Since today is part of Earth Week, Earth Day is on my mind. By the time you read this, you will have received an e-blast about some of the many activities available to us all. The Eco-Justice team has recently received Building & Grounds approval to plant five more trees on church property, so look forward to that!
During the pandemic, we have continued meeting, planning, and working on what projects we can. We hope to invite you soon to join us in some ways our team can add to the projects our congregation pursues to do our part to further God’s Kingdom in the world. This newsletter has attempted to focus on what we can do at home.
Today I want to talk about hope. It’s easy to become discouraged when working alone, and it’s also disheartening to see the climate disasters grow ever more threatening and deadly. Nearly three billion animals were killed or driven from their habitats in the Australian bush fires of 2019-2020. About 200 people were killed when a collapsing bit of glacier led to a landslide and flood in the Himalayas in February. Hundreds of butterfly species in the American West are in steep decline. And the bad news goes on.
Some scientists are trying to spread the good news they find through knowledge and activism. Marine scientist Nancy Knowlton specializes in coral reefs. In 2014 she joined other scientists to launch http://www.oceanoptimism.org, a near-daily Twitter and Instagram feed highlighting glimmers of resilience in the ocean and positive results concerning climate change in general. Likewise, the Smithsonian’s https://conservationcommons.si.edu offers positive news and events on its website.
Others continue to write and spread to word in other ways, often trying to awaken us to the seriousness of the situation. The famous Penn State scientist Michael Mann discovered the iconic “hockey stick” graph in 1998, to have his findings reinforced over the years. In his new book, The New Climate War, he now identifies our biggest obstacles not as climate change deniers, but as the feeling that all is hopeless and futile (https://www.publicaffairsbooks.com/titles/michael-e-mann/the-new-climate-war/9781541758223/).
Quite often, though, writers, activists, and scientists come back to the humble theme of doing what you can, wherever you are. Birder and naturalist J. Drew Lanham is also the author of The Home Place: Memoirs of a Colored Man’s Love Affair with Nature (https://milkweed.org/book/the-home-place). His goal is to encourage people of color to realize that everyone can do something, no matter what their resources. He says, “Especially for people of color, for Black folks or Indigenous peoples,” climate change, “is not some big word that’s far away for big [white] polar bears. It’s an essential thing that’s close by for little Black and Brown boys and girls who have asthma at rates far higher than the majority.” Planting a pot of greens is taking action.
And finally, the poet Nancy Shahib Nye has released a new book, Cast Away, which is dedicated to the idea that a person may not be able to save the world, but she can at least pick up trash (https://www.harpercollins.com/products/cast-away-naomi-shihab-nye?variant=32126651564066).