International Environment Forum - A Bahá'í inspired organization for environment and sustainability https://iefworld.org/ en Welcome to the 5th IEF Lecture Webinar this Saturday, April 24! https://iefworld.org/node/1145 <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Welcome to the 5th IEF Lecture Webinar this Saturday, April 24!</span> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><span lang="" about="/user/1" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">admin</span></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">20. April 2021 - 0:19</span> Mon, 19 Apr 2021 21:19:16 +0000 admin 1145 at https://iefworld.org Leaves - April IEF newsletter is available https://iefworld.org/node/255 <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Leaves - April IEF newsletter is available</span> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><span lang="" about="/user/1" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">admin</span></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">15. April 2021 - 19:08</span> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>Read on line: <a href="/newslt142"><strong><em>Leaves</em></strong> 23(4) April 2021</a> light text version with fewer illustrations.<br /> Download as a <a href="/fl/IEF_Leaves210415.pdf">pdf version</a> [0.4 mb].</p> <table background="/gr/BLEAF1.JPG" style="background-color: rgb(0, 153, 0); width: 100%; height: 55px; text-align: left; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"> <tbody> <tr> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> </tbody> </table> </div> <section class="field field--name-field-comments field--type-comment field--label-above comment-wrapper"> </section> Thu, 15 Apr 2021 16:08:08 +0000 admin 255 at https://iefworld.org Stockholm+50: some reflections https://iefworld.org/node/1144 <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Stockholm+50: some reflections</span> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><span lang="" about="/user/3" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Arthur Dahl</span></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">15. April 2021 - 14:24</span> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><div style="text-align: center;"> <h2 style="text-align: center; color: rgb(0, 153, 0);"> Stockholm+50, some reflections</h2> <p>Arthur Lyon Dahl </p> </div> <hr style="width: 100%; height: 2px;" /> <p>In June of 2022, the United Nations will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the UN Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm, Sweden, that led to the creation of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the beginning of UN action on the environment. Planning is now underway for Stockholm+50. As a veteran of the original Stockholm Conference, where I represented the Bahá'í International Community, this is something to which I have given a great deal of thought in my roles with the Global Governance Forum and the Climate Governance Commission. With so many environmental crises coming to a head, and building on the CBD COP15 and UNFCCC COP26 this year, Stockholm+50 needs to be the turning point for an integrated transition across all environmental dimensions and the SDGs. It should aim to be as creative as the original Stockholm Conference in breaking new ground for the UN system. UNEP was intended to be a catalyst for a UN-wide response to the environment. The aim of Stockholm+50 should be to catalyse a transformation of the whole UN system. The following are some dimensions of that necessary transformation.</p> <p>All the evaluations of UN action point to beautiful texts and high ambitions that fail on implementation. The focus at Stockholm+50 should be on obstacles to implementation and how to address them collectively as a world community. This will require challenging some of the basic assumptions of the present international order.</p> <p>National sovereignty is the founding principle of the UN, but with the globalisation of the last 75 years, national sovereignty no longer exists. The economy has globalised. The pandemic is global. Climate change, pollution and biodiversity loss know no borders. The fatal flaws in the UN system result from the primacy of national sovereignty over the common good, whether in the veto in the Security Council or the voluntary nature of international law. Today sovereignty serves primarily to protect national crimes from international action. We need to replace this outworn concept by the principle of national autonomy, the freedom of countries to choose their own ways and means to respect the global common good in keeping with their local environment, resources, economy and culture. That freedom is best protected by an effective system of global governance, just as individual freedom is best protected by an efficient national government.</p> <p>Our globalised system has hit or overshot planetary boundaries with grave threats to our future. At the time of the Stockholm Conference, limits to growth were only a hypothetical projection in computer models. This new reality requires a new capacity for binding global legislation in those areas like greenhouse gas emissions, the nitrogen cycle, pollution by plastics and other persistent chemical products, and ecosystem functions that are essential to maintain the liveability of the planet for all of us.</p> <p>It is also clear that all of our problems - environmental, social and economic - are interrelated in a single complex global system which the present approach in silos by separate issues cannot address effectively. The future UN system response needs to be much more integrated, overcoming the competition between specialised agencies and programmes, while filling gaping gaps in economic governance. The WTO should not remain outside the UN system, and new institutions are needed for the necessary regulation of multinational corporations and a global financial system that facilitates tax avoidance rather than corporate citizenship. At the same time, a much more flexible approach is needed to multistakeholder and multilevel governance, with wider participation and more subsidiarity, moving responsibility for implementation down to the levels closest to those most affected at the scale of each problem.</p> <p>Another under-appreciated issue is the impact of corruption on environmental issues and action. From wildlife crime and illegal logging and fishing to waste dumping, corruption and illegal actions are significant contributors to environmental degradation. More recently, while few data are available, the fact that a significant part of the flow of funds for pandemic response and economic stimulus is being captured by corruption suggests that much of the money now being directed to respond to climate change will similarly not be used for what was intended. There are now proposals for an International Anti-Corruption Court that would finally give the world community the means to address this problem when corrupt government leaders and even state capture by corrupt interests or organized crime make national action impossible.</p> <p>In the area of international environmental legislation, we have seen great fragmentation, placing an impossible burden on governments to participate in all the separate processes. Significant consolidation is required, while also strengthening means of enforcement, and assisting those countries that lack the technical and financial capacities for implementation.</p> <p>Science has always been at the foundation of addressing environmental problems since the environmental assessment component of the Stockholm Action Plan. But science today faces an often concealed problem, the privatisation of science and knowledge through intellectual property rights, whether in patents for vaccines or multinational scientific publishers copyrighting access to the scientific literature. I am constantly blocked from reading publications (even my own) because I do not have access to an academic library able to pay high subscription fees, so much more so for those scientists in developing countries. If the UN is to lead in using science for environmental monitoring, assessment and planning, it must guarantee for everyone free access to that information.</p> <p>Finally, UNEP has always been under-funded, so there needs to be agreement on new funding mechanisms for international action that do not depend on voluntary contributions by governments. These need to be global to avoid the usual race to the bottom. A global carbon tax is one obvious possibility. I suggested many years ago a global tax on the trade in forest products, the proceeds of which could pay to protect those forests with the highest global value for biodiversity conservation or as a carbon sink. A well-designed financial instrument can both discourage environmentally damaging activities and reward those that are sustainable. Stockholm+50 should think creatively about these possibilities.</p> <p>These proposals may be ambitious, but if we do not aim high, we shall always do too little, too late, and we cannot afford that anymore. </p> <hr style="width: 100%; height: 2px;" /> <div style="text-align: center;"> <p><img src="/gr/IEFlogo5.gif" height="66" width="142"></p> <p><small>Last updated 15 April 2021</small></p> </div> </div> <section class="field field--name-field-blog-comments field--type-comment field--label-above comment-wrapper"> </section> <div class="field field--name-field-blog-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Blog tags</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/261" hreflang="en">Environment, Sustainability</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/258" hreflang="en">Sustainable Development, United Nations</a></div> </div> </div> Thu, 15 Apr 2021 11:24:54 +0000 Arthur Dahl 1144 at https://iefworld.org Atlas of Sustainable Development Goals 2020 https://iefworld.org/node/1142 <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Atlas of Sustainable Development Goals 2020</span> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><span lang="" about="/user/1" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">admin</span></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">4. April 2021 - 20:00</span> <div class="field field--name-subjects field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/241" hreflang="en">Sustainable Development Goals</a></div> </div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><div style="text-align: center;"> <h2 style="text-align: center; color: rgb(0, 153, 0);"><small>World Bank</small><br /> Atlas of Sustainable Development Goals 2020</h2> <p>Source: <a href="https://datatopics.worldbank.org/sdgatlas/">https://datatopics.worldbank.org/sdgatlas/</a></p> </div> <hr style="width: 100%; height: 2px;" /> <p>The Atlas of Sustainable Development Goals 2020 presents an overview of the current state and trends for each of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The user friendly and accessible information includes interactive storytelling and data visualizations.</p> <p>The Atlas draws from the <a href="https://datatopics.worldbank.org/world-development-indicators/">World Bank’s World Development Indicators</a> database, as well as from a wide variety of relevant data sources from scientists and other researchers worldwide.</p> <p>On the <a href="https://datatopics.worldbank.org/sdgatlas/">main page of the Atlas</a>, you can click on any of the 17 SDGs and be presented with essential and up-dated facts and trends for this specific goal. Here are two examples with much shortened information:</p> <p>When you click on <i><a href="https://datatopics.worldbank.org/sdgatlas/goal-2-zero-hunger/">SDG 2 Zero Hunger</a> - Beyond hunger: ensuring food security for all </i>you will learn the following:</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;">After declining for a decade, the undernourished population is now rising. In 2019, more than 690 million people experienced hunger — an increase of nearly 60 million in 5 years.</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;">Undernourishment is closely associated with severe food insecurity. Food insecurity manifests in different ways. These range from uncertainty around the ability to obtain food, to having to compromise on food quality and variety, to not eating for an entire day.</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;">Today, one in four persons around the world experiences moderate or severe food insecurity, and one in eleven experiences severe food insecurity. Most households that experience food insecurity — nearly 1.3 billion out of 2 billion — are in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;">Food insecurity in Sub-Saharan Africa is staggering — more than half the population experiences it. Until 2018 the total number of people experiencing at least moderate food insecurity was highest in Sub-Saharan Africa. After 2019, South Asia overtook Sub-Saharan Africa.</p> <p>When you click on <i><a href="https://datatopics.worldbank.org/sdgatlas/goal-13-climate-action/">SDG 13 Climate Action</a> - Floods, droughts and heat waves herald a changing climate</i>, this is some of the information presented:</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;">The current global population is around 7.8 billion. By 2030 it will be around 8.5 billion. Everyone will experience the effects of climate change. But the effects will not be felt equally.</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;">From 2010 to 2019 more than 1.3 billion people were affected seriously enough by extreme weather events such as floods, droughts, heat waves, and cold waves to require emergency assistance.<br /> Over that period floods and droughts were responsible for the greatest human impacts.</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;">Climate change is expected to further increase the frequency and intensity of these events.</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;">Extreme weather events like these disproportionately affect people living in lower-middle-income and low-income countries.</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;">For example, in the last decade alone droughts and floods have affected an estimated 338 million people in India and 383 million people in China.</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;">Lower income countries are not only more vulnerable to adverse climate change impacts than higher income countries, but also less equipped to deal with them.</p> <p>And this is some of the information when you click on <i><a href="https://datatopics.worldbank.org/sdgatlas/goal-14-life-below-water/">SDG 14 Life below Water</a> - Marine species under threat</i>:</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;">Fish are crucial to the functioning of ecosystems as well as for human livelihoods and nourishment. Marine fish are the primary food source for approximately 1 billion people and marine fisheries employ about 60 million people. But over the years, overfishing has left many fish stocks so depleted that they can no longer replace themselves. Currently, 35 percent of global fish stocks are overfished, a dramatic rise over the 10 percent levels of the 1990’s.</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;">Fish and other aquatic species are particularly vulnerable to threats from human activities, and aquatic species face much higher rates of extinction than terrestrial species such as birds and mammals. Today, 40 percent of amphibians, 30 percent of freshwater fish, and more than 30 percent of coral reefs and marine mammals are under threat.</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;">Destructive fishing, such as bottom trawling, can damage seafloor ecosystems and indiscriminately catch everything it encounters.</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;">Intensive shipping damages marine environments through the release of chemicals, transfer of invasive species, dumping of waste, and physical disturbances.</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;">Marine protected areas have shown to be an effective means of safeguarding vulnerable species and ecosystems, conserving biodiversity, re-establishing ecosystem integrity, instituting clear guidelines, and sheltering the feeding and breeding areas of marine species.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <hr style="width: 100%; height: 2px;" /> <div style="text-align: center;"> <p><img alt="" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" height="66" src="/gr/IEFlogo5.gif" width="142" /></p> <p><small>Last updated 4 April 2021</small></p> </div> </div> <section class="field field--name-field-comments field--type-comment field--label-above comment-wrapper"> </section> Sun, 04 Apr 2021 17:00:08 +0000 admin 1142 at https://iefworld.org Active Coral Restoration: Techniques for a Changing Planet https://iefworld.org/node/1141 <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Active Coral Restoration: Techniques for a Changing Planet</span> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><span lang="" about="/user/1" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">admin</span></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">3. April 2021 - 22:39</span> <div class="field field--name-subjects field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/11" hreflang="en">Coral reefs</a></div> </div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><div style="text-align: center;"> <h2 style="text-align: center; color: rgb(0, 153, 0);">Active Coral Restoration: Techniques for a Changing Planet</h2> <p>New book including work of Austin Bowden-Kerby</p> </div> <hr style="width: 100%; height: 2px;" /> <p>Coral reefs around the world are in peril and approximately half of the world’s coral cover has been lost since 1970 due to impacts from climate change, pollution, disease, and fishing practices that can destroy entire reefs. This rate of decline has been quite rapid, particularly when compared to the average rate of growth for healthy coral in the wild. This ratio of decline to growth had diminished hope among scientists that coral reefs could eventually restore themselves over time. However, with the new technologies of active coral restoration, relative optimism has returned. Active coral restoration includes procedures for growing corals rapidly and efficiently, while also being able to select genetically for traits of natural resistance and resiliency that help them to survive water temperature increases, bleaching, and diseases. These cultured corals are grown in various types of nurseries and then outplanted to restoration sites. Until now, there has not been a book which showcases this marvelous, game-changing practice of active coral restoration.</p> <p><i><a href="https://www.jrosspub.com/science/environmental-science/active-coral-restoration.html">Active Coral Restoration: Techniques for a Changing Planet</a></i> provides a foundational understanding of the current and emerging practices and technologies used for active coral reef restoration projects around the world. The contributed chapters were written by some of the foremost authorities on coral reef restoration. A pioneer in this field is IEF member Austin Bowden-Kerby whose Kiritimati coral restoration site is included as Chapter 17. He has also initiated two other coral reef restoration projects that are featured in the book, one in Belize and the other one in the Dominican Republic.</p> <p>IEF congratulates Austin Bowden-Kerby for his life-long efforts for coral reef restoration and wishes all the projects featured in the book much success.</p> <hr style="width: 100%; height: 2px;" /> <div style="text-align: center;"> <p><img alt="" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" height="66" src="/gr/IEFlogo5.gif" width="142" /></p> <p><small>Last updated 3 April 2021</small></p> </div> </div> <section class="field field--name-field-comments field--type-comment field--label-above comment-wrapper"> </section> Sat, 03 Apr 2021 19:39:20 +0000 admin 1141 at https://iefworld.org Educating for the Future We Want https://iefworld.org/node/1140 <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Educating for the Future We Want</span> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><span lang="" about="/user/3" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Arthur Dahl</span></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">2. April 2021 - 13:30</span> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><div style="text-align: center;"> <h2 style="text-align: center; color: rgb(0, 153, 0);">Educating for the Future We Want</h2> <p>Based on a contribution by Arthur Dahl to the Great Transition Network on<br /> The Pedagogy of Transition: Educating for the Future We Want<br /> 29 March 2021</p> </div> <hr style="width: 100%; height: 2px;" /> <p>The rich diversity of views shared on education for the transition lays out clearly the dominant materialistic economic paradigm and its supportive academic establishment that have so far resisted the many exciting and innovative approaches by participants in the GTN to educating for the future we want. They range from an eloquent description of resistance to change within academia, to a useful summary of the opposing paradigms. We are good at diagnosing the illness, but have more difficulty in suggesting ways forward.</p> <p>One thing we need to avoid is suggesting uniform solutions to be incorporated into curricula everywhere, when rapid change requires local empowerment and adaptability. An alternative can be community integrated learning centres. Michael Karlberg emphasised social movement learning, fostering moral empowerment with a pedagogy of transformative change. This has the advantage that communities take charge of their own learning adapted to their local situation and aspirations, which avoids the top-down imposition of some definition of sustainability. It also gets around the rigidity of present formal education.</p> <p>At the other end of the spectrum of human organization, we also need effective systems of global governance for those dimensions of the Great Transition that require international collaboration, whether it be in preserving peace, pandemic control or resolving climate change and biodiversity loss (1). Existing systems of governance and education based on national sovereignty are increasingly dysfunctional and block the Great Transition. The need for multi-level governance to achieve the Great Transition should be a focus for research and education.</p> <p>Drawing on my half century as an environmental scientist on the front lines of environment and sustainability policy-making and action in many parts of the world, including designing everything from village community education to advanced study graduate courses, there is a dimension that has been insufficiently acknowledged in this debate. If we want to leverage a transition in the causes rather than symptoms of our existential crises, we need to work at the level of values and challenge the assumptions underlying the present system. Donella Meadows made the point in her study of leverage points (2). Research has often avoided values and beliefs as too subjective or controversial, yet the comments on this theme have often mentioned their importance. Several contributions have highlighted indigenous and traditional world-views that see humans and nature as a whole, as opposed to the economic sector seeing environment as an externality. Others have referred to the need for a change of heart, a questioning of assumptions and a transformation of beliefs and values, what has been called spiritual intelligence. The Earth Charter as a distillation of shared sustainability values.</p> <p>One of the most resistant dimensions of the dominant intellectual paradigm in both academia and the economy, including in this dialogue, is to ignore or reject religion as having any relevance. This is not to deny the very good reasons for discounting much of what goes today under that label. But in human history, the most radical, fundamental and lasting transformations have resulted from emergent religions that have reformed the values by which societies functioned, educating entire populations. Religion addresses most directly what it means to be human, and the resulting moral questions and ethical dilemmas. Why should we discount the possibility of this happening today?</p> <p>I speak from personal experience as a scientist deeply engaged in environmental reform and social change inspired by my own religious tradition, the Bahá'í Faith, that accepts the harmony and complementarity of modern science while providing spiritual principles for a higher human purpose. It is in complete accord with most what has been shared this month, and in fact with the whole concept of the Great Transition, which it anticipated already in the 19th century and is working to bring about. Michael Karlberg cited an example of its innovations in education. Much reference has been made here to sustainability thinkers and social reformers of the last few decades, but there are earlier figures. The son of the founder of the Bahá'í Faith, 'Abdu'l-Bahá (1844-1921), wrote a remarkable treatise on what we call the Great Transition in 1875 (3), and travelled to the West in 1911-1913 after forty years in prison, attacking racial prejudice in America, promoting gender equality, describing ecological principles of cooperation and reciprocity and the dangers of environmental destruction, warning about materialism and the consumer society, and suggesting solutions to extremes of wealth and poverty (4). But since he was seen as the leader of a religion and often used religious language, his role as a pioneer of the Great Transition is largely ignored.</p> <p>We need to reach out to the many in faith communities who are also working for the Great Transition, from Pope Francis with Laudado Si' (5) to many interfaith initiatives for climate justice and the environment, that can help to fill the values-action gap and have wide reach in communities and educational systems around the world. I have tried to address this also, particularly among the young who have lost their bearings in a disintegrating society (6). It is only by transforming education to address all these levels that we may have a chance to empower the rising generation to overcome the strong resistance to the Great Transition and lessen the coming crises that will otherwise force us to change.</p> <h4 style=" color: rgb(0, 153, 0);">REFERENCES</h4> <p>1. Lopez-Claros, Augusto, Arthur L. Dahl and Maja Groff. 2020. <i>Global Governance and the Emergence of Global Institutions for the 21st Century</i>. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 545 p. doi:10.1017/9781108569293 <a href="https://www.cambridge.org/core/books/global-governance-and-the-emergence-of-global-institutions-for-the-21st-century/AF7D40B152C4CBEDB310EC5F40866A59">https://www.cambridge.org/core/books/global-governance-and-the-emergenc…</a></p> <p>2. Meadows, Donella. 1999. <i>Leverage Points: Places to Intervene in a System</i>. Hartland, Vermont: The Sustainability Institute. 19 p.</p> <p>3. 'Abdu'l-Bahá. 1875. <i>The Secret of Divine Civilization</i>. Wilmette, Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1957.</p> <p>4. His collected talks in America fill two volumes, but a relevant summary is 'Abdu'l-Baha. <i>Foundations of World Unity</i>. Wilmette, Illinois: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1945.</p> <p>5. Pope Francis. 2015. <i>Laudato Si': on care for our common home</i>. Encyclical (18 June 2015) <a href="http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/encyclicals/documents/papa-francesco_20150524_enciclica-laudato-si.html">http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/encyclicals/documents/papa-fr…</a></p> <p>6. Dahl, Arthur Lyon. 2019. <i>In Pursuit of Hope: A Guide for the Seeker</i>. Oxford: George Ronald. 194 p. <a href="http://www.grbooks.com/george-ronald-publisher-books/social-and-economic-development/inpursuitofhope-1557910160">http://www.grbooks.com/george-ronald-publisher-books/social-and-economi…</a>. For reading on smartphones: <a href="http://yabaha.net/dahl/hope/hope.html">http://yabaha.net/dahl/hope/hope.html</a></p> <hr style="width: 100%; height: 2px;" /> <div style="text-align: center;"> <p><img alt="" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" height="66" src="/gr/IEFlogo5.gif" width="142" /></p> <p><small>Last updated 2 April 2021</small></p> </div> </div> <section class="field field--name-field-blog-comments field--type-comment field--label-above comment-wrapper"> </section> <div class="field field--name-field-blog-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Blog tags</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/275" hreflang="en">Religion</a></div> </div> </div> Fri, 02 Apr 2021 10:30:17 +0000 Arthur Dahl 1140 at https://iefworld.org Science, Truth and Expert Advice https://iefworld.org/node/1139 <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Science, Truth and Expert Advice</span> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><span lang="" about="/user/1" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">admin</span></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">2. April 2021 - 12:58</span> <div class="field field--name-subjects field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/60" hreflang="en">Science</a></div> </div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><div style="text-align: center;"> <h2 style="text-align: center; color: rgb(0, 153, 0);">Science, Truth and Expert Advice</h2> <p>Excerpt from a letter of the Universal House of Justice<br /> Department of the Secretariat<br /> to an individual dated 11 February 2021</p> </div> <hr style="width: 100%; height: 2px;" /> <p>One of the unfortunate features of the present age is the difficulty of attaining truth, which seems to be an inherent characteristic of the process of disintegration that is assailing humanity in its transition to a new order. “In these days truthfulness and sincerity are sorely afflicted in the clutches of falsehood,” Bahá’u’lláh lamented, “and justice is tormented by the scourge of injustice.” Of course, there are a number of Bahá’í teachings that directly bear on this dilemma. To the extent to which the friends imbibe and hold fast to these teachings, they can guard themselves and their communities from the tumult buffeting society and contribute to its protection and transformation.</p> <p>The independent investigation of reality is a fundamental principle enunciated by Bahá’u’lláh, through which, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá explained, “the world of humanity may be saved from the darkness of imitation and attain to the truth”. In the Hidden Words, Bahá’u’lláh called the individual to observe justice, by whose aid “thou shalt see with thine own eyes and not through the eyes of others, and shalt know of thine own knowledge and not through the knowledge of thy neighbor.” An essential method for the attainment of truth is consultation — “the lamp of guidance which leadeth the way, and is the bestower of understanding.”</p> <p>Furthermore, the Bahá’í writings stress the importance of science. “Great indeed is the claim of scientists ... on the peoples of the world”, Bahá’u’lláh observed. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá wrote that the “sciences of today are bridges to reality” and repeatedly emphasized that “religion must be in conformity with science and reason”. Significantly, on an occasion when a scientific question was asked of Shoghi Effendi, he responded in a letter written on his behalf that “we are a religion and not qualified to pass on scientific matters”. And in reply to scientific issues raised on a number of occasions, he consistently advised Bahá’ís that such matters would need to be investigated by scientists.</p> <p>In light of the foregoing, when faced with issues of a scientific or medical nature, Bahá’ís should seek out and rely on the best expert advice available. For example, in connection with medical matters, believers should bear in mind Bahá’u’lláh’s statement in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas: “Resort ye, in times of sickness, to competent physicians; We have not set aside the use of material means, rather have We confirmed it through this Pen, which God hath made to be the Dawning-place of His shining and glorious Cause.” In relation to the coronavirus pandemic, the friends should follow the counsel of medical and other scientific experts on the advisability and efficacy of the various vaccination options that are becoming available and the wisdom of particular public health measures. They should not be concerned merely with their own personal choices and well-being, but in reaching their decisions, they should also consider their social responsibilities and the common good.</p> <p>Of course, with a new outbreak of a previously unknown disease, available information may change rapidly. If an individual believer is unclear as to what may be reputable sources on a given issue, he or she may seek the recommendations of Bahá’í institutions or friends who have scientific training. In rare instances when experts appear to be providing inconsistent opinions, then one would do well to pursue the prevailing or majority expert opinion. Responding through his secretary to a believer who had received conflicting medical advice, Shoghi Effendi once advised: “you should refer to other doctors, and follow the majority vote.” It is scientific consensus arrived at through the sound methods of science, rather than a particular opinion from an individual expert, that should be sought. In this regard, there are reputable national and international health agencies created for the purpose of assessing circumstances that impact public health and well-being, and of determining what can be considered the established scientific consensus.</p> <p>Through adherence to the above principles, Bahá’ís can offer a much-needed example of respect for science and truth. Yet, while these principles are straightforward and no doubt generally known to the friends, in recent years, the challenges associated with finding the truth pertaining to various issues in the wider society have grown more acute, creating greater opportunities for confusion and misdirection. In particular, one aspect of this breakdown that exacerbates the confusion is the systematic misuse of media and communication technologies — whether traditional or Internet-based. While the advancement of such technologies has had many positive effects and offers promise as yet unrealized, regrettably those same instrumentalities are vulnerable to exploitation and abuse, and too often can have socially destructive consequences. Through these vehicles, the uninformed, the self-interested, and the malicious can easily disseminate rumours, conspiracy theories, and outright falsehoods regarding just about any conceivable issue, including important scientific and medical ones. As these erroneous statements circulate and are repeated many times through different means, especially through social media — supported in some instances by isolated voices who may present themselves as experts — they take on the status of authoritative views in the minds of some. Information surrounding the current global pandemic is a prime example, with the consequences of such misinformation being potentially catastrophic. In the search for truth and understanding, the friends should therefore weed out those sources of information that prove to be biased and unreliable, which are attempting to offer unsubstantiated views for partisan purposes, in order to determine where consensus lies among reliable sources.</p> <p>There, of course, remain scientific or medical matters about which experts have legitimate differences of opinion. Believers may, thus, come to various conclusions about such matters, and there is no obligation for the friends to have uniformity of thought about them. However, they should not allow differing opinions to become a point of contention among themselves and should act in ways that demonstrate their care for the welfare of others. If specific questions arise in relation to the activities of the Bahá’í community, the friends should turn for resolution to the institutions of the Faith.</p> <hr style="width: 100%; height: 2px;" /> <div style="text-align: center;"> <p><img alt="" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" height="66" src="/gr/IEFlogo5.gif" width="142" /></p> <p><small>Last updated 2 April 2021</small></p> </div> </div> <section class="field field--name-field-comments field--type-comment field--label-above comment-wrapper"> </section> Fri, 02 Apr 2021 09:58:58 +0000 admin 1139 at https://iefworld.org Working to save islands and coral reefs from climate change https://iefworld.org/node/1137 <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Working to save islands and coral reefs from climate change</span> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><span lang="" about="/user/1" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">admin</span></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">20. March 2021 - 12:26</span> <div class="field field--name-subjects field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/9" hreflang="en">Climate change</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/11" hreflang="en">Coral reefs</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/32" hreflang="en">Islands</a></div> </div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><h2 style="text-align: center; color: rgb(0, 153, 0);">Working to save islands and coral reefs from climate change</h2> <hr style="width: 100%; height: 2px;" /> <p>IEF member Austin Bowden-Kerby in Fiji has worked for many decades to address the problems of coral reefs and the small islands that depend on them. He has pioneered techniques for restoring damaged coral reefs by growing coral fragments to a size where they can be replanted on the reefs, just as trees are used for reforestation, as long as the source of damage has been controlled. More recently, with climate change raising ocean temperatures and causing corals to bleach and die, he has been identifying more heat-resistant coral forms that can be used to replace bleached corals and maintain the basis of reef life. His coral restoration project in Fiji and Kiritimati was chosen as one of only six case studies globally by UNEP in a report published just last January: <a href="https://www.icriforum.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/Hein-et-al.-2020_UNEP-report-1.pdf">https://www.icriforum.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/Hein-et-al.-2020_U…</a>. The case study is also posted on its own at the Reef Resilience Network site: <a href="https://reefresilience.org/case-studies/south-pacific-restoration/">https://reefresilience.org/case-studies/south-pacific-restoration/</a>.</p> <p>Austin has also worked to train islanders in more sustainable lifestyles, creating a permaculture farm and Teitei Livelihoods Centre <a href="https://www.teiteifiji.org">https://www.teiteifiji.org</a> in Fiji in 2019. In 2018, the former president of Kiribati, Mr Annote Tong, visited the farm with a Dutch film crew. The Netherlands TV documentary they produced on sea level rise and impacts on the islanders in the Marshall Islands, Kiribati and Fiji (in Dutch, but with English interviews) is posted online: <a href="https://www.npostart.nl/na-ons-de-zondvloed/10-11-2019/VPWON_1289033">https://www.npostart.nl/na-ons-de-zondvloed/10-11-2019/VPWON_1289033</a>. It shows Austin explaining his coral work to the Dutch film-maker. If the corals on a reef are healthy, they may be able to grow and keep up with sea level rise, or at least protect the islands for longer.</p> <p>Austin advises that Fiji allows researchers and their families in on permit into the COVID-19 free country, passing through a two week quarantine on entry. Student interns can also come in on permit and Corals for Conservation can take up to five interns a year. They have a list of potential research topics for MS and PhD students. Anyone interested can write directly to Austin, whose adddress is available through the IEF secretariat.</p> <p>The paper by Austin Bowden-Kerby on <a href="/dbowden18">Reefs of Hope Strategy: Facilitating the Adaptation of Coral Reefs to Climate Change</a> is available in the papers section on this web site.</p> <hr style="width: 100%; height: 2px;" /> <div style="text-align: center;"> <p><img alt="" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" height="66" src="/gr/IEFlogo5.gif" width="142" /></p> <p><small>Last updated 20 March 2021</small></p> </div> </div> <section class="field field--name-field-comments field--type-comment field--label-above comment-wrapper"> </section> Sat, 20 Mar 2021 10:26:08 +0000 admin 1137 at https://iefworld.org G20 Interfaith Forum https://iefworld.org/node/1136 <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">G20 Interfaith Forum</span> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><span lang="" about="/user/1" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">admin</span></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">19. March 2021 - 21:18</span> <div class="field field--name-subjects field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/241" hreflang="en">Sustainable Development Goals</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/69" hreflang="en">Religion</a></div> </div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><div style="text-align: center;"> <h2 style="text-align: center; color: rgb(0, 153, 0);">G20 Interfaith Forum</h2> <h3 style=" color: rgb(0, 153, 0);">For Nature's Sake: A Moral Compass for the SDGs</h3> <p>Blog by Arthur Dahl</p> </div> <hr style="width: 100%; height: 2px;" /> <p>The G20 Interfaith Forum, established to provide inputs from a faith perspective to meetings of the G20, has set up a Religion and Environment Working Group that is exploring how faith perspectives might improve the indicators used to measure progress on the Sustainable Development Goals. The mandate of the Religion and Environment Working Group is to monitor developments, theoretical and applied, in the areas of religion and the environment that pertain to fulfillment of the various environment-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); to explore and reflect on the ethical implications emergent in how human social organization impacts, and is impacted by the environment; to establish and encourage dialogue of all stakeholders in these areas; and to draw on and strengthen the work of existing and emerging networks in all of these areas of endeavour.</p> <p>Two IEF board members, Victoria Thoresen and Arthur Dahl, are members of this Working Group that is preparing a policy paper on the topic. Arthur was asked to prepare a blog on the issue: "<i>For Nature's Sake: A Moral Compass for the SDGs</i>" that was published on the G20 Interfaith Forum website on 19 March. The link is <a href="https://blog.g20interfaith.org/2021/03/19/for-natures-sake-a-moral-compass-for-the-sdgs/">https://blog.g20interfaith.org/2021/03/19/for-natures-sake-a-moral-comp…</a>. Here is Arthur's blog.</p> <hr /> <p>The pandemic of 2020-21 has dislocated the world economy, disrupted social relationships, and brought great death and suffering, emphasizing the importance of health and healing to our well-being. It has also made evident the need for healing many other causes of suffering in our world, including an economy that treats the environment, the climate, ecosystem services and natural resources as externalities that can be ignored because they are not valued as capital and traded in the market, leaving us to face existential threats to the future of civilization. That same economic system, focused on maximizing short-term profits, creates great financial wealth for some while extreme poverty persists and half the world population is still struggling to meet basic needs.</p> <h3 style=" color: rgb(0, 153, 0);">A Framework for Sustainable Progress</h3> <p>Technological advances have transformed our world, and can easily be used to improve the common good and advance a sustainable civilization. However, they can just as easily be used to accelerate environmental destruction; to trap people in a consumer society relying on endless growth; to cultivate the basest aspects of human nature; and to invent new weapons of destruction. What is missing is an ethical dimension—a perspective that acknowledges there is a higher human purpose than just meeting material needs and desires; a moral compass that can give a positive direction to human society. This has traditionally been the role and purpose of the great faith traditions and of the world-views of Indigenous peoples.</p> <p>The <a href="https://sdgs.un.org/goals">Sustainable Development Goals</a> provide the accepted framework for the fundamental transformation needed in human society to resolve the threats from climate change; biodiversity collapse; the rape of the planet’s land, seas, and natural resources; and the economic deprivation and social fragmentation that marginalize and leave so many behind. The SDGs call for an integrated approach, since all these dimensions are part of an integrated biosphere, economy, and human system.</p> <h3 style=" color: rgb(0, 153, 0);">The Fuel Behind that Framework</h3> <p>But something more is needed: the motivation and political will to make the necessary changes in lifestyles, consumption patterns, energy sources, industrial processes, agricultural systems, economic paradigms, and institutions of governance.</p> <p>Motivation comes from the heart—the domain of spirituality and faith, of altruism and self-sacrifice, of courage and patience, of love for humanity and nature. This is what the faith traditions contribute to the vision of the SDGs. Just as the SDGs have targets and indicators to measure progress and encourage effort, so do we need to develop complementary indicators of the values that motivate change and build unity in our diversity. The youth of the world need hope today more than ever, and their energy and idealism can be channelled through inspiring ethical principles and values to drive positive change and innovation as we build forward together.</p> <p>The G20 leaders should incorporate this dimension into their policy recommendations and encourage partnerships with religions, faith traditions, and Indigenous peoples as valuable allies in the healing of the world and the achievement of the 2030 Agenda.</p> <p><small>Source: <a href="https://blog.g20interfaith.org/2021/03/19/for-natures-sake-a-moral-compass-for-the-sdgs/">https://blog.g20interfaith.org/2021/03/19/for-natures-sake-a-moral-comp…</a></small></p> <hr style="width: 100%; height: 2px;" /> <div style="text-align: center;"> <p><img alt="" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" height="66" src="/gr/IEFlogo5.gif" width="142" /></p> <p><small>Last updated 19 March 2021</small></p> </div> </div> <section class="field field--name-field-comments field--type-comment field--label-above comment-wrapper"> </section> Fri, 19 Mar 2021 19:18:45 +0000 admin 1136 at https://iefworld.org American Bahá'í Community and Needs of the Natural World https://iefworld.org/node/1135 <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">American Bahá&#039;í Community and Needs of the Natural World</span> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><span lang="" about="/user/1" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">admin</span></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">17. March 2021 - 12:10</span> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><div style="text-align: center;"> <h2 style="text-align: center; color: rgb(0, 153, 0);">American Bahá'í Community and Needs of the Natural World</h2> <p>Letter from the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States<br /> 12 March 2021</p> </div> <hr style="width: 100%; height: 2px;" /> <p>The National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States has written to the American Bahá'í community calling for united action and universal participation in efforts to address climate change and other threats to the natural world. Of course, as with all such messages at the national level, they are directed at the specific conditions in a national Baha'i community, but they can inspire us to consider what is relevant in our own communities to put Bahá'í principles into action. The letter was accompanied by a compilation of quotations on <a href="/fl/US_NSAenv_sd.pdf"><i>The Bahá'í Faith, Environment and Sustainable Development</i></a> available on the IEF website.</p> <hr /> <p>March 12, 2021<br /> To the American Bahá’í community</p> <p>Dear Bahá’í Friends,<br /> As we look ahead to our celebration of Naw-Rúz—the beginning of a new year and the start of the eagerly anticipated spring season—it is an opportune moment for us all to reflect on the needs of the natural world. Increasingly, the impacts of a changing climate are being felt both at home and abroad. A recent <a href="https://www.noaa.gov/education/resource-collections/climate/climate-change-impacts">analysis by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration</a> describes some of the dire environmental stress we may witness in the near future.</p> <p>While it is unlikely that the institutions of the Faith will make decisions regarding the application of technical solutions to climate change, they will, no doubt, contribute over time to the discourse on spiritual responses to its causes and its remediation. In that regard, the significance of the framework for action that the Bahá’í community has developed over years of experience should not be understated. As we know, by utilizing this framework to suffuse the principles of the Cause of Bahá’u’lláh into communities across the country, localities will begin to take increasing responsibility for advancing their material and spiritual prosperity. One element of this increased sense of concern and volition may be a closer examination of the underlying forces that have driven the use of the Earth’s resources and of how moral, or not, that use has been.</p> <p>Inextricably tied to the implications of applying a moral framework to our use of the Earth’s resources is participation. It is clear that tackling the pressing issues of our age—from climate change to economic inequality to racial prejudice—will require increasing levels of unity among individuals from all walks of life and involvement from all members of society.</p> <p>As one contribution towards this process, the National Spiritual Assembly, through its Office of Public Affairs, has prepared a compilation exploring the intersection of the Faith, the environment, climate, and sustainable development. It can be found <a href="/fl/US_NSAenv_sd.pdf">here</a> and can be shared in your respective communities. The friends may also wish to consider taking the Wilmette Institute’s course on Climate Change (April 8–June 2), or hosting an event to coincide with <a href="https://www.faithclimateactionweek.org/">Faith Climate Action Week</a>, an annual initiative of Interfaith Power and Light, this year taking place April 16–25. Concurrently, April 22 is "<a href="https://www.earthday.org/">Earth Day</a>," which provides us all with the opportunity to participate in a variety of projects in support of the environment. We know the friends will be mindful that these endeavors are meant to enrich the work of community building—indeed, are essential to it—not compete with it.</p> <p>The National Assembly hopes that these resources will be useful to you as you continue to bring the healing message of the Blessed Beauty to the communities in which you serve.</p> <p>With loving Bahá’í greetings,<br /> Kenneth E. Bowers<br /> Secretary<br /> National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States</p> <hr style="width: 100%; height: 2px;" /> <div style="text-align: center;"> <p><img alt="" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" height="66" src="/gr/IEFlogo5.gif" width="142" /></p> <p><small>Last updated 17 March 2021</small></p> </div> </div> <section class="field field--name-field-comments field--type-comment field--label-above comment-wrapper"> </section> Wed, 17 Mar 2021 10:10:58 +0000 admin 1135 at https://iefworld.org