After researching and writing 20+ blogs over two years on climate change and the faith community, several themes and actions have organically emerged. They will be summarized below to pull together the threads identified through the Sightings blog series. These suggestions hopefully will help the faith community understand the current state of creation and steps they can take to prepare and adapt to changing ecological conditions occurring across the planet now and in the coming decades. This period is commonly referred to as the Anthropocene epoch, the age of the humans. Continue reading
Let’s start out with a basic fact. Global temperatures are 1-degree C over pre-industrial levels. With that increase we are seeing:
- Melting of the Arctic and Antarctic,
- Accelerating sea level rise,
- Ocean acidification,
- Global ecosystem disruption,
- Spread of vectors and diseases,
- Extreme storm intensification,
- Increased drought and flooding
- Expansion of wildfires
Recent discoveries and research suggest life is not an earth-only experiment. The building blocks of life could be widespread throughout the universe. Carbon and water are two vital ingredients for life along with a temperate climate. During Thomas Berry’s life (1914-2009), he saw many discoveries in astrophysics which fed into his thinking for the new story about the creation of the universe, earth, life and consciousness. New discoveries suggest there are 100-200 billion galaxies in the cosmos and billions of earth-like planets in our Milky Way. The recently discovered building blocks of life found on Mars and Saturn’s moon, Enceladus, support the notion of life throughout the universe. All would expand Berry’s creation story. Continue reading
A common theme among many of the previous Sightings blogs is that natural laws (physics, chemistry and biology) govern the planet and universe and that life has evolved from the basic elements released during the Big Bang. Each organism is part of a population of similar organisms and an ecosystem made up of other plants, animals and inorganic features. They also evolved from a common ancestor living about 3.5 billion years ago. Continue reading
What is ecotheology? It is a form of theology that focuses on the relationship between religion and nature with a particular emphasis on the ecological destruction underway. It started as a religious response to the degradation of nature but is also concerned with potential solutions including ecosystem management and environmental justice. Continue reading
Photo courtesy of Chris Donaghue
When I first discovered Thomas Berry, world religion scholar and renowned author, my eyes opened wide as I felt a void being filled. Over the past 50 years, scientific findings about the creation of the universe, earth, life and consciousness have provided answers about our origins. Thomas Berry’s work culminated in the call for a new creation story, one based on scientific fact and not just faith. He urges us to move from a scientific-technological focus to one based on ecological principles; one founded on recognizing the intrinsic value of nature. The whole planet is one complex ecosystem all working in harmony and self-supporting, thus enabling the earth to maintain conditions suitable for life and its evolution. James Lovelock calls this the Gaia Theory. Everything is interconnected. Berry felt the old creation story for Christians, Genesis, served its purpose through history, but new scientific discoveries beg for a new creation story. Continue reading
Are houses of worship prepared for the current and coming natural disasters caused by climate change? If not, they need to be. During 2017, the faith community was in the heart of the hurricanes in the east and the wildfires in the west. They provided comfort and support to their ravaged congregants and local communities. They need to be prepared to do more and not be lulled into complacency by lack of awareness or political bent. Continue reading
Over the last several years, universities, foundations and the faith community have led the way in eliminating investments in the fossil fuel industry. They represent 54 percent of new commitments. Since December 2016, institutions with assets of 6 trillion dollars have made commitments to divest from fossil fuel investments. This includes 688 institutions and 58,000 individuals according to the Go Fossil Free website. Two notable organizations making commitments are the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and the World Council of Churches. About 28 percent of the commitments are from religious institutions. Over half the commitments come from outside the USA. The fossil fuel divestment movement is the fastest growing divestment movement in history.
Generational change is a given in business, politics and life. In the early 1960s, President John Kennedy’s ascendency to the peak of government was a sign a new generation was in charge with new ideas and direction. The Kennedy administration fought for civil rights and gave America the vision of landing a man on the moon.
The Baby Boom generation (1946 to 1964) protested against the Vietnam War during the Johnson and Nixon administrations and eventually brought that decade long conflict to an end. Our nation’s youth have redirected errant policies for the better on several occasions over the past half century.
On April 20, 2010 one of the most catastrophic environmental disasters unfolded in the Gulf of Mexico when the Deepwater Horizon oil rig blew up and unleashed a geyser of oil buried a mile below the surface. By the time it ended 87 days later, an estimated 130 million gallons of oil spewed into the Gulf of Mexico’s bountiful waters and disrupted thriving ecosystems from Texas to Florida. Had the leak continued, the oil could have gone around Florida and likely ended up in the Gulf Stream contaminating the entire East coast’s shorelines and coastal habitats. In fact, a 2016 University of Central Florida study found dissolved oil from the spill all the way to Sanibel Island, Florida. Continue reading