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An opera about oil
As a professional composer, I seek ways to grapple with and provoke discussion about climate change through my art. New Voices Opera produced my opera, Intoxication: America's Love Affair with Oil, in 2013. We have held several public screenings of the DVD since then, always with a group discussion afterwards. This is proving an effective way to reach people. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wJ5EpAdU3Ic&list=PLWwrJRVxzCj9dSxsLrwwT5kmBpEFsNlc-
Join the global Earth Charter Movement
"We stand at a critical moment in Earth's history, a time when humanity must choose its future. " The Earth Charter is a universal expression of ethical principles for a sustainable, just and peaceful future. It's a framework for action. It's a way to put all our little ideas and actions in our own communities together so we can see this as one global movement. "Let ours be a time remembered for the awakening of a new reverence for life, the firm resolve to achieve sustainability, the quickening of the struggle for justice and peace, and the joyful celebration of life."
Have Your Electicity Utility Deliver 100% Renewable Energy (If you are in a deregulated state)
Switch Your Residential Electricity To a Renewable Supplier - Its Easy If you live in one of the 16 electricity supply deregulated states, there IS something significant that you can do to reduce your carbon footprint without having to install your own solar panels or wind turbine. You can switch your electricity supplier to use only renewable energy sources such as hydro, wind and/or solar and in doing so you can say NO to nuclear and fossil fuels (coal, natural gas, oil). The deregulated states are: ME, NH, MA, RI, CT, NY, NJ, PA, DE, MD, OH, IL, TX, OR, (AZ & MI partial). Deregulation means your old local utility now delivers electricity to you through the grid and local power cables, while many different companies may generate the electricity (known as Energy Supply Companies or ESCOs) and you have the right to choose your supplier and still receive one bill and uninterrupted service. Many ESCOs offer 100% renewable energy contracts. Across the USA, electricity generation is by 39% coal, 19% nuclear, 27% natural gas, 6% hydro, 7% non-hydro renewable and 1% oil. So if you choose an ESCO supplying 100% wind energy you are changing this distribution away from the undesirable sources to the clean sources. If we can make this a grass roots movement by all acting together we can make a strong statement to the industry and tell the World we care. We could also use increase conversion rates to encourage congress to pass laws to help deregulate ALL states. Depending on the amount of electricity you consume, about ½ to ¾ of your bill goes to the old utility for the delivery of electricity through the grid and local power lines to your house and all the maintenance and overheads that go with that operation. This part doesn’t change. The remaining part of your bill is for the generator of your electricity (the supplier or ESCO), so only that part changes if you switch and the new rate is different. For each ESCO there is a website, so locate the ones you are interested in and see what contracts they have to offer this month. Contracts often change monthly because electricity is bought by ESCOs as a commodity, subject to market supply and demand. Often the ESCO will offer a contract with a variable rate that fluctuates monthly with the market. For those of you that prefer a predictable payment they also offer fixed rate contracts for a few months to a couple of years. The deregulated states provide assistance for making the switch, but it varies from state to state. For example in NY, the NY State Public Service Commission website provides all the assistance to make the switch, although it’s also useful to see what rating the Better Business Bureau has given each ESCO. For this project to be most effective, we would need a helper in each state who familiarizes him/herself with the conversion process. I have done this for NY State and now know how easy the process is. I have materials I can email to anyone who asks. I would also be happy to help a representative from the other deregulated states do the same. So let’s do it. What are you waiting for? It’s a NO-BRAINER!! To get help switching in NY State or to offer to be a helper in other deregulated states, contact [email protected]
Discussion Course: The Psychology of Climate Change
It was the survey we conduced of our church members a couple years ago that got me especially interested in this topic. 95% of our congregation agreed or strongly agreed with the following statement: “Climate change is real and is mostly human caused.” Yet, despite this, I know that most of the people in my congregation go about their daily lives more-or-less as if climate change does not exist. I’m sure we are not unique in this respect -- I have observed this routinely. Based on those survey results, I concluded that there was little point in hosting more presentations at our church regarding the science of climate change. Instead, what we needed was a way to get more of our congregation “unstuck”. By that, I mean that they translate their understanding and acceptance of climate science into positive actions that are integrated into their daily lives to whatever extent their personal time constraints allow.
With that in mind, my minister and I recently co-facilitated a two-session discussion course which we called “Who Asked for Climate Change, Anyway?” We limited attendance to 15 in order to allow everyone a good opportunity to contribute to the discussion. Here is the course description we came up with:
Our daily life is difficult enough as it is. We really don’t need climate change added on top of all that! Awareness of climate change triggers uncomfortable emotions such as fear, anxiety, anger, guilt, sadness, and helplessness. In this course, we will discuss and share these feelings. Then we will envision a new cultural norm that, in many ways, is far more health-giving and fulfilling. The goal is to accept our feelings, adopt a hopeful outlook, and translate those feelings into constructive actions that help make life better for ourselves, our loved ones, and the world community. Wednesday, April 15 and 22, 7-9pm, Room 10. This class will be facilitated by Douglas Taylor and Wes Ernsberger.
The course was based on articles, book excerpts, and videos that I have collected over the last couple of years. Here are links to the course materials and additional references: http://www.etmsolar.com/gsuu/gs/pcc_apr2015.htm
We felt that the course went quite well. The majority of those attending were already environmentally-oriented but we also drew a number of people from our congregation who are not generally involved in environmental issues. As it turns out, this course was pertinent to everyone because our environmental activists haven’t focused much on the psychological aspects either. I don’t know if the course resulted in anyone getting “unstuck” but a number of participants said that they appreciated a chance to talk in a group setting about the uncomfortable emotions that the climate change problem elicits. So perhaps its main value was of a “support group” nature. We intend to offer something like this again.
"Planetary Boundaries and Human Opportunities"
I believe this is a class which presents a scientific basis to SHIFT our world-view to a "Planet First" framework for human society to operate. Johan Rocktstrom of the Stockholm Resilience center taught a comprehensive 12 week online course. We have permission to show his videos. We study Rockstrom's hopeful, forward thinking framework of sustainability and resilience to navigate a safe and prosperous future in the Anthropocene geologic era we are in. Rockstrom presents science with the tools to approach a spiritual SHIFT of our world-view of "progress" and society's role with nature. https://www.sdsnedu.org/learn/planetary-boundaries-and-human-opportunities-fall-2014
Earth and Ocean Appreciation Month 3/22// to 4/24
UUCWI along with the Greening Congregations of Whidbey Island sponsored 6 events 2 of which focused on water crisis: global, regional, California's and included a report on our island's water status. The lead event featured the film Our Sacred Obligation: The Totem Pole Journey 2014; "Thirsty for Justice: The Struggle for the human right to water"; “Making Polluters Pay: The Carbon Tax Option” featuring Carbon Washington's Initiative 732; A book report on Elizabeth Kolbert’s best selling book, The Sixth Extinction and concluding with Sharon Abreu's Climate Monologues, a one woman musical, multimedia show highlighting real people.
Animal agriculture and climate change
If we are interested in sustainable and ethical living, we must address our practice of raising animals to be slaughtered for food: animal agriculture is responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions that all transportation combined and is the number one cause of species extinction, ocean dead zones, habitat and rainforest destruction. Please inform yourselves, consider the facts, and make the connection — for the sake of our children, the environment, the animals, and ourselves. Here’s a start: http://www.cowspiracy.com/facts/#
Are UUs going to have an "official" presence at the Moral Action on Climate?
I would be much more likely to attend the event (Sept. 24 in D.C.) if I knew other UUs who would be there. Terry Wiggins First Unitarian Society of Milwaukee