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New Food and Drug Administration numbers reveal food animals consume the lion's share of antibiotics

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A report on the Center for a Livable Future Web site details the overuse of antibiotics in the nation's factory farms.

"Antibiotics, one of the world’s greatest medical discoveries, are slowly losing their effectiveness," the report says, "in fighting bacterial infections and the massive use of the drugs in food animals may be the biggest culprit. The growing threat of antibiotic resistance is largely due to the misuse and overuse of antibiotics in both people and animals, which leads to an increase in 'super-bacteria.' However, people use a much smaller portion of antibiotics sold in this country compared to the amount set aside for food animals.

Recent Pew Poll: Religion and the environment

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Submitted by Adam R. Smith. Smith is a leadership fellow at an environmental non-profit in Washington, DC.

"On any given Sunday, across America, pastors are preaching the good news. These men and women of the cloth are challenged weekly to share their thoughts on the infinite in a very finite amount of time. This naturally poses a problem as to what should be included and what is better left for another Sunday. A recent study finds that the majority of Christian preachers in America have been leaving the environment out of their sermons.

"According to a recent Pew study on American religion: 'Just under half (47 percent) of those who attend worship services regularly say that their clergy speak out on the environment… The majority of white Catholics (64 percent), white evangelical Protestants (59 percent) and white mainline Protestants (51 percent) in the survey say that the environment is not discussed at their place of worship.'

"The environmental awareness award, if there were such a thing, would go to Black Protestant congregations: More black Protestants (59 percent) than other religious groups report hearing about the environment from their clergy.

Prophet for the Earth: An exploration of the thought of Fr. Thomas Berry

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The late Fr. Thomas Berry is one of the key figures that have shaped the Catholic ecology movement. This is the first of a series of articles that will explore his thought and writings.

Many believe that the roots of our environmental crisis today lie in our values, grounded solidly within our religious concepts. As we believe and hope, so do we act and behave. We must discern our proper relationship with nature, and this is fundamentally a religious search. Its answers are found in an encounter with the Creator, and that encounter takes place within the created world. Until this religious perspective changes, the plundering and destruction of the natural world will probably continue.

New report details how factory farms have displaced small farmers

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Washington-based Food and Water Watch has released a report titled "Factory Farm Nation: How America Turned Its Livestock Farms into Factories." The report includes a map that pinpoints the areas nationally, by state and county, with the highest numbers of factory farm livestock.

"Between 1997 and 2007, there was a geographic and economic shift in where and how food is raised in the United States," the report states. "Even a few decades ago, there were small- and medium-sized dairy, cattle and hog farms dispersed all across the country. Today, these operations are disappearing. The remaining operations are primarily large-scale factory farms that are concentrated in specific regions, states and even counties where the thousands of animals on each farm can produce more sewage than most large cities, overwhelming the capacity of rural communities to cope with the environmental and public health burdens.

How do we craft a message to the stars?

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Douglas Vakoch is the Director of Interstellar Message Composition at the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Institute in Mountain View, Calif.

The SETI Institute (www.seti.org) has been part of a search for intelligent life elsewhere in the universe that has been ongoing for 50 years now. SETI astronomers use big radio telescopes to search for electromagnetic transmissions from civilizations on distant planets. Its mission statement states: “We believe we are conducting the most profound search in human history — to know our beginnings and our place among the stars.”

Dr. Vakoch researches ways that different civilizations might create messages that could be transmitted across interstellar space, allowing communication between humans and extraterrestrials even without face-to-face contact.

Vakoch leads an international group of scientists, artists and scholars from the humanities, as they ponder how we could communicate what it’s like to be human across the vast distances of interstellar space.

Pope creates Vatican watchdog laws that criminalize environmental pollution

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On the NCR Today blog, senior correspondent John L. Allen Jr. reports on Pope Benedict's creation of a new in-house watchdog to promote compliance with international rules against financing terrorism, money-laundering, insider trading and market abuse. In addition to creating new penalties for financial misconduct, Benedict XVI has also criminalized environmental pollution.

In article 18, the new law establishes a penalty of up to six months imprisonment and a fine of $3,500 to $35,000 for anyone who pollutes the soil or water, and establishes the same penalties for polluting the atmosphere. The jail term rises to a year, and the fines range from $7,000 to $70,000, if the pollution occurs with hazardous substances.

Interviews with Fr. Diarmuid O'Murchu and Sr. Gail Worcelo

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Michael Dowd's Advent of Evolutionary Christianity site will run a podcast interview with Fr. Diarmuid O'Murchu tonight. Dowd interviews Fr. O'Murchu on the subject of "Meeting God in Our Evolutionary Story." Tomorrow night an interview with Sr. Gail Worcelo on "Sisters of the Earth and Thomas Berry."

Sign up to be a regular member on the Advent of Evolutionary Christianity's Community Blog Web site and receive information on how to download these podcasts and many others.

The problem with 'abundance' theologies

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Recently, a friend said, “We need to have a mindset of abundance. God is infinite and there is no lack in God.” I’m decidedly uncomfortable with this sentiment and similar popular ideas, all about material wealth with a spiritual spin to it.

I am amazed at how clever we’ve been at using the Bible and theology to justify our positions. And we are still at it, justifying our extreme wealth in the face of global poverty with platitudes about abundance.

Beyond oil in 20 years

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We have an unhealthy dependency on 19 million barrels per day of liquefied plant and animal matter from the Mesozoic era. That works out to almost three gallons every day for every man, woman, and child in the country. Remember the harrowing footage of oil spewing out of BP's Gulf well? The United States uses more than four times the amount of the spill in one day.

The easy portability of oil's explosive energy has made us the most mobile humans in history. Fears of peak oil notwithstanding, it is also still very cheap. The gallon of gas that was $2.30 in real dollars in 1960 cost only $2.73 in 2010. No surprise, then, that petroleum powers 95 percent of all transportation in the United States.

The Sierra Club's Beyond Oil campaign proposes to move the United States off oil in the next 20 years. An article on the Club's Web site sketches out how it can be done.

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In This Issue

April 11-24, 2014

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