Leaves 15(12) December 2013


Newsletter of the
Volume 15, Number 12 --- 15 December 2013



Website: iefworld.org
Article submission: newsletter@iefworld.org Deadline next issue 14 January 2014
Secretariat Email: ief@iefworld.org General Secretary Emily Firth
Postal address: 12B Chemin de Maisonneuve, CH-1219 Chatelaine, Geneva, Switzerland

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From the Editor, Request for information for upcoming newsletters

This newsletter is an opportunity for IEF members to share their experiences, activities, and initiatives that are taking place at the community level on environment, climate change and sustainability. All members are welcome to contribute information about related activities, upcoming conferences, news from like-minded organizations, recommended websites, book reviews, etc. Please send information to newsletter@ief.org.



The IEF board wishes to thank Sarah Richards and Susie Howard for volunteering to manage the IEF membership list and the distribution of LEAVES, just as Cindy Diessner has been faithfully editing it every month. This has taken a great burden off the General Secretary.

We are still looking for volunteers
• to help maintain the IEF web site,
• to follow UN processes like the Sustainable Development Goals and the post-2015 agenda, or research programmes like Future Earth, and
• to manage an IEF presence in the social media like facebook and twitter.

If any of you are interested, please let us know. IEF can only advance with the volunteer support of its membership, and this can be very rewarding for you at the same time.



Each month, the link in the email you receive takes you to the IEF website where you have the options to read the newsletter online and to download the PDF version.

Do you have family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers with whom you think about sharing this important information? Why not set up an IEF Leaves newsletter email group/distribution list, and then download the PDF version and send it each month? In addition, are there schools with environment studies programs, organizations, and businesses in your area that would appreciate receiving this information?



Many IEF members joined years ago, and have never updated their user pages on the web site or their entries in the IEF members directory. Some of these are now very out-of-date. Please take a few minutes to update your profile on your user page. If it is OK, or if you have lost your password, please send us a message at ief@iefworld.org to let us know. We also keep "losing" members who change their email address and forget to tell us. If the newsletter stops coming, that is probably what happened.



The Club of Rome and the Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC) have launched a project on "ValuesQuest: the search for values which will make a world of difference" (see http://www.clubofrome.org/?p=5821). After addressing the root causes of world problems for over 40 years at a broad systemic, holistic and long-term level, the Club of Rome has recognized that values are the main drivers behind societal instruments like economy, education and governance, and that present values are guiding the course of society in the wrong direction. It has therefore initiated ValuesQuest to explore the values needed for a more humane and just society, attuned to the needs of others and to the needs of the planet. It will address the origins of values, and the role of narrative and of stories in transmitting values, providing a philosophical and historical underpinning to the current debate on values. It has opened to the creative arts world and the worlds of spirituality and faith, and has created a partnership with the World Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC).

The Bahá'í International Community has collaborated with ARC since its founding, and ARC has also been a partner in the values-based indicators project with which IEF has been associated. ARC has also just been requested by the United Nations to take the lead in developing a dimension on values and culture for the post-2015 agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals. The UN hopes that such partnerships will ensure some continuity in action regardless of the decisions that governments may (or may not) take at the UN in 2015.



On 5-6 December 2013, the Center for Social Pediatrics, Cantonal Hospital of Winterthur, Switzerland, in collaboration with the Club of Rome, organized a scientific Symposium on Meaning, Values and Spirituality in the Development of Children and Young People.

The symposium was of particular interest because it provided a scientific perspective on many of the issues being addressed by the International Environment Forum, although the focus of most speakers was Europe rather than the whole world. The multidisciplinary perspectives from sociologists, psychiatrists, theologians, educators, and even a Nobel Prize winner in chemistry, highlighted some key issues about religion and spirituality in the modern world and the challenges ahead. The decline of interest in the environment among young people is of particular concern. The following is a summary of the main themes and messages from the symposium. A more complete report and list of speakers is available on the IEF web site at https://iefworld.org/node/656.


Values are what people wish to have, what is important, anchored in emotions. They can be discussed, but are not easily challenged. In principle they determine action (but not always), since putting values into action is difficult. The system of values arises in small group or family situations, forming a personality, and sometimes drawing on tradition. There is a reward in following values, and breaches can cut off friendships. Small group values produce private harmony with a partner and friends, but also responsibilities. A personal identity is formed through social rules, and includes creative and emotional dimensions. The world of business or work has its own values and laws. Supplementary or optional values can include those of the consumer society and lifestyle, and an overarching awareness expressed as religiousness or spirituality, as well as ecological and health consciousness. Old people see religiousness as tradition, while young people turn more to ecology and health. There can be social commitment, but politics has no appeal. Values are usually stable in the short term, but not in the long term. In the last 30 years, there has been a decline in overarching conceptions and an increase in consumption values; social commitment is declining and tradition increasing.

Each generation has its own values orientation. In England, after the baby-boomers (born 1945-1960) with their counter-culture, freedom and authenticity, and Generation X (1961-1981) of pop culture and consumerism, Generation Y (1982-2001) has grown up with the information technology revolution, climate change, terrorism and the credit crisis. They show a clear decline in the Christian worldview, as faith is not passed on by their parents. In their benign worldview, their core value is relationships, and their goal is happiness (shallow or deep). What is important is being oneself through individual effort, to grow to a happy ideal, which is meaningful as it is. Life is basically ok, and there is no need for searching, for spirituality. Secular ethics (relating to others, making the right choices) are important, but spirituality is formative rather than transformative. Bad things can happen, so you turn to popular culture to provide information, but it is difficult to admit failure or acknowledge problems. If you are unhappy you are excluded, so you keep it inside. In the faith of Generation Y, there is no room for God, but an immanent faith in family, friends and self, requiring authenticity and being true to oneself. There is occasional mild speculation on the “big questions”. There are still fragments of Christian culture. Prayer is culturally available, but God is not obligatory. Prayer is used for petitions, confession, gratitude and dealing with shame. One first turns to family and friends, with prayer only a weak backstop.

The genesis of a value orientation depends on the group. For those with religiousness, a strong personal God leads to strong values, social commitment and a strong family. Those with a vague religion turn more to the environmental aspects. For other groups, religion has no effect. A good family life is important at all ages, while the importance of a good partner emerges at 18-20 years old. Friends and identity are important sources. For self-responsibility versus conformity, the importance of independence increases up to age 21, then decreases. There is a desire to develop imagination and creativity and to discover one's own feelings. For secondary virtues, the acceptance of social roles increases, while respect for law and order declines after 21. The importance of tradition shows a major decline from 12 to 25, as does a belief in a traditional God. There is a decline of religiousness, with only fragments of spirituality remaining. Belief in hard work has increased greatly, probably due to increasing competition for jobs, but with an instrumental concept of economically-competitive performance. The importance of a high standard of living declines with age. Tolerance of other opinions has decreased in the last decade, and there is a resistance to militant ideologies. Environmental awareness has collapsed; youth have lost interest in the topic, which is mostly defended today by those over 60. With respect to the conditions for religion to play a part in modern life, a release from superstition can permit spirituality to assume any form, with more free spirituality. The intensifying social networking is creating more loyalty, and there is still a need to find a real value in life.


Why did religion evolve? While religions refer to revelations from God, a scientific/anthropological view notes that all cultures have constantly-evolving religious systems. Religion is a human phenomenon not observed in animals, and an expression of human needs. The symbolic expulsion from paradise and separation from God took millions of years, as man developed reason and evolved self-awareness, intentionality, and the ability to understand and to influence the state-ofmind of other people. Self-knowledge comes at a high price, as we become aware of the dangers and unavoidable death. We feel expelled from innocence and ignorance (Eden). This created the need for re-bonding (religion), thinking about a higher power that can read your mind, and thus the breeding ground for religious systems. A baby starts with full belonging, then forms a personality and separate identity, but isolation is the end of the world. Religion provides paths to transcend the self, as part of nature and life, with rituals, dance, music and worship services, to acknowledge that we belong to the community, to God. There are two forms of awareness: self-interest and belonging/connectedness. Religion is part of our relationship to the world.


Religion is a part of culture, in interaction with other social systems, a process of communication using a system of symbols and world views with normative functions. It provides a connection between a community and its individual members, legitimizes the distribution of power relations, and provides an identity through affiliation or exclusion. There is a tension in religion between innovation and tradition. Religion is a complex system to communicate and integrate at multiple levels, based in a culture and society. Today religion is rooted in democratic systems and regulated by the State to ensure religious freedom.

Religions are by far the most sustainable organizations in the world, persisting for thousands of years. Yet today everything that is beautiful, moving or spiritual is replaced by data, while meaning is not communicated by numbers, but by narrative. Our values consciousness or subconsciousness is passed on in ethos. The ecological and climate change crisis with a linear time line to apocalypse simply paralyzes action. We discuss what to do and how to do it. The values questions are why? Why care? Why show charity, defend the weak? Why be committed? Why keep going?

Diversity is important, with a need to develop a sense of self-worth in a pluralist world. North-west Europe is the exception, not the norm, where faith values are seen as negative strait-jackets and GDP ignores values and faith. We never hear about values enhancement. The Chinese are reconnecting with religion, since community values have survived there only in faith. There is a hunger among the young (under 35) for change about spirituality (not religion), with an emphasis on values and morality. How do we help young people to find their way among many stories, religions, ideologies? Diversity moves the planet, not uniformity; we should celebrate diversity, being proud of our own tradition but open to others. We should draw on the powerful narrative forces of art, poetry, religion, and sport, with celebration, not a dirge, and bring romance into economics. There is no environmental psalm book or joke book; a sin book does not work.

Among the young, religious world views are being replaced by secularization, individualization and relativism, but youth want experience that will give them a values orientation. Growing children have questions, like about death and dying, that religion can help to answer. At puberty, faith may be caught between poles or contradictions: powerpowerlessness, justice-injustice, meaning-lack of meaning.

The UN Convention of the Rights of the Child includes a right to spirituality, so religion is a fundamental human right for children.


The concept of God is an interpersonal event, both real and imaginary, and an emotional and intellectual challenge, that can identify support and help in life. Conceptions of God are always changing and remain unfinished. People with secure childhood attachments see God as loving, caring and close, while those with insecure attachments feel unworthy of God's love, see God as remote and cannot relate. To educate children positively about God, an infant starts with primal trust in the parents. By the second year, God shows mercy but has both sides. At 3-5 years, God should integrate their reality, with language and words, so they can think for themselves. In primary school, children can understand shades of grey, different forms of God, and relative justice. Puberty is a time for guiding without indoctrinating, a positive approach without hidden commitments. The ideal belief is a search for God that never ends, with a concept always evolving and moving (or it will fossilize).


Values and spirituality are important for children. Values are things that are part of a good life, that provide points of reference. Children should have examples of love, and practicing values, with the possibility to fail, stumble, and learn from it.

The consumer society is a danger for children, with a globalized and commercialized world of brutal and erotic advertising, with profits for the few, and many losers. Naive inexperienced children cannot resist these pressures and suffer badly. They become passive consumers, dependent financially and with their motivation undermined. The omnipresent pressure to consume is reflected in the screens everywhere forcing us to consume visually. Radio, TV, computers are saturated with advertising. Morality is gone, with everyone fighting everyone. We are victims of attention theft, forced to watch, leading to hyperactivity and pathological multitasking. We should not play this game, which undermines society financially and morally. The remedy is to communicate creativity to young people, how to do things themselves without instructions or manuals. Give them space to win the self-confidence of having done things themselves. Create independence, free will and responsibility.

With the separation of Church and State, religious interest is vanishing. In modern secular life, there is no instruction of children in religion, certainly not in northern and eastern Europe, less so in Catholic countries. Yet the cultural significance of religious traditions is part of general education. Peaceful coexistence and tolerance are threatened by ignorance of religions. Today there is no right belief, and for some any belief is fundamentalist. Theological intolerance has gone, although sects require isolation to uphold their truths.

One option is instruction in religion and culture as part of the primary school curriculum. The presentation of major religions can be neutral and informative, not a call to belief. There is no religious indoctrination, and teachers do not have to be believers. Children are not educated to a faith, and are not penalized for not believing in God. There is no clash of cultures. Godlessness is not important in a non-believing society, but immigrants bring in their faiths, so they must be included in education. Spirituality has not disappeared; the questions remain, and religious experience is part of education.


There is a clear connection of religion and health, with religious people psychologically and socially healthier, from a strong basis for self-esteem, better coping strategies, and the social support of likeminded people. Faith helps those who strongly believe it will help them, similar to the placebo effect, or a nocebo effect if you believe in a punishing God. A meta-analysis on physical health shows that religiosity/spirituality reduces mortality by 20%, even 30% for women and those with more organizational activity.


While there are extreme cases of religious and spiritual abuse, these risks can be managed and should not be an excuse to exclude all discussion of religion with children. There is a danger of indoctrination or spiritual abuse, where a punishing, sanctioning God leads to guilt; and of subjection to a religious dogma, where religion may trigger or be drawn into depression, psychoses and other mental disorders. Religious or spiritual abuse can overload and switch off the natural tendency to empathy. Some religious groups use hypnotic space, internal focusing or guided affective imagery to leave people open to a guru's suggestions which can lead to dangerous dependence. Also children whose parents hold radically-different views of religion may be traumatized by the tension, especially if the parents separate.



IEF member Prof. Friedo Zölzer is organizing the 2nd Symposium on the Ethics of Environmental Health, which will take place in Budweis (České Budějovice), Czech Republic, 15 - 19 June 2014. It will bring together scientists, regulators and practitioners from all over the world to discuss ethical issues related to radiation and chemical protection, epidemiology, biomonitoring, risk management, emergency preparedness and related areas. Beginning with an introductory lecture on the evening of Sunday, 15 June 2014, it will continue with plenary and possibly parallel sessions through Wednesday morning, 18 June 2014. The last day of the meeting, until Thursday midday, 19 June 2014, will be dedicated to working groups discussing the wants and needs of the next few years of ethics research in the fields of environmental health, more particularly of radiation protection.

Selected contributions will be published in a collection, probably by EarthScan. For further information, please refer to http://www.iseeh2014.org. Hope to see you in Budweis, Friedo Zölzer



The World Bank's first Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on climate change, will be launched next month on 27 January 2014. This course presents the most recent scientific evidence as well as some of the opportunities for urgent action on climate change. It also covers the latest knowledge and information based on cutting-edge research.

Turn Down the Heat: Why a 4°C Warmer World Must be Avoided

It is now becoming clear that without necessary climate action, the world may become 4°C warmer by the end of this century. As this threatens to roll back decades of development progress, this is a ‘make or break’ point. This course presents the most recent scientific evidence as well as some of the opportunities for urgent action.

It is being offered in two tracks: (1) General Public; and (2) Policy Makers and Practitioners. The course runs for 4 weeks, and is free of charge. You have access to the material for approximately 6 months after the course ends.

Sign up for the first delivery of the course at https://www.coursera.org/#course/warmerworld.

This is also an opportunity for us - as climate change practitioners - to let our family and friends know what we are doing and help them become champions of climate change knowledge. Climate change affects us all, so please feel free to share the registration link as widely as possible in your networks.

About the Course

Under current pledges and commitments, the world is likely to reach a 4°C degree warming by the end of the century and 2°C warming as early as 2040. This MOOC brings leading and renowned scientists to provide a synthesis of the most recent scientific evidence and provides an analysis of likely impacts and risks with a focus on developing countries. It chronicles already observed changes in the climate system and its impacts, through the increase in carbon dioxide emissions, corresponding temperature increases and melting of glaciers and sea ice, and changes in precipitation patterns. It also offers projections for the 21st century for droughts, heat waves, sea level rise, with implications on food and water security as well as possible impacts on agriculture, water availability, ecosystems and human health.

The MOOC presents this analysis for the likely impacts of a 4-degree warming trajectory and stresses the need for decision makers and communities to take a firm look at their adaptation choices, while signaling the urgency for mitigation action. Participants will also be introduced to the risks of triggering non-linearity, and tipping elements like the disintegration of the West Antarctic ice sheet and large-scale Amazon dieback. This MOOC ends with a discussion on the main policy choices needed to prevent warming to be above 2°C.

Course Syllabus

This overview presents the main findings of the course, providing a summary of the key impacts and challenges of a 4°C warmer world by the end of this century.

Module 1: Observed Climate Changes and Impacts: Hundreds of Thousands of Years to Now
This module outlines the historical observed changes in the climate system leading up to the present day and the impacts that can now be attributed to human-induced climate change. It examines the rise of GHG emissions since preindustrial times while explaining the link between CO2 concentrations and the rising global mean temperature, ocean heat storage and sea-level rise, as well as the uncertainties in the scientific evidence. It also describes the trends of increasing loss of ice in Greenland and Antarctica, increasing loss of Arctic Seaice, melting mountain glaciers, increased heat waves and extreme temperatures and finally, drought and aridity trends.

Module 2: Possible 21st Century Climates
This module provides an overview of the projected changes in climate leading up to the end of the 21st century. It describes the likelihood of a 4°C warmer world by 2100 A.D. and enables a deeper understanding of various climate models with different projections and key areas of uncertainty. It also reviews possible responses from natural systems, explaining how the projected changes in climate from 2°C to 4°C global warming could result in sea-level rise, heat waves and extreme temperatures, and ocean acidification.

Module 3: Life in a 4°C Warmer World
a) Impacts Across Key Human Support Systems
This module presents an overview of current and projected climate impacts across key human support systems such as agriculture and food production, water resources, ecosystems and biodiversity, and human health. Each of these human support systems will be negatively impacted by climate change under a 4°C global warming scenario, resulting in adverse consequences for development: diminishing crop yields which threaten food production and human health, loss of biodiversity, spread of vector-borne diseases and water scarcity.

b) Risks of Large-Scale and Disruptive Changes in the Climate System
This module brings together the information in the earlier modules, by considering how the impacts, risks, and vulnerabilities to climate change may scale with increasing levels of CO2 concentration and global mean warming. The module highlights the risks of nonlinear and cascading impacts and the risk of crossing critical thresholds for nonlinear tipping elements of the earth system, which could dramatically increase vulnerability to climate change and impose multiple stresses on development.

Module 4: What Can We Do About It: Choice is in your hands (Discussion)
After having outlined the scientific evidence in previous modules, this final module goes beyond the WB/PIK report and provides a discussion on what mitigation and adaptation action is needed to help avoid a 4 degree world while also decreasing the vulnerability of climate change impacts and building climate resilience. Since there is no single solution, this module will share perspectives from a range of actors on some of the key policy measures and climate actions. Track 1 (for the general public) will showcase how different lifestyles may affect changes in the climate and explore everyday choices that can help mitigate climate change and decrease vulnerability to impacts. Track 2 (for policymakers) invites leaders from various countries, the World Bank, IMF and civil society to exchange ideas and examples of effective policies and actions that can help transition towards a low emissions and climate resilient development path.

Depending on your particular interest you can choose to participate in one of two tracks for optional activities:

Track 1 Climate Champion
Track 2 Policy and Leadership
Target Audience
The 'climate champion' track is suitable for anyone with an interest in climate change, and gives more insight into the science behind climate change and opportunities to further expand your knowledge of key areas. The 'policy and leadership' track involves connecting with others in similar positions (e.g. policymakers, provincial and national government personnel, representatives of civil society, academia) around the world, and developing new networks of practice around climate change issues.
Common objective
Understand observed changes in the climate system, their causes and immediate consequences, and projected medium to long-term impacts for development.
Understand observed changes in the climate system, their causes and immediate consequences, and projected medium to long-term impacts for development.

In addition to the common objective, after taking respective track, participants will be able to:

Track specific

Describe the climate context under current level of 0.8° warming and recognize how the projected changes in climate (under 2°C to 4°C global warming) could affect our lives in areas such as agriculture, water resources, ecosystems and health.
Realize your own role in how your lifestyle contributes to changes in the climate system and outline the actions you can take to decrease your climate impact.
Critically interpret different climate projections and recognize how these changes in climate (under 2°C to 4°C global warming from current warming level of 0.8°C), could affect sectors such as agriculture, water resources, ecosystems and human health.
Discuss and distinguish between suitable policy options that countries/organizations need to take to help mitigate and adapt to climate change.
• Assignments focus on facilitating the basic understanding of the science.
• Participants will learn how to apply their knowledge to their every day context.
• Assignments focus mostly on policy intervention for sectors that need urgent climate action, and connecting with others in similar positions. • Participants will be able to apply their knowledge to their specific country and policy context.

Suggested Readings
• World Bank, 2012, “ Turn Down the Heat: Why a 4°C World Must Be Avoided
• World Bank, 2013, “ Turn Down the Heat: Climate Extremes, Regional Impacts, and the Case for Resilience
• Working Group I Contribution to the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report "Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis, Summary for Policymakers"
• World Bank, 2012, “Turn Down the Heat: Why a 4°C World Must Be Avoided”, Executive Summary in English, Spanish, French, German, Arabic or Portuguese

Course Format
The MOOC has a week-by-week structure, with resources, activities and exercises for you to engage in during each of the four weeks of the course.

To pass the course and receive a statement of accomplishment, there are quizzes for you to complete based on the core videos and readings each week, and three assignments that will sharpen your skills of analysis, reflection and communication. These core resources and assignments will take around 3 hours per week to complete.

However, you can go much further than this, engaging in optional exercises, networking, discussion and diving deeper into our rich selection of additional resources. We also will use the e-discussions, Google Hangout and other tools to facilitate dialogue among the learners and with the experts.




For Christians Christmas is the annual commemoration of the birth of the Messiah - Jesus - in Palestine some 2,000 years ago, and the four weeks leading up to it are traditionally a time of penitence and anticipation known as Advent ('the coming').

Recent years however, have seen Advent and Christmastide become dominated by consumer consumption, much of it excessive, with the Christian story increasingly lost in a whirl of shopping, eating and drinking. This wastefulness of the planet's resources is doubly challenging for those Christians concerned about the way humanity takes care of creation.

There are some useful resources that can help Christians, congregations and preachers reclaim the spirit and purpose of Advent and, indeed, make it a time for mindfulness about the need to use this world's bounty with wisdom.

Making a green Advent calendar http://www.greenchristian.org.uk/archives/5901
A helpful set of instructions by Judith Allinson on the Green Christian website with plenty ideas of themes and content get children thinking.

Green Advent 'pointers' for preachers http://www.christian-ecology.org.uk/econotes1.htm
The Christian Ecology website has a week by week calendar based on the common worship lectionary and using the set texts as the basis for environmentally-focused contemplation.

Reclaim Christmas! http://www.operationnoah.org/reclaim-christmas
A rousing campaign from Operation Noah, a Christian action group focused on climate change, urging 'Prophets not Profits!' There's a helpful page about how to reclaim Christmas in your community, including links to special hymns and prayers and a child-friendly script for a play that young people could perform appropriately titled 'A Present for the Future'

Advent and Ecology liturgy http://www.arcworld.org/faiths.asp?pageID=78
ARC devised this Advent Creation Liturgy for use in a service at St George's Chapel, Windsor and many congregations have since been able to use all or part of it as part of their own Advent worship.

HRH Prince Philip's environmental sermon for Advent http://www.arcworld.org/news.asp?pageID=360
In 1988, not long after the famous Assisi Declarations, the founder of ARC, His Royal Highness, Prince Philip gave an important sermon at St George's Chapel, Windsor, with the inspiring theme: "Christians need to use the annual celebration of the birth of our Lord as an inspiration to become better and more considerate guardians of His Creation, so that its beauties and wonder, whether they are practically useful to us or not, can continue to praise Him."

Ready Steady Slow! http://www.whywearewaiting.com/
An on-line video advent calendar from the Church of England with inspiring daily messages encouraging Christians to slow down and reflect during Advent.

An exciting further development is the building of a green website aimed at linking Indonesia's many Islamic boarding schools - known as pesantrens - to promote environmentally-friendly action within the Islamic tradition. This site, expected online before the end of 2013, will contain permanent information about the Green Hajj initiative.

Useful links

NASA Global Climate Change: Vital Signs of the Planet

United Nations Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform

World Bank Climate Change

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

Updated 16 December 2013