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Saturday, July 12, 2014

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Faith communities protect Earth

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It has been a challenge lately to stay positive on the topic of the environment and sustainability.

On the economics versus the environment front, there are ongoing legal battles around pipelines proposed to carry oil from the Alberta Oil Sands to termination points in the United States and Canada. For both the Keystone XL and the Northern Gateway pipelines, arguments being made pit the potential of creating new jobs against potential environmental damage.

From Canada’s perspective, changes in government policy specific to the Kyoto accord has effectively taken a somewhat faulty and less than global, greenhouse-gas (GHG) reduction effort off the table. 

In a Jan. 20 comment in the National Post, Canada’s Environment Minister Peter Kent confirmed our current goal for 2020 is 607 megatons of GHG emissions, a 17 per cent reduction from 2005 levels.

Kent has also stated that the approach in Canada is to focus on a sector-by-sector basis, starting with the transportation and electricity-generation sectors.

Perhaps one way to bring some personal meaning to all of this is to focus on what each of us can do, either individually, as part of a larger Jewish community, or as part of a larger inter-denominational community around us, to reduce our consumption of energy, whether in the combustion engines of our cars or the electricity we consume, as individuals or as a community.

Faith & the Common Good is an interfaith network of religious communities who understand the Earth is a sacred gift. The common thread among participating faith communities is that each believes that their faith tradition is a key source of wisdom in a great spiritual quest, that of protecting and healing the planet.

Greening Sacred Spaces (GSS) is a program developed by Faith & the Common Good to assist faith communities in taking concrete actions to create more sustainable and energy-efficient places of worship and to educate members of the community about ecological issues. GSS helps people of faith live out the call to protect the Earth within their own context. It also provides an opportunity to save money, help save the planet and engage in meaningful conversations about the spirituality of eco-sustainability.

From time to time, there have been synagogues in the Toronto community that have participated in meetings sponsored by Faith & the Common Good. Some of these synagogues have taken advantage of the resources created by the GSS team that can help organizations become more sustainable and cost efficient. Any faith group that chooses to participate in the effort can also take advantage of networking opportunities offered by Faith & the Common Good to learn about sustainability practices of other faith communities and what motivates their actions.

It is important to recognize that we in the Jewish community who believe in sustainable living and sustainable operations of our religious institutions can plug into a larger community and gain value through dialogue and action.

 

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