by Patrick Watters
As Patti and I plan our "living quarters" at the "family compound" back in Sacramento, I've been thinking about how we've become so consumptive in the western world. The family home is a primary example of this evolution toward "bigger and better" (worse in my opinion) homes. We have gone from 1K square foot easily sustainable living spaces to 5K monstrosities with separated living spaces where no one has to enounter anyone else throughout the day. There are "living rooms", "family rooms", "AV rooms" (the entertainment centers of our media submersed culture) and more.My first home in North Dakota was about 800 square feet. We lived there with a native American family who also had a baby, our dads worked together on Garrison Dam. One "living space" that constituted kitchen, dining, living, work space . . . and also the only room with heat! :-) Then two small bedrooms (sleeping quarters) for each family. Oh, yes we did have indoor plumbing, including a bathrooom. Now, we have so many separate spaces we really can "avoid" one another if we want to. However, we are thinking of ways to be "family" and save money too. All of it also helps reduce our "carbon footprint"; energy conservation, etc.
This poor economy has everyone looking for ways to save, which is a great thing. It motivates us toward simplification and conservation, something we all should be doing anyway. I am personally excited to experience three generations under one roof, just hope we continue to "get along" and not become our own version of a bad reality TV show?! :-)
by Rev. Mitch Hescox
Something we're missing. Riding in a cab after two consecutive days of coast-to-coast flying with six hours of presentations and meetings tossed between, I started a conversation with my young driver. We chatted over the area, weather, coffee (which I was in desperate need), local jobs, and the economy. "People around here take the environment seriously, we're sort of an outdoors kinda' people," shared Michael. "I went to the local book-store a while back and found something called the Green Bible." My younger brother died not too long ago, and I'm trying to figure things out," Michael continued. "I gotten through the Genesis part, but so far I have more questions than answers." As Michael paused and looked over with a glancing gaze with maybe you think I'm crazy expression, I admit to a little chuckle. "Michael, in my briefcase is my Green Bible. " Michael, I spent the last 20 years being a pastor and now help churches and our government understand how important it is to care for God's creation," I replied to a very surprised taxi-driver. Michael shared a little more of his live, his hurt, his confession. How a friends were turning to God and others away from God. "I spend some time in church as a kid, but I don't have much use for church," Michael stated. "Let's start with your questions and try to build a relationship with God before we worry about the church," I replied.
We spent the next 20 minutes discussing Scripture, his questions and his feelings. As we arrived at my destination, I simply asked Michael if I could pray for him. After laying hands on my new friend and praying, I offered him my card and asked him to email his questions so our conversation might continue. However, the story isn't over. The next day on my return trip with some colleagues. Our now woman cab driver wanted to know if anyone had travelled alone by taxi the day before. I confessed! She immediately shared how her son Michael had come home yesterday waving my card and telling his mom about our conversation. Only the Lord knows the outcome of this serendipitous moment, but without the Green Bible inspired by Dr. Cal DeWitt a connection would have never happened.
Creation care and our stewardship for the earth are not only a Biblical mandate, but also perhaps the greatest 21st century evangelism gift. Are we awake enough to make the connection?
Rev. Mitch Hescox is President & CEO of the Evangelical Environmental Network
"By prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God." --Philippians 4:6
As Christians, we believe that prayer is vital in bringing about change in ourselves and in our world. A global network of Christians in more than 40 nations will be getting down on its knees on Sunday 6 November to pray, speak up, and encourage that prompt action be taken to protect God's good creation and our global neighbors -- those who are hit hardest by severe weather and the changing climate.
"Love does no harm to its neighbor." --Romans 13:10
We invite you, your family, and your church to join in praying in hope for urgent, redemptive action. Whatever your prayer time looks like during this day of prayer and we ask that you spend some time focusing prayer in the following three areas:
1. Thanksgiving: "God saw all that he had made and it was very good." (Genesis 1:31)
Give thanks for God's good creation and for the thousands of people who will be praying in hope for compassionate concern and action to tackle climate change and its impacts on the world's poorest people.
Give thanks to God for the vision and faith of churches globally seeking to challenge the injustice of climate change and for bringing hope by equipping them to speak out to and pray for people in power and positions of influence.
2. Real change: for action and prayer as part of Hope for Creation to lead to real change - in the lives of individuals across the world as they respond personally to the changing climate and by Governments through increased commitment to reduce harmful global emissions and provide financial assistance to the poorest and most vulnerable people who are hit hardest.
3. Power: Prayer for God to move in power at the UN climate talks this December -- bringing truth and justice into negotiations and decisions that empower poor countries to respond to climate change.
Hope for Creation - Common Prayer
Please use this prayer in church services, in your family, and in personal prayer times.
Father of all Creation, We praise you for the wonders of the world you have gifted to us.
We give thanks for the air we breathe, the water we drink, the mountains and hills we roam, the deserts and valleys that give us space, the wilderness that teems with life and for all living creatures.
We praise you for the sustenance you have provided for us through your creation and we thank you for the role you have given us as caretakers of that gift.
Forgive us when we have not been good caretakers of the earth. Forgive us for the suffering that has been inflicted on the global poor because of unsustainable actions that have led to the destruction of the environment we draw life from.
Lord of Hope, birth your hope in us through the seed of a new vision for how our world could be. Make us into people who recognize, nurture and act towards a more sustainable world for the benefit of all who draw life from this planet.
Holy Spirit of renewal and transformation, guide our leaders, communal, national and international, towards decisions that forge a new path for our relationship with creation. We pray for hope to be present in their dialogue and negotiations. Imbue their talks with a spirit of cooperation and a sense of family where each works for the benefit of the other. We ask for this wisdom to be upon all those who gather for the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Durban, South Africa at the end of November.
May we be a global people who live within our means, blessing one another and nurturing your creation so graciously gifted to us.
All this to the glory of the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen!
Thank you! for helping to spread word about this Hope for Creation worldwide Day of Prayer.
A Hope for Creation prayer guide is available. Click here for a PDF
by Ruth Valerio
I wanted to write about something that I've been thinking about and get some thoughts from those of you who are with me on this journey of living lightly. Because, I've recently found myself involved in a bit of an interesting dialogue.
It was started by an article in the March 09 edition of the Ecologist magazine entitled, Abandon Hope. Written by an associate professor of environmental ethics at Michigan State University and an assistant professor of animal ecology at Michigan Technological University, the article set out to challenge the standard means by which the environmental movement seeks to motivate individuals to change. That means is the concept of hope: if you do this, then disaster will be averted and all will be okay.
The authors state that there is a fundamental problem with this motivational tactic: 'every other message I receive suggests that disaster is guaranteed, and the reasons to think that if I live sustainably enough others will do the same are unconvincing.'
In contrast to this utilitarian way of thinking, the authors want us to go back 2,300 years to Aristotle and his concept of the virtues (something, of course, that Aquinas was to develop later on). And so they say, 'we need to equate sustainable living, not so much with hope for a better future, but with basic virtues, such as sharing and caring, which we already recognise as good in and of themselves, and not because of their measured consequences. Living by such virtues is a fundamentally right way to live " even if nobody else does and even if it might not avert environmental disaster'.
In the midst of their article, however, they talk about the 'Christian view of hope that dominates the Western mindset' and make the astonishing statement that, 'Christian hope has nothing to do with the welfare of life on Earth; it refers to "hope in eternal life in heaven"'! Coming from a US perspective, I guess that statement isn't really so astonishing and, of course, it is the stereotype of what a Christian believes. I couldn't let such a statement pass by unchallenged, however, and so wrote into the Ecologist to say that actually this was a mistaken understanding of the Christian view of hope. On getting the most recent edition I was delighted to find that I wasn't alone in writing in and the Wakefield Diocesan Adviser in Environmental Issues also wrote to say that, 'if there is no hope, no future, no God, no continuing humanity, no Earth as we know it, it is hard to imagine many finding motivation in acting virtuously. Only in the context of hope does virtuous action make complete and logical sense'. An excellent letter, Bill Halling!
I find in the speaking and writing that I do on caring for this world, I often have to balance out the desire to express a Christ-centred hope for the future with a sober and chilling assessment of where this world appears to be heading. Although the authors of the Ecologist article aren't writing from a Christian perspective, I find what they say resonates with the approach I often take. The reality is that I want to do things like use my car less, produce my own food, not buy so many things and so on, not finally because I think it will make a difference (although I long for that to be the case), but because, as an apprentice of Jesus, it is the right thing to do.
And how about you? In the face of increasing messages of doom, why do you still want to live lightly in this world?
Ruth Valerio is the Manager of Living Lightly. Living Lightly is an A Rocha UK initiative that is here to encourage and motivate you to make practical changes in all these areas through giving you ideas of things you can do, further information on key issues, links to useful websites and resources, and an on-line community that you can share your thoughts and questions with.
by Kara Ball
I didn't expect the severe rains and flooding we received in Washington D.C. last month from Tropical Storm Lee. As streams overflowed their banks from the intense rains, my route home flooded and my normal, 20-minute commute stretched to four hours. Others fared far worse. Tragically, four people lost their lives, including a 12-year old boy from the church we attend who had gone to look at the flooding stream behind his house and slipped in. The storm drenched eleven states from Louisiana to New York, causing further floods, evacuations, and deaths.
As the earth warms, the severity of weather events like Tropical Storm Lee and Hurricane Irene and their attendant devastation is expected to increase. Warmer air can hold more water vapor and each additional temperature increase of 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit increases the capacity of air to hold water by 7%. There is already 4% more water vapor in the atmosphere above the oceans than just 30 years ago. Because of the stronger storms we're now experiencing, scientists are considering adding a new category to the hurricane rankings: a Category 6.
Floods, property damage and loss of life from stronger storms are just a few of the multitude of impacts expected from global warming, including the threat that 30% of the world's species will face increased risk of extinction if temperatures increase by 2.2 " 4 degrees Fahrenheit.
As Christians, what are we to do when faced with global warming?
First, we are to seek and speak the truth. When I first became a Christian, some of my friends and family gave me a quizzical look when I shared the news. Not everyone was on board with my decision. What about you? Did you experience something similar?
Sometimes, talking about global warming can bring a similar response. Nonetheless, because of its impacts, seeking and speaking the truth about global warming is part of what it means to be a Christian today. As my husband Jim emphasizes in his book Global Warming and the Risen Lord, Christ will be at our side as we do our part to overcome global warming.
by Ben DeVries
Craig Goodwin's Year of Plenty: One Suburban Family, Four Rules, and 365 Days of Homegrown Adventure in Pursuit of Christian Living was birthed at the very end of 2007 in a conversation with his wife Nancy, co-pastors at Millwood Community Presbyterian Church in Spokane, Washington. They were both weary and disillusioned from a "severe holiday hangover," not so much from the ministerial hecticness of the advent season but from the Christmas glut of over-the-top consumption, and a longer-standing sense of being part of an economy devoid of real personal or spiritual meaning. With only days left until the new year, they decided over a cup of Starbucks coffee that 2008 would be a genuine attempt at drastically different purchasing and living (which ironically would include avoiding the same chain coffee purveyor).
Craig and Nancy set up four basic rules for themselves and their two young daughters, who were amazingly good sports through the year despite the occasional and understandable hiccup; not that their parents claim to have been immune from instances of frustration or inconsistency. The first and foremost rule was that the family would only buy new goods from local producers, roughly within the radius travelled by vendors at their church-sponsored farmer's market: "We wanted to place value on things in a way that wasn't based solely on their price, forming a new economy of consumable goods anchored in caring relationships with people we know." However, they would allow themselves to purchase imported goods from Thailand (especially coffee and Jasmine rice), where Nancy had spent two formative years after college. Craig admits that this exception may seem a bit arbitrary, and while many of our self-imposed rules often are, he writes that their goal "was not to reject the economic realities of the world, but rather to enter them intentionally with eyes open to the impact of our purchases." The family would also be free to use items already in their possession at the turn of the year, and to purchase used products, if possible from another household directly. Lastly, but far from insignificantly as it turns out, they would make an effort to grow more produce in their own garden and to make locally unavailable goods at home, such as bread and ice cream, allowing themselves some flexibility to obtain the basic materials or ingredients needed.
I appreciated Craig's candid and humor-laced account of the days and months to follow, filled with numerous hurdles and breakthroughs, new experiences and awakenings both large and small. The family was faced with a steep learning curve right from the get-go, eager but virtually unprepared for their new adventure in the middle of winter. They found themselves immediately forced into a form of Sabbath in which they had to "slow down and wait" on God's grace and provision, like the season itself. Year of Plenty is in fact arranged around the four seasons, a natural theme for the progression of their calendar experiment and for learning to work more closely with the earthy processes of planting, tending and harvesting, not to mention one laden with spiritual analogy and connection to the liturgical church-year.
Craig compellingly describes how humbling it can be to subject oneself to God-created natural boundaries and systems, and at the same time surprisingly simplifying and rewarding. He writes of discovering a new kind of grace-filled abundance, one which prioritizes the values we long to hold dearest but don't often feel we have the time or resources left over to cultivate. The family's discovery of "proper complexity" is hilariously illustrated in Craig's description of trying to fabricate from scratch a flamingo for his daughter's birthday party, a near-disaster which took infinitely more time and exertion than buying a pre-made piñata, but which ended up providing a priceless shared experience and memory for the entire family. Over a more extended period, the day-to-day cultivation of an expanded garden with attention-needy plants, and caring for backyard chickens with sensitive personalities and needs of their own (all in a planned community, no less), both produced lasting skills and disciplines, not to mention an occasional blue ribbon at the county fair for the new suburban agriculturalists and 'farm kids.'
Speaking of chickens, as someone personally and professionally invested in the welfare of God's creatures, I greatly appreciated Craig's attention to the incredibly degrading and unhealthy way in which the vast majority of poultry and many other livestock are brought to our dinner tables. This industrial process applied to sentient beings (often referred to as 'factory farming') withholds some of their most basic, God-given needs, such as access to space, sunlight and natural diet. Craig notes many reasons and their biblical grounding for returning to a smaller, more compassionate and organic farm model, for the well-being of both the animals and plants being raised, but also for the health of the land and environment entrusted to us.
As compelling as our calling to carefully steward God's creation and creatures is, Craig goes a step further in reminding us of our core responsibility to care for the well-being of our neighbors. As a society and even as the Church, we've tended to be unaware that our neighbors include those who labor, often under severe limitations and risk, to bring us our food and other goods, whether on the other side of town or the other side of the globe. Year of Plenty challenged me to consider that it just might be worth limiting my purchasing options and spending to form relationships with individual farmers and tradesmen and women, to make an effort to participate in local communities such as farmer's markets and community-supported agriculture (CSA), and thereby be a small part of God's grace and provision in my neighbors' livelihood and lives. As Craig's experience and testimony suggest, what better way for us to be a witness to the goodness of our Creator and Savior, as individuals or as a local church body?
(you can find out much more about Year of Plenty and the author's ongoing reflections at the book's companion website, YearOfPlenty.org)
Ben DeVries (Trinity Evangelical Divinity School '08) founded Not One Sparrow, a Christian voice for animals after completing his capstone project on a biblical-theological foundation for animal welfare at Trinity. He also blogs at With Those Who, a journal of empathy, and lives in Kenosha, Wisconsin with his wife Cheryl, two-year-old son Jadon and three adopted cats.
by Dean Ohlman
Maple-leaf-still-lifeI've had a long love affair with the maple tree. It started with the three sugar maples that stood in front of our house in Hastings, Michigan. One of them was a perfect climbing tree that had a particular limb arrangement that made it possible for me to settle into a neat seat with a fine backrest"and far enough out from the trunk that I could bob up and down gently with just slight swings of my legs. The second tree directly in front of the house was not friendly to climbers: lowest branches too high for me to reach, and the one time I did reach one, it tossed me off and laid me out flat on my back. The third one was just too big and tall to do much but offer us abundant fall leaves to rake into piles for leaf tumbling and, best of all, leaf burning.
I still remember vividly looking down our street and seeing several neighbors, garden rakes in hand, tending their leaf fires along with us and turning the air "foggy" with wonderfully fragrantleaf smoke. I understand why cities now have ordinances against leaf burning, but I still miss that old fall ritual. Marge and I will sometimes take a fall drive into the country and deliberately slow down and open the windows whenever we find that bluish leaf smoke wafting through the cool air"just to create some nostalgia.
Besides offering tough limbs for climbing, the maples, of course, offered their spring sap for the making of syrup. The nearby town of Vermontville (fittingly named) was famous for its spring maple syrup festival.
In the fall, the maples' treat is also aesthetic: the flaming glory of its leaves. Neighborhoods canopied over with green all summer long suddenly reveal subtleties as the chlorophyll production is cut off by lessening daylight"actually by the increasing amount of darkness. When the green drains away, it leaves behind other pigments that were there all along. Then the trees and shrubs show their defining fall apparel: brown oaks, yellow ashes, yellow-orange-red sassafras, golden Norway maples, golden-brown elms, burgundy sumacs"and the brilliant red sugar maples. Because of the glucose content of the sugar maple, the absence of the chlorophyll plus sunlight and cool nights interacts with the sugar in the leaves to make them their brilliant red.
It's at this time of the year especially that the allusions of the "tree psalms" most speak to my heart and soul (After people, trees are the most mentioned living things in the Bible).
Consider this merry message from Psalm 96:11-12 (ESV)
Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice;
Let the sea roar, and all that fills it;
Let the field exult, and everything in it!
Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy before the Lord.
All over the countryside in Michigan, October is the month when the silent song of the trees is most joyous"when we are reminded in spectacular fashion that all created things in their own nature respond to their Maker, making the outdoors a giant cathedral echoing with praise. In this cathedral we do not worship the creation; we join with all its creatures in "manifold witness" singing together a doxology of praise to our great Creator for His never-ending faithfulness.
One of EEN's advisers on mercury's impacts on the unborn is Doctor Phil -- but in this case it's Doctor Phil Landrigan (not that other guy). Dr. Landrigan is a pediatrician and one of the world's leading experts on what pollution does to unborn children and young children during their crucial developmental years. He's also a devout Catholic, and a dad and grandad.
Responding in Love for Our Unborn
The Rev.Mitchell C. Hescox
"If your brother or sister sins,go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you,you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that 'every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.' If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector. (Matthew 18:15-17 NIV)
Serving as a pastor for almost twenty years, one of the first things I learned was that few people in the church know and even fewer practice the above passage. Every pastor I know has been the subject of numerous parking lot meetings, telephone calls, emails, and even a few letters involving a difference in opinion or understanding.
The one thing different in my current ministry as President of the Evangelical Environmental Network is that, instead of parking lot meetings, those "well meaning" leaders and church folk use blogs and op-eds on the Internet for sharing their differences. When attacked, I re-read the Book of Acts. In the stories of the Apostle Paul being beaten, shipwrecked, imprisoned, and even left for dead, I find comfort. Paul's travails always put mine in prospective.
This past week a few brothers and sisters in Christ wrote blogs and opinion pieces deriding my organization and me. They refuse to accept that mercury emitted from coal-fired utilities is a threat to our children and that it is a critically important pro-life issue for me and for more than 100 other evangelical leaders. Forgetting or ignoring the Biblical instruction noted above, these brothers and sisters never once came to me privately. In fact, when I attempted to contact one organization to correct their mistaken view and discuss our position in private, they forwarded my letter to another party who elected to attack me publicly the next day. The attacks have been rather fierce, but the most serious problem is their failure to acknowledge the fact that mercury is a poison to our unborn children.
One of the body's protective shields against damage to the brain, called "the blood-brain barrier," is not fully developed until the first year of life. Thus, in the unborn child, mercury can cross this incomplete barrier and accumulate in the brain, causing developmental disabilities and brain damage resulting in lowered intelligence and learning problems. This has lifetime implications. One study found that "The resulting loss of intelligence causes diminished economic productivity that persists over the entire lifetime of these children."[i]
The cause of all the chatter is a proposed EPA rule to be finalized in November that would require utilities to reduce mercury emissions by 90%. Coal fired power plants are the largest single domestic mercury polluter and the basis for this regulation was the 1990 Clean Air Act passed through the efforts of the first President Bush. It has taken twenty years of footdragging by the EPA, Congress, and several Presidential administrations for this regulation to be demanded by the Supreme Court. Twenty years is a long time to wait for protection for the unborn.
The uproar this week centered on the mercury dose set by EPA. To the best of my knowledge not one of my critics is a medical expert nor is anyone at EEN. But I do trust the American Academy of Pediatrics, the doctors trained medically to care for our children. They wrote:
We agree with the strong evidence the EPA provides to support their decision that the proposed rule is both appropriate and necessary to protect public health as required under Section 112 of the Clean Air Act. Exposure to likely harm from mercury and methyl mercury continues, as does strong evidence of exposure to multiple, recognized carcinogens and other toxics that cause or increase risk of cardiovascular, respiratory, and other acute and chronic systemic damage.[ii]
For some perhaps, the attacks stem from fear of government involvement in anything and the EPA in particular. No reasonable Christian wants unnecessary government regulations. But, contrary to what you may have been told or read, many utilities support this regulation of mercury (known as "Utility MACT"). Exelon,Constellation Energy, Pacific Gas and Electric, to name a few, are electric power companies that strongly support mercury reductions.[iii] In fact, a large percentage of generating stations have already installed the required pollution equipment either as the result of controlling other pollutants or individual state regulations. Even with the compliance by many utilities, mercury still poses a threat to our unborn and without this regulation toxic mercury levels are projected to increase.
Corporations, just like people, are fallen and live in a fallen world. Although companies have known for years that these regulations would be issued to protect our unborn, they delayed and stalled in their self-interest, not for the benefit of the 1 in 6 unborn children threatened by mercury poisoning. This is simply sin. Something all of us do far too often.
The reality of sin is also why I support a reasonably regulated free market. There are libertarians and others who believe in a totally free market; they are the ones speaking the loudest against our position. Consider the unleashing of anarchy if all government and regulation are removed. Try driving on a road without speed limits or eating foods that don't have the proper labeling, especially if you have an allergy. It's simply naïve to believe that corporations, like individuals, will always do the "right" thing. Sin is always present and that why we need Jesus and the delegations of good government He would desire.
Standing in opposition to laissez-faire economic principles is why several of the posts this week called me a liberal. I have been a registered Republican since I was old enough to vote and, worked for 14 years in the business world. Even though it doesn't really fit, I'm happy to wear the"liberal" label because it's the same derogatory label placed upon the Christian saints I admire most. William Wilberforce, Charles Finney, William Booth, Orange Scott, Luther Lee, and John Wesley were tagged with the same fame. All of these Godly men worked tirelessly, empowered by the Holy Spirit to change society and its laws to end slavery, stop child labor, provide women rights,and protect the poor. As 19th Century, evangelical William Arthur wrote:
Nothing short of the general renewal of society ought to satisfy any Soldier of Christ " Much as Satan glorifies in his power over the individual, how much greater must be his glory over a nation embodying, in it laws and usages, disobedience to God, wrong to man, and contamination to morals? To destroy all holds of evil; to root out sin out of institutions; to hold up to the view the gospel ideal to the righteous nation " is one of the first duties of those position or mode of thought gives them any influence in general questions. In so doing they are glorifying the Redeemer, by displacing the benignity of his influence over human society, and removing hindrances to individual conversions, some of which act by direct incentive to vice, other by upholding a state of things the acknowledged of which is, "Forget God."
Satan might be content to let Christianity turn over the subsoil, if he is in perpetuity to sow the surface with thorns and briers; but the gospel is come to renew the face of the earth.[iv]
Renewal and transformation by Christ for individuals, for institutions, and our nation is at the heart of the gospel. God has called me to this ministry. Having a few brothers and sisters launch a few attacks will not deter me in my calling; too many children face mercury poisoning to worry about being hurt by verbal or written stoning. I will pray for those who attack and will ask God to forgive my anger that, all too humanly, occasionally surfaces.
Instead of giving any credence to these false attacks, I ask you to consider the facts:
Children are God's most precious gift and I believe they are worth protecting. Reducing mercury is pro-life no matter how many parking lot conversations or Internet posts say differently.
[i]Trasande, et al., "Public Health and EconomicConsequences of Methyl Mercury Toxicity to the Developing Brain," EnvironmentalHealth Perspectives, Vol. 113, No. 5 (May 2005): p. 590.
[iv] William Arthur, TheTongue of Fire, 1854
[v] See Kathryn R. Mahaffey et al., "Blood OrganicMercury and Dietary Mercury Intake: National Health and Nutrition ExaminationSurvey, 1999 and 2000," EnvironmentalHealth Perspectives, 112, #5 (April 2004): http://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/members/2003/6587/6587.html, and Leonardo Trasande, et al., Public Health andEconomic Consequences of Methyl Mercury Toxicity to the Developing Brain, Environmental HealthPerspectives, Vol. 113, No. 5 (May 2005): p. 593; http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1257552/pdf/ehp0113-000590.pdf. Mahaffey usedthe 1-in-6 figure in a presentation she made while she was the EPA's topmercury scientist. See http://www.epa.gov/waterscience/fish/forum/2004/presentations/monday/mahaffey.pdf.
We wanted to make sure you were aware of two important op-eds recently published by our friend and former Member of the House of Representatives, Congressman Bob Inglis, Republican from South Carolina.
Bob is one of the most important leaders in the Republican Party on the need for our country to play our part in overcoming global warming -- something we believe the Risen LORD is leading the way on.
The first op-ed was published on September 25 in USA Today. And the second came out on Oct. 2 on the Bloomberg News site. We provide excerpts below. While we don't agree with Congressman Inglis on everything, we do agree there needs to be a market-based approach that puts a price on carbon.
by Bob Inglis
"Texas Gov. Rick Perry's recent assertion that the science of climate change has been politicized is almost certainly true. Environmental groups (the kind that always gave me F's on my congressional report cards for voting against bills such as cap-and-trade) decided a while back to run this play on the left side of the political field. But perhaps the strongest proof of Perry's assertion is what we conservatives are doing now ...
Perry asserts, and many conservatives believe, that the flow of grants have produced a corresponding flow of studies indicating human causes of climate change. Skepticism is warranted, but it's relieved by an observation: Scientists become famous by disproving the consensus, not by parroting it. You don't get a theory named for yourself by writing papers that say, "Yeah, like he said." You become famous (and, for the pure of heart, you advance science) by breaking through with new understandings.
In the zeal of our disproof, many conservatives have latched on to the outliers to create the appearance of uncertainty where little uncertainty exists. Accordingly, only 15% of the public knows that 97% of climate scientistshave concluded that the planet is rapidly warming as a result of human activity ...
Many conservatives believe that, even if climate change is caused by human activity, the costs of correction outweigh the benefits. What does that calculation say about our objectivity, our commitment to accountability and our belief in free markets?
Conservatives say that free enterprise, not government mandates, can deliver innovation. But we've been waiting since 1973 to be freed from foreign oil. Maybe that's because all the costs aren't "in" on petroleum " the national security risk, the costs of protecting the supply lines out of the Middle East, the cost of the pollution from tailpipes and the cost of tax subsidies for petroleum. If those costs were paid at the pump and not out of sight, we'd be aware of our need, and America's entrepreneurs would meet our need with new fuels.
But markets can't respond when some fuels escape accountability. If the coal industry, for instance, were held accountable for all of coal's costs " including health effects " we'd build emission-free nuclear power plants instead of coal-fired plants. Electricity rates would rise because we'd be paying all of coal's cost at the meter, but health insurance premiums would fall. In such an all-costs-in scenario, the profit motive would drive innovation just as it drove innovation with the Internet and the PC " without clumsy government mandates.
Conservatives can restore our objectivity by acknowledging that Americans are already paying all the hidden costs of energy. We can prove our commitment to accountability by properly attaching all costs to all fuels. We can prove our belief in free markets by eliminating all subsidies and letting the free enterprise system sort out winners and losers among competing fuels.
Or, more cynically, we can attempt to disprove science, protect the fossilized and deprive America of a muscular, free enterprise, no-growth-of-government alternative to cap and trade."
by Bob Inglis
"Normally, the country can count on conservatives to deal in facts. We base policies on science, not sentiment, we insist on people being accountable for their actions, and we maintain that markets, not mandates, are the path to prosperity.
When it comes to energy and climate, these are not normal times.
We're following sentiment, not science, we're turning a blind eye to accountability, and we're failing to use the power of markets.
The National Academy of Sciences says, "Climate change is occurring, is caused largely by human activities, and poses significant risks." Several recent studies have found that 95 percent of climate scientists are convinced that the planet is rapidly warming as a result of human activity. But a George Mason University-Yale University poll in May found that only 13 percent of the public realizes that scientists have come to that conclusion.
You would expect conservatives to stand with 95 percent of the scientific community and to grow the 13 percent into a working majority ...
Courage fails us when it comes to energy and climate. Fearing our economic circumstances, we've decided to channel the fear rather than to confront it. Some conservatives even allege that the scientific conclusion about climate change is affected by the flow of grant money -- a conflict of interest that we overlook when taking the drug Lipitor, even though the tests proving its efficacy were financed by its maker, Pfizer. Conservatives seem to think that climate change is for elitists, enviros and Democrats, not hard-working, God-fearing Republicans ... the thinking seems to go, it's just not "our" issue. And because we're already at war on a number of other fronts, surely posterity will forgive us if we offer the fearful a scapegoat rather than a solution on this one. Meanwhile, our friends (or are they our masters?) say "Attaboy!" on talk TV and radio ...
Normally, conservatives are also people who believe in accountability. We start with proposition that humans are responsible moral actors, and we believe that behavior has consequences. So why don't we hold power plants accountable for their emissions?
According to a study by Abt Associates in 2004, small particulates from coal-fired plants cause 23,600 premature deaths in the U.S. annually, 21,850 hospital admissions, 26,000 emergency room visits for asthma, 38,200 heart attacks that are not fatal, and 3,186,000 lost work days.
Because conservatives know that there's no such thing as a free lunch, we know that we're paying for those deaths and illnesses. We pay for them through government programs for the poor and elderly, and when the costs of the uninsured are shifted onto the insured. We pay all right, but just not at the electric meter.
We pay the full cost of petroleum in hidden ways, too. We pay to protect the supply lines coming out of the Middle East through the blood of the country's best and though the treasure that comes from our taxes or, worse, from deficit financing. We pay in the risk to our national security. We pay the cost of lung impairments when the small-particulate pollution comes from tailpipes just like we pay when the small particulates come from power plants. We just don't pay at the pump.
What if we attached all of the costs -- especially the hidden costs -- to all fuels? What if we believed in accountability? What if we believed in the power of free markets?
If we did, the price of gasoline and coal-fired electricity would rise significantly, but hidden costs paid in hidden ways would decline commensurately. If we simultaneously eliminated all subsidies, we'd unleash real competition among all fuels. Markets would powerfully deliver solutions. New power turbines would come to market that remove the sulfur and the mercury from coal before combustion, burning only the hydrogen. Emission-free nuclear power plants would be built. Electric cars would rapidly penetrate the market -- not because of clumsy government mandates or incentives, but because sharp entrepreneurs would be selling useful products to willing customers awakened by accountable pricing.
The solution to our energy and climate challenge can be found in the conservative concept of accountability and in a well-functioning free-enterprise system. We conservatives just need to believe that."
by Alexei Laushkin
It's a common question when one leaves college or home for the first time and suprisingly does not get much clearer or easier as time goes on. It's a question we all muddle through together. Thankfully, in light of scripture the question becomes a lot clearer. We are to be about forming the character of Christ in our lives.
This is certainly true of our ministry focus at EEN. As a ministry we seek not the simple growth of the church but growth coupled with deepth. We want to lay aside the course of the world that so easily entangles us into the patterns of culture. To help embody and set forth the biblical vision for tending this world that God made. "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles" (Hebrews 12:1).
God is calling us into something more. He is calling us into a deep call of obedience and an obedience that leads to an abundant life. Jesus is calling us towards not simply right thinking but right living. He is transforming our character to Christ's. As John Stott put it "Christlikeness is the purpose of God for the people of God."