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Climate Stew Blog

South African Anglicans Reflect on Global Warming. Excellent New Resource

Religious institutions have some of the biggest global networks reaching millions on a regular basis. The Anglicans in South Africa have created a new resource for churches to help educate congregants about global warming and provide direction. One message they stress is that environmental work is not just for middle class, a privileged hobby. Rather it is an essential spiritual practice.

Social and Environmental Justice are intimately and profoundly linked. Anglicans in South Africa have produced resources for the Season of Creation. ACNS News

Kenyan environmental and political campaigner Wangari Muta Maathai by Bob Mash

Kenyan environmental and political campaigner Wangari Muta Maathai by Bob Mash

“Sleeper awake!” is the opening call of a new Anglican resource for the Season of Creation, the third in a series published by the Anglican Church in Southern Africa.

The resource has sermon notes and liturgical materials covering the themes of climate change, eco-justice, water, creation and redemption and biodiversity.

It is dedicated to the memory of Professor Wangari Muta Maathai who in 1971 founded the Kenyan Green Belt Movement, an environmental non-governmental organization focused on the planting of trees, environmental conservation, and the empowerment of communities.

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 “There is a danger that care for creation and environmental concern are seen as a luxury for middle class Christians in leafy suburbs. So-called ‘Greenies’ or ‘tree huggers’ are perceived to be more concerned about the plight of the rhino than the plight of the vulnerable child. The connections between social and environmental justice are more intimately and profoundly linked. Ecological justice is relevant to everyone’s life, to everyone’s faith.” (Revd Dr Rachel Mash, Environmental Co-ordinator Anglican Church of Southern Africa.)

Read the entire article here.

When you hear the very worst news, it changes you.

Every week when I open Prescott’s climate links, I read a lot of bad news. Sure there are some signs of hope, great innovations, encouraging movement, but when dealing with Global Warming, right now we need to face the music and dance, which means ingesting some bad news.

How do we face the current crisis that is upon us? With honesty. It’s like when my sisters and I first learned our mom had lung cancer. We wanted to hear all of the potential good news, all the the hope for recovery. We needed to hear these possible positive stories because the news that we were losing our mother was far too devastating to accept. But a day came when we had to hear and receive the bad news–there was no cure for her, just palliative care to help her feel as comfortable as possible. When we finally were able to receive that bad news, it opened our hearts to action, to deep love and caring. We knew our time was precious, and we didn’t want to waste a second.

The downfall of humanity and most other species is not at all set in stone, not yet. We have time to act–precious, vital time to act. To get to the place of action, we need to swallow some bad news. So take a deep breath and read about the wars, the waves, and the uncertain promises.

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The age of climate warfare is here. The military-industrial complex is ready. Are you? For the Guardian by Nafeez Ahmed, author of A Users’s Guide to the Crisis of Civilization: and How to Save It.

To be sure, the link between climate change and the risk of violence is supported by many independent studies. No wonder, reports NBC News citing various former and active US officials, the Pentagon has long been mapping out strategies “to protect US interests in the aftermath of massive floods, water shortages and famines that are expected to hit and decimate unstable nations.”

But the era of climate warfare is not laying in wait, in some far-flung distant future. It has already begun, and it is accelerating – faster than most predicted. Pentagon officials and the CNA’s new study point to the Arab Spring upheavals across the Middle East and North Africa as a prime example.

Read the entire article here.

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Bad News: Scientists Have Measured 16-Foot Waves In The Arctic Ocean by Robert T. Gonzalez for io9

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For the first time, waves as tall as 16 feet have been recorded in Arctic waters. If these waves are speeding the breakup of the region’s remaining ice, as oceanographers suspect, they could signal the birth of a feedback mechanism that will hasten the Arctic’s march toward an ice-free summer.Read the entire article here.

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Wishful Thinking About Natural Gas: Why Fossil Fuels Can’t Solve the Problems Created by Fossil Fuels by By Naomi Oreskes for TomDispatch/Truth Out

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As a historian of science who studies global warming, I’ve often stressed that anthropogenic climate change is a matter of basic physics: CO2 is a greenhouse gas, which means it traps heat in the Earth’s atmosphere. So if you put additional CO2into that atmosphere, above and beyond what’s naturally there, you have to expect the planet to warm.  Basic physics.

And guess what? We’ve added a substantial amount of CO2 to the atmosphere, and the planet has become hotter.  We can fuss about the details of natural variability, cloud feedbacks, ocean heat and CO2 uptake, El Niño cycles and the like, but the answer that you get from college-level physics — more CO2 means a hotter planet — has turned out to be correct.  The details may affect the timing and mode of climate warming, but they won’t stop it.

In the case of gas, however, the short answer may not be the correct one.

Read the entire article here.

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Check out previous editions of Prescott’s Climate Links. (It’s NOT all bad news. I promise.) And Let us know what you are interested in understanding better. Where do you find hope?

(photos come from articles listed)

Climate Change and Mental Health

What is climate change doing to our mental health? by By Joanne Silberner for Grist.org

Berry has documented increased levels of distress in young people in drought-affected areas, and in farmers as well. The farmers she’s studied have shown a strong reluctance to use mental health services. She’s also looked at the effect of climate change on Aboriginal communities.

“When you think about what climate change does, it basically increases the risk of weather-related disasters of one sort or another,” she said. “What happens from a psychological point of view is people get knocked down. Whenever people are knocked down, they have to get up again and start over. And the more that happens, the more difficult it is to keep getting up.”

I spoke to elders from several Aboriginal communities in New South Wales who all told of a general sense of unease. All have noticed something — the absence of snow in the winter, the disappearance of rivers. One woman said, “I feel like the world is ending, that’s what I think. It’s scary.” Her solace: working in her garden.

Read entire article here

People of Color and the Environment

Think people of color don’t care about the environment? Think again by Brentin Mock for Grist.org

Dorceta Taylor, professor at the University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources and Environment

Dorceta Taylor, professor at the University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources and Environment

Dorceta Taylor: The perception that people of color don’t care about the environment has existed for a long time, and has been debunked for just as long. We can go back to [historian] W.E.B. DuBois, whose 1898 study on Philadelphia looked at the housing and health conditions of African Americans. People have described it as a sociological study, but if you read it, it is an environmental study, if ever there was one. He looked at the environmental conditions of these communities, but he linked them with social inequality and justice issues.

Before that, look at Harriet Tubman. We tend to think of her as someone only successful on the Underground Railroad, but to be that successful she was steeped in environmental and ecological knowledge. She knew the Chesapeake Bay so well that the U.S. military used her at the head of their ships to identify landmines the Confederates had laid in the water and identified them based off what she understood about disturbances in the water.

Slaves depended on ecological knowledge and were extremely effective at it — they used it to survive slavery. So the notion that we don’t care or know about the environment is just a fallacy.

Read entire interview here.

Climate Criminals and Garbage Muncher

“We know the shit is gonna hit the fan; we just don’t know how much shit and how big of a fan we’re gonna need  to deal with it.” -Marvin Bloom from Does This Apocalypse Make Me Look Fat?

Regularly I provide you with links to just three articles about Climate Change and Climate Action. From hundreds of articles that Prescott Allen Hazelton, one of my team members, sends me,  I pick the ones that help me best understand the problems we face, and articles that give me hope.

In this edition a clever invention that helps clean up trash in the water and harsh words for Climate Criminals in Australia. But first a piece about extinction. Such an awful word. A sad word when I think of wildlife. A terrifying word when I think of the human race.  With extinction, the bigger they are the faster they fall. That is what some researchers are saying about the the mass extinction that we have been witnessing. The winners will be all those little guys–insects, rodents, bacteria. The losers? Elephants and other large mammals

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Stanford biologist warns of early stages of Earth’s 6th mass extinction event by Bjorn Carey for Stanford.edu News. 

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Since 1500, more than 320 terrestrial vertebrates have become extinct. Populations of the remaining species show a 25 percent average decline in abundance. The situation is similarly dire for invertebrate animal life.

And while previous extinctions have been driven by natural planetary transformations or catastrophic asteroid strikes, the current die-off can be associated to human activity, a situation that the lead author Rodolfo Dirzo, a professor of biology at Stanford, designates an era of “Anthropocene defaunation.”

Across vertebrates, 16 to 33 percent of all species are estimated to be globally threatened or endangered. Large animals – described as megafauna and including elephants, rhinoceroses, polar bears and countless other species worldwide – face the highest rate of decline, a trend that matches previous extinction events.

Larger animals tend to have lower population growth rates and produce fewer offspring. They need larger habitat areas to maintain viable populations. Their size and meat mass make them easier and more attractive hunting targets for humans.

Read the whole article here.

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‘Climate Criminality’: Australia OKs Biggest Coal Mine by Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams.
Environmental groups slam decision that will ‘dump on’ Great Barrier Reef, fuel climate crisis

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In a decision criticized as “climate criminality,” Australia’s federal government announced Monday that it has given the OK to the country’s biggest coal mine.

The announcement comes less than three months after the state of Queensland gave its approval to the project.

“With this decision,” wrote Ben Pearson, head of programs for Greenpeace Australia Pacific, “the political system failed to protect the Great Barrier Reef, the global climate and our national interest.”

“Off the back of repealing effective action on climate change,” stated Australian Greens environment spokesperson Senator Larissa Waters, referring to the scrapping of the carbon tax, “the Abbott Government has ticked off on a proposal for Australia’s biggest coal mine to cook the planet and turn our Reef into a super highway for coal ships.”

Read the whole article here.

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Solar-Powered Water Wheel Can Clean 50,000 Pounds of Baltimore’s Trash Per Day by Brandon Baker at Billmoyers.com

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A large wheel has been strolling the Baltimore Inner Harbor this summer, doing its best to clean the trash that has littered a city landmark and tourist attraction.

It’s called the Inner Harbor Water Wheel, and though it moves slowly, it has the capability to collect 50,000 pounds of trash. The timing for John Kellett’s solar-powered creation is crucial — hands and crab nets simply can’t keep up with the growing amount of wrappers, cigarette butts, bottles and other debris carried from storm drains into the harbor.

“It looks sort of like a cross between a spaceship and a covered wagon and an old mill,” Kellett told NPR. “It’s pretty unique in its look, but it’s also doing a really good job getting this trash out of the water.”

Read the whole article here and check out the cool video of the Inner Harbor Water Wheel.

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Check out previous editions of Prescott’s Climate Links. And Let us know what you are interested in understanding better. Where do you find hope?

(photos come from articles listed)