Tag Archive | climate change

November Remembrance Days

November 30th: International Remembrance Day for Lost Species.

Since posting my June blog about extinctions and my July blog with a 18_King-Protea-1Hgrieving prayer, I have learned that a date has been chosen for this remembrance. In 2011, a group of artists from Feral Theatre and the Life Cairn Project in the UK established November 30th as International Remembrance Day for Lost Species.

Thomas Berry reminds us that “to wantonly destroy a living species is to silence forever a divine voice. Our primary need for the various life forms of the planet is a psychic, rather than a physical, need.” How important it is to remember those lost voices!

November 11th: Veterans Day 

Another important remembrance date falls November 11th, when we remember those who have 121111-F-UQ244-100served in wars. The day differs from Memorial Day in that it celebrates the living veterans, but the connections between war and species extinctions are inescapable.

Effects of war — ruined soil, poisoned water, toxins in the atmosphere – contribute not only to human death and sorrow, but also to the destruction of ecosystems and to climate change, both of which cause extinction of species. And every life form, including human, is negatively affected. “Nothing is itself without everything else.” (Thomas Berry)

Before and After Connections

Preparation for war by such means as building and stockpiling poverty-wmdnuclear weapons seriously damages Earth’s ecosystems. In addition, the inordinate expense of preparation for war-making absorbs (some would say wastes) funds that could be used for education in non-violent conflict resolution skills, for stopping the causes of conflict, for the needs of poor and neglected humans and other life forms, and for increasing renewable energy sources. The after-effects of war continue the damage: too many troops and their relatives and friends are disrupted by the toxins, injuries, and the trauma they have suffered.

Connections Named by the U.S. Military

The U.S military has called climate change “an immediate threat to our national security.” The Pentagon’s March 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review — a standard-bearing report for military strategy, security threats and defense spending — reads in part: “The pressures caused by climate change will influence resource competition while placing additional burdens on economies, societies, and governance institutions around the world. These effects are threat multipliers that will aggravate stressors abroad such as poverty, environmental degradation, political instability, and social tensions — conditions that can enable terrorist activity and other forms of violence.”

Local community gets clean water thanks to BHGThe report gives Syria as an unfortunate example. The country suffered an extreme and unusually long drought between 2006 and 2011. Three-fourths of farmers suffered total crop losses, and President Bashar al-Assad mismanaged water resources, ultimately displacing 1.5 million  Syrians. Many believe that these circumstances, understood by scientists to be partially the result of climate change, contributed to the country’s civil war.

The Department of Defense’s Climate Change Adaptation Roadmap, October 2014, calls climate change a “threat multiplier” with the potential to increase the impact of numerous security concerns.  The U.S.military has named a goal of using 25% renewable energy by 2025.

Extinctions, Climate Change, and War

It stands to reason that ruined ecosystems resulting from war, its preparations, and its aftermath all contribute to the extinction of species that depend on those ecosystems. And, let us not forget, humans are a species!

Megan Hollingsworth (Ex-tinc-tion wit-ness) has a blog entry that makes connections between Nov. 11th and Nov. 30th: http://beta.extinctionwitness.org/.

Since my summer blogs about species’ extinctions, news has worsened. The October 17, 2014 TIME magazine quotes CBS News as stating the following: The world’s wildlife is disappearing far more rapidly than previously understood. The populations of 3,000 species, including mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fish, have fallen 52 percent, on average, since 1970. Many causes contribute to these losses. War is definitely one of them.

November Remembrance Days

November 11th: I hope that when we reverently remember the men and women who have served in battle, we will also remember the damage done to species, ecosystems, and climate by wars.

November 30th: In turn, I hope that when we reverently grieve the loss3Life-Cairn-at-SunriseQuote-1080x600 of increasing numbers of species and their ruined habitats, we will also remember the millions of humans whose lives, homes, and livelihoods have been lost or depleted as a result of war and the resulting ecosystem destruction and species extinctions.

Let us also remember that each species and each ecosystem has taken billions of years to evolve. With Teilhard de Chardin, we believe that “… the inner Reality … is the support common to all substances … .” The inner Reality living and acting in all creation also empowers us to participate in the on-going evolution of life and spirit. Those of us who “allow ourselves to feel our pain” for extinct species may wish to use the following updated grieving prayer. You are free to adapt it in any way. For a copy of just the four-sided prayer, click here: ExtinctionGrievingPrayer.11.4.14

Extinction Grieving Prayer
(Use two candles; prepare suggested (or other) music and video. Directions are starred.)

Call to Prayer                                                             sparrow-dusky_seaside_sparrow-from-wikipedia

 . . .today, the dusky seaside sparrow
became extinct. It may never be as famous
as the pterodactyl [tera daktel] or the dodo,
but the last one died today . . . .

An excerpt from “Science” by Alison Hawthorne Deming

What you call resources, we call our relatives. Source unknown.

* Light the first candle. It honors all the species that have gone extinct
in our lifetimes.

All: Great Giver of Life, we pause to remember our place at the beginning of the Sixth Great Extinction on Planet Earth. For 13.8 billion years creation has been groaning: bringing to birth, becoming more complex, more organized, more conscious. The other great extinctions during the past 450 million years happened by forces beyond anyone’s control. Now, for the first time, our species is ruining whole ecosystems, aborting entire groups of interdependent species.

Litany of Affirmation

imagesWe affirm the Sacred Mystery that caused and continues Creation.

We affirm the 13.8 billion years of our Universe.

We affirm the billions of galaxies, each with its billions of solar systems and stars.

We affirm the multiple transformations during the 4.5 billion years of Mother Earth’s life so far, and the relentless evolution towards potentially ever-greater consciousness in the future.

We affirm the millions of species that have inhabited our planet in beautifully-webbed communities: microorganisms, plants, fish, birds, mammals . . . .

We affirm that we came from Earth and exist, like all species, in a communion of subjects.

We acknowledge that we play a part in violating this communion by our carelessness, ignorance, and indifference. Forgive us our part in the death of ecosystems and the resulting extinction of creatures in whom we believe divinity lives and acts.

Litany of Grief

We grieve humans’ lack of awareness of, and concern about, the destruction of interdependent communities that have taken billions of years to develop.

We grieve the climate disaster that is extinguishing habitats and the multiple species within them.

We grieve the more than one-in-four flowering plants, the one-in-five mammals, the nearly one-in-three amphibians, and the one-in-eight birds that are vulnerable to being wiped out compleimg_18-tmtely. (International Union for the Conservation of Nature)

We grieve the Golden Toad (pictured here), native to Costa Rica. It has not been seen since 1989, when a single male was found, the last of its species.

We grieve the Pyreneanibex1-tm Ibex (pictured here). The last of this species naturally born was a female, Celia, who died in 2000.

We grieve the St. Helena Olive, a small spreading tree, the last of which perished in 2003 primarily due to deforestation and invasive plants.images-1

We grieve all our extinct brother and sister species, the amphibians, fish, birds, mammals, plants and trees, and their diminished habitats.

We grieve the humans whose sustenance and livelihoods are threatened by this disruption in the food web.

We grieve the deaths of ecological martyrs: Sister Dorothy Stang, Dian Fossey, Chico Mendes, and the over 900 other activists slain since 2004. (Global Witness)

* Add as you wish.

* Listen to and/or Sing: While listening to or singing this song, note the interconnections: war, bees, climate, soil. ”Where Have All the Flowers Gone?” Kingston Trio: www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eyof5doUFzk.

* Quiet reflection, followed by discussion

* Extinguish first candle. Light second candle. It represents all threatened species and our desire to protect them. 

* Watch “How Wolves Change Rivers” (4:33 min.):images-2

Litany of Gratitude and Hope 

We are grateful that 90% of species under the protection of the Endangered Species Act (U.S.) are recovering at the rate specified by their federal recovery plan.

0611.Rugendo_in_bukima.150We are grateful that British oil company Soco International agreed (June 2014) to suspend exploration in a national park in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), home to half the world’s critically endangered mountain gorillas (pictured here) and thousands of other species. We thank the over 750,000 people who signed a petition to stop the oil drilling.

We are grateful that the Zoological Society of London released its list of birds most at risk of extinction based on evolutionary distinctness and global endangerment (EDGE) in April 2014. This information will help conservationists decide where efforts should focus first.

We are grateful that the population of the California Least Tern (pictured here)californialeasttern_flickrcommons_USFWS-Pacific-Southwest-Region, listed as endangered in 1970, grew from 225 recorded then to 6,568 recorded in 2010.

We are grateful for all of the habitats that have been saved so the interdependent species within them can escape extinction.

We are grateful for the many people throughout the world who dedicate their time and efforts to keeping habitats and species alive so they can give praise to their creator by their distinct lineages, attributes, and contributions to the web of life.

* Add as you wish.

Action Suggestions

Let us not leave in our wake a swath of destruction and death which will affect our own lives and those of future generations.  Pope Francis

To save species, we must save ecosystems.  To save ecosystems, we must reduce climate change, pollution, poaching, invasive species, and over-consumption. Mentally check the list that follows for actions that you already take. There might be something there that you would also want to do.

* Read quietly:

Consciously deepen appreciation of the glory of creation, its long story, the place of Divine Mystery in it, and humans’ dependence upon it.                                     Pray for the healing of creation.

Reduce all energy use.                                                     Transition to renewable energy sources.

Encourage institutions to invest in renewable energy and to divest from fossil fuels.

Drive less and/or reduce gas use by not exceeding 60 mph on the highways (and by other ways).

Avoid produce, meat, and poultry from factory farms.                           Buy recycled products.

Reduce use of plastic.         Carry water in a thermos (not bottled water).                  Buy local.

Avoid genetically modified foods (GMOs).       Lobby for laws to protect habitats and species.

Include Earth-care concerns when choosing legislators.

Join (or cooperate with) a group working to conserve, restore, and protect habitats and species.

~ ~ ~
Einstein said: Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge points to all that is. Imagination points to all that could be.

* Listen to and/or sing John Lennon’s 1971 peace classic Imagine”: www.youtube.com/watch?v=RwUGSYDKUxU.

Share: Why might he have included “no heaven” and “no religion”? What kind of Earth “could be”? How can we contribute to co-creating it? Is there something this group could do?

Sending Forth

imagesAll: Great Giver of Life, we come from, and we dwell in, the magnificent world in which you live and act. Our species is causing extinctions; our species can prevent them. Let us not be thwarted by the immensity of the challenge, for the Power working within us can do more than we could ask or imagine. May the flame of this candle continue burning in our hearts, reminding us to help our threatened relatives.        * Extinguish second candle.

Enlighten us to find you in all Creation; empower us to treat it accordingly. Through Jesus Christ, whose respect for Earth inspires us to live as he did. Amen.

* Share a blessing of hope with one another. Celebrate possibilities!


Terri MacKenzie, SHCJ         http://ecospiritualityresources.com          terrishcj@aol.com


Commitments to Reduce Climate Change

draft_lens2283503_1307876462global_warming_makes_me_sAs a woman religious, I am proud that members of my American Province of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus (SHCJ) have made a strong commitment to help reduce climate change. So, too, have the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) and the Conference of Major Superiors of Men (CMSM). They represent a majority of women and men religious in the United States. This is not new for these groups, as members and institutions have taken many positive steps over past years. The recent statements from these groups highlight the urgency of reducing this increasingly dangerous reality.

We are far from singular in our commitment: many groups have pledged to respond to this peril. (Let us know in Comments if your church/synagogue or other group has done so.) The People’s Climate March September 21st is another way many will express their commitment to reducing climate change.


The SHCJ, called by our foundress Cornelia Connelly to “meet the needs of our age,” corneliacollagehas already
taken steps to reduce our personal and corporate carbon footprints. (For example, we have transitioned to renewable energy.) We recently strongly agreed to the following statement:

We, the Sisters of the American Province of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus, compelled by the gospel and by our mission to help others believe that God lives and acts in them and in our world, are concerned for all of God’s creation including our sisters and brothers everywhere. We accept scientific evidence that climate change is happening and is caused in great part by human activity. Earth, which reflects God’s glory, is in great peril. Therefore, we publicly state our commitment by taking action to help reduce this danger.

SHCJ Action Steps

We pledge to be aware and pray over recent scientific reports and Church statements and to invite family, friends and colleagues to join with us.

We urge our government officials to join the world community to enact legislation which will reduce the emissions of global greenhouse gas and support clean energy. We give authorization to our province Leadership Team to act in our regard in this regard.

We commit ourselves to reduce carbon emissions by our activities and life styles so that all God’s people, particularly the poor and vulnerable, will not suffer the devastating consequences of climate change. We recognize that what we do to earth, we do to ourselves. Therefore, as Holy Child Sisters we commit ourselves to support ALL life on Earth.


images-1LCWR represent more than 86,000 (about 80%) of the country’s Catholic sisters, while CMSM represents US leaders of orders of Catholic priests and  brothers. Media often highlights the complex relationship between the Vatican and the sisters — and that is news. But not to be missed is the sisters’ commitment to the issues they feel called to address.

Meeting together August 1-4, 2014, LCWR and CMSM leaders issued a joint resolution calling their members to work for action on climate change. The two conferences resolved to seek concrete ways to curb environmental degradation, mitigate its impact on the poorest and most vulnerable people, and restore right relationships among all God’s creation; and to foster a consciousness of care for God’s creation among all our members, colleagues, institutions and those whom we serve. 

The leaders noted that the increase in temperature on the earth will likely have wide-spread consequences, from mass extinctions to devastating impacts on the lives and livelihoods of the poorest and most vulnerable human beings.

Meeting later in August, the LCWR membership passed a more focused resolution to promote the national transition from fossil fuel energy sources to renewable energy sources as soon as possible.

Other Congregations Take Action

The Franciscan Sisters of Mary have made the decision to divest from fossil fuel production and invest in entrepreneurs and companies that promote clean, sustainable energy solutions. For more information, see the press release:  http://www.fsmonline.org/news/article/582

People’s Climate March

The People’s Climate March in New York City on Sunday, September 21st, will see hundreds of thousands of people show their commitment to reducing global warming and the harm it is already causing, especially to poor people and other species throughout the world. Marchers, and those throughout the country who will be praying and taking local action, hope they will influence participants at the UN Climate Summit on September 23.


The sisters appreciate the support given by people concerned about the situation with the imagesVatican, and we appreciate prayers for its positive resolution. We also appreciate, and hope to  engender, support for issues we consider most vital: care of creation and the interconnected concern for people suffering from  poverty, trafficking, violence, and injustice.

What could happen if a groundswell of US citizens, including politicians, recognized the religious, economic, and political advantages of taking action to reduce global warming? What is your vision?

Climate Change Resistance

Most readers of this blog are probably already concerned about climate change, and possibly active in reducing it. This sometimes results in hostility to the people judged to be deniers or those who seem spiteful about adding to it. Lots of reasons are blamed for their negative responses: inaccurate and inadequate media coverage, investments in fossil fuel and weapons industries, mistaking it as a political issue, just plain greed. Many efforts have been made to overcome these resistances directly: for example, by providing better information.

These efforts don’t always work, at least in the United States. I believe we must at least consider another source of the problem:  the need to update “brain technology” o-COMPUTER-facebookto deal with current problems of climate (as well as violence and poverty). While some brains have evolved to motivate people to action, others seem stuck in past technology. Einstein warned: No problem can be solved from the same consciousness that created it.

Solving this will still be challenging, but better to treat the cause of obstinacy than to treat the symptoms. I hope the following will serve to increase our patience with resisters and our commitment to sending the universe positive energy for required consciousness updating. I hope we’ll devise ways to ask questions that will cause cognitive dissonance; good questions often result in willingness to change. After all, negative energy will not help, and God’s power can do anything — “far more than we can even imagine or guess or request in our wildest dreams!” (Eph. 3)

Updates Available

Fortunately the brain is able to develop new connections throughout life. Every day the brain computes ways to respond to new learning, new experiences, new awareness — new questions! The more of us who “download” better awareness, the stronger the field becomes, and that makes it easier for others to evolve. New awareness grows from old. Let’s consider the consciousness humans already have evolved.

Responding to Immediate Threats

What an important software this has been for ages past! As Brian Swimme says, our ancestors
learned to run immediately if they caught a glimpse of yellow. Those who didn’t act fast enough
became lunch for some hungry lion. This skill was passed on in our DNA. It’s still needed, of
course, but additional “brain software” is now required for survival.

People who mistakenly think climate change has not yet affected them seem to assume they have
time to wait. They operate exclusively from a mindset that was sufficient for survival for
millennia, but no longer is.

The situation that already affects millions (and, actually, everyone) willf2b57-dscn7621
eventually seriously threaten all people’s survival. What about food
supply? Water? Where will they safely live? Longer-range vision is
required to comprehend this. New brain skills are needed — and,
ironically, immediately!

Already we have reached the point where some damage will be
impossible to reverse. Six glaciers have reached irreversible collapse.
Warming ocean water is melting away the base of the West Antarctic Ice
Sheet – and more rapidly than predicted. Further, the damage is self-perpetuating and will accelerate over time. It cannot be stopped.

It is vital to note that reducing greenhouse gas emissions now can at least delay the total collapse
and resulting ocean rise. But this, too, requires vision for the future.

Separations and Independence

This important skill was a huge breakthrough when human consciousness evolved from preconscious
oneness into awareness of separate identities, dualities, and the scientific belief that
everything is made of separate atoms. Competition and hierarchies resulted. God was relegated to the sky, separate from Earth. Recognizing differences was necessary and still needed. But our time calls for “brain-ware” that also recognizes that those differences exist within intercommunion and interdependence. Those atoms belong to wholes. The Divine Mystery is present everywhere, living and acting within all creation.

By not updating consciousness, some think of climate change as competing with “real concerns”
like poverty, trafficking, refugees. And they can think of it as separate from themselves, something “out there.” People choose their issue and miss the interconnectedness of all issues within one whole.

Ecospirituality Update Needed

Ecospirituality, by definition, uses a “deep time journey” vision that situates us in a
14.8 billion year on-going evolution that is changing each moment. It sees humanity as having
the highest degree of consciousness to date (as far as we know) and humans as the ones who
contribute consciously to our evolution story for good or ill. It sees creation as a sacred interconnected process in which “nothing is itself without everything else.” (Thomas Berry). IMG_7737

This understanding of creation as a sacramental “whole” comes in part from new
sciences, but mystics and others have lived it for centuries. Because of this wholeness, we cannot do one thing. The butterfly effect (wings flapping somewhere changing weather somewhere else) is a well-known example of that, but even babies learn it from mobiles. Touch any one item, and all are influenced.

“At an invisible level, everything and everyone is interconnected in a most profound way, not only as human beings but as energy, mind, and matter.” (Mark Matousek)

Connection with Resistances

What does obsolete brain power have to do with resistances to Climate Change activities? Remember:

Climate concerns need attention now, and they interact with other issues. We are not separate from our environment. The air we breathe flows within us, is altered, returns and continues to be altered as we breathe in yet other air particles. “The world around us is also within. We are an expression of it; it is an expression of us. . . . This is not ‘environment’ as much as the holy mystery of creation.” (Larry L. Rasmussen)

The United Nations Development Programme has a special envoy for environment, conflict and
disaster. (It is Eric Solheim.) The UN recognizes the inter connections among these three. One of the
recognized (if not often by the US media) causes of conflicts in the Middle East, in African
countries, and even in the United States, is fallout from global warming. The abrupt drying up of
arid land leads to competition over declining water resources, places to live, food to eat,
jobs . . . .

One example: after two years of drought in a rural area  Daily Life in Domiz refugee camp, Kurdistan Region of Iraq
of Syria, 300,000 families abandoned their homes and
moved to Syrian cities. The United Nations named it
one of the “largest internal displacements in the Middle
East in recent years.” Unemployed youth from dislocated families later joined Sunni groups that began the Syrian
Civil War, which ultimately became ISIS.

Climate change was not the direct cause of the Syrian
War, but it definitely contributed. This is true also in places like Nigeria.

Even the Pentagon and Center for Naval Analyses in the US have made connections, showing
how climate change increases the risk and level of economic, political, and ecological conflicts.
Dislocated and impoverished children are targets for trafficking as well as death by starvation and dehydration. Connections are everywhere to those who can recognize them.

Ultimate Connection

Here’s another essential connection to remember: ““By virtue of Creation, and still more the
Incarnation, nothing here below is profane for those who know how to see.” (Teilhard de
Chardin) Let us pray to always see the sacred in all things. Let us pray when we are tempted to judge others and become impatient and frustrated. Let us pray that we, too, keep evolving!

If this rings true for you, or if you have experience with it that you can share, please respond in Comments.