Quakers out of Sync with our Environment

Friends, I continue to be deeply concerned about the inconsistency between our testimonies of justice and care for each other and the Earth, and Friends’ continued participation in our fossil fuel centric society.

I recently realized I had pretty much given up on Quakers giving up their cars.  But my time spent with Native Americans over this past year related to #noDAPL reminded me that there are those who do live in a way that honors and respects Mother Earth.

One cannot claim to care for our environment, and yet continue to use personal automobiles.  When will Friends give up their cars?

An Epistle to Friends Concerning Environmental War

Cars as Weapons of Mass Destruction

The Dakota Access and Keystone pipelines would not even be an issue if it wasn’t for our culture’s oil addiction.

Many of you know I gave up having a personal automobile after mine was involved in an accident, nearly forty years ago, for a number of reasons:

  1. Fossil fuels are non renewable.  What we use cannot be replaced, and should be used in a manner that is fair for future generations.
  2. That was before catalytic converters, so there was visual proof of the damage vehicle and power plant exhaust was doing to the air.
  3. It is tremendously wasteful to have a personal vehicle for nearly every person, especially when those cars just sit for over 90% of the time.
  4. The vast infrastructure of roads, bridges, parking garages, etc is also wasteful of resources and contribute to fossil fuel use (asphalt) and atmospheric warming.
  5. Even in those early days of environmental science, the effects of greenhouse gas emissions were known and being seen.
  6. As a scientist I knew what climate deniers were trying to say were lies.
  7. As climate prediction models were developed, they consistently under-predicted the detrimental effects of greenhouse gas emissions, so we realized we needed to be prepared for even greater environmental damages.
  8. As we learned more about feedback loops, acidification of the oceans, melting sea ice, and changing ocean currents, we realized how complex the climate is, and even further dangers from greenhouse gas emissions

I came to the conclusion that it is morally wrong to participate in a lifestyle that was rapidly consuming nonrenewable energy supplies at a rate that would both deny future generations this energy, and would overwhelm our environment in many different ways.

The two main ways an individual has to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is to reduce fossil fuel use for transportation and housing.  Living in a multi-tenant building with as few cubic feet as possible is about the best most of us can do regarding housing energy.  Encouraging the use of renewable energy for the building would also be good.

By far the greatest impact an individual has on greenhouse gas emissions,  under their control, is one’s transportation choices.   Gas powered engines are very inefficient in burning fossil fuel and produce significant greenhouse gas and other harmful emissions.

Friends, we must give up personal automobiles now.

I urge Friends to stop flying anywhere, now.  I urge Friends to change their own lifestyles, even if it means moving somewhere on a public transit line.

I urge our Quaker organizations to discourage travel to meetings, and on the part of their staffs.  We need to work on ways to work  together when we are not face to face.  I hear Friends say over and over, how important it is to meet face to face.  I understand that sentiment, but it is morally indefensible in light of our environmental disaster.






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