Category : Energy, Natural Resources

(RNS) Church goes ‘wild’ as believers and seekers head for the trees

Blackmer now holds two services on Sundays out in the woods. In extreme weather he dips into a little barn with a wood stove because, he notes, “it’s hard to be reverential if you are shaking with cold.”

The worshippers consider the moose, bears, deer and foxes as part of their small congregation. The human head count is typically a dozen people who gather to pray and “look to the Psalms where the land and trees are singing God’s praises,” Blackmer says.

Wild Church leaders are careful to distinguish what they do from paganism.

“My tradition is Christian but my objective is not that people become Christians but that they find a way to connect with holiness that is authentic for them — an expanded way of living and an expanded sense of Christ,” says Loorz.

At one service, a dozen people tiptoed across the river to join Loorz. Neil Barnsdale, who grew up Presbyterian but drifted away from church, says Church of the Wild offered him “recognition of nature with a Christian underpinning.”

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Energy, Natural Resources, Religion & Culture

(PAW) Exploring the Ecological Cost of War

In the Nature study, they found that between 1946 and 2010, conflict had occurred in 71 percent of protected areas in Africa. During that time, animal populations in conflict-free areas were roughly stable. As conflict levels increased, however, wildlife populations fell dramatically. To quantify this, the researchers calculated the frequency of conflict in each location and compared it with corresponding wildlife populations. Even one outbreak of violence every 20 to 50 years could push animal populations into decline. Every 10 percent increment in conflict frequency added another 2 percent to the annual rate of wildlife population decline — meaning the longer conflicts went on, the greater the effect.

“Even a small amount of conflict can be severely destabilizing to locals’ livelihoods, in ways that end up having detectable negative effects on wildlife,” [Robert] Pringle says. The researchers examined other factors, such as climate change, drought, corruption, and socioeconomic welfare, and no other factor came close to having the same effect.

On the other hand, even in areas with the most conflict, wildlife populations rarely went extinct, they found. That’s consistent with the idea that populations declined due to poaching, rather than wholesale habitat destruction. That fact offers some hope for even the continent’s most severely affected areas, implying that when the conflicts subside, the remaining animals can seed new populations. “Governments and conservation areas shouldn’t give up on these post-conflict landscapes as totally lost,” says [Joshua] Daskin.

In fact, adds Pringle, restoring them can help rebuild the country in more ways than one….

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Posted in Africa, Animals, Defense, National Security, Military, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Violence

Great local story–South Carolina’s sea turtles have an army of volunteers on their side

The sun isn’t up yet and raking machines are sifting piles of seaweed out of the sand, but Lorna Sheets and Penny Verbos are still eager to get to the beach.

The two women are members of the North Myrtle Beach Sea Turtle Patrol, an all-volunteer group that scours 4 miles of the shore every morning for signs of a sea turtle nest or stranded animal. They walk a 1-mile section every Tuesday morning starting around 6 a.m. from May to mid-August — nesting and hatching season — to try to flag nests before they can be trampled or otherwise disturbed.

Both women are retired nurses and neighbors that live just a few blocks away from their designated starting point at Main Street. Both joined the patrol for the first time this year. They bought themselves matching leggings, with turtles printed on them, to celebrate.

“We’re excited. We want to find a nest,” Verbos said.

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Posted in Animals, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, South Carolina

(ACNS) Anglican Church of Burundi helps improve rice growing techniques

The Anglican Church of Burundi has been training farmers to improve rice yields as part of efforts to combat food insecurity in the country. The two-year project has been run in partnership with Episcopal Relief & Development, the overseas development agency of the US-based Episcopal Church. Growing rice has been the main activity for people living along side Lake Tanganyika for many years; but the lack of improved techniques and seeds has caused low production and farmers could not expect to gain much from it.

Through the project, farmers have been trained and equipped with agricultural techniques and materials to improve rice production. “Already the farmers are seeing changes in agricultural production and consequently in their daily lives,” the province said in its newsletter.

“Our situation has improved since we no longer cultivate the rice just for consumption,” farmer Esperance Ndayishimiye, said. “I’m now able to meet easily my family’s needs. I pay school fees for my children. I have bought lands and built houses.” she said.

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Posted in Anglican Church of Burundi, Burundi, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Energy, Natural Resources, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Stewardship

In South Carolina, a $2 million grant from DHEC will go towards removing 220,000 tires

More than 220,000 old tires litter the land at a Berkeley County abandoned recycling and tire processing facility.

A $2 million grant from the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) aims to remove them all.

A viral aerial video showed the vast amount of old tires at VIVA tire recycling facility in Moncks Corner.

Alarmed elected officials soon got involved in the cleanup, all the way to the governor of South Carolina.

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Posted in * South Carolina, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology

(Diocese of London) Islington Sustainable Church Buildings Project scoops European award

The Islington Sustainable Church Buildings Project is a partnership between Cloudesley (an Islington based charitable trust), the Diocese of London and the Islington Deanery. It is the first time these three partners have worked together so closely to deliver a joint project. It was initiated by Cloudesley’s Trustees as part of Cloudesley’s 500th anniversary year.

The Sustainable Church Buildings Project has four parts; environmental audits of 24 of Islington Deanery’s Church of England churches; Energy-saving Benchmarking carried out by the Diocese of London; a dedicated Cloudesley grant fund of £440,000; and a learning programme to raise awareness and understanding of environmental issues and how to apply this to their buildings.
As a result, Islington Church of England churches are now applying to Cloudesley for grants to undertake a variety of energy-efficiency measures, such as LED lighting, solar panels and draught-exclusion.

Rev’d Jess Swift, the Islington Area Dean, says:

“The Sustainable Church Buildings Project is brilliantly placed by being both visionary and inspirational in promoting environmental responsibility, and also facilitating churches into being able to take practical action. It has revitalised our churches’ commitment to prioritising global sustainability and their own local environmental impact. We are so grateful to be a part of this project.”

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Posted in Architecture, Church of England (CoE), Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Urban/City Life and Issues

(NYT Op-ed) Heather Heying–Nature Is Risky. That’s Why Students Need It.

One brave student from the 2016 trip was injured in the boat accident in the Galápagos. The boat was destroyed, but she soldiered on. Then, three weeks later, she was nearly crushed when the five-story unreinforced masonry hotel she was staying in collapsed during a major earthquake. She was lucky: Almost everyone in the building died. She and another student dug themselves out of the rubble.

Her recovery was long and painful. She — a serious ballet dancer — was wheelchair-bound for months. After a year of surgeries, crutches and other frustrations, she caught me off guard. Despite everything, she said, she would do it all again. The trip had been that important to her.

In advance of these study-abroad trips, I led long conversations about risk, how to assess it, what we perceive our own relationship with it to be. We discussed how risk is different in landscapes that haven’t been rendered safe by liability lawsuits and in which medical help is a very long way away. We talked about the hidden hazards of the jungle — rising water, tree falls — compared with the familiar ones, like snakes and big cats, that people are primed to be scared of. In the tropical lowland rain forest — the jungle — you might get stuck in deep mud and perhaps need help to get out. Look before you reach for a tree for leverage. Some trees defend themselves with nasty spikes, and a branch might be crawling with bullet ants, so named for the intense experience of being stung by one.

But it turns out that risk and potential go hand in hand. We need to let children, including college students, risk getting hurt. Protection from pain guarantees weakness, fragility and greater suffering in the future…

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Posted in Children, Education, Energy, Natural Resources, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Psychology, Teens / Youth, Young Adults

(C of E) Hog-hair breath and refilling shampoo bottles: Bishop Graham Usher negotiates the trials of cutting out plastic

I was staggered by the terrible damage that our plastic usage is causing God’s creation, including humans, on this single island home that we call planet Earth. It’s nearly impossible to live plastic-free but we can all live with considerably less plastic if only we give it commitment.

Every piece of plastic I use will most probably outlive me by hundreds of years.

We can, one by one, and collectively as communities and nations and governments, do something about it. It’s simple. We have to do something about plastic. We can do it – now let’s do it!

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Posted in Animals, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Energy, Natural Resources, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture

(NBC) Evangelical Christians divided on human role in global warming

Preaching an environmental message to evangelicals is a bit like, as the New Testament says, casting seeds on rocky ground.

And few people know that better than atmospheric scientist Katharine Hayhoe, who recently ran into a pair of climate change skeptics while speaking at the Presbyterian Church in Granada Hills, California.

“These were two men who were leaning back and looking stern, with their arms folded across their chest and shaking their heads while I was speaking,” said Hayhoe, who is both the director of the Climate Change Center at Texas Tech University and a pastor’s wife.

“So I finally said, ‘The real reason most people reject the science of climate change has nothing to do with the science and everything to do with the solutions … they’re afraid of having the government regulating their thermostat,'” she recounted.

“One of the two guys said, ‘Yes, that’s exactly it!'”

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Posted in Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals

(FT) Shell faces push from shareholders, among whom is the Church of England, on climate change goals

…climate activists are disputing Shell’s claim that its goal is in line with the Paris agreement — the 2015 international pact aimed at limiting global temperature rises to well below 2C above pre-industrial levels.

“The ambitions announced by Shell are inconsistent with the Paris agreement, in particular when taking into account expected global energy demand growth,” said Mark van Baal of Follow This, the shareholder group that has submitted a resolution calling for more aggressive targets.

Activists point to forecasts from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the International Energy Agency, which advise governments on climate change and energy policy, that an absolute reduction in carbon emissions of 60-65 per cent would be required by 2050 to fulfil the Paris agreement.

Moreover, they say that Shell’s goal for a 50 per cent reduction would be only 25 per cent in absolute terms if the group maintains its share of a global energy market that is forecast to grow by 50 per cent by 2050.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Climate Change, Weather, Corporations/Corporate Life, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Stock Market

(CT) Many Species Face ‘Thinning of Life’–On World Wildlife Day, conservationists reflect on biblical ways of dealing with eco-anxiety

There has been a 95 percent drop in tiger numbers over the last hundred years and a 40 percent drop in African lions over just 20 years.

Numbers like these have drawn attention to the “pre-traumatic stress” felt by environmental scientists whose everyday work seems to be that of a doomsday prophet. Not only are their audiences not as receptive as they feel they should be, but their understanding of what their data mean for the future is driving them to a “professional depression.”

Last year meteorologist Eric Holthaus sparked an online frenzy, as well as solidarity from fellow scientists, as he spoke openly about the psychological effects of his work. “How am I supposed to do my job—literally to chronicle planetary suicide—w/o experiencing deep existential despair myself? Impossible.”

Christians are called to rule over creation as God’s image bearers on earth, reflecting the character and self-sacrificial rule of God. So how can we respond to this atmosphere of despair? We spoke to a number of Christian conservationists who are working in very different countries and contexts but share similar stories of working with feelings of deep personal loss.

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Posted in Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(BBC) Church of England issues anti-plastic tips for Lent

The Church of England is urging Christians to give up single-use plastics during Lent, in a bid to cut the environmental damage it can cause.

Worshippers have been offered tips to cut plastic use for each day up to Easter, such as choosing a fountain pen over a plastic ballpoint pen and buying music electronically rather than on CD.

The Church linked it to a Christian calling to “care for God’s creation”.

The calendar of tips has been sent to each of the Church’s 42 dioceses.

Each week of the Lent Plastic Challenge has a theme, for example food and drink, kitchen, clothing and travel.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Lent

(Tablet) Lord [Rowan] Williams: the environmental crisis is a toxic expression of humanity’s failures

Lord Williams of Oystermouth was speaking on Monday night at St Mary’s University, Twickenham, where he gave an address on Pope Francis’ green encyclical, Laudato Si’.

He praised the encyclical for highlighting that the Christian understanding of “who is my neighbour?’’ should embrace the whole of creation and that humanity’s treatment of the environment is self-destructive.

“For the Christian, the doctrine of creation is a declaration that all that is comes from God”, said Lord Williams. “But as Pope Francis says, it is not enough to avoid environmental disaster, to love our neighbour and ourselves…we have to ask how do we live in such a way to receive from God”.

Lord Williams, now the Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge, reserved his staunchest criticism for contemporary approaches to education.

“Children need to know what beauty is and we need to think how this can be nurtured and developed in education. We have increasingly lost sight of education as a humanising task,” he said.

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Posted in Children, Education, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Roman Catholic, Theology

(Economist Erasmus Blog) In America, being religious does not make you greener

Mr Konisky set out to fill that gap by micro-analysing the annual surveys of public attitudes undertaken by Gallup, a pollster, since 1999. He devised a set of eight markers by which sensitivity to the planet’s fate might be measured: whether people prioritised economic development or conservation, how they felt about pollution, whether they considered climate change a threat, and so on. He came to a sobering conclusion:

Analysis of multiple measures of environmental attitudes reveals little evidence that Christians have expressed more environmental concern over time. In fact, across many measures, Christians tend to show less concern about the environment. This pattern generally holds across Catholic, Protestant and other Christian denominations and does not vary depending on levels of religiosity. These findings lead to a conclusion that there is little evidence of a “greening” of Christianity among the American public.

As the article acknowledges, environmental discourse among religious leaders has shifted over the past half-century. In 1967, the American historian Lynn White gained much attention when he argued that the Judeo-Christian tradition was directly responsible for the planet’s depradation because it assigned man “dominion” over the earth. This triggered a powerful countervailing trend among religious leaders. They argued that belief in God implied a duty to care for the natural world and all forms of life. A high point in this process was the publication in 2015 of the Pope’s “green” encyclical, Laudato Si. The missive combined high theology with an appeal for practical measures, such as the abandonment of fossil fuels.

Mr Konisky’s findings do not necessarily imply that Americans in the pews have simply ignored these high-level pronouncements. Rather, they suggest that religion in America is as deeply divided as other parts of society: not so much between denominations as between liberals and conservatives….

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

([London] Times) Screen-addicted children spend 16 minutes a day outside

Children in Britain spend just 16 minutes a day playing or exploring in parks and other open spaces, according to a detailed new study.

The figure, an average of time spent outdoors in parks, the countryside, the coast or seaside, includes excursions at weekends as well as weekdays.

Among children in their mid-teens it drops to ten minutes per day as younger children, aged between eight and 13, spend more time playing outdoors.

The figures, published by the Office for National Statistics, are the first to examine how children spend their free time and will be used to track engagement with the outdoors and sport.

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Posted in Anthropology, Children, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Science & Technology