Outreach Book Group: Discussion on Global Warming

Temperature changes from 1880 to 2015 as a rolling five-year average.
Orange colors represent temperatures that are warmer than the 1951-80 baseline average,
and blues represent temperatures cooler than the baseline. (Credit: NASA/GSFC/Scientific Visualization Studio)


Good news – we could start rolling back global warming within thirty years!

The Outreach Book Group recently had a discussion about Global Warming. As a starting point we used Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming, edited by Paul Hawken. The term drawdown defines that point in time when the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere begins to decline on a year-to-year basis. The book documents and categorizes 100 inspiring solutions that could roll back global warming within thirty years. It also has a five essays, we looked at two.

Why Care? Secular thoughts about healing the split between what you think and what you do, to co-mingle your identities as consumer and producer and citizen.

On Care for Our Common Home–  referencing the Pope’s Encyclical and the many years of Presbyterian study and actions.These frame Global Warming and Climate Change as moral issues. As Wendell Berry sagely observed in a book, “Once our personal connection to what is wrong becomes clear, then we have to choose: we can go on as before, recognizing our dishonesty and living with it the best we can, or we can begin the effort to change the way we think and live.”

Currently there is a strong, fear-based reaction that seems to feel taking responsibility and leadership on this issue will take our wealth away and privileged lifestyle. But Drawdown’s analysis indicates the cost of doing business-as-usual is higher than the costs to implement needed solutions.

There are big challenges. Transitioning from fossil fuel dependency goes against the business interests of the most profitable corporations on earth. Their approach to global warming has been subversive and deceitful. For example, a review of 187 documents from 1977 through 2014 found over 80% of internal documents affirmed global warming while advertising/advocacy said the opposite. This is one of the reasons Bethany, Seattle Presbytery and over 40 other Presbyteries have asked our denomination to divest from fossil fuels.    

Remember, America has achieved enormous economic shifts in the past. We had another cheap, degrading source of energy- slaves. We changed course because it was the moral thing to do. The South has survived without cotton/slave dependency. A lesson learned is it would have been much less expensive to make that transition without a war. In our day, do we want to abdicate our responsibility to transition our energy sources? Do we want to invest in and defend increasingly expensive oil production?

So, what should we do now?  Here are some things we discussed and brainstormed:

Personal responses to Drawdown:

  • Know how much carbon you emit and work towards less than 2 tons per person.  Here is a recommended carbon calculator because it accounts for diet – (delete boxes that don’t apply and enter zero for electricity if you have Seattle City Light, it is carbon neutral).
  • Drawdown’s largest sector is food (see detailed analysis). The best way to reduce this is eat more plants and fewer animals, especially beef:

If cattle were a nation, they would be the world’s third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases. Transitioning from a western diet to a more vegetarian could reduce GHG’s by 63% and an estimated $1 trillion in annual health-care costs and lost productivity.  Thankfully any NW Super green seafood, or any seafood at PCC, has a reasonable carbon footprint.

There are many great vegetarian cookbooks at QA Book Company, the library or online, like this classic- https://archive.org/details/morewithlesscook00long

  • Reduce Food Waste and single-use plastics

For Lent:

  • Try meatless Mondays and Fish Fridays
  • Subscribe to Imperfect Product- https://www.imperfectproduce.com/
  • Buy unprocessed foods with less packaging.
  • Buy local, seasonal foods, e.g., at farmer’s markets.
  • Cook at home more, use leftovers for lunches in reusable containers.
  • When you eat out patronize local establishments with good ethics (e.g., on Queen Anne/Interbay- Bounty Kitchen, Sushi Samurai, Homegrown, Eat Local, Queen Anne café, Taco Time)
  • Minimize car trips to restaurants and stores (e.g., the Trader Joe’s run after church :).

For Advent and Christmas:

Look at Unplug the Christmas Machine and other non-consumer Advent and Christmas activities.

For the Garden:

  • Theology of gardening class. This class costs $10 for a 45-minute online session.
  • Community gardening, such as a p-patch.
  • Container gardening (your local nursery can be a helpful ally). Here is one potential source, and here is another.
  • Front yard gardening
  • Vertical gardening
  • Plant large trees that grow quickly.

Another high impact area is air travel.  Low fuel airlines (Alaska Airlines is best) and nonstops are recommended. Until we have better jet fuel, purchasing offsets can reduce your impact.  MyClimate has an easy calculator for flights and they offer offsets.  An alternate is to donate the same amount to mission partners doing environmental work, such as:

Avoid overnight package delivery, it’s an inefficient use of carbon.

There are also offset programs for all lifestyle activities, such as https://carbonfund.org/individuals/.

We also brainstormed ways we’d like Bethany to engage:

  • More visibility to creation care, eco-justice since it’s part of Bethany’s DNA.
    • On website
    • Events such as August on the lawn outreaches to the community-
  • Don’t drive (or drive alone) to church and/or have a “Grand Prius” race to see who can get the lowest mpg to church
  • Invite the community to environmental movie nights
  • Grow a Wednesday Night Dinner herb and greens garden in the courtyard
  • More encouragement and community building for congregants whose vocation or advocation includes caring for creation.
  • Join annual Discovery Park and/or beach walks
  • Have a harvest garden tour of Bethany members’ gardens (and distribute zucchinis)

February 2018


POSTSCRIPT: To see the original article by Julia Sensenbrenner regarding global warming, go to this link.