Environmental action

Wake-up Call to Earthcare

Dear Friends: I believe that the Society of Friends is going through a transition in our relationship with Earthcare. In the mid-1980’s, many Friends felt a strong leading to live their lives in harmony with nature and to work for policies and programs that supported these lifestyles. In addition to thousands of lightbulbs switched to compact fluorescents and light-emitting diodes (LEDs), and generating tons of recycling and home-grown veggies, we also created Quaker institutions that pushed for broader societal change. One of these was Quaker Earthcare Witness, then called “Friends Committee on Unity with Nature,” which was formed in 1987 to connect Friends with an Earthcare leading and to advocate for a sustainable world.

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Quaker Culture: Environmental Awareness

[Friends are not sufficiently] sensitized to environmental issues, and the result has been that we are now only slightly more awake to their significance than the average American . . . [As] individuals, many of us have become involved with environmental organizations, or have spoken out on special concerns within the environmental arena. But we have failed to see the overall magnitude and urgency of the environmental crisis . . . We have failed to see that the environmental crisis has a towering spiritual dimension, which must be addressed if the crisis is to be resolved . . .

Marshall Massey (1984)

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Absurd

Dear Editor: Regarding your attempt at calculating the carbon offset amount mandated by your and others’ air travel (WF, Nov./Dec.,’16) I am somewhat puzzled by the whole enterprise. Yes, we all participate in the machinery of ongoing environmental degradation and the apparently accelerating pace of climate catastrophe. But isn’t it misleading, even absurd to try to calculate this out in dollars-and-cents terms as if we could pay out toward our fiscal responsibility at an imaginary teller window somewhere? Really, how could mere humans have any real conception of the actual load placed on the biosphere by our various collective activities? And doesn’t reducing that responsibility to a dollar amount imply that we can simply pay for it, in whatever amount we reckon the damage to be, and then go back to our usual practices without another thought?

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Quaker PopOffsets

Wanna buy baby?” I was eleven years old and traveling with my family in Latin America. We were climbing up a dirt path in the humid heat when we passed a young woman, perhaps only five or six years older than I was. She was holding an infant in her arms.

The young woman’s question sparked many more questions in my own innocent mind, beginning with: Why did she want to sell her baby? Why did she even have a baby if she didn’t want one? This encounter was my first step on a long path in helping women and men to have control over their fertility, in helping all babies to be wanted and loved, and in finding the most powerful means to slow climate change.

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Quakers and Standing Rock

Western Friend received several accounts of Quaker support for the Standing Rock resistance in North Dakota during the fall of 2016. The opening paragraphs of those accounts are presented below. Follow this link to read the full accounts.

Standing with the Standing Rock – November 2016

by Jasmine Krotkov, Montana Gathering of Friends

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Support for the Standing Rock Sioux

To Friends Everywhere: Our Meeting strongly supports the Standing Rock Sioux in opposing construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, and in insisting that their legal and treaty rights be fully honored and not be violated.

This 1100-mile pipeline would create the same dangers as other projects, such as the Keystone XL Pipeline, and should be rejected for the same reasons. The Dakota Access Pipeline proposal process absolutely warrants thorough and intensive environmental consideration, and full engagement with the Standing Rock Sioux, whose rights must be respected. These include but are not limited to the right of access to clean water, which is the foundation for all life, as well as the right to have their burial grounds and other sacred sites respected, protected, and preserved.

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Setting Limits on Fossil Fuels

In 2012, Bill McKibben began his “Do the Math” tour in Seattle. This was a talk that McKibben took on the road to spread the idea that humans are trying to extract more fossil fuels than we can safely burn – that is, more than we can burn while staying within a safe temperature on the planet. In other words, our burning of fossil fuels is creating greenhouse gasses in quantities that exceed the limits that we can live with.

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