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The Environment

It is not the purpose of this website to scientifically deal with all of the issues that impact on our environment. There are many wonderful websites and thousands of books that do this. This website deals with something more fundamental: whether mankind has a moral obligation to care for the environment of this planet or not. One would assume that the answer to this question is obvious, but unfortunately, in spite of the fact that most people proclaim that they support the environment and don't want to destroy it, the actions of Republican leaders are clearly at odds with their words.

One of the main problems is that the Republican Party is the party of big money (for more on this, read our section on Economic Morality). It is supported financially by big corporate interests that insist on cutting environmental corners. In fact, most of these companies aren't just cutting corners, they are actively destroying our natural resources in the name of corporate profit.

Jesus taught that "no man can serve two masters." Yet this is what Republicans often must do just to survive as a party. Can they support the environment and big business at the same time? Some in the Republican party try to walk this tightrope, but ultimately, money always wins.

Listen to what Vice President Dick Cheney said on April 30, 2001:

"Conservation may be a sign of personal virtue but it is not a sufficient basis for a sound, comprehensive energy policy."

Is this not clear? Our consumption of energy takes precedence over conservation in the eyes of Republican leaders. Or maybe you will believe Christine Todd Whitman, who was the Republican administrator of the EPA,

"You had Republicans who just didn't like the Environmental Protection Agency - I mean, really had a visceral reaction. It's probably the most hated part of government, I think."

Or we can go into complete denial like Rush Limbaugh who says, "It is na´ve for us to say that we can harm the environment." You see, Rush regularly proclaims to believe that God set up such a stable world and environment, that there is nothing mankind can do to harm it. For him there is no ecosystem and the extinction of species will never impact nor affect God's "only important" creation: man. Of course, this belief just happens to support corporate interests in destroying, killing, abusing, and raping the resources of this planet. Rush's junk science is so rampant among republicans now that we felt we should include on our site a link to the well known article by Leonie Haimson, Dr. Michael Oppenheimer, and Dr. David Wilcove entitled, "The Way Things Really Are: Debunking Rush Limbaugh On The Environment," a publication of the Environmental Defense Fund. Click Here to read.

When confronted with the facts, Rush will often switch gears and debate states rights. In other words, he suddenly believes that states should decide their own environmental policies. Of course this flies in the face of the fact that pollutants dumped in a river in one state can travel down to another, or that air pollution has little respect for borders as well. Again, it is easier for a corporation to control a state's legislature than that of the U.S. government.

Is Rush's environmental opinion supporting corporate interests just a coincidence or is this how the neo-conservative and the Christian fundamentalist movements actually got started? An interesting question might be asked: Did Christian fundamentalism arise, in part, to rationalize consumptive attitudes that we adopted because we became a wealthy nation? Did our selfishness spawn a set of religious beliefs that would support that greed? Is your morality based on the idea that "Armageddon (or the rapture) is nigh, so what's the use of protecting the environment?" The Religious Right, again, may be one of the greatest moral threats to the environment that we have. It's ironic that so many that so vociferously claim to believe in God are the ones who are the most consumptive of natural resources.

Whatever the cause of their belief, it has led to all kinds of justification. Corporations hire scientists to create studies that support their destructive activities. This is why, when reading any scientific reports, one must be careful to know who is paying for the report. Would you read a report supporting the health benefits of smoking if it was produced by the tobacco industry? Would you give credence to a report about a drug's safety produced by the pharmaceutical company that produced the drug? Corporations pay scientists regularly to do these kinds of farcical studies. If you have enough money, you can always find someone to say exactly what you want them to say.

Listen to President Ronald Reagan:

"Approximately 80% of our air pollution stems from hydrocarbons released by vegetation, so let's not go overboard in setting and enforcing tough emission standards from man-made sources." (This statement was first published in Sierra, September 10, 1980, and quoted in "Killer Trees," Reagan's Reign of Error, eds. Mark Green and Gail MacColl, 1987. Reagan later amended this figure to 93%.)

The problem isn't just the misrepresentation or misunderstanding of pollution facts, but rather the last part of Reagan's statement. Because of his justification, he has no interest in "setting or enforcing" any standards from man-made sources. Of course there is no mention of the fact that various man-made chemicals (like CFCs) are slowly destroying the ozone layer.

Each year the concentration of the ozone decreases by approximately two percent and the ozone layer over the South Pole is already fifty percent of its natural concentration. This directly creates cancers, lowers immune systems, causes eye damage and other adds other dangers to humans and the environment. But who cares as long as we are making money?

Is it all about money? It is. About 1/3 of the oxygen produced in the world comes from the Amazon Rain forest. If one third of all oxygen breathing species are supported by this, including humans, at least 2 billion humans are able to breath because of the existence of the rain forest. 150 acres of rain forest are cut down every minute (that's right, every minute), most for cattle grazing for world beef consumption. Most of that is for burgers at your local fast food joint. To be even clearer, 55 square feet of rain forest are cut down for every hamburger you eat.

You want the scientific facts? Read the study by the Center for International Forestry Research entitled Hamburger Connection Fuels Amazon Destruction by David Kaimowitz, Benoit Mertens, Sven Wunder and Pablo Pacheco by clicking here or read the Book Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser. Other sources include the reports of the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) and the INPE (National Institute for Space Research that measures the deforestation from space). For a greater understanding of the Rain Forest and its impact, go to the website of the TRFIC (Tropical Rain Forest Information Center at http://www.trfic.msu.edu) or read The Rain Forest Report Card by clicking here. (http://www.trfic.msu.edu/rfrc/)

But it is not just about hamburgers. Its about factory emissions, gas guzzling cars, aerosols, river dumping, bad farming techniques, pesticides, recycling, waste management, and energy consumption. It is about our air, our water, and other natural resources. But more than that, it is about our feeling of stewardship we feel we have over this planet. Many believe that our environmental deterioration is primarily a moral and spiritual problem, rather than a problem of technology.

Isaiah 24: 4-6 reads:

"The earth is drooping, withering... and the sky wanes with the earth, for earth has been polluted by the dwellers on its face. Therefore a curse is crushing the earth, alighting on its guilty folk; mortals are dying off, till few are left."

Another of Ezekiel reads:

"As for you, my flock. . . .Is it not enough for you to feed on good pasture? Must you also trample the rest of your pasture with your feet? Is it not enough for you to drink clear water? Must you also muddy the rest with your feet?" (Ezekiel 34: 17, 18)

What are the Religions Saying?

So what do many of today's major denominations say about the environment? Do they agree with Rush Limbaugh and his "we can't harm the environment" belief? Here is a list of the statements of many of the major religious denominations in the United States:

Jewish:

"The earth we inherit is in danger; the skies and the seas, the forests and the rivers, the soil and the air, are in peril. And with them humankind itself is threatened. As earth's fullness has been our blessing, so its pollution now becomes our curse. As the wonder of nature's integrity has been our delight, so the horror of nature's disintegration now becomes our sorrow." Rabbi Alexander Schindler, President, Union of American Hebrew Congregations

Traditional Southern Baptist:

"The growing possibility of our destroying ourselves and the world with our own neglect and excess is tragic and very real." Billy Graham, Approaching Hoofbeats, 1983.

Methodist:

"All creation is the Lord's, and we are responsible for the ways in which we use and abuse it. Water, air, soil, minerals, energy resources, plants, animal life, and space are to be valued and conserved because they are God's creation and not solely because they are useful to human beings. God has granted us stewardship of creation. We should meet these stewardship duties through acts of loving care and respect. Economic, political, social, and technological developments have increased our human numbers, and lengthened and enriched our lives. However, these developments have led to regional defoliation, dramatic extinction of species, massive human suffering, overpopulation, and misuse and over consumption of natural and nonrenewable resources, particularly by industrialized societies. This continued course of action jeopardizes the natural heritage that God has entrusted to all generations. Therefore, let us recognize the responsibility of the church and its members to place a high priority on changes in economic, political, social, and technological lifestyles to support a more ecologically equitable and sustainable world leading to a higher quality of life for all of God's creation." 2004 Book of Discipline, Social Principals p.160," (you can peruse the United Methodist official website on environmental stewardship by clicking here.)

Evangelical Lutheran:

"The adoption of statements on the environment by church councils and assemblies is important. But unless every local congregation actually carries out sound environmental practices in its buildings and in the homes of the members, these statements are worthless. Care of the earth is our mandate from the Creator and is the responsibility of us all."_The Reverend Dr. Herbert W. Chilstrom, Bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Evangelical:

"If we are ever able to stop destroying our environment, it will be because person by person we decide, by God's grace, to turn aside from greed and materialism. It will be because we learn that joy and fulfillment come through right relationship with God, neighbor and earth, not an ever escalating demand for more and more material consumption. Nowhere is that more possible than in local congregations that combine prayer and action, worship and analysis, deep personal love for the Creator and for the Creator's garden."_Dr. Ronald Sider, Professor of Theology and Society, Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Executive Director, Evangelicals for Social Action.

Presbyterian :

"One of our reformed principles is that as individuals and congregations we should be working to bring about Shalom and the fullest possible, sustainable life for all persons everywhere. Understanding the issues of eco-justice is primary to doing this." The Reverend Dr. William R. Phillippe, Executive Director, General Assembly Council, Presbyterian Church USA

Episcopal:

"The challenge before the religious community in America is to make every congregation and every church synagogue and mosque a truly 'green' center of environmental study and action. That is their religious duty."_The Very Reverend James Parks Morton, Dean, Cathedral of St. John the Divine

Catholic:

"Faced with the widespread destruction of the environment, people everywhere are coming to understand that we cannot continue to use the goods of the earth as we have in the past. Certain elements of today's ecological crisis reveal its moral character. First among these is the indiscriminate application of advances in science and technology. Many recent discoveries have brought undeniable benefits to humanity. Indeed, they demonstrate the nobility of the human vocation to participate responsibly in God's creative action in the world. Unfortunately, it is now clear that the application of these discoveries in the fields of industry and agriculture have produced harmful long-term effects. This has led to the painful realization that we cannot interfere in one area of the ecosystem without paying due attention both to the consequences of such interference in other areas and to the well-being of future generations.

The gradual depletion of the ozone layer and the related "greenhouse effect" has now reached crisis proportions as a consequence of industrial growth, massive urban concentrations and vastly increased energy needs. Industrial waste, the burning of fossil fuels, unrestricted deforestation, the use of certain types of herbicides, coolants and propellants,: all of these are known to harm the atmosphere and environment. The resulting meteorological and atmospheric changes range from damage to health to the possible future submersion of low-lying lands.

While in some cases the damage already done may well be irreversible, in many other cases it can still be halted. It is necessary, however, that the entire human community and individuals, states and international bodies take seriously the responsibility that is theirs."
Pope John Paul II, THE ECOLOGICAL CRISIS A COMMON RESPONSIBILITY Jan. 1, 1990

Mormon:

"In the name of 'progress' and 'growth,' we have plundered our planet and despoiled our environment... Many of our environmental problems arise from the fact that our society has become obsessed with materialism... this reflects a misinterpretation by conventional Judeo-Christian philosophers of God's injunction to Adam about subduing the earth...The reason we are in trouble ecologically is because of our inability to see ourselves as a part of nature. We have not seen ourselves for what we are: part of the web of life and part of the biological community; a portion of an incredibly complex ecological system; and intimately a part of the total environment. The serious ecological problems which face us have as their basis a disordered spirituality."
A. B. Morrison, "Our Deteriorating Environment," Ensign, Aug. 1971, 64

There is a growing group of moral Americans who believe in a God that gave them stewardship over the planet. They believe that they are here to take care of the planet and fulfill that stewardship. The Democrats have always been the party known for its moral behavior toward this obligation. This is just another of many moral issues that can only seriously by supported by a vote for the Democratic Party.




Links

An Inconvenient Truth with Al Gore. Winner of the Acadamy Award, best Documentary 2006. About the movie, Roger Friedman of Fox News stated, "It doesn't matter if you're a Republican or Democrat, liberal or conservative...your mind will be changed in a nanosecond."

Behind the Curtain
George W. Bush's stealth assault on environmental rules is being carried out by a cadre of appointed bureaucrats with strong ties to the very industries they are now supposed to regulate. In most cases the appointees are the very people that their jobs were supposed to protect us against! http://www.motherjones.com/news/feature/2003/09/ma_534_01.html

For more reading and study on all environmental issues check out the publication archive of Environmental Defense Fund at http://www.environmentaldefense.org/pubarchive.cfm.

Study more on global warming from this comprehensive website:
http://www.environmentaldefense.org/issue.cfm?subnav=12&linkID=15

Global Warming by the Numbers
Some chilling statistics to think about
http://www.environmentaldefense.org/article.cfm?contentID=4981&linkID=303

Debunking Rush Limbaugh on the Environment http://www.bestofmaui.com/rush.html

Dirty Secrets by Osha Gray Davidson No president has gone after the nation's environmental laws with the same fury as George W. Bush -- and none has been so adept at staying under the radar. http://www.motherjones.com/news/feature/2003/09/ma_494_01.html


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