Unami Monthly Meeting recently introduced a Carbon Forest Project through their Peace and Social Concerns committee. As one of their first projects, they have made plans for a ten-acre site to build Old Growth forests, an ecologically diverse native forest that can sink carbon permanently by planting 435 trees per acre, tending to the need for organic surface, shrubs, and herbs. They plan to steward these forests as they grow to maturity. [Read more…] about John Munro of Unami Monthly Meeting on the Carbon Forest Project
On March 27, 2021, during Philadelphia Yearly Meeting’s Continuing Sessions, Friends united to come under the weight of climate change and eco-justice as a Yearly Meeting Witness. They recognized that while approving such a Witness was an important step forward, a specific plan of action is required. The Climate Change Sprint is drafting a plan to be presented to PYM Annual Sessions 2021 this summer.
The Climate Change Sprint members are Robert Greene, Bill Cozzens, Ruth Darlington, Pat Finley, .O, Kathryn Metzker, Christy Tavernelli, and Shelly Xia (Liyiran). The action plan created by the members recommends focus on education, activism, carbon footprint, finances, and mourning loss, and instilling hope.
A Member Reflects on Her Experience
Linda Clark is a member of Chestnut Hill Friends Meeting. As a whole meeting, Chestnut Hill Friends has joined an organization called POWER. In this article, Linda reflects on her experiences working with POWER and why it’s important for meetings across PA to join. If you have questions if your meeting is interested, please contact Linda at firstname.lastname@example.org. [Read more…] about Calling All PA Meetings: Consider Joining POWER
Philadelphia Yearly Meeting hosted an evening question and answer session with the Eco Justice Collaborative in preparation for the Saturday March 24th Continuing Sessions work on the topic of Climate Change. Here follows an interview with Pat Finley and Ruth Darlington of the Eco Justice Collaborative (EJC) and Anthony Stover, Clerk of Quaker Life Council.
The interview explains how the Quaker Life Council will form a Sprint (a nimble, short-term committee convened around a Yearly Meeting initiative of importance) and the Eco Justice Collaborative will support the PYM community in climate justice work.
[Read more…] about Quaker Life Council and Eco Justice: Pathways to Climate Change Action
With thanks to Kri Burkander, recording clerk, minutes of the evening’s Eco Justice Q&A follow:
Jean-Marie Prestwidge Barch opened the session, reminding Friends that this is the beginning of our Continuing Sessions. Our Zoom interface allows us to connect across time and space in a different way. Our gathering tonight will allow us to season this work, which will also be on Saturday’s agenda. We settled into worship, with some 50 Friends in attendance. [Read more…] about Minutes from March 23 Eco Justice Collaborative Q/A
Philadelphia Yearly Meeting’s upcoming Continuing Sessions on March 27th will feature three issues of importance to Friends; Membership, Climate Change, and AntiRacism.
It is hoped that Friends at every meeting or worship group will feel led to participate, and that these issues will be brought back to your communities to inform and sustain Friends in an ongoing partnership towards a better world.
Please stay connected with the PYM community on climate action by filling out the form at the end of this page.
Saturday, July 11, 2020, 70 people gathered in Philadelphia Yearly Meeting’s Plenary Session on Climate Change to share minutes and discuss yearly-meeting-wide witness for climate action. [Read more…] about A Report on the July 11 Plenary Session on Climate Change
Re-imagining Our Relationship with the Planet
There are many ways to connect to our planet: environmental projects, trails, management of our carbon footprint, decisions around what we use, purchase, eat, or invest in, considerations about what we plant in our backyards, how we build our homes or get from place to place. All are important, but most important is to be informed.
As we prepare to address climate change during Annual Sessions 2020 it is helpful for Friends in our community to ground themselves with advance preparation.
The Eco-Justice Collaborative, a regional Quaker initiative, is concluding a series of disaster preparedness programs on October 13th, the International Day for Disaster Reduction (IDDD). Inaugurated in 1989 to promote a global culture of risk-awareness and disaster reduction, the IDDD celebrates the efforts made by communities to raise awareness about the importance of reining in risks, reducing fatalities and limiting economic losses. The 2019 Theme focuses on reducing disaster damage to critical infrastructure and disruption of basic services.
“Many of the disasters we are seeing locally happen suddenly – severe storms, flooding, loss of electricity, high winds and tornadoes,” observed Janet Zeis, of the Chester County Department of Emergency Services, one of the speakers on the program. “Houses of worship are where many turn for help. They have the buildings, the people and an orientation toward service to help people cope with the practical and emotional side of a disaster.”
Globally, sudden extreme weather disasters exacerbated by climate change displace millions of people every year and create high economic costs. A report by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre suggests that seven million people were displaced by extreme weather disasters in the first half of 2019 alone. There has been a dramatic rise of 151% in direct economic losses from climate-related disasters, according to the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction. In the period 1998-2017, disaster-hit countries reported direct economic losses of US$2,908 billion of which climate-related disasters accounted for US$2,245 billion or 77% of the total. In terms of occurrences, climate-related disasters also dominate the picture, accounting for 91% of all 7,255 major recorded events between 1998 and 2017. Floods, 43.4%, and storms, 28.2%, are the two most frequently occurring disasters. The greatest economic losses have been experienced in the United States US$ 944.8 billion and in China, US$492.2 billion.
The Eco-Justice Collaborative educational series “Local Solutions to Mitigate Extreme Weather” included programs on understanding what is already in place to help in a local disaster, how to create a congregational or school preparedness plan, spiritual and emotional care, and how to plan ahead to make recovery and resilience more efficient. The series was held in West Chester and Philadelphia and attended by members of a variety of Friends Meetings, other congregations, Friends schools, and local residents.
“We want to draw attention to the theme of critical infrastructure since we all rely on it daily, and even more so in cases of disaster. We are asking our county and state leaders to aggressively look at the best way to mitigate the vulnerabilities of our local electrical supply, the benefits and implementation of alternatives such as solar based micro grids, renewable back-up systems and how to ensure transportation systems remain operational during extreme events to allow emergency response, move people to safety, and transport essential goods. That may mean electric vehicles,” observed Pat Finley of the Eco-Justice Collaborative.
The increased frequency of extreme events associated with climate change means that communities are experiencing increased interruption in the systems supporting their lighting, heating, cooling, and transportation needs, as seen most recently in Texas and the Bahamas.
The program focuses on local risks and presented the results of the PENNDOT Extreme Weather Vulnerability Study. The report states that extreme weather events pose significant and growing risks to the safety, reliability, effectiveness, and sustainability of transportation infrastructure. Pennsylvania, according to the study, has “experienced severe precipitation events that have recently damaged roads, bridges, and rail systems. Since 2006, over 140 million dollars of emergency funds have been obligated on the federal aid system in Pennsylvania. In recent years, tropical storms and hurricanes including Irene, Lee, and Sandy have resulted in flooding that has washed out roadways, damaged bridge abutments, and caused significant traffic and safety impacts.” Heavy rains and flooding affect regional railways and SEPTA. In October 2016 over seven inches of rainfall in northern Pennsylvania damaged several bridges and roadways.
While PENNDOT conducts studies to analyze and develop future bridge and culvert design to be able to manage 100 and 500 year storm events to keep everyone safe, local houses of worship or looking at their own buildings to be sure they will be in a position to help the community.
Strengthening infrastructure to withstand extreme weather events isn’t the only way of addressing disasters, according to the program organizers.
Central Baptist Church in Wayne, which is a kick off site for the Chester County Clean Energy Tour on October 19th is a case in point is what can be done. According to Central Baptist member Chuck Marshall, the church set and achieved the goal of reducing church related emissions to zero. It took them 7 years in two phases. “First we analyzed emissions related to our own infrastructure,” observes Marshall. “By combining the replacement of inefficient lighting and an old heating system with the installation of 48 solar panels, we were very close to meeting our goal.” The purchase of offsets (in the form of wind renewable energy credits) gets them to zero emissions. But, the church didn’t stop there. Home energy audit “parties” were held at attendee’s homes after worship to show how each household could improve their own energy efficiency. And they looked at emissions related to getting to and from church. “By setting annual goals, we were able to reduce emissions over time in a painless way. We continue this program and we share our story with other congregations. It can be done,” affirmed Chuck Marshall.
Participants also heard from Valley Friends Meeting in Dayton, VA. Their clean energy ministry began in 2014, when a they wrote a minute on climate change (which is available on their website (https://valleyfriends.org/testimonies/minute-on-climate-change/). It reads in part:
“Moreover, because climate change disproportionately affects the world’s most impoverished peoples and has contributed to international conflicts and genocide, our commitments to peace and justice, as well as our commitment to care for the Earth, compel us to restorative action.” They started with their old oil furnace, which they replaced with a new and a more efficient heat pump. They funded this project through contributions from the community. Next they committed to transition to powering the heat pump with solar energy. They now have a Power Purchase Agreement and solar panels on their roof.
Quaker social worker, Nora Wright addressed the spiritual and emotional impacts of disasters on individuals and communities. She highlighted the critical importance of having a spiritual care plan and not just an infrastructure plan.
“The involvement of local and faith-based organizations is increasingly important because state and federal assistance will be harder to get as the number of natural disasters rises in the coming years. If a faith community or a house of worship wants to be involved in any phase of a disaster, they will want to get training to be truly prepared. For those interested in learning how to get involved in disaster prevention and preparedness in your community, contact the Southeastern Pennsylvania Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (SEPA VOAD), the Red Cross or your local Emergency Manager,” urged Janet Zeis.
International Disaster Day: https://www.un.org/en/events/disasterreductionday/index.shtml
On Friday September 20, 2019 some Friends Schools, Quaker meetings, and Quaker Colleges will release students to participate in climate strikes from 11 am to 2 pm. across the region.
The Climate Strike coincides with the US visit of an unusual 16 year old, Greta Thunberg, from Sweden. Named ‘a most influential teen’ by TIME magazine, Greta has been meeting with congress and other leaders in the USA to forward her belief that the US needs to do more to combat climate change.
Greta first shared her thoughts on climate change via a ten-minute TED talk. Watch the TED talk
Find more news about the climate strike through:
For Friends who want to get involved, or find out about work being done on Climate change issues:
To educate yourself:
- Visit the NASA website that tracks climate science
- Attend PYM’s October 24th 6:30 PM Friends in Fellowship talk by Taiya Smith on carbon pricing. As Deputy Chief of Staff and principal adviser to Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson on the U.S.-China relationship, Taiya established the U.S.-China Ten Year Framework on Energy & the Environment and the EcoPartnership program.
- Look at what they’re doing in other countries.
To learn more about the Climate Strike at City Hall in Philadelphia or other nearby places go to 350philadelphia.org/get-involved/.
Other Climate-related events:
October 3, 2019, Dr. Sandra Steingraber will speak at Swarthmore College. Biologist, cancer survivor and activist, Dr. Steingraber will talk about ecology, pollution and activism.
- Swarthmore College (1:00, Intercultural Center Dome Room, Sproul 201). Please read this “homework assignment” at https://orionmagazine.org/article/coffee-in-jail/
- Dr. Steingraber will also give a lecture/discussion at 4:30 pm ( currently scheduled for the same location).
- On Friday, October 4th Dr. Steingraber will convene a discussion at the Conlon Room at Brinton House at Pendle Hill, 338 Plush Mill Road, Wallingford, PA.
Oct 3-6 Quaker Earthcare Witness Fall Meeting at Pendle Hill. The fall Steering Committee Meeting of QEW will be held at Pendle Hill this year. More information is found at www.quakerearthcare.org/upcoming.