From a Christian perspective: What is sustainability?


Markus Vogt

The principle of sustainability was first developed in Europe within the economics of forestry.  Decades or even centuries are needed, until a forest has grown out to become workable timber.  Such time scales require a planning in long-term and intergenerational perspectives.  For this purpose, the German economist Hans-Carl von Carlowitz introduced the term Nachhaltigkeit in 1713.  “Sustainable” in his terms meant: to log wood only on such a scale that it regenerates in foreseeable future.  As a general guiding principle, sustainability aims at the integration of environmental management in material cycles and production flows. Continue reading From a Christian perspective: What is sustainability?

Children and Consumerism

The youngest delegate to Rio + 20 proudly shows his registration badge and gives a thumbs up for the event!

The Rio + 20 Earth Summit is all about “Sustainable Development.”  As we began to explore that topic, one of the workshops dealt with children and consumerism. Research has shown that 80% of consumer purchases are influenced by children, a direct result of the mass marketing to children.

One of the presenters, a parent herself, talked about the difficulty of constantly saying “no,” to requests for products just marketed on television. Her two sons have 3 video games, but their friends have 200 video games.  She also talked of how difficult it is to compete with television for children’s attention.

We saw the video documentary Target Market: Kids which used a wonderful phrase to describe the effects of too much television – “TV softens the muscles of the imagination.”  According to the film 80% of the food marketing is targeted to kids and it is mostly processed food that is being sold.  Shown various fresh vegetables, the kids in the film were unable to identify them.

A final speaker from the Alliance for Children advised that adults need to target children’s hands, inviting them into sustainable living by planting a flower, or growing some vegetables. And target their hearts through storytelling, rather than using a rationale approach which is beyond their comprehension.



This year marks the 50th anniversary of the publication of Rachel Carson’s book “Silent Spring”. It is also 40 years since the Club of Rome report “Limits to Growth”.

Catholics advised to beware of ‘greenwash’

Independent Catholic News

The international Catholic Coalition on Climate Change and its partners have always tried to encourage Catholics to beware of ‘green-wash’ where people and organizations (from schools to corporations) may do some of the right things for the environment – such as recycling and energy conservation – but have not integrated those efforts to what it means to live our faith fully including an embrace of the social teachings of the Church on the environment, human life and dignity, care for poor people, global solidarity, and so forth.   In a Vatican Radio interview for World Environment Day (5 June), Fr Joe Rozansky, OFM, director of the Order of Friars Minor Justice Peace and the Integrity of Creation in Rome, discusses the goals of his delegation to the Rio+20 UN Conference later this month.  He and his colleagues will ask the bigger questions both at the UN Conference and the ‘People’s Summit’ – a separate meeting of non-governmental organizations.  They will challenge the notion of the ‘green economy’ that, as currently framed, has the potential to be more green wash than the transformative work of linking these efforts to care for creation and care of our neighbor suffering environmental degradation and the effects of climate change.  To read the full story and listen to the interview go to: world-environment-day

South African campaigners unite against secrecy bill

The Guardian

JM Coetzee and Nadine Gordimer among those who say bill is country’s first attack on democracy since apartheid ended

Stewart Maclean and David Smith in Johannesburg

Nadine Gordimer: ‘The intention of the bill is to aid the government in the cover up of corruption.’ Photograph: Tiziana Fabi/AFP/Getty Images

Secrecy laws planned for South Africa fundamentally threaten free speech and investigative journalism, and could have a chilling effect on the rest of Africa, a united front of human rights lawyers, newspaper editors and Nobel prize-winning writers have warned in interviews with the Guardian.  The   protection of state information bill – dubbed the “secrecy bill” – envisages draconian penalties of up to 25 years in prison for whistleblowers and journalists who possess, leak or publish state secrets. It has been described as the first piece of legislation since the end of apartheid in 1994 to undermine South Africa’s democracy. Continue reading South African campaigners unite against secrecy bill

The Price of Inequality and the Myth of Opportunity

Common Dreams

by Joseph Stiglitz

America likes to think of itself as a land of opportunity, and others view it in much the same light. But, while we can all think of examples of Americans who rose to the top on their own, what really matters are the statistics: to what extent do an individual’s life chances depend on the income and education of his or her parents?

Nowadays, these numbers show that the American dream is a myth. There is less equality of opportunity in the United States today than there is in Europe – or, indeed, in any advanced industrial country for which there are data.  This is one of the reasons that America has the highest level of inequality of any of the advanced countries – and its gap with the rest has been widening. Continue reading The Price of Inequality and the Myth of Opportunity

Nuns, Rebuked by Rome, Plan Road Trip to Spotlight Social Issues

New York Times


In a spirited retort to the Vatican, a group of Roman Catholic nuns is planning a bus trip across nine states this month, stopping at homeless shelters, food pantries, schools and health care facilities run by nuns to highlight their work with the nation’s poor and disenfranchised. Continue reading Nuns, Rebuked by Rome, Plan Road Trip to Spotlight Social Issues

Activists Call for Creation of High Commissioner for Future Generations at Rio+20

Andrew Wong with Inuit children at Cape Dorset, near the southern tip of Baffin Island. Credit:Courtesy of Andrew Wong

By Stephen Leahy *

Andrew Wong with Inuit children at Cape Dorset, near the southern tip of Baffin Island. Credit:Courtesy of Andrew Wong
UXBRIDGE, Canada, Jun 5, 2012 (Tierramérica) – The theme of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) is “The Future We Want”, but there is no official role for youth nor a spokesperson for future generations who will inherit that future. Continue reading Activists Call for Creation of High Commissioner for Future Generations at Rio+20