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A free floating commentary on culture, politics, economics, and religion based on a passionate commitment to the truth and a desire graciously to refute that which is contrary to it….
"He must hold firm to the sure word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to confute those who contradict it."
--Titus 1:9, Revised Standard Version
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Lent and Beyond is posting regular entries with information and prayer related to Hurricane Sandy. You can find all the entries here.
Of particular note is a Hurricane Prayer Litany here.
The segment description is as follows:
The U.N. will airlift emergency rations this week to parts of drought-ravaged Somalia that militants banned it from more than two years ago. The foray into the famine zone is a desperate attempt to reach at least 175,000 of the 2.2 million Somalis whom aid workers have not yet been able to help.Listen to it all (a little over 14 minutes).
Tens of thousands already have trekked to neighbouring Kenya and Ethiopia, hoping to get aid in refugee camps. Responding to the Horn of Africa crisis, the Jesuit Refugee Service has also announced plans to step up ongoing work for Somalis in Ethiopia and Kenya.
Lydia O’Kane sat down with Father Peter Balleis SJ, International Director of JRS and Communications Co-ordinator James Stapleton.
Speaking about severity of the situation Father Balleis says, “ The crisis or so it looks like a new crisis is a chronic crisis. For years and years Somalia is at war, not all parts but a central part and the Somali population are leaving the country as refugees”.
James Stapleton adds that some aid agencies are reporting that they have never seen a crisis on this scale before.
The eyes of the world will be on South Africa from Sunday 27 November to Friday 9 December this year. Negotiators and political leaders from around the world will gather in Durban at the 17th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP17). With provincial and diocesan programmes around the Communion, particularly in the southern hemisphere, increasingly having to integrate a response to the impacts of climate change within local mission, it is hoped that governments will make firm and urgent commitments to decrease national carbon emissions.
In the Diocese of Natal, the Revd Dr Andrew Warmback is Rector of the Anglican Church of St John the Baptist, Pinetown, where parishioners have planted an indigenous, waterless garden as a ‘green lung’ for their area, set up recycling facilities and established a vegetable garden in the church grounds to show how a small area can be used to grow food.
Dr Warmback describes how the Anglican Church of Southern Africa is playing a key role in mobilising its own and other faith communities to join together in the work of influencing governments to make these firm commitments in Durban.
Read it all.
A good portion of the book is given over to setting out the problems. This is not as dry as it sounds; Collier has a good line in the wry anecdote, the telling statistic and judicious use of research studies. He makes complex economic theories accessible to the lay reader in a briskly chatty style.
Early on, Collier tells us he is breaking fresh ground. He faces two opposing armies: the environmentalists, characterised as deluded romantics, and the traditional economists, or ostriches as he calls them, who bury their heads in their theories without paying heed to the plunder of the real world around them.
Collier is right to portray aspects of the green movement as foolishly romantic, and many mainstream economists as too doctrinaire....
Read it all.
(ACNS) Members of the worldwide Anglican Communion are working together on a project to discover what the Bible tells the church about saving the planet from environmental damage.
The Bible in the Life of the Church project manager, Stephen Lyon, said that World Environment Day was the perfect moment to reveal that the first issue under discussion would be the Environment.
“We are already seeing the impact of climate change, particularly in the developing world,” he said. “Most Anglicans live in countries like India and Nigeria that will be worst hit by greater flooding, or diminishing levels of potable water.
“All faiths have a duty to protect the environment, for themselves and others. Our particular tradition, Anglicanism, has enshrined the need to protect our world in its mission statement The Five Marks of Mission*. This is one of the reasons why we have picked this issue—to ensure that all Anglicans everywhere realise the biblical imperative to protect and sustain God’s creation.
Read it all.
Of the festivals of nonsense that periodically overtake American politics, surely the silliest is the argument that because Washington is having a particularly snowy winter it proves that climate change is a hoax and, therefore, we need not bother with all this girly-man stuff like renewable energy, solar panels and carbon taxes. Just drill, baby, drill.
When you see lawmakers like Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina tweeting that “it is going to keep snowing until Al Gore cries ‘uncle,’ ” or news that the grandchildren of Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma are building an igloo next to the Capitol with a big sign that says “Al Gore’s New Home,” you really wonder if we can have a serious discussion about the climate-energy issue anymore.
The climate-science community is not blameless. It knew it was up against formidable forces — from the oil and coal companies that finance the studies skeptical of climate change to conservatives who hate anything that will lead to more government regulations to the Chamber of Commerce that will resist any energy taxes. Therefore, climate experts can’t leave themselves vulnerable by citing non-peer-reviewed research or failing to respond to legitimate questions, some of which happened with both the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia and the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Read it all.
I caught this one on yesterday morning's run--really wonderful stuff.
Update: There is also a penguin slideshow here.
When a San Francisco nonprofit was pushing a controversial California bill last year to remove the restrictions on energy that residents can generate from solar and wind systems, the group needed supporters.
So it turned to an ordained minister named Sally Bingham.
"We have very few voices that are embraced by all levels of society as moral arbitrators," says Adam Browning, executive director of the nonprofit, Vote Solar Initiative. "But Sally speaks with moral authority."
As the environmental minister at San Francisco's Grace Cathedral, Ms. Bingham is sought after by more than just Vote Solar. Other environmental groups and political leaders are also reaching out to the 67-year-old, who operates a nonprofit interfaith environmental outreach group dubbed the Regeneration Project out of a modest office in the city's Financial District.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Climate Change, Weather * Economics, Politics Energy, Natural Resources
This letter was born in Copenhagen where, heartbroken, I watched the international climate talks fall apart.
Heartbroken because it was clear to me, as it was to many of you, that the talks in Copenhagen needed to succeed, that it is no longer safe for us to go on as we have before.
I believe this is a unique time in humanity’s fretful reign on Earth, a rare moment that will have historic significance.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Climate Change, Weather Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Energy, Natural Resources * International News & Commentary Canada * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches
Referring to last month’s United Nations climate summit in Copenhagen, where political leaders failed to negotiate a way to curb greenhouse-gas emissions, Benedict said the summit offered evidence of “economic and political resistance to combating the degradation of the environment.”
“I trust that in the course of this year ... it will be possible to reach an agreement for effectively dealing with (climate change),” Benedict said. “The issue is all the more important in that the very future of some nations is at stake, particularly some island states.”
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Climate Change, Weather Globalization Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Energy, Natural Resources * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Roman Catholic Pope Benedict XVI
The high price of furnace oil is a burden for some church congregations which have had to find more cost-effective places to worship.
Geoff Tothill, treasurer of the Northumberland Parish, said the congregation at St. John the Baptist Anglican Church in River John is contemplating moving winter services from the 130-year-old building to the church hall following the Christmas service.
"Our church is not insulated at all, it's the old style – open to the rafters – and that's a big cost for us," said Tothill, adding heat there usually costs about $2,500 annually.
He said in the last two years heating costs have increased about 30 per cent.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Anglican Church of Canada * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Climate Change, Weather * Economics, Politics Economy Energy, Natural Resources
The Christmas message is supposed to be "good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people." How, though, is this credible amidst such encircling economic and eco-gloom?
The Copenhagen Conference has ended somewhat inconclusively. The prospect of a binding and ambitious agreement on reducing carbon emissions seems itself to have been reduced to a prelude for further negotiations. How the human race is collectively to face the reality of climate change in the 21st century remains troublingly unclear.
Yet the decisive action that Copenhagen had promised, but ultimately has failed to deliver, cannot be avoided forever. The Christian community is being recalled by this crisis to a more genuinely Biblical view of creation and our place within it. It is clear that the effects of climate change will be felt first by some of the most vulnerable communities in the world and those least able to bear the costs of adaptation....
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops * Culture-Watch Climate Change, Weather * Economics, Politics Energy, Natural Resources * Theology
The last time global negotiations collapsed like this was in Doha in 2001. After the trade talks fell apart, the World Trade Organisation assured delegates that there was nothing to fear: they would move to Mexico, where a deal would be done. The negotiations ran into the sand of the Mexican resort of Cancun, never to re-emerge. After eight years of dithering, nothing has been agreed.
When the climate talks in Copenhagen ended in failure, Yvo de Boer, the man in charge of the process, urged us not to worry: everything will be sorted out ''in Mexico one year from now''. Is Mexico the diplomatic equivalent of the Pacific garbage patch - the place where failed negotiations go to die?
We can live without a new trade agreement; we can't live without a new climate agreement. One of the failings of the people who have tried to mobilise support for a climate treaty is that we have made the issue too complicated. So here is the simplest summary I can produce of why this matters.
Read it all.
In the California office of Interfaith Power and Light (IPL) on Dec. 18, staff members were reluctant to leave their desks, reported founder the Rev. Canon Sally Bingham. Instead they stayed glued to their computers, following the deliberations in Hall Tycho Brahe, Copenhagen, where on Dec. 19 at 4 a.m. local time, in the middle of a long winter's night, nations continued to debate the proposed accord of the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP15).
When agreement was finally reached, Bingham could only say that she found the result "extremely disappointing" because of the lack of binding commitments for the nations to act.
The Rev. Jeff Golliher, program associate for the environment and sustainable development in the Office of the Anglican Observer at the United Nations, home from leading a delegation to Copenhagen, agreed that the outcome of the official Conference of the Parties was not promising. He noted that there were positive signs, in that China is taking some steps to slow greenhouse gas emissions, and the United States seems to be facing the scientific facts about climate change.
Golliher's hope, though, of seeing developing countries involved in the solution to global warming, was not met. He pointed out that developing nations were looking for both financial assistance to mitigate the effects of changing climates and some technical help with sustainable development.
Read it all.
I’ve long believed there are two basic strategies for dealing with climate change — the “Earth Day” strategy and the “Earth Race” strategy. This Copenhagen climate summit was based on the Earth Day strategy. It was not very impressive. This conference produced a series of limited, conditional, messy compromises, which it is not at all clear will get us any closer to mitigating climate change at the speed and scale we need....
Still, I am an Earth Race guy. I believe that averting catastrophic climate change is a huge scale issue. The only engine big enough to impact Mother Nature is Father Greed: the Market. Only a market, shaped by regulations and incentives to stimulate massive innovation in clean, emission-free power sources can make a dent in global warming. And no market can do that better than America’s.
Therefore, the goal of Earth Racers is to focus on getting the U.S. Senate to pass an energy bill, with a long-term price on carbon that will really stimulate America to become the world leader in clean-tech. If we lead by example, more people will follow us by emulation than by compulsion of some U.N. treaty.
In the cold war, we had the space race: who could be the first to put a man on the moon. Only two countries competed, and there could be only one winner. Today, we need the Earth Race: who can be the first to invent the most clean technologies so men and women can live safely here on Earth.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Climate Change, Weather Globalization Science & Technology * Economics, Politics Economy Corporations/Corporate Life Energy, Natural Resources * International News & Commentary Europe Denmark
An international climate summit officially ended here today with an agreement among the world's largest economies to take steps to curb greenhouse gas emissions, no formal consensus from the 193 nations present, and major questions over what comes next in the global negotiating process.
Conference attendees merely acknowledged -- and did not vote to adopt -- the so-called Copenhagen Accord, which stemmed from an eleventh-hour deal cut Friday evening between President Obama and leaders of four fast-growing nations.
Obama had hailed the deal as an "unprecedented breakthrough" in climate talks, but it was denounced by critics as too weak to avert the harshest effects of global warming.
Read it all.
The UN climate conference in Copenhagen today approved a deal to tackle global warming proposed by world leaders, after an accord Barack Obama brokered with China, India, Brazil and South Africa.
But the UN Secretary General today admitted the non-binding agreement at the conclusion of the conference was not "everything everyone had hoped for", as he confirmed a deal had finally been done.
Delegates have agreed to "take note" of the American-led Copenhagen Accord, despite criticism that there are no long-term targets to cut emissions and it is not a legally-binding treaty.
Obama had brokered the agreement with China, India, Brazil and South Africa to tackle global warming, which included a reference to keeping the global temperature rise to just 2C - but the plan does not specify greenhouse gas cuts needed to achieve the 2C goal.
Read it all.
The UN climate summit reached a weak outline of a global agreement last night in Copenhagen, falling far short of what Britain and many poor countries were seeking and leaving months of tough negotiations to come.
After eight draft texts and all-day talks between 115 world leaders, it was left to Barack Obama and Wen Jiabao, the Chinese premier, to broker a political agreement. The so-called Copenhagen accord "recognises" the scientific case for keeping temperature rises to no more than 2C but did not contain commitments to emissions reductions to achieve that goal.
American officials spun the deal as a "meaningful agreement", but even Obama said: "This progress is not enough."
Read it all.
Good morning. It's an honor to for me to join this distinguished group of leaders from nations around the world. We come together here in Copenhagen because climate change poses a grave and growing danger to our people. You would not be here unless you – like me – were convinced that this danger is real. This is not fiction, this is science. Unchecked, climate change will pose unacceptable risks to our security, our economies, and our planet. That much we know.
So the question before us is no longer the nature of the challenge – the question is our capacity to meet it. For while the reality of climate change is not in doubt, our ability to take collective action hangs in the balance.
I believe that we can act boldly, and decisively, in the face of this common threat. And that is why I have come here today.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Climate Change, Weather Globalization * Economics, Politics Energy, Natural Resources Foreign Relations Politics in General Office of the President President Barack Obama * International News & Commentary Europe Denmark
With days remaining in the Copenhagen climate talks, the rich have finally begun to discuss climate financing for the poor. The negotiating round has gone on for two years with little serious discussion on financing and many other topics, a gaping failure of a process run by and for rich-country politicians who do not like to be bothered with unpleasant details. This will not do. Climate financing needs a formula.
The governing law is the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change signed in 1992. It is unambiguous. “The developed country Parties shall provide new and additional financial resources to meet the agreed full costs incurred by developing country Parties in complying with their obligations” under the treaty. Moreover, “developed country Parties shall also assist the developing country Parties that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change in meeting costs of adaptation to those adverse effects”. The treaty emphasises the need for “adequacy and predictability in the flow of funds”.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Climate Change, Weather Globalization * Economics, Politics Economy The U.S. Government Energy, Natural Resources * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. Asia Europe
Formal negotiations have reopened at the UN climate summit in Copenhagen after a delay of nine hours.
The hold-up was caused by wrangles over the texts to be used as the basis for the talks.
Beneath the dispute lies a long-running accusation from developing countries that the Danish hosts are trying to sideline their concerns.
Read it all.
The battle lines are drawn. The armies are lined up. The guns are loaded. But here in Copenhagen, a phony war is underway.
For the past two days, negotiators have been bogged down in minor technical details and endless delays. For hours plenary meetings have been taken up by countries complaining about the process. Then finally solutions are agreed, and everyone files out to the relevant gatherings – only to find them cancelled on arrival. All of Monday disappeared down that hole....
Read it all.
As church bells rang throughout the world Dec. 13 to mark Christianity's commitment to combating climate change, Anglican leaders were making their voices heard about global warming in Copenhagen, Denmark.
The United Nations Climate Change Conference Dec. 7-18 in the Danish capital welcomed world and faith leaders, including Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Both spoke at a Dec. 13 ecumenical worship service in Church of Our Lady, Copenhagen's Lutheran cathedral, about the religious imperative to cut carbon emissions and save the planet from further environmental degradation.
At the same time, church bells tolled 350 times around the world to symbolize the 350 parts per million that many scientists say mark the safe upper limit for carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
"We cannot show the right kind of love for our fellow humans unless we also work at keeping the earth as a place that is a secure home for all people and for future generations," said Williams in his sermon at the cathedral service, attended by other religious leaders, members of the Danish royal family and Denmark's Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen.
Read it all.
Love casts out fear. The truth is that what is most likely to get us to take the right decisions for our global future is love. The temptation is to underline fear so as to persuade one another of the urgency of the situation: things are so bad, so threatening, that we have to do something. And indeed there are moments when we might think, rather bitterly, that the human race is still not frightened enough by the prospect of what it has stored up for itself. But this is to drive out one sickness by another. That kind of fear can simply paralyse us, as we all know; it can make us feel that the problem is too great and we may as well pull up the bedclothes and wait for disaster. What's more, it can tempt us into just blaming one another or waiting for someone else to make the first move because we don't trust them. We need more than that for lifegiving change to happen.
And that is what we are here to say today. We meet as people of faith in the context of this critical moment in human history; and so we are not here just to plead or harangue, let alone to encourage panic and terror. We are here to say two simple things to ourselves, our neighbours and our governments.
First: don't be afraid; but ask how the policies you follow and the lifestyle that you take for granted look in the light of the command to love the world you inhabit. Ask what would be a healthy and sustainable relationship with this world, a relationship that would in some way manifest both joy in and respect for the earth. Start with the positive question – how do we show that we love God's creation?
Second: don't separate this from the question of how we learn to trust one another within a world of limited resources. In such a world there can be no trust without justice, without the assurance of knowing that my neighbour is there for me when I face insecurity or risk. How shall we build international institutions that make sure the resources get where they are needed – that, for example, 'green taxes' will deliver more security for the disadvantaged, that transitions in economic patterns will not weigh most heavily on those least equipped to cope?
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Preaching / Homiletics * Culture-Watch Climate Change, Weather * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
The audio link is here (about 39 minutes):
The Press conference's subject: Beyond politics and business -Climate change from a religious and ethical perspective. Christian leaders urge world leaders to agree on a fair, effective and binding climate deal that put the needs of the poor first.
- The Rev. Samuel Kobia (moderator)
General secretary, World Council of Churches, Switzerland
- Archbishop (emeritus) Desmond Tutu
Nobel Peace Prize laureate 1984 and anti-apartheid champion
- Bishop Sofie Petersen
Evangelical Lutheran Church in Denmark, Greenland
- The Rev. Tofiga Falani
President, Congregational Christian Church of Tuvalu, Tuvalu
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of South Africa * Culture-Watch Climate Change, Weather Globalization Religion & Culture * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
In a lecture on 13 October 2009 at Southwark Cathedral, (sponsored by the Christian environmental group Operation Noah) Dr Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, sets out a Christian vision of how people can respond to the looming environmental crisis.
Listen to it all (approximately 3/4 of an hour).
....a couple of weeks ago, I had a visitor from the Pacific, who told me about how his island and some of its neighbours were actually going to be uninhabitable in a few years time because of rising water levels – almost certainly connected with climate change.
That brings it home all right. It's not quite good enough to say it's all too difficult – or that it's nothing to do with religion anyway. We're getting ready for Christmas; and it's worth remembering that one of the things we celebrate at Christmas is God taking an interest in the real material stuff of this earth, the flesh and blood, and all the things that keep flesh and blood secure – food and shelter and so on. It would be pretty peculiar if we took the world less seriously than God does.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Culture-Watch Climate Change, Weather Globalization Science & Technology * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
The "inconvenient truth" overhanging the UN's Copenhagen conference is not that the climate is warming or cooling, but that humans are overpopulating the world.
A planetary law, such as China's one-child policy, is the only way to reverse the disastrous global birthrate currently, which is one million births every four days.
The world's other species, vegetation, resources, oceans, arable land, water supplies and atmosphere are being destroyed and pushed out of existence as a result of humanity's soaring reproduction rate.
Read it all.
The whole Church of England must commit itself to reducing its carbon footprint by over 45 per cent by 2025, according to a leading diocesan bishop.
Church schools must also become "eco-schools" by 2015 and all parishes should be required to produce carbon and energy reports every year, he says.
The three-pronged demand comes from the Bishop of Manchester, the Rt Rev Nigel McCulloch, in a think piece in the December issue of Crux, the Manchester diocesan monthly.
Read it all.
The political problem with climate change is that it veers from the apocalyptic to the trivial. Glaciers are melting, so turn off the red button on the television. It is still possible that discussion at the Copenhagen summit could produce the pragmatic deal that is the intermediate point between idealism and fatalism.
Success will require great ambition. Lord Stern, the author of the Government’s weightiest tome on climate change, has said that global greenhouse gas emissions, currently 47 gigatons, need to be at 44 gigatons by 2020 to get on course to hold the rise in global temperature this century to 2C. Hitting this target would require all the signatory nations to consent to the upper end of their professed targets.
Read it all.
An ecumenical church service was held before the march in St Leo the Great Roman Catholic Church in Beech Avenue, Bellahouston.
It was attended by the Right Reverend Bill Hewitt, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, Cardinal Keith O'Brien, leader of the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland and the Most Reverend David Chillingworth, Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church.
Mr Hewitt said: "We need to be sure that the negotiators gathered in Copenhagen are aware of our support and our belief in the importance of their task."
Cardinal O'Brien added: "People from all faiths and none will suffer the effects of catastrophic climate change if world leaders fail to deal with the problem."
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Climate Change, Weather Religion & Culture Science & Technology * International News & Commentary England / UK --Scotland * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
The problem with climate change is that the urgency of the task requires action. Worse than this, it requires change and, most probably, sacrifice. The Church, perhaps humanity in general, prefers to deliberate, talk, reflect, pray, debate, plan — anything other than do something or, in this instance, stop doing some things. The attraction of the climate-change sceptics is that they provide the excuse to hesitate further. It is convenient to represent reluctance as scientific fastidiousness. Of course, the science must be reviewed, as it is by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. There are many things about the effects of global warming that we do not know, such as whether tipping points exist where some of the forces of nature — salination, or various types of flora or fauna, or sea currents, or storm behaviour — accelerate the harmful effects of greenhouse gases. Nor, to give the sceptics their due, do we know the earth’s capacity to absorb or repair the damage done to it.
Read it all.
[We need]...A Green New Deal. If Roosevelt's big idea for the Great Depression was public works, then it makes sense to use this crisis to start the long, hard process of making economies more sustainable and less dependent on fossil fuels. A combination of low interest rates and fiscal expansion is ideal - provided the investment is used productively rather than for speculation. That will involve two concepts that have been anathema during the heyday of laissez-faire: industrial policy and credit controls.
A Green New Deal is vital for the world. The US has only 4 per cent of the world's population, but is responsible for 25 per cent of global CO2 emissions. The problems of the big three car makers provide Obama with an unprecedented opportunity to send the gas guzzler to the scrapheap. Rebalancing the global economy means countries such as China must increase domestic demand; one way to do that would be through investment in greener energy.
Read it all.
Suggesting that the planet will soon reach an irreversible "tipping point" of damage to the climate, former Vice President Al Gore told members of Congress on Wednesday that the United States needs to join international talks on a treaty.
"This treaty must be negotiated this year," Gore told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
During questioning, he acknowledged that any treaty must include mechanisms to ensure compliance with prospective limits on carbon dioxide emissions, which come primarily from burning fossil fuels for energy.
Read the whole article.
I did not vote for the deposition of Bishop Duncan for a couple of reasons. I was one of the few who believed that his intention to lead his diocese out of The Episcopal Church was not the same as actually doing it. Secondly, I was impressed with the argument of one of our own partnered gay priests now serving in another diocese that we must act to end the cycle of violence that our Communion struggles really extend on all sides. In that vein, I have also believed that we have to find a broader canonical framework with which to account for one another, which allows for removal and transfer within the Communion of the Anglican Church, and not deposition. I also think accountability should have come from the highest ranking bishop in our Communion five years ago, who had the right idea of making Lambeth 2008 a place for conversation and relationship building, but ought to have started at that point several years ago in face to face interaction.
Is it all now too late? The planet is still in peril. Trillions of dollars of value have been wiped off the portfolios of millions never to be returned in quite that same way. The Church is divided and we face a public to whom we are obliged to witness to the reconciling love of God in Jesus, who has every right to judge us according to the Gospel we promise to proclaim in word and deed but also to live.
With Christ it is never too late. Error turns into truth, sin into righteousness and death into life. The cross and resurrection are our ultimate points of accountability, and even righteous people get things wrong but can start again.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops TEC Conflicts TEC Conflicts: Pittsburgh * Culture-Watch Climate Change, Weather * Economics, Politics Economy The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007-- Energy, Natural Resources
A slowdown in the world economy may give the planet a breather from the excessively high carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions responsible for climate change, a Nobel Prize winning scientist said on Tuesday.
Atmospheric scientist Paul J Crutzen, who has in the past floated the possibility of blitzing the stratosphere with sulfur particles to cool the earth, said clouds gathering over the world economy could ease the earth's environmental burden.
Slower economic growth worldwide could help slow growth of carbon dioxide emissions and trigger more careful use of energy resources, though the global economic turmoil may also divert focus from efforts to counter climate change, said Crutzen, winner of the 1995 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work on the depletion of the ozone layer.
Read it all.
The first evidence that millions of tons of a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide is being released into the atmosphere from beneath the Arctic seabed has been discovered by scientists.
The Independent has been passed details of preliminary findings suggesting that massive deposits of sub-sea methane are bubbling to the surface as the Arctic region becomes warmer and its ice retreats.
Read it all.
Tropical cyclones have been getting stronger over the past several decades, according to a new report in the journal Nature. This finding supports a theory that storms will get stronger as the surface of the ocean heats up because of global warming.
Listen to it all.
Don’t Stop at the Lights, launched [this week]... by Church House Publishing, includes sermon ideas and extensive bible study notes drawing on ancient theological themes which aim to reconnect the church to the natural world and the roots of its faith. It inspires priests to make churches beacons in their community, offering case studies linked to the Church’s year including:
* setting up a decorations swap shop during Advent for people to exchange unwanted decorations;
* using Lent as an opportunity to carry out a complete internal environmental audit and to set targets, beginning on Ash Wednesday;
* re-establishing the tradition of beating the bounds at Rogationtide to help refocus congregations on God’s gifts and the role of the Church in preserving justice and extending charity;
* limiting the number of nights that the church is floodlit and then inviting members of the congregation and wider community to ‘sponsor’ an evening’s illumination in memory of a loved one or to mark an anniversary
Former Church of England environment adviser Claire Foster and David Shreeve, a current adviser to the Church and director of The Conservation Foundation, have written the book to help enable churches to take climate change seriously as a core Christian concern. It follows last year’s successful pocket guide by the same authors and also produced by Church House Publishing, called How Many Lightbulbs does it take to Change a Christian? which will be published in the United States this Autumn.
Read it all.
Ten kilometres above the earth, the Pope delivered a message to the people of Sydney: the world is God's creation and humanity needs to safeguard it against the ravages of climate change.
His message, unexpected and delivered in Italian, called for a spiritual response to the environmental crisis and asked Catholics - especially young people - to find "a way of living, a style of life that eases the problems caused to the environment".
"We need to rediscover our earth in the face of our God and creator and to re-find our responsibilities in front of our maker and the creatures of the earth he has placed in our hands in trust," he said.
"We need to reawaken our conscience … I want to give impulse to rediscovering our responsibilities and to finding an ethical way to change our way of life and ways to respond to these great challenges."
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Climate Change, Weather * Economics, Politics Energy, Natural Resources * International News & Commentary Australia / NZ * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Roman Catholic Pope Benedict XVI
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The headline above is the headline given in our local paper here, the ABC headline is: Everything Seemingly Is Spinning out of Control--KSH.
Is everything spinning out of control?
Midwestern levees are bursting. Polar bears are adrift. Gas prices are skyrocketing. Home values are abysmal. Air fares, college tuition and health care border on unaffordable. Wars without end rage in Iraq, Afghanistan and against terrorism.
Horatio Alger, twist in your grave.
The can-do, bootstrap approach embedded in the American psyche is under assault. Eroding it is a dour powerlessness that is chipping away at the country's sturdy conviction that destiny can be commanded with sheer courage and perseverance.
The sense of helplessness is even reflected in this year's presidential election. Each contender offers a sense of order — and hope.
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The world needs to invest $45 trillion in energy in coming decades, build some 1,400 nuclear power plants and vastly expand wind power in order to halve greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, according to an energy study released Friday.
The report by the Paris-based International Energy Agency envisions a "energy revolution" that would greatly reduce the world's dependence on fossil fuels while maintaining steady economic growth.
"Meeting this target of 50 percent cut in emissions represents a formidable challenge, and we would require immediate policy action and technological transition on an unprecedented scale," IEA Executive Director Nobuo Tanaka said.
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The biofuel debate is electrifying the UN food price crisis summit in Rome, pitting nations against each other and risking transforming bioenergy - once hailed as the ultimate green fuel - into the villain of the piece, the root cause behind global food price spikes.
Biofuel uses the energy contained in organic matter - crops like sugarcane and corn - to produce ethanol, an alternative to fossil-based fuels like petrol.
But campaigners claim the heavily subsidised biofuel industry is fundamentally immoral, diverting land which should be producing food to fill human stomachs to produce fuel for car engines.
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People who fail to act over global warming are "as guilty" as Josef Fritzl - denying our children a future, a senior Anglican bishop has warned.
The Bishop of Stafford, the Rt Rev Gordon Mursell, said a refusal to face the truth about climate change was akin to locking up future generations and "throwing away the key".
He insisted he was not accusing those who ignored the environment of being child abusers, but added that such shocking parallels were needed to make people aware of their responsibility.
Fritzl, 73, held his daughter Elisabeth captive for 24 years in a dungeon beneath the family home in Austria, repeatedly raping her and fathering seven children, one of whom died days after birth.
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One thing climate experts often say is that people need to change their behavior to slow climate change. And they also acknowledge that they still have a lot of convincing to do before that will happen.
One man, Martin Palmer, argues that religion is a better messenger than science and politics — that it can do things the others cannot.
Palmer is the founder of the Alliance of Religions and Conservation, a small group working out of Bath, England. Its credo is that religions from Buddhism to Zoroastrianism are the perfect groups to become climate activists.
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The Holy See is asking for measures to keep the production of biofuels from bringing about increased food prices to the point of threatening starvation in many countries.
Monsignor Renato Volante, the permanent observer of the Holy See at the Rome-based U.N. Organization for Food and Agriculture (FAO), participated in the FAO Regional Conference for Latin America and the Caribbean, which was held in Brasilia, Brazil, April 17-18.
Monsignor Volante proposed that the production of biofuels should not bring about a decrease in the production of agricultural products destined for the food market.
Biofuels are energy sources produced from a variety of different plants or plant products. Many developed countries have begun subsidizing the production of biofuels, which has resulted in decreased production of typical plant foods.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon encouraged today a coordinated effort to face the steeply rising price of food, which he said has developed into a "real global crisis." He said some 100 million of the world's poor now need aid to be able to buy food. Riots have broken out in some countries, such as Haiti, over the increased prices.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Climate Change, Weather Poverty Science & Technology * Economics, Politics Economy Energy, Natural Resources * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Roman Catholic
With prices for rice, wheat, and corn soaring, food-related unrest has broken out in places such as Haiti, Indonesia, and Afghanistan. Several countries have blocked the export of grain. There is even talk that governments could fall if they cannot bring food costs down.
One factor being blamed for the price hikes is the use of government subsidies to promote the use of corn for ethanol production. An estimated 30% of America’s corn crop now goes to fuel, not food.
“I don’t think anybody knows precisely how much ethanol contributes to the run-up in food prices, but the contribution is clearly substantial,” a professor of applied economics and law at the University of Minnesota, C. Ford Runge, said. A study by a Washington think tank, the International Food Policy Research Institute, indicated that between a quarter and a third of the recent hike in commodities prices is attributable to biofuels.
Last year, Mr. Runge and a colleague, Benjamin Senauer, wrote an article in Foreign Affairs, “How Biofuels Could Starve the Poor.”
“We were criticized for being alarmist at the time,” Mr. Runge said. “I think our views, looking back a year, were probably too conservative.”
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To fight global warming, a bill in Sacramento would enable Los Angeles County transit officials to increase taxes on motorists. It's a bad idea that may foreshadow even worse to come.
Billed as a "climate change mitigation and adaptation fee," the measure would cost motorists either an additional 3 percent motor fuel tax, or up to a $90 annual flat fee, based on vehicle emissions. The new charges would be on top of taxes already paid at the pump. Either option requires a majority approval by a vote of the people.
"At this point the people of the Los Angeles region have just had it when it comes to traffic and air quality," claimed Assemblyman Mike Feuer, a Los Angeles Democrat and author of Assembly Bill 2558.
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Michael Northcott: Well I think there are quite a lot of people in Australia and beyond who would deny that global warming is a moral issue, but many people in the world still do not think that global warming is a consequence of human action. So first of all, to understand it as a moral issue, you have to embrace what the science now clearly shows, which is that industrial emissions of greenhouse gases are changing the climate, and that's the first thing. The second thing then is if you accept that industrial emissions are changing the climate, those who have put the most emissions up there historically have a very grave moral duty to act, and act first. Well what is actually happening is that countries like America, and indeed Australia until very recently, have argued that they're not going to act until China and India act. And that's why this is a fundamentally immoral issue because of the injustice of the fact that here in Australia you have 20 tonnes per person greenhouse gas emissions; in Africa you have about 0.2 tonnes per person greenhouse gas emissions, but it's the Africans who are already suffering from malnutrition, whose farms and crops are failing.
Stephen Crittenden: The big ethical enemy in the book is neo-liberal economics, and the accompanying loss of a sense of the common good.
Michael Northcott: Yes, well I think neo-liberalism is easier to fix than sin. It's a fairly recent idea, or set of ideas, it had its day in the 19th century, it was called laissez-faire economics in those days and it's come back in the late 20th century to affect Australia, New Zealand, Britain and America primarily, but from their influence, much of the rest of the world.
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Biofuels can come in one of three varieties. The first is bioethanol, or alcohol, which is usually produced by the fermentation of sugars. The second is biodiesel produced from processing plant oils and the third is synthetic biofuels, which result in fuels identical to petrol, diesel and even aviation fuel.
[But]...people have failed to look at the overall costs and benefits from the complete production process, from "farm to forecourt". This is sometimes known as life-cycle assessment and it involves taking into account all aspects of the carbon budget from one end of the production process to the other. When this is done, the simple assumptions that politicians and some environmentalists have made about the benefits begin to look hopelessly optimistic.
Take for example biofuels made from maize (in the US way) and from sugar (in the Brazilian way). The Worldwatch Institute estimates that the reductions in greenhouse gases on a life-cycle assessment resulting from ethanol produced in Brazil is about 80 per cent, compared with just 10 per cent from ethanol made from intensively-farmed maize in the US.
But the problem is not just about the efficiency of biofuel production. Britain will never be self-sufficient in biofuel and so other parts of the world will be expected to set aside land and water to supplement our needs. This has led to a growth in non-food crops in parts of the world where millions already go hungry. It has also put pressure on wildlife as forests are cut down to clear land for biofuel crops.
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To mathematicians, 32 is an interesting number: it’s 2 raised to the fifth power, 2 times 2 times 2 times 2 times 2. To economists, 32 is even more special, because it measures the difference in lifestyles between the first world and the developing world. The average rates at which people consume resources like oil and metals, and produce wastes like plastics and greenhouse gases, are about 32 times higher in North America, Western Europe, Japan and Australia than they are in the developing world. That factor of 32 has big consequences.
To understand them, consider our concern with world population. Today, there are more than 6.5 billion people, and that number may grow to around 9 billion within this half-century. Several decades ago, many people considered rising population to be the main challenge facing humanity. Now we realize that it matters only insofar as people consume and produce.
If most of the world’s 6.5 billion people were in cold storage and not metabolizing or consuming, they would create no resource problem. What really matters is total world consumption, the sum of all local consumptions, which is the product of local population times the local per capita consumption rate.
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Read it all from the latest Scientific American.
Holiday shopping online could save more than time. Researchers say it might also help save the planet.
A holiday-themed study by the Oak Ridge National Laboratory suggests that even a modest number of shopping trips to the mall can create a large volume of carbon dioxide emissions from vehicles - the so-called greenhouse gases linked to global warming in the atmosphere.
"Using several assumptions and data from several authoritative sources, we can reasonably estimate that nearly a half-billion kilograms of carbon dioxide are kept out of the atmosphere by shopping online," environmental researcher Jesse Miller said Thursday.
That's roughly 500,000 metric tons, according to the scientist at the Department of Energy research complex.
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End-of-the-world alarmism has been a perpetual feature of human existence for as long as we have recorded history.
Generally, it occurs within a religious framework: Whether it is Apocalypse mania, or a fear that any moment now Ragnarök is going to erupt in earnest, lavish claims of total world destruction have always furnished the necessary motivation for extremist agendas.
The new craze about global warming ought not to surprise us. Christ warned us, in Matthew 24 and Mark 13, that we would hear rumors of war, that there will be famines and earthquakes, that false prophets would arise and lead people astray, and so forth. And what does he say that we are to do?
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The Earth is hurtling toward a warmer climate at a quickening pace, a Nobel-winning U.N. scientific panel said in a landmark report released Saturday, warning of inevitable human suffering and the threat of extinction for some species.
After five days of sometimes tense negotiations, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change adopted its fourth and final report this year, along with a summary, on the science of climate change and the effects of human-produced greenhouse gases.
It lays out blueprints for avoiding the worst catastrophes - and various possible outcomes, depending on how quickly and decisively action is taken.
The document says recent research has heightened concern that the poor and the elderly will suffer most from climate change; that hunger and disease will be more common; that droughts, floods and heat waves will afflict the world's poorest regions; and that more animal and plant species will vanish.
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California sued the federal government on Thursday to force a decision about whether the state can impose the nation's first greenhouse gas emission standards for cars and light trucks.
More than a dozen other states are poised to follow California's lead if it is granted the waiver from federal law, presenting a challenge to automakers who would have to adapt to a patchwork of regulations.
The state's lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency, filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., was expected after Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vowed last spring to take legal action.
"Our future depends on us taking action on global warming right now," Schwarzenegger said during a news conference. "There's no legal basis for Washington to stand in our way."
At issue is California's nearly two-year-old request for a waiver under the federal Clean Air Act allowing it to implement a 2002 state anti-pollution law regulating greenhouse gases.
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"I'm convinced there are young people who are searching for churches which will embrace their passion for caring for the earth. These folks can help the church remember its connection to creation, and the church can give them a sense of wholeness in their lives by relating their passion to Christ," said the Rev. Pat Watkins, a United Methodist clergy member of the Virginia Annual (regional) Conference and environmental coordinator for the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy.
The task force joined Muslim, Jewish and Christian clergy for a breakfast to discuss the role of faith communities in caring for creation. The breakfast was co-sponsored by the British Embassy and the Greater Washington Interfaith Power and Light.
Speakers included the Right Rev. James Jones, bishop of Liverpool in the Church of England, who described how he called for a "carbon fast" last year for Lent in the Diocese of Liverpool. He said such a fast was more valuable than giving up chocolate or candy or other more typical seasonal sacrifices. "We are caught up in a disease of consumption, and that is what is afflicting the earth," he said.
Jones said that, by the end of the carbon fast, "people weren't ready to resume their previous consumption levels; it made them think about their life
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops * Culture-Watch Climate Change, Weather * Economics, Politics Energy, Natural Resources * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Methodist
An alliance of religious groups is vowing a relentless push to restore a key provision to assist the international poor in America's Climate Security Act, the first greenhouse gas cap-and-trade bill with a realistic chance of passage in the Senate.
In a press conference today, top faith leaders from the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops, the National Association of Evangelicals, the National Council of Churches, and the Union of Reform Judaism emphasized the need for U.S. funding of adaptation efforts in the world's poorest countries, which emit relatively little carbon dioxide but may be hardest hit by global warming because of their locale and lack of infrastructure and money.
"As always, poor and working-class people need advocates, and that is what the faith community traditionally does," Paul Gorman, executive director of the National Religious Partnership for the Environment, told U.S. News before the press conference. "We plan to be sending out materials to delegations and making phone calls. The single most striking thing about us and this issue is the degree of unity across the ideological spectrum. We see this as an extension of our traditional concern for the international and domestic poor."
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As twilight falls over this Tennessee town, Mayor Tony Reames drives up a dusty dirt road to the community's towering water tank and begins his nightly ritual in front of a rusty metal valve.
With a twist of the wrist, he releases the tank's meager water supply, and suddenly this sleepy town is alive with activity. Washing machines whir, kitchen sinks fill and showers run.
About three hours later, Reames will return and reverse the process, cutting off water to the town's 145 residents.
The severe drought tightening like a vise across the Southeast has threatened the water supply of cities large and small, sending politicians scrambling for solutions. But Orme, about 40 miles west of Chattanooga and 150 miles northwest of Atlanta, is a town where the worst-case scenario has already come to pass: The water has run out.
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To the list of marketing oxymorons -- the sunless tan, cheeseless pizza, soap-free detergent -- add this: the no-water carwash.
Lisa and Jeff Peri have been peddling Green Earth Waterless Car Wash for only five months but already have gotten some traction, gaining a major local hospital and one of California's biggest Lexus dealers as customers for their product, which they describe as environmentally gentle.
The Peris' Inglewood company, which currently goes by the name of its fragrance-free cleaner, also markets a few related products and sometimes will send its employees to wash cars. The entrepreneurs are looking to attract buyers who are sensitive to chemicals in cleaners or concerned about drought, given that washing a car at home uses 80 to 140 gallons of water and running it through a commercial carwash uses 20 to 45 gallons of water.
"We feel like we are doing something life-changing for other people," said Lisa Peri, 36.
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An epic drought in Georgia threatens the water supply for millions. Florida doesn't have nearly enough water for its expected population boom. The Great Lakes are shrinking. Upstate New York's reservoirs have dropped to record lows. And in the West, the Sierra Nevada snowpack is melting faster each year.
Across America, the picture is critically clear - the nation's freshwater supplies can no longer quench its thirst.
The government projects that at least 36 states will face water shortages within five years because of a combination of rising temperatures, drought, population growth, urban sprawl, waste and excess.
"Is it a crisis? If we don't do some decent water planning, it could be," said Jack Hoffbuhr, executive director of the Denver-based American Water Works Association.
Water managers will need to take bold steps to keep taps flowing, including conservation, recycling, desalination and stricter controls on development.
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A BITTER rift over climate change has developed between a senior member of the Anglican Church and Sydney Catholic Archbishop George Pell.
Canberra Bishop George Browning, the Anglican Church's global environmental chief said Cardinal Pell was out of step with his own church and made no sense on global warming.
Bishop Browning also criticised the Federal Government for its "utter obsession" with growth and warned that climate change refugees would be a bigger problem than terrorists in a century of desperate struggle.
At the national Anglican synod in Canberra yesterday, Bishop Browning attacked the cardinal for saying Jesus said nothing about climate change. "It's almost unbelievable," said Bishop Browning, who is the chairman of the Anglican Communion Environmental Network.
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Scientists sometimes refer to the effect a hotter world will have on this country’s fresh water as the other water problem, because global warming more commonly evokes the specter of rising oceans submerging our great coastal cities. By comparison, the steady decrease in mountain snowpack — the loss of the deep accumulation of high-altitude winter snow that melts each spring to provide the American West with most of its water — seems to be a more modest worry. But not all researchers agree with this ranking of dangers. Last May, for instance, Steven Chu, a Nobel laureate and the director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, one of the United States government’s pre-eminent research facilities, remarked that diminished supplies of fresh water might prove a far more serious problem than slowly rising seas. When I met with Chu last summer in Berkeley, the snowpack in the Sierra Nevada, which provides most of the water for Northern California, was at its lowest level in 20 years. Chu noted that even the most optimistic climate models for the second half of this century suggest that 30 to 70 percent of the snowpack will disappear. “There’s a two-thirds chance there will be a disaster,” Chu said, “and that’s in the best scenario.”
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Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama said global warming isn't just a matter for politics and science but also an issue of morality and faith.
"The Bible tells us that when God created the earth, he entrusted us with the responsibility to take care of that earth, to exercise stewardship over His creation," the Illinois senator said in an interfaith forum Sunday in Des Moines, Iowa.
"We are not living up to this responsibility when we continue to pollute the air even though we know that it causes almost a third of all childhood asthma cases in this country," Obama said. "We are not acting as good stewards of God's earth when our bottom line puts the size of our profits before the future of our planet."
Obama's comment came two days after former Vice President Al Gore won the Nobel Peace Prize for his work to promote awareness of the dangers associated with global warming. On Saturday Obama said the award was well-deserved.
Obama said Gore's "voice and his vision have awakened the conscience of America to the urgency of this threat, and now we must take bold action so that our children inherit a planet that is cleaner, safer, and more peaceful for generations to come."
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Two new studies have uncovered the first links between man-made global warming and an increase in humidity throughout all levels of Earth's atmosphere.
One study, published in today's edition of the journal Nature, found that the overall increase in worldwide surface humidity from 1973 to 1999 was 2.2%, which is due "primarily to human-caused global warming," according to study co-author Nathan Gillett of the University of East Anglia in Norwich, United Kingdom.
The burning of fossil fuels — oil, coal, natural gas — is considered the chief way humans contribute to climate change because it releases heat-trapping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
Along with the added heat stress on people from the increased humidity, Gillett says the additional moisture in the atmosphere could lead to heavier rains and more volatile tropical storms. "If the humidity is increasing, then hurricane intensity will increase, too," he says.
Scientists had observed significant increases in humidity at the Earth's surface over the past few decades, but it had been unclear whether these changes were from a natural or human influence on climate.
A study published last month — which looked at the amount of water vapor in the full depth of the atmosphere over the oceans — was the first one to determine that human-induced warming is having a significant effect on the atmosphere's total moisture content.
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Global warming is an issue that scientists are beginning to address in moral terms. We have a moral obligation to future generations to protect the earth, is the gist of many scientists' appeals to people to listen to their analyse.
We don't expect priests or ministers to preach global warming on a Sunday - though that, too, is beginning to change.
Michael S Northcott is Professor of Ethics at the University of Edinburgh and a priest in the Scottish Episcopal Church. He has just written a book, A Moral Climate: the ethics of global warming, in which he examines the ethical implications for Christians of climate change.
He begins each chapter with a quotation from the prophet Jeremiah and is not afraid to talk of "the immorality of global warming". He writes that "the spiritual vision of divine grace" is needed to save the earth and its people.
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Montgomery County officials are looking into whether a bond can be issued to pay for greenhouse gas reduction projects as part of a larger strategy to fight global warming.
Although local governments regularly float bonds to pay for large long-term projects, it's not clear if cutting global climate change fits into a pre-existing category.
“The county can only do what the Legislature said it can do in writing. ... We just can't willy-nilly do whatever we want,” Montgomery County Commissioners' Chairman Tom Ellis said at Thursday's meeting.
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The climate is changing, and there is now a very high confidence by an overwhelming majority of scientists that human activity is a significant part of that change. The global atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases have increased markedly since 1750 and now far exceed pre-industrial values. Much of this is due to fossil fuel use, changes in land use, and agriculture.
The effects of global warming are increasingly well known. Changing weather patterns such as hurricanes and floods; the melting of the glaciers; the softening of the permafrost; the melting of the polar ice-caps and the ice on Greenland; more intense and frequent heatwaves; the growth of the deserts and consequent likelihood of famine in some areas; the rise in sea levels; the death of the coral reefs. Countries like the Maldives and Bangladesh may disappear under water. There will be a huge movement of migrants from these countries to more habitable parts of the world.
Climate change is real, is growing, and has potentially very dangerous consequences for the well being of the planet and for human life - and the people most affected will be in the poorest and most disadvantaged parts of the world. There is therefore a strong moral imperative to do all we can to avert the danger, reduce the likelihood of global warming continuing at the present rate, and prepare for its likely consequences. There is a moral obligation also on the present generation not to do things which will significantly damage the planet's capacity to provide a home for our children and grandchildren. There is a further moral obligation to live within our means. At present rates of energy use and consumption in Britain, we need about three planet earths to sustain our current way of life.
But global warming is changing more than the climate.
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From the front page of the local paper, the Charleston, S.C., Post and Courier:
When it comes to hurricanes, statistically speaking, our time is up.
That's what the National Hurricane Center in Miami said in a recent recalculation of "return periods," the average number of years between major hurricanes.
Using historical data, the hurricane center said Charleston should expect a Category 3 or higher hurricane every 15 years.
Hugo slammed into South Carolina 18 years ago.
"We're slightly overdue," said Jon Jelsema, a forecaster with the National Weather Service in Charleston.
The study, titled "The deadliest, costliest, and most intense United States Tropical Cyclones from 1851 to 2006," shows which cities are likely to get walloped the most.
Miami tops the list with a return period of just nine years; Cape Hatteras is second at 11 years.
Ugh. Read it all.
From The Independent:
Scientists have criticised a major review of the world's remaining oil reserves, warning that the end of oil is coming sooner than governments and oil companies are prepared to admit.
BP's Statistical Review of World Energy, published yesterday, appears to show that the world still has enough "proven" reserves to provide 40 years of consumption at current rates. The assessment, based on officially reported figures, has once again pushed back the estimate of when the world will run dry.
However, scientists led by the London-based Oil Depletion Analysis Centre, say that global production of oil is set to peak in the next four years before entering a steepening decline which will have massive consequences for the world economy and the way that we live our lives.
According to "peak oil" theory our consumption of oil will catch, then outstrip our discovery of new reserves and we will begin to deplete known reserves.
Colin Campbell, the head of the depletion centre, said: "It's quite a simple theory and one that any beer drinker understands. The glass starts full and ends empty and the faster you drink it the quicker it's gone."
Dr Campbell, is a former chief geologist and vice-president at a string of oil majors including BP, Shell, Fina, Exxon and ChevronTexaco. He explains that the peak of regular oil - the cheap and easy to extract stuff - has already come and gone in 2005. Even when you factor in the more difficult to extract heavy oil, deep sea reserves, polar regions and liquid taken from gas, the peak will come as soon as 2011, he says.
This scenario is flatly denied by BP, whose chief economist Peter Davies has dismissed the arguments of "peak oil" theorists.
"We don't believe there is an absolute resource constraint. When peak oil comes, it is just as likely to come from consumption peaking, perhaps because of climate change policies as from production peaking."
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Before industry lobbyists descended on Capitol Hill this week to sway the debate on an epic energy bill, religious leaders had their turn to let senators know where God stands on reducing emissions that contribute to global warming. But they couldn’t agree.
According to the seven religious leaders speaking to the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, different verses of the Bible support different arguments.
Last week, evangelical, Jewish, mainline Protestant and Roman Catholic leaders quoted scripture from the same Bible to support their positions on climate change. While all could agree that caring for God’s creation and eradicating poverty should be priorities, not everyone agreed that renewable energy policies aimed at reducing emissions of greenhouse gases would also help the world’s poor.
Some evangelical Christians joined Katharine Jefferts Schori, the Episcopal Church’s presiding bishop and a former oceanographer, in saying science has sufficiently proved that global warming is caused by human activity and echoed a call from scientists for a cap on carbon dioxide emissions.
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America is facing its worst summer drought since the Dust Bowl years of the Great Depression. Or perhaps worse still.
From the mountains and desert of the West, now into an eighth consecutive dry year, to the wheat farms of Alabama, where crops are failing because of rainfall levels 12 inches lower than usual, to the vast soupy expanse of Lake Okeechobee in southern Florida, which has become so dry it actually caught fire a couple of weeks ago, a continent is crying out for water.
In the south-east, usually a lush, humid region, it is the driest few months since records began in 1895. California and Nevada, where burgeoning population centres co-exist with an often harsh, barren landscape, have seen less rain over the past year than at any time since 1924. The Sierra Nevada range, which straddles the two states, received only 27 per cent of its usual snowfall in winter, with immediate knock-on effects on water supplies for the populations of Las Vegas and Los Angeles.
The human impact, for the moment, has been limited, certainly nothing compared to the great westward migration of Okies in the 1930 - the desperate march described by John Steinbeck in The Grapes of Wrath.
Big farmers are now well protected by government subsidies and emergency funds, and small farmers, some of whom are indeed struggling, have been slowly moving off the land for decades anyway. The most common inconvenience, for the moment, are restrictions on hosepipes and garden sprinklers in eastern cities.
But the long-term implications are escaping nobody. Climatologists see a growing volatility in the south-east's weather - today's drought coming close on the heels of devastating hurricanes two to three years ago.
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As President Bush resisted mandatory limits on carbon emissions at a G-8 summit in Germany yesterday, several U.S. religious leaders urged Congress to speedily enact such limits to avoid a catastrophic rise in global temperatures that would particularly hurt the poor.
But in sharply divided testimony before the Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works, some evangelical Protestant leaders took the opposite tack, also citing concern for the poor.
Trading the same admonitions from Jesus to protect "the least of these," the climate-change activists said the poor would suffer most from extreme weather; skeptics of climate change said the poor would be hit hardest by the cost of shifting to cleaner energy sources.
Katharine Jefferts Schori, presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church and a former oceanographer, argued that "global poverty and climate change are intimately related."
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World leaders last night hailed a groundbreaking deal paving the way for a “substantial” reduction in greenhouse gas emissions with a view to halving them by 2050. The compromise agreement fell short of the original aims of Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, but was more ambitious than many expected.
It was clinched after President Bush was persuaded that his own plan for a climate change conference in the autumn would be part of efforts to reach a global agreement through the UN. Against expectations, he also allowed the 50 per cent target shared by most leading industrial countries to appear in the final G8 communiqué. Some saw Mr Bush’s shift as a parting gift to Tony Blair after their last one-to-one meeting.
Mrs Merkel and Mr Blair called the agreement a “huge success”, emphasising that America was now at the heart of the attempts to reach a worldwide deal to succeed the Kyoto Protocol in 2012. Some campaigners welcomed the compromise as an important advance; others said it was weak and did not go far enough because they omitted the target of limiting temperature increases to 2C (3.6F).
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This week on Reporting Religion we hear from one of the world's most eminent scientists and climatologists, Sir Jihn Houghton. He tells us how his strong Christian faith combines with his scientific work, and how it drives him to protect the world and deal with climate change. He tells us what he said to German Chancellor Angela Merkel ahead of this week's G8 Summit.
Listen to it all from the BBC World Service.
I used to marvel at how foolish an organism is cancer. It can't seem to pace itself. Left to its own devices, it will greedily consume its host until the host dies, thereby causing the cancer's own premature death.
Then, one day I had an epiphany. We're like cancer. Unable to pace ourselves, we are greedily consuming our host organism (i.e. planet Earth) and getting dangerously close to killing ourselves in the process.
The difference is that cancer has an excuse: No brain.
Consider that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has issued one of its most sobering reports to date. The hundreds of scientists and scores of nations participating in the project paint an apocalyptic future of flooding, drought, disease and food shortages. In the face of such a crisis, one might expect people of faith to flock to the cause of protecting the environment. After all, the theological issue appears a simple one. "The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof. The world and all that dwell in it!" proclaims Psalm 24:1. The earth is on loan. God owns it, and we are God's caretakers or "stewards," according to the Bible.
Despite all that, and the fact that 90% of us say we believe in God, most Americans appear reluctant to begin making the sacrifices necessary to address global warming. Evangelical Christian leaders in particular seem to be dragging their heels. So, why the hesitation? Why aren't more Christians trading their SUVs for hybrids, turning down the thermostat and writing letters to Congress?
First, our political loyalties get in the way. Evangelical Christians tend to vote Republican, and party leaders such as the president and vice president have been outspoken in their skepticism about the urgency of the global climate crisis.
Then, there's money. In the short run at least, it simply costs more to go green. Hybrid cars, fluorescent bulbs and alternative energy sources don't come cheap. Until substantial government incentives or market forces change that equation, many Americans will opt to save a buck rather than the environment.
There's also the fact that for many Christians, the Bible appears contradictory on the subject of global warming. Didn't Jesus say there would be wars and rumors of wars, famine and earthquakes before he could return? Isn't that exactly what the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is predicting? For millions of Christians, the world's downward spiral into political and ecological chaos may appear a necessary prerequisite to the second coming of Christ.
Read it all.
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