At the end of the first week of the Bonn Conference on Climate Change, the first thing which comes to mind is how little coverage this vitally important negotiation session is receiving the world media. A favorable outcome from the Bonn Conference is essential if the UN Framework Conference on Climate Change (UNFCCC) which is to meet later in the year in Durban, South Africa, is to succeed.
By John Thavis, Catholic News Service
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- A referendum in Italy has spotlighted an emerging social justice issue for the Catholic church: access to safe water as a basic human right.
Italians were going to the polls June 12-13 to decide whether to revoke a decree that imposed the privatization of water resources. The issue has stirred an unusually intense debate, with church leaders arguing that water is the archetypal "gift from God" that should not be polluted by the profit motive.
On June 9, a group of more than 100 missionary priests and nuns fasted and prayed in St. Peter's Square to underline their support for the referendum and their opposition to the privatization of water. Beneath Pope Benedict XVI's windows, they unfurled a giant banner reading: "Lord, help us save the water!"
The next day, the Vatican's Cardinal Peter Turkson weighed in. Cardinal Turkson, head of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, said water distribution should be a service provided by governments to their citizens as part of their role in protecting the common good.
There are many conscious ways to keep from harming Mother Earth. Our food choices rank high on the list.
Cooking with nutritional yeast is a tasty way to move away from a meat-heavy diet. This wondrous ingredient is an inactive form of yeast. Available in bulk at organic groceries, nutritional yeast is yellow in color with a nutty, cheesy flavor. It works as a coating for tofu, for making gravy, for flavoring veggie stir frys, and even for sprinkling on popcorn. I discovered nutritional yeast about 15 years ago through a vegetarian housemate.
One night, Mary created a delicious supper consisting of buckwheat groats, gravy, steamed summer squash and salad.
Shirley Rhodes Patterson, a longtime friend now living in Fox, Arkansas, clued me in to using nutritional yeast as a breading for tofu. Shirley has been cooking vegetarian for many years, since her marriage.
The UN sponsored climate change talks began in Bonn, Germany on June 6th 2011 and will run until June 17th 2011. These talks will attempt to revive negotiations on various aspect of climate change so that a fair, ambitious and legally binding treaty, a successor to the Kyoto Protocol, can be signed at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Durban, South Africa, later in the year.
While the UN negotiation process on climate change was revived and strengthened at the Climate Conference in Cancun, Mexico in December 2010, none of the hard decisions were taken, especially when it came to pledging serious cuts in CO2 levels from economically rich countries. There was general agreement among the participants at Cancun that deep cuts in emissions “are required ….. so as to hold the increase in global average temperatures below two degrees Celsius.”
Holy Cross Br. David Andrews is a senior representative at Food and Water Watch, a consumer group based in Washington. He is former director of the National Catholic Rural Life Conference.
Human illness, environmental contamination, serious animal illnesses, a danger to our food system: these are some of the discovered effects of hydraulic fracking, a now growing method of releasing natural gas for energy production.
Fracking involves injecting millions of gallons of pressurized water, chemicals, and sand into the earth to loosen shale to release natural gas. Headaches, dizziness, endocrine disruption, cancer, memory loss, complaints about gastrointestinal problems have been among the illnesses resulting from contact with fracking’s contaminated water. Evidence has mounted that earthquakes in Arkansas have resulted from using this method of gas recovery. Polluted water has harmed animals as well as humans. Some fracking has caused exploding wells.
THE ENVIRONMENTAL VISION OF THOMAS MERTON
By Monica Weis, SSJ
Published by the University Press of Kentucky, $32
Trappist monk Thomas Merton wrote in his journal: “I myself am part of the weather and part of the climate and part of the place … It is certainly part of my life of prayer.”
Author and Merton scholar Sr. Monica Weis, after reading Merton’s journals carefully, says she suddenly realized how profoundly weather had been shaping Merton’s spirituality over the years:
Human psyches are hardwired to fly, it seems – whether the “flying” consists of speeding straight ahead in our cars on eight-lane freeways or soaring through the air in silver-winged jet planes at 500 miles per hour. In ancient times, we sped from place to place in horse-drawn carriages and chariots.
In neither age have we gotten it quite right, however. Transportation was, and still is, a mixed bag. Eric Morris, a doctoral student in the UCLA department of urban planning, writes in an Internet article that horse pollution was so bad in ancient Rome, Julius Caesar had to ban horse-drawn carts between dawn and dusk in an effort to curb ”noise, gridlock, accidents and other unpleasant byproducts of the urban equine.”
Such problems continued well into the 19th century, when both the human and horse populations soared, not just in Rome, but across Europe and then America.
There have been nearly 50 missions to study the Moon since Luna 2 arrived in 1959, but only now are high-quality image maps of our entire satellite becoming available.
The best so far available has been constructed from photos taken by NASA's Lunar Reconnaisance Orbiter (LRO). This spacecraft is equipped with a high-resolution camera that reveals objects on the lunar surface only a few feet across.
A browsable image of the Moon's near side provided by the LRO is available for viewing at a site provided by Arizona State University's LRO team.
This reflection comes from Joni Woelfel. She is the author of three books with Acta Publications including Tall in Spirit: Meditations for the Chronically Ill, The Light Within: A Woman’s Book of Solace and Craving Hope: A Spiritual Companion on Your Weight Loss Journey.
My husband pulled the cord on our new little red garden tiller and as it started right up, I clapped my hands and shouted in pleasure above the putting motor, “I love the sound of it!” Then, off my husband went, to test it out on our hosta beds. Sure enough, it worked like a charm, deeply churning the soil along borders, up the hill and in the garden. My husband and I looked at each other like we were the cat’s meow, laughing out loud.
Both approaching 60, we are in the stage where we are planning ways to make taking care of our gardens and life more manageable. In this case, a lot less hand-hoeing is something we are excited about. I could hardly wait to tell our kids about the extravagant purchase, as we are all garden and landscaping enthusiasts.
The Des-Moines, Iowa-based National Catholic Rural Life Conference has published a study guide on hunger and poverty. It's both a reflection and a call to action and justice.
"It begins with an observation of the world as we know it: A world with resources and knowledge to produce ample food for all, and yet too many people have little to eat and few resources to lift themselves out of poverty.
"The content of this study guide delves into a critical reflection on how we relate the current world situation to the Story and Vision of our Catholic faith.
The guide concludes with the possibilities for action by individuals and groups. The hopeful result is a change in attitudes and behaviors accomplished in a spirit of solidarity with the poor and the care of God’s creation."