What's Tony Thinking

Earth Day and One Thing You Can Do


While looking for something else I found a quote I had written down years ago but which I thought was lost. The one I was looking for I did not find. So it goes. Sometimes these days looking for stuff is a bit of treasure hunt. Here’s the found treasure. On “Moderation,” from Rabbi Norman Lamm.

“Moderation should never be confused with indecisiveness. On the contrary, a lack of self-confidence in one’s most basic commitments is often expressed in extremism. Only one who is sure of what he stands for can afford to be moderate. A strong heart can risk being an open heart.”

Isn’t that great? I liked it when I wrote it down perhaps a decade ago. I still like it. I’d say it’s only more relevant, even urgent, today.

Earth Day is coming up this Sunday, April 22. I want to highlight the work of a climate scientist who seems to me to embody Lamm’s “strong heart” risking being an open heart. The scientist is Katharine Hayhoe, who is director of the Climate Science Center at Texas Tech University. Hayhoe also appears in the PBS series on Climate Change, “Global Weirding.”

Hayhoe was interviewed recently by The Christian CenturyI link to that interview, but it may be behind a pay wall. Spending the $4.95 to be an on-line subscriber is worth it. Hayhoe is both a scientist and a Christian. And she is married to a pastor, Andrew Farley. Together they have written A Climate for Change: Global Warming Facts for Faith-Based Decisions. 

Hayhoe is clear and forthright about the facts of climate science and change. But she is a moderate who approaches those who are skeptics about climate change with respect, looking for common ground.

Here’s a bit from the interview I liked.

“Q: How do you respond to [ideas like] the world is going to end soon anyway (so why bother to be concerned)?

“A: My favorite Bible verse comes from II Timothy 1: 7, which says that ‘God has not given us a spirit of fear.’ This is a litmus test for Christians. If something is inducing fear in us, it is not from God. What God has given us is a spirit of love power, and a sound mind.

“In the New Testament, the apostle Paul was writing letters to people who expected that Christ would return tomorrow or next week. He makes it very clear that although we don’t know the day and the hour, we are not to sit on our hands waiting for him to return, and we are certainly not to tremble in fear. We are to do good works, which include loving and caring for others. And today, that includes addressing global issues like climate change that disproportionately impact the most vulnerable of us.”

And the one thing you might do on Earth Day (that is, if you live in Seattle)? In my capacity as a Urban Naturalist I will be leading an Earth Day Beach Clean-Up at Seattle’s Discovery Park on Sunday, April 22, 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. Join me. We meet at the Visitor Center near the park’s East Entrance at 2:00. When we get to the park’s beaches our real concern in not just litter, but plastic and particularly the kind of small plastic bits that fish and waterfowl ingest, thinking it edible. It can be a death sentence to these creatures.

A beach clean up is a small thing. But small things, we have it on good authority (mustard seeds and all that), matter. This one usually has a big turnout of kids, so it’s an opportunity for environmental education with the younger generation and a chance for parents and children to work together doing service. Such experiences with one’s parents are, according to research, highly impactful for children.

Here’s a bit of a follow up on the above. Seattle is slated to go straw-less this summer to reduce plastic in the water. Despite that it is estimated that the volume of plastic in the ocean by 2050 will outweigh that of fish.




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