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Christian crusade for action on climate change

climate-changeBeliever among the skeptics: A Canadian’s crusade to convert Christians to climate change belief, National Post William Marsden | April 24, 2015 WASHINGTON — Climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe, a cheerful, Toronto-born evangelical Christian, has become the hottest ticket in the highly polarized U.S. debate over climate change.

Named in 2014 by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in America, she is sought out by Hollywood stars, applauded by environmentalists and fellow scientists, and a huge draw on the Christian speaking circuit because she has opened the door, if only a crack, to the largest and single most stubborn community of climate skeptics in America — evangelicals.

She has essentially become a missionary among her own people. And in doing so she has single-handedly raised hopes of a potential breakthrough in U.S. climate politics. The reasoning is simple. If you can convince evangelicals of the reality of man-made climate change, the rest of the country will follow………

“So I realize that, sure, most of these people, if you polled them, they would say climate change isn’t real. But if you actually take the time and talk to them, only about 10 per cent of people are hardcore”……..

Climate science was not the issue, she said. The debate was over faith. She faced a wall of Christians who believed that God’s absolute power eclipsed anything that mankind could do to the planet.

Hayhoe countered with scripture stating that while God created the Earth, he gave mankind dominion over it and Christians have to play an active role as its protector and not just its exploiter. Add a pinch of basic climate science and that’s essentially her message.

“I had to be a whole person not just a scientist and I had to share with them why I cared about climate change,” she said. “And for me my faith was a big part of that and for people here their faith is a big part of that.”

The word got out and before long Hayhoe had to meet increasing demands to talk to evangelical and other Christian communities…….

“I see my responsibility not as changing people’s minds but as offering them the information they need to change their minds.”http://news.nationalpost.com/news/a-believer-among-the-skeptics-a-canadians-crusade-to-convert-christians-to-climate-change-belief

April 27, 2015 Posted by | climate change, Religion and ethics | Leave a comment

Catholic Church strongly urges for nuclear weapons ban at UN treaty review conference

pray-radCatholics to press nuclear weapons ban at UN treaty review conference, Dennis Sadowski  Catholic News Service  |  Apr. 24, 2015  It was April 11, 1963, as the Catholic church was in the midst of the Second Vatican Council, that St. John XXIII issued his landmark social encyclical Pacem in Terris (“Peace on Earth”) that included a call for a verifiable ban on nuclear weapons.

More than 50 years later, the Holy See continues to make the moral case for nuclear disarmament.

The Vatican’s most recent public comment came in December at the Vienna Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons.

“The time has come to embrace the abolition of nuclear weapons as an essential foundation of collective security,” the Vatican said in a paper titled “Nuclear Disarmament: Time for Abolition” delivered to the conference.

In it, the church held firm to its stance that any use of nuclear weapons was immoral and argued that the time has come to abandon nuclear deterrence — the principle that such weapons might be used and that they exist to deter another country from using them. Previously, the Vatican conditionally accepted deterrence as “a step on the way toward progressive disarmament.”

But that has not happened, and Archbishop Bernardito Auza, the Vatican’s permanent observer to the United Nations, is likely to reiterate its call for total nuclear disarmament during the monthlong Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference opening April 27 at the United Nations….

“Look what the policy of deterrence means morally,” the bishop continued. “In order for deterrence to work, you have to intend to use it. What does that intention mean? That means you are willing to use an indiscriminate weapons to kill innocent people. Again, that is not morally acceptable.”……..

Pax Christi is among dozens of peace groups meeting and marching in New York in the days leading to the conference. Pax Christi also sent a statement to Catholic members of Congress signed by more than 1,200 people and organizations calling attention to the church’s stance. A copy of the Vienna statement and a letter from the Japanese bishops’ conference addressing nuclear weapons on the 70th anniversary of the use of atomic weapons at the end of World War II also were part of the package………………

Sr. Mary Ann McGivern, an NCR contributor and member of the Sisters of Loretto who served on her order’s Committee for Peace, joined the Pax Christi delegation. She attended the 2005 review conference.

McGivern told CNS her community has proposed that the U.S. enact a unilateral nuclear weapons ban.

“We’re saying that no matter what the rest of the world does, it’s time for the United States to set aside our nuclear weapons,” she said.

While it is unlikely that any proposal for quick action on a ban will find its way into the U.N. conference’s final report, McGivern said she hopes the idea will begin to percolate among the delegates.

“The only way real abhorrence against nuclear weapons develops,” she said, “is for people to gather, hear one another and take those ideas back home.” http://ncronline.org/news/peace-justice/catholics-press-nuclear-weapons-ban-un-treaty-review-conference

April 25, 2015 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Religion and ethics, weapons and war | Leave a comment

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) being used to derail nuclear deal with Iran ?

exclamation-SmIran nuclear deal: ‘Accusations with very little proof’, DW 14 Apr 15 In an interview with Deutsche Welle, former IAEA nuclear inspector Robert Kelley suspects the nuclear watchdog could be misused as a tool to derail the nuclear deal with Iran. Diplomats and experts will start hammering out the legal and technical details of a nuclear agreement between Iran and six world powers next week in Vienna, the EU diplomatic service announced Thursday.

Foreign ministers from Iran and the group of Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States and Germany agreed on the outlines of the deal on April 2 in Lausanne. In addition, Iran and the group of six still have to draw up a list of Iranian nuclear sites, which experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA, will get to visit as part of its probe into alleged nuclear weapons projects.

A senior IAEA delegation returned from a visit to Tehran on Thursday, without any answers on ten new suspected research and development projects identified by the agency in addition to the two that are already being discussed.

DW talked to Robert Kelley, former IAEA director for nuclear inspections in Iraq and now expert for nuclear energy and weapons issues with the Stockholm-based International Peace Research Institute.

DW: The IAEA plays a central role in the nuclear deal reached in Lausanne on April 2. Now, an IAEA delegation under chief inspector Tero Varjoranta, which sought answers to allegations over the possible military use of Irans nuclear program in the past, left Tehran without those answers. What exactly is the IAEA looking for?……….

In this age of satellites and super high sensitive detectors, how difficult would it be to effectively hide nuclear activities?

The very best detectors in the world are the IAEA inspectors. If you for some reason offend Iran so much, that they kick the IAEA out, then you are blind. You won´t know anything about what is going on. So one of the things that are good about this new agreement is: The inspectors have access to every aspect of uranium mining, conversion to the right chemicals, chemicals producing uranium hexafluoride in the enrichment plant and things after the enrichment plant. So the inspectors are getting a very good picture of everything Iran is openly doing.

And they are also going to be looking at procurement. The import regime is part of the agreement. That is a very powerful thing. The chances of having a completely clandestine, hidden, secret program becomes much more difficult when you have these things in place. Things like the handling of uranium and plutonium do leave a lot of signatures and detectors can pick them up. Not from space but on the ground. But you can´t detect things like explosives and explosive bridgewire detonators, because they have conventional military uses, they are used in mining, for all kinds of other activities. And you can´t call that a nuclear activity. http://www.dw.de/iran-nuclear-deal-accusations-with-very-little-proof/a-18388394

April 17, 2015 Posted by | Iran, Religion and ethics | Leave a comment

Pope Francis goes all out for nuclear disarmament

Pope Francis’ Latest Mission: Stopping Nuclear Weapons, TIME, 11 Apr 15 Elizabeth Dias  @elizabethjdias “……… The Vatican has long opposed nuclear weapons, but Pope Francis is making the cause one of the top diplomatic priorities of his two-year-old papacy.

In December, the Vatican submitted a paper calling for total nuclear disarmament to the Vienna Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons. In January, Pope Francis touted nuclear disarmament as a major goal alongside climate change in his speech to the Vatican’s diplomatic corps. And on Easter Sunday, he publicly prayed that the prospective multi-nation deal to halt Iran’s nuclear weapons program would be “a definitive step toward a more secure and fraternal world.”

Many observers expect the Pope to raise the topic in his speech to the United Nations in September, especially as that event also commemorates the 50th anniversary of Pope Paul VI’s historic U.N. speech calling for “never again war, never again war.”

“Pope Francis has recently pushed the moral argument against nuclear weapons to a new level, not only against their use but also against their possession,” Archbishop Bernedito Auza, the Holy See’s Ambassador to the U.N., says. “Today there is no more argument, not even the argument of deterrence used during the Cold War, that could ‘minimally morally justify’ the possession of nuclear weapons. The ‘peace of a sort’ that is supposed to justify nuclear deterrence is specious and illusory.”……….http://time.com/3817021/pope-francis-nuclear-disarmament/

April 11, 2015 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Religion and ethics | Leave a comment

Anglican bishops speak out – call for divestment from fossil fuels

global-warming1Anglican bishops’ letter urging fossil fuel divestment Seventeen bishops and archbishops tell Anglican church investments in fossil fuel companies incompatible with a just and sustainable future Guardian 31 Mar 15“……..In different ways each of our own dioceses are deeply impacted by climate injustice and environmental degradation. We accept the evidence of science concerning the contribution of human activity to the climate crisis and the disproportionate role played by fossil-fuel based economies. Although climate scientists have for many years warned of the consequences of inaction there is an alarming lack of global agreement about the way forward.
We believe that the problem is spiritual as well as economic, scientific and political, because the roadblock to effective action relates to basic existential issues of how human life is framed and valued: including the competing moral claims of present and future generations, human versus non-human interests, and how the lifestyle of wealthy countries is to be balanced against the basic needs of the developing world. For this reason the Church must urgently find its collective moral voice……..
We believe that the voices of Indigenous peoples, whose relationship with creation remains integral to their spirituality and relationship with God, is of central importance to ongoing ministry on climate justice. …….
We were painfully aware that women frequently bear a disproportionate burden of climate change largely because they make up the majority of the world’s poor and are often more dependent for their livelihood on natural resources threatened by climate change. The voices and contributions of women are therefore essential in responding to climate change.

There is a compelling need to listen to the voices of our youth who will inherit the challenges and catastrophes we fail to address and pre-empt. We believe we must be reconciled to Creation and to one another and that there is an urgency to this call. We believe the issue of climate change is a moral issue at its heart……….

We will develop and distribute educational resources for everyone (adults, youth and children) on climate change, climate justice, and the ethical and practical principles of sustainable living in global and local contexts……..

We encourage Anglicans everywhere to:……….

Implement energy conservation measures in church buildings and moving to renewable energy sources as quickly as possible…….

We call upon political, economic, social and religious leaders in our various constituencies to address the climate change crisis as the most urgent moral issue of our day. We urge them to:

· Work with all possible commitment and speed toward fair, ambitious, accountable and binding climate change agreements at national and international levels.

· Develop policies that genuinely assist environmental and climate refugees and promote mechanisms of intergovernmental co-operation that ensure their human rights, safety and resettlement………

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/mar/30/anglican-bishops-letter-urging-fossil-fuel-divesmen

April 3, 2015 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change, Religion and ethics | Leave a comment

Catholic Church throws its weight behind action on climate change

Papal ecology: Protecting all God’s creatures, respecting God’s plan, VATICAN LETTER  By Cindy WoodenCatholic News Service, 26 Mar 15 
VATICAN CITY (CNS) – The Catholic Church supports the efforts of scientists to study the causes and effects of climate change and insists governments and businesses must get serious about specific commitments for protecting the environment.But Pope Francis, like his predecessors, does not pretend to have a technical solution to the problem. However, he does feel a responsibility to remind Christians of their religious obligation to safeguard creation, beginning with human beings who are created in the image and likeness of God.

Clearing his calendar for a week in late March, Pope Francis rolled up his sleeves to put the final touches on an encyclical letter about the environment; building on what he and his predecessors have said, the document — planned for publication early in the summer — is expected to present ecology as the ultimate pro-life, pro-poor, pro-family issue.

For Pope Francis, like Pope Benedict XVI, safeguarding creation is not simply about protecting plants and animals, or just about ensuring the air, water and land will support human life for generations to come. Those things are part of the task……….

As often happens when things go wrong, Pope Francis has said, the poor pay the highest price for the destruction of the environment: the seas and rivers no longer provide fish; landslides send their makeshift homes tumbling down hillsides; the deserts expand, robbing sustenance farmers of even a meager diet.Flying from Sri Lanka to the Philippines in January, Pope Francis told reporters accompanying him that Cardinal Peter Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, and a team from his office had prepared drafts of the ecology document……..http://www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/1501313.htm

March 30, 2015 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change, Religion and ethics | Leave a comment

Fossil fuel lobby rattled by the rapid rise of the divestment movement

the long-term prospects for the fossil fuel industry look uncertain at the very least. But don’t take my word for it, thepresident of the World Bank and the governor of the Bank of England have among others warned of the risk posed to fossil fuel assets by climate change action.

The divestment movement does not seek to financially bankrupt the vastly wealthy fossil fuel industry. Instead, the campaign is aiming for moral bankruptcy and is supported by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who testifies to the power of divestment in helping defeat apartheid in South Africa.

With their opponents now taking the threat of divestment seriously, the campaigners will be hoping to they are another step closer to the final stage of Ghandi’s analysis: “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”

fossil-fuel-fightback-1Fossil fuel lobby goes on the attack against divestment movement Guardian,   12 Feb 15 The speed at which the fossil fuel divestment campaign is growing seems to have rattled its opponents in the coal and oil lobbies “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you,” said Mahatma Gandhi. The climate change campaign to divest from fossil fuels seems to be moving through those stages at express speed, with a sudden barrage of attacks from the coal and oil lobbies ahead of its global divestment day on Valentine’s day.

The speed is appropriate given that the campaign, which argues the fossil fuel industry is a danger to both the climate and investors’ capital, is the fastest growing divestment campaign yet seen, moving quicker than those against tobacco and apartheid. It’s moving fast in the financial world too, with one finance executive calling it “one of the fastest-moving debates I think I’ve seen in my 30 years in markets”. Continue reading

February 13, 2015 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change, Religion and ethics | Leave a comment

Ethics , religion and climate change

Climate Change and Intergenerational Ethics, St Louis post Dispatch  January 14, 2015  •  Kate Lovelady Humanism, despite its name, is concerned not only with humanity. People exist in and only because of a fantastically complex natural system, and therefore humanists believe that an essential part of living ethically is living in a way that is sustainable for future generations as well as for other species.

Traditional western thought, religious and secular, has tended to see the rest of nature as a tool for human happiness and progress, but more and more people of every worldview are coming to understand humanity as co-residents of the Earth, as one part of nature–the only (that we know of) self-conscious part, and therefore having a special opportunity and responsibility.

 It is time for us to live up that responsibility.  The practical results of climate change and coal pollution include illness and premature death, dangerous weather, both flooding and drought in different places, and sea level rise. Yet debates on how to lessen climate disruption and move to a clean energy economy too often focus on the “cost” to businesses and industries, or on fears that environmental protection measures will “kill” the economy.

The economy is not alive. It is important; it is one of the ways humans organize ourselves to survive and to pursue happiness. But despite legal fiction, businesses are not people, and the economy is a being and cannot be killed. Humans and other creatures can be killed, and they will be by climate disruption, which will destroy cities and some entire low-lying island nations, create environmental refugees, and result in avoidable deaths.

Many who want to do nothing about climate change now, imagine future solutions of far-fetched plans to trap carbon in new ways or reflect sunlight from the upper atmosphere—meaning they are unwilling to face economic challenges, but they are willing to burden future generations with unknown and possibly enormous and long-lasting dangerous effects of major geo-engineering. This is immoral.

climate-posterThe consequences of climate disruption will seriously affect the lives of today’s children, and continue to fall on people far into the future. In American political arguments, budget deficits are routinely called immoral because of the burden they might impose on our children; the burden of climate change and environmental degradation will be much greater.

We need a new morality of intergenerational ethics. Never before have humans been able to make decisions that have such drastic impacts on future generations. We’re not used to thinking that long-term. But we must learn to; our ethics must evolve to match our technological capabilities. Future generations are completely at our mercy, since they don’t even exist yet. We have to make choices as if they will exist, and we have an ethical obligation to act in their interest, because they are helpless.

Religious communities should be at the forefront of a new movement for intergenerational environmental justice, in several ways:……….

Religions teach interdependence, a value that opposes the mainstream culture of the radically independent consumer in which the “best” life is supposedly the one in which you never have to share anything with others………

If you’re interested in these issues and how your congregation or religious tradition can help, join Climate Reality on Tuesday January 27, at 7pm, at Ladue Chapel for a panel discussion on “Faith, Ethics, Social Justice and Climate Change.” http://www.stltoday.com/lifestyles/faith-and-values/civil-religion/kate-lovelady/climate-change-and-intergenerational-ethics/article_1736901c-9c1f-11e4-844d-8b26cdb28539.html

January 17, 2015 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change, Religion and ethics | Leave a comment

Pope Francis says we are primarily responsible for climate change

Pope‘Man has gone too far': Pope Francis says we are primarily responsible for climate change, SMH, January 16, 2015 Lindsay Murdoch “…..Wading into the climate change debate on board the papal plane, the Pope told journalists he hoped negotiators at the next round of climate change talks in Paris in November would take a courageous stand to protect the environment.

“I don’t know if it is all (man’s fault) but the majority is, for the most part, it is man who continuously slaps down nature,” he said.

“We have in a sense taken over nature. I think we have exploited nature too much.”

The comments were Pope Francis’ clearest on the environment since he pledged to make the issue a priority on the day of his installation as Pope in 2013.

“We have, in a sense, lorded it over nature, over Sister Earth, over Mother Earth,” said the leader of 1.2 billion Catholics, who has in the past spoken about the need to protect the environment. “I think man has gone too far,” he said……http://www.smh.com.au/world/man-has-gone-too-far-pope-francis-says-we-are-primarily-responsible-for-climate-change-20150115-12rcwm.html

January 17, 2015 Posted by | climate change, Religion and ethics | Leave a comment

Pope Francis to be a formidable force in the battle against climate change

he has been invited by Ban Ki-moon, Secretary General of the United Nations, to address the general assembly of the UN on the issue.

PopeClimate-change encyclical may lay ground for UN progress http://www.canberratimes.com.au/comment/climatechange-encyclical-may-lay-ground-for-un-progress-20150113-12n3u2.html January 14, 2015  Neil Ormerod This is the year the Catholic Church will join the battle to save the planet; as Bishop Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo, chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, stated, “2015 could be a decisive year in history”.

From the start of his pontificate Pope Francis indicated his intention to publish an encyclical on the environment. Encyclicals are the most authoritative documents a pope can issue, and it has become increasingly clear that global warming will be its central theme.

Previous popes – both John Paul II and Benedict XVI – referred to the environment and climate change in various communications, and committed the Vatican City to being carbon neutral, but this will be the first time a pope will have dedicated an entire encyclical to it.

The forthcoming encyclical could be compared with the first major encyclical on Catholic social teaching, Rerum Novarum, issued by Pope Leo XIII in 1891. Faced with the emerging labour union movement, Leo’s encyclical provided both encouragement for,  and an endorsement of Catholic engagement with,  unions. It provided a moral legitimation for unions as a response to the widespread exploitation of labour in the workplace.

So too the promised encyclical on the environment will provide both encouragement for, and a call to Catholics to engage with, the environmental movement. It will throw the moral authority of the Catholic Church behind the movement and commit the church to ongoing contributions to the environmental debate. Continue reading

January 14, 2015 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change, Religion and ethics | Leave a comment

Pope Francis pushes for climate change action, challenging political and some religious authorities

Pope FPoperancis’s edict on climate change will anger deniers and US churches, Guardian, , 28 Dec 14 Pontiff hopes to inspire action at next year’s UN meeting in Paris in December after visits to Philippines and New York “……can Francis achieve a feat that has so far eluded secular powers and inspire decisive action on climate change?It looks as if he will give it a go. In 2015, the pope will issue a lengthy message on the subject to the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics, give an address to the UN general assembly and call a summit of the world’s main religions.The reason for such frenetic activity, says Bishop Marcelo Sorondo, chancellor of the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Sciences, is the pope’s wish to directly influence next year’s crucial UN climate meeting in Paris, when countries will try to conclude 20 years of fraught negotiations with a universal commitment to reduce emissions.

“Our academics supported the pope’s initiative to influence next year’s crucial decisions,” Sorondo told Cafod, the Catholic development agency, at a meeting in London. “The idea is to convene a meeting with leaders of the main religions to make all people aware of the state of our climate and the tragedy of social exclusion.”

Following a visit in March to Tacloban, the Philippine city devastated in 2012 by typhoon Haiyan, the pope will publish a rare encyclical on climate change and human ecology. Urging all Catholics to take action on moral and scientific grounds, the document will be sent to the world’s 5,000 Catholic bishops and 400,000 priests, who will distribute it to parishioners.

According to Vatican insiders, Francis will meet other faith leaders and lobby politicians at the general assembly in New York in September, when countries will sign up to new anti-poverty and environmental goals………..

According to Neil Thorns, head of advocacy at Cafod, said: “The anticipation around Pope Francis’s forthcoming encyclical is unprecedented. We have seen thousands of our supporters commit to making sure their MPs know climate change is affecting the poorest communities.”

However, Francis’s environmental radicalism is likely to attract resistance from Vatican conservatives and in rightwing church circles, particularly in the US – where Catholic climate sceptics also include John Boehner, Republican leader of the House of Representatives and Rick Santorum, the former Republican presidential candidate.

Cardinal George Pell, a former archbishop of Sydney who has been placed in charge of the Vatican’s budget, is a climate change sceptic who has been criticised for claiming that global warming has ceased and that if carbon dioxide in the atmosphere were doubled, then “plants would love it”………

Francis will also be opposed by the powerful US evangelical movement, said Calvin Beisner, spokesman for the conservative Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation, which has declared the US environmental movement to be “un-biblical” and a false religion……..http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/dec/27/pope-francis-edict-climate-change-us-rightwing?CMP=share_btn_tw

December 29, 2014 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change, Religion and ethics | Leave a comment

Pope Francis comes out for renewable energy: fossil fuel industries should be nervous

How Pope Francis could tip the balance against fossil fuels http://reneweconomy.com.au/2014/how-pope-francis-could-tip-the-balance-against-fossil-fuels-63601 By  on 23 December 2014 Six years ago, Pope Benedict XVI installed more than 1,000 solar panels on the Vatican’s audience hall, helping him earn him the sobriquet of the “Green Pope.

vatican-solarSome time in the next few months, his successor Pope Francis may just go one step further. His actions could tip the balance against fossil fuels, as the world’s wealthiest institution takes on the world’s most powerful industry.

The signs have been building. In November, the Pope sent a letter to Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott urging him to address climate change and sustainability at the G20  summit – something Abbott had pointedly refused to do.

At Lima, the Pope sent another letter urging diplomats to agree on a strong deal to tackle climate change as UN negotiations drew to a close. In a message to Peru’s environment minister, Manuel Pulgar Vidal, who led the discussions in Lima, Francis warned that “the time to find global solutions is running out.”

A group of Catholic Bishops went one step further, calling for an end to fossil fuel use, citing climate change’s threat to the global poor as the lodestar of their concern. The document, signed by bishops from all continents, insisted on limiting global temperature rise to 1.5°C relative to pre-industrial levels — a considerably more ambitious goal than the 2°C ceiling that’s generally agreed on as the threshold beyond which climate change becomes truly dangerous.

They also called for the building of “new models of development and lifestyles that are both climate compatible” and can “bring people out of poverty.” Specifically, they said: “Central to this is to put an end to the fossil fuel era, phasing out fossil fuel emissions and phasing in 100 per cent renewables with sustainable energy access for all.”

There is growing speculation within church circles that this view is held at the highest level. Pope Francis wants the image of the Catholic Church to evolve beyond that of a huge multi-national corporation, to its origins as a social and humanitarian based organisation.

As he showed in his extraordinary speech this week to the priests, Pope Francis is very much his own man, not of the establishment.

Francis told the bishops and cardinals who run the Curia – the central administration of the Roman Catholic Church – that their careerism, scheming and greed had infected them with “spiritual Alzheimer’s”.

It was Benedict, though, who put the wheels in motion. The solar panels on the audience hall were enough to power the lighting, heating and cooling of a portion of the entire Vatican state. According to this National Geographic article, he authorised the Vatican’s bank to purchase carbon credits by funding a Hungarian forest, thus making the Catholic city the only fully carbon neutral nation-state.

Several years later, he unveiled a new hybrid Popemobile that would be partially electric. Francis went a step further, commissioning Osram to install 7,000 LED lights in the Sistine Chapel, cutting energy consumption by 90 per cent. It is now being extended to other Vatican museums.

But how much further could Pope Francis go? There is speculation that in his Encyclical, due in April, or even in a New Year’s speech, he could call for dramatic reform by the Catholic church. It would be similar, but bolder and more practical, than the Ecological Conversion address of Pope John Paul II in 2001.

This could include divestment. No one knows how much the Catholic Church has in its funds. It is likely to be hundreds of billions. The Uniting Church in Australia has voted to divest from fossil fuels. In July, the World Council of Churches, an umbrella group representing over half a billion Christians, announced its plans to fully divest from fossil fuels.

The SMH reports that in the same month, the Anglican Church of Australia passed a motion encouraging its diocese to divest. It noted then than a global campaign for the Vatican to divest had just been launched. Ironically, the Vatican’s finances are now controlled by Cardinal George Pell, the former archbishop of Sydney who is a noted climate science denier.

There is speculation that the Pope could emulate the bishops’ call for 100 per cent renewables. What he could do is repeat and enhance the efforts to install solar and lighting at the Vatican across the church’s global assets. In effect, he could follow in the footsteps of other corporate giants – such as Google, Apple and Ikea – and set a goal of 100 per cent renewables for his own church, or corporate entity.

The Catholic Church is not just the largest private employer in Australia (and other countries), with some 180,000 employees, it is also one of the biggest energy consumers – with a combined annual bill that runs into the billions of dollars from schools, aged care centres, churches, parish centres and hospitals.

A series of initiatives that encouraged energy efficiency, the installation of solar systems – schools would be perfect for this because usage matches solar output – and also battery storage would have a profound impact on the incumbent energy system, hastening the inevitable transition to decentralised energy grid.

Not only will this encourage and facilitate a much higher overall adoption of renewables, it will also likely result in cheaper energy for all consumers. Major network providers in Australia see this as inevitable, and are already installing – without subsidies – battery storage instead of upgrading grids,and talking of renewables-based micro-grids instead of relying on the old centralised model.

In the US, the combined energy consumption of Catholic organisations – schools, hospitals, aged care, churches, seminaries and the like, would run into the tens of billions. In Europe, the same again.

But if the Pope’s criticism of the Curia was greeted by stunned silence in the Vatican, it is unlikely that any move towards divestment or a massive uptake of renewables would be greeted in the same way.

The fossil fuel industry is certainly worried. Rio Tinto CEO Sam Walsh, who has repeatedly told everyone that the future is coal, took part in a “day of reflection” at the Vatican in September last year. It was ostensibly billed as a chance for mining companies to get “Christian ethical input” to their conversations about the future of their industry. Others saw it as a lobbying exercise.

More recently, the AFR reports, Walsh and other CEOs of major fossil fuel companies took part in an “Ecumenical Day of Reflection on Mining” at Lambeth Palace, the seat of the Church of England, another massive institution – both in terms of funds, and energy consumption.

December 26, 2014 Posted by | 2 WORLD, ENERGY, Religion and ethics, renewable | Leave a comment

Religions unite in speaking out for nuclear disarmament, at Vienna conference

peace-doveFaiths United Against Nuclear Weapons TruthOut , 15 December 2014 By Julia RainerInter Press Service | Report Vienna – “Never was there a greater need than now for all the religions to combine, to pull their wisdom and to give the benefit of that combined, huge repository of wisdom to international law and to the world.”

The words are those of Christopher Weeramantry, former judge at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and its vice-president from 1997 to 2000, who was addressing a session on faiths united against nuclear weapons at the civil society forum organised by the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) on Dec. 6 and 7 in the Austrian capital.

Weeramantry strongly criticised the argument of those who claim that nuclear weapons have saved the world from another world war in the last 50 years.

He pointed to the ever-present danger represented by these weapons and said that on many occasions it had been luck that had prevented catastrophic nuclear accidents or the breaking out of a devastating nuclear war.

Noting that nuclear weapons “offend every single principle of religion,” Weeramantry was joined on the panel by a number of different religious leaders, including Mustafa Ceric, Grand Mufti of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ela Gandhi, granddaughter of Mahatma Gandhi and peace activist, as well as Akemi Bailey-Haynie, national women’s leader of the Buddhist organisation Soka Gakkai International-USA……………….

Desmond Tutu, Nobel Peace Laureate and former Anglican Bishop, sent a video message to participants to express his deep solidarity and support for ICAN’s civil society forum initiative.

He argued that the best way to honour the victims of the incidents in Hiroshima and Nagasaki was to negotiate a total ban on nuclear weapons to ensure that nothing comparable could ever happen again.

Two of the session’s speakers, Ela Gandhi and Mustafa Ceric, also attended the Dec. 8-9 Vienna Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons.

There, Ela Gandhi delivered a speech in the spirit of her grandfather who, she said, would have joined the movement to abolish nuclear weapons if still alive.

As Gandhi had dedicated his life to teaching humanity that there is a non-violent way of dealing with conflict, he even condemned nuclear weapons himself in 1946 when he said: “The atom bomb mentality is immoral, unethical, addictive and only evil can come from it.”

Pointing out that the mere existence of nuclear weapons leads to similar armament of rival countries, Ela Gandhi warned that these nuclear arsenals could destroy a chance for future generations to survive and have a prosperous life………

Religion played an important role at the conference, where many lobbying groups had religious backgrounds, and the opening ceremony was addressed by Pope Francis.

“I am convinced that the desire for peace and fraternity, planted deep in the human heart, will bear fruit in concrete ways to ensure that nuclear weapons are banned once and for all, to the benefit of our common home,” aid Pope Francis, expressing his hope that “a world without nuclear weapons is truly possibly.”

In a statement on behalf of faith communities to the final session, Kimiaki Kawai, Program Director for Peace Affairs at Soka Gakkai International (SGI), said: “The elimination of nuclear weapons is not only a moral imperative; it is the ultimate measure of our worth as a species, as human beings.”

He said that “acceptance of the continued existence of nuclear weapons stifles our capacity to think more broadly and more compassionately about who we are as human beings, and what our potential is. Humanity must find alternative ways of dealing with conflict.”http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/28004-faiths-united-against-nuclear-weapons

December 17, 2014 Posted by | Religion and ethics, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons: Pope Francis says nuclear deterrence is not justifiable

antinuke-worldSmThe Pope Says Nuclear Deterrence Is No Longer A Justifiable Doctrine http://io9.com/the-pope-says-nuclear-deterrence-is-no-longer-a-justifi-1668285136  10 Dec 14 Mark Strauss Although the Catholic Church has always opposed nuclear weapons, the Vatican reluctantly acknowledged during the Cold War that mutual assured destruction was the best-worst option for averting catastrophe. Today, a dramatic declaration from Pope Francis reversed that position.

The message was delivered to some 800 delegates from more than 150 countries attending the Vienna Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons:

“Nuclear deterrence and the threat of mutually assured destruction cannot be the basis for an ethics of fraternity and peaceful coexistence among peoples and states. The youth of today and tomorrow deserve far more…. Peace must be built on justice, socio-economic development, freedom, respect for fundamental human rights, the participation of all in public affairs and the building of trust between peoples.”

“I am convinced that the desire for peace and fraternity planted deep in the human heart will bear fruit in concrete ways to ensure that nuclear weapons are banned once and for all, to the benefit of our common home.”

The Pope’s letter was read aloud by Archbishop Silvio Tomasi, the permanent observer of the Holy See to the United Nations in Geneva, who later clarified at a press conference:

“The consistent position of the Vatican has been against atomic weapons. From the very beginning, from John XXIII in ‘Pacem in Terris’ onward, there has been a consistent line opposing the use, the possession, the development of nuclear weapons. During the ’80s, especially during the cold war, the use of deterrence was accepted as a condition for avoiding worst results, but not as a value in itself.”

But, Tomasi says, the ongoing spread of nuclear weapons in a multipolar world, along with the threat posed by terrorists stealing fissile material, have made the weapons more dangerous than ever. “So we go back to the principal that the possession and use of atomic weapons is not at all acceptable.”

America: The National Catholic Review also reports that the Vatican has released a document, “Nuclear Disarmament: Time for Abolition”:

The document details failures of deterrence that might have led to nuclear war, including nuclear accidents, malfunctions and close calls. The Holy See statement calls for scrutiny of the belief that nuclear deterrence “is a stable basis for peace.” A Vatican official went so far as to describe political fealty to the strategic policy of deterrence as “religion” in its own right.

December 10, 2014 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Religion and ethics | 1 Comment

Anglican priest on the hypocrisy of rich countries’ apathy about climate change effects on Pacific Islanders

Joseph,-Keith-Angl-Dean-of-Anglican priest shames climate change “hypocrites” after witnessing sinking Solomon Islands 105.7 ABC Darwin  By Emilia Terzon The Anglican Dean of Darwin, Keith Joseph, was living and working on the Solomon Islands when he realised the world was slowly drowning.

“In that time, I could see with my own eyes the damage being done,” he said.

“And I could also see the effect [climate change] was having on my friends, their lives, and indeed their culture and futures.”……..

He said it was undeniable that the ongoing problems being experienced by his former parish were linked to climate change and rising sea levels.

“Firstly, it is affecting island groups across the Pacific and Indian Ocean. Secondly, I’m willing to trust 97 per cent of the scientific evidence and advice,” he said.

“If you were sick and went to 30 doctors and 29 said you’ve got cancer and give up smoking and one said it’s not a problem, what are you going to do?

“It’s the same with climate change. The scientific evidence is in.”

Mr Joseph’s comments follow a report by the world’s top scientists for the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released on Sunday.

The report warns about climate change’s severe and irreversible impacts and links the burning of fossil fuels to greenhouse gas levels being at their highest in 800,000 years.

Mr Joseph said it made him feel “guilty” that humble communities in the Solomon Islands were facing problems due to carbon emissions by those in richer countries……….

He said there was a “strong Christian argument for looking after the environment” and that the earth was a gift from God that should be looked after. “I do think that appeals to other spiritual traditions. The Aboriginals knew well that the land was their birthright to hand on to others,” he said.

“Sadly, I can’t see much political impetus for [stopping climate change]. There seems no great will to change the way we live or to move away from a coal-based economy.” http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-11-04/anglican-priest-speaks-out-about-climate-change/5865438

November 6, 2014 Posted by | OCEANIA, Religion and ethics | Leave a comment

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