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Fr. Sean McDonagh: The acidification of the oceans


Columban Fr. Sean McDonagh is an ecologist, theologian and author. He writes and lectures on the relationship between faith, justice and ecology. He became involved in tackling global poverty and environmental degradation during his missionary years in the Philippines.

The wonder of the oceans
The oceans have a very special place in the story of the universe. To many of us, they are just there and seem ordinary and common place. But we can truly appreciate their significance when we view them as a special aspect of the unfolding of the universe itself. As far as we know, liquid water is found nowhere else in the Universe. Water vapor and ice has been found on other planets, but only on planet Earth have the oceans been created and maintained in their liquid form for four billion years. Oceans were probably on the Red planet (Mars), but they have long since vanished.

The bioregional quiz


Whether you live near the rainforests of the Pacific Northwest, the deserts of the Southwest, the Midwestern prairies, the Eastern oak-hickory or Southeastern pine forests, the marshlands and swamps of the Gulf Coast, how well do you know your region? Take the quiz and find out.

Describe the way your drinking water goes from its point of origin to your faucet.

How many days until full moon? (errors of up to two days allowed)

Describe the basic geology of the place you are living. What type of natural ground is there?

Approximately how much rain does your region get in a year?

When was the last great fire in your region?

What kind of food was usually consumed by the ancient cultures in your region?

Name five local edible wild plants or herbs and the best time when they can be gathered.

From which direction do the storms come during winter in your region?

Where is your garbage deposition?

How long is the tillage and the harvest period in your region?

On which day in the year are the shadows shortest in your region?

The bioregional vision: Living in and loving your own place


Leroy Hollow is a forested valley in southern Missouri near the Trappist Assumption Abbey. It winds several miles from Hilo Ridge down to Bryant Creek, a clear-flowing, rock-bottomed Ozark waterway.

A spring-fed stream shaded by spicebush and pawpaw trees runs down the hollow’s center. Its banks are carpeted with bloodroot, trillium and other wildflowers. In autumn the tinted leaves in the forest canopy filter the sun overhead like stained glass.

Draft decisions agreed upon in Canc˙n bode well for strong outcome of Mexico gathering


At the UN climate change conference in Cancún, the two bodies under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) which advise and implement decisions on climate action successfully concluded their work on Saturday with a number of significant draft decisions that will be put forward for adoption in the final plenary of the conference on 10 December.

The two groups are the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) and the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI).
The draft decisions included decisions on continued, strengthened support to developing countries efforts in adaptation and mitigation, including concrete technology transfer projects.

These advances form an important part of the groundwork for strengthened global climate change action. They also clearly show that countries have come to Cancún in good faith to show the world that the multilateral process can deliver as long as a spirit of compromise, cooperation and transparency prevails,. said Patricia Espinosa, President of the Conference and Secretary for Foreign Affairs of Mexico.

The world prays for success in Cancun


Fr. Shay Cullen writes from the Preda Center, Olongapo City, Philippines, about the need for the Mexico Climate Change Conference to succeed. The Preda Center mission is to promote sustainable developement through fair trade and poverty alleviation.

"As the representatives of 120 nations and thousands of climate change experts and campaigners work in Cancun, Mexico, to try once again to avert the pending disaster that is coming to the world, I add my voice to those of hundreds of thousands and if not millions crying out for the conference to succeed.

It's vitally urgent for humanity that progress be made in reducing world levels of carbon dioxide, methane emissions, and deforestation. The greenhouse gasses emitted when we burn coal, oil, wood, garbage in power plants all over the world in ever increasing amounts are called that the gasses, especially co2, rise into the earth's stratosphere and form an insulation blanket that traps the earth's heat leading to an overheated planet causing the climate to be affected, violently at times. The most direct impact this has is seen in the retreating ice glaciers of the Arctic.

NASA discovers arsenic-fed life form


NASA has discovered a new life form that can grow by substituting arsenic for phosphorus, redefining the agency’s search for different life forms other than the ones known on Earth.

The discovery was made by astrobiologists who performed tests by taking mud from Mono Lake -- a body of water in Northern California three times as salty as the ocean -- which has high arsenic content, said Felisa Wolfe-Simon, a NASA astrobiology research fellow with the U.S. Geological Survey, during a press conference Dec 2.

“(The microbe) is building itself out of arsenic, she said "All life we know is the same biochemically, and this is a little different. It is suggesting there is another way to be alive.”

Felisa Wolfe-Simon led researchers from eight federal and university laboratories conducting the experiment.’The researchers conceded that the odd microbes, in and of themselves, don't prove yet that there is a fundamentally different basis for life on Earth. "It is beginning to open the door a crack to possibilities," Wolfe-Simon said.

Fr. Charles Brandt: The land as sacred commons, sacramental commons


Fr. Charles Brandt lives as a hermit on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. He is active in the bioregional movement and in work that is underway to preserve the landscape in his Pacific Northwest location.

“It’s the right thing to do.” In the past several years this has been a favorite statement of intent by politicians, environmentalists, etc. Recently, President Obama used these words in addressing a group in Indonesia. What does "it’s the right thing mean?" The statement has ethical if not moral implications.

As our community and other communities grapple with environmental issues that effect us as a community, and by extension the very land itself (which includes the soil, water, plants, and animal life and the atmosphere as well), we look for solutions to these issues. We seek a way to resolve them, whether it be politically, scientifically, socially or philosophically – or a combination of the above. In these discussions, Watersheds are a common concern.

The philosophical or Zen approach in resolving these issues is worth considering. It is helpful to understand that the land, a watershed, is a sacramental commons, a sacred commons.

Santuario Sisterfarm combines sustainability with justice on the Texas-Mexico borderlands


Eco Catholic will feature ongoing profiles and news about religious communities of women and men around the country that practice and demonstrate Earth-friendly ways and means. Many of these communties are at the forefront in the effort to create new ways of living and doing business utilizing sustainable practices and honoring ecological principles.

Santuario Sisterfarm is a nonprofit organization founded in 2002 by Dominican Sisters of Adrian and Latinas of the Texas-Mexico Borderlands. Located in the Texas hill country and rooted in the rich multicultural legacy of the Borderlands, Santuario Sisterfarm is dedicated to cultivating biodiversity and cultural diversity — and living in right relationship with the whole Earth community.

We draw inspiration from Indian physicist and ecologist Vandana Shiva, who writes: “An intolerance of diversity is the biggest threat to peace in our times; conversely, the cultivation of diversity is the most significant contribution to peace — peace with nature and between diverse peoples.”

U. N. official defends the potential for progress at Mexico Climate Conference


The executive secretary of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change on Wednesday defended the potential for progress at the group’s annual conference in Cancún, in the midst of low expectations in the wake of last year’s meeting in Copenhagen.

“The fact is that no one can afford permanently immovable positions,” executive secretary Christiana Figueres said at a press conference in Cancún on Dec. 1, referencing the overall perception of a stalemate that took place in Copenhagen last year.

Delegates at the Copenhagen conference were not able to agree on a binding climate treaty for curbing carbon emissions, which has cast doubt on the potential for the group to reach a treaty at this year’s conference, policy experts say.

“Nobody can afford to stay in inaction, and it is very clear that countries are actually willing to engage to be able to produce results here in Cancún,” Figueres said.


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In This Issue

September 12-25, 2014


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