Epistle on Global Warming*

The earth is growing hotter as a result of choices we have made. The signs are all around us in rising yearly average temperatures, melting glaciers, expanding deserts, increasing rates of extinctions, and weather extremes. There is unity within the scientific community that this is serious, that it is caused by human activity, and that the consequences of a failure to address global warming will be catastrophic.

We have a small window of opportunity. Over the course of the next nine years, if humanity fails to significantly lower greenhouse gas emissions, the result is likely to be a sea level rise of 10 to 13 feet per century until the level stabilizes at 80 feet above today’s level. Loss of productivity in ecosystems and crops worldwide will also occur, resulting in mass starvation.

We appeal to all Friends to make this concern a priority in our families, communities, and meetings, and to commit ourselves to learn more about this urgent planetary crisis, so that each of us may discern further actions that will be required of us.

Some actions that we can recommend at this time include:

• Reduce our own greenhouse gas emissions by 10% in the coming year by cutting driving, flying, and residential energy use. Walk and bicycle more, use mass transit and fluorescent light bulbs.

• When we have cut our own use of fossil fuel, labor with others to help them do the same.

• Labor with our legislators and if that doesn’t work, replace them.

We urge Friends as individuals and as meetings to engage the conversation and to stay with it. Meetings should institute quarterly threshing sessions to discern how we are led corporately to act.

Some of the changes that concern us deeply we can not escape. But others we can if we act responsibly now and into the future. The consequences of not acting are unthinkable for us, our children, and our grandchildren.

Friends, we urge you to attend to our call. For the love of everything you hold most dear, please take up this concern now and carry it back to your meeting.

Shared with Friends at the Concluding Meeting for Worship,
2006 Friends General Conference Gathering
Tacoma, July 7, 2006

Many references are available on this topic such as www.climatecrisis.org, www.pathsoflight.us/musing, and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found at www.unep.ch/ipcc/. This document can be found on www.LeavesofGrass.org.

*from the participants in the Gathering workshop, Changing Climate, Changing Selves to Friends General Conference.

2 Responses to “Epistle on Global Warming*”

  1. Bob Seeley says:

    The epistle is clearly stated and good, given the limitations of both the time to work on it and the epistle format. Epistles have to be short because they are designed to be read aloud (or should be). They can’t go into a lot of detail about policy or even analysis because, again, they are meant to be read aloud. Most people don’t take in a lot of detailed analysis when it is read to them. It’s better to view an epistle as a brief summary statement, perhaps to be supplemented by more detailed material in writing. I assume that wasn’t possible with this epistle because of time constraints.

    The suggestion of a ten percent reduction in personal/family emissions seems pretty reasonable to me. It is doable, and it is not intimidating—in fact, people can save a good deal of money over time by relatively simple steps that also reduce emissions.

    I have two suggestions about the wording of the epistle. First, it should try somehow to give credit to people who have already reduced their emissions. Our family reduced our emissions pretty drastically when we stopped driving a car twenty or so years ago. I’m sure there are plenty of others who took similar steps and should be credited some way.

    Second, and more important, is the sequence of events that the epistle lays out, roughly: 1) reduce our own emissions; 2) labor with others to persuade them to do the same; and 3) labor with our legislators (which I take to mean advocating environment-friendly policies).

    I have no problem with the order of the first two items. You can’t suggest to someone else that he or she drive less if you yourself are driving a hundred miles round trip every day. But policy work can’t really wait for us to clean up our own personal act. Somehow the epistle should express the need to do both simultaneously.

    I think these issues are largely ones of wording and arrangement, not substance, but I think they are important.

  2. Global Warming:

    For over thirty years the scientific communities from several countries have been warning that the Earth’s temperature has been rising. On October 17, 1973 the OPEC oil embargo went into effect against the United States for it’s political position of supporting Israel against Syria. It was a wake up call for the average American to understanding our political conflicts with righteousness, our dependence on fossil fuels, our need to find alternative energy sources and our responsibility to the Earth’s ecological stability. for over three decades, little if anything has really been done to address these major issues.

    In stead the United States has done the opposite. We have increased our consumption of oil to over 5.7 billion barrels of oil a year. More and more supper highways are built to carry more and more cars for the increasing population of people. More and more trucks are used to carry the goods to the stores. The automotive industry has continued to pump out more and more gasoline cars, pick-ups and SUV’s.

    Since the 1950’s many cities have systematically taken apart their public transportation systems. The use of mass transit has become less effective, impractical and in many circumstances down right dangerous to the average Mary or Joe. Gang related activities; muggings and ethnical conflicts have become common occurrences on public transportation, as well as filthy conditions in the terminals, stops and vehicles.

    The price of gasoline in the United States compared to the price of gasoline in other countries is considerably cheaper. The use of public transportaion in the United States compared to other countries is considerably less effective and less desirable. If the United States suddenly shifts it’s position on Public transportation and/or decides to tax the fossil fuel consumption more it risks an economic slow down or even a depression.

    What has me confused is why there has not been a call to lower the speed limits on the highways. There is a direct correlation between fuel consumption per mile, the speed of the vehicle; it’s weight and the gearing ration of the drive train. In Arizona the highway speed limit is 75MPH, which is much to fast for the number of cars on the road and the spacing between the vehicles traveling over 110 feet per second. Since the 1970’s the average miles per gallon for the average automobile has improved greatly, especiaally when traveling from 55PMH to 65MPH. That still does not alter the fact that a vehicle traveling 55PMH uses less fuel then a vehicle traveling 65MPH and even less fuel then a vehicle traveling 75MPH. In fact there is about an 18% fuel savings for a vehicle going 65MPH compared to the same vehicle traveling 75MPH. Other factors that improve the vehicles gas performance is it’s wind resistance designs. Again this factor has a direct correlation to the speed of the vehicle passing throw the air. The greater the speed, the greater the resisance, the less efficient the vehicle’s consumption per gallon of gasoline per mile. This is not rocket science but common knowledge of fuel consumption of vehicles traveling 55PMH, 65MPH and 75MPH. To lower your personal consumption of fossil fuels by 10% TO 18% all you have to do is to lower your daily average speed by 10MPH. Imagine what kind of impact that would be if the rest of the United States and the World did the same? Personally I have lowered my daily speed and converted to burning used cooking oil in a diesel vehicle.