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.”
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
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.
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.
The 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
‘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
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.
Climate-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
“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
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 Giles Parkinson 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.
Some 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.
Faiths United Against Nuclear Weapons TruthOut , 15 December 2014 By Julia Rainer, Inter 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
The 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.
Anglican priest on the hypocrisy of rich countries’ apathy about climate change effects on Pacific Islanders
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
A group of former ministers, diplomats and generals in the parliamentary-approved Trident Commission say holding on to nuclear weapons could help deter threats to the UK’s security in future…….
“Quakers say that Trident is a relic of the Cold War and that the Trident Commission has failed to consider the legal obligations of the UK under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to negotiate in good faith for the elimination of nuclear weapons,” said a Quakers’ statement after the report was released July 1.
“Quakers in Britain strongly disagree with the conclusion that Trident is necessary and urge the Commission to rethink its recommendations.”
While welcoming deeper debate around the missile issue, Helen Drewery, general secretary of Quaker Peace & Social Witness said: “The Trident Commission has failed to properly consider alternatives to Trident.
“These are weapons of mass destruction which can never be used and have proved to be a poor deterrent against acts of terror or against recent political events. Trident is a relic of the Cold War.”
The Quakers said they were disappointed the report did not address the legal and moral obligations of the UK under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to negotiate in good faith for the elimination of nuclear weapons.
A final decision on whether to renew Trident nuclear missile system will be taken in 2016……
Quakers are known formally as the Religious Society of Friends. The group is known for its commitment to equality, justice, peace, simplicity and truth. http://www.ecumenicalnews.com/article/british-quakers-reject-report-advising-uk-to-retain-cold-war-relic-nuclear-deterrent-25462
Evangelical Group: Climate Change Is A ‘Pro-Life’ Issue CLIMATE PROGRESS, BY KATIE VALENTINE MAY 20, 2014 A GROUP OF EVANGELICAL CHRISTIANS ARE CALLING ON FLORIDA GOV. RICK SCOTT TO CREATE A PLAN TO MITIGATE AND ADAPT TO CLIMATE CHANGE, HOPING THAT THEIR MESSAGE WILL RESONATE WITH SCOTT’S STAUNCH CHRISTIAN VALUES.
Rev. Mitch Hescox, president of the Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN), is leading the group’s campaign for Scott to recognize climate change as a major threat in Florida. EEN is collecting signatures for a petition asking Gov. Scott to create a plan for climate change, one which so far has garnered about 12,000 signatures. Hescox told ThinkProgress that EEN chose to focus on Florida because of its vulnerability to climate change — Floridians, especially in the Southeast region of the state, are already struggling to adapt to rising seas that lead to sunny-day flooding and stronger storm surges.
“We wanted to help the evangelical church understand in Florida that climate change is not a liberal issue or any issue other than a people issue,” he said.
Gov. Scott, however, has expressed doubt before that climate change is occurring — in 2010, he told reporters he hadn’t “been convinced” that the problem existed, and last week, he avoided a question on whether his 2010 beliefs are the same today by responding, “I’m not a scientist.”……..
The group emphasizes creation care, the idea that humans have a duty to take care of the Earth, because the Earth and its creatures are the creation of God and to love God’s creation is to love God. The group also notes that the poor are often those who are affected most by pollution, and many Christians believe they have a duty to help the poor.
“The first real handbook of sustainability is the Biblical book of Leviticus. It talks about crop rotation, about how to care about animals,” Hescox said. “That’s why it’s a matter of life for us — everything we do, as human beings, to mess up God’s creation impacts human life.”
Hescox pointed to the suffering climate change has caused around the world as reason why climate change is something Christians should care about. Air pollution is linked to asthma, kidney disease and heart problems, and climate change is expected to cause a rise in vectorborne illnesses like malaria and West Nile. These are some of the most compelling reasons to act on climate change, Hescox said.
“For us, it’s a pro-life issue,” he said. “We are pro-life from conception to natural death, and we believe anything that affects the quality of life is something that’s a pro-life value.”………http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/05/20/3439695/evangelical-environmental-network-rick-scott-petition/
US bishops and Iranian ayatollahs hold talks on nuclear arms http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/news/2014/05/15/us-bishops-and-iranian-ayatollahs-hold-talks-on-nuclear-arms/ By PATRICIA ZAPOR on Thursday, 15 May 2014 It has been revealed that a small group of US Catholic bishops have met with Iranian ayatollahs to discuss nuclear weapons and the role of faith leaders in influencing political moves on the issue of Iran’s nuclear programme. Quietly, a small group of U.S. Catholic bishops and Iranian ayatollahs began in March what they intend to be an ongoing dialogue on nuclear weapons and the role of faith leaders in influencing political moves on the issue of Iran’s nuclear program. Continue reading
Anti-Nuclear Weapons Team of Religious Leaders Unite at UN; Catholic Leader Calls Them ‘Useless’ in Fight Against Poverty BY STOYAN ZAIMOV, CHRISTIAN POST REPORTER May 1, 2014 NEW YORK – Members of several of the world’s main religions, including Christianity, Buddhism, Islam and Judaism, warned that the grave prospect of a nuclear weapons catastrophe looms dangerously over the world, and urged leaders to move toward disarmament at a United Nations conference on Wednesday.
Archbishop Francis A. Chullikatt, permanent observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, said that although religious leaders are not experts on nuclear weapons, they still have the responsibility to speak out and take the floor on this particular issue.
“We know that we are not experts on disarmament, we do not have technical solutions, but we do have a voice to act,” Chullikatt said, adding that the group of religious leaders have taken on the subject partly so that future generations do not accuse them of not doing anything.
The archbishop noted that the Roman Catholic Church warns that nuclear war is a crime both against God and against man himself. “It is past time for this plan (nuclear disarmament) to be given the serious attention that it deserves. The centerpiece is the negotiation of a nuclear weapons convention or a framework leading directly to a global ban on nuclear weapons,” Chullikatt said.
“Nuclear weapons are useless in addressing current challenges such as poverty, health, climate change, terrorism or national crime. The only way to guarantee that these weapons will not be used again, is through a common, irreversible, and verifiable elimination under international (law). He stated that the use of nuclear weapons will be a great moral crime against humanity, and insisted that now is the time to “renew the moral call for the total elimination of nuclear weapons,” because in the event of a nuclear war, there will be “no victors, only victims.”
The Rev. Tyler Wigg Stevenson, representing the World Evangelical Alliance, noted that evangelicals are “late in coming to the trenches where our brothers and sisters of the Roman Catholic Church and World Council of Churches, including members of other world religions, have labored long and faithfully.”
He shared his hopes, however, that the evangelical “lack of moderation” will “make up for our tardiness.”……….
“In Buddhist ethics, protecting innocent life is a high value. Nuclear weapons offend this value. According to Buddhist understanding, everyone and everything in the world are interconnected and interdependent,” said Ven. Dr. Chung Ohun Lee of Won Buddhism International, to the U.N., adding that people have a responsibility to take care of the world and oppose nuclear weapons out of respect for all human beings.
“Nuclear weapons are immoral. Let us work together to rid the world of all of them,” Dr. Chung Ohun Lee remarked.
Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi of Fiqh Council of North America said that according to the Islamic position, nuclear weapons “pose a grave danger to all of humanity” and called on the international community to work together to remove this danger.
“Islam teaches that God is the creator and master of everything in this world. All human beings are one family. Human beings must honor each other and live in peace,” Dr. Siddiqi continued.
“Nuclear weapons do not come anywhere in the concept of just war. Nuclear weapons are by nature weapons of mass destruction. They make no distinction between combatants or noncombatants.”
Rabbi Peter Knobel of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, who was the final speaker, drew an example from the story of Noah and the Great Flood in the Bible, when God promises to never destroy creation again, and gives people hope symbolized by a rainbow.
“It is not enough to merely stop proliferation, we are compelled to eliminate nuclear weapons, it is our duty to cherish and protect creation, to learn to love and care for one another, it is time to beat our nuclear swords into plowshares, and not stop beating until they are musical instruments.”
US Faith Groups Unite to Call for Nuclear Weapons Abolition, Stressing Devastating Humanitarian Impact, Religion News Service April 25, 2014 Buddhist, Christian and Muslim Communities at US Institute of Peace in Advance of UN Non-Proliferation Conference
WASHINGTON DC: On April 24, 2014, Buddhist association Soka Gakkai International (SGI) sponsored “Making a Difference – Faith Communities and the Humanitarian Consequences of Nuclear Weapons,” a one-day interfaith symposium held at the US Institute of Peace in Washington DC.
Over 100 participants from diverse faiths including Buddhist, Christian, Jewish and Muslim traditions came together with peace activists and experts to identify common concerns and refresh their determination to rid the world of these inhuman weapons.
At the symposium, representatives of 11 different faith groups adopted a joint statement pledging increased activism by religious communities toward nuclear weapons abolition. This statement will be presented to the chair of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) taking place at the UN Headquarters in New York from April 28 to May 9.
The statement reads, “The continued existence of nuclear weapons forces humankind to live in the shadow of apocalyptic destruction…. The moral insights of our traditions teach us that this threat is unacceptable and must be eliminated.” See http://www.sgi.org/assets/pdf/Joint-Faith-Statement-Antinukes.pdf………
Cosponsors of the event included Abolition 2000, American Values Network, Federation of American Scientists (FAS), Arms Control Association (ACA), Global Zero, International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), Pax Christi International, Pax Christi-USA and Women’s Action for New Direction (WAND).
Soka Gakkai International (SGI) is a grassroots Buddhist association with 12 million members around the world. Its activities to promote peace, culture and education are part of the longstanding tradition of Buddhist humanism. SGI-USA has 120,000 members throughout the U.S.A.
Budgets as Moral Documents Nuclear Weapons and the Fate of Life http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/04/11/nuclear-weapons-and-the-fate-of-life/by ROBERT DODGE
April 15th, Tax Day, our nation funds our national budget. On this day we fund the nation’s business and provide a proclamation to the world of the U.S. priorities for the next year. Ultimately, because they reveal our choices, budgets are moral documents and are supposed to represent the people’s priorities.
What are those priorities? Surveys show them to be education, economic security, environmental protection, healthcare, climate change, peace and security. With so many challenges facing us as a nation and planet how will we wisely provide for our future and spend our finite treasure on infinite need? We must ask, are there opportunities to reallocate funds to more pressing needs?
Nuclear weapons programs provide an obvious example of the misallocation of resources. This year the United States will spend roughly $57 billion on nuclear weapons programs. Weapons that must never be used, are militarily purposeless, and threaten our very survival every moment of their existence. These illegal, immoral weapons are an example of the disconnect between rhetoric and reality.
The dollars diverted from communities to finance these programs literally rob communities of precious funds that could be spent on urgent needs. Examples of community nuclear weapons programs expenditures for tax year 2013 range from Ventura County, California spending $176 million to Seattle wasting $172 million, Los Angeles misspending $1.7 billion and New York City throwing away $1.69 billion. To find other examples or calculate your personal contribution go to www.c-p-r.net. Each of us must ask ourselves if this is acceptable.
The impossibility of using these weapons was shown in a report by the International Physicians for Social Responsibility this past year on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear war. It demonstrated that 2 billion people are at risk of death from catastrophic climate change following a limited nuclear exchange using less than ½ of 1 percent of the global nuclear arsenals.
The world’s nuclear arsenals contain 17,000 nuclear weapons and a full scale nuclear war between the nuclear super powers would end life as we know it.
Last year’s important book by Eric Schlosser, Command and Control, combined with our own military’s recent revelations of compromised nuclear missile officers highlight how sheer luck continues to be an important component preventing the unleashing of these apocalyptic weapons.
The use, threat of use, and even the possession of these weapons was declared virtually entirely illegal by the International Court of Justice in 1996. The United States and P5 nuclear states are in breach of Article VI of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty that commits us to good faith efforts to work toward nuclear disarmament. Here is the disconnect between rhetoric and reality. While professing the vision of a world without nuclear weapons we continue to ‘modernize’ our B-61 nuclear gravity bomb and work on our entire nuclear stockpile and delivery systems projected to cost $1 trillion over the next 30 years.
Fortunately the non-P5 nuclear nations of the world are taking matters into their own hands. In meetings this year in Germany, Norway and Mexico, approximately 150 nations met to discuss the humanitarian consequences of nuclear war and are moving toward a nuclear weapons convention, a ban on nuclear weapons similar to previous conventions on chemical and biological weapons and landmines.
So ultimately this tax season as so often in the past, we will pay out of our pockets for something most of us abhor, financing our own instruments of national suicide. As a people, the choice is ours—or in the end there may be no choice. Will we stand on the right side of history or will we continue down our present course?
Robert Dodge is a family physician in Ventura, California. He serves on the board of Physicians for Social Responsibility Los Angeles (www.psr-la.org) and on the board of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation (www.wagingpeace.org). He writes for PeaceVoice (www.PeaceVoice.info).
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