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Sustainability is about ecology, economy and equity.- Ralph Bicknese


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Aotearoa New Zealand: Sweet As!


Eighteen students, thirty-thousand sheep, two Kiwis, twelve days, and one incredible experience in Aotearoa New Zealand. 

These numbers only begin to describe the study abroad I recently participated in. This trip was organized for more than two years by two Kiwis: Dr. Ross Stewart, SBGE Dean and Professor of Accounting, and Dr. Daniel Schofield, Professor of Chemistry.

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Daniel and Ross at the Waimangu Inferno Crater Lake. Photo courtesy of Daniel Schofield.

After Fall Quarter finals, eighteen students studied abroad in Aotearoa New Zealand. We focused on aspects of environmental and cultural sustainability from both accounting and chemistry perspectives.

“Aotearoa is the [indigenous] Māori name for the country of New Zealand. The literal translation of Aotearoa is ‘land of the long white cloud’” (Māori Tourism Lmtd.).

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The Connection between Sustainability and Faith: A reflection in regards to Pope Francis’ Encyclical Letter (Part 1)


Following up on the release of the Papal encyclical Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home  earlier this year, Pope Francis designated September 1 within the Catholic Church as “World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation” (shout out to the Orthodox Church, which has been observing this day of prayer since 1989). While Seattle Pacific’s roots are distinctively Wesleyan, we also consider ourselves whole-heartedly ecumenical, believing that our faith can be enriched and our learning increased when we listen to voices from a variety of denominations. And indeed here, in relation to the Pope’s emphasis on environmental stewardship, there is much to be gleaned.

For you non-Catholic, non-theology majors, a papal encyclical is a written teaching focusing on a particular doctrinal issue, usually addressed to leaders within the Catholic Church. Laudato Si’ (“Praise Be to You”) is unique because it is addressed to the entire world, not just bishops or Catholics. It’s also unique because it is unheard of for a major religious leader to place care for creation so centrally to what it means to be Christian, or for that matter, what it means to be human. That Pope Francis chose this topic for his first encyclical speaks volumes.[1]

There are a number of fantastic summaries of Laudato Si’—and in fact, this post was inspired by one of them—but there’s enough content in the encyclical that I thought it was worth spending a few posts summarizing and reflecting on it.

Current Problems

The Pope’s list of current problems includes pollution and climate change, the issue of water (is it clean? who has access?), loss of biodiversity, decline in the quality of human life and the breakdown of society, global inequality, and weak responses. This is just all in chapter one, and it is really sobering and difficult to read. There are just so many problems to tackle and taking a step back and letting them sink in is tough. The Pope also takes aim at economics-centered thinking, stating that “when nature is viewed solely as a source of profit and gain, this has serious consequences for society,” consequences that are evident in the current issues we face.

What gives me the most hope though is that, as a Christian, the tenants of my faith provide both deep motivation to change these issues and direction on how to go about bringing change. The Pope notes this when he comments on “the rich contribution which religions can make towards an integral ecology and the full development of humanity.” He goes on to state that, “Others view religions simply as a subculture to be tolerated. Nonetheless, science and religion, with their distinctive approaches to understanding reality, can enter into an intense dialogue fruitful for both.” As a nursing major, I am particularly fond of science, so these statements are powerful to encouraging me and others to include both faith and science in our dialogue about change. Continue reading


UW Study Finds Glacial Melting Inevitable


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According to this article in The Seattle Times, a new study out of the UW labels the collapse of large portions of the Antarctic ice sheet inevitable, projecting sea levels to rise by several feet. The only malleable factor seems to be that of timeframe; how the world responds to climate change determining whether the collapse occurs in hundreds or thousands of years. Further danger lies in the way other ice sheets will respond to initial melting, which could transform a few feet of sea level rise into twelve feet or more. In a computer simulation of projected melting, UW researchers found that no matter what the initial degree of melting was, the connecting glacier still vanished as a result. Continue reading


An Impending Warm


drought_2398818bAccording to a recent study in the journal nature, areas all over the world will soon reach tipping points leading to an overall hotter climate. The study indicates the year in which different cities of the world are expected to experience dramatically warmer climates (Seattle’s closest neighbor in the report, San Francisco, is set at 2049). It also suggests that the world’s overall temperature will set a new record for heat every year following 2047. Alarming to say the least. Continue reading


Film & Sustainability Series: The Day After Tomorrow and Climate Change


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The movie that brought environmental issues to popular film — The Day After Tomorrow (2004). Though nearly a decade old, The Day After Tomorrow still reverberates in cinematic and the American psyche. This movie was one of the first blockbusters ever to center around a man-made ecological disaster.

Though it tends towards the didactic, this film greatly impacted our cultural awareness of global warming, and made the topic open for public discussion without political interference. Though The Day After Tomorrow does contain ideological points that are influenced by politics, the main concern is our impact upon the environment. Continue reading