National Grid plans to construct a one-mile gas pipeline along Huntington Ave, in Boston. Incredulous. MA has sufficient energy currently for all nations living in MA. Why bury money and sink gas (methane, more accurately) under Boston’s streets. All MA methane is fracked gas pumped in from PA. Boston has Brazilians who clean banks, we have Salvadorans who build roofs in Chelsea, we have Iranians publishing erudite journalism.
Why a new pipeline when all across the nation savvy entrepreneurs are building wind and solar renewables? Maura Healey, our justice seeking attorney general, and Boston City Councilors have asked a halt to this pipeline.Read more
by Minga Claggett-Borne
Police are discriminating against people of color, black and brown are getting stopped, frisked and killed. April 14 was Stop Mass Incarceration Day: police cannot continue to kill innocent citizens. This week is also Heat Week at Harvard U. Today students have closed with a blockade 2 administrative buildings on Harvard Yard asking the richest University in the world to divest from fossil fuels. And I filed my tax form, while refusing to pay taxes for war.
The shoots of spring grass are cropping up, looking like small green antennae above ground. Students slowly ambled to class. Boys with a hair knot above their neck. Girls with sweat shirts and laptops pulled close to the hip. Forty students at Harvard this morning blocked the 9 entrances to 2 huge buildings. Harvard alumni refused to leave the alumni office at 5 pm and were locked in by security. Community groups joined in at Harvard encircling University Hall on April 16th. These groups are asking for more negotiation and dialogue with Drew Faust and Trustees.
There is a different approach to divesting from the fuel industry than MIT, down the street from Harvard. The MIT president, Rafael Reif’s approach was to open the debate discussing the pros and cons of divestment. Faust, at Harvard, was nowhere to be found as students clapped and cheered among visitors with Sony cameras. With huge banners floating from the ivy and stone walls, students' chants echoed from granite walls, “Divest, Divest. Put fossil fuels to rest.” The high school prospective students seemed more interested in the Harvard protesters than in the august stories of famous alumni and freshman dorms.
Harvard has the largest endowment of any university in the world, at $36.4 billion. What if that endowment invested in the cleaner energy of wind farms and solar buildings? Harvard, like most responsible people, is building greener buildings with labs and offices with more efficient energy. But what about investing in building the infrastructure of wind, solar and geo-thermal energy? Harvard, the buck starts here before the buck stops here.
I witnessed the young grass, crocuses and students bust out this week. Boston has a cold spring, but the sun gave a blush to our cheeks, and torbid blood coursed through veins. I feel warmed by the Heat Week, as I wrestled with uneasiness in my heart. How do we make a seismic change of lifestyle? For each change of behavior marching away excess energy use, how do I make a compassionate step forward? My discomfort comes from a lack of vision. Yes, to shedding our dependence on oil and gas. And what else? We are not trying to stop climate change: we are in the middle of the climate change. I am roiling in the throes of catastrophe of the California drought and the contamination of our water and food. Help!
I wrestle with what Holy Spirit asks of me. Since I swim in the waters of the empire called the USA, I'm blinded by my culture. This full moon the Spirit presents stronger than ever as Gaia. I’m reflecting this month on Native American voices that I heard in a book Buffalo Shout, Salmon Cry: Conversing on Creation and Land Justice.
Can I go deeper in looking for how to live justly on this earth? Climate vulnerability offers me a chance to be more faithful. Solar panels and divesting from fossil fuels, and eating local foods is a good start. I’m striving to switch my electric use off of coal and dirty energy. However, hear me out. These are tactical changes, not fundamental changes. We’re in a big mess, lakes are turning into cesspools and plastic regales our oceans. What I need is a structural, molecular, a quality of Light change. Hope demands that I flourish in this work—it is possible to thrive under climate devastation.
There are many ways to clean up the earth: to detoxify sky/sea/land is a fine place to start. When conversing with Native Americans I have realized this isn’t enough. Clean up and lowering my footprint isn’t going to build sustainable lifestyle--one that will enrich the 7 generations. How do I realign my life? I need an adjustment treatment which entails a remake of Christianity.
One person who instructs me was Lawrence Hart, a Cheyenne leader living in Oklahoma. He explains that his religion is embodied in art and ritual. Traditional knowledge of our homeland, the place that birthed us is more than prayers and parables. The understanding of our Creation needs to be enacted in the community, in sacred ceremony. During communal moments you join in a reciprocity that hums with power.
Someone said in Quaker meeting today said Christians need to provide for our neighbors the 4 essential needs, 'clean air, water, housing and food.' This is a good start but Native peoples would not have ignored the land, which feeds us. I notice how we often
take the earth for granted: a healthy earth too. Christians, starting with Genesis, treat the Earth and plants like objects.
Let’s look at the stories we tell about creation. These stories, like the breath of life, form our livelihood on Gaia. Eden is not just a place. It is our womb. The plants are not made for our horticulture. We know that Genesis 1,2 narrates a different account of creation than Genesis 3. In the Beginning, humans enter a world whose origins are beneficent and bountiful. There is no need for human techo/diva control or improvement. Woman and man are embedded in a living biosphere. Genesis 2 says that God placed humans on the planet to “serve and preserve” it. They are related with other creatures. Genesis 2:22 holds a Hebrew word play “woman” (ishshah) is woven with the body of “man” (ish): the relationship can be seen as solidarity, not hierarchy.
Ched Myers, an activist theologian, explains how western Christianity’s worldview is linked with the ethos of “social Darwinism” on which we hedge our bets. We believe that human history, since the cavemen, has slowly and steadily climbed out of primitive ignorance. We’ve ascended towards better and better technology and economic sophistication. Cosmopolitan lives are superior. We fabricate the hierarchy of Third World and First World countries.
The earth is us. We are interdependent with animals. There is a relational dynamic between mountains with coal and us. Where is the harmony in mountain-top removal for coal? Let us rethink and remake ourselves interwoven with divine creation.
"The time has come for a second discovery of America" Hart says. His article is appropriately called, “the Earth is Song made Visible." (An Anabaptist perspective on a Sustainable World, Johns Hopkins University Press, 2000).
I am growing slowly, steadily. Imagine a dandelion, stretching its yellow tendrils. in the face of climate disaster I’m humbled but not cowed. I am reconfiguring the pieces of my life.
The tempests, the droughts, the melting ice caps are speaking to us louder than any scientific treatise. Human greed has caused havoc with this planet. The biodiversity is amazing and wonderful. Global warming has informed us that humans have smashed tough boots into the ground, causing massive carbon footprints. Humans over consume, overcrowd the land, pollute the air and seas shamelessly.
Our exploitation has broken harmony with creation. When we create dissonance with creation, we break with the Creator. We cannot be a people following God and continue our current lifestyle. The 8 commandment says
Do not steal. We steal forests, rivers, and food from the poor. The 7th commandment says
Do not commit adultery. We do rape the land with fracking, building pipelines through aquifers, and mountain-top removal for coal powered electricity. The 6th commandment says
Do not kill. The killing that happens because of fueled vehicles, air-conditioned buildings, and butchering animals breaks my heart. Do we need to destroy so much of the earth? Will motorboats and hummers be remembered in 100 years when eagles and big cats and coral reefs have died?
We were given a Garden of Eden. We are not to dominate. It is not even a Garden entrusted to us. We are dependent on it, and thus must listen to its needs, not only to human needs.
Where do we find guidance in the midst of climate change? The stories of Genesis, Navajo creation stories, and the Cherokee and Seneca are ancient lessons. The guidance of human behavior, human love and justice can be found in many scriptures like the Torah, Bhagavad Gita, and the Bible. Thirdly we can listen to the voice of creation today. The Christian trinity is the Creator, the Messiah and the Holy Spirit. Well the Spirit is sending us messages—in a nonverbal voice--some of destruction and some of hope.
My journey includes learning how to listen beyond the fray of human discontent. My vision includes welcoming all types of humans and allowing all living creatures to live in their niches. My work is to listen to the Holy One who blesses all species, and doesn’t favor humans over others. I need to listen to many who are saying, “I can’t breathe.” The needs of dolphins, redwoods and rhinoceros are interwoven with my needs. The survival of the planet is the same story as Noah and the Ark; as the Navajo Changing Woman; as condors that soar in the Andes; as sea turtles that march up the beach to lay eggs. I don’t despair. It’s our story; it’s a love story.
I bend and learn in the face of climate disturbance. . I trust in the universal power. I do not understand the sturdy dandelion, but I listen to the wind that scatters its tiny helicopter seeds. And I smile.
Most days I say I’m not afraid. Then I see a picture of a circle of elephants or a picture of a flock of swans and I’m struck by beauty and fear. My sons are just out of college with no thought of having children. Yet in my dreams a grandchild with big eyes looks up at me asking, “What happened to the rainforests? Why did the coral reefs disappear?” And I go numb. I’m more petrified than the severest judge glaring at me declaring “guilty. The ecological disaster happened on your watch.”
Well, dear grandchild, I am working on it. My house is energy efficient, my car is a Prius, and I spend several hours a week organizing. I’m out on the streets asking our leaders not to build the XLK pipeline. I write letters, asking Massachusetts leaders to devolve now from electricity from gas and coal. Still the gas companies are strong. How can I make a difference?--little me make a change against the Koch brothers, against Exxon, against BP or General Electric? Is my work on climate change a case of act faithfully and not depend on the results?
Living out of despair I see that I’m living still in the world of consumerism and excess. I may have to give up my car, but I’m happy every time I can haul soil and groceries around in an auto. I give thanks for hot showers and mint chocolate chip ice-cream even though I know they may become luxuries soon. I live knowing that I’m changing, knowing that this life is extraordinary. If I listen to climate activisits I’m not doing enough. They glower at me in my nightmare state that I’m the oppressor stealing the future from my grandchildren.
Actually I’m a snake about to molt. I’m shedding off the old skin, the habits of oppressing the earth. I’m moving into a shiny skin, more useful skin, shoring up the earth for future generations.
I know by composting more garden beds, and putting solar panels on roofs, and decreasing my carbon footprint, I’m shape-shifting the future. My actions transform me, liberate me from fossil fuels, and that contributes to the liberation of all.
No man can put a chain about the ankle of his fellow man without at last finding the other end fastened about his own neck.
Remember the old Lutheran image of there’s a devil sitting on one shoulder telling you to go ahead and do the vice and the angel on the other shoulder telling you to be good and behave properly?
As a Quaker it’s a struggle to love myself and change myself. SometimesI just wish for a clear code: this is right and this is wrong. This week struggle with me on some dilemmas. I don’t want to live chained to a devil with arched eyebrows and eyes like burning coals whispering in my ear: I just want clarity on right action. I hope…no I implore you to join with me.
Dilemma I~ Stop electric dyers?
It’s April, about 45 degrees, and I finished washing my clothes. I love the bright sun, the dose of Vit D will fluff my health. Plus, I’m curbing my electricity use. I hang shirts and jeans on the line between the strawberry patch and compost heap. The sheets smell fresh like whipped cream. But my fingers get cold hanging wet clothes and I am behind in my work today. Some days I take the easy route-- use the electric dryer. Is it a pact with the devil?
Dilemma II~ How long to stay in the Shower?
During the carefree 1970s there was a summer of drought @1977 and young Quakers around the US agreed to limit their showers to 3 minutes each. I learned to shampoo long hair quickly, drop the hair conditioner. Now, 37 years later my shoulder blades are lodged deeply into muscles settled like sedimentary rock. My back is tighter than a apple tree. I love to stretch my back under hot water. My showers, these days, are not saving energy.
Dilemma III ~ Food Fights
After college I traveled by bus through Honduras and Nicaragua: I noticed the scarred mountainsides losing their forests. Deforestation covered the hillsides like blight. I was told in the 1980s that Honduras’ subsistence farmers were being bought out by the United Fruit Co. who wanted to raise prime beef to sell in the USA. Really? Like why? These farmers had children starving for rice and beans, and they were selling it to restaurants catering to overfed Americans. If friends want to eliminate the use of petrol/fossil fuels, don't eat from restaurants or buy meat that imports beef from 1,000s of miles away.
Dilemma IV~ Decrease gadgets: Microwaves are so retro
I love inventions as much as Edison. I use electricity like a luxury, not an essential. Essentials are food, shelter, health and education. Right? Walmart and HomeDepo would assert that many things you can’t live without: television, microwave, and air conditioners. Where do you draw the line? I own 3 computers: Microsoft, old I-book, and an I-pad. This is excessive though I claim that I tried to give the I-book away as an antique (2000). The devil’s shadow is clouding my eyesight. I resisted a microwave until 2011. Now I want to return it, without getting any money. I have an electric teapot, a microwave, a toaster and a stovetop. Do I need 3 ways to boil water?
Dilemma IV~ Trees & City Gardens
I’m excited about climate change. Seriously, I’m preparing for big changes in 2014. The US use of electricity is like a huge obese hippopotamus. Our society is large and pregnant, and acting like an adolescent on growth hormones. With our fat US bellies, either we’ll birth a new way of walking gently on Earth or we will abort. I grew up on a small farm with cows and corn and sheep. But I’m learning to garden in the metropolis of Boston. In Cambridge composting and beekeeping are burgeoning. We have an urban orchard program. Everywhere are pear trees, crops of arugula, and purple Echinacea. I know the lifespan of the maple, and dogwood and plum tree outside my door is shortened living in the city. I know the rhythm of these trees, like old friends. I notice birds landing, the squirrels jumping onto branches like trampolines. I watch how fast trees grow, how each one tosses its head differently in the wind. Knowing the city block ecology will inform our choices during the testing of climate change. My angel tells me I need to love all the creatures on my block, not just the humans. Climate change is scary, but it’s not evil unless humans are cruel to each other.
What do you think? Any messages being whispered in your ears?
Meteorologists predict forest fires, storms and gargantuan flooding.
So if tornadoes are predicted we need to fly into action. NOW. Today. With a Clif Energy Bar in one hand, and a photo of our child’s first day of school in our pocket. We need to work on the environmental crisis with hope.
We work tirelessly like angels flying in front of the greedy fulcrum of the fuel industry. We are Justice-welders. We create gardens of beauty. We compose curves of music and golden rhapsodies. We work under the looming storm to protect our Holy Planet.
“It is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause” of global warming since 1950.”Announced the UN scientists last week. Did you hear NPR discuss the difference between very likely and extremely likely? I laughed out loud. In 2007 the likelihood that humans are the cause was 90% (very likely for plebeian parlance); now the likelihood is 95% (extremely likely). In 2001, the UN group cautiously said the
likelihood was only 66%. Scrupulous Scientists from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change wrote the UN‘s Climate Change published a report of 700 pages. Humans’ gas emissions cause our droughts and capricious tornadoes. Goodbye Ice Caps.
So we are living in times of crisis. But I don’t fear, because humans are amazingly creative and we can reinvent our oil-greediness. I get inspiration from the strangest places. The story of Moses helps me with looking at global climate change. Moses and his scepter brought on the plagues, and the Israelites as a people survived the devastation. Imagine 3,000 years ago and you had just heard a prophet, Moses, talk about getting out of Egypt. Would you be afraid or hopeful? Maybe they were both. At first many Israelites didn’t want to pick up and leave the Nile delta. They had food (pomegranates barley), lots of children (thanks to Shiprah and Puah) and they had work (as slaves). They had always known slavery and pharaohs. Then God sent the plagues through Moses. Remember, Moses, repeatedly spoke to the political titular, the Pharoah warning him of environmental crisis. Pharaoh begged Moses to lift the first plague of rivers running with blood. Pharaoh promised Jews freedom. Pharaoh, like a politician, changed his mind. Then the second plague came, then the third. The plagues of infestations of pests and disease were terrible, --deteriorating, -- similar to
the current crisis.
Today we are waking up to one plague at a time. Maybe you know of plagues where you live. Have you heard of frogs or bugs as pests? Can you imagine a red spill in your drinking water plaguing you?
We have the same case study this decade. In 2013 it wasn’t the first time a river turned red, but the Indian River in FL was particularly horrible.
The 156 miles of the Indian River in FL boasted huge diversity with 600 species of fish and 300 kinds of birds. Now with immense algae blooms over 47,000 acres, the water is a killing zone. One hundred and ten manatees, 300 pelicans and 46 dolphins died by June 2013. River pollution dominates from the Connecticut to the Columbia and from the Rio Grande to the Missouri River. The Cuyahoga River out of Cleveland caught on fire several times, its-flames leaping from the water engulfing a ship. The Mississippi pours pollutants into the Gulf of Mexico causing a Dead Zone. The algae bloom, sometimes reddish brown deprives the water of oxygen and kills all living organisms. We suffer for the 2010 BP Deepwater oil spill, the largest spill in world history.. Name a river near you and see if this plague from human oil addiction is affecting your health. Global Warming is huge, and the rivers feed us life or death.
This is horrifying, but it’s more than depressing. Are you going to be a slave to doom and destruction?
How long will we be shackled to dirty fuel industry? Let us plead, sing and shout. "Let my People Go."