Our Consumption Of Earth’s Natural Resources Has More Than Tripled In 40 Years

Huffington Post
Dominique Mosbergen Reporter, The Huffington Post

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We’ll need 180 billion tons of material annually to meet demand by 2050 if the world continues to use resources at the same rate it does today, the UN report finds. (Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)

Limestone and steel for our homes, wheat and vegetables for our dinner, fossil fuels for our industries: we rely heavily on our planet’s natural resources to survive.

Yet we’re using up these resources at such an unsustainable pace that we may be “irreversibly” depleting some of them ― and critically damaging our Earth in the process, according to a new United Nations report.

The report from the International Resource Panel, part of the UN Environment Program, said extraction of primary materials has more than tripled in 40 years. Rising consumption driven by a rapidly growing middle class is fueling the rate.

In 1970, about 22 billion tons of primary materials were extracted from the Earth. These included metals, fossil fuels like coal, and other natural resources, such as timber and cereals. In 2010, that number had ballooned to 70 billion tons.

We’ll need 180 billion tons of material annually to meet demand by 2050 if the world continues to use resources at the same rate it does today, the report estimates.

“The alarming rate at which materials are now being extracted is already having a severe impact on human health and people’s quality of life,” said IRP co-chair Alicia Bárcena Ibarra in a press release about the report, published late last month. “It shows that the prevailing patterns of production and consumption are unsustainable.”

“We urgently need to address this problem before we have irreversibly depleted the resources that power our economies and lift people out of poverty,” she added. “This deeply complex problem, one of humanity’s biggest tests yet, calls for a rethink of the governance of natural resource extraction to maximize its contribution to sustainable development at all levels.”

The increase in the use of fossil fuels, metals and other primary materials fuels climate change, according to the IRP. Other dire environmental consequences include higher levels of acidification and eutrophication of soils and water bodies, increased biodiversity loss, more soil erosion and increasing amounts of waste and pollution.

There’s an urgent need to significantly reduce the amount of primary materials used to lessen these impacts, the report said. Material efficiency needs to improve to do this and “decoupling escalating material use from economic growth is … imperative.”

Decoupling ― the ability of an economy to grow without a corresponding increase in its environmental footprint ― “requires well-designed policies,” the report said. Investments in research and development, as well as improved public policy and financing, will be critical.

The report also revealed the enormously uneven distribution of material use worldwide. “The richest countries consume on average 10 times as many materials as the poorest countries, and twice the world average,” it said.

The IRP ranked countries by the size of their per capita material footprints, or the amount of material required for total consumption and capital investment.

Europe and North America, which had annual per capita material footprints of about 20 and 25 tons respectively in 2010, topped the list. In contrast, the footprints for Asia-Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean were between 9 and 10 tons. Africa’s was below 3 tons.

Black women faced racism in pursuing religious vocations, says speaker

Catholic News Service
By Andrew Nelson | Catholic News Service

ATLANTA (CNS) — Black women desiring to serve a life devoted to the Catholic faith were not welcomed by religious communities with anti-black acceptance requirements from the early 19th century to the middle of the 20th century, said historian Shannen Dee Williams.

GEORGIA LCWR ASSEMBLY
Shannen Dee Williams, assistant professor in the department of history at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, addresses the Leadership Conference of Women Religious assembly in Atlanta Aug. 10. She spoke about racism and U.S. religious life. (CNS photo/Michael Alexander, Georgia Bulletin) See LCWR-VOCATIONS-RACISM Aug. 16, 2016.

Those who could gain admittance faced discrimination from their fellow sisters, she added.

“Black sisters matter, but they constitute a dangerous memory for the church,” said Williams, assistant professor of history at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville.

She was joined by Sister Anita Baird, a Daughter of the Heart of Mary, and Sister Dawn Tomaszewski, general superior of the Sisters of Providence, on an Aug. 12 panel discussing racism in religious life at the assembly of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious in Atlanta.

Williams upcoming book is called “Subversive Habits: Black Nuns and the Long Struggle to Desegregate Catholic America.” It was the subject of her doctoral dissertation at Rutgers University.

Later, scores of sisters walked from the LCWR assembly being held in the Hilton Atlanta to Centennial Olympic Park to pray on the plaza outside the Center for Civil and Human Rights, which is dedicated to the achievements of the U.S. civil rights and worldwide human rights movements.

Earlier, the participants wrote on slips of paper when they and their religious communities have not welcomed people of color. The slips became a “chain of bondage,” which was later broken after prayers of lamentation and a blessing.

Williams’ presentation was titled “Shattering the Silence: Black Women and the Challenge of History.

Continue reading Black women faced racism in pursuing religious vocations, says speaker

Campaigns End on Election Day. Revolutions Don’t.

Common Dreams
Jim Hightower

The fervent prayer of old-line Democratic operatives and corporate funders is that the Sanders Storm will dissipate now that Hillary Clinton will get the nomination, thus allowing politics — as — usual to reestablish its grip on the system.

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‘Despite Sanders supporters’ natural disappointment that their efforts ended short of the Oval Office, the majority are not petulantly giving up on politics, as most pundits predict,’ writes Hightower. (Photo: Stephen Melkisethian/flickr/cc)

Here’s why I think they’re dead wrong: First, whatever else you think of Clinton, she’s certainly smart, savvy, and accomplished, and she didn’t come this far by ignoring important shifts in the political winds. As Sanders’ tub-thumping message drew huge crowds, new voters, and that deep pool of small donors, she adjusted her wings to try riding some of the powerful thermals rising from America’s grassroots. A career-long corporate Democrat, Clinton began sounding more and more like Sanders, sympathizing with the rising fury of working-class families and becoming at least Bernie-lite on several populist proposals.

You can view her adaptations as hopeful or hopelessly cynical, but the point is that Clinton recognizes that a new power is loose on the land. Understanding that the same old Bill and Barack moderate corporatism won’t charge up the crowds she needs in November, she’s scrambling to tap the electric populism of the Bernie Rebellion.

“Unlike the political and media establishment, which treats elections as periodic games to be ‘won’ with pollsters, funders, and tricksters, this populist team is engaged in REAL politics.”

This rebellious spark is the true hope of a moribund Democratic Party that registers only 29 percent of eligible voters. Far from wishing away the energetic millions who “Feel the Bern,” entrenched Democratic elders should beg these hot—blooded activists to revitalize the party. In fact, a June poll by Reuters/Ipsos found that three quarters of Democrats (including Hillary backers) want Sanders to have a “major role” in shaping the party’s positions, and two-thirds wanted him as her VP choice.

Think about it: While Bernie was the oldest candidate running for president, in heart, soul, vigor, and vision he is by far the youngest. He won the majority of voters under 45 years old and a stunning 71 percent of under-30 voters. In the under-30 demographic, Bernie even won decisively among women, including African-Americans and Latinas. He also dominated among independents who voted Democratic. There’s the future.

Continue reading Campaigns End on Election Day. Revolutions Don’t.

For the displaced of Rio, ‘The Olympics has nothing to do with our story’

Washington Post
By Sally Jenkins

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An estimated 60,000 people who lost homes to the Rio Games; this man refused to allow his to be one of them.

RIO DE JANEIRO — Just over there, the dolphin-backed Michael Phelps glides through another heat. Over here, a lone ramshackle favela house practically leans against the Olympic Park where Phelps swims. Just over there, Simone Biles does a breathtaking handspring. Over here, the sodium stadium lights glint on the scarred hardpan that was once a vibrant community before it was bulldozed to make room for the Rio Games.

Just over there, the International Broadcast Center rises like a monolith, while over here it casts a shadow over the listing sheet metal roof of Delmo de Oliveira’s favela house, which sits directly across the parking lot. Just over there, Katie Ledecky lashes through the water, but over here there is no crowd noise, just a young man playing guitar for a handful of residents who refused to be evicted even as the Games begin.

Just over there, International Olympic Committee members enjoy prime seating and dine on a per diem of $450 a day, while over here, the Brazilian minimum wage amounts to $228 a month, and nobody has a ticket to the Olympics, even though it’s just 50 yards away, “If they didn’t want us to stay here, I don’t imagine they’ll invite us inside,” says Maria Da Penha Macena, 51.

The extent to which the Olympic “movement” has become a destructive force, driven by an officialdom whose signature is indifference, can be seen just outside the Olympic Park fences, and I mean just outside. The Vila Autodromo favela was once a working-class neighborhood of 3,000 residents curling around a lagoon and the perimeter of the park. Now all that’s left is Olympic parking lot tarmac, raw dirt and 20 tiny white utilitarian cottages, built grudgingly by the city as a concession to a core of families who refused to leave even as their homes were demolished. For a while, some of them lived in converted shipping containers. One of the new cottages bears a sign: “Museum of the Evicted,” it reads.

Ten Days For Peace Message from Bishops of Japan

Independent Catholic News

Building peace begins within ourselves, Joseph Mitsuaki Takami, Archbishop of Nagasaki and President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan says in the following message:

japanIn response to the strong “Appeal for Peace” at Hiroshima by Saint Pope John Paul II on February 25, 1981, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan designated the days from August 6 to 15 as “Ten Days for Peace.” These days were chosen because the Hiroshima and Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Memorial Days and the Commemoration Day for the end of World War II all occur in this period. This year marks the 35th time we mark this period.

It goes without saying that our prayers for peace, and the responsibility to learn and think about peace and to act for peace are never limited to this period. For example, we must not forget Okinawa Memorial Day on June 23. We must pray for peace, learn and think about peace and act for whatever is needed for peace throughout the year. And yet, we are required to spend this particular period giving even more attention than usual to peace.

World peace has been shattered and is constantly threatened by such events as the Syrian War, terrorist activities by fundamentalists and others, armed conflicts involving control of resources and hegemonic shows of force. Numerous people including children and women are killed or injured, forced to leave home, deprived of a normal life and even life itself. Terrorist attacks occur in major cities in Europe, the United States or in Muslim nations. Many Japanese people have become victims. Terrorist attacks are waiting to happen at anytime and anywhere in the world. That is why we pray that powers in both Asia and the West will move toward reconciliation rather than a sort of cold war, and that the spirit of peace enshrined in the European Union (EU) will spread globally and tensions in East Asia will be reduced. US President Obama stressed in his speeches seven years ago in Prague and this past May in Hiroshima that we seek and pursue “a world without nuclear weapons.”
Continue reading Ten Days For Peace Message from Bishops of Japan

Statement of Solidarity

raceSISTERS and ASSOCIATES of NOTRE DAME de NAMUR

join in solidarity with all people suffering the individual and systemic violence whose root cause is racism.

As we struggle with our own racism, we work to change our systems to be more inclusive, transparent and respectful.  We seek to do this in a non-violent manner which creates neither victims nor oppressors.

In order to build the Beloved Community, we strive to see the connections between systemic racism and the lack of affordable housing, quality health care, sustainable wages and equal educational opportunities.

As people of faith who believe in the goodness of God, we must acknowledge and examine our own white privilege and its role in creating unjust systems which exist within our society.

The present crisis challenges us to join with others in prayer, reflection and action in a spirit of HOPE.

(This statement is an outgrowth of ‘Idea Bowl’ conversation on Anti-Racism held at the East/West National Gathering, July 9, 2016 in Baltimore, MD.  It is the hope of those involved in the conversation that this statement be distributed widely within our various networks i.e. colleagues, co-workers, family members etc.)

Pope: the rich who exploit the poor are bloodsuckers

Vatican Radio
The rich who suck the blood of the poor

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Pope Francis preaches during the morning Mass at the Casa Santa Marta. – OSS_ROM

The day’s first reading, taken from the Letter of Saint James, is a forceful warning to the rich who accumulate wealth by exploiting the people. “Riches in themselves are good,” the Pope explained, but they are “relative, not absolute” goods. He criticized the so-called “theology of prosperity”— according to which “God shows you that you are just if He give you great riches,” saying those who follow it are mistaken. The problem lies in being attached to wealth, because, as the Pope recalled, “You cannot serve both God and riches.” These become “chains” that “take away the freedom to follow Jesus.” In the reading, St James writes, “Behold, the wages you withheld from the workers who harvested your fields are crying aloud; and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty.”
When riches are created by exploiting the people, by those rich people who exploit [others], they take advantage of the work of the people, and those poor people become slaves. We think of the here and now, the same thing happens all over the world. “I want to work.” “Good, they’ll make you a contract, from September to June.” Without a pension, without health care… Then they suspend it, and in July and August they have to eat air. And in September, they laugh at you about it. Those who do that are true bloodsuckers, and they live by spilling the blood of the people who they make slaves of labour.

Continue reading Pope: the rich who exploit the poor are bloodsuckers

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