Eco-Justice and Carbon Footprints
By Ellen Howie
As a registered nurse I am naturally drawn to arenas of human suffering while looking for ways that intervention may alleviate the suffering.
This year I attended Ecumenical Advocacy Days in Washington D.C. in March. During my four days there, the firsthand accounts of how global warming and rising seas are affecting island peoples in the Pacific were especially poignant. Small islands are now in the position of relocating entire populations, and many elders are refusing to leave their birthplace. There are no formal counseling services for them, and the support of the younger generations is gone. This situation of suffering has many implications for global citizens.
At Ecumenical Advocacy Days, we heard many times that the carbon footprint of our nation in the use of fossil fuels is enormous. Climate changes already cause more population displacement than war and persecution, according to the International Red Cross.
After learning these things, what can one person do to make a difference? How can my family, village, church, and denomination become increasingly aware of the implications of our lifestyle on the peoples of the world? How do I keep in my heart and prayers the plight of all the creatures and all the gifts of our universe so as to begin the long march toward eco-justice and healing for the peoples like the elders who find themselves called to migrate to a whole new life?
I am determined to explore eating locally, and joining with others at home and in Albany Synod in leading the way by organizing local eating and educating people about it. My husband and I have cancelled our trash collection and are now composting. We are using our local farmers' market. Betty Ketcham and I will be leading programs at our library on practical ways we can all be environmentally sensitive. At Altamont Reformed Church, Betty and I have added two books to the library which we purchased while at Ecumenical Advocacy Days:
At our church "Rally Day" we will have a breakfast of local foods and include display material. Betty, Becky Hudak, and I are also writing articles like this that spread the word about Ecumenical Advocacy Days. It's a beginning for me, and a way to keep us all on the long march of care to which we are called!
Ellen Howie, Becky Hudak, and Betty Ketcham received scholarships from the Witness Commission of Albany Synod and the RCA to attend Ecumenical Advocacy Days. To learn more, visit www.advocacydays.org.