Our climate is changing – both literally and figuratively. The list of weather events that may be linked to changes in the global climate is already long, and it keeps growing longer with each passing season. Droughts, floods, record-breaking heat waves, fires, even monster snow storms are all signs that climate change is part of our present, not just our future.
On January 2, 2011, for the first time, the Environmental Protection Agency began to regulate carbon emissions, having declared that they form a significant danger to human health and well-being. In the absence of comprehensive legislation on climate change, this is the only recourse the administration has for regulating carbon and thereby fulfilling our obligations under international law.
Now Congress wants to force the EPA to stop, and is even taking aim at the Clean Air Act, one of the most successful pieces of legislation ever. We need to let our senators know that climate change is a moral issue, and that we have an obligation to ourselves, our neighbors and to future generations to reduce carbon pollution. We just completed a successful letter-writing campaign, but we still urge you to call the senators (or your representative) and tell them to protect public health and defend the Clean Air Act.
Senator Casey’s phone numbers:
Washington, Toll Free: (866) 802-2833
Harrisburg, (717) 231-7540
Philadelphia, (215) 405-9660
Pittsburgh, (412) 803-7370
Scranton, (570) 941-0930
Erie, (814) 874-5080
Bellefonte, (814) 357-0314
Allentown, (610) 782-9470
Senator Toomey’s phone numbers:
Washington, (202) 224-4254
Harrisburg, (717) 782-3951
Philadelphia, (215) 597-7200
Erie, (814) 453-3010
Allentown, (610) 434-1444
Calling takes only a minute (you simply need to give your name, hometown, and a very brief message), but it makes a big difference.
Alana, a fifth grader in Scranton, PA, and an active member of dad Rabbi Daniel’s congregation, wrote the following essay for the 2010 national writing contest sponsored by the PTA. This year’s theme for the “Reflections” contest was “Together We Can.” I’ll let her challenge you to think about how you can reach out with others so that… together we can survive.
If you’re interested in learning more about global warming and the impact of warmer, more acidic waters on reefs and fisheries, you can start with the National Wildlife Federation or Science Daily. Please also consider asking your faith leaders to join others in Pennsylvania and across the country to speak about global warming during the national Preach-in. Faith- and denomination-specific resources are available on the website, but please be aware that Pennsylvania has its own letter.
Hi – I’m a coral reef. I’d like to tell you some information about the reef and the animals that surround and live in me. Many people don’t know that a coral reef and its animals work together. I’m going to tell you how in coral reefs, different species benefit each other almost all the time. Without the plants and animals working together, I can’t survive, nor can they survive either. Coral reefs do many important things.
The reef even helps you too. Without me, the population of people would be smaller. You ask me how this is possible? I help you find medicines for people that are ill. In fact, hundreds and hundreds of cures come from me! Another way that I help humankind is that I give you fish. Over a billion people get some or even all their food (seafood) from reefs like me. Also coral reefs protect almost all tropical coasts from dangerous waves and storms at sea. Coral reefs also give people happiness and jewels. Coral reefs make people wonder what the world was like long ago, and I give them some answers. Scientists visit me to find clues of the past, like fossils bones or shipwrecks.
Did you know that coral reefs have been going strong for over 60 million years? That’s because of our cooperation together. Slowly the coral grows. Each of the thousands of little coral animals that make up the reef build a bit more of their hard coral home. Then more fish come. Layers and layers of coral, animals and plants build up and finally together, we can all become a beautiful, giant healthy reef! That’s how I’m formed, though that’s not all of the cooperation that goes on around here.
A reef is not a reef without all the other animals and plants. Did you know that I give homes to most of the fish and animals, and in return, they protect me from harm? One example of how reefs work together with the animals is when I work with fish called convict tangs, which are vegetarians. They nibble away seaweeds that will hurt me. They get tasty food and I get protected. My most important partners are microscopic algae, tiny plants that live inside the tissues of each little coral animal. The algae use sunlight to produce sugar, and that sugar is one of my main food sources.
Now I’ll tell you how the other animals and fish work together. Did you know that gobies often share their coral reef homes with bulldozer shrimp? The shrimps are nearly blind, so whenever the bulldozer shrimp ventures out of its burrow, it keeps at least one antennae on the goby. The goby helps the bulldozer shrimp with just a wave of its tail. The goby alerts the shrimp of approaching predators. Because of this warning, the shrimp can hide in time, before it gets eaten. In a way, the shrimp gets a bodyguard, and in return, the goby gets a neat, hygienic home without lifting a fin.
Another way that fish work together is when it’s time for a dentist appointment. I know what you’re thinking – fish don’t get dentist appointments! But in this case, they do. A cleaner wrasse swims right into the customers (fish’s) mouth to feed on the parasites stuck on the fish’s teeth or gums. The “customer” gets rids of the parasites, and the cleaner wrasse gets a delicious meal, at least in the cleaner wrasse’s opinion. Stuff like this takes a lot of trust! When was the last time you swam into another person’s mouth to get food?
You know how earlier I was talking about the convict tangs? If too many are fished out, I can’t survive. That’s why it’s very important not to overfish. Almost all the time, you can’t tell which animals you truly need until it is too late. Same thing with the algae – without it, I would not be able to survive. And without me, the fish that live in and around me would also not be able to live. It’s like life in the reef is a big chain, all connected together. All the time someone depends on someone else’s help. Break the chain, and many species won’t be able to survive.
Many reefs around the world are dying from ocean warming and pollution. When the ocean gets too warm, the algae in me dies, and if it doesn’t come back quickly, I will starve to death. I will become a ghostly white. Oceans are getting warmer because people are burning fossil fuels, producing carbon dioxide, which warms the whole planet. Some reefs are being choked by plastic trash that collects in ocean currents. Did you know that if people don’t stop polluting the world so much that in about in 30 years there will be barely any reefs left? That means that many species in the whole world will be extinct. Some people will lose their jobs and then a whole depression could start all over again. Another problem that could happen is some of the birds that eat the reef’s fish may not survive either. It would disrupt the whole ecosystem.
But there are many things you and your friends can do together to help make me healthier again – like not wasting energy and making sure to use less plastic and to recycle it more. Together we can make a difference — the information I told you, together with your actions, could stop all these problems — and the other reefs and I can be restored.
This is the end of my small essay of information on the coral reef. These were just a few of the many examples of how a coral reef works together. Because together we can survive.
At the close of our Interfaith Convocation service Bill Thwing, an ordained United Church of Christ pastor (and a certified Energy Auditor!) led us in the rousing litany printed here. A litany is a leader-congregation call and response common to many Christian services. You will also detect a nod to the fact that our kickoff was held in State College on a football weekend.
As we pause this week in Thanksgiving for all that we have, may this litany remind us that we ought not allow our own experience of bounty to come at the expense of another’s “enough.” We must respond to the bounty in our own lives by acting as faithful stewards of all we have been given, that we and our neighbors might be sustained. As Bill led us in September, we give thanks, and we ask for guidance…. We are Pennsylvania Interfaith Power and Light!
Thank you, Bill.
We give thanks, and ask for guidance.
We give thanks, and ask for guidance.
demonstrate to their communities and the world around them;…for their willingness to stand up, speak out, care, inspire, sacrifice, teach, enable, and learn in order to a be a force for good…For all these things we hold hands with one another and say:
We give thanks, and ask for guidance.
We are… Pennsylvania Interfaith Power and Light…Would you please say that with me?
We are… Pennsylvania Interfaith Power and Light. Again, please
We are…Pennsylvania Interfaith Power and Light! Again…
We Are Pennsylvania Interfaith Power and Light! Thank you
Lynn Schlow opened our Friday evening PA-IPL Interfaith Convocation service with the Shabbat prayer, offering it in both Hebrew and English, and graciously explained the ritual.
On the Sabbath the celebrant (generally the woman of the house) lights at least two candles, representing the dual commandments to remember the sabbath and to keep it holy. After lighting, she waves her hands over the candles, welcoming in the sabbath. Then she covers her eyes, focusing more fully on the blessing, and so that she may also postpone the enjoyment of the fruits of the blessing (seeing the light) until after the blessing is recited.
She removes her hands from her eyes, and looks at the candles, completing the mitzvah of lighting the candles. You can hear the Hebrew words either sung or read here (unfortunately not in Lynn’s voice).
Later in the service Lynn shared her uncle’s love of the Shehechiyanu prayer, offered at any first (enjoying the first ripe blackberry of a summer, for example). The Shehechiyanu is a prayer thanking God for sustaining our lives that we might enjoy each of God’s blessings, and can be heard here.
What a beautiful and appropriate way to begin our first meeting of Pennsylvania Interfaith Power and Light. May we respond to the twin blessings of Earth and atmosphere by caring for them, that they may sustain others in the way they have sustained us.
Advocate for Efficiency!
We wrapped up our mini-campaign to educate individuals and congregations and to push our senators to act in September, 2010. The project had three parts:
First, we held events at congregations in Scranton, Meadville, Pittsburgh, State College and Harrisburg in July and August to talk about PA IPL and to promote Energy Efficiency Resource Standards (EERS).
Second, together with our friends at PennFuture, we developed a postcard, urging our senators to include EERS in legislation; we have already collected over 400 of these postcards!
Third, we took our postcards and our message to the Senators themselves. We already met with Senatorial staffs in Bellefonte and Philadelphia to tell them about our campaign, and at the end of August Joy Bergey took her godchildren to Washington D.C. to present these cards to Senators Casey and Specter.
What are Efficiency Resource Standards?
A complicated name, but a simple idea: national standards for energy efficiency, just like we have in Pennsylvania (Act 129). Like mileage requirements for cars, industry actually wants national standards instead of various state standards, and we want them because waste and inefficiency make up a huge part of our carbon footprint. For commercial buildings, like most houses of worship, the EPA estimates that 30% of the energy is wasted. Power plants also waste a tremendous amount of energy.
As in Pennsylvania, national EERS can be combined with support for more renewable energy as part of a comprehensive approach to reduce our carbon footprint.