Thursday, August 27, 2009

Religions Going Green, Looking Deeply at Climate Change

By Paul K. Haeder

Why do we take a look at faith (mostly the Christian faith today) and climate change on a blog hosted by a computer software company? The answer is obvious from a sustainability viewpoint. We need all communities within the larger community to plan, organize and build toward a post carbon future. And as a planner and climate change activist in Spokane, I have worked with the Interfaith Council, Spokane Alliance with its Sustainable Works program --

the Unitarian Church, and other community groups that are faith-based to try and work on how their respective neighborhoods can be more sustainable, be less car dependent, be more supportive of local businesses, be a hub of healthy living and great food resiliency, how farmers markets can be sited in the community, and what role the City has with creating public spaces that engender safe places for kids and adults to gather. Many of my good friends in sustainability come from various religious backgrounds, and some are ministers and Jesuit padres. The community gardens, low-income retrofits for more energy efficient housing, and the work on transportation and the aging community in many instance have been spearheaded by religious coalitions.

There are groups fighting for their faith and the earth --

And a few books and films. PacifiCAD's mission is to help customers maximize their technical and creative talents with Autodesk software. Many of our customers are working in engineering, transportation, architecture, design, and technology to advance not only their business bottom lines, but to be great members of their respective communities. More and more cities are coming on board the sustainability train.

As business leaders, we are responsive to the needs of our communities. We hope this blog challenges the reader to think beyond those cultural and technical boundaries in place. Some of the more interesting discussions and community building come from people of faith looking at sustainability and climate change. Jew, Christian, Islamic. Quaker, Baptist, Methodist. Check out this web site on religions around the world coming together to work on climate change.


Here are some books promised earlier:

Christianity, Climate Change, and Sustainable Living explores what we should do and why we should do it. Other books on environmental ethics, such as Michael Northcott’s The Environment and Christian Ethics and Sam Berry’s The Care of Creation, are appropriate for understanding this relationship of Christianity to science, climate change, and solutions. Christianity, Climate Change and Sustainable Living has a specific objective: to explore what the Christian faith has to say about the closely linked problems of climate change and sustainable living. Christianity, Climate Change and Sustainable living is published by SPCK RRP

Desmond Tutu has a short introduction in The Green Bible. Here’s a Time Magazine quote:

"The poor and vulnerable are members of God’s family and are the most severely affected by droughts, high temperatures, the flooding of coastal cities, and more severe and unpredictable results of climate change," argues Archbishop Desmond Tutu in the foreword to HarperCollins’ The Green Bible, released in hardcover in early October, 2008. "We, who should have been responsible stewards preserving our vulnerable, fragile planet home, have been wantonly wasteful through our reckless consumerism, devouring irreplaceable natural resources."

Thursday, Sep. 18, 2008

The Bible Goes Green for the Prius Age


Green runs through the Bible like a vine. There are the Garden and Noah's olive branch. The oaks under which Abraham met with angels. The "tree standing by the waterside" in Psalms. And there is Jesus, the self-proclaimed "true vine," who describes the Kingdom of Heaven as a mustard seed that grows into a tree "where birds can nest." He dies on a cross of wood, and when he rises Mary Magdalene mistakes him for a gardener.

Now there is a Bible trying to make gardeners of us all. On Oct. 7, HarperCollins is releasing The Green Bible, a Scripture for the Prius age that calls attention to more than 1,000 verses related to nature by printing them in a pleasant shade of forest green, much as red-letter editions of the Bible encrimson the words of Jesus. The new version's message, states an introduction by Evangelical eco-activist J. Matthew Sleeth, is that "creation care"--the Christian catchphrase for nature conservancy--"is at the very core of our Christian walk."

Using recycled paper with soy-based ink, The Green Bible includes supplementary writings by, among others, St. Francis of Assisi, Pope John Paul II, Desmond Tutu and Anglican bishop N.T. Wright. Several of these essays cite the Genesis verse in which God gives humanity "dominion" over the earth, a charge most religious greens read to mean "stewardship."

Others assert that eco-neglect violates Jesus' call to care for the least among us: it is the poor who inhabit the floodplains.

Not all buy creation care's centrality. Says Southern Baptist leader Richard Land: "Sure it's important, but when they asked Jesus what was most important, he said, 'Love your God, and love your neighbor as yourself.' He didn't say anything about creation."

But Land is fighting the tide. Mainline Protestants have long been green, and a Pew Foundation study recently found that 54% of Evangelicals--and 63% of those ages 18 to 29--agreed that "stricter environmental laws and regulations are worth the cost."

There is one catch. The conservative Christians who drive Bible sales don't tend to favor the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) used in The Green Bible. Yet publisher Mark Tauber thinks green Evangelicals will leap the NRSV fire wall. He adds cheerfully: "I wouldn't be surprised if you see so-called big Bible publishers come out with a green edition." If you want to grow a biblical tree where birds can nest, this is a good way to start.
Greenest Cities in America? Is yours included? Read on:
Here’s the entire transcript of Bill Moyers’ PBS special, “Is God Green?” I highly recommend you view the hour-long show, and defer to the transcript if you can’t find that show on climate change and Christianity’s duty to the planet.

Much of what Moyers covers is the issue of Mountaintop Removal and those people in communities in the south that see those mountains and forests and streams as their god’s creation to be protected, not blown apart and fouled. Below is an article on a great activist fighting this sort of coal mining.

There is an evangelical green blog to see how people of faith fit into the climate change mitigation:

And so called people of faith are asking Obama to stop mountaintop removal --National Council of Churches :

Activist Battles US Coal Companies Over Mountain Top Removal Practice

West Virginian Maria Gunnoe's backyard is nestled in the Central Appalachian mountains, home to some of the most environmentally-devastating mountain top removal mining. Gunnoe is fighting to stop these mining practices from ruining the landscape her family and many others have lived off of for generations. VOA's Julia Ritchey talked with Maria in Washington, D.C. about her struggle and why more Americans should care about their energy future.

Maria Gunnoe and her family have lived for five generations in Appalachian mountains of West Virginia. Coal companies are the lifeblood of this regions' economy and many of Gunnoe's family have worked in underground coal mines. But mechanization has led to a more controversial practice environmentalists say harms the environment.

"There is a 52 percent chance that when you flip on your light switch, you're blowing up the mountains where we live at," Maria said.

Coal companies cut down the trees on the mountain before using explosives to get to the coal beneath. Leftover debris is dumped into surrounding valleys. The industry defends the procedure, known as mountain top removal.

In 2000, Gunnoe says a coal company started blasting a ridge behind her home. Gunnoe filmed a mountaintop removal, which covered her land in dust and debris. She says she realized she had to stand up for the land her family uses for food, water and home grown medicines.

Toxic elements such as cadmium, lead and arsenic, can end up in groundwater.

She says the process often results in flooding nearby and that toxic elements such as cadmium, lead and arsenic, can end up in groundwater.

Gunnoe alleges, over the years, coal workers have killed family pets as well as harassing her and her family. "They don't care about these people," she said. "And they will look at you in your own home, they will look at you and say, 'If you don't like it, you leave.'"

Maria was the sole resident from her community to testify in court against a coal company operating mountain top removal sites in her county. The company was ordered to halt dumping debris into new valleys.

"I feel like that I'm fighting for my children's future. I want my children to have a good life," she insists. "And in order to do that, I have to protect my rights so that they'll have the same rights."

Gunnoe was one of six recipients to receive the 2009 Goldman Environmental Prize in San Francisco.

Gunnoe believes that too many Americans are still unaware of where their electricity comes from. But, she says, by educating the public and fighting for her mountains, sustainable energy can one day flow from Appalachia just as coal has for over a century.

1 comment:

  1. great stuff -- thanks for posting, i will be sharing a lot of these links & ideas via my news feed project:

    thanks again


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