Author: Shannon M.D. Smith

KARENNA GORE ON THE MORAL FIGHT AGAINST CLIMATE CHANGE

Flashback to 2018… Karenna Gore interviewed by LINYEE YUAN.

LinYee Yuan is the founder and editor of MOLD. Through original reporting, MOLD explores how designers can address the coming food crisis by creating products and systems that will help feed 9 billion people by the year 2050.

“When we frame [climate change] as a moral and spiritual problem, it’s about caring for the most vulnerable, and it’s also about our own integrity. Are we able to look at the real costs? Just because costs aren’t measured does not mean they don’t exist.” – CEE Director, Karenna Gore

Read the full article here…

Catherine Coleman Flowers: A Rosa Parks Day “Catalyst for Change”

At the Rosa Parks Commemoration in Huntsville, AL guest speaker Catherine Coleman Flowers, CEE’s Senior Fellow, spoke on how Environmental Justice and Climate Change are Civil Rights issues. Catherine was among those honored as a “Catalyst for Change” including the youth winners of the “I am Rosa Parks” essay contest.

The Commemoration was celebrated over many days and included the keeping open of the first seat on every bus, voter registration hours and the Declaration of Rosa Parks Day – December 2nd. Visit the Rosa Parks Day Huntsville/Madison County facebook page for more photos and videos from the event!

Watch Video of Catherine speaking at the event with many thanks to the League of Women Voters of the Tennessee Valley.

Read the Transcript below:

“The environmental issues are human and civil rights issues because there primarily – you see the people on the front lines are people of color, are people that are marginalized.  I had the opportunity to go West Virginia and I saw in West Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee I saw white people there reminded me of people in Lowndes County – they were poor.  Some of them were still using outhouses and that was recently.  That was part of the new Poor Peoples Campaign.

I had the opportunity to go down to Cancer Alley which is between New Orleans and Baton Rouge where multi-national corporations were allowed to come to the United States and poison the air and poison the water.

and on the way there I was riding with the General some of you know, who became well known because of Katrina, General Russell Honoré who is now an environmental activist.

and General Honoré was taking us there. We passed by plantations and sugar cane fields that were out there and these home were inhabited by people that were descendants of former slaves and they have some of the highest cancer rates in the country.

and if you go to East L.A. and find out where they are putting these oil rigs, they’re not putting the oil rigs where these wealthy homes are burning up every time there’s fires in California cause they’re dealing with issues too but they’re doing that because they can afford to be places where most people cannot afford to be and shouldn’t be there.

but in terms of East L.A. we see high asthma rates and a lot of illnesses associated with being near oil rigs.

It’s a human rights and a civil rights issue because that’s where these dirty plants are put, they are put in communities where people cannot speak for themselves because they are either poor, or they simply don’t care because they are people of color.

The reason that we should all be concerned about it – look at the movie Dark Waters. That community that DuPont poisoned was white.  It’s getting to the point now we have people in office that don’t care about environmental protection rules and after awhile it’s not going to stop –

Water doesn’t stay in one place – it moves!

And we’re seeing fishkills here in Alabama.  We’re seeing – I saw one story where in south Alabama divers were in Mobile Bay doing something there in the Mobile Bay and had to move to another area because the water’s contaminated.

I just shared an article on Facebook where on military bases now the water is contaminated.  I mean we have to all be concerned because if you don’t care about it being in Cancer Alley, if you don’t care about it being in Lowndes County, or the Mercury that’s poison, Uranium poisoning people in Navajo nation sooner or later if there are no rules in place we are all going to be suffering because we only have one world.  And I’d like to segue into something if I might.

It’s that one of the other issues that I’m very involved in is Climate Change.

The people that are suffering right now that are on the front lines are the poorest communities. In the black belt for an example, I know that Daniel Tate is here in the audience.

Daniel Tate, I know I’m getting ready to say something very unpopular, it’s something that we all need to be aware of.  All over the state of Alabama we have more sunshine than anywhere else but we have a tax on solar in this state that needs to be removed. (Read Catherine’s Op-Ed in the Montgomery Advertiser) People should have the right to control what they would put on their homes and they should be able to generate their own power.

And if we don’t do that, if we don’t switch to renewable energies and have a Green New Deal we are all going to suffer.

I think it’s ok for us to reflect and talk about the past, but I’m concerned about 7 generations to come. We keep doing what we’re doing right now and the Earth will not be able to be inhabitable by our great great great grandchildren and I’m very concerned about that.

We’re not a point in our lives right now where we can say “oh that’s happening in Lowndes County so I don’t care about that.”  We need to be concerned.

And if Jane Fonda who is on my board can get our there every Friday for #FireDrillFridays at the age of 82 because she has a 3 month old grandson… She’s concerned about her grandson’s future. I think we all need to take a stand

It shouldn’t just be the children – the child have always lead but it’s time for us to lead too and get out there and make sure that we become servant leaders.

And that we also make sure… my grandson about to graduate from Troy University about to graduate in Resource Management.

We have be concerned about 7 generations to come.”

Also read Catherine’s Op-Ed Alabama Voices: Two million Americans are in a water crisis; some of them are your neighbors.

————————————————————————————————————————

Catherine Coleman Flowers

Catherine Coleman Flowers is Senior Fellow of Environmental Justice and Civic Engagement at the Center for Earth Ethics as well as the director of the Center for Rural Enterprise and Environmental Justice.

Learn More about Catherine’s work…

 

NYC Climate Speaks Youth Program Applications Due January 17th!

Want to inspire action on climate change? Register today for Climate Speaks 2020!

Announcing Climate Speaks 2020, a creative writing and performance program.

Students, sign up here to participate!

Registration Deadline: January 17th, 2020

Free program, spots limited, registration required.

Phase 1: Jan.–March

Phase 2: March–April

Phase 3: April–May

Workshops

Competition (Optional)

Performance

All students participate in climate justice and creative writing workshops

Interested students receive training and mentoring and can compete for a chance to perform

Selected students continue collaborating with teaching artists before a series of performances

Climate Speaks 2020 – Flyer and Workshop Dates

Climate specialists & teaching artists help students hone their voice to confront the climate crisis.

Open to all h.s. students in NYC metro area – No experience necessary!

Click here for information on program structure, dates, and locations.

“I am so grateful to have had this opportunity. It was a huge confidence boost, and has opened up so many avenues of involvement in climate action.”

Jade, Climate Speaks 2019 Performer

Follow @climatespeaks and @climatemusem on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

For highlights from the 2019 program, visit climatespeaks.org or climatemuseum.org.


Climate Speaks is presented by the Climate Museum and the NYC Department of Education Office of Sustainability. The museum would like to give special thanks to Urban Word NYC, The New York Public Library, the Brooklyn Public Library, the DreamYard Project, Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Gardens, and the Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning.

Successful Seminar “Indigenous Knowledge for Integral Water Management in Latin America and the Caribbean”

Report on “Indigenous Knowledge for Integral Water Management in Latin America and the Caribbean ” Manaus, Brazil August 8-9 from CODIA.  CEE’s Mindahi Bastida was pleased to participate (see photo below).

CODIA, September 6, 2019

Within the framework of the International Day of Indigenous Peoples, UNESCO convened leaders from Panama, Guatemala, Ecuador, Mexico and Colombia, as well as local communities in Manaus around the Seminar “Indigenous Knowledge for Integral Water Management in Latin America and the Caribbean ”(Manaus, Brazil August 8-9). The meeting focused on the discussion about the sociocultural, technical, legal, economic and political aspects that the native peoples of the region have taken in the area of ​​water management. Organized by the International Hydrological Program (PHI) of UNESCO together with the UNESCO Office in Brasilia and Quito, the Conference of Ibero-American Water Directors (CODIA), the Agência Nacional de Águas (ANA), with the collaboration of the Organization of the Amazon Cooperation Treaty (ACTO).

With the participation of Mr. Oscar Cordeiro Netto, Director of the ANA; Mr. César de las Casas, Executive Director of OTCA; Fabio Eon (UNESCO Brasilia); Ms. Karla Bitar, Superintendent of the Amazon National Historical and Artistic Patrimony Institute (IPHAN AM); and Mrs. Marcivana Rodrigues Paiva, Coordinator of the Coordination of Indigenous Organizations of Amazônia Brasileira (COIAB), opened the seminar “Indigenous Knowledge for Integral Water Management in Latin America and the Caribbean” in Manaus, Brazil on the 8th of August at 9:00 a.m.

The Seminar was promoted within the framework of the International Day of Indigenous Peoples as an instance to exchange on the Sustainable Development Goals and their approach in relation to the knowledge of the native peoples about water management with the aim of generating recommendations for international agencies, UNESCO, indigenous peoples, around this theme.

The relationship between indigenous peoples and water resources inspires an approach to water as a human right and a common good, as well as providing the search for new technologies and forms of organization that guarantee water supply to the continent. The inclusion and knowledge of indigenous practices and techniques used in the resolution of water-related conflicts is often important as valuable knowledge for government organizations, businesses and civil society.

The event had a wide regional call through the honorable presence of the Secretary of Water (Ecuador), Mr. Humberto Cholango, and indigenous leaders linked to the management of water resources of Panama, Guatemala, Ecuador, Mexico and Colombia, professionals from the water sector of Peru and Chile as well as from local communities in Manaus. In addition, the UNESCO Chair in Water and Culture (UdelaR, Uruguay) and the UNESCO Chair in Sustainability of Water Resources (San Carlos de Guatemala) joined this initiative.


About CODIA

The Conference of Ibero-American Directors of Water emerges as a response to the mandate of the I Ibero-American Forum of Ministers of the Environment (Spain, 2001)  in order to create a forum in Latin America in which the those mainly responsible for water management in the region will participate.The main functions of CODIA are to act as a technical instrument to support the Forum and to examine and implement cooperative modalities in the area of ​​water resources. CODIA is made up of a total of 22 countries. 

Parenting in the Time of Climate Change Part I: Karenna Gore on Parenting Through Climate Anxiety

Cindy Wang Brandt interviewed CEE Director Karenna Gore on Parenting through Climate Anxiety as part of her series on Parenting Forward.   The author covers topics concerning raising spiritual children without trauma, re-examining faith with embodied values and concerns for a better future.

Show Description: “I talk with Karenna Gore, Director of the Center for Earth Ethics from Union Theological Seminary about climate justice, spirituality, and how to parent our children through climate anxiety. She talks beautifully about how the climate justice moment is clarifying our interconnectedness and how to find authentic community in the social movement for life. Lots of recommendations for more resources, see the links below. There’s really some deep wisdom in this episode all, don’t miss it!”  Listen…

Links (affiliates included):

Center for Earth Ethics – https://centerforearthethics.org

Karenna Gore on twitter – https://twitter.com/KarennaGore

The Blessing of a Skinned Knee – https://amzn.to/2QUUDnK

How to talk so kids will listen & listen so kids will talk – https://amzn.to/2XO5xgy

The Uninhabitable Earth – https://amzn.to/2DmAUpk

Global Weirding with Katharine Hayhoe – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCi6RkdaEqgRVKi3AzidF4ow

Parenting Forward Conference Recordings – https://www.parentingforwardconference.com

Join us at the Parenting Forward Patreon Team – https://www.patreon.com/cindywangbrandt

Parenting Forward, the Book – https://amzn.to/2GB6eDB

CEE Fall 2019 Newsletter

Dear Friends,

In this week of Giving Thanks we invite you to join the Center for Earth Ethics in our aspirations and our successes towards a more just world. CEE Director Karenna Gore shares her personal experiences participating in the “Faith in Climate” interfaith event and youth side events of the Brazilian Climate Conference. We are also excited to share about our new affiliations with Columbia’s Earth Institute and consultative status through ECOSOC. There is something that happens in the work of Movement Building, a kind of alchemy that amplifies the work we do together. We hope this #GivingTuesday you will support us in that endeavor. As the legendary movement-builder and author of Pedagogy of the Oppressed Paolo Friere, also from Recife wrote: “It is necessary that the weakness of the powerless is transformed into a force capable of announcing justice.”

The Team at the Center for Earth Ethics


FIREDRILL FRIDAYS SNAPSHOT! 

CEE’s Catherine Flowers joined the 6th week of #FireDrillFriday marches for climate in Washington DC spearheaded by Actor and Activist, Jane Fonda. Also marching were Osprey Orielle Lake, Director of WECAN (Women’s Environmental and Climate Action Network) and Kari Ames and Adrien Nichol Lee, Tlingit delegation visiting DC advocating for the protection of nine million acres of Alaska’s rainforest.


Original Caretakers Update

Standing for the Amazon and Protecting Forests Worldwide:

CEE’s Mindahi Bastida and other members of the ‘Guardians of Mother Earth’ Alliance Advocate for the Recognition of Forests as Sanctuaries

  

Addressing Inter-Generational Trauma
Brings About Both Healing and Policy Change

In a multi-year relationship, CEE’s Original Caretakers Initiative worked with community members in St. Petersburg, FL. This year Mindahi Bastida joined them to celebrate Indigenous People’s Day with an OPEN conversation about Indigenous People’s rights, the consequences of the Doctrine of Discovery, original caretaker’s wisdom, history & connection to the land.


EJ&CE Update

Closing the Water Gap: Spotlight on Senior Fellow
Catherine Coleman Flowers

Access to clean water continues to be a top priority in human rights and environmental justice advocacy. Catherine Flowers is partnering locally and globally to bring about the awareness for the systemic changes we need.

This fall, Catherine launched CREEJ: the Center for Rural Enterprise and Environmental Justice whose mission is to reduce health and economic disparities and improve access to clean air, water, and soil in marginalized rural communities. CREEJ does this by influencing policy, inspiring innovation, catalyzing relevant research, and amplifying the voices of community leaders, all within the context of a changing climate.

In a November 2019 Op-Ed in the Montgomery Advertiser, Catherine and George McGraw wrote about the recent report released by DIGDEEP and the US Water Alliance on the emerging water crisis. Researchers found “there are at least two million Americans without hot and cold running water, a tap, shower, a working toilet, or basic wastewater service in their homes.”  Details of the report and what organizations like CREEJ are doing across the country, can be found here at Closing the Gap.


Sustainability & Global Affairs Update

Image result for ecosoc logo png"Center for Earth Ethics joins UN Consultative body via Union Theological Seminary and ECOSOC

 


CEE adds Earth Ethics lens to Advanced multi-disciplinary conversation on Global Sustainability at Columbia University’s Earth Institute

No photo description available.Image may contain: text, nature and outdoor


 


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CEE November Update and Upcoming Events

Dear Friends,

CEE Director, Karenna Gore participated in a landmark climate event just weeks ago in Recife, Brazil.  In the context of the Brazilian Conference on Climate Change, a historic meeting brought together Catholic, evangelical, Jewish, Afro-Brazilian and indigenous leaders, in an interfaith event, in defense of the environment in the oldest Synagogue of the Americas – Kahal Zur Israel. In the lead up to the event, Karenna was interviewed by Sérgio Xavier for Diario Pernambuco.  Please enjoy this enriching conversation on what exactly are Earth Ethics, the deepening value of inter-religious dialogue and our changing climate.

CEE has joined the many excellent organizations participating in #GivingTuesday this year. We invite you to join us and continue to support the evolution of our work. Also, please keep an eye out for our Fall Newsletter which we’ll send next week.

In Joy –
The Center for Earth Ethics Team


ANNOUNCEMENTS and UPCOMING EVENTS…


CEE’S Mindahi Bastida to attend COP 25
December 2-13, 2019 in Madrid, Spain

Learn More…

Photo of CEE’s Original Caretakers Program Director, Mindahi Bastida
on a panel at COP 24 in Katowice, Poland by Taiwan Youth Climate Coalition

***

CEE Readies for our first
West Coast Regional Minister’s Training!
December 2019

CEE’s Andrew Schwartz and Genie Cooper will join with the Climate Reality Project, Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon, and Claremont School of Theology to host the training of faith leaders in Oregon.
Stay tuned for reports!
***

Union Theological Seminary Scholar in Residence and CEE Original Caretakers Fellow Geraldine Ann Patrick Encina will join the Brooklyn Public Library’s Series on Climate for
Parenting in the Age of Climate Change‘ this Wednesday, November 20th, 7 – 8:30 pm.

 


 

The Center for Earth Ethics is pleased to announce we are co-sponsoring a new series
Climate Commitments Project: Global Conversations.
The first conversation is scheduled for December 5th, 10:30 am CST / 11:30 EST.
Please Register

 

 

 


 

CEE’s Director Karenna Gore to give Keynote Address at
Mount Sinai School of Medicine 2nd Annual Climate Conference in 2020


 

Karenna Gore participates in interfaith climate event in Recife

Originally published in Portuguese

DIÁRIO DE PERNAMBUCO – 8NOV19
Interview with Karenna Gore
By: Sérgio Xavier

STILL INCONVENIENT TRUTHS
Karenna Gore participates in interfaith event about the climate in Recife and talks about the global challenges of sustainable development

Reversing environmental degradations on planetary scales, containing global
warming and eliminating immense inequalities are 21st century challenges that require the utmost of human wisdom in politics, economics, culture and spirituality. When imagination and high spirits are lacking in pragmatic processes, religiosity can be a source of inspiration to join forces and open new paths. This Friday (8), in the context of the Brazilian Climate Change Conference, a historic meeting will unite Catholic, Evangelical, Jewish, Afro-Brazilian and Indigenous leaders in a multi-religious event, in defense of the environment at the oldest Synagogue of the Americas – Kahal Zur Israel (2 pm) and at the SinsPire Hub (4 pm), in Recife Antigo.

“Faith in the Climate” event will feature Rabbi Nilton Bonder; Father Fábio Santos, coordinator of the Commission for Ecumenism of the Catholic Church of Pernambuco; Pastor Paulo César Pereira, president of the Alliance of Baptist Churches; Mother Beth de Oxum, Ialorixá from the terreiro (meeting place) Ilê Axé Oxum Karê and Jaqueline Xukuru, from the Xukuru indigenous community (Serra do Ororubá, Pesqueira – PE).

The event is a co-hosting of Centro Brasil no Cima (CBC), the Institute for Religious Studies (ISER), the Faith in Climate initiative and the Climate and Society Institute (ICS), with the support of the Israelite Federation of Pernambuco (FIPE), chaired by Sônia Sette.

The schedule, mediated by environmentalist Alfredo Sirkis, will be attended by Karenna Gore, director of Center for Earth Ethics (USA), graduated in history and literature by Harvard University, daughter of former vice president of the United States, Al Gore, who has intense international environmental activism. Karenna works with ecumenical mobilization in defense of climate balance and in this exclusive interview, synthesizes the importance of connecting material and immaterial dimensions in the search for consistent solutions to the great problems of humanity.

Sérgio Xavier – Special for the Diário de Pernambuco
Q: Does planet Earth have a natural ethic that can be perceived, learned and practiced by humanity in the construction of a righteous and sustainable civilization?

Karenna Gore – Yes. Ethics is a field of fundamental values. It becomes especially important when laws and social norms are out of sync with issues of moral conscience. For example, this happened in relation to the end of the horrible institution of slavery. More and more influential people began to think about it through an ethical or moral lens, rather than a purely utilitarian economic lens. In the case of planet Earth, the activities that are degrading and destroying the biosphere are legal and in line with social norms. However, more and more people realize that this system has come into conflict with ethical concerns about the most vulnerable people among us – and also in conflict with the laws of nature. We can perceive, learn, and practice natural ethics by observing and aligning ourselves with the laws of nature, whether we conceive them as science or as God’s sacred creation, or both. If we want to build a just and sustainable civilization, we must measure the impacts of big decisions on three voiceless groups in decision making: poor and marginalized peoples, future generations, and non-human life. If we pay attention to these categories, health will improve for all of us.

Q: The first challenge to avoid climate change is to convince people, companies and governments to change their perceptions and attitudes towards the environment. How does the Center for Earth Ethics work in this context?

The Center for Earth Ethics unites the worlds of academia, religion, politics and culture. We believe that scientific data is important, but we also know that this climate crisis is about value perception, moral obligations to others, and courage to change. If logic and reason were enough, we would not be in this terrible emergency. Many people have been educated to believe that humans are separate and superior to the rest of the natural world and, therefore, society can spew as much air pollution as we want, without any effect. But the truth is more beautiful and interesting than that – we are connected to the
whole network of life. Our bodies are created from the Earth – air, water, iron and much more. We have massively signed an insane accounting scheme that does not recognize the real costs of the fossil fuel extraction economy. The Center for Earth Ethics wants to help look at the deeper reality of long-term value, far beyond the current price landscape. Therefore, we work with education, offering workshops on topics such as: Religion and
Climate Change; Beyond GDP; How to measure a successful society; Indigenous voices on colonization, ecology and spirituality; Rights of nature…

What are the relationships between environmental crisis and spirituality?

A root cause of the environmental crisis is the illusion that humans are separated from nature and can treat all elements and other living beings as objects, resources or properties. A theologian I like, Thomas Berry, taught that we should see that “the universe is a communion of subjects, not a collection of objects”. This sense of communion is spiritual.

Q: Nature (sky, water, forests, animals, land, humans) is the visible face of the Gods of various religions. Therefore, polluting and degrading ecosystems is disrespecting and attacking Gods. Why do most people worship and respect Gods, but do not care for and respect nature?

There is some history of defining monotheistic religions against animist – or “pagan” – traditions that see nature as having personality and divinity. I think that in some parts of the world, including the Americas, a historical fear and contempt for animist traditions are responsible for a part of the inability to translate religiosity into a truly respectful care for nature. This has also been exploited by those who wage cultural wars for political reasons. There is hope, however, especially because of how innate and natural it is for children to love nature in a genuine way.

Q: To reverse global warming and mitigate climate change, innovation is essential. How can traditional religions drive creative changes in politics, economics and technology?

Traditional religions and interfaith dialogue can help promote the creativity and innovation we need to make changes and solve the climate crisis. There is rich cultural knowledge and historical memory in religious communities. They were forged in a time prior to ingrained dependence on fossil fuels and can help us remember deeper values and more sustainable lifestyles. They can also serve as a force contrary to some prevailing messages of contemporary society, which confuse monetary wealth with virtue.

Q: The urgency to reverse global warming requires immediate and large-scale action on all continents. Is interfaith dialogue an effective strategy to accelerate the mobilization of humanity?

Diversity always encourages creativity and spiritual diversity in Brazil is a huge force. Interfaith dialogue can help discern essential common values and reveal how many different colorful ways can be expressed. Some of these common values are caring for the poor and vulnerable; the importance of community at the expense of competitive individualism; respect for ancestors and future generations; and a sense of the sacred that must be protected from sale and corruption. In fact, not all religious leaders or institutions fulfill these values, but interfaith dialogue can help discern a purer expression of them, as well as to celebrate the aspirations we have in common. Mobilization comes from inspiration and also from necessity. Some people still deny the urgency and severity of the climate crisis, but there is something that will touch them or move them environmentally. We need all the ancient wisdom we can get to meet this challenge.

Faced with fake news and the denial of climate science, how can interfaith dialogue bring us closer to the truth and inspire actions in defense of peace and life?

Interfaith dialogue can show that morality is not simply a matter of following a doctrine or spiritual leader but is a deeper conviction.

In the age of digital networks how can journalism make truths more attractive and more convenient?

In the digital age, journalists can raise voices of people who are suffering the impacts of pollution, deforestation and climate change. In addition, they can show solutions, especially those to live in balance with nature, demonstrating the way forward.

Q: The construction of a sustainable, peaceful, culturally diverse and poverty-free civilization depends on material and immaterial developments. Your father, Al Gore, was notable for articulating political, economic and technological solutions to reverse global warming. You are dedicated to interfaith dialogue and the development of spirituality. Is it possible to integrate the material and the immaterial by creating a new biocentric, collaborative and spiritualized economy?

The relationship between matter and spirit is a timeless and fascinating investigation. Even after so much time and so many approaches, it seems that we have not solved it yet! Of course, mystery is part of beauty. The legacy of dualistic thinking, which holds that matter and spirit are separated, is very present in the mentality of climate denial. In this regard, I believe there is some healing power in the syncretic traditions that have mixed the indigenous traditions in an artistic and graceful way and the dominant religions of the world, such as Christianity. There is also a new kind of denial, based on the idea that we don’t need to worry about that crisis, because technology will save us somehow. Of course, it is related to what Pope Francis called the technocratic paradigm in our society. I believe we need to question this paradigm and invest more time and energy to reconnect with nature. One benefit of this is that it is better for human health because, after all, we are nature and our species evolved in conditions that were more synchronized with natural rhythms and cycles. Anxiety and depression epidemics can be related to disconnection from nature at various levels. Certainly, the climatic disturbances of the planet are related to the fact that human societies are at war with the laws of nature. At the same time, we need innovative technologies. If we are connected to the deepest sense of ourselves and the ultimate meaning of life, changes can be lasting and have integrity. Material and immaterial are related and can support each other if we reconnect.

President Trump announced this week the formal departure of the Paris Agreement. 25 U.S. governors, from the US Climate Alliance, are making opposite movements, similar to the “Governors for the Climate” initiative in Brazil, which has the participation of Governor Paulo Câmara. With its innovative capacity, the United States would gain much more by leading the transition to the new low-carbon economy. How to convince President Trump to change his mind?

“We Are Still In” movement is very important in the US. There is action and momentum from many subnational actors and also from community movements. We cannot be distracted by the forces of absurdity, no matter how highly placed they are temporarily in our own government.

Leading ecological movements requires giving examples and showing that it is possible to change behavior and consumption. What material and immaterial examples from your daily life can be inspiring for other people who want to contribute to climate sustainability?

One tactic of those who want to prevent us from changing and avoid mass ecological destruction is to criticize the messengers. They focus on individual human beings, who are imperfect, and do not deal with the crisis. Change needs to occur at many levels at once – individual, community and large-scale change. The latter is the most important, but individuals can give examples. I appreciate how Greta Thunberg does this and, of course, the traditional indigenous leaders who have lived low-impact lifestyles for millennia. They are important leaders in ecological and climate justice. For my part, I have little to brag about – I rarely eat meat, try to fly less, I am conscious as a consumer, try not to waste energy – I use renewable sources in my home and at work – and so on. But I know that I am part of a high-consumption sector of human society, responsible for this crisis. So, I think the most important thing I can do is to raise the voices of people on the front lines and advocate for systemic change.

CEE’s Karenna Gore at Interfaith Ceremony for Climate at Kahal Zur Israel – Recife, Brazil

Karenna Gore, Director of Center for Earth Ethics, will join Catholic, Evangelical, Jewish, Afro-Brazilian and Indigenous Leaders to Host a Multi-Religious Event for Climate Protection at the Americas’ Oldest Synagogue, Kahal Zur Israel, in Recife, Brazil on Friday, November 8, at 2:30 pm, on Bom Jesus street, near Marco Zero, in the historic center of Recife.

The event will take place in the context of the Brazilian Climate Change Conference, to be held in Recife, November 6-8, preparatory for the COP 25 climate conference, which will now be held in Madrid, from 2nd  to the 13th of December.

“Faith in the Climate” will feature Rabbi Nilton Bonder, who graduated from NYC’s Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS); Father Fábio Santos, coordinator of the Commission for Ecumenism of the Catholic Church of Pernambuco; Pastor Paulo César Pereira, President of the Alliance of Baptist Churches; Mother Beth de Oxum, Afro-Brazilian; and a representative of the indigenous nation of the Xukuru. 

The interfaith ceremony will be followed by debate with its protagonists at the neighboring SinsPire cultural center on Arsenal Square at 4 pm.

For the event in the synagogue, due to limited seats, please RSVP with full name and institution to [email protected] and wait for confirmation. At SinsPire, the debate is open to the public.

The event is a co-hosting of Centro Brasil no Cima (CBC), the Institute for Religious Studies (ISER), the Faith in Climate movement and the Climate and Society Institute (ICS) with the support of the Israelite Federation of Pernambuco (FIPE), chaired by Sônia Sette.

For more information:  [email protected], [email protected]

***

Simple Gifts for Mother Earth: A beautiful way to kick off Climate Week

On the eve of Climate Week we gathered in an historic meeting house church on the New Haven Green to center ourselves, align our intentions for the days ahead and to be reminded of why we gather at this time, and what’s at stake.

Invocation – Tiokasin Ghosthorse

What we are doing here is a good thing.  We must hold her in our arms… we drink her water which is the milk… we understand the Earth… we have understood for a long time… it has always been about the relationship with Her.  The rocks have a consciousness and intelligence, the fire has… the trees… the water… how do they live within us?  We are in this together .  This is who we are in a very practical and related way.  I want to invite Mother Earth here.  I’m here because She deserves to be first.

 

Inspired by the Universe’s Story

Mary Evelyn Tucker has been leading the call to education around climate conditions in the halls of our most hallowed institutions for decades. She directs the Forum on Religion and Ecology at Yale with her husband, John Grim.  She continues to call into focus the craftsmanship to articulate that which has never been before – across generational narratives and with a single aim – to appeal to our best selves and point them in the direction of healing and protecting our world.

Many cultures share a common theme in our origin stories that says we come from the stars.  Out of a super nova all the elements of our earth emerged and from that all life forms have actually been derived – the stars literally are our ancestors.  We reference Deep Time – the time of the cosmos – that has birthed life over billions of years.  It is ‘a story of magnificence’ but also a story that grounds us in a sense of our purpose because it raises the questions like all of the worlds religions do in their creation stories: Where have we come from ?  Why are we here? How do we belong?  And what is our work?

Mary Evelyn Tucker points us to Thomas Berry, and that he would say – ‘We have a Great Work.  We have work to be done at this particular moment in human history.’  A work to be done, a “Functional Cosmology”.  The story of magnificence of life that invokes in us a sense of awe and wonder, a trait of the monastic and contemplative life, and yet that we also have a responsibility for it.

And perhaps this is the same calling our youth are responding to – the youth of the sunrise movement at Yale and around the country.  A calling to protect that which we are in awe of from the Grand Canyon, to the flight of a honey bee, to complex opening of each and every flower.

The sense of awe and appreciation for nature is deeply rooted in our sense of faith in traditions around the world.  It is our job to appeal to our highest selves, to restore value to our sense of awe at the beauty in nature and the fundamental order of its construct as it is expressed through science and spirituality.

We are called to seize the moment to give our all… Simple Gifts for Mother Earth.  May our words and music tonight bring inspiration to the great work ahead.

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Music as Meditation

The legendary Paul Winter offered us a few minutes, an interlude.  This window was an invitation to remember nature and the beauty in it, as well as the beauty it inspires in art and how art can inspire us to protect nature.  Mr. Winter performed the Song of the Wood Thrush.  It alternates the sound of flute, with the actual birdsong.  He explained each wood thrush has a four note song.  At the time he conceived the collaboration, the species was endangered.  He feared our children would never know the beauty of the song unless he made this recording.  His commitment led to the saving of some 515 acres of their woodland territory.

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There is an order to things.  A sense of natural law that when one is abiding by it miracles seems to unfold.  We track this through patterns in nature.  We observe the Fibonacci sequence mathematically reoccurring throughout nature.  And there is an order to our societal needs as well.  We can measure this only by our joy, the alleviation of suffering and the relief of when agreed upon outer reality seems to match our inner reality.

What the Great Work teaches us through the lens of Earth Ethics, is that through a series of acknowledgements a certain kind of work gets done.  One that brings cohesion and aligns principles.  It can even lead us to consensus, at times without us even realizing it.

This series of acknowledgements includes acknowledgement of first nations presence, existence, and wisdom

acknowledgement of the miracle that is life in all its forms and its right to live without fear or threat

acknowledgement of the rights of future generations to public space, clean air and clean water

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The Youth and the Community are Speaking

We heard from several members of the Yale and New Haven Communities of projects, meetings, advocacy groups and opportunities to be involved in the work of spreading awareness, raising funds, securing divestment and on it goes.

Adrian Huq is a high school senior at Metropolitan Business Academy in New Haven who is passionate about sustainability and climate activism. They have been working with Elm Energy Efficiency Project since last year to educate their school community on energy efficiency, and also serve on New Haven Climate Movement’s Youth Action Team.

Ms. Huq joyfully announced from the pulpit that the Board of Alders in New Haven unanimously declared a climate emergency the Tuesday night preceding our event.  They ordered the creation of a new Climate Emergency Mobilization Task Force charged with leading the push to end community-wide greenhouse gas emissions in a decade.

They unanimously recommended approval of an amended version of a climate emergency resolution that was drafted and proposed by Westville Alder Darryl Brackeen, Jr. and that has been supported for months by a youth-led coalition of environmental activists called the New Haven Climate Movement.

 

Doing the Work and Bringing it Home

CEE Director Karenna Gore spoke at length from the scholastic work of Earth Ethics on economics and the illusion of externalities, on data, the realities of environmental injustice, on the theology of “structural evil”, “the cultic commitment to greed”, and the simple clarifying point made by Oscar Wilde that ‘a cynic is someone who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing’.  And with the evidence presented, we return to our purpose, to prepare to walk into the streets.

In closing … she offered…

“I want to invoke the words on the beautiful flyer for this event—“how can we mobilize action for the climate emergency?” As we have heard, on September 20th, there will be a climate strike led by Greta and other youth activists. I hope to see each of you out there in some way- and lets commit to getting a few more to join us – and let’s make sure that they are all registered to vote while we are at it. And let us also fund those communities who are fighting fossil fuel expansion projects in their own communities and stand with them however we can.

The challenge of climate justice is also a great gift. Mother Earth has given us the gift of the laws of nature and the ability to learn them from experience and align with them. It is our gift back to her to show we understand, to simply agree to behave as if we belong here.”

And out into the streets we go…

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Full Transcript of “The Challenge of Climate Justice”, Karenna Gore

Simple Gifts for Mother Earth

It is an honor for me to be here with these powerful voices in this beautiful sanctuary- thank you Pastor Jocelyn for welcoming us here at the United Church on the Green. I want to say thank you to the other speakers—it was wonderful to hear from the New Haven community climate activists and just as Mary Evelyn spoke of “connecting the dots,” we at Center for Earth Ethics want to connect to what you are all doing. And also thanks especially to these phenomenal musicians what an honor and pleasure to be in the presence of such a great artist as you, to hear and absorb the meaning in your music. 

And to Mary Evelyn Tucker and John Grim, I cannot say enough thanks for your guidance and example. I entered this field through conversations with Mary Evelyn and John- and through working alongside them to understand that the bridge between scholarship and activism is important to build and maintain and also that there is a flowing river of– the cultures and stories and though forms that shape our behaviors, the very essence of our perception of this life we are in together. The Yale Forum on Relgion and Ecology is simply extraordinary, as a resource, a platform and an example.  I’m honored to be here with you all and grateful to you always.

The UN Climate Summit is upon us. Five years ago, we hosted a gathering called Religions for the Earth on the occasion of the 2014 Climate Summit called by then SG Ban ki Moon. On the day our conference opened, an essay was published in the journal Science, co-authored by an economist and a climate scientist, that expressed the need for religious leaders to come forward to help because all the decades of research and analysis and reports were not even making a dent. They wrote: “Over and above the institutional reforms and policy changes that are required, there is a need to reorient our attitude towards nature and thereby ourselves.” And so this work tonight- simple gifts to Mother Earth- is as practical as it is profound- and it is essential to facing this climate emergency.

Science and economics and data are important but they have not been enough. We know that one half of the global warming pollution in the atmosphere now has been put up there in the last 25 years, the time in which the harm has been most known. In that time we have also lost vast swaths of forests that serve as carbon sinks. Even with the increasing readiness and viability of clean renewable energy, about 80% of the world’s energy still now comes from fossil fuels. We see the impacts- the Bahamas is the latest field of devastation in the stronger storms, wildfires, droughts, floods that plague us.

We know the urgency to drastically reduce greenhouse gases. The IPCC gave us a window of twelve years that we entered over a year ago, to dramatically change our ways to cut global warming emissions in order to keep the warming of our planet to 1.5 degrees Celsius, which is 2.7 degrees F. These numbers might seem small but we know a degree can be the difference between ice an water- it can make all the difference to the web of life we live within. CO2 must fall nearly 45% from 2010 levels by 2030 and we must halt the release of methane (the primary component of what is known as “natural gas,”) which is up to 80 times more heat-trapping that CO2 over a 20 year period. 

And yet, the US is set to double down on carbon intensive energy. USA Today had an article Monday citing 277 fracked gas power plants planned for construction. This administration is rolling back regulations on methane emissions, and even the fuel efficiency standards of automobiles- against the wishes of major automakers. We know that the vast majority of known fossil fuel reserves must remain in the ground, and yet there is a desire to explore and drill for more. Not just anywhere- in cherished public lands and even in deeply sacred places- including in the Arctic, the sacred land of the Gwich’in, the caribou calving grounds that they have revered and cherished and protected for millennia. An article in the Guardian on September 5 citing a recent study by Carbon Tracker reported that “Since the start of last year, fossil fuel companies have spent billions on high-cost plans to extract oil and gas from tar sands, deepwater fields and the Arctic despite the risks to the climate.” And we know they spend millions on lobbying and misinformation as part of that effort. 

What could possibly be held up as the justification for increasing our use of fossil fuels at this time? Economic growth. Economic Development. The most persuasive argument that is ever made on the other side is that we need more fossil fuel extraction and burning in order to alleviate global poverty. 

But we know that is not real. The U.N. Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights, Philip Alston, issued a detailed report last month warning of a coming era of “climate apartheid” and clearly stating, with facts to back it up: “Climate change threatens to undo the last 50 years of progress in development, global health, and poverty reduction . . . It could push more than 120 million more people into poverty by 2030 and will have the most severe impact in poor countries, regions, and the places poor people live and work.” 

We must keep in mind something eco-theologian Cynthia Moe Lobeda has pointed out- building on the work of Larry Rasmussen and of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the great theologian who was executed by the Nazis in his effort to resist them in his native Germany. The point is that there is a kind of sin or evil that is structural, and one of the key characteristics of “structural evil” is that it easily masquerades as good. This is all too true of the structural evil we are dealing with today- fossil fuel development masquerades as good. A central part of the challenge of climate justice to understand, to educate, to lift up the voices on the frontlines of fossil fuel projects who are speaking from their own life experience. To see through the mask- to take off the mask.

Some champions of the current system simply say there is money to be made. I read a profile in the Financial Times on Sept 2 of an oil trader who was lauded as the best connected and most successful in the business. It opened with an account of him on the phone hearing a firsthand witness tell of the crude oil spilling out during the Exxon Valdez disaster of 1989—11 million gallons onto the pristine Alaskan coast- and the story tells of him breaking out in a huge grin, calling his clients to tell them gleefully,  “the price is going up.” This was not even presented as a negative story, but rather as a portrait of a genius at work, a master of our current system, and it reflects the reality of a deeply cynical mindset that has taken hold.

Oscar Wilde wrote that a cynic is someone who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing. The current system is based on a widespread cynical misperception. It is premised on an insane alternate reality and is hell bent on devouring everything of real value . . our air, land, water, communities, life itself, all for the sake of numbers on a balance sheet. The current economic paradigm- including the measurements used to judge how the “economy” is doing (such as GDP or the stock market snapshots)- does not count depletion of resources, pollution or inequitable distribution of wealth, even the fostering of illnesses and disease. These are all considered, in the language of economics, “externalities.” Now as the pace and scale of production and consumption increases and demands more land and fuel, there are some clarion voices of reason who come from outside this system. Chief Raoni Metuktire of the Kayapó people of the Amazon had an op-ed in the Guardian on Sept. 2 in which he made the observation: What you are doing will change the whole world and will destroy our home- and it will destroy your home too.”

Our economic, energy and environmental policies not rational- they are fanatical. Only a kind of misguided religious fervor could drive this sort of thinking. Rev William Barber II has spoken of a “cultic commitment to greed.” Don’t ever think that those who study and talk about faith are naïve or soft- those are the people who are most likely to know what is is we are dealing with here. Even just the underlying assumption that human beings are separate and superior from the rest of all life, that we are meant to dominate and control all of nature . . . this thinking is neither rational nor it is actually secular, even though it is secularized. It is an extremist distortion and manipulation of a religious claim. 

And this brings us back to the challenge of climate justice. In thinking about issue, I like to remember a construct offered by Henrik Grape of the Church of Sweden- that any decision making room about energy or climate should designate three empty chairs for those who are both most impacts and least likely to be part of the consciousness of decision making: the poor and marginalized peoples of the world, future generations, and all nonhuman life.  But to respect the term climate justice as it is most used in the climate justice movement- and leaving aside a longer conversation about whether the term “justice” is rooted in Abrahamic religious traditions in a way that might influence us to conceive of this situation in a certain way— I want to focus on the first of those chairs.

The legal scholar Maxine Burkett wrote a major piece in the Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review last year that argued that the climate crisis is “as much a socio-political phenomenon as a geophysical one.” She wrote: “In the United States, the field of climate justice has been concerned with the most vulnerable, as it explores the intersection of race, poverty, and climate change. Climate justice takes as a basic premise that the disadvantaged in the United States and the global South stand to suffer the risks of warming more severely than others” 

And of course, they are also the ones who have done the least to design, engage in or benefit from the system that is driving this destruction. We know that one face of climate justice is what we see in the Bahamas and before that in Puerto Rico and in Mozambique and countless other places. . .  we can see with our own eyes that the people who do not have monetary resources or ties to power are not able to flee or rebuild after this kind of devastation. A 2018 report by the World Bank estimated we will have 143 million migrants driven from their homes by climate impacts by the year 2050. One other rollback that this administration is proposing—as important to the notion of climate justice as the others- is to slash and even end the United States acceptance of refugees. The challenge of climate justice is in part to be sure that instead we welcome these migrants and also that we rebuild our own communities with resilience and equity at the forefront. 

But in addition to looking on the level of impact and effect, we must look on the level of cause. To understand our relationship with the sky, we must look at our relationship with the ground- and with each other.

This means to understand the history of white supremacy and colonization that led what led to what womanist theologian Kelly Brown Douglass calls a “theo-ideology” that runs through the Doctrine of Discovery, the concept of Manifest Destiny and into what Douglas terms “Stand-Your-Ground” culture today. It is a theo-ideology that excludes, exploits and objectifies based on an illusion of separation.

We must see that the same activity most responsible for the climate crisis—the burning of fossil fuels- gas, coal and oil—is also responsible for ambient pollution that is harmful to peoples health. Toxic sites are located in communities that have less political power and racism also plays a role- in this country, race is the number one indicator of the placement of a toxic facility. Af-Am children are 10X more likely to die of asthma than Euro-Am children. The World Health Organization estimates that roughly million people die every year globally as a result of air pollution. To challenge of climate justice is to stand with these communities and fight for right relationship on the ground. As Rev Leo Woodberry of Kingdom Living Temple Church in Florence SC recently pointed out, if we had respected all people’s right to live free of this kind of poison and “slow violence” assault, we would never have gotten where we are with this planetary emergency. 

The Center for Earth Ethics has partnered with the Poor Peoples Campaign: a national Call for Moral Revival, which was started out of Union Theological Seminary by Rev Dr Liz Theoharis and others at the Kairos Center to coincide with the 50th anniversary of MLK’s PPC—and they partnered with Rev William Barber II of North Carolina Moral Mondays movement. King spoke of three interlocking evils of racism, poverty and militarism. The have added ecological devastation as one of these interlocking evils and have a platform that includes a ban on fracking and a just transition to 100 % clean renewable energy. They are committed to leadership from the most impacted communities and so we have been part of forums with testimonials, music, prayer, and calls to action. 

And so my notion of climate justice is informed by having talked with communities in North Carolina and Alabama who have been dealing with diseases and death from the effects of living with coal ash, the toxic byproduct of coal-fired power plants, often just dumped in open pits and left to blow in the air and seep into the groundwater. I have also been to Union Hill Virginia where a historic African American community founded by people who had been enslaved on plantations right there, have been fighting a giant toxic fracked gas compressor station which would bring deafening noise and toxic emissions right to their peaceful rural home. And of course there was Standing Rock, where the Standing Rock Sioux made their prayer camp to oppose the Dakota Access Pipeline, which runs through their sacred ancestral land and threatens their aquifer. In that and so many of these cases, these projects were moved from more affluent, majority white communities after objections.

And when there are losses, when these projects get built anyway, as it happened with Standing Rock, as it seems to happen in so many heartbreaking developments lately, we must remember these other words of Dr. King: “I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.”

We are a part of something deep and powerful and we are rising together.

And actually, more and more . . . Activism works. Standing together and demanding change and demonstrating another way. We see it around the world- the power of the people in nonviolent movements. The Current Sec of OPEC recently said, at a meeting of oil producers in Vienna Austria— “There is a growing mass mobilization of world opinion… against oil” and this is “perhaps the greatest threat to our industry”. To which activists responded- including a tweet by Swedish teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg which linked to the account of his remarks and said:

“Thank you! Our biggest compliment yet!” https://www.afp.com/en/news/826/climate-campaigners-greatest-threat-oil-sector-opec-doc-1i79w11 …

In closing I want to invoke the words on the beautiful flyer for this event—“how can we mobilize action for the climate emergency?” As we have heard, on September 20th, there will be a climate strike led by Greta and other youth activists. I hope to see each of you out there in some way- and lets commit to getting a few more to join us – and let’s make sure that they are all registered to vote while we are at it. And let us also fund those communities who are fighting fossil fuel expansion projects in their own communities and stand with them however we can.

The challenge of climate justice is also a great gift. Mother Earth has given us the gift of the laws of nature and the ability to learn them from experience and align with them. It is our gift back to her to show we understand, to simply agree to behave as if we belong here. We have a deep universal spiritual truth to draw from—the essential one-ness of life, whether expressed by Thich Naht Han when he said “we are here to awaken to the illusion of our separateness or King when he wrote “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,  or in the beautiful Lakota saying “Mitakuye Oyason; All My Relations” or even in the more mystical moments of Images and Shadows of Divine Things written by Yale’s own Jonathan Edwards. We are not separate from each other. There is no such thing as an externality. Climate Justice is self care, it is awakening, it is a reorientation to nature and to the truth of who we are. Thank You