Here are some news notes, announcements, advances, seminars, summaries of developments, and other green items of interest.
Global warming data confirmed
The New York Times (Oct. 20, 2011) has reported that scientists from the University of California Berkeley have confirmed the controversial data concerning global warming. For a video charting the rise in the earth's temperature since 1950 by about 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit and other data, visit the university's website.
This announcement would seem to add relevancy to "A Pastoral Teaching from the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church," issued from Quito, Ecuador in Sept. 2011. In part, the Episcopal Bishops wrote:
"Christians cannot be indifferent to global warming, pollution, and natural resource depletion, species extinctions, and habitat destruction, all of which threaten life on our planet. Because so many of these threats are driven by greed, we must also actively seek to create more compassionate and sustainable economies that support the well-being of all God's creation."
Some of the material in this letter is credited to the Episcopal Bishops of New England letter of 2003, "To Serve Christ in All Creation." This letter was published and extracts have been cited frequently in St. Andrew's "Messenger," and the book has been available to our parishioners.
The online "Forum on Religion and Ecology" carried the news clip, and provided a web site for the complete Bishops' pastoral letter. --John Fuller
Adopt sustainable standards for your
next St. Andrew's event
To help us to host more environmentally-friendly events, the Green Church team has drafted a set of guidelines (PDF document) for anyone in the church to follow for any event.
Based on Yale University's Sustainable Event guidelines, event planners commit to a range of activities such as recycling, serving local and/or organic foods, reducing waste by eliminating single-serving packaging, and using durable goods. They also may elect to eliminate unnecessary paper with electronic communications and suggesting parishioners bring their own reusable mugs.
In April, St. Andrew's youth hosted a pancake breakfast using these new guidelines. As the Sunday closest to Earth Day, they thought this would be a great way to show their commitment to the environment and follow up on what they learned in January's Trash Audit. Watch for announcements and look for signage on how we can all help to achieve sustainable event goals!
CT Home Energy Program
In E. W. Hornung's long forgotten suspense novel, The Camera Fiend, 1911, the sinister Dr. Baumgartner's photographic darkroom has a door-size ruby glass window which casts an ominous red glow throughout the lab.
I was reminded of this image when a CT Home Energy contractor framed our front entrance with a red translucent covering to measure air infiltration into the house. There was, however, nothing fictional or suspenseful about this worthwhile project which is subsidized by the Connecticut Energy Efficiency Fund.
The testing, costing the homeowner only $75, provides not only information about energy efficiency, but includes valuable services and materials.
For example, the technician insulated nine feet of hot water pipe, caulked a number of air leaks, and weather-stripped several doors. The package also included two of the improved shower-heads and replacement of most incandescent bulbs with the new warm compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs).
A Wall Street Journal article of June 1, 2011, indicates that CFLs are an interim solution, saving 75% energy over incandescent bulbs. The future is probably with Light Emitting Diode (LED) bulbs, but their present cost is a deterrent.
For information on this home energy program, phone: 1-877-WISE USE or online.
Plans for our greening our church
Download this PowerPoint presentation to get an overall look at St. Andrew's goals for greening the church, the community, and our homes as well as the concept and application of eco-spirituality in our lives. Don't have the PowerPoint Viewer? Download it free from Microsoft for your PC. the viewer is not readily available for Mac users.
Three major goals of the St. Andrew's environmental steering committee include:
♦ Based on our faith principles, we will expand our understanding of how to respond to urgent environmental issues.
♦ We will create an environmental stewardship model that will distinguish St. Andrew's in the community and potentially draw new members.
♦ Through this ministry, we will reach out to the community beyond our walls and demonstrate environmental leadership.
We will encourage the Preschool to adopt best practices of St. Andrew's and seek to support their green activities already in place.
This annotated list of green links will take you to websites featuring stories, videos, tips, tools, spirituality, and more. Check these out.
1. The National Geographic Society's "Green Guide" is an outstanding website with articles, tips, and especially videos on topics such as "Environmental Churches," explaining fuel cells, solar power, etc.
2. The Nature Conservancy notes the following: "…In 2004, the United States emitted 7074-million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent green house gases." You can calculate your own "carbon footprint," by going to The Nature Conservancy web page and searching for: "Carbon Calculator."
4. The Rev. Canon Sally Bingham, Episcopal Cathedral, San Francisco, is a leader of The Regeneration Project and Interfaith Power and Light, an interfaith ecology movement. There is a chapter in Connecticut. The website features "Renewal," a video which has been previewed at a St. Andrew's coffee hour. This is another "must visit" website.
For more information about this page contact John Fuller, Brenda Naegel, or Terry Sinclair through St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, 232 Durham Road, Madison CT 06443,
Telephone: 203 245-2584, or send us an e-mail.
Green Sabbath—Brenda Naegel
“Green Lady” “Tree Hugger” “Environmental Expert” To my surprise and mild amusement, these are all names that I’ve been called lately. The reality is that I struggle with being “green” as much as the next person. But, what really helped me to get started making changes was the act of taking an online pledge at Yale last spring along with hundreds of students, faculty and staff. The pledge asked questions about one’s current lifestyle and then asked for a commitment to live more sustainably.
While I have pledged to live more lightly on the planet in some very specific ways, the changes that I’ve managed to pull off have actually been relatively easy and comparatively inexpensive. Initially, some required thought and research, but mostly they were about making little switches and then remembering to follow through. (You know, like changing from one light bulb to another or from one type of bag that I carry my groceries home in to another.) I have to admit though, I have come to a crossroad and now I’m not finding it as easy or inexpensive to do more. So, what’s it going to take to get moving again and start working on the harder stuff. I’m hoping that a strong faith community called “St. Andrew’s” is willing to step out in faith and take the journey with me!
There are wonderful resources available to us in the Episcopal Church
St. Andrew's involvement with Uganda, often turns my attention to sub-Saharan Africa. So, after hearing Wangari Maathai of Kenya describe her book, Replenishing the Earth, on Tavis Smiley's public radio show last November, I decided to read it. The author, a Nobel Peace Laureate, founded the Green Belt Movement (GBM) in 1977 to promote reforestation and to empower women of Africa.
Trained in biology and veterinary medicine, Maathai combines pragmatic, scientific knowledge of the environment with spiritual values which embrace her own Roman Catholicism as well other belief systems. Today, the GBM has thousands of networks, and she serves as a United Nations Messenger of Peace.
Uses of a Felled Tree
In Chapter Two, "The Wounds," Dr. Maathai shows the complexity of environmental problems as ancient traditions and forests give way to progress. She travels in the Congo Basin where she is greeted by natives and a representative of a timber company that strives for good forestry management. She watches as a 70-foot tree is felled and learns that it is economically feasible to use only 35% of the tree for lumber; the remainder is relegated to a brick making kiln or else burned for charcoal.
Scientists have called the Congo the "world's second lung," next to the Amazon, for these forests absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen in huge, life sustaining quantities. The Congo natives, for whom the forest is home, actively pursue charcoal production to provide fuel and basic sustenance. This burning causes massive pollution, soil erosion from loss of trees, and creeping desertification.
View from Space
This snapshot view from ground level is augmented with an account of Commander Eileen Collins returning from outer space in August 2005, when she viewed "massive burning" and deforestation in Central Africa. Her puzzled response--"I'm not sure why they do that?"--becomes a recurring question throughout the book. Maathai poetically describes the scene as "one great mantle of sorrow hanging over the African continent."
Both perspectives, ground and aerial views, involve days and minutes, but then the author switches to an infinite perspective involving eons and concisely summarizes the big bang and the subsequent millions of years to the early human presence on earth. Thousands of years later, the writers of ancient sacred scriptures speak of "majesty and awe," a response shared by some cosmonauts and astronomers.
The sub-title of this book is "Spiritual Values for healing Ourselves and the World," and to achieve this goal the Green Belt Movement (GBM), founded by Wangari Maathai, holds four core values, the first two of which are: "Love for the Environment" and "Gratitude and respect for Earth's resources."
Given the exploitation of sub-Saharan Africa's resources, the author, a native of Kenya, could be excused if this book were simply a rant delivered with clenched fist, but the core values just mentioned preclude an angry diatribe, and this refreshing approach gives the book its charm and power. By enlisting thousands of women to help plant trees, and thus combat soil erosion, the GBM aims for its third core value: "Self-empowerment and self-betterment."
Need for Balance
To mend the massive wounds inflicted on the earth since the Industrial Revolution, Maathai feels there must be a balance between the technological/scientific view and the older "forms of wisdom and experience" which have largely been sidetracked by the momentum of progress. As she recalls how her Kikuya people once practiced a form of agroforestry, she also notes how Christian architecture often expresses the idea of trees as shelter.
GBM and the Kenyan Army
Maathai is not trying to return to some imaginary past, and she expresses gratitude for scientific advancements in curbing disease. She anchors idealism with concrete examples such as the economically advantageous approach of planting trees along a river bank rather than clearing mangoes for a shrimp farm. Both the GBM and the Kenyan Army work together to educate people about trees preventing soil erosion, as they both realize that desertification is as dangerous as any enemy. No sentimental tree hugging here.
Last month's green column forgot Earth Day, April 22nd, but The Rev. Canon Sally Bingham's website "Interfaith Power and Light" had planned for this occasion with a program called "Sow a Cool Harvest," which involves "faith garden ideas for a cooler planet." This noted Episcopal environmentalist notes that about 1/5th of global warming pollution is related to the food industry. The kit, available to congregations, is aimed to promote "climate-friendly food choices."
Even if you don't plant a garden, the kit and DVD offer ideas such as hosting a farmers' market or gathering healthy food for redistribution. For more information check out Interfaith Power and Light; search for "Cool Harvest."
In thinking of Earth, the Episcopal Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York will hold the Summer Solstice Celebration at 4:30 a.m. on Saturday, June 16th. The Paul Winter Consort, which has performed at the Cathedral for 17 years will create spontaneous music to mark the longest day of the year in this largest cathedral in the world.
Jazz musician Paul Winter comments on the Summer solstice: "It is a serenely powerful time in which the beauty of the natural world can infuse our spirit, bring us alive to the present, and perhaps awaken a deeper sense of the relatedness to the community of life, to the Earth, and to the cosmos."
While itís unlikely this writer will be present for that early morning event, nevertheless, it is inspiring to know that such contemporary artistic expression takes place within the Episcopal Church. St. John the Divine's website is well worth checking for ideas and spiritual expression both traditional and contemporary.
Vatican Issues Major Report on Science of Climate Change
Yesterday, a working group of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, one of the oldest scientific institutes in the world, issued a sobering report on the impacts for humankind as a result of the global retreat of mountain glaciers as a result of human activity leading to climate change. In their declaration, the working group calls, "on all people and nations to recognize the serious and potentially irreversible impacts of global warming caused by the anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases and other pollutants, and by changes in forests, wetlands, grasslands, and other land uses." They echoed Pope Benedict XVIís 2010 World Day of Peace Message saying, "...if we want justice and peace, we must protect the habitat that sustains us." For full story.
What's with the weather?
Unless you display a "Think Snow" bumper sticker, you probably have welcomed the unusually mild winter, while recognizing that parts of Europe have experienced devastating snowfalls and frigid temperatures.
In an attempt to make sense of such weather extremes, Clayton Sandell on ABC News for Feb. 8, 2012, featured "Global Warming: Like 'Weather on Steroids.' " Here, a short video cartoon makes an analogy between baseball players on steroids and adding greenhouse gases to the atmosphere.
Itís tempting to dismiss such light treatment of serious subjects and quote Alexander Pope: "A little learning is a dangerous thing..." But, this is more than entertainment, and David Hosansky of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) expands on this complex, confusing, and often controversial subject.
Hosansky notes, "We were convinced that these different messages could confuse the public and leave the people thinking that we just canít connect the dots. And in fact, a lot of the dots are being connected."
So, here is the video cartoon. Check it out and "drink deep" on environmental issues.