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Archive for the ‘Environmentalism’ Category

I’m reading an interesting book right now, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver, in which she chronicles her family’s year of eating only foods grown or produced in their local area of Virginia. The term “locavore” is being used to describe those who are trying to support local farmers and eat foods in season in their particular locales. In doing so, they are trying to create and promote markets for a more sustainable agricultural future. Our current food preferences in the U.S. depend upon fossil fuels to both produce and transport food over great distances. With the rising price of petroleum comes inflation which we are all feeling now not to mention the price that is exacted as we pour more carbon into the atmospere and degrade our topsoil through unsustainable farming practices.

Over the past few months we have been making some efforts to eat more locally. Last summer we bought virtually all of our produce and eggs at the local farmer’s market. We continue to buy eggs, beef, pork and some dairy produced locally but winter in the midwest is not known for an abundance of produce. As I peruse the produce department at my local grocery store and see grapes grown in Chile, Clementines from Spain, bananas from Central America and all kinds of green veggies from California I realize how accustomed I have become to having anything I want at any time at a price I can afford. But I am coming to realize that this kind of global agricultural marketplace comes at a high price to both the environment and, in many cases, to the producers of our ‘affordable’ vegetables and fruits.

I realize that if something does not change, my children will have no concept of how our food is produced and how that food production is connected to the earth and the seasons.  As far as they are concerned, strawberries are endlessly available, asparagus has no particular season, tomatoes are a year round food and meat comes in shrink-wrapped plastic containers. When foods are available to us constantly, we lose any sense of the wonder and anticipation that comes from looking forward to a favorite seasonal treat or the appreciation for the cycle of life and our part in that.  Nothing is special because it’s always available with a minimal expenditure of effort.  When that over-familiarity occurs, we lose some sense of the wonder of God’s creation and our connection to our physical environment.

Over the next few months I’m going to be thinking and writing about what I am learning about trying to eat more locally as well as the hidden costs of the global agricultural marketplace. I’d be interested in hearing your reflections on these issues.  To find information about local farmers and food producers in your area, check out localharvest.org.

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I bought a blanket for my water heater today at my favorite home improvement store for less than $20.  Our water heater is more than 10 years old so it can be made more efficient by adding extra insulation.  I also turned the thermostat down on the water heater to 120°.  These measures should lower our energy usage and reduce the amount of carbon we are putting into the atmosphere.  Doing my part to be a good steward of the earth and saving money; what more could I ask for?

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I’m wearing a sweatshirt and keeping the thermostat low (you should know that I like to be warm, my husband would say too warm, in the winter so this is a big step for me). We can reduce our family’s carbon dioxide emissions and save money on heating costs at the same time by taking this one step.

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I would recommend that everyone read the summary report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change on the “Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability” due to global warming. It’s not very long and you don’t have to be a science whiz to understand it. The report summarizes the current and the projected impacts of global warming by continent as well as by looking at such things as food supply, ecosystems, coastal & low lying regions, health and industry. It includes graphics and charts that are helpful in understanding both the changes that have already occurred and what we could expect if temperatures continue to rise and gives the expected likelihood of such changes. This document is the most helpful thing I have read to give me a broader understanding of where we are and where we are going. Even if you only look at the graphics and charts, you will come away with a better understanding of what changes global warming is bringing and will continue to bring for the foreseeable future.

Click here to read the report.

Click here to go to the IPCC website.

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As I am educating myself about the environmental crisis we are facing, I have to admit that I often feel scared and overwhelmed. These feelings are what have led me to avoid facing the truth for so long. I don’t want to know about the villages in Alaska having to relocate because the permafrost is melting. I don’t want to know about the threat to communities who are dependent on glaciers (which are quickly receding) for their water supply. I don’t want to think about the plants and animals that will be forced into extinction by changes in their habitat. It frightens me and makes me sad to think about the legacy we are leaving for our children.

In forcing myself to think on these things, however, I am learning that there are things I can do and that even one thing, one small change that I make adds to the other small changes that others are making and together, can make a substantial difference. So here’s my one thing for today. I’m turning off my computer when I’m not using it. Leaving computers, televisions, and other electronics on or leaving them plugged in uses a lot of electricity and electricity generation adds a lot of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. It’s one thing and it’s not much but it allows me to face down my feelings of fear and helplessness.

We can take heart from the encouragement given to Joshua when he was about to take over for Moses and lead the Hebrews into the promised land; a task that must have struck fear in his heart because he is commanded three times to be courageous.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

We are not helpless unless we choose to be. We are not alone unless we choose to reject the presence of the one who created us and charged us to be stewards of the land. Today, I’m choosing this one thing. May God add a blessing to it.

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“You must become the change you want to see in the world.” Mahatma Gandhi

In my quest to stop sticking my head in the sand and face into the fact that global warming is real and I have a responsibility to be a good steward of the planet, I have been looking into what my family can do to contribute to a solution for the environmental crisis we are facing. (If you are still in doubt about the reality of global warming, click here.) What I discovered is that there is a lot we can do. We have started recycling which is not easy in the county where we live since there is no curbside recycling at our residence. I did discover, however, that Delaware County, IN, does have a lot of recycling resources. Click here to discover more.

For information on what you can do, here to read about some of the things I have identified as small changes we can all make or click on one of the links below.

For teaching kids about global warming and what they can do, see the sites below:

It’s easy to get overwhelmed and afraid and do nothing. God does not call us to be responsible for everything but God does call us to be responsible for ourselves. We do not have to have great faith, only act on the ‘mustard seed’ of faith that we have. Working together we can make a difference in protecting the earth that God has blessed us to be a part of. Let’s become the change we want to see.

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In a follow up to my recent post Becoming a Good Steward of the Earth, I encourage you to check out Consumer Consequences. This is an online game sponsored by National Public Radio and American Public Media which allows you to input information about your consuming habits and discover how many earths would be needed to sustain human life if everyone on the planet consumed like you do. I discovered that if every human on the planet consumed energy and material resources at the same level as myself, we would need 5.8 earths to support us all. It only takes 5 to 10 minutes to complete and provides a feature at the end to compare yourself to others if you choose to provide demographic data.

Something to think about.

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