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‘Earth Sabbath’ helps activists tend spiritual side of environmentalism

RALEIGH, N.C. — The Rev. Steve Halsted lit a candle, led a breathing meditation on the four elements (earth, fire, water and air), and passed around a conch shell, inviting participants to listen for a message inside.

One woman said the sound of a rushing ocean encouraged her to “keep going on.”

Another lowered the shell from her ear and said she’d heard: “We’re not there yet.”

Gift of $20 million helps launch Georgetown Environment Initiative

A $20 million gift is expected to help boost Georgetown University's profile as a major center for environmental education and research.

The gift from an anonymous donor affiliated with the school launches the Georgetown Environment Initiative, which university officials said will advance the interdisciplinary study of the environment in relation to society and stewardship of natural resources.

"The plan is to lead through the example of scholarship," said Matthew B. Hamilton, associate professor of biology and faculty chairman of the initiative.

The costs of a cost-benefit analysis on fracking

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I have been writing about hydraulic fracking for more than a year now.

Several of my commentaries calling for a ban on fracking have been published and utilized in public advocacy efforts. Last year when I spoke at a faith-based meeting at the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, all of my materials were taken by campus representatives of many faith-based colleges and universities. This was especially true of the interest level of evangelical Protestant colleges, who took many of my stickers calling for a ban on fracking. 

Climate change: the elephant in our living room

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Why does it take an enormous tragedy like Hurricane Sandy to drive home the reality of climate change? The late Fr. Thomas Berry, cultural historian and geologian, predicted this might be the case.

People would have to suffer before realizing that exploiting the earth brings terrible consequences. We would have to become hungry, wet, cold; our homes under water or on fire; and at last count, 110 of us dead in New York and New Jersey before connecting these miseries to our unsustainable "mysticism of progress" and our fixated preoccupation with fossil fuels.

Founder of WorldWatch Institute a modern-day ecological prophet

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More than 150 years ago, Native American Chief Seattle in Puget Sound allegedly warned humans of the dire consequences awaiting them if they mistreated the land, the air, the water and one another:

"Man did not weave the web of life; he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself."

Persistent U.S.-to-Vatican GMO advocacy reflects moral deafness

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I have been trying for three years to secure a meeting with the U.S. ambassador to the Holy See in Rome. Last year, I got close and met with the political officer, Kim Pendleton. She was brand new and questioned me about food security issues.

This year, I succeeded in securing a meeting with Ambassador Miguel Diaz. I was happy to meet with him because he taught at Saint John's University in Collegeville, Minn., and I had been to the campus many times in the past and knew several professors quite well.

World hunger and the Obama administration's priorities

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I recently attended in Rome the annual two-week meetings of the Committee on World Food Security (Oct. 8-22) at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

The Committee on World Food Security was set up in 1974 as an intergovernmental body to serve as a forum for review of food security policies, and in 2009, underwent a reform process to ensure that the voices of other stakeholders were heard in the global debate on food security and nutrition.

Pope says farm co-ops can protect values while feeding people

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Farm co-ops can provide the world with an "alternative vision" to government or international agriculture policies that place too much emphasis on profits, protecting certain markets or employing new technology that could prove dangerous, Pope Benedict XVI said.

The pope made his comments in a message marking Tuesday's celebration of World Food Day, a commemoration sponsored by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization to highlight the global fight against hunger and the need to help farmers and farm workers.

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July 4-17, 2014

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