From the Earth Day Service reflection 4.23.23, by Judy DePue, Climate Team

Welcome on this day of April showers! Mother Earth gets a drink of water, enabling her to nurture us, in turn. And we, in turn, can help to nurture our Earth.

What does it mean to honor Earth Day every day? It means getting closer to the world view of our Native American brothers and sisters, who walked on the land where we’re sitting today. If you look on the cover of our Order of Service, now on the back cover, you will see that we recognize that “our church sits on the former hunting grounds of the Pokanoket people, leaders of what would become known as the Wampanoag Nation.” In the Chalice reading, we heard that we and the Earth are one. The Quaker meditation offered many ways to express this teaching. In the reading a few minutes ago, we heard that the Ancient ones taught us that the life of the Tree is the life of the People. And our UU values echo these teachings, as expressed in our 7th Principle: that we respect the interdependent web, of which we are all apart. All of these teachings will ground us, and inspire us, for the hard work needed to protect our Earth and our future together on it.

As most of us know, we are facing an existential challenge with the threat of climate change. It’s already here. The recent report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned us that we have a very short window, in which to prevent more serious tipping points. But there is hope, as we are all empowered to act.

We are an active church. You may also have noticed on the cover of our OOS that Murray Church is a certified Green Sanctuary. If you are new to Murray, this was a 5-year process, during which we completed 12 projects to address climate change, environmental justice, and our 7th Principle. These projects infused all aspects of Murray Church, including worship, religious education, community outreach, and sustainable practices in our building and grounds. There were small projects and big. For example, we replaced lights over our heads, and throughout the church, with LEDs, we replaced our chalice with one that uses plant-based fuel, and we now use Joys and Concerns pebbles instead of candles. These are a few of the ways we reduced our fossil fuel use. We earned our certification in June 2020. Everyone helped. But if we want to keep our Green Sanctuary green, the responsibility belongs to all of us to help in small and big ways.

Many of you are already doing this. It warms my heart whenever I hear someone say, we want to save paper by reducing photocopies. Many of you choose more sustainable products when purchasing supplies for coffee, for the Fair, or for other fundraisers. Speaking of coffee, before Covid we had coffee hour in the Unity Room. There many of us developed a habit of using our own coffee mug, instead of a paper cup. We washed our own mugs and stored them in a cupboard there, until next time. Now that we’ve moved Coffee hour to Fellowship Hall, we need to find a way to resume this habit, but without burdening our volunteer coffee hosts. A few of us are working on this. Stay tuned. Think of how many sacred trees we could save by using fewer paper cups!

I also want to recognize some unsung heroes who are working on bigger ways to keep our Green Sanctuary green. Roy Belcher never gave up on solar for Murray. He negotiated with our roofer to bring in a structural engineer to evaluate the strength of our roof. Unfortunately, the engineer confirmed that our roof cannot hold the weight of solar panels. However, we have another hero, in Charlie Adler who, along with Roy, are exploring the option of subscribing to a community solar field in our area. This would allow us to draw from renewable energy for our electricity use, while getting a partial discount on our church electric bill. Stay tuned. Another hero is Carol Konvalinka-Connolly, who along with RE chair Don Michaels, are planning to build an outdoor classroom for our Murray kids. Being out in nature can develop a curiosity and love of our natural world, which in turn can develop the passion to protect it. They are also learning that we are part of the web.

We now have more tools, to work with, than ever. The new Inflation Reduction Act, or IRA, provides funding for most households to reduce their fossil fuel use.

Did you know that 42% of energy-related emissions come from decisions that are made around the kitchen table of American homes. These decisions include: the type of car we drive, how we heat our home and water, how we cook our food, how we dry our clothes, and where our electricity comes from. We know how to produce clean energy. If we were to electrify everything, including our grid, our vehicles, and our buildings, we could reduce 80% of our emissions. The rest comes from industry and agriculture. Of course, we have a way to go to scale up to all of this.

But now, the Inflation Reduction Act gives us an electric bank account. There are 30% tax credits for residential efficiency and electrification upgrades. This applies to purchase and installation of heat pumps, heat-pump hot water heaters, electric panel upgrades, solar panels, and battery storage. Renters can also use some of these benefits. There are tax credits for electric vehicles, like $7500 for new and $4000 for used EVs; in 2024 these will be offered as direct rebates. Please see the insert in your OOS for resource links. Your phone can read the QR codes. These resources will also be reprinted with links in this week’s Murray Notes.

The IRA also provides funds for workforce training, builder incentives, and manufacturing incentives, along with funds to states and local governments, and to non-profits. For the first time, churches can get reduced rates for heat pumps and other efficiency upgrades. We’re watching these opportunities as they roll out.

These benefits add to our current state-funded initiatives to increase wind and solar energy for our electric grid, to electrify buses and trains, to improve building efficiencies, and to protect environmental justice communities in the process. Importantly, all of these measures will give all of us cleaner air to breathe, especially for the marginalized communities that often live in the shadow of dirty fuel operations.

In other words, there are now many opportunities and many tools to address climate change. We can all be part of the solution in big and small ways. All ways count. All are needed. In so doing, we honor our sacred relationship with the earth, with all species, and one another.

From the Earth Day worship, Sunday, April 23, 2023, by Dave Laferriere, member of the Climate Action Team

It does seem daunting at times when thinking about what as individuals, what can one person do about climate change. At the top of today’s order of service are these words by Desmond Tutu:

“Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.” 

Let’s look at some of the little bits we can do that – put together can make a difference.

Cover of The Climate Action HandbookI recently came across this book, The Climate Action Handbook, A Visual Guide to 100 Climate Solutions for Everyone by Heidi A. Roop, PhD. The timing was perfect, a few months earlier in Youth Group, the youth were thinking about what they could do and how frustrating it was. I’m going to use what’s in this book to highlight ways we can reduce our climate impact, educate others, at the same time get healthier, and maybe save some money.

This is from the book’s preface

  • “Something you care about is at risk from climate change. We each need to learn about the local and global consequences of these changes and find ways, large and small, to engage in solutions.”
  • “Facts and figures don’t necessarily change hearts and minds, but people doing things can.”

I hope that something I say may resonate with any of you and “empower you to evaluate, engage, and act.”

I’ve selected 22 action items of the 100 in The Climate Action Handbook with a short explanation after most, a few don’t need an explanation, they are more of a reminder.

Food and farming

  • Eat your broccoli, and pass on the meat.
    Consume 25% less meat and dairy. Start by eliminating one meal a week. Serve small portions or replace meat products with vegetables, grains, fruits, legumes like beans and lentils, you can reduce your climate impact and improve your health, and save some money. 
  • Cut down on food waste.
    It’s estimated that 40% of food in the United States is thrown away. Wasted food accounts for as much as 10% of global human-produced greenhouse gas emissions. Plan your meals, brush up on food storage skills, use scraps and leftovers in new recipes, then… compost
  • Compost, makes an impact at home, taking your food waste back into the soil, again to reduce your climate impact.

Shopping and consumer choices

  • Ditch bottled water. It takes 1,000 to 2,000 times more energy to produce bottled water than tap water.
  • Cut down on plastics. At the heart of plastics is fossil fuel. Around 40% of plastics produced are utilized in packaging and often single use, leating to near-immediate disposal.
  • Avoid microplastics. Tiny fragments and threads of plastics — are residue from synthetic clothing, personal care products, tire, disposal containers, and larger products as they are used and worn away– are called Microplastics. About the size of a sesame seed or smaller and have been documented to be in just about every corner of the globe — in oceans, our bodies, the food we eat and water we drink, in wildlife and shellfish, even in Antarctica.

Actions around the home

  • Be thoughtful about air-conditioning. Replace systems older than 10 years with new, high-efficiency models, install smart thermostats, avoid making your house an icebox, and weatherproof your home to keep cool air inside.
  • Go solar in any way you can
  • Light with LEDs, lighting accounts for around 15% of an average home’s electricity use, and the average household saves $225 in energy costs per year by using LED lighting.
  • Garden for a greener planet, as warming continues, selecting plants adapted to new climate conditions will help ensure a thriving ad resilient garden. Use hand tools or electrify to lessen your impact.
  • Reduce waste and recycle

Nature-based, natural solutions

  • Help keep forests healthy and intact, forests are considered “carbon sinks,” meaning they store or absorb more carbon than they produce. support your local land trust.
  • Support coastal wetlands conservation. Coastal areas offer a rich opportunity for storing carbon often referred to as “Blue Carbon.”

Health and well-being

  • Prepare for more pest. Protect yourself from ticks, get rid of standing water in your yards to keep misquitos from breeding
  • Express yourself creatively, Creative expression can help people connect with and engage with complex topics including climate change

Civic and community engagement

  • Vote in every election
  • Engage your elected officials
  • Support youth climate activism

Education and climate information

  • Act on behalf of children
  • Talk about climate issues with family and friends. Friends and family members are some of the voices we trust most on critical issues. WHILE 72% of American adults agree that global warming is happening, AND 64% of American adults think global warming is affecting the weather, ONLY 35% of American adults discuss global warming at least occasionally, AND 33% of Amerian adults hear about global warming in the media at least once a week.
  • Get social on social media, we can’t control the methods social media companies use to determine what content goes where, but we can point it out, debunk climate change information, “see something, say something.” Use facts and explain how the myth misleads.

These are only 22 items of the 100 listed in this book. Some of these actions we may already be doing, and maybe we can do them better. There are other actions from this list that we can consider and work them into our lives to reduce our climate impact, educate others, and together make a difference.

I am going to make this book old-school interactive by adding it to the Murray Library, with it’s highlighted text and tabs, for any of you to borrow and , feel free to add your own highlighted areas, add tabs, and make notes in the margins for others to find.