Friday, August 31, 2007

Clean Energy Expo in Essex, CT Sept. 25

Essex Citizens for Clean Energy is sponsoring a Clean Energy Expo at the Essex Town Hall auditorium on Tuesday, September 25, 2007 from 6-9 pm. The speakers will include: State Representative James Spallone,who will speak on the recent energy bill that was passed by the General Assembly; First Selectman Philip Miller, who will talk about clean energy initiatives in Essex; and Robert Wall, Director of Marketing Initiatives at the CT Clean Energy Fund, who will talk about financial incentives for purchasing clean energy. In addition, therewill be exhibits concerning clean energy and green technology. Forfurther information, go to

Solar Seminar Sept. 8 East Hartford

A Seminar on " What is needed to make Solar Energy Utilization more widespread and effective ? " will be held on Saturday, Sept. 8 at 2 pm at the East Hartford Public Library, 840 Main Street, East Hartford, Conn. featuring presentations by David Henri on " The Example of the PV Initiative in California " and Eugene DeJoannis on " The Example of the German Solar Industry " and Contributions by other speakers. All interested persons are welcome. There is no charge, but please register in advance by calling
(860) 233-5684 or (860) 465-0368 or (860) 489-9555 or (203) 613-4363 or (845) 669-8341.
This event is presented by the Solar Energy Association of Connecticut, a NonProfit, Educational, Public-Awareness Organization. More details are on the Web Site at

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Go Veggie to Fight Warming?

Animal rights groups and others are taking up the cause of vegetarianism as a way to fight climate change, according to the New York Times article excerpted below:

The biggest animal rights groups do not always overlap in their missions, but now they have coalesced around a message that eating meat is worse for the environment than driving. They and smaller groups have started advertising campaigns that try to equate vegetarianism with curbing greenhouse gases.
Some backlash against this position is inevitable, the groups acknowledge, but they do have scientific ammunition. In late November, the
United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization issued a report stating that the livestock business generates more greenhouse gas emissions than all forms of transportation combined.
When that report came out,
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and other groups expected their environmental counterparts to immediately hop on the “Go Veggie!” bandwagon, but that did not happen. “Environmentalists are still pointing their fingers at Hummers and S.U.V.’s when they should be pointing at the dinner plate,” said Matt A. Prescott, manager of vegan campaigns for PETA.
So the animal rights groups are mobilizing on their own. PETA is outfitting a Hummer with a driver in a chicken suit and a vinyl banner proclaiming meat as the top cause of global warming. It will send the vehicle to the start of the climate forum the White House is sponsoring in Washington on Sept. 27, “and to headquarters of environmental groups, if they don’t start shaping up,” Mr. Prescott warned.
He said that PETA had written to more than 700 environmental groups, asking them to promote vegetarianism, and that it would soon distribute leaflets that highlight the impact of eating meat on global warming.
“You just cannot be a meat-eating environmentalist,” said Mr. Prescott, whose group also plans to send billboard-toting trucks to the Colorado Convention Center in Denver when Mr. Gore lectures there on Oct. 2. The billboards will feature a cartoon image of Mr. Gore eating a drumstick next to the tagline: “Too Chicken to Go
Vegetarian? Meat Is the No. 1 Cause of Global Warming.”

Humane Society of the United States has taken up the issue as well, running ads in environmental magazines that show a car key and a fork. “Which one of these contributes more to global warming?” the ads ask. They answer the question with “It’s not the one that starts a car,” and go on to cite the United Nations report as proof.
On its Web page and in its literature, the Humane Society has also been highlighting other scientific studies — notably, one that recently came out of the
University of Chicago — that, in essence, show that “switching to a plant-based diet does more to curb global warming than switching from an S.U.V. to a Camry,” said Paul Shapiro, senior director of the factory farming campaign for the Humane Society.
The society, Mr. Shapiro said, is not only concerned with what happens to domesticated animals, but also with preventing the carnage that global warming could cause to polar bears, seals and other wildlife. “Our mission is to protect animals, and global warming has become an animal welfare issue,” he said.

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

Pig Poo in Carolina: Nothing Finer?

New legislation passed in North Carolina doesn't totally seem to pass the smell test, according to an article in the Asheville Citizen-Times (excerpted here), which quotes North Carolina Interfaith Power and Light Regional Director Richard Fireman.
A law signed Monday by Gov. Mike Easley requires electric utilities to use renewable energy sources like sunlight, wind and even swine waste to meet the state’s growing power demand and cut down on greenhouse-gas emissions.
Now that North Carolina has joined in, exactly half of the states have such laws. Congress is mulling a similar measure.
“We’re seeing a dramatic upswing in the interest in renewable energy from the general public,” said Dave Hollister, co-founder of Sundance Power Systems in Mars Hill, “and ultimately what’s going to happen is, if the utilities don’t do it, the people are going to do it anyway, and the utilities are going to be left on the sideline.”
But states’ success in meeting their goals and the cost to consumers remains to be seen.
And lawmakers stand to lose political support from environmentalists, as North Carolina’s did, by trying to satisfy industry.
Environmentalists like Richard Fireman, western region director for N.C. Interfaith Power and Light, are skeptical of using such untested fuels derived from animal waste, and they wrinkle their noses even more at lawmakers’ concessions to power companies.
The same law that encourages alternative fuels also clears the way for new coal and nuclear plants.
Helping utilities build traditional plants only worsens global warming, Fireman said.
“We’re under a time constraint here before we pass several tipping points that are going to prevent us from really mitigating climate change,” said Fireman, who powers his Mars Hill home in part with solar panels.
Interfaith Power and Light is a religious response to global warming with chapters in 22 states (including the great state of North Carolina) and Greater Washington, D.C. Find a link to your local chapter at

Youth Climate Summit Nov. 2-5

This fall youth from across the country will convene in Washington, DC to change the climate on global warming in the United States. Together, they will create a shift in the fight for a clean and just energy future.
At this summit there will be a track specific for youth ages 16-26 from faith communities, which IPL is a co-sponsor. Workshops include how specific faith groups view climate change, lobbying from the faith prospective, and organizing from the campus ministry on a secular campus, reducing your house of worship's carbon footprint, developing your faith communities green team, power mapping in your community of faith, programs to engage your community, like how to create a green worship service.

If you are interested in attending, email me and I will provide more specifics or connect you with an appropriate IPL representative from your area. The summit is going to take place from Nov 2- 5 at University of Maryland, College Park. Registration will be available soon at
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

Monday, August 27, 2007

Merkel Goes After China on Climate

West German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited China and urged them to do more about climate change, but China balked, according to this report from Reuters that appeared in the New York Times.
BEIJING (Reuters) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged China on Monday to do more to halt climate change, prompting the response that the developed West has been polluting the skies for much longer than the newly developing Chinese.
Merkel is on her second visit to China as chancellor and the trip comes four months before world environment ministers meet in Bali to try to launch new talks to extend the Kyoto Protocol beyond 2012.
She pressed for stronger protection of intellectual property rights and said the ground rules for gathering resources should be the same worldwide, an apparent criticism of China's relations with Sudan.
China has sizeable economic interests in Sudan and has been under pressure to take a more critical approach to Khartoum after accusations aid from Beijing feeds violence in Darfur.
Wen Jiabao said China would do everything it could to fight product piracy but that there were differences concerning climate change.
"The Chinese wish, like all people, for blue skies, green hills and clear water," he told a joint news conference.
"China's development is an opportunity, not a threat," he said earlier.
He said the task of reducing emissions was tougher in China than in Germany because it had more people and had not yet reached economic growth of industrialized countries in terms of GDP per capita.
"China has taken part of the responsibility for climate change for only 30 years while industrial countries have grown fast for the last 200 years," he said.
Wen also responded to recent news reports that Chinese hackers had infected German government ministries with spying programs. The Der Spiegel magazine said top German ministries, including Merkel's office, had been infected by the attack.
"We in the government took it as a matter of grave concern," Wen said of the report. "Hackers breaking into and sabotaging computers is a problem faced by the entire world."
He told reporters that China would take "firm and effective action" to prevent hacking attacks.
Merkel also met President
Hu Jintao later on Monday and she heads to Japan on Wednesday where she will also address climate change and economic issues.
Merkel told Hu that their two countries needed to work together in human rights, intellectual property protection and climate change, as well as trade.
At a June summit chaired by Merkel, G8 leaders agreed to pursue substantial, if unspecified cuts, in greenhouse gases and work with the
U.N. on a new deal to fight global warming.
The Kyoto Protocol obliges 35 rich nations to cut greenhouse gas emissions, but developing nations including China have no targets. China will overtake the United States by 2008 as the world's leading emitter of greenhouse gases.
China is overtaking the United States as the world's second-biggest exporter and steadily catching up with Germany, the world's biggest.

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

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Calling all Religious Leaders

An opportunity for US clergy and heads of religious organizations to take action!
Unite with fellow faith leaders in calling on our national representatives to treat global warming as a moral responsibility. Sign an Interfaith Declaration on the Moral Responsibility of the U.S. Government to Address Global Warming.

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

Saturday, August 25, 2007

China Breaks Pollution Records

The New York Times posts yet another extensive and disturbing article about China's out of control pollution problem. Read an excerpt below:
BEIJING, Aug. 25 — No country in history has emerged as a major industrial power without creating a legacy of environmental damage that can take decades and big dollops of public wealth to undo.
But just as the speed and scale of China’s rise as an economic power have no clear parallel in history, so its pollution problem has shattered all precedents. Environmental degradation is now so severe, with such stark domestic and international repercussions, that pollution poses not only a major long-term burden on the Chinese public but also an acute political challenge to the ruling Communist Party. And it is not clear that China can rein in its own economic juggernaut.
Public health is reeling. Pollution has made cancer China’s leading cause of death, the Ministry of Health says. Ambient air pollution alone is blamed for hundreds of thousands of deaths each year. Nearly 500 million people lack access to safe drinking water.
Chinese cities often seem wrapped in a toxic gray shroud. Only 1 percent of the country’s 560 million city dwellers breathe air considered safe by the
European Union. Beijing is frantically searching for a magic formula, a meteorological deus ex machina, to clear its skies for the 2008 Olympics.
Environmental woes that might be considered catastrophic in some countries can seem commonplace in China: industrial cities where people rarely see the sun; children killed or sickened by lead poisoning or other types of local pollution; a coastline so swamped by algal red tides that large sections of the ocean no longer sustain marine life.
China is choking on its own success. The economy is on a historic run, posting a succession of double-digit growth rates. But the growth derives, now more than at any time in the recent past, from a staggering expansion of heavy industry and urbanization that requires colossal inputs of energy, almost all from coal, the most readily available, and dirtiest, source.
“It is a very awkward situation for the country because our greatest achievement is also our biggest burden,” says Wang Jinnan, one of China’s leading environmental researchers. “There is pressure for change, but many people refuse to accept that we need a new approach so soon.”
China’s problem has become the world’s problem. Sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides spewed by China’s coal-fired power plants fall as acid rain on Seoul, South Korea, and Tokyo. Much of the particulate pollution over Los Angeles originates in China, according to the Journal of Geophysical Research.
More pressing still, China has entered the most robust stage of its industrial revolution, even as much of the outside world has become preoccupied with
global warming.
Experts once thought China might overtake the United States as the world’s leading producer of greenhouse gases by 2010, possibly later. Now, the International Energy Agency has said China could become the emissions leader by the end of this year, and the Netherlands Environment Assessment Agency said China had already passed the milestone.
For the Communist Party, the political calculus is daunting. Reining in economic growth to alleviate pollution may seem logical, but the country’s authoritarian system is addicted to fast growth. Delivering prosperity placates the public, provides spoils for well-connected officials and forestalls demands for political change. A major slowdown could incite social unrest, alienate business interests and threaten the party’s rule.
But pollution poses its own threat. Officials blame fetid air and water for thousands of episodes of social unrest. Health care costs have climbed sharply. Severe water shortages could turn more farmland into desert. And the unconstrained expansion of energy-intensive industries creates greater dependence on imported oil and dirty coal, meaning that environmental problems get harder and more expensive to address the longer they are unresolved.
China’s leaders recognize that they must change course. They are vowing to overhaul the growth-first philosophy of the
Deng Xiaoping era and embrace a new model that allows for steady growth while protecting the environment. In his equivalent of a State of the Union address this year, Prime Minister Wen Jiabao made 48 references to “environment,” “pollution” or “environmental protection.”
The government has numerical targets for reducing emissions and conserving energy. Export subsidies for polluting industries have been phased out. Different campaigns have been started to close illegal coal mines and shutter some heavily polluting factories. Major initiatives are under way to develop clean energy sources like solar and wind power. And environmental regulation in Beijing, Shanghai and other leading cities has been tightened ahead of the 2008 Olympics.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Bush Administration Expands Mountaintop Coal Mining

Environmentalists in West Virginia are being dealt a devastating blow later this week, according to this New York Times article:
WASHINGTON, Aug. 22 — The Bush administration is set to issue a regulation on Friday that would enshrine the coal mining practice of mountaintop removal. The technique involves blasting off the tops of mountains and dumping the rubble into valleys and streams.
It has been used in Appalachian coal country for 20 years under a cloud of legal and regulatory confusion.
The new rule would allow the practice to continue and expand, providing only that mine operators minimize the debris and cause the least environmental harm, although those terms are not clearly defined and to some extent merely restate existing law.
The Office of Surface Mining in the
Interior Department drafted the rule, which will be subject to a 60-day comment period and could be revised, although officials indicated that it was not likely to be changed substantially.
The regulation is the culmination of six and a half years of work by the administration to make it easier for mining companies to dig more coal to meet growing energy demands and reduce dependence on foreign oil.
Government and industry officials say the rules are needed to clarify existing laws, which have been challenged in court and applied unevenly.
A spokesman for the National Mining Association, Luke Popovich, said that unless mine owners were allowed to dump mine waste in streams and valleys it would be impossible to operate in mountainous regions like West Virginia that hold some of the richest low-sulfur coal seams.
All mining generates huge volumes of waste, known as excess spoil or overburden, and it has to go somewhere. For years, it has been trucked away and dumped in remote hollows of Appalachia.
Environmental activists say the rule change will lead to accelerated pillage of vast tracts and the obliteration of hundreds of miles of streams in central Appalachia.
“This is a parting gift to the coal industry from this administration,” said Joe Lovett, executive director of the Appalachian Center for the Economy and the Environment in Lewisburg, W.Va. “What is at stake is the future of Appalachia. This is an attempt to make legal what has long been illegal.”
Mr. Lovett said his group and allied environmental and community organizations would consider suing to block the new rule.
Mountaintop mining is the most common strip mining in central Appalachia, and the most destructive. Ridge tops are flattened with bulldozers and dynamite, clearing all vegetation and, at times, forcing residents to move.
The coal seams are scraped with gigantic machines called draglines. The law requires mining companies to reclaim and replant the land, but the process always produces excess debris.
Roughly half the coal in West Virginia is from mountaintop mining, which is generally cheaper, safer and more efficient than extraction from underground mines like the Crandall Canyon Mine in Utah, which may have claimed the lives of nine miners and rescuers, and the Sago Mine in West Virginia, where 12 miners were killed last year.
The rule, which would apply to waste from both types of mines, is known as the stream buffer zone rule. First adopted in 1983, it forbids virtually all mining within 100 feet of a river or stream.
The Interior Department drafted the proposal to try to clear up a 10-year legal and regulatory dispute over how the 1983 rule should be applied. The change is to be published on Friday in The Federal Register, officials said.
Army Corps of Engineers, state mining authorities and local courts have read the rule liberally, allowing extensive mountaintop mining and dumping of debris in coal-rich regions of West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia.
From 1985 to 2001, 724 miles of streams were buried under mining waste, according to the environmental impact statement accompanying the new rule.
If current practices continue, another 724 river miles will be buried by 2018, the report says.
Environmental groups have gone to court many times, with limited success, to slow or stop the practice. They won an important ruling in federal court in 1999, but it was overturned in 2001 on procedural and jurisdictional grounds.
The Clinton administration began moving in 1998 to tighten enforcement of the stream rule, but the clock ran out before it could enact new regulations. The Bush administration has been much friendlier to mining interests, which have been reliable contributors to the
Republican Party, and has worked on the new rule change since 2001.
The early stages of the revision process were supported by J. Stephen Griles, a former industry lobbyist who was the deputy interior secretary from 2001 to 2004. Mr. Griles had been deputy director of the Office of Surface Mining in the Reagan administration and is knowledgeable about the issues and generally supports the industry.
In June, Mr. Griles was sentenced to 10 months in prison and three years’ probation for lying to a Senate committee about his ties to
Jack Abramoff, the lobbyist at the heart of a corruption scandal who is now in prison.
Interior Department officials said they could not comment on the rule because it had not been published. But a senior official of the Office of Surface Mining said the stream buffer rule was never intended to prohibit all mining in and around streams, but rather just to minimize the effects of such work.
Even with the best techniques and most careful reclamation, surface or underground mining will always generate mountains of dirt and rock, he said.
“There’s really no place to put the material except in the upper reaches of hollows,” the official said. “If you can’t put anything in a stream, there’s really no way to even underground mine.”
He said the regulation would explicitly state that the buffer zone rule does not apply for hundreds of miles of streams and valleys and that he hoped, but did not expect, that the rule would end the fight over mine waste.
Mr. Lovett of the Appalachian Center said the rule would only stoke a new battle.
“They are not strengthening the buffer zone rule,” he said. “They are just destroying it. By sleight of hand, they are removing one of the few protections streams now have from the most egregious mining activities.”

For more information, go to
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

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Farming by the Book

The Good Book, that is. This New York Times article excerpted below talks about how and why religion is driving people to get into the humane and organic farm business:
NEAR a prairie dotted with cattle and green with soy beans, barley, corn and oats, two bearded Hasidic men dressed in black pray outside a slaughterhouse here that is managed by an evangelical Christian.
What brought these men together could easily have kept them apart: religion.
The two Hasidim oversee shehitah, the Jewish ritual slaughtering of meat according to the Book of Leviticus. The meat is then shipped to Wise Organic Pastures, a kosher food company in Brooklyn owned by Issac Wiesenfeld and his family. When Mr. Wiesenfeld sought an organic processor that used humane methods five years ago, he found Scott Lively, who was just beginning Dakota Beef, now one of the largest organic meat processors in the country.
Mr. Lively adheres to a diet he believes Jesus followed. Like Mr. Wiesenfeld, he says the Bible prescribes that he use organic methods to respect the earth, treat his workers decently and treat the cattle that enter his slaughterhouse as humanely as possible.
“We learn everything from the Old Testament,” Mr. Lively said, “from keeping kosher to responsible capitalism.”
Humane, sustainable practices like Mr. Lively’s are articles of faith for many Americans concerned with the way food gets from farm to plate. But they are even more deeply held matters of faith for a growing number of farmers and religious groups. In the past few years protecting the environment has emerged as a religious issue. Now, something similar is taking place in the way people of faith view their daily bread.
Christians, Jews and Muslims who see food through a moral lens are increasingly organized and focused on showing their strength. The Religious Working Group on the Farm Bill, a national coalition of more than a dozen religious organizations, is lobbying Congress for legislation to help small farms. The National Catholic Rural Life Conference is helping congregations and universities in the Midwest buy local produce from family farmers.
Environment-minded Jews are asking the leaders of Conservative Judaism to rewrite their kosher certification rules to incorporate ethical concerns about workers, animals and the land. Hazon, the Jewish environmental organization, has set up community-supported agriculture programs, or C.S.A.’s, in which customers purchase shares of a farm’s harvest.
“This is the first time I have seen such a deep and growing involvement of the faith community,” said Brother David Andrews, who is on sabbatical from his job as executive director of the National Catholic Rural Life Conference and has followed these kinds of issues for 30 years.
If this nascent cause was taken up by large numbers of churches and synagogues, the economic effect alone could be profound. “The religious movement is a huge force,” said Arlin S. Wasserman, the founder of Changing Tastes, a consulting firm in St. Paul that advises food companies and philanthropic organizations on trends in food and agriculture. “Already, religious institutions oversee the production of $250 billion per year in food if you bundle together halal, kosher, and institutional buying.
“Religious leaders have been giving dietary advice for decades and centuries, telling us to eat fish on Friday or to keep kosher in your home. What we are seeing now are contemporary concerns like the fair treatment of farm workers, humane treatment of animals and respect for the environment being integrated into the dietary advice given by the churches.”
Religious officials say agricultural issues seem to be particularly appealing to younger people.
“Food and the environment is the civil rights movement for people under the age of 40,” said the Rev. John Wimberly, pastor of the Western Presbyterian Church in Washington.
The church recently helped restore a small farmers’ market called the Fresh Farm Market at Foggy Bottom, using its facility to house tents, signs and carts. At the end of the day parishioners glean the food left at the market for their soup kitchen.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Support Your Local Farmer

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a growing phenomenon, thanks in part to local congregations like the one featured in this article excerpted from the San Mateo County Journal.
On Wednesday evenings, faith and produce mingle at Atlanta’s Congregation Shearith Israel synagogue.
As parents gather to collect their children from Hebrew school or attend lectures, many also pass through the social hall, where they collect boxes of tomatoes, peaches, spinach and other organic produce.
It’s a blending of physical and spiritual sustenance that Rabbi Hillel Norry calls the best of Jewish values in action, and it’s just one of a growing number of faith-based community supported agriculture (or CSA) programs nationwide.
“We’re taking Jewish ideals of justice, economics, health, ecology, well-being and responsibility and putting them to work in the real world in a way that makes our lives and the life of the farmer better,” Norry says.
Fueled by growing interest in local food, CSAs have gone from just a few during the 1980s to about 2,000 today. They operate on the simple premise of enlisting community support for area farms, then rewarding that support with food.
In most cases, people buy shares in participating farms, paying a set amount upfront. For the Atlanta group, it’s $700, though most CSAs cost between $400 and $600. In exchange, the farmer delivers to them a weekly share of the crops, usually for 20 weeks or more. Consumers get good, local food; farmers get guaranteed income.
Of course, interest is contingent on caring about where one’s food comes from. But for some faiths, that concern is built in. Many Jews and Muslims follow kosher and halal tenets, which detail how foods can be raised, processed and stored.
For others, it’s a natural extension of existing concerns about the ethics and values of food and eating, issues important to groups such as the Iowa-based National Catholic Rural Life Conference.
Under the group’s leadership, several organic farms with CSAs have been established on or are planned for church-owned land in Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York and Ohio, many of them operated by orders of monks and nuns.
“We’re still at the beginning of this ethical food system revolution,” says Brother David Andrews, the conference’s executive director. “Only a small percentage of our institutions and dioceses are doing this, but as consciousness of things like global warming, the obesity epidemic and diabetes grow, support for this will continue to grow.”
Launched this spring, Shearith Israel’s program is one of 10 Jewish CSAs created during the past three years as part of a project called Tuv Ha’aretz, Hebrew for both “the best of the land” and “good for the land.”
Under the auspices of Hazon, a New York-based nonprofit that also runs Jewish environmental bike rides and a blog on Jews, food and contemporary issues, Tuv Ha’aretz was started at New York’s Congregation Ansche Chesed.
“We needed 40 families to start, and we had 80 sign up,” says Nigel Savage, Hazon’s founder and director.
And interest elsewhere is strong, too. Tuv Ha’aretz coordinator Leah Koenig says she frequently gets e-mails from people around the country asking for information on starting a CSA in their synagogue or Jewish community center.
In Atlanta, Aaron Marks, a law student, said he and his wife joined the CSA for their 16-month-old son. “We’d heard a lot of scary reports about growth hormones and pesticides and wanted to try to keep his diet as chemical-free as possible,” he said. “We’re both concerned about the environment, and the fact that we’re doing something that might have a direct effect is good.”
Frieda Socol, a member of Shearith Israel since before her wedding 57 years ago, says the fresh CSA produce has started to take center stage at her Friday night dinners, when her family comes together to celebrate the Jewish Sabbath.
“I’ve learned a lot, finding out just exactly what can be done with some of these sometimes rather strange vegetables we have,” she said. “They’ve made Friday night dinner more interesting.”
Tuv Ha’aretz also runs CSA programs in St. Paul, Minn., Houston, Berkeley, Calif., Philadelphia and Washington, and even provides them with relevant biblical passages and other Jewish texts for inclusion in weekly CSA newsletters.
Hazon hopes to share its CSA model with other faiths and is seeking funding to launch joint efforts with the National Catholic Rural Life Conference and Faith In Place, an ecumenical environmental group in Chicago.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Fasting for the Climate

According to Ekklesia,
A coalition of activists from US civic and religious groups concerned about the impact of climate change on the global community, particularly the poorest, are organising a fast on 4 September 2007 to call for concerted action.
Among those who will take part are well-known environmental author Bill McKibben and National Council of Churches USA general secretary the Rev Dr Bob Edgar.
The event is being coordinated through the website It is calling for: no new coal or coal-to-liquid plants; a freeze greenhouse on gas emissions with moves quickly to reduce them; and a downpayment of US$25 billion for energy conservation, efficiency and renewable energy.
The full appeal is as follows:
As global warming rapidly intensifies, the prospect of much more extensive hunger worldwide becomes increasingly likely, especially in poor countries, due to drought, Katrina-like storms, glacial melting and sea level rise. These impacts will lead to crop failures and economic and social disruption on a massive scale.
To draw attention to this threat and its moral implications, we are calling on thousands of Americans to voluntarily give up food for one day on September 4th, 2007. Other participants will fast even longer beginning on that date, some for weeks. Our appeal to you is to consider joining us in this climate initiative called, "So Others Might Eat: The Climate Emergency Fast." Give up food for one day now to draw attention to the fact that others may have no food tomorrow unless we halt global warming.
September 4th is the day Congress returns from its summer recess. What better way to mark that day than with a small personal sacrifice meant to send an urgent message: it's time for our national leaders to take action to solve the climate threat!
Fasting is a simple yet profound way of combining the spiritual and the political. Mahatma Gandhi called it "the sincerest form of prayer." It communicates seriousness and urgency without violence, thereby focusing peoples' attention on the issues of the fast.
The overwhelming urgency of the climate situation is motivating this call. We don't think the climate movement can accept that there will be little of substance coming out of this Congress while President Bush is in office. We can't, in essence, let Congress off the hook for another two years. We must do as much as we can, we must push ourselves to do more than we're used to doing, to step it up now.
What will we be calling for? Three things: no new coal or coal-to-liquid plants; freeze greenhouse gas emissions and move quickly to reduce them; and a down payment of $25 billion for energy conservation, efficiency and renewable energy.
Our hope is that this fast will generate the kind of media coverage and grassroots response sufficient to pressure Congress to act quickly and decisively.

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

Friday, August 10, 2007

I'm Melting!

Floating polar ice has been melting at record levels this summer and the trend will likely continue until the end of the boreal summer in September. Read the New York Times story below and check out related links at the end of the story:
The area of floating ice in the Arctic has shrunk more this summer than in any other summer since satellite tracking began in 1979, and it has reached that record point a month before the annual ice pullback typically peaks, experts said yesterday.
The cause is probably a mix of natural fluctuations, like unusually sunny conditions in June and July, and long-term warming from heat-trapping greenhouse gases and sooty particles accumulating in the air, according to several scientists.
William L. Chapman, who monitors the region at the
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and posted a Web report on the ice retreat yesterday, said that only an abrupt change in conditions could prevent far more melting before the 24-hour sun of the boreal summer set in September. “The melting rate during June and July this year was simply incredible,” Mr. Chapman said. “And then you’ve got this exposed black ocean soaking up sunlight and you wonder what, if anything, could cause it to reverse course.”
Mark Serreze, a sea-ice expert at the
National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colo., said his center’s estimates differed somewhat from those of the Illinois team, and by the ice center’s reckoning the retreat had not surpassed the satellite-era record set in 2005. But it was close even by the center’s calculations, he said, adding that it is almost certain that by September, there will be more open water in the Arctic than has been seen for a long time. Ice experts at NASA and the University of Washington echoed his assessment.
Dr. Serreze said that a high-pressure system parked over the Arctic appeared to have caused a “triple whammy” — keeping away clouds, causing winds to carry warm air north and pushing sea ice away from Siberia, exposing huge areas of open water.
The progressive summertime opening of the Arctic has intensified a longstanding international tug of war over shipping routes and possible oil and gas deposits beneath the Arctic Ocean seabed.
Last week, Russians planted a flag on the seabed at the North Pole. On Wednesday, Stephen Harper, the Canadian prime minister, began a tour of Canada’s Arctic holdings, pledging “to vigorously protect our Arctic sovereignty as international interest in the region increases.”
The Big Melt A series describing the effects of warming on the environment and the people of the Arctic. Postcards From the Arctic Andrew C. Revkin's three Arctic multimedia reports.
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

Forget Diamonds: It's Plastic Bags That Are Forever

Every plastic bag you have ever seen in your life likely still exists in some form, and will continue to exist long after you die: that's just one of the startling facts in a Salon article about plastic bags. Here is an excerpt:
Aug. 10, 2007 OAKLAND, Calif. -- On a foggy Tuesday morning, kids out of school for summer break are learning to sail on the waters of Lake Merritt. A great egret hunts for fish, while dozens of cormorants perch, drying their wings. But we're not here to bird-watch or go boating. Twice a week volunteers with the Lake Merritt Institute gather on these shores of the nation's oldest national wildlife refuge to fish trash out of the water, and one of their prime targets is plastic bags. Armed with gloves and nets with long handles, like the kind you'd use to fish leaves out of a backyard swimming pool, we take to the shores to seek our watery prey.
Dr. Richard Bailey, executive director of the institute, is most concerned about the bags that get waterlogged and sink to the bottom. "We have a lot of animals that live on the bottom: shrimp, shellfish, sponges," he says. "It's like you're eating at your dinner table and somebody comes along and throws a plastic tarp over your dinner table and you."

This morning, a turtle feeds serenely next to a half submerged Walgreens bag. The bag looks ghostly, ethereal even, floating, as if in some kind of purgatory suspended between its briefly useful past and its none-too-promising future. A bright blue bags floats just out of reach, while a duck cruises by. Here's a Ziploc bag, there a Safeway bag. In a couple of hours, I fish more than two dozen plastic bags out of the lake with my net, along with cigarette butts, candy wrappers and a soccer ball. As we work, numerous passersby on the popular trail that circles the urban lake shout their thanks, which is an undeniable boost. Yet I can't help being struck that our efforts represent a tiny drop in the ocean. If there's one thing we know about these plastic bags, it's that there are billions and billions more where they came from.
The plastic bag is an icon of convenience culture, by some estimates the single most ubiquitous consumer item on Earth, numbering in the trillions. They're made from petroleum or natural gas with all the attendant
environmental impacts of harvesting fossil fuels. One recent study found that the inks and colorants used on some bags contain lead, a toxin. Every year, Americans throw away some 100 billion plastic bags after they've been used to transport a prescription home from the drugstore or a quart of milk from the grocery store. It's equivalent to dumping nearly 12 million barrels of oil.
Only 1 percent of plastic bags are recycled worldwide -- about 2 percent in the U.S. -- and the rest, when discarded, can persist for centuries. They can spend eternity in landfills, but that's not always the case. "They're so aerodynamic that even when they're properly disposed of in a trash can they can still blow away and become litter," says Mark Murray, executive director of
Californians Against Waste. It's as litter that plastic bags have the most baleful effect. And we're not talking about your everyday eyesore.

Once aloft, stray bags cartwheel down city streets, alight in trees, billow from fences like flags, clog storm drains, wash into rivers and bays and even end up in the ocean, washed out to sea. Bits of plastic bags have been found in the nests of albatrosses in the remote Midway Islands. Floating bags can look all too much like tasty jellyfish to hungry marine critters. According to the Blue Ocean Society for Marine Conservation, more than a million birds and 100,000 marine mammals and sea turtles die every year from eating or getting entangled in plastic. The conservation group estimates that 50 percent of all marine litter is some form of plastic. There are 46,000 pieces of plastic litter floating in every square mile of ocean, according to the United Nations Environment Programme. In the Northern Pacific Gyre, a great vortex of ocean currents, there's now a swirling mass of plastic trash about 1,000 miles off the coast of California, which spans an area that's twice the size of Texas, including fragments of plastic bags. There's six times as much plastic as biomass, including plankton and jellyfish, in the gyre. "It's an endless stream of incessant plastic particles everywhere you look," says Dr. Marcus Eriksen, director of education and research for the Algalita Marine Research Foundation, which studies plastics in the marine environment. "Fifty or 60 years ago, there was no plastic out there."
Following the lead of countries like Ireland, Bangladesh, South Africa, Thailand and Taiwan, some U.S. cities are striking back against what they see as an expensive, wasteful and unnecessary mess. This year, San Francisco and Oakland outlawed the use of plastic bags in large grocery stores and pharmacies, permitting only paper bags with at least 40 percent recycled content or otherwise compostable bags. The bans have not taken effect yet, but already the city of Oakland is being sued by an association of plastic bag manufacturers calling itself the Coalition to Support Plastic Bag Recycling. Meanwhile, other communities across the country, including Santa Monica, Calif., New Haven, Conn., Annapolis, Md., and Portland, Ore., are considering taking drastic legislative action against the bags. In Ireland, a now 22-cent tax on plastic bags has slashed their use by more than 90 percent since 2002. In flood-prone Bangladesh, where plastic bags choked drainage systems, the bags have been banned since 2002.
The problem with plastic bags isn't just where they end up, it's that they never seem to end. "All the plastic that has been made is still around in smaller and smaller pieces," says Stephanie Barger, executive director of the Earth Resource Foundation, which has undertaken a
Campaign Against the Plastic Plague. Plastic doesn't biodegrade. That means unless they've been incinerated -- a noxious proposition -- every plastic bag you've ever used in your entire life, including all those bags that the newspaper arrives in on your doorstep, even on cloudless days when there isn't a sliver of a chance of rain, still exists in some form, even fragmented bits, and will exist long after you're dead.

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

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Bio Fuel By-Products

This article excerpted from the New York Times outlines the possible uses for bio fuel by-products.
The baking tins and muffin cups lining the countertops in a corner of Ronald Holser’s cluttered laboratory were filled with curious substances resembling angel food cakes and loaves of bread.
Victor Lin, right, the founder of Catilin, invented a way to make biodiesel fuel that also yields a higher-quality glycerol. With him are Larry Lenhart, chief executive, and Yang Cai, a researcher.
But Mr. Holser did not advise eating them. The concoctions were prototypes for biodegradable weed barriers and sticky films intended to hold grass seeds on the ground long enough to germinate.
If Mr. Holser, a research chemist, and his colleague Steven F. Vaughn, a plant physiologist, are successful, they will have found more than ecologically friendly ways to fight weeds and grow grass.
They will have found innovative uses for a byproduct of the production of biodiesel fuel, glycerol. This, in turn, could help transform the biodiesel industry into something that more closely resembles the petroleum industry, where fuel is just one of many profitable products.
“Just like petroleum refineries make more than one product that are the feedstock for other industries, the same will have to be true for biofuels,” said Kenneth F. Reardon, a professor of chemical and biological engineering at
Colorado State University in Fort Collins. “Biorefining is what the vision has to look like in the end.”
Glycerol is used in a variety of products, including foods, soap and dynamite. But as biodiesel fuel production in the United States has risen, the market for glycerol has become saturated.
If scientists like Mr. Holser, who works at the
United States Department of Agriculture’s research center in Athens, Ga., and Mr. Vaughn, who works at the department’s National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research in Peoria, Ill., can expand the number of valuable uses for the syrupy liquid, biodiesel makers could sell their glycerol instead of paying someone to haul it away.
“Every week I get at least one or two calls from biodiesel producers who have all this glycerol and don’t know what to do with it,” Mr. Holser said.
Glycerol, also called glycerin, is not the only byproduct of biofuel production that is the subject of experiments. Scientists are also looking at profiting from the leftovers from the production of corn ethanol and cellulosic ethanol, made from materials like switch grass, corn husks and prairie grass. Around the country, scientists, entrepreneurs and venture capitalists are becoming increasingly interested in making more than fuel out of the raw materials for biodiesel fuel and ethanol.
“The opportunity, as we think about increasing our consumption of biologically derived fuels, is to consider what besides fuels can we make,” said Erik Straser, general partner of MDV Mohr Davidow Ventures, a venture capital firm in Menlo Park, Calif.
Some researchers, like Mr. Holser, are simply trying to find new uses for the regular byproducts of biofuels: distillers’ dry grain from corn ethanol and lignin from cellulosic ethanol.
Other researchers are trying to develop technologies and processes that could yield different, more valuable byproducts. And still others are placing their bets on “biorefineries.”
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

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Extreme Weather Hits Record High in 07

According to Reuters, the world experienced a series of record-breaking extreme weather events early in 2007. Here is an exerpt of the article.
GENEVA (Reuters) - The world experienced a series of record-breaking weather events in early 2007, from flooding in Asia to heatwaves in Europe and snowfall in South Africa, the United Nations weather agency said on Tuesday.
The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said global land surface temperatures in January and April were likely the warmest since records began in 1880, at more than 1 degree Celsius higher than average for those months.
There have also been severe monsoon floods across South Asia, abnormally heavy rains in northern Europe, China, Sudan, Mozambique and Uruguay, extreme heatwaves in southeastern Europe and Russia, and unusual snowfall in South Africa and South America this year, the WMO said.
"The start of the year 2007 was a very active period in terms of extreme weather events," Omar Baddour of the agency's World Climate Program told journalists in Geneva.
While most scientists believe extreme weather events will be more frequent as heat-trapping carbon dioxide emissions cause global temperatures to rise, Baddour said it was impossible to say with certainty what the second half of 2007 will bring.
"It is very difficult to make projections for the rest of the year," he said.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a U.N. umbrella group of hundreds of experts, has noted an increasing trend in extreme weather events over the past 50 years and said irregular patterns are likely to intensify.
South Asia's worst monsoon flooding in recent memory has affected 30 million people in India, Bangladesh and Nepal, destroying croplands, livestock and property and raising fears of a health crisis in the densely-populated region.
Heavy rains also doused southern China in June, with nearly 14 million people affected by floods and landslides that killed 120 people, the WMO said.
England and Wales this year had their wettest May and June since records began in 1766, resulting in extensive flooding and more than $6 billion in damage, as well as at least nine deaths. Germany swung from its driest April since country-wide observations started in 1901 to its wettest May on record.
Mozambique suffered its worst floods in six years in February, followed by a tropical cyclone the same month, and flooding of the Nile River in June caused damage in Sudan.
Uruguay had its worst flooding since 1959 in May.
Huge swell waves swamped some 68 islands in the Maldives in May, resulting in severe damage, and the Arabian Sea had its first documented cyclone in June, touching Oman and Iran.
Temperature records were broken in southeastern Europe in June and July, and in western and central Russia in May. In many European countries, April was the warmest ever recorded.

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

Monday, August 6, 2007

Blessed Unrest

Are you a member of "the movement"? If you are reading this words, then you probably are. What movement am I talking about? The New York Times has a review of the new book, "Blessed Unrest: How the Largest Movement in the World Came Into Being and Why No One Saw It Coming" by Paul Hawken. Here is an excerpt of the review:

“The movement,” as Paul Hawken calls it, is made up of an unknowable number of citizens and mostly ragtag organizations that come and go. But when you do see it, you understand it to include NGOs, nonprofit agencies and a seemingly disparate range of people who might describe themselves as environmental activists, as well as people who might not describe themselves as anything at all but are protesting labor injustices, monitoring estuaries, supporting local farming or defending native people from being robbed of the last forests. There are a few billionaires, working hard to give their wealth away, and there are even some Christian evangelicals, who have decided the earth is not theirs to trash, but the movement is mostly about shared beliefs, even if those beliefs are unproclaimed. “Life is the most fundamental human right,” Hawken writes, “and all of the movements within the movement are dedicated to creating the conditions for life, conditions that include livelihood, food, security, peace, a stable environment and freedom from external tyranny.”
Still confused? Skip to the 100-plus-page appendix, a list of movement-oriented concerns from child labor to “green banking” to climate change, reflecting years of post-lecture business-card collecting on the author’s part. Hawken, the ecologically conscious founder of the gardening chain Smith & Hawken as well as a number of other enterprises involving things like sustainable agriculture and energy-saving technologies, makes the movement’s disparateness seem not so disparate — in its critique of markets, for example. “If there is a pervasive criticism of global capitalism that is shared by all actors in the movement, it is this observation: goods seem to have become more important, and are treated better, than people. What would a world look like if that emphasis were reversed?” The movement, most importantly, is very lowercase, its sensitivity being its great strength and, naturally, its tactical weakness. Do-gooding will always have a perception problem. Mountaintop-removal mining rarely risks seeming behind the times, even though it is; Amazonian tribesmen’s marching on a World Trade Organization meeting seems futile and quixotic, even though it’s not.
The rationale for the movement is sprinkled through the book like smelling salts. By the middle of the century, Hawken writes, resources per person on the globe will drop by half. Pesticide residues are prevalent in soft drinks in India. The
World Bank helps pay for an oil pipeline through the Mindo Nabillo Cloudforest in Ecuador. Species extinction and poverty abound while profits soar. “The world’s top 200 companies have twice the assets of 80 percent of the world’s people, and that asset base is growing 50 times faster than the income of the world’s majority,” Hawken notes. According to Hawken, the movement’s modus operandi is to work at the edges, on lower levels. The movement is an alternative to the old choice of Communism or capitalism, and the current one of freedom versus terror. “Instead of isms it offers processes, concerns and compassion,” he writes. “The movement demonstrates a pliable, resonant and generous side of humanity. It does not aim for the utopian ... but is eminently pragmatic.”
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

Friday, August 3, 2007

Global Warming Petition has put together a petition to the world's leaders demanding that they tackle climate change now, decisively and together. Click the link if you'd like to sign on.
Petition To World Leaders: Climate change is the greatest threat facing our world today - and we are almost out of time to stop it. You must tackle this problem now, decisively and together. Start working toward a new global agreement this year. Set binding global targets for emissions to avert catastrophic climate change. Take bold action immediately - and we will join our efforts with yours.
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

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Printers Cause Indoor Pollution

According to an article in PC world, commonly used laser printers could lead to serious health risks from indoor pollution.
Some home and office laser printers pose serious health risks and may spew out as much particulate matter as a cigarette smoker inhales, an Australian air quality researcher said Tuesday.
The study, appeared today in the online edition of the American Chemical Society's Environmental Science & Technology (ES&T) journal, measured particulate output of 62 laser printers, including models from name brands such as Canon, Hewlett-Packard and Ricoh. Particle emissions, believed to be toner -- the finely-ground powder used to form images and characters on paper -- were measured in an open office floor plan, then ranked.
Specific printer results are listed in
the published study.
What They Found
Lidia Morawska and colleagues at the Queensland University of Technology, classified 17 of the 62 printers, or 27 percent, as "high particle emitters"; one of the 17 pumped out particulates at a rate comparable with emissions from cigarette smoking, the study said.
Morawska called the emissions "a significant health threat" because of the particles' small size, which makes them easy to inhale and easily lodged in the deepest and smallest passageways of the lungs. The effects, she said, can range from simple irritation to much more serious illnesses, including cardiovascular problems or cancer. "Even very small concentrations can be related to health hazards," said Morawska. "Where the concentrations are significantly elevated means there is potentially a considerable hazard."
Two printers released medium levels of particulates, six issued low levels, and 37 -- or about 60 percent of those tested -- released no particles at all. HP, which is one of the world's leading printer sellers, dominated both the list of high-level emitting and non-emitting printers.
HP's Response
When contacted by PC World, the company issued this statement: "HP is currently reviewing the Queensland University of Technology research on particle emission characteristics of office printers. Vigorous tests under standardized operating conditions are an integral part of HP's research and development and its strict quality control procedures."
"As part of these quality controls, HP assesses its LaserJet printing systems, original HP print cartridges and papers for dust release and possible material emissions to ensure compliance with applicable international health and safety requirements."
The research also found that office particulate levels increased fivefold during work hours because of laser printers. Generally, more particles were emitted when the printer was using a new toner cartridge, and when printing graphics or photographs that require larger amounts of toner than, say, text.
Morawska recommended that people make sure rooms at work and home with laser printers are well ventilated.
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

Climate Change Could Cause Epidemics

According to an article in the (Canadian) Osprey Media, climate change could bring an increase in insect-bourne illnesses such as the mosquito-carried West Nile Virus.

Dr. Brian Hickey, a research scientist with the river institute, says as winter temperatures rise, insects will likely migrate to the area and may carry diseases researchers haven't yet discovered. "New diseases, new strains of diseases are cropping up," he says.
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"Even tropical diseases like malaria, we're not that far in terms of climate (from reaching temperatures disease-causing bacteria need to survive)." While Hickey points to climate change as a possible factor for a host of other developing diseases that are affecting fish in the area, he says it's impossible for biologists to predict the impact temperature changes will have on local ecosystems. But he says local outbreaks of West Nile virus, which is transmitted through infected mosquitoes and first appeared in the province six years ago, proves that once a new disease breaks out in a specific area, the risk of infection is usually permanent. "When a new disease like that arises, no one really knows how much is due to climate and how much is due to circumstances," he says. Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, a medical officer with the Eastern Ontario Health Unit, says local health officials have been concerned about West Nile following two local cases last summer. Other insect-borne illnesses, such as Lyme disease, are "very rare" in the area, he says. There was one case of tick-spread Lyme disease reported last year and as a result the health unit is carefully collecting ticks found in Cornwall and surrounding area to test them for disease. Roumeliotis says he can't confirm those cases were caused by global warming. "Some experts think diseases that we're not used to will habitat here," he says. "Is it because of the rising temperature? I'm not sure. Nobody really knows." "I don't think that anybody will say it's because of global warming, but as public health officials, we're always looking for trends." People should protect themselves against infectious bites by using insect repellent and wearing long-sleeved, light-coloured clothing, warns a doctor from the Public Health Agency of Canada. Dr. Peter Buck, who specializes in animal diseases that can be transmitted to humans, says the threat of new viruses is real, but Canadians shouldn't panic. "Climate change could just be one of many factors," Buck says. "It's something that scientists have been studying for years."
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

As North Pole Melts, Russia Claims Oil

According to an article in the (Canadian) National Post, Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay called Russia's rush to claim the ocean floor beneath the North Pole by planting a titanium-encased flag an empty gesture.
Two Russian submarines successfully plunged to the Arctic Ocean floor at the North Pole early Thursday, planting the nation's flag to mark the spot, and while expedition leaders hailed the exercise as a historic achievement, Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay dismissed it as "just a show" of Russian bravado.
In Charlottetown for the federal Conservative caucus meeting this week, Mr. MacKay said the diving expedition and flag-planting are "no threat to Canadian sovereignty."
Mr. MacKay, in a televised interview just hours after the Russian announcement, said: "This isn't the 15th century. You can't go around the world and just plant flags and say, We're claiming this territory.'
"There is no threat to Canadian sovereignty in the Arctic ... we're not at all concerned about this mission -- basically it's just a show by Russia," he told CTV.

A Russian NTV channel TV grab shows a front view of the Mir-1mini-submarine with Russian state flag prior to diving into the water of the Arctic Ocean, 02 August 2007. Members of Russia's parliament in a mini-submarine planted their country's flag four kilometres (2.5 miles) below the North Pole at the climax of a mission to back up Russian claims to the region's mineral riches.

But the dive is widely seen as a symbol of Russia's determination to claim ownership on an Ontario-sized swath of the Arctic Ocean sea floor -- and control potentially vast reserves of oil and gas on Canada's northern doorstep.
Expert observers in this country have said the relative ease with which the Russians can reach the North Pole and carry out such a descent is a clear indication of just how far behind Canada is in its capacity to assert its own claims in the Arctic Ocean.
Russia's flag-planting mission follows the claim made by a team of its scientists last month that the Lomonosov Ridge -- an underwater mountain chain that runs across the Arctic Ocean between Russia and Canada -- is geologically linked to Russia, giving it ownership of a vast, resource-rich area of the polar seafloor under a UN convention governing undersea territorial claims.
Though the Russian findings are far from proven, one expert, Mr. Michael Byers, Canada Research Chair in global politics and international law at the University of British Columbia, says Canada needs to identify possible underwater extensions to its own landmass before a 2013 deadline under the UN accord.
"Getting the work done on time will likely involve chartering a heavy icebreaker from Russia or Finland," Mr. Byers told CanWest News Service earlier this week. "So be it. The stakes involved more than justify the cost."
The Russian mini-submarines descended more than four kilometres underwater to reach the ocean floor and left behind a titanium capsule containing the Russian flag.

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