In the wake of the U.S. State Department eliminating American contributions to the United Nations Population Fund, Mary Anne Mercer reminds us of the importance of family planning.
Fight against climate change by joining us on April 22 in Washington DC for the #ClimateMarch.
Jeffrey D. Sachs makes it clear why we need to switch to a low-fuel economy.
Oliver Milman argues us that the soaring temperature of the oceans is the greatest hidden challenge of our generation.
Food insecurity in the U.S. has increased since the beginning of the century. Mark Winne argues that to reverse this trend, food advocates need to collaborate.
Threats to Mother Earth and how to confront them
There are four threats that our Common Home faces, and which demand from us our special attention.
The first is how in modern times the Earth is viewed as an object of ruthless exploitation, seeking only the greatest profits, without regard to life or purpose. This vision, that has brought undeniable benefits, has also created a dis-equilibrium in all the ecosystems, which has caused the present generalized ecological crisis. With that vision entire nations were destroyed, as in Latin America, where the Atlantic jungles, and, in part, the Amazon rain forests, have been devastated.
In January 2015, 18 scientists published in the well known magazine Science, a study on “The planetary limits: a guide for a human development on a planet in mutation”. They enumerated 9 fundamental aspects for the continuity of life. Among them were climate equilibrium, maintenance of bio-diversity, preservation of the ozone layer, and control of acidity of the oceans. All of these aspects are in a state of decline. But two, that they call the “fundamental limits”, are the most degraded: through climate change and the extinction of species.
Editor’s note: If you are going to any environmental event in the next few months, (e.g. a Tu B’shvat seder this coming weekend) please ask the attendees to read this very important article by Bill McKibben. Unfortunately, though McKibben recognizes the urgency and to some extent the futility of trying to stop the fossil fuel industry one struggle at a time, he eschews any national strategy. The rest of us need to do better–by insisting that any candidate we vote for any public office in 2016 (from Bernie or Hillary to…well, whoever,in any political party or independent) commit to supporting a mandatory ban on extracting more fossil fuel from the earth than we are already extracting now (which is way too much). This is also where we should be insisting on our elected officials taking steps to pass the ESRA–Environmental and Social Responsibility Amendment to the U.S. Constitution–because although a constitutional amendment may take years to pass, it is the only solution that could bypass the pro-business decisions of a Supreme Court that will declare unconstitutional any legislation that impedes the ability of corporations to maximize their profits. Please re-read it ( www.tikkun.org/esra) and start getting your state and federal legislators (and your city councils and county governments) to endorse it and start the process of amending the constitution, else we are stuck with the hapless task of thousands of battles, some of which will be won but many of which will not.
This Holiday Season Let’s Redefine Over-Consumption
By Rev. Brooks Berndt
A common lament around this time of the year is the rampant consumerism of a culture that bombards us with messages to buy more and more. As the complaint often goes, holidays like Christmas and Chanukah lose their original meaning as we get lost in a marketplace of inflated wants and needs. All of this is certainly true, and I would add my voice to the chorus of holiday disgruntlement. At the same time, might there be a bigger picture that often gets missed in how we define and delineate the problem of over-consumption? My own thinking on this matter was recently challenged by Jennifer Kehl who directs the Center for Water Policy at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
November 30, 2015 Paris, France
Demonstrations for Environmental Sanity Around the World as Paris Talks Open
We did it! Despite losing our flagship Paris event, this weekend’s Global Climate March still broke records as the largest climate mobilisation in history! From São Paulo to Sydney, 785,000 of us shook the ground in over 2,300 events in 175 countries, united in one voice calling for a 100% clean energy future to save everything we love. It was front page media worldwide, and the impact is already being felt at the summit here in Paris. It’s nearly impossible to describe the powerful and diverse beauty of humanity that rose up yesterday, but these photos help:
This is the movement our world has been waiting for. Many countries, from Bangladesh to Ireland, saw the largest climate marches in their history. In Australia, 120,000 people marched, in India, over 100,000. And in towns across the planet small groups of us joined together in beautiful local events.
Editor’s Note: Sean Kelly presents a brief overview of the evolution of the consciousness of the universe and its current crisis as humanity continues to destroy the life-support system of Earth. It is a deep and profound article worthy of reading fully to the end. –Rabbi Michael Lerner
Cosmological Wisdom and Planetary Madness
It is a bitter irony of our times that, just as the collaborative effort of natural scientists and other researchers have revealed the outlines, at least, of a comprehensive cosmology,[i] we should find ourselves plunged into a maelstrom of unparalleled planetary madness. The madness: runaway catastrophic climate change, an accelerating mass extinction of species and generalized ecological deterioration, and a brutal, empire-driven regime of planetary apartheid. The wisdom: among the proposals for “Big History” type grand narratives[ii], Swimme and Berry’s The Universe Story (1992) that I will draw from in these pages.
Anyone who has followed the demise of Cecil, the African lion, and Walter J. Palmer, his American slayer, can’t help but be struck by the parallels with Hemingway’s classic story, “The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber,” where a wealthy but timid American bumbles around the African savannah under the protection of a guide, procures a few hides, and ultimately meets his demise.
Biodiverse systems are more resilient to climate change. As the oceans rise, we must hasten to stop the spread of monocultures and protect biodiversity.
Pope Francis: zealous guardian of the Common Home
Given the patron saint who inspired his name –Saint Francis of Assisi–, Pope Francis has everything in his favor to become the great promoter of a world ecological project. It has to be him, because, as we face the threats affecting the common destiny of the Earth and the human family, sadly, we lack leaders with the authority and convincing words and deeds to awaken humanity, especially the governing elites, and the sense of collective and individual responsibility to safeguard it for all. This wish was fully realized with the publication of the encyclical, «Laudato si’: to care for the Common Home». Pope Francis offers us a wide-ranging text of rare intellectual and spiritual beauty – of holistic ecology, uniting that which was so valuable to Saint Francis of Assisi, and is to Francis of Rome: an attitude of caring for sister and Mother Earth and a preferential love for the condemned of the Earth. This connection runs through the entire text like a conducting cable. There is no true ecology, of any kind, be it environmental, social, mental or holistic, if it does not rescue the humiliated of humanity, the impoverished millions of our times, for whom the Earth Mother is most gravely attacked and degraded.
OF THE HOLY FATHER
ON CARE FOR OUR COMMON HOME
1. “LAUDATO SI’, mi’ Signore” – “Praise be to you, my Lord”. In the words of this beautiful canticle, Saint Francis of Assisi reminds us that our common home is like a sister with whom we share our life and a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us. “Praise be to you, my Lord, through our Sister, Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us, and who produces various fruit with coloured flowers and herbs”.
2. This sister now cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed her. We have come to see ourselves as her lords and masters, entitled to plunder her at will. The violence present in our hearts, wounded by sin, is also reflected in the symptoms of sickness evident in the soil, in the water, in the air and in all forms of life.
“Look how that rock dust is basically burning into the ice, transmitting and intensifying the heat of the sun,” said Jeff, leaning over my shoulder. “The huge streams of water that are pouring into the crevasses are breaking up the glacier’s underbody and lubricating its passage toward the sea.” However immobile it might appear, I could now sense how that glacier was collapsing underneath itself, letting loose its thousand-year life in a muddy, rock-strewn river rushing to the Arctic Sea.