Thursday, July 31, 2008

Google Maps Walking Directions

Perhaps it is a sign of the times, but those who walk to destinations whenever possible will be pleased to learn that Google maps has a "walking" option when searching for directions.
Here's how it works: Go to and choose the "walking" option. The travel time reflects walking speed instead of driving time.

Interfaith Power and Light is a religious response to global warming with chapters in 26 states and Greater Washington, D.C. Find a link to your local chapter at out the National IPL Blog.

Find discounts on energy saving products at

Friday, July 18, 2008

Gore calls for Carbon-Free Grid in the US

According to an article in the New York Times, Al Gore has called on the United States to switch to clean sources for electric power by 2020. (See excerpt of article below.)
Dot Earth: The (Annotated) Gore Climate Speech
Former Vice President Al Gore said on Thursday that Americans must abandon electricity generated by fossil fuels within a decade and rely on the sun, the winds and other environmentally friendly sources of power, or risk losing their national security as well as their creature comforts.
“The survival of the United States of America as we know it is at risk,” Mr. Gore said in a speech to an energy conference here. “The future of human civilization is at stake.”
Mr. Gore called for the kind of concerted national effort that enabled Americans to walk on the moon 39 years ago this month, just eight years after President
John F. Kennedy famously embraced that goal. He said the goal of producing all of the nation’s electricity from “renewable energy and truly clean, carbon-free sources” within 10 years is not some farfetched vision, although he said it would require fundamental changes in political thinking and personal expectations.
“This goal is achievable, affordable and transformative,” Mr. Gore said in his remarks at the conference. “It represents a challenge to all Americans, in every walk of life — to our political leaders, entrepreneurs, innovators, engineers, and to every citizen.”

Interfaith Power and Light is a religious response to global warming with chapters in 26 states and Greater Washington, D.C. Find a link to your local chapter at out the National IPL Blog.
Find discounts on energy saving products at

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Go,Team Carbon-Reduction!

A New York Times article talks about Carbon Rally, a website that enables you to join forces with like-minded friends and family to reduce your carbon footprint. An excerpt is below:
I ended up at, a site that promised to make me feel good about what I do to save energy instead of feel guilty about what I don’t.
Or, as Jason Karas, the founder, put it, “We’re not going to make you upload your utility bills and measure your carbon footprint and learn fundamentally negative information like, here’s all the really bad stuff you do.”
CarbonRally, which began nine months ago with a single proposal to give up bottled water, now offers a few dozen ways that individuals — or teams — can save energy. For instance, keeping tires properly inflated on an average car that travels 12,000 miles a year will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 29.1 pounds a month.
The site offers an extensive explanation for its calculations. What leapt out at me was a statistic: a car with properly inflated tires will use 1.5 gallons less gas monthly.
That came out to $83.16 a year — or more, if gas prices rise. We needed a family team.
Interfaith Power and Light is a religious response to global warming with chapters in 26 states and Greater Washington, D.C. Find a link to your local chapter at out the National IPL Blog.Find discounts on energy saving products at

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Connecticut IPL Director Interviews Rusty Pritchard of Evangelical Environmental Network

Originally published in Sh’ma: A Journal of Jewish Responsibility ( June 2008. Reprinted with permission.

Sharing the Earth
Rabbi Andrea Cohen-Kiener, director of Interreligious Eco-Justice Network, Connecticut's Interfaith Power and Light is the spiritual leader of Congregation Pnai Or of Central Conn. She is author of Life on Earth: A User's Guide, and For All Who Call: A Guide to Enhancing Prayer Instruction in the Jewish Community. She is also the translator of Conscious Community, A Guide to Spiritual Development, written in the early years of World War II by Rabbi Kalanymous Kalman Shapira. Dr. Lowell “Rusty” Pritchard, a resource economist, is the National Director of Outreach for the Evangelical Environmental Network and the editor of Creation Care magazine, a Christian environmental quarterly.
Andrea Cohen-Kiener: Does your mandate for climate change come from Genesis?
Rusty Pritchard: Yes, but as an Evangelical Christian, I often go to John 3:16 which starts off, “for God so loved the world.” Most Evangelicals hear that word “world” and think it means all the people in the world. But the word is cosmos. And it fits with the story of creation in Genesis that God loves his whole creation.
Cohen-Kiener: We need to acknowledge our grandeur and our smallness simultaneously. I've experienced a resistance in the Jewish community to environmental efforts; I've heard often over the past ten years, “we have more important issues to address.” Have you experienced similar speed bumps?
Pritchard: The biggest speed bump is a limited conception of God, and a comfortable conservatism that is scared of change. I ask people, “what is it that conservatives should be conserving?” Of course we need to conserve natural resources, families and the ability of families to make a living. We need also to conserve beautiful places, including small towns and farms, all that makes human civilization good and beautiful and diverse. We can respect diversity because it's a blessing from God. That takes us past the shallow conservatism of fearing new ideas and deeper to a conservatism that says we ought to do our best to take care of the natural world.
Cohen-Kiener: In my community, there are primarily two speed bumps. First, my people are a minority and there's a natural tendency toward particularism — taking care first of oneself, one's people, one's family. The universalism of environmental makes some Jews feel it's not an essentially Jewish issue.
Pritchard: Even though it's not demographically true, Evangelicals also feel like an embattled minority culture. Our dominant myth is that we're a faithful remnant that acknowledges the truth even though the world has gone another direction. Until recently, our community viewed environmentalism as a liberal issue, or as a popular fad. But because our theology says that God's character can be seen in the created world, many conservative Christians are beginning to be concerned about creation care. In that view, destroying creation and permitting ecological degradation are like ripping pages out of scripture.
Cohen-Kiener: Let's talk about the pervasive value of consumerism in our culture, our deep hungers of the spirit and flesh. Our culture is so illiterate about the hungers of the spirit that we try to fill up that hunger with a new car or fancy vacation. And we're polluting the planet in that effort. We need a counterbalance to consumerism.
Pritchard: I agree. We have such a fundamental addiction to consuming. The Jewish Sabbath is an antidote to that hunger. It helps us test what we can give up from material culture. The Sabbath idea jumps out of every part of Scripture — the rhythms of rest and satisfaction and enjoyment of the created order are meant to pervade all of our lives. There are weekly rhythms and cycles of seven years and the jubilee cycle of 49 years, all celebrating the sufficiency and the providence of God, where we rest and enjoy and encounter with delight the works of God. The Fourth Commandment requires not only your rest, but the rest of all of your household, including everyone who works for you and all of your animals. And the land itself. It demands we not push to the limits our ecological systems or the people who work for us.
I've just returned from a pastors' conference in New York City where some of the urban churches are trying to reclaim the idea of cities as good places. Evangelicals generally hold an anti-urban bias that comes from a vision of our faith as a remnant existing outside of the mainstream of culture. There's an inability to see cities as places that need investment and work, as places to build meaningful community. In a highly urbanized culture we have to rethink our environmental work — conserving not only wilderness or endangered species but also building sustainable communities. I wonder whether there's something to learn there from Jewish tradition, which thrives in cities.
Cohen-Kiener: A city is a manmade place as opposed to the wild. It raises questions about how to create sustainable structures.
Pritchard: The pastor of Church of the Redeemer in New York City, Tim Keller, is trying to redefine a city to include small towns throughout the agricultural landscape. He envisions multiuse, walkable, human settlements that have density and diversity. Those settlements can be megacities or smaller places where people live in community, and where culture is created. God either wants us in the country or in the city, but I'm not sure we should try to mix the two, as in a suburb.
Cohen-Kiener: That brings us to another, related, issue, environmental justice, and questions about air quality, transfer stations, garbage dumps, what's called source point pollution, which is almost always located around the world in nonwhite population centers.
Pritchard: The worst stuff gets dumped on the poorest communities and on ethnic minorities. Within blocks of our church there's a toxic waste facility, a trash transfer station, chemical plant, an impoundment lot for towed vehicles.
Cohen-Kiener: When we talk about environmental justice we need to do so in partnership with the poor and with the “other.” If there was a garbage transfer station in the western suburbs of Hartford, Connecticut where I'm sitting right now people would be much more avid in their support of reduce, reuse, recycle and pre-cycle. The technology and the market forces would come into play more quickly if the consequences were borne evenly and appropriately.
Pritchard: Maybe we need a public policy that puts toxic waste treatment facilities and landfills only in the zip codes with the highest per capita income.
Systems and institutions can be sinful in ways different than individuals, who are filled with flaws like jealously, pride, and rage. Environmental issues open a window onto the economic and social systems that are unjust and often racist. As an economist, I think our public policies and the ways businesses operate will change once they face the costs of the pollution that they now get to dispose of largely for free. Climate policy may involve getting the right price on carbon dioxide so that it becomes a part of the price of all of the goods that we buy and sell and therefore we implicitly take it into account even if we aren't explicitly looking for the greenest option. It must hit us in our pocketbook. We need to think explicitly about challenging businesses to be not just responsive to price signals and creating value for their shareholders but to think about ethics in a much broader sense and to allow their business models to be contaminated by their sense of morality and not pretend that there is this huge divide that businesses are sort of amoral institutions.
Cohen-Kiener: Influencing minds and hearts is going to open a very powerful, passionate, articulate, empowered wellspring as we reexamine what we really need, what we really want, what really makes us feel wealthy and safe. It's going to look like spending less and having less. It's going to feel like more wealth. The root of this sin is disconnection. And the cure is connection.
(c) 2008 Sh'ma. All rights reserved. The information contained in this article may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of Sh'ma.
Interfaith Power and Light is a religious response to global warming with chapters in 26 states and Greater Washington, D.C. Find a link to your local chapter at out the National IPL Blog.Find discounts on energy saving products at

Monday, July 14, 2008

Sierra Club Praises RI IPL

By Ted Nesi PBN Staff Writer
NORTH KINGSTOWN – An interfaith group that is working to raise awareness about climate change was spotlighted today in a Sierra Club report on faith-based environmentalism.
Rhode Island Interfaith Power & Light, founded in January 2007 by a dozen of the state’s religious leaders, describes itself as “an interfaith ministry devoted to deepening the connection between ecology and faith.”
To date, more than 60 congregations have joined in Rhode Island Interfaith Power & Light, according to the Rev. Harry Rix, chairman of the board for the North Kingstown-based organization. The local group is a state chapter of the national Interfaith Power & Light.
Rhode Island Interfaith Power & Light’s activities so far have included free screenings of the film “An Inconvenient Truth” and the distribution of free compact fluorescent light bulbs, provided by Wal-Mart, to low-income households.
The Sierra Club report – “Faith in Action: Communities of Faith Bring Hope for the Planet,” released by the Rhode Island chapter this morning at St. Theresa Catholic Church in Providence – spotlights faith-based environmental initiatives in all 50 states. According to the report, 67 percent of Americans say they care about the environment because it is “God’s creation,” and organizers are looking to tap into that feeling to boost the burgeoning “creation care” movement.
“This report demonstrates that the call to care for the earth comes no matter what one’s faith background is,” Chris Wilhite, director of the Rhode Island Sierra Club, said in a statement. “We are inspired by Rhode Island Interfaith Power & Light’s leadership in working to protect the planet, and this report is our way of saying ‘thank you’ to the many people of faith working on creation care initiatives across the country.”
In Massachusetts , the report looked at the work of the Rev. Fred Small, a Littleton pastor who in 2001 founded the organization Religious Witness for the Earth.
Small’s group has planned environmental prayer services, circulated petitions, and testified at state and federal hearings. In March 2007, Religious Witness for the Earth held what the Sierra Club report describes as the largest anti-global-warming demonstration in the country’s history.
“I wanted to explore how to apply the lessons of Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr., to a challenge of comparable moral urgency,” Small told the report’s authors.
Rhode Island Interfaith Power & Light, a nonprofit organization founded in 2007 to promote deeper “connection between ecology and faith,” is a state chapter of the nationwide Interfaith Power & Light. For more information, visit
The Rhode Island Chapter of the Sierra Club is an affiliate of the nationwide nonprofit environmental policy and research group. For more information, including the full report, visit
Interfaith Power and Light is a religious response to global warming with chapters in 26 states and Greater Washington, D.C. Find a link to your local chapter at out the National IPL Blog.
Find discounts on energy saving products at

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Do Flatscreen TVs cause climate change?

An article in the British newspaper The Guardian warns about this new danger to the environment (see excerpt below):
The rising demand for flat-screen televisions could have a greater impact on global warming than the world's largest coal-fired power stations, a leading environmental scientist warned yesterday.
Manufacturers use a greenhouse gas called nitrogen trifluoride to make the televisions, and as the sets have become more popular, annual production of the gas has risen to about 4,000 tonnes.
As a driver of global warming, nitrogen trifluoride is 17,000 times more potent than carbon dioxide, yet no one knows how much of it is being released into the atmosphere by the industry, said Michael Prather, director of the environment institute at the University of California, Irvine.

Interfaith Power and Light is a religious response to global warming with chapters in 26 states and Greater Washington, D.C. Find a link to your local chapter at out the National IPL Blog.
Find discounts on energy saving products at

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Go Behind the Wheel of a Smart Car

Curious about the energy-efficient Smart Car? Salon has a
video review of how it drives.
Interfaith Power and Light is a religious response to global warming with chapters in 26 states and Greater Washington, D.C. Find a link to your local chapter at out the National IPL Blog.
Find discounts on energy saving products at