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Simple living: the Green Triangle

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We’ve all seen the bumper sticker that reads “Live Simply So that Others May Simply Live” – a ringing call to a sustainable life. Such a life involves in the words of Mennonite author Doris Janzen Longacre, “cultivating a gentle way of handling the Earth, versatility in the face of shortage. Inner provision for contentment and more than all that commitment to live justly in our world.” A sufficient and sustainable life means being a bright and creative part of the solution rather than one more cog in the wheel of the dreadful turning wheels of the problem.

Global meat production increased over the past decade by 20 percent

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According to a Worldwatch Institute report featured on Vital Signs, a page on their Web site, global meat production increased by only 0.8 percent in 2009 to 281.5 million tons, a slowdown from the 2.4 percent growth rate of 2008. But the increase continued the steady growth of the past decade. Since 2000, global meat production has risen by 20 percent.

Victory for opponents of mountaintop removal mining

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In a huge victory for the Sierra Club and its allies, on January 13 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) revoked a water pollution permit for the Spruce No.1 Mine in West Virginia, one of the largest mountaintop removal coal mines ever proposed in Appalachia. Read about it on the Sierra Club's Scrapbook page.


NCR's Eco Catholic Blog

Eco Catholic is an exploration of the green Catholic imagination and ecological spirituality. Contributors include Rich Heffern, NCR staff writer, columnist and author, and Carol Meyer, executive director of the Sustainable Sanctuary Coalition.

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'Earth's wondrous mosaic of watersheds'

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A watershed is the area of land where all of the water that is under it or drains off of it goes into the same place. John Wesley Powell, scientist geographer, put it best when he said that a watershed is: "that area of land, a bounded hydrologic system, within which all living things are inextricably linked by their common water course and where, as humans settled, simple logic demanded that they become part of a community."

Watersheds come in all shapes and sizes. They cross county, state, and national boundaries. In the continental United States, there are approximately 2,110 watersheds.

Genesis Farm: Living locally while honoring and learning about the new cosmology

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Genesis Farm near Blairstown, New Jersey, is one of the oldest of the Earth-friendly enterprises in the nation sponsored or supported by a womens' religious community -- in this case the Sisters of St. Dominic of Caldwell, New Jersey. I talked with Sr. Miriam MacGillis, its founder and director, about the Farm and its work.

What is Genesis Farm?

Genesis Farm consists of 231 acres of farm land totally in protection, owned by the Dominican sisters, and established in 1980. The Dominican sisters, of course, have been involved in education for centuries. Our present expression is an agricultural one. We started a CSA (community-supported agriculture) subscription farming program which is in its 23rd season now.

Panel discussion on the evolution of faith and reason

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Tonight Evolutionary Christianity will broadcast its second live panel discussion. At 5:00pm Pacific / 8:00pm Eastern, host Michael Dowd will be joined by Karl Giberson, Ilia Delio, John Haught, and Joan Roughgarden for a roundtable discussion on "The Evolution of Faith and Reason".

Some of the questions that will be explored are: What does a healthy marriage between faith and reason look like? What widely accepted scientific facts present challenges to our faith? Why is it essential for religious people to offer inspiring interpretations of what God is revealing to us through science, and how can this be done most effectively?

This is a live event, with ample opportunity for you to pose questions for the panelists during the broadcast itself (via the computer interface). To sign up for access visit the Evolutionary Christianity blog's home page.

Take a sabbatical in nature

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I know I’m talking to a select audience here, as most people are tied to jobs and family and would find it hard to get away for a sabbatical. But for some of you, it could be arranged if you really wanted to do it. And for the rest of you, maybe I can convince you to at least take your next vacation in nature.

This whole idea is no abstract theory for me. My passion for recommending this is based on my experience of a two-month sabbatical in 1997 at Shantivanam, a nature-based retreat/prayer center near Kansas City, Mo. Guests stay in small cabins in the woods, and join the staff for contemplative prayer and meals in the main building (a barn in another life), and otherwise amuse themselves with silence and the bounty of the natural world.

God will not fix the environmental mess

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It’s funny how our faith is so selective. When it asks us to do something like love our enemies, it’s weak to non-existent. But when we can employ it to our advantage, it soars. Take the issue of the environment. People that aren’t normally that trusting in God suddenly have unshakable faith that God is going to fix the problem. Well now, isn’t that convenient? We can just keep on with business as usual, with nary a care about the consequences to the Earth, because God is going to take care of everything. Now why didn’t I think of that? No change or sacrifice required. Great!

My first reaction is to say the burden of proof lies with those who think God will solve everything. Since when? I didn’t see God jump in and save the Jews from the holocaust, stop the oil spill, or miraculously eliminate the AIDS epidemic. God has never stopped great evils and tragedies from happening in human history, and we have no reason to believe that God ever will.

Green tips for ovens and broilers

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These are some good tips for conserving energy this winter while using your oven and broiler.

1. Preheat an oven only if necessary. Baked goods, roasted meats and poultry are more likely to need initial hot cooking, but most casseroles can go directly into a cold oven.

2. Don’t open the oven door unless necessary. The temperature drops about 25 degrees every time you do.

3. Adjust your oven racks to the desire position before heating the oven.

4. Don’t overcook. Set a timer and use a thermometer.

5. Clean your oven window to monitor progress. Scrape away gunk with a one-sided razor blade.

6. Line your oven floor with oven mats and clean those as needed instead of using the self-cleaning option.

7. Keep air flowing; don’t cover racks with foil, and don’t block heat vents on the oven floor with foil.

8. Bake or roast more than one item at a time. Ask yourself: What else can I cook at the same time?

9. Since the oven will be hot, you can also pop something else into when the first dish is done and make use of the existing heat. Getting an oven up to a desired temperature takes a lot of fuel.

Automakers seek help on reducing new fuel economy standards

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The Wall Street Journal reports that auto makers are asking newly empowered House Republicans to help fight a proposal under consideration by the Obama administration to boost fuel-economy standards for new cars and trucks to as high as 62 miles per gallon by 2025.

"The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, the car industry's main trade group, wrote in a letter to U.S. Reps. Darrell Issa (R., Calif.) and Fred Upton (R., Mich.) that fuel-economy standards are "by far the most expensive regulations auto makers face." The group warned that the 62 mpg proposal—backed by the state of California—would boost the price consumers pay for a car by as much as $6,400, resulting in a possible 25% drop in car sales and the loss of 220,000 automotive jobs."

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