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Citing Heavenly Injunctions to Fight Earthly Warming

Neela Banerjee, NY Times via Common Dreams
WYANDOTTE, Mich. – To find St. Elizabeth Roman Catholic Church in this working class suburb south of Detroit, look toward the roofline, for the windmill. Not a big windmill, it is a spare steel structure maybe nine feet high, perched atop the rectory of the church and facing northeast into the winds that come off Lake Erie.

Yet the windmill, two solar panels on the roof, another atop the front porch and a solar water heating system above the garage are the pride of the Rev. Charles Morris, St. Elizabeth’s priest.

Over the last five years, Father Morris has sharply reduced his small parish’s energy use and emissions of carbon dioxide, the compound most scientists believe has led to global warming, and he has organized other congregations across Michigan to do the same.

“We’re all part of God’s creation,” Father Morris said. “If someone like me doesn’t speak about its care, who will? The changes we’ve made here, that’s a form of preaching.”

Over the last year, religious activism on global warming has won much attention. Last February, 86 evangelical Christian leaders backed an initiative to combat global warming, a move that broke the evangelical movement’s broad silence on the issue but exposed stark divisions.

In October, 4,000 congregations of various faiths will show films on global warming, including “An Inconvenient Truth.” [On Oct. 8, Christian, Muslim, Jewish and Buddhist leaders met in Philadelphia to discuss global warming.]

At ground level, clergy members and lay people have been working to increase awareness of global warming and to reduce their own greenhouse gas emissions. Many, like Father Morris, were active for years before the issue attracted wider concern. Encounters in their own lives awakened them to global warming, they said. But their faith and the imperatives they see in their Scriptures compelled them to act, they said.
(15 Oct 2006)
Related: Cool Prayers: Atoning for our climate sins.

Climate change is expensive. Does that help?

Heather Stewart, The Observer
Weaning the world off fossil fuels sounds like an expensive fantasy, but a major government-backed report will reveal later this month that slashing greenhouse gas emissions will be far cheaper than dealing with the devastation if global warming continues unchecked.

Nick Stern, a former chief economist at the World Bank and the Treasury, has spent more than a year combing through the science and economics of climate change and his final report is keenly awaited by campaigners.

Some environmentalists are sceptical about reducing global warming to a financial calculation. ‘How do you put a price on the melting of the Greenland ice shelf?’ says Doug Parr, chief scientist at Greenpeace.

But Whitehall insiders say Brown and Blair hope Stern’s report will ‘change the terms of the debate’ on climate change, giving them the clout to persuade other countries to adopt ambitious solutions….
(15 Oct 2006)

Climate Change Inaction Will Cost Trillions: Study

Jeremy Lovell, Reuters via Common Dreams
Failing to fight global warming now will cost trillions of dollars by the end of the century even without counting biodiversity loss or unpredictable events like the Gulf Stream shutting down, a study said on Friday.

But acting now will avoid some of the massive damage and cost relatively little, said the study commissioned by Friends of the Earth from the Global Development and Environment Institute of Tufts University in the United States.

“The climate system has enormous momentum, as does the economic system,” said co-author Frank Ackerman. “We have to start turning off greenhouse gas emissions now in order to avoid catastrophe in decades to come.”
(13 Oct 2006)

New combatant against global warming: insurance industry

Ron Scherer, The Christian Science Monitor
The world’s second-largest industry, worried about losses related to climate change, offers incentives to ‘go green.’
NEW YORK – Insurance companies, who like to stay out of the limelight, are becoming leading business protagonists in the assault on global warming.

• Next week, Travelers, the giant insurance firm, will offer owners of hybrid cars in California a 10 percent discount. It already offers the discount in 41 other states and has cornered a large share of the market.

• This fall, Fireman’s Fund will cut premiums for “green” buildings that save energy and emit fewer greenhouse gases. When it pays off claims, it will direct customers to environmentally friendly products to replace roofs, windows, and water heaters.

• In January, Marsh, the largest insurance broker in the US, will offer a program with Yale University to teach corporate board members about their fiduciary responsibility to manage exposure to climate change.

The insurance industry’s clout is sizable. It’s the second-largest industry in the world in terms of assets, and has a direct link to most homeowners and businesses. It insures coal-fired power plants as well as wind farms, so it can influence the power industry’s cost structure. With its financial muscle, the industry could help advance the use of new financial instruments designed to allow companies to trade greenhouse-gas emissions in the same way that commodities are bought and sold.
(13 Oct 2006)

It’s official: climate change changes everything

Jerome a Paris, Daily Kos
Philip Stephens is the senior political editor of the Financial Times, the main European business paper. He appears to be extremely well connected to the current British government, and I usually see him as the “voice of the establishment” in the paper. He writes about British and European politics, as well as about big topics in the news.

In today’s paper, he has an absolutely must-read column about global warming. As the column is behind the subscriber wall, I’ll just quote the most important parts with my comments below.
(6 Oct 2006)