No Excuses: Solar On Every Church-Guest Post By Deacon Wil Ranney

Is there anyone out there that still needs to be convinced of the devastating effect that climate change has on the world’s poor? Is there anyone out there that still needs to be convinced that people (we) are creating the problem? Is there anyone out there not convicted by Scripture to be good stewards of the earth?

If you can answer yes to one of those questions, email me, we’ll talk.

The next question is a harder. Is there anyone out there who doesn’t feel like they can make a difference? This is where Solar comes in.

Solar’s PR Problem

Solar has something of a PR problem, one that’s cleverly perpetuated by fossil fuel lobbies. In the 70’s when solar first hit the scene, people quickly discovered how pathetic solar was at harvesting energy. They could only capture about 10% of the energy that was hitting them. However, even in the last five years, there have been major improvements made in Solar panel efficiency. Some of these improvements have been made right hear in Iowa.

The latest solar innovations are pushing 40% efficiency, meaning we’ve experienced a 400% increase! The cheapest mass market options are around 25% efficient, still great. This is not your parent’s solar we’re talking about!

It’s Too Cloudy in Iowa

Germany, has roughly the same cloud cover as Iowa, and had a day last month where 75% of their power came from solar! They average above 30%.

It Takes Too Long to Get Your Money Back

According to CleanTechnica, the average payback for a solar project in Iowa is 17 years. Remember, these figures are based on older technology. 17 years might seam like a long time, but divide that by 100 and you’ll see that your rate of return is about 5.8% a year! What other safe investment will give you that rate of return. You’d be lucky to get .58%.

Where Will We Find the Money?

This takes a little creativity, but not too much. There are investment boards (like the Board of Pensions) that are always looking for safe investments and would be natural partners. Not surprisingly, there are lots of finance companies that are popping up to help out with solar projects because to the reliable rate of the return. Many of these are non-profit. Also, you could always offer bond options to your congregants. Solar panels are hardy, and last more than 25 years, which means at least 8 years of pure profit.

It Doesn’t Look “Churchy”

Sure it won’t fit in with your Akron Plan, red brick building; but what says “churchy” more than putting your commitment to God’s justice on public display!

Do You Have the Will?

It all comes down to this question. There are no other excuses that make sense. This is the very picture of a “win win” situation. There is little know financial risk and you meaningfully reduce your carbon emissions. What are we waiting for Iowa?

Photo: By Dietrich Krieger (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

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Iowa Storm Response

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With reports of severe weather rolling in every day, I wanted to share this update from Rev. Catie Newman, Disaster Response Coordinator of Iowa. Click these links for a report on the damages in Iowa June 16 and June 18 . For contact information and information on how your faith community can best respond:

Suggested Action Steps for Iowa Response

1. Please pray for everyone affected by the water and flooding! We are expecting more rain and that means more runoff and that means more water everywhere!! Several more towns downstream are at risk if we get much more rain, AND because we are still “underwater” that there is not too much for volunteers to do at this time, we are however getting ready for when we can help.

2. We are collecting Clean-up buckets and clean-up supplies and getting them in place,

3. I anticipate that within the next week to 10 days we will begin needing volunteers to help clean outflooded homes, basements, businesses etc…after that we will have a time where things need to dry out and wait, after that we will need volunteers for longer term and rebuilding work.

4. NOW is the time to start planning when you can come and getting a team together. At this time we will want to have teams led by UMVIM Trained volunteer leaders (and yes!! we can get some trainings in right now!!) please contact Melissa Bracht-Wagner for scheduling(melisa.brachtwagner@yahoo.com)

5. There are UMC congregations close-by that you can contact for housing, please do not plan to stay in the town that you are volunteering in, really no space or useable water is available and we do not want to be a burden on top of the flooding. We would hope that teams will come prepared to be self-sufficient, food, tools, sleeping arrangements. If this interests you, send an email to me (Catie Newman, disaster.response@iaumc.org or johnstruckfarm@wiate.net) with the dates you are looking at and how many people on your team, we will put you in contact with the contact person in the town that needs your help.

6. Right now I need some help moving things around, delivering water and clean-up buckets and supplies and general assistance. I would prefer to have people volunteer with a partner, so that we always have a team. IF you have a vehicle that can pull a trailer (loaded with water, we have the trailer) and have a day to volunteer (in the next 14 days) please let me know 712-899-4067 phone or text, I can offer a church floor for sleeping and a place to shower.

Keep Alert, the weather forecasters are predicting, more and more serious weather systems. This can and will affect all of us.

Be Well

Catie and John Newman
IAUMC Disaster Response Coordinators
disaster.response@iaumc.org
712-899-4067 phone or text

It takes ALL of us to make a difference for EACH of us!

 

Climate Justice

-Isaiah 58:6-12

In the Spring of 2009, a friend and I walked into the Federal Building in Des Moines, IA with two copies of a petition urging our Senators to support comprehensive energy reform related to carbon emissions at the the UN Climate Summit in Copenhagen which was scheduled for later in the year.

Our petitions were made out of plywood and were about 3 feet square. They were cutout in the shape of the logo for 350.org, a global, grassroots organizing effort started by Bill McKibben. From their own website:

The number 350 means climate safety: to preserve a livable planet, scientists tell us we must reduce the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere from its current level of 400 parts per million to below 350 ppm.

On those plywood cutouts, we had collected signatures from concerned people in our community, people who, like us, believed that not only individual conservation, but also significant political and economic will needed to be marshaled to respond to increasing climate crisis across the world.

First, let me say that if you have never hand-delivered a petition or letter to one of your elected representatives, you should definitely do so.  Taking the time to deliver our petitions and sit down with aids of both Senator Harkin and Senator Grassley was a profoundly empowering experience.  To know that we, as citizens, have such easy access to our elected officials is amazing.  To walk two 3-ft. plywood petitions past security guards, step on an elevator, walk down a hall, and sit down in the offices of those we have entrusted with political power, to exercise our own rights and responsibilities as voting Americans is amazing.

The petitions were not the beginning of our action, however, but rather its culmination.  My friend, after seeing McKibben at a Christian Educator’s Fellowship event in Albuquerque, NM, was on fire to push for change. She came back to Ames, IA and started organizing a climate awareness event. She pulled together interested people and we met to make signs, engage public speakers, plan intergenerational activities, and offer people the opportunity to voice their opinion about climate change, fossil fuel emissions, energy policy and our global commitment to the poorest and least industrialized nations of the world. Together, a small group of people planned a half-day of activity, learning and action set for a Saturday in late May.

I wish I could say we had an overwhelming turnout. I wish I could say that our United Methodist Church members swarmed to add their names to the petition. I wish I could say that the Bishop’s Call to Action titled God’s Renewed Creation: A Call to Hope and Action had motivated many of our United Methodist connections to offer to help host, fund, or simply participate in the event. I wish I could say that our relationship connections were strong enough that our UM friends and colleagues simply showed up because we asked them to.

If you follow the news on climate change, you will know that the UN Climate Summit did not make any substantial change in the ways in which carbon emissions are regulated. The decision was made to “wait until 2015” instead.

In November of 2013, members of the Philippine delegation, along with members from 132 other nations walked out of the Warsaw climate change conference after discussion about “loss and damage” stalled.  Naderev Saño, lead negotiator of the Philippine delegation, went on a voluntary fast , declaring,

“In solidarity with Filipinos who are now scrounging for food back home, and with my brother who has not had food for the last three days, with all due respect Mr. President, I will now commence a voluntary fasting and I will refuse to eat food here during this COP, until a meaningful outcome is in sight.”

This conference was held a mere 13 days after Typhoon Haiyan made landfall in the Philippines.  Typhoon Haiyan is the strongest typhoon ever to have made landfall. [*] United Methodist Committee on Relief, of course was there. Is there. American United Methodist donations of goods, energy, time, and dollars, the “loss and damage” recovery side of mission, are there.  We are people who care.  We respond.

But . . . .

Why don’t we speak up more here at home?  Why aren’t we advocating, legislating, organizing, boycotting, fasting, resisting, educating, and changing the conversation as it relates to climate change? As it pertains to environmental degradation? Why is it so much easier to spend the dollars of pity, than it is to invest in the bonds of kinship?  Why, when it comes to signing petitions, talking with our elected leaders, or discussing the latest crop prices, aren’t we more aware of the importance of thinking not first of ourselves and what we may have to lose, but rather of those whose homes, livelihoods, lives, and very existence are being lost as you read this?

As we celebrate Human Relations Sunday and lift up the life and legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr., I want to echo his sentiments that social action is a moral imperative, that

“Non-cooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is cooperation with good.”[*]

When our brothers and sisters in island nations, such as the Philippines and the Republic of the Maldives say, “We need change,” why can’t we take them at their word?  When our brothers and sisters in North and South Sudan are pushed to war because of the growing band of desert across the Northern part of the African continent, why do we insist that climate change isn’t real?   When the acres of arable land are no longer sufficient to feed the people of the planet, how do we entertain notions that it is OK to plant sugar cane for fuel or to ignore the voices of farmers who, through proprietary technology and corporate patents, are no longer allowed to save seeds?

I hear you saying, “Wait.”  I hear you saying, “Now is not the time.”  I hear you saying, “I’m just not convinced.”  I hear you saying, “‘Those are social issues, with which the gospel has no real concern.'”[*] Yet, as I look at all the photographs from the Philippines in 2013, from the East Coast in 2012, from Joplin in 2011, from Iowa in 2008, and from Louisiana in 2005, I feel compelled to commend these words from Martin Luther King, Jr. to you: 

“I must make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers. First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate . . . Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection. . .

So often the contemporary church is a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. So often it is an archdefender of the status quo. Far from being disturbed by the presence of the church, the power structure of the average community is consoled by the church’s silent–and often even vocal–sanction of things as they are.

But the judgment of God is upon the church as never before. If today’s church does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authenticity, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twentieth century.” [*]