Sunday, July 22, 2007

Earth On Stone on Earth

If you going to be in the D.C. area, check out this very cool installation, an exhibit of planted sculpture - in part to elicit the spiritual nature of environment, and part diagrammatic interpretations of green roofs. The exhibit includes works by writers buried in Golden Gate Recreation Area and Prospect Park, and a discussion on social environmental action with a variety of academic, spiritual and community leaders, including Rabbi Warren Stone, and Pastor Marvin Tollefson, whose Christ Lutheran congregation hosts monthly discussions coordinated by Greater Washington DC Interfaith Power and Light.
AUGUST 5-30, 2007 916 G St NW, Washington DC 20001

More information can be found at http://www.earthonstone.org/and exhibit photos and film will be online on August 5th.
Interfaith Power and Light is a religious response to global warming with chapters in 22 states and Greater Washington, D.C. Find a link to your local chapter at http://www.theregenerationproject.org/State.htm

1 comment:

Warren said...

June 2008

Climate Change Beyond Diplomacy: Thinking Outside the Box
Rabbi Warren Stone

“In a world where matters of faith seem so often and so tragically to divide us, there is no issue which aligns us more deeply than our shared dependence upon and sacred responsibility to this tiny planet, enfolded within its fragile atmosphere, spinning in the vastness of time and space.”

Kyoto and Bali agreements calling for worldwide reductions in CO2 emissions are a critical step in the world challenge to reduce our dependence on our diminishing world oil supplies. Yet according to current research, even if the nations of the world adopt the protocols, they will be insufficient to counter the growing impact of climate change in the current century. (Pew Foundation: Beyond Kyoto: Advancing the International Effort Against Climate Change)

It is time to start thinking outside of the diplomatic box. With all due respect to the Lieberman-Warner Climate Bill in the U.S. Senate and the hoped-for policy change it would bring, it is time to challenge both our country and world populations to take steps beyond legislation and diplomacy to begin to transform our daily lives in ways that can impact this rise in CO2.

I recently spoke at the British Embassy at a panel on Faith and Climate Change. It was part of a Washington, D.C. symposium on Climate Change and Security for all the US British consulates around the country. I applaud them for seeking leaders of faith communities to voice their concerns with diplomats. I served on a panel with a Christian Evangelical environmental leader, Rev. Richard Cizik and a young Muslim woman known as “Sanjana,” who started a “DC Green Muslims blog.” The British consulates sought voices from the faith community because they realize that the issue of climate change will demand a populist response beyond diplomacy. Faith leaders can and must inspire and mobilize their communities on this urgent issue

People of faith on this planet number in the billions. Teaching people of faith basic environmental values and practices can have an immense impact. Perhaps we need an 11th Commandment of walking gently upon this earth of ours and being aware of our own carbon footprint as a religious mandate. Our religious traditions all share a spiritual mandate for caring for a Godly creation. Reaching religious leaders and their communities on this issue could not be more critical. Indeed, responding to climate change has become the most significant moral and spiritual issue facing humanity today. Our ancient religious traditions are concerned with protecting life and creation in the broadest sense. In a world where matters of faith seem so often and so tragically to divide us, there is no issue which aligns us more deeply than our shared dependence upon and sacred responsibility to this tiny planet, enfolded within its fragile atmosphere, spinning in the vastness of time and space.

I experienced this common faith when I served as a UN delegate representing many Jewish organizations at the Kyoto talks in 1997. At that time I spoke along with eight other religious leaders at the largest Buddhist Temple in Kyoto as a part of the conference. We concurred that people of diverse faith traditions have a spiritual and moral responsibility to act now.

As a religious leader involved in climate change issues now for many years I believe we need a gradual paradigm shift in our very way of life. In an article in The New York Times, “What’s Your Consumption Factor?” January 2, 2008, Jared Diamond pointed out that world consumption is growing at an unsustainable rate in the face of a growing world population, particularly in India and China. China has a population of 1.3 billion and growing. Our forests and natural resources will not be able to sustain this demographic explosion. Perhaps we might be able to sustain 9 billion people but multiply that in our century and you can see we are facing a consumption doomsday.

The western ethic which continually encourages more growth, more cars, more computers and media tools is fostering a road leading to disaster. Not only are we using up the world’s diminishing resources, but we are also contributing to climate change and threatening the world’s species in a silent genocide. We are all imperiled by climate change — a rise in water-borne illness, the devastation of coastal lands, frequently inhabited by some of the neediest populations —with world refugees with no where to go. We must act now. We must listen to Hillel, who chastised: “If not now, when?”

If diplomacy is not enough, what can we do and do now?

• Let us begin by greening our government and its diverse institutions. Let the Capitol, the White House and Congress become green examples to the nation. So too, our state and local governments need to become actively engaged in greening.
• Let’s follow with our schools and universities. Let the state, county and local fleets and buses become hybrid or new fuel cell vehicles.
• Let’s devote resources to public transportation and bicycle paths in all our cities.
• Let all our country’s religious institutions become models of environmental possibilities with green architecture, use of solar and wind power, community recycling and gardening and a true application of the spiritual teachings and truths of the earth.
• Let us also support a green paradigm shift by encouraging awards in environmental activism to architects, engineers, artists, statesmen and people of faith who set the highest and most outstanding standards.
• Let’s establish financial incentives to encourage artists, musicians and writers to adopt this greening mandate and use their tools of music, drama, art and poetry to further environmental vision and activism.
• Let’s support a new green foods movement which encourages a more vegetarian diet -- not only healthier and more just, but far more sustainable for the people of our world.
• Let’s learn from examples abroad. Last year, London had a “Sustainability Week,” with 350 green events for the public attended by tens of thousands of people. Holland and Austria created a “Green Wave 21st Century” festival throughout their countries and awarded prizes for ecological leadership.
Paradigm shifts start from the grassroots up. The US civil rights movement, which gained momentum from the faith and labor communities, is an apt analogy to guide our response to today’s demands of world climate change. The civil rights movement gained momentum not via legislation but rather by a populist participation throughout the South and across the country. Faith communities, those involved in labor and community leadership, as well as artists and activists of all stripes and visions can now help lead to the kind of political change and bold action necessary to preserve and protect life and all creation on this sacred home of ours.

Let’s focus on the positive and the doable. We don’t want our children and future generations to inherit a sense of doom and gloom, but rather to feel in full measure the innate and infinite capacity of the human spirit to arise and overcome the most demanding challenges humanity may face. We want them to see all life, including their own, as a miracle worthy of celebration. We want them to see the preservation of life on our planet as a mission worthy of their greatest passions and energies and to feel the joy that comes from joining in common cause for greater good.

Let me end with a prayer by a visionary poet, e.e. cummings: “ I thank God for this amazing day: for the leaping green spirits of trees and a blue true dream of sky; for everything which is natural which is infinite which is yes.”


Rabbi Stone is known nationally for his leadership on Religion and the Environment. He is the founding and current chair of the Central Conference of American Rabbis’ Committee on the Environment and serves on the board of COEJL, the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life. He has led delegations on environmental issues to the Congress and White House. Rabbi Stone was honored with opening a session of the U.S. Congress in 1998. In 2002, he co-chaired a Senate conference with Senator Joseph Lieberman and members of the native Gwinchin people calling for a protection of the Arctic Wildlife Refuge. He has spoken several times at rallies at the U.S. Capital on environmental issues. He also serves as Co-chair of the Religious Campaign for Forest Conservation as well as Co-chair of the Religious Coalition on Creation Care. Rabbi Stone has led interfaith delegations on climate change and environmental issues to the Congress, the White House and the World Bank. He has spoken at the British Embassy at their US Consulates gathering on Climate Security and has given the opening prayer to Earth Day in 2008 at the U.S. Capitol as well as being interviewed at Temple Emanuel on NBC's Today Show and the Politico Newspaper in Washington. Grist Internet Environmental Media source did an extensive interview with the Rabbi, and named him one of the world's top 15 green religious leaders. He has received a distinguished merit award from the National Conference of Christians and Jews and a Merit award for his work on Judaism and the Environment from Shomre Adamah of Washington, D.C.

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