29 February 2008

Highlighted Environmental Artist

Robert ParkeHarrison: The Architect's Brother


"ParkeHarrison conjured a destiny in which humankind's overuse of the land had led to environments spent and abandoned, with the exception of one indefatigable spirit (portrayed by ParkeHarrison himself). Donning the ill-fitting suit of the Everyman, ParkeHarrison is the earthbound relation to the Creator-the Architect's Brother-complete with human foibles. With lyric poeticism and wry humor, he is the romantic anti-hero, taking up tasks of preservation that appear futile, yet also lay the foundation for the potential redemption of the natural world. Placing himself within the images, ParkeHarrison attempts to patch holes in the sky, construct rain-making machines, and chase storms to create electricity."(source)

The Sower

The Architect's Brother embodies aspects of theater, sculpture, painting, and photography-creating a mythical world that mirrors our world, where nature is barely domesticated or controlled.

The Clearing

"Inherent in this civilization of consumption and technology is the waste and destruction of the vulnerable earth. The mythic world we create in our photographs mirrors our world, where nature is domesticated and controlled. The scenes we depict however, display futile attempts to save or rejuvenate nature. We portray these attempts within our work by inventing machines and contraptions from junk and obsolete equipment. These contraptions are intended to help the character we portray to jump-start a dying planet. We patch holes in the sky, create rain machines, chase storms to create electricity, communicate with the earth to learn its needs. Within these scenes, we create less refined, less scientific, more ritualistic and poetic possibilities to work with nature rather than destroy it." Robert and Shana ParkeHarrison

"He (Robert ParkeHarrison) comes down on the side of lamentation but expresses it with an unusual combination of poetic license, laboriously constructed props and a wry and melancholy, vaguely allusive sense of myth. He appears in every picture, in a black suit and white shirt with no tie, a kind of Everyman or a minor employee of the universe, patiently, dutifully doing a job that's too big for him. That job is essentially to take care of the devastated Earth with inadequate equipment. He works or performs obscure rituals in large and empty landscapes beneath gray skies. Perhaps this is one man's private way of saying that neither pollution, global warming nor digitalization can entirely extinguish the hands-on experience and the human desire to create." StumbleUpon blogger

Mending the Earth

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27 February 2008

Does Global Warming Motivate You?

The main environmental motivator these days seems to be one of fear. The press is jumping on every alarming article relating to the environment. Additionally, authors like James Kunstler, promote fear and despair through his best-selling books. In my opinion this is turning many against the environment and sustainable living. This leads me to think about what motivates us in our lives.

As a Mormon missionary, my two years were spent under two very distinct mission presidents. The first had a military background and would pound his fist on the table during zone conferences, raising his voice to inspire us to greater diligence. The second was soft spoken, telling us often of his love for us and expressing appreciation for what we were doing. Both were effective. Some responded better to one over the other depending on their personality.

Fear, as a motivator, doesn't work in many cases. This study shows how positive messages, rather than threats, are more likely to help smokers overcome their habit. Other powerful motivators include duty, love, and selfishness; a soldier on the front line, a father caring for a sick child, a worker doing well in order to receive a promotion. I think that each of these has a place even though we may view certain motives as loftier than others.

How does this relate to the environment? I have summarized my list of Environmental Motivators below:

Global Warming – based on fear (we are destroying the earth)
Personal Gain – based on selfishness (we can benefit from the earth)
Stewardship – based on duty (we are responsible for the earth)
Sacred Creation – based on love (we are connected to the earth)

Global warming and eco-trendy products seem to get all the coverage. Stewardship and the sacredness of creation rarely make headlines, but they still exist. In the end, isn't the most newsworthy report that when millions of people resolve to "rise a little higher, be a little better" (Gordon B Hinckley) all forms of life on the earth will benefit?

An example from my own life: I have used public transit to commute to and from work for many years because the purchase, gas, and maintenance of another vehicle was expensive. My motive was purely based on saving money, but it helped the environment regardless of my intent. There are many ways an environmental benefit can be gained, even if we may be driven by very different, and sometimes opposing, agendas.

What motivates you? Have you changed any part of your life or habits relating to the environment? If so, what motivated you to make the change? If not, what is holding you back?
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23 February 2008

Choose The Right…Turn

UPS is making like Derek Zoolander, and not turning left. They have eliminated left-hand turn routes from their 95,000 truck fleet using a "package flow" software program. It has been a year now and the results are in:

"Last year, according to Heather Robinson, a U.P.S. spokeswoman, the software helped the company shave 28.5 million miles off its delivery routes, which has resulted in savings of roughly three million gallons of gas and has reduced CO2 emissions by 31,000 metric tons." (source)

No more engine idling, waiting for the left-turn light. Maybe they are also using these trucks. Obviously the main reason for doing this was to save money, but the situation is a win-win for everyone involved. UPS saves time and money, our air is cleaner, and their vehicles aren’t on congested roads as much. Additionally, this type of study is further proof that one-way streets, jughandles, and traffic circles are more efficient than our current two-way streets. But updating infrastructure is costly and time-consuming. So what can we do? One possibility is to think about alternative routes while driving around town that will save us time by not making left-hand turns. This would especially be easy to do in areas we are familiar with. For those who may think small suggestions like this are crazy, you may be right, but I offer the following words from Alma to his son:

"Now ye may suppose that this is foolishness in me; but behold I say unto you, that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass…" (Alma 37:6)

Finally, the church obviously has an enormous fleet of vehicles worldwide. Any attempt at reducing this fleet would be good to hear about. Walking, biking, or using public transit is ideal for missionary work in urban areas and even suburbs. One good thing happening in US missions: senior couples generally bring their own vehicle rather than the mission providing one. Another area the church appears to be doing well at is limiting the number of vehicle miles each month by the missionaries. This was done even when I served a mission and helps immensely in reduced trips, planning, and efficiency. Finally, the church has an ongoing vehicle fleet sale out of Salt Lake City. I was pleasantly surprised to see that two of the 18 current vehicles for sale are Hybrids (week beginning 18 Feb 2008). It would be good to see more, but this is still a good start.

Read more on "Choose The Right…Turn"

19 February 2008

Action Day for Utah 02/19/08

Action Day Tips

Days when ozone is expected to be high:
-Conserve electricity and set your air conditioner at a higher temperature.
-Choose a cleaner commute—share a ride to work or use public transportation. Bicycle or walk to errands when possible.
-Refuel cars and trucks after dusk.
-Combine errands and reduce trips.
-Limit engine idling.
-Use household, workshop,and garden chemicals in ways that keep evaporation to a minimum, or try to delay using them when poor air quality is forecast.

Days when particle pollution is expected to be high:
-Reduce or eliminate fireplace and wood stove use.
-Avoid using gas-powered lawn and garden equipment.
-Avoid burning leaves, trash and other materials.


"Action days are usually called when the AQI gets into the unhealthy ranges. Different air pollution control agencies call them at different levels. In some places, action days are called when the AQI is forecast to be Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups, or Code Orange. In this case, the groups that are sensitive to the pollutant should reduce exposure by reducing prolonged or heavy exertion outdoors. For ozone this includes: children and adults who are active outdoors, and people with lung disease, such as asthma. For particle pollution this includes: people with heart or lung disease, older adults and children. Occasionally, an action day is declared when the AQI is Moderate, or Code Yellow, if the levels are expected to approach Code Orange levels." (source)

Image by tephdra

Utah's Winter Air Quality Program: "Red Light, Green Light"
Temperature Inversions Impact Air Quality

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18 February 2008

Is the Desert Blossoming?

Desert sky
Dream beneath the desert sky
The rivers run but soon run dry
We need new dreams tonight

(Lyrics from ‘In God’s Country’ by U2)

From the time they left the United States in 1846 to head West, the Mormons were involuntarily introduced to living in the desert. Since that time, the country has followed them West, against the recommendations of John Wesley Powell. "Powell challenged the popularly held belief that ‘rain follows the plow’—that is, that tilling the soil actually increases the annual rainfall, or that as the population grows, the moisture intensifies." And yet today, three of the fastest growing metro areas in America are Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Los Angeles. At the end of 2006, seven of the top ten largest cities in the country all bordered Mexico. (source) The population is shifting to the desert and is quickly running out of water.

Last week was reported that Lake Mead, the largest artificial reservoir in the country, has a 50% chance of going dry by 2021 because of increasing demand from the booming populations. (here and here) The population estimate for Las Vegas and Clark County is two million, Phoenix is four million, and greater Los Angeles is 13 million.

These three cities also happen to be some of the largest concentrations of Mormons outside of Utah. There are 83 Stakes in Arizona, 33 in Nevada, and 158 in California. Adding these to the other desert-climate states of Idaho (107), Texas (52), Utah (425), Wyoming (13), and New Mexico (14), for a total of 885, which is 1/3 of the entire church total of 2745.

With one third of the Church living in the American desert, how does this affect our attitudes towards the land? Is it even sustainable to live in a desert? With very little rain, past policies built dams on rivers to provide a water source for living and irrigating with. River flows were modified and aquatic species were threatened or extinguished. The excellent book by Marc Reisner, Cadillac Desert, states "By the late 1970’s, there were 1251 major reservoirs in California, and every significant river—save one—had been dammed at least once." (page 9). Irrigation was needed to expand into the west, hydroelectric power was the cash cow, and so dams were built by the thousands, creating "a blanket death sentence for the free-flowing rivers in sixteen states." (page 136)

Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Utah, Rand Decker, stated, "The Colorado River, already utilized at 100-plus percent, will have more demands put on it as the Southwest continues to grow. The need for a well thought out, overarching policy, including instructional and technical considerations, will also grow. Utah is, literally, right in the middle of this." (source)

But is water conservation even a high priority to members of the church who have at least 1/3 of its members living in a desert? As of 2002, Utahns were the 2nd highest per capita water users in the country while also being the 2nd driest state in the nation (next to Nevada). Additionally, "Utahns waste up to 25 to 50 percent of all the water they use outside by relying on automatic sprinkling systems, which tend to over water by about 44 percent; by planting water-consuming Kentucky bluegrass lawn, rather than native, drought-resistant grasses; and by growing gardens of water-needy types of vegetation rather than native shrubs and flowers." (source)

From the scriptures, we learn about the temporary sojourn of both the children of Israel and Lehi’s family through the desert. After eight years of being led by the Liahona through the "fertile parts of the wilderness" (1 Nephi 16:16), Lehi’s family arrived at the land of Bountiful, with "its much fruit and also wild honey; and all these things were prepared of the Lord that we might not perish." (1 Nephi 17:5) Moses provided food (Exodus 16) and water (Exodus 15:22-25 and Exodus 17:1-6) miraculously to the children of Israel during their 40 years of wandering through the desert. Is the sojourn of the church in the desert likewise only temporary? If water sources run dry, is picking up and moving an option?

Oft-quoted scriptures about the desert include "the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose" (Isaiah 35:1) and "he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the Lord." (Isaiah 51:3) Are these scriptures speaking literally? Isn’t this scripture speaking metaphorically for Israel receiving the gospel and flourishing? Because literally speaking, the western United States is still a desert. Irrigation has made it possible to live in such a climate, but annual rainfall is still very low.

Looking away from America, Dubai, also located in a desert, is the fastest growing city in the world. With no reliable water source, they have invested in the technology of desalination plants from the ocean to provide their water. "DEWA delivers water to almost 305,000 customers across the emirate of Dubai. As the Emirate continues its vibrant progress in all spheres, DEWA meets the growing demand for water and electricity, by advanced planning, preparing the necessary groundwork and execution of its projects at the highest quality, safety and environmental standards." (source)

Latter-day Saints pioneered the settling of the desert West. What is our proposed solution for the upcoming water shortage? Are we prepared? Here is one interesting concept, based on building greenhouses over microdams. David O Mckay said, "With every progressive age of the world, intellectual, nobleminded leaders have sought a better way of living than that which was current....The Church...offers to the world the solution of all its social problems."

As Latter-day Saints, do we really believe this? If so, what is the answer? Migration?Technology? A Miracle…?
Read more on "Is the Desert Blossoming?"

16 February 2008

CEO Stewardship, Mormon Style (part I)

Growing up my parents made it a point to support businesses that closed shop on Sunday. In that same light, I would like to promote those businesses that are making a difference in the world by how they treat the environment. Not only should we be familiar with these companies, we should do our best to support them, thereby encouraging others to follow suit.

It’s true that corporations often get a lot of criticism, but many, as I’ve found, take seriously their stewardship and are quite responsible when it comes to the environment. Some are better than others, obviously, but here are eight corporations that are striving to lessen their impact on the environment. Most claims to LDS connections were taken from http://famousmormons.net/.

EarthShell – Owings Mills, Maryland
CEO Simon K Hodson (retired)

Environmental Policy
"Designed from the ground up with the environment in mind, EarthShell answers the growing demand for a green solution to paper, plastic and foam. EarthShell is made in the USA using starch from renewable potatoes and corn, mixed with abundant limestone. This revolutionary, patented technology delivers the hard-to-find combination of convenience, quality and environmental responsibility. The new packaging poses substantially fewer risks to wildlife than polystyrene foam packaging because it biodegrades when exposed to moisture in nature, physically disintegrates in water when crushed or broken, and can be composted in a commercial facility (where available) or in the backyard. In addition, the company has recently introduced flexible packaging in the form of sandwich wraps that have also been developed using a ‘life cycle inventory’. Like EarthShell's rigid packaging, the wraps also biodegrade when exposed to moisture and bacteria in nature and can be composted."

Black & Decker – Towson, Maryland
CEO Nolan D Archibald

Environmental Policy
"We recognize that a healthy environment is integral to the long-term sustainability of Black & Decker. Therefore, we are committed to reducing the impact of our business on the environment. We go beyond compliance with laws in areas such as battery recycling, product packaging, purchasing and manufacturing practices. Reducing waste and energy usage serves the dual purpose of helping the environment and lowering our costs. Our customers are increasingly interested in the environmental aspects of our products, and we will continue to innovate by utilizing design-for-environment principles in research and development." Additionally, here is a lot of good information on steps the company is taking including environmental management, monitoring, product materials & packaging, and waste, emissions and energy use.

AES Corporation – Arlington, Virginia
CEO Roger W Sant (emeritus)
The AES Corporation is one of the world’s largest global power companies operating in 27 different countries on 5 continents. The corporation provides up to 100 million people around the world with power and generates up to 44,000 watts of electricity. Mr. Sant is an environmentalist and under his leadership the AES Corporation sponsored the planting of 50 million trees and helped to preserve the rainforest of South America…He currently serves on the board of directors for the World Wildlife Fund and the Anacostia Waterfront Corporation. (source)

Environmental Policy
"A safe and reliable supply of electricity is a prerequisite for economic development, security and public welfare—and we take this responsibility seriously. We track and seek to continuously improve the safety and environmental performance of each AES business. Our renewable energy portfolio keeps expanding, too, which is an outcome of our commitment to use the world’s resources wisely."

"Throughout his career, Sant has been at the forefront in the efficient and economical development of energy resources and in promoting increased global awareness through his tireless efforts to publicize and address concerns on energy utilization, environmental conservation and wildlife protection." (source)

Roger Sant has authored several books on the environment:
-After Kyoto : Are There Rational Pathways to a Sustainable Global Energy System?
-Creating Abundance: America's Least-Cost Energy Strategy

"My original notions about social responsibility arose because I had seen a lot of environmental irresponsibility. I headed up the energy conservation program at the Federal Energy Administration from 1974 to 1976. It was there that I came to believe that people couldn’t keep doing unsustainable things—in terms of pollution, mainly…Companies could handle social responsibility in an integrative way, not tack it on at the end of their thinking about operations, like some kind of afterthought. That is, business could build social responsibility into its values and practices." Roger Sant in ‘Organizing for Empowerment: An Interview with AES’s Roger Sant and Dennis Bakke’ (from the book ‘Interviews with CEO’s, Harvard Business Review’, page 59-60)

Headwaters, Inc – South Jordan, Utah
CEO Kirk A Benson

Environmental Policy
"Creating value through innovative advancements in stewardship of natural resources throughout the world. Headwaters Energy Services is the largest provider of technology and chemical reagents to the coal-based synthetic fuels industry. The company is using its engineered fuels expertise to develop new opportunities in the burgeoning clean coal marketplace. Headwaters Resources is America’s largest manager and marketer of coal combustion products, including fly ash. Utilization of these materials improves performance of building products while creating significant environmental benefits. Headwaters Construction Materials is a market leader in designing, manufacturing and marketing architectural stone veneer under the Eldorado Stone brand and also holds regional market leadership positions in manufacturing and marketing concrete blocks and brick. HCM also developed innovative FlexCrete aerated concrete."

Knight Transportation – Phoenix, Arizona
CEO Kevin Knight
Knight Transportation, Inc. is a truckload carrier offering dry van, refrigerated, and brokerage services to customers through a growing network of 36 service centers located throughout the United States.

Environmental Policy
"As a SmartWay partner, Knight Transportation continues its longstanding commitment to the efficient use of our nation’s energy resources. This commitment is illustrated through a strong company culture of fuel economy management, coupled with a constant search for cost-effective, fuel saving technologies. Knight has also illustrated national leadership and environmental commitment by being at the forefront in testing and implementing clean burning, low emissions engines throughout its fleet. These efforts, combined with extensive Driving Associate training, investment in idle reduction technologies, equipment specification optimization, and tire pressure management are all key to Knight’s business plan."

Marriott International – Washington DC
CEO Bill Marriott
Bill is also a member of Sixth Quorum of Seventy in LDS Church, and a Director of the National Geographic Society, which promotes environmental conservation. So the environment has a friend in this General Authority promoting sustainability. Additionally, Bill Marriott has a blog with several posts that deal with the greening of Marriott.

Environmental Policy
"Marriott’s Environmentally Conscious Hospitality Operations program (ECHO) focuses on water and energy conservation, clean air initiatives, wildlife preservation, 'reduce-reuse-recycle' waste management, and clean-up campaigns. Marriott is the first hospitality management company to join the EPA's Climate Leaders program and is on track to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by nearly one-fifth over the ten year period from 2000 to 2010--approaching one million tons of climate warming gases. In January, the company announced that it has reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 70,000 tons in one year – the equivalent of removing 10,000 cars from the road."

Areas in which Marriott is making a difference include:
-‘Re-Lamp’ campaign to save 65% on lighting costs
-Linen Reuse program to save 17% on water bills
-Smoke-free policy to improve indoor air quality
‘Ozone Activated Laundry’ which saves 25% of energy in laundry systems
-Outdoor sign replacement program, switching to LED and fiber optics, saving 40% in one year
-Replacing 400,000 shower heads to reduce water use by 10%
-Appointing three Regional Directors of Energy and a LEED AP architect (first Marriott LEED-certified hotel is The Inn & Conference Center in Adelphi, Maryland).

Huntsman – Salt Lake City, Utah
CEO, Peter Huntsman
Huntsman is one of the worlds largest chemical companies. Its operating companies manufacture products for a variety of global industries, including chemicals, plastics, automotive, aviation, textiles, footwear, paints and coatings, construction, technology, agriculture, health care, detergent, personal care, furniture, appliances and packaging.

Environmental Policy
"At Huntsman, we are dedicated to sustainable chemistry, with a strategic business unit wholly devoted to working closely with our research and development professionals across our company in our ongoing effort to identify new opportunities to use our expertise to help address the world's most pressing environmental needs. Increasingly, we believe our feedstocks for making differentiated chemicals will come from bio-based sources…Renewable fuel technologies are rapidly emerging and we constantly scan the renewable space for potential raw materials. In addition, we are evaluating feedstocks from the agriculture industry to make new and novel bio-based products."

"To foster the development of an energy-conscious culture, an Energy Management Initiative has been deployed at our manufacturing facilities. We have created a baseline for our historical energy usage, benchmarked this usage across the industry and within our company, and are challenging our plants to cut energy usage by 10%." (source) Additionally, they have a 44-page annual Environment, Health and Safety Report, including a five year improvement plan, reports on air emissions, greenhouse gas emissions, energy efficiency, discharges to water, generation of waste, and environmental accomplishments.

Avista Corp – Spokane, Washington
CEO Gary Ely (retired 31 Dec 2007)
Avista is an energy company involved in the production, transmission and distribution of energy as well as other energy-related businesses. Avista is considered one of the premier operators of hydroelectric facilities in the nation, with eight hydroelectric plants on two rivers.

Environmental Policy
"Avista Corp. and all of its enterprises will conduct business in an environmentally responsible manner. We contribute to natural and cultural resource stewardship by cooperating with others to employ sound management practices for those resources affected by our facilities or our operations. We recycle when possible and we ensure the safe handling and disposal of waste. We minimize the amount and toxicity of waste generated. We strive to prevent releases of hazardous materials into the environment by developing and implementing hazardous materials management plans." Additionally, Avista reports saving $65,000-$70,000 a year in refuse disposal costs from their recycling efforts.
Read more on "CEO Stewardship, Mormon Style (part I)"

13 February 2008

Update: additional featured site

In addition to yesterday's post sharing sites that have featured GMA, I have since learned that GMA was also featured in the Deseret Morning News 'Today on the Bloggernacle' this past Monday.

Emily W Jensen stated: — "An insightful article on how Small Temples Promote Sustainable Living, in which the Green Mormon Architect surmises how the smaller temples leave a smaller carbon footprint." Read more on "Update: additional featured site"

12 February 2008

Optimism vs. Pessimism

GMA has been featured this past week on several other sites:

-By Common Consent
BCC Zeitcast for February 11, 2008
talked about ‘Smaller Temples Promote Sustainable Living

-Thmazing’s Thmusings
The Sustainable Svithe: crafted from recycled pieces of others’ blog posts
talked about ‘A Light to the World?

-Latter-day Sustainability
Resource: Mormon Enviro-Bloggers
talked about ‘Is the Conference Center Green?

The podcast discussion at By Common Consent had several comments regarding environmentalism in general, one of which I wanted to mention. They brought up how every conversation about the environment ends up being so depressing it kills the conversation. I have also experienced this but definitely do not want this site to become a ‘Debbie Downer’ type of site. By focusing on the role the planet plays in our life, and how we can improve our stewardship in this regard, I am hoping for a more positive outcome and discussion. President Hinckley taught us about this optimism:

“Of course there are hours of concern and anxiety. We all worry. But the Lord has told us to lift our hearts and rejoice. I see so many people . . . who seem never to see the sunshine, but who constantly walk with storms under cloudy skies. Cultivate an attitude of happiness. Cultivate a spirit of optimism. Walk with faith, rejoicing in the beauties of nature, in the goodness of those you love, in the testimony which you carry in your heart concerning things divine.” Gordon B. Hinckley

So my intent will be to point out what we are doing well, where we can improve, and to hopefully maintain the optimism Hinckley describes. The environmental movement’s equivalent of this optimism is Paul Hawken and his book, Blessed Unrest. In it he talks about the challenge of balancing the pessimism of the future with the optimism of today. He states, “If you look at the science that describes what is happening on earth today and aren’t pessimistic, you don’t have the correct data. If you meet the people in this unnamed movement and aren’t optimistic, you haven’t got a heart.” He continues, “It is not a liberal or conservative activity; it is a sacred act.” (Blessed Unrest, p. 4-5)

Read more on "Optimism vs. Pessimism"

10 February 2008

Highlighted Environmental Artist

For those subscribed to this feed, sorry if you got several unintelligent drafts of postings in the past day. I accidentally posted a draft - twice! I was able to delete it (both times), but I think it still shows up in the feed...

So here is a new feature where I would like to highlight an artist who has done work that relates to the environment.

Robert Smithson: Spiral Jetty

Photo from Estate of Robert Smithson

NY Times article about Smithson's work:
"The most famous work of American art that almost nobody has ever seen in the flesh is Robert Smithson's ''Spiral Jetty'': 6,650 tons of black basalt and earth in the shape of a gigantic coil, 1,500 feet long, projecting into the remote shallows of the Great Salt Lake in Utah, where the water is rosé red from algae."

The reason I post about Smithson now is there is a newly proposed oil drilling near the Spiral Jetty that is causing concern. It is worried that the drilling and extraction of oil will disrupt the natural environment of the lake with barges, equipment, and introducing toxins and chemicals into the wetlands. There is also concern about traffic and noise from the drilling and operations. The owner of the land sculpture, Dia Art Foundation, is calling on the State of Utah to consider the effects of what they are doing. They are also encouraging the public to write to the Utah Public Lands Policy Coordination Office (template letter here).

Read more on "Highlighted Environmental Artist"

08 February 2008

Small Temples promote sustainable living

The small temple concept is a powerful one that may be leading us towards smaller, more sustainable communities.

-Less travel. Traveling great distances is not sustainable, cost-effective, or desirable. In the global context of the church, if the small temple concept continues to move forward, hundreds of thousands of families will be blessed every year with more time and money from reduced hours of travel and prices of fuel. Additionally, this helps decrease the carbon footprint of the collective church. I don't have any hard data, but since more than half the church resides outside of the United States, lets assume that prior to the small temple concept, most members lived a good distance from a temple. Even growing up in California, we were 3 hours from the nearest temple, or about 150 miles. If we assume 1 million members visit the temple twice a year, and have to travel an average of 300 miles round trip, this alone is a carbon footprint of 211,190.48, totalling $1,267,142.88 to offset the travel and become carbon neutral each year. On a churchwide global scale, these numbers can get staggering rather quickly.

-Can be built on any site. The last few years we have seen Temples spring up in suburban neighborhoods, the middle of downtowns of large cities, as adaptive reuse of existing buildings, as tenant improvements (one or two floors) in a larger development, etc. There is a lot of potential here, especially since this is simply a continuation of the first temple endowments which were given on the second floor of a red brick store in Nauvoo, Illinois.

-Limited hours open. Using the small temple concept allows for efficient and flexible use of resources depending on the area served. Most are open only by appointment which means it shuts down when not in use; lights go out, heaters and A/C are turned off. The savings from the utility bills alone makes this concept worth it. Having appointments also consolidates people into fewer sessions, and ensures that each session is full of people. When I lived in the Bay Area, it didn't feel right to go into a session in the Oakland Temple as one of only a few people in an enormous room.

With the church spreading all over the earth, it is possible that the days of the large, imposing temples such as Salt Lake, Washington DC, or Oakland are gone. The situation in Oakland is that it appears to be far too large for normal everyday use. With temples now in Sacramento and Fresno, Oakland primarily serves only the Bay area now. Granted, there is nothing as impressive as the Oakland temple and its site overlooking the Bay Area. It is one of my favorite temples. But the small temple concept would work nicely even in the heavily populated Bay area with potentially one in San Jose, one in San Francisco, and one in Walnut Creek.

Whether or not the above reasons were intended, the small temple concept provides lasting positive consequences that will bless the church and the environment for years to come. Let's hope that this form of bringing the temples to the people will continue and that it will be successful.

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04 February 2008

Words of the Prophets

With the recent passing of President Hinckley, I have thought about and been curious to find words of the prophets regarding this earth and our environment. This is by no means complete, but is a sampling of some meaningful quotes I have come across.

Gordon B Hinckley
"What then shall you do with Jesus that is called Christ? This earth is his creation. When we make it ugly, we offend him."

Howard W Hunter
"This is a materialistic world, and Latter-day Saints must be careful not to confuse luxuries with necessities...There are some who unwisely aspire to self-indulgent luxuries that often lead them away from complete commitment to the gospel of our Savior."

Ezra Taft Benson
"Against this background of far too many failures in traditional food aid programs and the rapidly growing number of God's children throughout the whole earth, it is abundantly clear that a new approach is in order."

Spencer W Kimball
"We recommend to all people that there be no undue pollution, that the land be taken care of and kept clean, productive, and beautiful."

Joseph Fielding Smith
"So we see that the Lord intends to save, not only the earth and the heavens, not only man who dwells upon the earth, but all things which he has created. The animals, the fishes of the sea, the fowls of the air, as well as man, are to be recreated, or renewed, through the resurrection, for they too are living souls."

David O Mckay
"a true Latter-day Saint is kind to animals, is kind to every created thing, for God created all."

David O Mckay
"We have heard much about the necessity of conservation. We have been admonished to conserve our resources. Economy and thrift are fundamentals in the social organization and in the teachings of this Church. Conservation and care are in keeping with the example which Jesus gave his disciples. You remember on one occasion he fed the multitude, after which he said,'...Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost.'" (John 6:12.)

David O Mckay
"With every progressive age of the world, intellectual, nobleminded leaders have sought a better way of living than that which was current....The Church...offers to the world the solution of all its social problems."

Heber J Grant
"If there is any one thing that will bring peace and contentment into the human heart, and into the family, it is to live within our means."

Heber J Grant
"That which we persist in doing becomes easy to do; not that the nature of the thing has changed, but that our power to do has increased."

Joseph F Smith
"Kindness to the whole animal creation and especially to all domestic animals is not only a virtue that should be developed, but is the absolute duty of mankind. … It is an unrighteous thing to treat any creature cruelly. … It will be a blessed day when mankind shall accept and abide by the Christ-like sentiment expressed by one of the poets in the following words: 'Take not away the life you cannot give, For all things have an equal right to live.' "

Joseph F Smith
"I do not believe any man should kill animals or birds unless he needs them for food, and then he should not kill innocent little birds that are not intended for food for man. I think it is wicked for men to thirst in their souls to kill almost everything which possesses animal life. It is wrong, and I have been surprised at prominent men whom I have seen whose very souls seemed to be athirst for the shedding of animal blood."

Lorenzo Snow
"While moving slowly forward in pursuit of something to kill, my mind was arrested with the reflection on the nature of my pursuit—that of amusing myself by giving pain and death to harmless, innocent creatures that perhaps had as much right to life and enjoyment as myself. I realized that such indulgence was without any justification, and feeling condemned, I laid my gun on my shoulder, returned home, and from that time to this have felt no inclination for that murderous amusement."

Brigham Young
"Let the people be holy, and the earth under their feet will be holy. Let the people be holy, and filled with the Spirit of God, and every animal and creeping thing will be filled with peace; the soil of the earth will bring forth in its strength, and the fruits thereof will be meat for man. The more purity that exists, the less is the strife the more kind we are to our animals, the more will peace increase, and the savage nature of the brute creation vanish away."

Brigham Young
"What power is legally ours? That which was given to Adam and the human family in former days. Power? Yes. Dominion? Yes. Glory? Yes. Honour? Yes. That which pertains to this world? Yes. That which pertains to the next? Yes. Let us understand this power and this privilege that God has guaranteed to the human family. He has first imparted power to mankind to control the elements; and when this is employed faithfully to magnify righteousness, then excellence, magnificence, splendour, beauty, honour, glory, and Godlike power will follow as the results."

Brigham Young
"We should waste nothing, but make everything in some way or other minister to our wants and independence. Everything which we use to feed the life of man or beast, not a grain of it should be permitted to go to waste, but should be made to pass through the stomach of some animal; everything, also, which will fertilize our gardens and our fields should be sedulously saved and wisely husbanded, that nothing may be lost which contains the elements of food and raiment for man and sustenance for beast."

Joseph Smith
"The greatest acts of the mighty men have been to depopulate nations and to overthrow kingdoms...before them the earth was a paradise, and the behind them a desolate wilderness; their kingdoms were founded in carnage and bloodshed, and sustained by oppression, tyranny, and despotism. The designs of God, on the other hand, have been to promote the universal good of the universal world; to establish peace and good will among men; to promote the principles of eternal truth; to bring about a state of things that shall unite man to his fellow man; cause the world to 'beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks,' make the nations of the earth dwell in peace, and to bring about the millennial glory, when 'the earth shall yield its increase, resume its paradisean glory, and become as the garden of the Lord.'"

Joseph Smith
"We crossed the Embarras river and encamped on a small branch of the same about one mile west. In pitching my tent we found three massasaugas or prairie rattlesnakes, which the brethren were about to kill, but I said, 'Let them alone--don't hurt them! How will the serpent ever lose his venom, while the servants of God possess the same disposition, and continue to make war upon it? Men must become harmless, before the brute creation; and when men lose their vicious dispositions and cease to destroy the animal race, the lion and the lamb can dwell together, and the sucking child can play with the serpent in safety.' The brethren took the serpents carefully on sticks and carried them across the creek. I exhorted the brethren not to kill a serpent, bird, or an animal of any kind during our journey unless it became necessary in order to preserve ourselves from hunger."

Causes openly supported by past prophets:

The Development of Zion National Park
Heber J Grant and George Albert Smith
"Later, when Scoyen was asked to identify the most influential park supporters, he listed Randall Jones as the most important person in southern Utah and called him "the Apostle of the Utah Parks." He also identified several Mormon leaders: Heber J. Grant, president of the church; Anthony W. Ivins, counselor in the First Presidency; George Albert Smith of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles; and former bishop and current state legislator David Hirschi."

Ezra Taft Benson Agriculture and Food Institute
A nonprofit organization dedicated to improve the quality of life of people throughout the world. Donors' money sponsors research and programs aimed at overcoming hunger and manutrition. Mission Statement - To raise the quality of life through improved nutrition and enlightened agricultural practices.

Ezra Taft Benson
"Secretary Benson expanded agricultural exports and a purchase program to remove excess commodities from the markets, and he helped to oversee the beginning of the surplus disposal program in international markets that became Public Law 480, named Food for Peace by President Eisenhower. When he left office, he was asked about his work on behalf of American agriculture. After all the policy and legislative debates, after serving a President for two terms, after meeting with countless foreign leaders, he said his work as a county agent gave him the greatest satisfaction. 'Helping boys and girls grow up to be good farmers and good citizens,' he said, 'assisting neighbors to improve their fields, their livestock, their marketing, and their homes.' Those words speak volumes about Ezra Taft Benson,' Veneman said."

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