Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Zoellick becomes World Bank president

The Executive Directors of the World Bank yesterday unanimously selected Robert Zoellick as the 11th President of the bank for a five-year term.

The President of the bank is ex-officio President of the International Development Association (IDA) and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), and the Administrative Council of the International Centre of Investment Disputes (ICSID).

This announcement affects every aspect of environmental, energy, and resources law, of course, due to the Bank's pivotal role in financing development -- and thereby setting development policy throughout the world.  So, who is this masked man?

Here's the Bank's bio:

Professional History of Mr. Robert B. Zoellick

Mr. Zoellick, a U.S. national, is currently Vice Chairman, International, of Goldman Sachs Group, and a Managing Director and Chairman of Goldman Sach’s Board of International Advisors. He has served in a number of senior positions in successive US administrations, including as Deputy Secretary, U.S. Department of State, and as U.S. Trade Representative (2001-05). He also served as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Financial Institutions Policy, US Department of Treasury, and Undersecretary for Economic and Agricultural Affairs and Counselor in the U.S. State Department. He was Executive Vice President of Fannie Mae (1993-1997), the large U.S. mortgage finance corporation, as well as Vice President and Assistant to the Chairman and CEO. In addition, he served as Olin Visiting Professor, U.S. Naval Academy, as Senior Advisor, Goldman Sachs, as Research Scholar, Belfer Center, Harvard University, and previously on three corporate boards, as well as numerous research and non-profit boards.

Mr. Zoellick has a J.D., magna cum laude, Harvard Law School, and a M.P.P. (in public management and international issues) from the Kennedy School of Government. In addition, Mr. Zoellick has received numerous distinguished service awards.

Read between the lines: Zoellick is a Bush loyalist and true believer in globalization for the benefit of corporate interests and the wealthy.  Wouldn't it be refreshing sometime for the World Bank to be led by someone who is committed to reducing international poverty and who has on the ground development experience -- rather than ideological theorizing and strategizing experience.

Unfortunately, and I say this as an alumna of both, Zoellick's Kennedy School and HLS credentials just mean he's smart, not moral or committed to the public he is supposed to serve.

June 26, 2007 in Agriculture, Air Quality, Asia, Australia, Biodiversity, Cases, Climate Change, Constitutional Law, Economics, Energy, Environmental Assessment, EU, Forests/Timber, Governance/Management, International, Land Use, Law, Legislation, Mining, North America, Physical Science, Social Science, South America, Sustainability, Toxic and Hazardous Substances, US, Water Quality, Water Resources | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, June 23, 2007

CERCLA private cost recovery


The Supreme Court granted certiorari in du Pont v. U.S., 460 F.3d 515 (3rd Cir. 2006),which held that potentially responsible parties (PRPs) did not have an implied cause of action under CERCLA 107(a) or common law to recover voluntarily incurred cleanup cost from other PRPs. The Supreme Court also vacated the judgment and remanded the case for further consideration in light of U.S. v. Atlantic Research Corp., 2007 WL 1661465 (2007). Atlantic Research Corp. held that CERCLA 107(a) provides PRPs with a cause of action to recover such voluntarily incurred costs from other PRPs. (Case below: E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Co. v. United States, 460 F.3d 515 (C.A.3-N.J. 2006).)

June 23, 2007 in Cases, Law, Toxic and Hazardous Substances, US | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Ocean temperatures are not declining

Contrary to a recent report, the ocean didn't cool between 2004-2005.  The apparent cooling is explained by changes in monitoring techniques that reduced the warming bias in previous measurements.
PNAS link

June 23, 2007 in Climate Change, International, Physical Science, Water Resources | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

A scary future fuel: furans are seldom benign

Scientific American
June 20, 2007
Turning Whole Plants into Fuel in Four Simple Steps
A new process can turn plants into energy-dense fuel by combining the power of fermentation and chemical reactions

A recipe for fuel: take the carbohydrates like starch and cellulose that make up the majority of plants. Use enzymes to break them down into fructose, the sugar found in fruits and honey. Mix this fructose with salt water and hydrochloric acid. Add a solvent—in this case butanol also derived from plant matter—to protect the resulting hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF) from reacting with the water, then extract it. This versatile molecule can be used to create plastic polymers or other chemicals. And by the way, adding a copper-coated ruthenium catalyst can also convert the HMF to DMF (2,5-dimethylfuran), a fuel that provides more energy than ethanol.

"It should be a great fuel," says James Dumesic, a chemical engineer at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, who, along with his colleagues, discovered the new process, "DMF has the energy density of petroleum."

He notes that DMF could rapidly replace ethanol, because it not only provides more energy but also has a higher boiling point (allowing DMF to blend more easily with gasoline) and it does not react with water (ethanol absorbs atmospheric water vapor, which degrades its potency). Plus, this process, reported in Nature, works faster than the several days it takes Saccharomyces cerevisiae yeast to ferment plant sugars into ethanol, because it is chemically controlled and therefore can be completed in hours.

But DMF, despite its apparent benefits, has yet to be extensively tested as a stand-alone fuel in engines. "We make relatively small quantities," Dumesic says. "I don't know of studies at very high concentrations [of DMF showing] how good of a fuel it would be. But you can make a very good case for this as a blending agent," much as ethanol is currently used.

And DMF may yet fail another important test. Whereas the process may be environmentally benign—using plant-derived butanol and hydrogen as well as simple salt water—the resulting molecule may not be. "We can't find information pro or con about the toxicological impact of DMF. That has to be looked at carefully," Dumesic says. "Does this make sense from an environmental point of view? Or are we making another MTBE?" (MTBE, or methyl tertiary butyl ether, was added to gasoline beginning in 1979 to help it burn more fully, but the cancer-causing chemical was widely banned in the U.S. after it was discovered to be leaking into and contaminating ground water.)

If DMF does pass that test, however, it could be available shortly and cost no more (and potentially less, depending on the utility of side products like HMF) than ethanol. "We could make this happen within the next few years if we are told from an environmental safety point of view that this would be a good thing to do," Dumesic says. "The process we are talking about here is very much like a petroleum process and the knowledge of the petroleum industry in scaling things up could all apply here."

June 20, 2007 in Energy | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Climate Change Class Resources

Here are some great climate change and other resource science papers from American Meterological Society's seminar series: May 15, 2007

Effective Communication: Persuasion and the Science of Social Influence

Seminar Summary PDF | HTML Version

Seminar Presentations

Dr. Robert B. Cialdini
HTML Version | PDF Version

April 16 , 2007

Managing Climate Change:
The Daunting Energy
Challenge Ahead

Seminar Summary PDF | HTML Version

Seminar Presentations

Dr. Marty Hoffert
HTML Version | PDF Version Dr. Ken Caldeira
HTML Version | PDF Version
Dr. Joseph Romm
HTML Version | PDF Version

March 19, 2007

Marine Fisheries and Ocean Ecosystems: A Global Problem in Search of a Policy

Seminar Summary PDF | HTML Version

Seminar Presentations

Dr. Boris Worm
HTML Version | PDF Version

Dr. Daniel Pauly
HTML Version | PDF Version

February 28 ,2007

Anticipating Abrupt Climate Changes:
Are Our Perceptions Consistent with the Evidence?

Seminar Summary PDF | HTML Version

Seminar Presentations

Dr. M. Susan Lozier
HTML Version | PDF Version

Dr. Richard Seager
HTML Version | PDF Version


January 31,2007

Multiple Lines of Evidence: The Scientific Basis for Global Warming and Its Causation

Seminar Summary PDF

Seminar Presentations

Dr. David R. Easterling
HTML Version | PDF Version

Dr. Lonnie G. Thompson
HTML Version | PDF Version

Dr. Michael E. Mann
HTML Version | PDF Version

Dr. Benjamin D. Santer
HTML Version | PDF Version

November 28 , 2006

The Divide between Values and Behavior: Exploring American Perceptions of Global Warming and the Environment

Seminar Summary PDF

Seminar Presentations

Dr. Anthony Leiserowitz
HTML Version | PDF version

Dr. Matthew C. Nisbet
HTML Version | PDF version

Is Global Warming Impacting or Expected to Impact, Hurricanes?

October 20 , 2006

Seminar Summary PDF

Seminar Presentations

Dr. James P. Kossin
Dr. Tom M. L. Wigley
Dr. Greg Holland
Dr. Thomas L. Delworth

"Drought, Water, Wildfires and Climate Change in the Western US - Historical Context and the Road Ahead"

September 25, 2006

Seminar Summary PDF

Seminar Presentations

Dr. Philip Mote

Dr. Anthony Westerling

Brad Udall


Impact of Climate Change on Arctic Ecosystems:
A Snapshot of Mammals and Forests

July 14 , 2006

Seminar Summary PDF

Seminar Presentations

  Dr. Susan Kutz

  Dr. Glenn Patrick Juday

  Dr. Steven C. Amstrup

Changes in Cold Places Part II: The Role of Air Pollution on Arctic Warming

May 31, 2006

Seminar Summary PDF

Seminar Presentations

  Dr. Drew Shindell

  Dr. Dan Lubin

Changes in Cold Places: A Look at the Greenland Ice Sheet, Arctic Sea Ice and the Antarctic Ice Sheet

May 3, 2006

Seminar Summary PDF

Seminar Presentations

  Dr. H. Jay Zwally

  Dr. Wieslaw Maslowski

  Dr. Richard B. Alley

Human Alteration of the Nitrogen Cycle: Implications for Plant Growth, Food Supply, Climate, Water Quality, and Human Health

March 21, 2006

Seminar Summary PDF

Seminar Presentations

  Dr.Wiliam Schlesinger

  Dr.James Galloway

Thawing of Arctic Permafrost: Extent, Causation and Implications

February 21, 2006

Seminar Summary PDF

Seminar Presentations

  Dr. David Lawrence

  Dr. Lawrence Smith

Surface Temperature, CO2 and Methane: The Past, Present and Likely Trajectory of Three Key Indicators of Climate Change

January 25, 2006

Seminar Summary PDF

Seminar Presentations

  Dr. Dominique Raynaud

  Dr. Thomas Karl

Disaster Recovery: A Post-Disaster Reaction or Anticipatory Activity?

December 13, 2005

Seminar Summary PDF

Seminar Presentations

  Patricia A. Owens

  Dr. Joanne M. Nigg

  Dr. Walter Peacock

Recent Advances In Understanding and Measuring Changes in Earth's Vertical Temperature Profile

November 16, 2005

Seminar Summary PDF

Seminar Presenations

  Dr. Ben Santer

  Dr. Steven Sherwood

  Dr. Carl A. Mears

Hurricanes: Are They Changing and Are We Adequately Prepared for the Future?

October 25, 2005
Seminar Summary PDF

Seminar Presentations

  Dr. Kevin Trenberth

  Dr. Judith Curry

  Dr. Kerry Emanuel

Changes in Ocean Acidity Resulting from the Buildup of CO2: Implications for the Present and the Future

October 5, 2005

Seminar Summary

Seminar Presentations
  Dr. Kenneth Caldeira

  Dr. Richard Feely

The Future of Oil: Will Supply Meet Demand?

July 25, 2005

Seminar Summary PDF

Seminar Presentations
  Jack Zagar

  Matthew Simmons

  Dr. Herman Franssen

  Dr. Robert L. Hirsch

New Orleans, Hurricanes and Climate Change: A Question of Resiliency

June 20, 2005

Seminar Summary PDF

Seminar Presenations

  Thomas Knutson
  Dr. Shirley Laska

Declining Mountain Snowpack in Western North America: Implications for Water Resource Management in the Western U.S.

May 26, 2005

Seminar Summary

Seminar Presentations
  Dr. Philip Mote
  Dr. Soroosh   Sorooshian


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June 20, 2007 in Climate Change | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

AMS Environmental Science Seminar: The Scientific Consensus on Global Warming

American Meteorological Society's Environmental Science Seminar Series

"The Scientific Consensus on Global Warming:
How Do We Know We’re Not Wrong?"

How can the public be assured that the scientific consensus on global warming and its causation is not wrong, given previous concerns regarding global cooling and theories such as continental drift? Are there tests of such scientific assertions and theories that can serve to reassure our confidence in their correctness?

Public Invited*

Friday, June 22, 2007
12:00 Noon - 2:00 pm
Dirksen Senate Office Building, Room G-50
Washington, DC

Buffet Reception Following


Dr. Anthony Socci, Senior Science Fellow, American Meteorological Society


Dr. Naomi Oreskes, Professor of History and Science Studies at the University of California, San Diego, CA

Program Summary

Scientists have been studying the potential effect of greenhouse gases on Earth's climate for more than half a century. As early as the mid-1960s, they warned political leaders that significant adverse consequences could ensue, and in 1979 a committee of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences chaired by MIT meteorologist Jules Charney predicted that the effects of anthropogenic warming would be discernible by the end of the 20th century.

These predictions have come true. There is broad consensus among active climate researchers that global warming is indeed discernible, and its primary causes are discernible, too: human activities including deforestation and greenhouse gas emissions.

Yet some individuals (although mostly not scientists) challenge the scientific evidence. One type of challenge is to suggest that because scientists were mistaken in the past for example, about the absolute nature of time and space, or the stability of continents or in their support for eugenics programs there is no reason to accept what they have to say now.

Many of the individuals who have challenged climate science are clearly not objective: some have documented links to the fossil fuel industry; others have a history of acting as career skeptics having previously challenged scientific evidence related to acid rain, ozone depletion, and environmental tobacco smoke. Nevertheless, it is a fair question: how do we know we're not wrong?

Historians and philosophers of science have amply documented the fallibility of past science, and it therefore behooves us to take seriously the possibility that our present science may turn out to be incomplete or even incorrect. Yet, history and philosophy of science also provide guidance for evaluating climate science and judging its quality. When we apply the lessons of history, we find that climate science passes a diversity of tests.

History and philosophy also suggest how we can proceed with informed public policy even while acknowledging scientific fallibility.


Dr. Naomi Oreskes is Professor of History and Science Studies at the University of California, San Diego. Her research focuses on the historical development of scientific knowledge, methods, and practices in the earth and environmental sciences. She is the author of The Rejection of Continental Drift: Theory and Method in American Earth Science, and editor of Plate Tectonics: An Insider s History of the Modern Theory of the Earth, cited by Library Journal as one of the best science and technology books of 2002, and by Choice as an outstanding academic title of 2003. She has also authored roughly 30 or so scholarly peer-reviewed papers in scientific journals and monographs, and in science history and history journals. She has also presented over 100 invited lectures.

Dr. Oreskes received her Bachelor of Science degree in Mining Geology at
The Royal School of Mines, Imperial College, University of London, UK, and her Ph.D. in Geological Research and History of Science at Stanford University, Stanford, CA.

Dr. Oreskes’ current research deals with the science of climate change. Her 2004 essay in Science entitled The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change , led to Op-Ed pieces in the Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, and Los Angeles Times, and has been widely cited in such publication as The New Yorker, USA Today, the Royal Society s publication, A guide to facts and fictions about climate change., and in the Academy-award winning film, An Inconvenient Truth.  In December 2006, she testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works on the history of climate science: http://epw.senate.gov/epwmultimedia/epw120606.ram.

Dr. Oreskes has received broad recognition for her work from both the scientific and historical communities. In addition, she has been the recipient of the following awards for her considerable achievements to date: George Sarton Award Lecture, American Association for the Advancement of Science, 2004; American Philosophical Society Sabbatical Fellowship, 2001-2002; National Science Foundation Young Investigator Award,1994-1999; National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship for University Teachers, 1993-94; Society of Economic Geologists Lindgren Prize for outstanding work by a young scientist, 1993; Ritter Memorial Fellowship in History of Marine Sciences, Scripps Inst. of Oceanography, 1994; and Who s Who in America, Who s Who in American Science & Engineering, and Who s Who in the West.

Dr. Oreskes is currently completing her most recent book, Science on a Mission: American Oceanography in the Cold War and Beyond . She has also begun work on a new book, Challenging Knowledge: How the American People Have Been Misled about Global Warming.

June 20, 2007 in Climate Change, Governance/Management, International, Physical Science, Social Science, Sustainability | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Klamath Basin reflections

Occasionally there is an overlap in the theological writing I do and my professional life.  I wrote a sermon recently on the water resources conflicts in the Klamath Basin.  Those of you with a spiritual, religious, or theological viewpoint might want to take a look.  I welcome comment.

The Scripture Readings

Genesis 1: 9-12, 20-31; 2:8-9, 15

Exodus 17: 1-7

Psalm 95

Mathew 13: 3-9

The Message

Good Soil

The reading from the gospel of Matthew seems a fitting place to start today for it is a parable Jesus told about the sower – and this church is filled with sowers -- of both seed and word. Jesus said sometimes seed fails to grow because it falls on a hardened path, rocky ground, or among the thorns. But when seed falls upon good soil, it brings forth grain. As with most of Jesus’ parables, we are left to ponder exactly what Jesus was trying to say to his followers. The gospel invites us to that inquiry with the charge “Let anyone with ears, listen!”

The people of the Klamath Basin have been divided and torn apart by the conflicting claims of farmers, fishers, tribal peoples, and endangered species for scarce water resources. These groups have attempted through non-violent direct action, litigation, mediation and negotiation to resolve those claims. But they remain divided and the water resources problems remain unsolved. Often, mediators remind us of one truth that resonates with Christians: people in a community can best resolve conflicts by listening to one another and attempting to address each person’s interests to the greatest extent possible, with creative and loving solutions. But, today, I want to hold up other truths the people of the Klamath Basin must not only hear, but listen to with their hearts, if this region is to find lasting, sustainable solutions to its water resources problems.

One thing we know as Christians is that any lasting solution must grow from the seed, the seed that Jesus sought to sow in all of us, the seed that is deep, abiding love for God – and its fruit: love of one’s true self, love of neighbor, and love of all God’s creation.

As Christians, we are called to care for all of God’s creation. Humans were placed on Earth in the garden of Eden to till and keep it -- to care for the plants, trees, birds, sea life, wildlife and people God created. As Genesis 1:31 says, “God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good. As the United Methodist Church instructs in the Book of Discipline, Social Principles, Paragraph 160:

All creation is the Lord’s, and we are responsible for the ways in which we use and abuse it. Water, air, soil, minerals, energy resources, plants, animal life, and space are to be valued and conserved because they are God’s creation and not solely because they are useful to human beings. God has granted us stewardship of creation. We should meet these stewardship duties through acts of loving care and respect.

We must confess that have fallen far short as faithful, loving stewards of creation. We pollute the water and air so that they injure both humans and other life. By watering suburban lawns and by using outdated irrigation techniques, we waste half of our precious water. We condone the death of entire species by destroying their habitats through profligate waste of water and unsustainable logging and ranching practices. And, as we have belatedly recognized, by relying on oil and gas and coal to fuel our modern, spendthrift lifestyles, we are now endangering the very climate of our planet upon which all life depends.

Why has the good seed of stewardship and sustainability failed to bear fruit? As the gospel of Matthew explained the parable of the sower:

When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what is sown in the heart: this is what was sown on the path. As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, yet such a person has no root, but endures only for a while, and when trouble or persecution arises on account of the word, that person immediately falls away. As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the world, but the cares of the world and the lure of wealth choke the word, and it yields nothing.

When we fail in our duty as stewards of God’s creation, the seed sown by Jesus has fallen on poor soil. But, what makes us hardened paths or rocky ground or thorny bramble?

Hardened paths are those who do not understand. Some of us are hardened against recognizing our duty of stewardship and sustainable living by misreading the gospel. Humans anxious for biblical sanction to destroy creation misinterpret Genesis 1:28 in particular. That verse reads in part: “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it…and have dominion over every living thing that moves upon the earth.” Some turn the words “subdue” and “dominion,” the English words we have used to translate the Hebrew scriptures, into a right to annihilate nature. But the Hebrew words suggest the human role as mastery over earthly creation. A master may use earth’s resources to create worthy products, but a good master does not abuse those resources nor misuse them for trifling purposes. Indeed, the statement “God’s Earth is Sacred,” drafted by an ecumenical group of renowned theologians – including Methodist theologians – speaks directly to this issue. It condemns and refutes the “false gospel” which proclaims “that God cares for the salvation of humans only and that our human calling is to exploit the Earth for our own ends alone.”i

Some of us may have been hardened by misreading John Wesley, especially his practical essay on the Use of Money. Wesley indeed encouraged Christians to be diligent and productive, to “gain all you can,” but recognized that gain must not be at the expense of another. When we gain by injuring the whole of creation, we transgress that limit. We also violate Wesley’s injunction to “save all you can”: by wasting much of what we gain. We indulge in extravagant lifestyles – to the expensive apparel, epicurean food, expensive furniture, costly pictures and paintings, and elegant gardens condemned by John Wesley, we modern Christians add a host of acronyms, SUVs, MP3s, HDTVs, and ATVs – at the cost of the Earth and other creatures that inhabit it.

Some of us may have been hardened because secular society encourages us to do whatever we want with our money or land – we have money and hold title to land and water and therefore possess inviolable “private property rights.” Charmed by the siren call of those who make fortunes litigating our “rights,” we sometimes forget that Christians never own what society calls “private property.” As John Wesley said in his Use of Money essay:

When the possessor of heaven and earth brought you into being, and placed you in this world, he placed you here, not as a proprietor, but a steward: As such he entrusted you, for a season, with goods of various kinds; but the sole property of these still rests in him, nor can ever be alienated from him.

And then, there is rocky ground. Rocky ground is those of us who hear and understand the word, but fall away when trouble comes. I have stood on this rocky ground. I come from a family of miners and carpenters, who loved both their work and the outdoors. But when mines shut down and the price of lumber skyrocketed because of environmental requirements, many of my family lost faith. They were tied to their way of life and were unwilling to sacrifice it. Rather than trust in God and the gifts God had given each of them, they worried and became frightened about how they were going to take care of their families. For at least awhile, they became deeply resentful of those who reminded them of our obligation to protect the many wonders of God’s creation. They became the rocky ground I loved and stood upon.

They became rocky ground because, at some fundamental level, they did not trust God to provide for their needs. Remember the story in Exodus where the people of Israel are thirsty and resent Moses for bringing them into the desert. They are grumbling, quarreling, and have lost faith. In desperation, Moses cries out to God and God allows Moses to strike rock with his rod and miraculously bring forth water. Exodus 17:1-7. After this, God grows impatient for he has provided manna and water to feed the people time and again, yet they do not trust God to provide. Psalm 95 reminds us of God’s impatience with our refusal to trust and counsels us to remember that:

The Lord is a great God and a great King above all gods. In his hands are the depths of the earth; the heights of the mountains are his also. The sea is his, for he made it, and the dry land, which his hands have formed….listen to his voice! “Do not harden your hearts, as at Mer’i-bah, as on the day at Mas’sah in the wilderness when your ancestors tested me, and put me to the proof, though they had seen my work.”

The Psalmist implores us not to harden our hearts to the cry of Creation and stray from God’s call to stewardship out of fear. We must trust that, through the Spirit and the body of Christ, God will provide. Luke 12: 22 – 31

Some of us become rocky ground because we forget that discipleship is costly and requires sacrifice. Jesus told the rich young man that he must give away all of his property and follow him. Jesus told another that he could not delay in following him by professing other duties such as burying the dead. Jesus warned his disciples that they must deny themselves, take up the cross, and follow him, for those who lose their life for his sake will find it – but those who seek to save themselves will not. Matt 16:24 – 25.

And finally, some of us are thorny brambles. Thorny brambles hear the word, but the cares of the world and the lure of wealth choke the word, and the seed sown there yields nothing. We worship wealth and power, instead of loving God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. Mark 12:29. We worship wealth -- even though we know the fate of the rich fool who planned to build storehouses for his wealth so that he could live in luxury the rest of his days. He, of course, died the same night. We worship wealth – even though we know that Jesus' metaphor of the camel and the needle. It is easier for a camel to fit through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to pass into the kingdom of God. We worship wealth, though we have heard the word. Our fate in ignoring that word may well be like that of the rich man who dressed in purple robes and fine linen and ate sumptuous feasts. Poor Lazarus longed for the scraps from his table. In the end, Lazarus ended up with blessed with cool, refreshing water of the spirit and the rich man ended up in Hades, longing for a drop of that water from Lazarus’ fingertip.

Today, let us ask God’s forgiveness. We have confused God’s call to be faithful stewards of creation with a license to use all of creation as we see fit, to fulfill our will rather than God’s will. We have lost our trust in God’s providence. We have lost our willingness to make sacrifices and follow the sometimes costly path of discipleship. We have even broken the first Commandment, worshiping wealth instead of loving God, our true selfs, our neighbor, and God’s great and glorious creation.ii

As we receive God’s forgiveness, let us be transformed from hardened paths, and rocky ground, and thorny brambles, into good soil For, as the gospel explains, “what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit…” Matthew 13: 18-23.

And, with that forgiveness, let us remember that God will provide what we need for our journey.

I pray that the seed of the word of the Lord fall upon the good soil of this congregation and that you will become sowers of that word in this community and in the broader world. Amen.

i God’s Earth is Sacred: An Open Letter to Church and Society in the United States, drafted by Dr. James A Nash, and co-signed by Dr. John B. Cobb, Jr., among others.

iiSee Resolution 7, United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society


June 19, 2007 in Agriculture, Biodiversity, Economics, Governance/Management, Law, North America, Sustainability, US, Water Resources | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Summertime.....in the Arctic comes early

Scientific American reports that winter ends in the Arctic earlier than a decade ago.Scientific American. com  Obviously, as species react differently to the changing climate and lose their typical synchrony, the entire ecosystem is apt to change.
Arctic wading birds lay eggs when their food supply—flies and other bugs—is most abundant. And new research shows that insects are now emerging in northeastern Greenland as much as a month earlier than a decade ago. "Since the arthropods have advanced [their springtime emergence] more than the shorebirds, one could expect the advancement to be an advantage to the birds' reproductive success," says biologist Toke Høye of the University of Aarhus in Denmark. "There is more likely to be a better match between insect appearance and egg-laying in shorebirds now than earlier."  Høye and his colleagues trapped insects, weighed chicks and counted buds from plots in Zackenberg, Greenland, during the spring and summer months from 1996 to 2005. Over that relatively short span plants budded as much as 20 days earlier, dark-winged fungus gnats led all insects by appearing nearly a month early, and small wading birds known as ruddy turnstones laid eggs after migrating from Africa and Europe a full 10 days earlier on average.  Among all plants and animals measured, springtime activity had advanced more than two weeks earlier on average. "The magnitude of the change is what surprised me most," Høye says. Such advances are tied to the increasingly earlier snowmelt observed in Greenland over the past 10 years. As the climate warms further, Høye notes, snowmelt could come even sooner. Or not. "The overall predictions for the future of the area is of a more maritime climate, particularly warmer temperatures and increased precipitation during winter," Høye says. "Since the precipitation is likely to fall as snow this could mean either earlier or later timing of snowmelt."  He says scientists will continue to monitor such thawing changes, which could affect the timing of the entire ecosystem. "Since not all species respond equally strongly, [the accelerated snow melt] may cause interacting species to get out of synchrony, leaving consumers with more limited resources," Høye says. Arctic species—including plants that can live a century or more—may soon wish such springs forward might fall back.

June 19, 2007 in Climate Change | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)