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About Earthcare Witness

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David Wixom, St. Louis Monthly Meeting and ILYM Representative to QEW & FCNL

This is a journey of understanding, toward God and that divine spark of life, as experienced by me as a result of representing Illinois Yearly Meeting to Quaker Earthcare Witness (QEW). It is a cause for hope. This is a universal and moral issue not solely an environmental issue. This is not just an issue for future generations; it is an issue of our own connection with the inner light, “our dignity,” our “common origin, of mutual belonging, and of a future to be shared with everyone” (Pope Francis). What follows is the essence of what I have learned.

Our planet is not that big; look around at how we humans as a part of nature have altered most of what we see. The systems which support life, the cycles of oxygen and carbon dioxide exchange, of water distribu-tion as snow and ice, liquid and vapor, and the ecological habitats of living organisms, are disrupted and collapsing at an ever increasing rate. The systems which support our life, the clean air, the clean water, and the ability to produce food, are not being replaced at sustainable rates.

Climate change is currently a factor in wars, immigration, poverty and famine. On a more personal level, think about driving in rush hour traffic during one of the increasingly severe, increasingly frequent thunderstorms. We are in and the cause of the sixth great extinction of life in the 543 million years of life on our planet. Our species has so upset the balance of life, that if tomorrow we arrive at zero net carbon added to the atmosphere, our climate would continue to degrade and life for humans (though some kind life will survive) would be impossible. As things are now our environmental problems will come to dwarf all other problems.

However, our species can change; we can restore our earth and bring it back to sustainability, to a kind of life that we will recognize, life can go on; but each year delay makes it harder, less possible and more expensive. We must add less carbon and cause more carbon removal from the atmosphere.

I have learned from reading Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming, edited by Paul Hawken. The top ten areas of concentration of 80 solutions in terms of the size of impact are refrigerant management, land use, land wind turbines, reduced food waste, eating plant rich diets, saving tropical forests, educating females, encouraging family planning, solar farms, sovopasture, and capturing roof-top solar. Worldwide, the hope is that even 30 solutions will result in about 1,000 to 1,500 equivalent gigatons of carbon dioxide being removed annually from the atmosphere.  

So why should one of us, as a person in about seven billion, even try? A person trying offers bears witness to our testimonies of peace, simplicity and integrity and additionally offers a reduced carbon foot print, a sense of independence, a way of overcoming of helplessness, and ties together the roles of consumer, citizen, and producer of carbon sequestration. Home garden-ing is an example. During World War II “gardens supplied as much as 40 percent of the food Americans ate” (Hawken). As world population increases, the behaviors of an individual and our society are more closely joined. Additional actions, in order of significance, an individual or a community can address and engage in include electric vehicles, district heating, insulation, LED home lighting, biomass energy, alternative cement, mass transit, solar hot water, heat pumps, home water saving, hybrid cars, perennial biomass, walkable cites, home recycling, smart thermostats, bicycling and biking infrastructure, small methane digesters, high speed rail, electric bikes, recycled paper, water distribution, net zero building and home retrofitting (Hawken).