both in the United States and around the world. Much like Esther, many Jews are choosing to subsist on a plant-based diet in order to observe their moral principles.

The history of Judaism and moral vegetarianism is a long one; in the 1400s, philosopher Rabbi Yosef Albo began a debate about whether G-d’s instructions to Adam implied that vegetarianism is a moral ideal:

Behold, I have given you every seed-bearing herb which is upon the surface of the entire earth, and every tree that has seed-bearing fruit; it will be yours for food (Genesis 1:29).

The debate continues to this day, but increasingly Jews around the world are making dietary choices based more on modern reality than on biblical philosophy. The reality in the United States is that 99 percent of all animal products come from concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), often referred to as factory farms.

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Global Divestment Day: Undermining the System that Causes Climate Change

Feb13

by: on February 13th, 2015 | Comments Off

Calling on the United Methodist Church to Divest from Fossil Fuels.

 

Check out the many divestment actions that are taking place around the world today–Global Divestment Day.

The movement to divest from fossil fuels undermines the system that is causing climate change. The worldwide system of unrestrained free-market capitalism, dominated by global corporations and fueled by money, is based on the view that market forces will sort everything out.

Those of us who are working to get our churches, synagogues, colleges, and other institutions to divest from fossil fuels are challenging this system by saying, “Money is not the highest value.” There are good financial reasons to divest from fossil fuels, but even if there weren’t, “If it’s wrong to wreck the planet, then it’s wrong to profit from that wreckage.” There are values in life that are more important than money.

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‘Yes, we have no bananas’

Feb13

by: Matt Canfield and Phil Bereano on February 13th, 2015 | 3 Comments »

The drive by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to introduce a genetically engineered ‘super banana’ into the Ugandan market can only be viewed as part of a powerful and coordinated effort to transform Africa’s agricultural systems to serve corporate and foreign interests.

Yes, we have no bananas

We have no bananas today.

Yes, we are very sorry to inform you

That we are entirely out of the fruit in question

The aforementioned vegetable

Bearing the cognomen ‘Banana’.

We might induce you to accept a substitute less desirable,

But that is not the policy at this internationally famous green grocery.

I should say not. No no no no no no no.

But we have no bananas today.

– as sung by Eddie Cantor, 1923

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At the March for Real Climate Leadership with the Network of Spiritual Progressives and Beyt Tikkun

Feb13

by: Meaghan Kachadoorian on February 13th, 2015 | 1 Comment »

People wearing yellow shirts holding their hands up at a protest.

The March for Real Climate Leadership drew thousands of people to downtown Oakland to support a ban on fracking in California. Credit: Meaghan Kachadoorian

On the weekend after the driest January in recorded history, the Network of Spiritual Progressives partnered with student, labor, and community organizations for the March for Real Climate Leadership. Thousands marched through Oakland to highlight California’s climate crisis and call on Governor Jerry Brown to ban fracking in California.

Before marching to the convergence place at Lake Merritt, indigenous groups came together in song and prayer, high school student groups demanded a habitable planet for their generation and generations to come, and an intergenerational commitment to a more equitable world filled the air at the Frank Ogawa Plaza in front of Oakland City Hall.

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Earth’s Climate Circle and the Rising 400ppm Human Tangent

Feb11

by: Kritee Kanko on February 11th, 2015 | 1 Comment »

Can our spiritual paths help us to choose heroic and just transitions over global chaos?

A remote landscape of rocks and trees at twilight.

Above is the Garden of the Gods in Colorado, where the author and her husband reflect on the dire state of our Earth. The multi-faceted crisis that we face calls for both a tremendous sense of urgency and a limitless reserve of patience.Credit: Michael / Creative Commons.

Imtiaz was still speaking when Jean started sobbing. At first, gently; then, she really cried hard. What I felt unfolding in me that afternoon, was something I had not allowed to happen to myself for more than a decade of being an environmental scientist.

We were standing with Ilusha, our beloved musician friend from Brooklyn, along with his friend Jean at the foyer of the visitor center of “Garden of Gods.” In front of us were the panoramic paintings depicting a wide range of climatic conditions that had existed at that very spot over many millennia.

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Going Beyond Exxon Mobil Corp.’s Non-Discrimination Updates

Feb4

by: on February 4th, 2015 | Comments Off

After consistently refusing for the past 17 years to initiate protections in the workplace for its LGBT employees, Exxon Mobil Corporation finally announced that it will update its corporate policies to safeguard employees from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

People cleaning up the Exxon Valdez oil spill

What good are workplace protections in an industry that has granted no such protections to our planet? Above, volunteers cleaning up the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989, the second largest oil spill in U.S. history. Credit: Jim Brickett/ Creative Commons

The company will now comply with President Obama’s historic amendment to executive order 11246 issued in July 2014 forbidding businesses receiving federal contracts from discriminating against LGBT people. Earlier, Obama amended Executive Order 11478 to include “gender identity” to other protected categories in the federal civilian workforce. During his presidency, Clinton amended this Executive Order to prohibit discrimination toward U.S. government employees based on sexual orientation.

This may be fine that Exxon Mobil Corp. has ever-so-reluctantly, though finally, added LGBT workplace protections. However, Exxon Mobil Corp. remains one of the primary environmental polluters in an industry that threatens the Earth and life as we know it. What good are workplace protections in a corporation and in an entire industry that has granted no such protections to our planet?The environment group, Sierra Club, charges Exxon Mobil Corp. with being one of the biggest polluters in the country. Even a cursory review of Exxon Mobile Corp.’s environmental record brings to light this corporation’s criminal policies.

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Global Warming Hits San Francisco. Climate Change is Real.

Jan30

by: on January 30th, 2015 | Comments Off

Man in wheelchair on San Francisco pier during very high tides

King Tide on San Francisco Embarcadero on Tuesday, January 21, 2015 offers a glimpse into the not too distant future of climate change: Credit: Mike Flippoff/ San Francisco Chronicle

The Earth has a unique method of delivering its innate message of its demand for social cooperation and altruism and global warming and climate change just may be the vehicle for that long overdue message. If we humans do not voluntarily take action to preserve our planet and its occupants we will be dramatically forced to respond and it won’t be painless.

“If we can’t love our one and only home, what can we love? If we’re unwilling to defend what we love, then what are we?”

Michael Carter, Kingfisher’s Song: Memories Against Civilization

“This is what San Francisco will look like on an average day in 2050,” said Marina Psaros, co-founder of the Kings Tides Project, an environmental group that studies the phenomenon.“Water levels are higher because the Earth is warmer – there’s nothing theoretical about it, nobody with a real stake in the game, people like city planners and insurance underwriters – is denying global warming anymore.”

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Churches of America Stand Up

Dec22

by: Rick Herrick on December 22nd, 2014 | 2 Comments »

church congregation

Credit: Creative Commons / tpsdave

There’s a new threat on the climate change front, and it’s a big one. The recent midterm elections not only put Republicans in charge of the Congress, but the party of science deniers made dramatic gains at the state and local levels. This impressive victory was made possible by huge infusions of cash from oil, coal, and natural gas interests.

The problem is these interests do not donate money. They invest it. With victory in hand, they are already seeking a return on their investment. According to a recent article in the Washington Post, fossil fuel industry lobbyists are looking for ways to delay implementation of the Obama administration’s plan to place limits on coal-fired power plant emissions. Their hope is that with a Republican president in the White House in 2017 they can then reverse the policy. They are also demonizing the EPA as an out of control government agency in an attempt to weaken its authority.

How do you fight these people? Environmental groups are well aware of this new threat and will do everything in their power to combat it. But these groups need our help. The best way to defeat narrow vested interests is in the arena of public opinion. This is a difficult task, however, because public opinion is often uninformed and not much interested in national political issues.

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The Nuclear Power Debate

Nov17

by: Rick Herrick on November 17th, 2014 | 7 Comments »

nuclear power plant

Credit: Creative Commons/ brewbooks

I have been a socially responsible investor for over forty years. I apply strict ethical screens in choosing my companies. I also look for companies that sell products that make the world a better place. I take pride in owning such companies.

In making my investment decisions, I have made few compromises. Two weeks ago, however, I made a big compromise with my long held principles. I purchased a small position in an electric utility with some plants that run on nuclear power. It was not an easy decision. I made it only because I can no longer see a happy solution to the problem of global climate change without an increased reliance on nuclear power in the short term.

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Our Climate Futures: Take a Look

Nov11

by: on November 11th, 2014 | 1 Comment »

climate change melting glaciers

Credit: Creative Commons/TijsB

The Bad News? The current U.N. report on climate unequivocally states that global warming is happening, that we are causing it, that it will be much worse than previously projected, and that we need to reduce damaging emissions to near zero.  Also, the U.S. has just catapulted into congressional and state leadership a political party committed to rejecting these scientific findings and expanding our use of fossil fuels. The Good News?  Actually—right at the moment I can’t think of anything.

Forecasting the future is typically impossible. However, here are two scenarios of our future: as the oil eventually runs out, as the storms and droughts and social disequilibrium vastly increase, as so much of what we thought was guaranteed fades away, what will life be like?

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