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Archive for Climate Change

Climate – a Global Grassroots Movement for Life

Days after global protests calling for climate change action, the United Nations held a special climate summit where world leaders and other officials gathered to hammer out specific pledges to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The U.N. made science very visible in advance of this meeting.  https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/fiery-calls-to-action-at-un-climate-summit-dont-win-pledges-from-worst-emitters

Recently, the Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan fact tank, measured the percentage of people in the US who believe that climate change is a threat to the well-being of the planet. The results were more telling than even I expected.  94% of liberal democrats believe it is a threat, but only 19% of conservative republicans do. Perhaps even more frightening is that only 57%  of all people in the US do. 

In Europe, the very question would illicit incredulity because they KNOW climate change is a threat, just like they know the earth is round and the sun is hot. How this became a matter of opinion in this country is a frightening tribute to politicians’ ability to use the media and the bible to manipulate our trust in the most basic science-based facts. 
 
Relatedly, if we can be made to doubt something so obvious, what other things have we been made to believe that simply aren’t so? Well, a good portion of people in this country believe that tax cuts for the rich will help the poor and middle-class. Many people believe we went to war with Iraq because of 9/11.  Apparently, many people still believe that capital punishment deters crime and that guns make us a safer nation. 
 
I have been so moved by the clarity of Greta Thunberg, the voice of a young prophet of our times, challenging insatiable greed, at the expense of life itself.
 
I give thanks to Skyline for being a part of the movement, to reform our understanding and our ways of what it means to be good stewards of this precious planet, and embodying inclusive love of all people, especially the most vulnerable. I give thanks for advocating for the Green New Deal, as part of this global grass roots movement for life.  

Join us this Sunday as we deepen our connection to this global grass roots movement for life. We look forward to celebrating Yom Kippur with Rabbi David Cooper, a passionate advocate for social and environmental justice, and  founding rabbi of Kehilla synagogue in Oakland. Here’s some info about David

Plant-Based Diet = PlanET-Based Diet

…by Catherine Kessler, Green Team Lead

I recently listened to Carl Sagan’s “The Pale Blue Dot,” a moving description of our planet written after Voyager 1 looked back at Earth as it left our solar system in 1990.  It reminded me of Earth’s fragility and the thin layer of atmosphere that makes our world livable.   We now have a little time left to save ourselves from devastation; the changes we have made to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are not keeping pace with the heating up of our atmosphere.  www.planetary.org/explore/space-topics/earth/pale-blue-dot.html

So, we all must do more.  I am addressing something every person can do, that is actually simple, no added cost, and is significant to a healthy you and a healthy planet.

The world’s food system is responsible for about ¼ of the planet-warming greenhouse gases, C02, methane (“natural gas”) that humans generate each year. That includes raising and harvesting all the plants, animals and animal products we eat, as well as processing, packaging and shipping food to markets all over the world.

Meat and dairy, particularly from cows, have an outsize impact, with livestock accounting for around 14.5 percent of the world’s greenhouse gases each year. That’s roughly the same amount as the emissions from all the cars, trucks, airplanes and ships combined in the world today.

What about all the talk about eating more animal protein and very low carb for good health?

More recent evidence unequivocally shows that the plant-based diet is the best.  When studies are continued for longer periods on large groups, the outcomes show lower blood fats and blood pressure, healthier weight maintenance, healthier gut bacteria which in turn maintain a healthy immune system. (very low animal fat, high fiber, increase of beneficial plant compounds and the omission of  harmful compounds produced from charred meat).

So, what is a Plant-Based Diet?

It means using the main plant proteins (see below) instead of animal proteins, but does not completely eliminate the foods that may be part of special cultural celebrations. And it also has a significant amount of your Calories coming from vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and plant oils, to lower risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.

Try making a gradual shift to mostly plant-based eating:

  1. Reduce beef portion size (adult needs are met with 3 oz.or 21grams of protein at one time)
  2. Reduce frequency of beef gradually to monthly; substitute poultry, seafood, plant protein.
  3. Plan several days of meatless meals by making a large pot of beans, or lentil stew.

For YOUR health, don’t increase intake of fatty pork (even though its carbon footprint is lower than beef and lamb.

Gradually move to making your protein source plant-based: Beans, lentils, hummus, tofu, tempeh, quinoa, nuts, seeds are the highest in protein quantity and quality.

This link provides a guide for decision-making.

Here is a vegetarian guide for selecting foods.

Enjoy increasing health benefits for yourself as you join with others to give our thin layer of atmosphere a long life!

Contact me through the office  (510-531-8212, office@skylineucc.org)

The Sacredness of the Earth

Even as more and more people are beginning to see God, not only in the heavens, but right here on the earth, we are also discovering how fragile and endangered the Earth is. 

Just consider the latest reports from the UN. Or consider the increasingly dangerous fires, droughts, and hurricanes we’ve been experiencing.  The greatest need seems to be mobilizing the spiritual and political will to stop catastrophic climate disaster.  It is, among the greatest moral imperatives of our time, disproportionately affecting poor people of color, and future generations on this planet.  The U.N.’s climate panel tells world leaders the time for dithering on climate change is over.

  
For millennia, the ancients looked to the heavens, to the light of millions of stars above, to find God.  Although the stars still move us to wonder, contemporary people are learning that the soil beneath our feet is as mysterious, complex, and awe-inspiring as gazing into the night sky.  “I was stunned by what I learned about life in the soil,” says journalist Kristin Ohlson, “that when we stand on the surface of the Earth, we’re atop a vast underground kingdom of microorganisms without which life as we know it wouldn’t exist.  Trillions of microorganisms, even in my own smallish backyard, like a great dark sea swarming with tiny creatures.”
 
In fact, the soil is sacred.  Even the most secular writers understand that the ground calls forth an ethical, moral, and spiritual response.  We are powerfully connected to the ground, and the soil is intimately related to how we understand and celebrate God.  The late Irish Roman Catholic priest and philosopher, John O’Donohue, called the land “the firstborn of creation” and the “condition of the possibility of everything.”  The Earth itself, he insisted, holds the memory of the beginning of all things, the memory of God.  When feminist theologian Sallie McFague offers the metaphor of “body” to describe the relationship between God and the world, she is reminding us of both scientific truth and a sacred mystery.  “What if,” she asks, “we saw the Earth as part of the body of God, not as separate from God (who dwells elsewhere), but as the visible reality of the invisible God?

 
In her book, Grounded, author and scholar of American religion and culture,Diana Butler Bass, writes, “Although I had observed wounded landscapes, it did not occur to me that dirt was threatened on a larger scale.  Soil was like air or water, a boundless gift of creation, always present. Yet soil is being lost at an alarming rate all over the planet.  During the last century and a half, the planet has lost half its topsoil.”  According to a Cornell University study, American soil is disappearing ten times faster than the rate at which it can be replenished; China and India are experiencing erosion rates thirty to forty times faster.  In the last forty years alone, about one-third of the world’s formerly productive soil has become unusable, and the planet continues to lose approximately twenty-five million acres a year to erosion.  This is an environmental crisis to be sure, but it is a moral and ethical one as well.
 
Something odd is happening, however, as this disaster is unfolding.  At the same time that the Earth is losing its soil, more people than ever are making their way back to the ground. Skyline’s Green team, and our Garden of God, is a great example. So are many of you! Urban gardens are cropping up throughout the world, and people are learning to respect and participate in the miraculous processes that are happening, literally beneath our feet. 
 
An atheist friend of mine is fond of saying, “I just don’t believe that God is an old man sitting on the throne in Heaven.”    Nor do the millions of people who still trust in God, yet reject this particular conception of God.  McFague calls it the “transcendent sky-God tradition.”  As Diana Butler Bass writes, “Instead of seeing God as distinct and distant from the world, we are acquiring a new awareness that the universe itself is God’s body, a complex and diverse interdependent organism, animated by God’s breath, the spirit of creation.  We are with God and God is with us because – and some people may find this shocking – we are in God and God is in us.  Maybe the far-off Heavenly Father is finally retiring, replaced by a far more down-to-earth presence, a presence named in Hebrew and Christian scriptures as both love and spirit.”  As Wendell Berry puts it “The idea of Heaven doesn’t take religion very far,” because the distance makes for too great an abstraction.  “Love,” as the very being of God, he continued, “has to wear a face.”  And that “face” is “our neighborhood, our neighbors and other creatures, the Earth and its inhabitants.
 
Join us this Sunday at 10 am  as we continue this revolutionary spiritual journey, drawing from the wisdom of Genesis, Jesus’s parable of the sower, Diana Butler Bass’s book, Grounded,  and Forrest Pritchard’s book, Gaining Ground.
 
After worship, food and fellowship, our conversation will continue from 11:45-12;30. All are welcome! Childcare is provided!
 
peace, Laurie . 

Skyline and Taking Action on Climate Change

While Laurie is at the Climate Leadership Conference hosted by Al Gore, I looked through our website for blog posts about Skyline’s action towards climate health.  Here are just a few excerpts, and they speak loudly for the environmental justice stand of Skyline. 

Also, check out Laurie’s Gofundme page for her travel expenses to the Leadership Conference.   Thanks!
Blessings,  Nancy Montier, Office Manager.

Posted July 5, 2017:  The United Church of Christ General Synod 2017 has just overwhelmingly approved the Climate Resolution calling on clergy and congregations across the denomination to take action to protect the environment, and churches are lining up to stand behind it publicly. 

Posted April 25, 2017:  Join the Skyline contingent going to the Oakland March under the People’s Climate March on Saturday, 4/29 (100 days into the Trump administration).  We will meet at Lincoln Square in front of the liquor store at 10:00 am and carpool

Posted June 30, 2016: From Laurie’s speech at the June 25 No Coal Rally:  “I feel so much hope today, here with you, and here representing the voices of so many Oakland faith communities, including the dozens that are part of CIPL & the Sierra Club, in saying no to coal in Oakland ….  Tonight, our City Council will vote a/ bringing coal into W. Oakland from Utah to export to Asia. I think if they asked us,  we’d tell them right away – NO! no more coal dust, no more asthma, no more cancer, no more climate change!”

Posted Feb 17, 2016:  Statement by Rev. Laurie Manning at the no-coal-in-Oakland press conference outside City Hall Tues, Feb 16, 2016:  “We’re all familiar with “the Golden Rule.” It’s a universal principal, an ethic of reciprocity that teaches: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” “Love your neighbor as yourself.” It teaches us to care about our neighbors.  Who doesn’t care about the kid down the street, or down the hill breathing dirty air?”

Posted Sept 22, 2015:  This week, millions across our nation will witness the words and vision of a man [Pope Francis] who has revolutionized a church and reinvigorated a 2,000-year-old gospel…. What’s revolutionary about Pope Francis is how he lives out his Christian faith through selfless good deeds, prophetic words to world leaders, and compassionate pastoral care. …We invite you to join us in praying for a transformative week for the US,…particularly with respect to climate change. …Skyline’s Green team is partnering … to host two prayer vigils on Wed Sept 23rd, at 6:30 am and 6:30 pm here at Skyline. 

Posted Aug 31, 2015:  As Pope Francis prepares to speak to the US Congress …about climate change, interfaith vigils are being held across the country. Skyline United Church of Christ, joined by members of other East Bay congregations concerned about the climate crisis, will host two interfaith prayer services for the climate – one in the morning and one in the evening.  WHEN:   SUNRISE at 6:30 a.m. &  SUNSET at 6:30 p.m 

Posted April 29, 2015:  THE WISDOM TO SURVIVE (a film) accepts the consensus of scientists that climate change has already arrived, and asks, what is keeping us from action? The film explores how unlimited growth and greed are destroying the life support system of the planet, the social fabric of society, and the lives of billions of people.The film features thought leaders and activists in the realms of science, economics and spirituality discussing how we can evolve and take action in the face of climate disruption.

Skyline’s commitment to a green, healthy world for all is clear in our actions.  What’s next?

Skyline Leadership for Environmental Justice

2-16-16 coal laurie davidFrom Pastor Laurie:

News outlets from the New York Times to Mother Jones Magazine have praised the leadership of California at the November UN climate summit in Paris.  The LA Times portrayed Governor Jerry Brown’s active presence in Paris as representing not only the crafting of his “political legacy” but also his preoccupation with preventing “catastrophe.”

 Yet environmental lawyers, community activists, and faith leaders are increasingly bringing to the public’s awareness what has long been California’s dirty secret. In a state known for its environmentalism, environmental racism has remained a festering, unbridled sin. 

Environmental racism is the placement of low-income or minority communities in close proximity of environmentally hazardous or degraded environments such as toxic waste, pollution and urban decay.

Skyline Community Church UCC in Oakland has been active in struggles against environmental racism here in California, particularly with respect to fracking and the proposed coal terminal in Oakland.

In November, Nancy Taylor of our Green Team and I joined together with an interfaith coalition to deliver a letter to Brown that called for a halt to fracking.

On Tuesday, Feb 9, 2016, several members of our Green Team  joined me as I addressed an interfaith rally outside Oakland’s City Hall in seeking to delay consultant work that could bring the city closer to having a coal terminal.  Becky Taylor, a former Oakland Port Commissioner and a member of Skyline’s Green Team and I spoke at the City Council meeting against coal.   In my remarks, I spoke of the pride I feel about Governor Brown’s environmental leadership in Paris, but then asked, “Why would we want to be complicit in prolonging and accelerating this environmental and humanitarian health crisis?”  

The combined will, wisdom, voice and energy of the interfaith community of Oakland, its people, and prayers resulted in the City Council voting to delay the opening a coal terminal in Oakland!

Skyline is a small but mighty force for environmental justice here in Oakland! Thank you Skyline!! 

 Here are a few articles that reference our good work! 

http://www.tikkun.org/tikkundaily/2016/02/23/californias-dirty-secret-comes-to-light-environmental-racism-meets-black-lungs-matter/

http://www.ucc.org/californias_dirty_secret_comes_to_light

SCC Green Team’s Mission Statement

water drop & handWe recognize humanity’s impact on Earth and the urgent necessity to be stewards of God’s creation for the future of all beings.

We will promote awareness of our local and global environment, and work to reduce our environmental footprint in all Skyline activities:

worship
education
buildings and grounds
energy and water use
community service
our individual lives