Tag Archives: Religion

Earth’s future ‘hinges on UN Glasgow climate talks’

With the UN Glasgow climate talks starting next month, three Christian leaders say they will decide the planet’s future.

LONDON, 10 September, 2021 − In an unprecedented action, the leaders of three of the world’s main Christian faiths have spoken out less than two months before the crucial UN Glasgow climate talks begin, issuing a joint appeal to safeguard the future of the planet.

Pope Francis, head of the Roman Catholic Church, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of the Eastern Orthodox Church and Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury and head of the worldwide Anglican Communion, have, for the first time, come together to plead for everyone to “choose life” and head off environmental catastrophe.

“We call on everyone, whatever their belief or world view, to endeavour to listen to the cry of the earth and of people who are poor, examining their behaviour and pledging meaningful sacrifices for the sake of the earth which God has given us,” says the statement.

The three leaders exercise influence over hundreds of millions of Christians around the world. In the past religious leaders have often been criticised for not taking a strong enough stand and speaking out on the climate emergency facing the world.

“This is a critical moment. Our future and the future of our common home depend on it”

In the US, sections of the powerful Evangelical movement have argued against the science of climate change, saying God, not humankind, governed the climate. But attitudes are changing, even among the more politically right wing, Trump-supporting churches in the US.

In 2015 Pope Francis issued a 180-page encyclical – an official statement on church teaching − berating the powerful for their exploitation and misuse of the earth’s resources and calling for urgent action on climate change, particularly to safeguard the lives of the poor.

Bartholomew, often referred to as the Green Patriarch, has long been an activist on environmental issues, heading a series of symposia focusing on the damage climate change and pollution are causing to the world’s oceans.

Paying the price

Justin Welby has for many years spoken about the danger to humanity posed by the climate crisis. In 2019 he strongly criticised the investment industry for its lack of action on the issue.

This latest declaration uses stark language to emphasise the scale of the problem facing the world: “We have maximised our own interest at the expense of future generations … today, we are paying the price. The extreme weather and natural disasters of recent months reveal afresh to us with great force and at great human cost that climate change is not only a future challenge, but an immediate and urgent matter of survival.”

The three leaders talk about a profound injustice: “The people bearing the most catastrophic consequences of these abuses are the poorest and have been the least responsible for causing them.”

Of the forthcoming COP26 UN Glasgow climate talks, they say simply that the meeting will decide the future of the planet: “This is a critical moment. Our future and the future of our common home depend on it.” − Climate News Network

With the UN Glasgow climate talks starting next month, three Christian leaders say they will decide the planet’s future.

LONDON, 10 September, 2021 − In an unprecedented action, the leaders of three of the world’s main Christian faiths have spoken out less than two months before the crucial UN Glasgow climate talks begin, issuing a joint appeal to safeguard the future of the planet.

Pope Francis, head of the Roman Catholic Church, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of the Eastern Orthodox Church and Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury and head of the worldwide Anglican Communion, have, for the first time, come together to plead for everyone to “choose life” and head off environmental catastrophe.

“We call on everyone, whatever their belief or world view, to endeavour to listen to the cry of the earth and of people who are poor, examining their behaviour and pledging meaningful sacrifices for the sake of the earth which God has given us,” says the statement.

The three leaders exercise influence over hundreds of millions of Christians around the world. In the past religious leaders have often been criticised for not taking a strong enough stand and speaking out on the climate emergency facing the world.

“This is a critical moment. Our future and the future of our common home depend on it”

In the US, sections of the powerful Evangelical movement have argued against the science of climate change, saying God, not humankind, governed the climate. But attitudes are changing, even among the more politically right wing, Trump-supporting churches in the US.

In 2015 Pope Francis issued a 180-page encyclical – an official statement on church teaching − berating the powerful for their exploitation and misuse of the earth’s resources and calling for urgent action on climate change, particularly to safeguard the lives of the poor.

Bartholomew, often referred to as the Green Patriarch, has long been an activist on environmental issues, heading a series of symposia focusing on the damage climate change and pollution are causing to the world’s oceans.

Paying the price

Justin Welby has for many years spoken about the danger to humanity posed by the climate crisis. In 2019 he strongly criticised the investment industry for its lack of action on the issue.

This latest declaration uses stark language to emphasise the scale of the problem facing the world: “We have maximised our own interest at the expense of future generations … today, we are paying the price. The extreme weather and natural disasters of recent months reveal afresh to us with great force and at great human cost that climate change is not only a future challenge, but an immediate and urgent matter of survival.”

The three leaders talk about a profound injustice: “The people bearing the most catastrophic consequences of these abuses are the poorest and have been the least responsible for causing them.”

Of the forthcoming COP26 UN Glasgow climate talks, they say simply that the meeting will decide the future of the planet: “This is a critical moment. Our future and the future of our common home depend on it.” − Climate News Network

Funeral smoke adds to South Asia’s woes

With the sub-continent battling a vicious Covid onslaught, the worst fires in years are adding to South Asia’s woes.

LONDON, 10 May, 2021 − A thick pall of smoke hangs over much of northern India. For weeks residents of Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, have not seen the sun. Smoke blankets areas of Bangladesh and the mountain kingdom of Bhutan. The pandemic has spread South Asia’s woes far and wide.

Forest fires sweep across the north Indian states of Uttarakhand – the country’s most forested state – and Himachal Pradesh. Further north in Nepal, fire is destroying thousands of hectares of forest. The fires, most of them out of control, are blamed in part on farmers burning stubble in their fields in order to plant crops.

But climate change is also a factor: over the past two years the level of rainfall across northern India has been considerably less than usual, while average temperatures have increased. Snowfall in the Himalayas has been well below average. As a result, say officials, much of the area has become tinder dry and fires have been spreading at lightning speed, leaving several people dead.

The conflagrations lead to the release of vast amounts of climate-changing greenhouse gases, the air pollution causes widespread health problems, and biodiversity is lost.

“On average about 10 million funeral pyres are lit each year in South Asia, the majority in India”

Smoke from the fires also causes fundamental changes high up in the Himalayas. Glaciers in the world’s highest mountain range are melting at considerable speed. This can lead to flooding in the short term and, in the long term, water shortages.

Higher temperatures are one reason for the melting, but soot from fires and other pollution is another important factor. When smoke particles fall on snow and ice they form a dark blanket which causes the absorption of more sunlight which, in turn, leads to further melting.

The Himalayas are particularly prone to such soot pollution. The Indo-Gangetic Plain to the south of the world’s highest and biggest mountain range is one of the most densely populated areas on Earth.

Winds carry the smoke from millions of household fires – many of them burning animal dung – high up into the mountains. Particulates from industrial pollution are also deposited on the snow and ice. Hindus burn the bodies of their dead on funeral pyres, and the smoke from these fires is also carried up into the Himalayas.

Role of rituals

Shamsh Pervez, a researcher at the Pandit Ravishankar Shukla University in India, says that on average about 10 million funeral pyres are lit each year in South Asia, the majority in India.

Organic carbon released during funerals and in the course of other religious rituals contains a number of light-absorbing compounds, many of them toxic, Pervez says.

In a study carried out some years ago by academics in India and at the Desert Research Institute in Nevada, it was found that smoke from various religious rituals makes a significant contribution to the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere: it also causes further melting of glaciers in the Himalayas.

In the present Covid pandemic – hitting India and Nepal in particular – the number of such funerals is increasing. It’s estimated that wood from more than 50 million trees is used to fuel funeral pyres in South Asia each year. − Climate News Network

With the sub-continent battling a vicious Covid onslaught, the worst fires in years are adding to South Asia’s woes.

LONDON, 10 May, 2021 − A thick pall of smoke hangs over much of northern India. For weeks residents of Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, have not seen the sun. Smoke blankets areas of Bangladesh and the mountain kingdom of Bhutan. The pandemic has spread South Asia’s woes far and wide.

Forest fires sweep across the north Indian states of Uttarakhand – the country’s most forested state – and Himachal Pradesh. Further north in Nepal, fire is destroying thousands of hectares of forest. The fires, most of them out of control, are blamed in part on farmers burning stubble in their fields in order to plant crops.

But climate change is also a factor: over the past two years the level of rainfall across northern India has been considerably less than usual, while average temperatures have increased. Snowfall in the Himalayas has been well below average. As a result, say officials, much of the area has become tinder dry and fires have been spreading at lightning speed, leaving several people dead.

The conflagrations lead to the release of vast amounts of climate-changing greenhouse gases, the air pollution causes widespread health problems, and biodiversity is lost.

“On average about 10 million funeral pyres are lit each year in South Asia, the majority in India”

Smoke from the fires also causes fundamental changes high up in the Himalayas. Glaciers in the world’s highest mountain range are melting at considerable speed. This can lead to flooding in the short term and, in the long term, water shortages.

Higher temperatures are one reason for the melting, but soot from fires and other pollution is another important factor. When smoke particles fall on snow and ice they form a dark blanket which causes the absorption of more sunlight which, in turn, leads to further melting.

The Himalayas are particularly prone to such soot pollution. The Indo-Gangetic Plain to the south of the world’s highest and biggest mountain range is one of the most densely populated areas on Earth.

Winds carry the smoke from millions of household fires – many of them burning animal dung – high up into the mountains. Particulates from industrial pollution are also deposited on the snow and ice. Hindus burn the bodies of their dead on funeral pyres, and the smoke from these fires is also carried up into the Himalayas.

Role of rituals

Shamsh Pervez, a researcher at the Pandit Ravishankar Shukla University in India, says that on average about 10 million funeral pyres are lit each year in South Asia, the majority in India.

Organic carbon released during funerals and in the course of other religious rituals contains a number of light-absorbing compounds, many of them toxic, Pervez says.

In a study carried out some years ago by academics in India and at the Desert Research Institute in Nevada, it was found that smoke from various religious rituals makes a significant contribution to the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere: it also causes further melting of glaciers in the Himalayas.

In the present Covid pandemic – hitting India and Nepal in particular – the number of such funerals is increasing. It’s estimated that wood from more than 50 million trees is used to fuel funeral pyres in South Asia each year. − Climate News Network