Salvadoran Bishops: The Dangers of Mining

21 August 08 | Posted in Events, Global Catholic, Government, Health, Stewardship

The Catholic bishops in El Salvador put forth their stance on mining in the country a little more than a year ago in the declaration: Let’s Take Care of Everyone’s Home. It is a strong, clear statement about the dangers of precious metals mining.  The burgeoning gold and silver mines are primarily operated by Canadian companies and subject only to light regulation.

“Our small country is the place where God the Creator called us to life. This is the portion of the world that he has trusted us to take care of and use according to his will: ‘Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it.’ (Gen 1:28). But this blessed Earth that we love so dearly, suffers an increasing and insensitive deterioration. We all have a responsibility to conserve and defend it because the environment is ‘the house of all’: it is ours and that of future generations.”

“From this perspective of faith we wish to share with you our pastoral vision on a problem that deeply worries us: the possibility that mining of precious metals is authorized, to pen cast mining or subterranean mining, mainly in the northern part of our country.”

“The experience in brother and neighboring countries, that have permitted gold and silver mining, is truly sad and lamentable. The bishops of those nations have raised their voice. We also wish to pronounce ourselves against (mining) before it is too late.”

SHARE Foundation recently sponsored a trip to the U.S.  for Bishop Gregorio Rosa Chavez, auxiliary Bishop of San Salvador. Addressing a group in Kansas City, he said the mines have the potential to destroy El Salvador’s ecological system. bishop-rosa.jpg

“You know our country is very small,” he said. “Twenty-thousand kilometers (12,400 miles) square. Very crowded, 6 million people, or 300 people on each kilometer square. The mines are situated in the north of the country and the drinking water comes from the north. If the water is poisoned, everyone would be.”

The argument that such mining operations help the Salvadoran economy and provide jobs is fallacious, he said. “How much money remains in the country?” Bishop Chavez asked. “Two percent. There is no proportion between the profits and the damages.”

White House Blocks Scientific Testimony on Global Warming

Jason Burnett, 31, a Stamford-trained economist, was until June 9 a senior official with the Environmental Protection Agency. He resigned, and is spending some time working for the election of Barack Obama to the presidency.

Apparently, he wasn’t regarded highly by environmentalists on his appointment to the EPA, but he should be one of their biggest heros, now.

Burnett charges that Vice President Cheney’s office urged him to delete or water down testimony to Congress by top administration officials on the impacts of global warming.

Burnett also said the White House blocked an effort by EPA to issue an endangerment finding, a conclusion that climate change is a threat to the public. Under a Supreme Court ruling last year, the finding would have forced the administration to cut emissions.

In October 2007, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Julie Gerberding was scheduled to testify before the Senate Environmental and Public Works Committee. Burnett said he was asked by Cheney’s office and the White House Council on Environmental Quality to “work with CDC to remove from the testimony any discussion of human health consequences of climate change.”

Burnett refused, saying the testimony was “fundamentally accurate.” It included examples of how climate change is likely to have “a significant impact” on public health.

But the Office of Management and Budget later deleted six of twelve pages of testimony, including sections suggesting climate change could lead to a rise in infectious diseases, air pollution, food and water scarcity and extreme weather events.

The issue of whether greenhouse gases endanger public health or welfare is significant because a finding by the EPA that they do would require the agency to regulate them under the terms of the federal Clean Air Act, spurring new rules across a range of industries.

Environmentalists, Congressional Democrats, and officials in more than a dozen states have sought to prod the EPA to reach a decision on the matter, following a Supreme Court ruling last year that greenhouse gases are pollutants and can be regulated under EPA’s existing authority. greenhouse-gas.jpg

But the Bush administration has resisted, arguing that the economy-wide regulations of such emissions could cripple the U.S. economy.

Burnett said he was told to retract the document because a bill to raise fuel efficiency standards for vehicles, which was moving through Congress at the time, would make the endangerment finding moot. But he said the logic was flawed.

“The energy bill did not change the science, it did not change the law,” Burnett said, adding, “EPA still has a responsibility to respond to the Supreme Court.”

“Healing Ourselves Healing Our Planet”

12 May 08 | Posted in Arts and Letters, Health, U.S. Catholic

This weekend workshop will explore ways we understand the spirituality of human health and sacred creation.

Participants will reflect on the work of Thomas Berry, Sandra Schneiders, the World Council of Churches and others in consideration of peace, creation and the environment. Berry has written “Human health is a sub-system of Earth’s health. You cannot have well humans on a sick planet.” The featured speaker is Dennis Patrick O’Hara, DC, ND, Ph.D., a professor of ethics and eco-theology at St. Michael’s College. 

The program will be held at Calvary Retreat Center, located 40 minutes west of Boston.  Offering: $225, which includes room, program and meals.dennis_ohara_march_04.jpg

The Jungle – Redux

20 February 08 | Posted in Food, Health, Sin Bin

I saw a sickening video on the news the other day. It showed dairy cows-some sick, some dying, and some trying to crawl with what looked like broken legs-prodded and beaten by workers at a slaughterhouse trying to get them up and moving to be butchered. The video was shot by an undercover investigator this past fall, and released a few days ago by the Humane Society.

See the video – WARNING – you won’t look at the freshly wrapped beef in the supermarket the same way again.

Where were the U.S. Department of Agriculture agents and inspectors that are supposed to be on watch at these places?  This abuse couldn’t have been missed!

The video shows Hallmark Meat Packing Co. workers administering repeated electric shocks to “downed cows”–animals that are too sick, weak or otherwise unable to stand on their own. Workers are seen kicking cows in the face, jabbing them near their eyes, ramming them with a forklift and shooting high-intensity water up their noses in an effort to force them to their feet for slaughter.humane-cow.jpg

This animal abuse video led to the largest recall of beef-143 million pounds-by the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture. But 37 million pounds had already gone to schools, and officials fear it has been eaten by children.

Hallmark Meat Packing Co., based in Chino, CA, sells beef to its sister company, Westlake Meat, which distributes it to various federal programs, including the National School Lunch Program.

Downed cows are more easily contaminated and may carry harmful diseases. U.S. Dept. of Agriculture regulations prohibit allowing disabled or contaminated animals into the food supply.

“This should serve as a five-alarm call to action for Congress and the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture,” said Wayne Pacelle, Humane Society president. “Our government simply must act quickly both to guarantee the most basic level of humane treatment for farm animals and to protect America’s most vulnerable people–our children, needy families and the elderly–from potentially dangerous food.”

Westland Meat Packing Co. issued a statement saying the two workers caught on video abusing the cows had been fired, and their supervisor suspended. It didn’t say anything about what happened to the meat.