This commentary is written by the Rev. Deb Conrad who serves as the pastor for Woodside Church in Flint, Michigan.
A member of my church named Karen Eaton texted me today to say that she had an extra copy of the Flint Journal’s water supplement. She wanted to know if I would like to have it as a resource. “It covers the water crisis from beginning to end,” she wrote. Then, in a separate text, she amended: “Sorry, there is no end.” Who would have thought we’d still be dealing with this? It has been about two and a half years since the water was switched, precipitating the poisoning; it has been more than a year, now, since Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha announced to a room of government officials, activists and journalists that there was indeed something wrong with the water. (Read more.)
Watching the new movie Deepwater Horizon reminded me of an incident that highlights the need for humanity to expand its environmental perspective to encompass outer space along with Earth.
Thanks to data from Envisat, the European Space Agency's large Earth-observing satellite, French scientists were able to alert American officials in May 2010 that the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico had entered the powerful loop current flowing toward Florida. Just a few months earlier, though, the spacecraft had experienced a near calamity of its own because of an environmental disaster in space caused by human beings. (Read more.)
The organizers for the International Days of Prayer and Action with Standing Rock on October 8th-11th have noted an important distinction in their choice of prepositions. They speak not of standing for Standing Rock but standing with Standing Rock. They explain, “It’s one thing to inspire the world to rush to your aid. It’s another thing to inspire the world to stand up for their own water, their own air, their own climate and their own communities.” (Read more.)
According to the Weather Channel (and NASA), 2016 is the hottest year in recorded history with record breaking droughts, floods fires and billions of dollars in extreme weather damages. These life-threatening changes in our climate are caused in great part by the burning fossil fuels. At our last General Synod, UCC delegates approved a resolution calling for a complete transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy by the year 2040. Included in that resolution was a call for a carbon tax. Recently, the Legislative Assembly of the State of California passed its own resolution calling for a carbon tax at the federal level. The proposed tax would be in the form of a “progressive fee and dividend” similar to the one proposed by an organization called Citizen’s Climate Lobby. According to the highly respected Regional Economic Models Inc.(REMI), a progressive fee and dividend form of a carbon tax in the United States, if implemented in 2017, would not only cut our atmospheric carbon dioxide emissions 33% in the first 10 years, but it would also add an estimated 2.1 million jobs to the US economy and provide every American household with a monthly dividend of $288.00. (Read more.)
A new collaborative endeavor of youth from the United Church of Christ and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) has been launched. As part of this endeavor, youth groups from across the country will adopt a specific month during which they will create social media posts that raise awareness about climate change and encourage action. As a result of a recent name contest, the name of this joint denominational project is Generation Green. (Read more.)
Over the weekend of Sept. 23-25, clergy and laity in the Southern Conference (SOC) of the UCC came together to celebrate something new under the sun: the SOC Environmental Justice Network (EJN) which was formalized this past June. We kicked off our EJN summit weekend with a clergy luncheon at Union Chapel in Burlington, NC. The Rev. Brooks Berndt, the UCC’s environmental justice minister, spoke of his recent experience of standing in solidarity with the native peoples of Standing Rock, while Dr. Gail O’Day, Dean of the Wake Forest University School of Divinity, spoke of the school’s Food, Faith, and Environmental initiative with which we hope to partner in the future. (Read more.)
The parable of the Good Samaritan presents us with two possible responses to suffering. There are those like the priest and the Levite who respond with avoidance and pass by on the other side of the road. Then, there are those like the Good Samaritan who respond with compassion and tend to the man’s wounds. Since I enjoy doing children’s sermons, part of me is glad the parable does not include a third option so appalling as to seem almost unfathomable: the sadist who stops to rub salt into the wounds of the afflicted man. Imagine trying to convey a lesson about this to children. “Now, children, this is not how you want to treat little Billy when he skins his knee at recess time." Yet, such a grotesque and obvious moral wrong is what the flooded parts of Louisiana are now facing.
Written over 45 years ago, Frances Moore Lappé’s book, Diet for a Small Planet, revolutionized the way we think about food. As a follow up to her book, her daughter, Anna Lappé, wrote a book that puts food at the center of the climate crisis. Our food system is responsible for 1/3 of all greenhouse gas emissions. In Diet for a Hot Planet, Lappé shows that such statistics are just a tip of the melting iceberg. (Read more.)
The Fourth in a Series on Infrastructure Justice
In the poetic lyricism of the King James Bible, Proverbs 29:18 tells us, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” The urgent truth and relevance of that statement is perhaps nowhere more visible than the question of how our nation envisions its future with regard to infrastructure and climate change. Yet, I suspect that statement would seem dubious to some for the simple reason that no one seems to be discussing it. Op-ed pages, television newcasts, and political stump speeches have little to nothing to say on the subject. For this reason, let me make the case as direct and as plain as I can in five points. (Read more.)
Bill McKibben -- one of the most prominent and inspiring leaders of the climate justice movement -- gets a lot of questions. One of those questions, apparently, comes up pretty often, and he has developed a short and surprising response.
Q: "What is the best thing an individual can do for the climate?"
A: "Stop being an individual."