Thursday, April 22, 2010

Happy Earth Day!

The heavens are telling the glory of God;
and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours forth speech,

and night to night declares knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words;
their voice is not heard;
yet their voice goes out through all the earth,
and their words to the end of the world.

P s a l m 1 9 : 1 - 4

Indeed - this IS the day the Lord has made! And what a glorious day it is! Happy Earth Day to you. We hope you will find a way to celebrate the miraculous creation today. For ideas, click here.

There is a "Green Expo" coming up on May 9 at the Fargo Civic Center. Click here for more details.

Thank you to everyone who participated in Earth Week events here at Our Savior's. Our worship services on Sunday and Wednesday celebrated the great Creator. Over sixty-five worshippers pledged to become better stewards of creation during those services. Discussions during our three global warming classes this week were thoughtful and spirit-filled.

We are the people of God and we are making a difference right here Moorhead. When the task of "going green" begins to look overwhelming or unattainable please remember this: God's grace is a renewable resource! He will give us what we need to make a difference. We are the hands and feet of Christ - let's let Him work through us today!

A Prayer for Earth Day
God our Creator and Parent, who is as far as the stars and as near as our breath, You are holy. Let all creation worship you and live in harmony with you and each other. Give us today what we need; and forgive us for withdrawing from mutuality with You, as we forgive those who have withdrawn from mutuality with us; let us find our happiness in You. For all that matters is in You, and through You, and of You and for You, forever. Amen.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Global Warming Might Spur Earthquakes and Volcanoes

The following article was emailed to me by an Our Savior's member who attended last night's Earth Week video: "An Incoveneint Truth." Please note that this article was written in 2007 on When are we going to start believing scientists' predicitons?

By Andrea Thompson, LiveScience Staff Writer
posted: 30 August 2007 08:57 am ET

Earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis and landslides are some of the additional catastrophes that climate change and its rising sea levels and melting glaciers could bring, a geologist says.

The impact of human-induced global warming on Earth's ice and oceans is already noticeable: Greenland's glaciers are melting at an increasing rate, and sea level rose by a little more than half a foot (0.17 meters) globally in the 20th century, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

With these trends in ice cover and sea level only expected to continue and likely worsen if atmospheric carbon dioxide levels continue to rise, they could alter the stresses and forces fighting for balance in the ground under our feet—changes that are well-documented in studies of past climate change, but which are just beginning to be studied as possible consequences of the current state of global warming.

"Although they've described it in the past, nobody's thought about it in terms of future effects of climate change," said Bill McGuire of the University College London's Hazard Research Center.
McGuire's speculations of increased geological activity have not yet been published in a journal, but he has written an article about them published in the Guardian Unlimited.

Rebounding crust
One particular feature that can change the balance of forces in Earth's crust is ice, in the form of glaciers and ice sheets that cover much of the area around Earth's poles plus mountains at all latitudes. The weight of ice depresses the crust on which it sits.

As the ice melts, the crust below no longer has anything sitting on top of it, and so can rebound fairly rapidly (by geological standards). (This rebounding is actually occurring now as a result of the end of the last Ice Age: The retreat of massive ice sheets from the northern United States and Canada has allowed the crust in these areas to bounce back.)

Areas of rebounding crust could change the stresses acting on earthquake faults and volcanoes in the crust.

"In places like Iceland, for example, where you have the Eyjafjallajökull ice sheet, which wouldn't survive [global warming], and you've got lots of volcanoes under that, the unloading effect can trigger eruptions," McGuire said.

With the changing dynamics in the crust, faults could also be destabilized, which could bring a whole host of other problems.

"It's not just the volcanoes. Obviously if you load and unload active faults, then you're liable to trigger earthquakes," McGuire told LiveScience, noting that there is ample evidence for this association in past climate change events.

"At the end of the last Ice Age, there was a great increase in seismicity along the margins of the ice sheets in Scandinavia and places like this, and that triggered these huge submarine landsides which generated tsunamis," McGuire said. "So you've got the whole range of geological hazards there that can result from if we see this big catastrophic melting."

Roland Burgmann, a geologist at the University of California, Berkeley, agrees that changes in ice cover can have significant effects on the underlying crust, but says that more research needs to be done to determine the actual scale of the threat and where the effects are most likely to occur.

Water pressure
Ice melt can have an added consequence because all that melted ice has to go somewhere—namely, the ocean.

And ice melt won't be the only factor changing sea levels: as ocean temperatures rise, the water itself expands (a process called thermal expansion).

As all that extra water piles up, it could apply pressure to faults near coastlines.

"The added load of the water bends the crust, and that means that you tend to get tensional conditions in the upper part of the crust and compressional a bit lower down, just as if you bend a plank of wood or something," McGuire explained.

These compressional forces could push out any magma lying around underneath a volcano, triggering an eruption. (This mechanism is actually believed to be the cause of the seasonal eruptions of Alaska's Pavlof volcano, which erupts every winter when sea levels are higher.)
McGuire conducted a study that was published in the journal Nature in 1997 that looked at the connection between the change in the rate of sea level rise and volcanic activity in the Mediterranean for the past 80,000 years and found that when sea level rose quickly, more volcanic eruptions occurred, increasing by a whopping 300 percent.

If today's worst-case global warming scenarios of catastrophic melting of glaciers and ice sheets come to pass, sea levels could rise rapidly, wreaking all sorts of geological havoc "comparable with the most rapid increases in sea level that we've seen in the last 15,000 years," McGuire said.

Burgmann isn't too worried about sea level rise causing more earthquakes or volcanic eruptions though, noting that catastrophic rates of sea level rise in the future are uncertain and that the current rate of rise—about 0.12 inches per year (3 millimeters per year)—isn't enough to destabilize the crust.

"It would take a long time to add up to a significant amount," Burgmann said—so while it's an area of research to keep an eye on, it's unlikely to have any disastrous consequences, at least for now.

Natural Disasters: Top 10 U.S. Threats
Top 10 Surprising Results of Global Warming
Timeline: The Frightening Future of Earth

Friday, April 9, 2010

Green Soap

I had an unexpected visit this morning that made my day. A member of Our Savior's stopped by the church office after returning home from a trip to Arizona and she just had to show me the green treasure had brought back with her.

She and her husband stayed in a fancy, hundred-year-old hotel during their visit to the Grand Canyon. Like so many people and businesses in the area whoare passionate about maintaining and preserving the natural habitats that bring in the tourism which supports their livelihoods, this hotel has taken steps to "go green."

Ever felt guilty about throwing away a "mostly"-used bar of soap? Hey, we've all done it - that little bit of soap left at the end is just too much of a pain to keep using so we toss it and put out a fresh bar. Well this Arizona hotel has found the solution: "Green Natura," waste-reducing exfoliating body cleanser.

I'll let the box speak for itself:
"This innovative, ergonomically-shaped 'waste-reducing' soap has been designed to sliminate the unused center of traditional soap bars. This soap is cruelty free and contains no animal fat or byproducts."

Even the packaging is green - made with natural, recycled materials and printed with soy-based inks.

And it even smells great too - way to go!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Climate Justice, A Lenten Journey of Discovery - Easter Sunday

Climate Change, Faith and Hope - Easter Sunday

After the Sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said."- Matthew 28:1-6

The Good News of Christ's resurrection brings hope for a new beginning to all of creation. It frees us to seek justice for the most vulnerable among us and to be good stewards of God's earth. It establishes a new covenant that transforms our hearts and unites us to God through great forgiveness.

As you contemplate the impacts of a changing climate and the suffering of God's people and creation, let today be a beginning. A new vision of justice. Life that is transformed.

Christ is risen! Alleluiah!

Climate Justice, A Lenten Journey of Discovery - Good Friday

Climate Change, Faith and Hope - Good Friday

Adapted from "A Tenebrae for the Earth"
by Kim Winchell, Diaconal Minister (2009)

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. - John 3:16-17

A Prayer of Sorrow
*Adapted from UN Environmental Programme's Only One Earth (1990)

L: We have forgotten who we are
R: We have forgotten who we are

L: We have alienated ourselves from the unfolding of the cosmos
We have become estranged from the movements of the Earth
We have turned our backs on the cycles of life.
R: We have forgotten who we are

L: We have sought only our own security
We have exploited simply for our own ends
We have distorted our knowledge
We have abused our power.
R: We have forgotten who we are

L: Now the land is barren
And the waters are poisoned
And the air is polluted
And the climate is changing.
R: We have forgotten who we are

L: Now the forests are dying
And the creatures are disappearing
And the humans are despairing.
R: We have forgotten who we are

L: We ask forgiveness
We ask for the gift of remembering
We ask for the strength to change.
R: We have forgotten who we are

Pause for a moment of silent reflection

Words of Reflection
How we have muddied our lives, the lives of others, and the beauty of God's Earth! This world that God created and loves and pronounced good and very good. This world that our Lord Jesus came to and walked upon, teaching a new way of life: a way of justice, mercy, compassion, and peace.

This world into which Christ came, to restore the fullness of relationships - to reconcile – all things, whether in heaven or on Earth. This world into which Christ came to model the true abundance of life - not accumulation of material goods, but the storing up of love, peace, mercy, and justice in our relationships.

How often have we not loved our neighbors as ourselves?
And do we limit whom we call a neighbor?
How often we have neglected justice!
How often we have lacked compassion!
How often we have not established peace for our fellow brothers and sisters or for all of creation!
How often we have caused broken relationships, with one another and with all of creation!

How often, in our ignorance, apathy, arrogance and greed, we have continued to cause you pain, Lord Jesus, in the way we treat one another and all of creation.

O Lord, forgive us, for too often we DO know what we do.

Help us to change. Move our hearts. Speak to our hearts ... and stir up our spirits, so that we may more faithfully follow you and your call to love and serve God ... and to love and serve our neighbor ... and to love and care for your Earth, out of the deepest gratitude for all that you have done for us, especially as we remember your suffering for us, and for all of creation, upon your cross.

And let all God's people say: Amen.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Climate Change, A Lenten Journey of Discovery - Maundy Thursday

Climate Change, Faith and Hope - Maundy Thursday

"I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."- John 13:34-35

Love for our neighbor is a key aspect of Christian discipleship. That love includes an aspect of service: before the meal on his last night with his disciples, Jesus washed their feet, humbling himself to show that service to others was at the core of his ministry on earth.

As people of faith and followers of Christ, we also see such service as the core of who we are, and our ministries reflect that conviction - we feed the hungry and heal the sick, we educate children, we help to build homes and dig wells, we accompany people in their journeys out of poverty. When we see people suffering, we are moved and called to act.

But as climate change impacts more and more of our neighbors, how do we heed this call to love our neighbors and to serve their needs? How can we serve the Pacific Islander whose land is disappearing in rising seas? How can we serve the African farmer whose crops fail because of years of drought? How can we serve Alaska natives who are suffering from toxic exposure as glaciers melt?

In the coming years, we will have to make hard decisions about how we assist the growing number of individuals and communities who are suffering with the same resources. But more importantly, we will have to love.

As Christians, we are taught to reflect love - reflect the love of Jesus Christ to the whole world. And it is in love that we are truly able to do the work of the Lord and serve the most vulnerable among us. Climate change will challenge us in ways that we cannot imagine if we fail to address it in a meaningful way. And the only way to prepare for this is to learn how to love the way God intended for us to love one another.

Source: ELCA e-Advocacy Network