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Public policy pathways to renewable energy

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There has been a change in much of Michigan's landscape in the last few years. From farm country in the Thumb on the east side of the state to the hill country near Ludington close to Michigan's west coast, majestic wind turbines dot the countryside. Gratiot County, among the poorest counties in the state, has been infused with new capital for education and for infrastructure.

Film screening to raise awareness of plight of islanders

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More than 100 Catholic colleges and universities will walk in the footsteps of the first climate change refugees in early October. They will watch "Sun Come Up," a 2011 Academy Award-nominated documentary that presents the plight of 2,500 inhabitants of the Carteret Islands, an island paradise 50 miles north of Bougainville, Papua, New Guinea.

Saying yes could help save our planet

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Yes,
Yes is a vulnerable word.
It leaves you wide open like a tree.

Susan Windle, a Sufi poet living in Philadelphia, composed these words in her 2005 book, Between the Doors. Today, I thought about Susan's poem, "Ode to Yes," one of the works in her collection, because so much is happening environmentally that speak to vulnerability and its willingness to risk being wide open.

Being vulnerable can trigger both silent unexpressed pain as well as active out-loud and often outrageous action in the name of compassion. It can mean asking a simple but unpopular question, like "Why?", to the cutting down of a few neighborhood trees. It can mean taking major action to protect baby seals in Seattle or organizing to protect an endangered ecosystem in the Philippines.

Being vulnerable takes courage.

At the most literal level of "Ode to Yes," there is this recent situation of six vulnerable trees in front of my senior apartment building. They fell to earth a couple of days ago. Trunks and limbs are already chopped and stacked neatly, waiting for a truck to carry them off tomorrow.

Climate change articles see crisis as moral issue

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Two recent thought-provoking articles regarding climate change are well worth reading and pondering, so I am posting them here. Both see the crisis as being fundamentally a moral issue.

The first is by Bill McKibben, a longtime environmental writer and founder of 350.org, the activist group working to stop the Keystone XL Pipeline. He examines "the terrifying new math around global warming" in the latest issue of Rolling Stone in a 6,000-word article that looks at the greed and crookedness of fossil-fuel corporations and how their stranglehold on the economy continues to rule despite environmental activists' efforts.

How do we prevent global climate catastrophe?

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A little hot for you lately? I've been in both Washington, D.C., and St. Louis in the last couple weeks, and the temperatures in both places were well above 100 degrees most days. There is drought in the Midwest. There have been devastating fires in the dried forests of Colorado. Yes, some of these events may be short-term "weather." But the patterns of a warming planet are unmistakable. We are experiencing the signs of a trend.

At retreat, cosmologist offers insight on how to help the planet

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Waking up to the enormity of environmental devastation can take a very long time. Mathematical cosmologist Brian Swimme spent 17 years passing through the stages of shock, annoyance, sadness and numbness before the truth reached him at the levels of heart and gut.

"I was humiliated that it had taken me so long," he said.

Advocates to take Philippines president to task on mining policy, new law

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MANILA, Philippines -- Advocates of responsible mining, including bishops, are not relying solely on a recent executive order issued by President Benigno Aquino III to reform the mining industry in the Philippines.

Even before Aquino issued his Executive Order No. 79 on Monday afternoon, 72 of the 98 members of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines threw their support behind a petition from advocates of responsible mining titled, "A Call for the Passage of Alternative Minerals Management Bill."

Catholic Climate Covenant examines the latest in fracking news

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The dioceses of Cleveland and Youngstown, Ohio, sponsored a daylong seminar on hydraulic fracturing (fracking) June 27, reports Catholic Climate Covenant on its website.

More than 100 concerned Catholics turned out to hear pros and cons on the topic from Peter MacKenzie of the Ohio Oil and Gas Association, a trade group representing oil and gas producers around the state; John Stolz, a professor of environmental microbiology at Duquesne University in Pennsylvania; and Dr. Jame Schaefer, associate professor of theology at Marquette University and author of Theological Foundations for Environmental Ethics: Reconstructing Patristic and Medieval Concepts.

The Catholic Climate Covenant website also features two comprehensive reports on the meeting -- a Vindy.com news story account and an in-depth essay penned by Catholic blogger Bill Patenaude. In "Cracking Open the Depths," Patenaude lays out the dangers of the technology and his own ecologically positive experiences as a regulator for the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management.

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