PARIS — An interfaith group of religious leaders is gathering in Paris during COP 21 to call upon civil society to take the lead in mitigating climate change. There is one area over which every individual has control and that is food. Industrial agriculture and the meat industry are two of the biggest contributors to climate change, and every individual can control how much meat they eat and whether or not they eat organic, chemical-free food. According to UN statistics industrial meat production contributes to nearly a fifth of global greenhouse gas emissions. New scientific reports point to the connection between cattle rearing and climate, including a 2014 study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, which states that “Livestock production impacts air and water quality, ocean health, and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions on regional to global scales and it is the largest use of land globally.” According to the U.S. government, chemical fertilizer account for the majority of nitrous oxide emissions into the atmosphere.
“We can each do our part and reduce our meat consumption and promote organic, chemical-free food,” says Dena Merriam, convener of the gathering. “It is up to our governments to plan for the transition to new, carbon-free energy systems. But as consumers we can also contribute to the reduction of carbon in the atmosphere by the food choices we make.”
The group also plans to show the connection between the growing violence in our global society and the violence inflicted on the earth. If we understand the nature of interconnection then we know violence against the earth and her ecosystems – through deforestation, pollution, the extinction of species, etc. – creates imbalances and harmful vibrations that then percolate through human society. While there may not be a discernable linear connection, once acts of violence against nature are accepted to support our way of life, this violence begins to manifest in human society in multiple ways. The way to address this is by reflecting deeply on how we regard and interact with the natural world. We must change the paradigm from one of domination to one of cooperation, respect and appreciation for the balances inherent in the natural world.
The group is calling for greater understanding of the relationship between climate change and the collapse of eco-systems, upon which we depend for life. Many of the religious leaders have claimed that carbon reduction is important but it is not enough. They believe that nothing short of renewing our love and care for the Earth will help us meet the challenges ahead.
The GPIW interfaith delegation includes preeminent U.S. eco-activist and religious leader, Rev. Dr. Richard Cizik, Tiokasin Ghosthorse of the Cheyenne River Lakota (Sioux) Nation of South Dakota, a natural rights organizer, educator and Indigenous community activator, as well as respected social and environmental advocates from the United States, Europe, and Asia.
“The contribution of the religions,” says Rev. Richard Cizik “is to help us come again into a relationship of love and respect for the Earth and her communities of life. This attitude is inherent in all the religious traditions but it is one most of us have forgotten.”
The Global Peace Initiative of Women (www.gpiw.org) was founded to help awaken and mobilize spiritual energies in places of great need with the goal of aiding in healing and unifying the world community. GPIW facilitates this by seeking to gather together those of great insight, wisdom, compassion and dedication, many of whom are working quietly for the upliftment of the world. A major focus of GPIW’s work is to aid in building a global network of contemplative leaders who through their inner work can help transform the causes and conditions that lead to suffering at both the individual and collective level.