Earth Partners Working Group

Climate Change: A Focus on Energy Consumption in MN

by Karen Olson Johnson and Jennifer Tacheny, Earth Partners Working Group of the Justice Commission 

As we write this article, COP24 – the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change – convenes in Katowice, Poland.  Here, leaders from around the world talk about how we can reduce global greenhouse gas emissions and support communities impacted by our changing climate.  Recent UN and national reports on climate change show that climate threats are imminent.  From energy consumption to food waste, we have to get to work in changing our behavior for the life of the planet.

In a recent article for MINNPOST by Bob Litterman posted on November 11, 2019, he discussed the state of energy consumption in the state of Minnesota. One might think that with the emphasis on renewable energy in so many sectors of our lives, we have moved the bar and are on the road to an energy transition away from fossil fuels. According to Litterman, the category of renewable energy that includes solar, wind, and hydro sources makes up 25 percent of all of the power that we consume here in this state.

However, we still burn coal to manufacture 39 percent of our energy. Natural gas makes up 12 percent of Minnesota’s energy production followed by nuclear power filling in the remaining percentage. Yes, in our state, over half of the energy we produce comes from the burning of fossil fuels, the most dangerous and dirty form of energy production that is directly linked to warming the planet. It is 2018 and we still burn a fuel that pollutes and is responsible for heating the planet and is rapidly pushing us to the brink of no return in planetary shifts.

To quote Mr Litterman, “In the words of a recent call to action by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, averting the dangerous overheating of the planet will “require rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society.”

Clearly, both individual and collective actions are needed to shift our energy use.  The Province has taken steps to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels by investing in geo-thermal and purchasing our electrical energy through Xcel Energy’s Windsource program.  If you are interested in learning more about the Windsource program, please visit https://www.xcelenergy.com/programs_and_rebates/residential_programs_and_rebates/renewable_energy_options_residential/windsource_for_residences/windsource_for_residences_-_pricing_terms_and_conditions.

As a Province, we’ve taken a few steps, and of course we could be doing more, to mitigate our contribution to climate change.  Toward this end, a group of Province employees responsible for buildings and grounds is currently collaborating with Earth Partners to look at Sustainability Goals for the Province.  We will update the community on our work in the next Together.  If you are interested in learning more or participating in this work, please contact Jennifer Tacheny, jtacheny@csjstpaul.org or 651-696-2872.

 

Talking About Food and Global Warming

By Jennifer Tacheny, Co-Director of Celeste’s Dream and Karen Olson, CSJ Consociate

The Earth Partners Working Group of the Justice Commission is currently discussing Paul Hawken’s New York Times Bestseller, Drawdown: The most comprehensive plan ever proposed to reverse global warming.  In this incredible book, Hawken and his team of seventy Drawdown Fellows from twenty-two countries lay out the eighty most impactful actions we can take to reach ‘drawdown,’ the technical term designating the point in time at which greenhouse gasses peak and then will begin to decline.

Surprisingly, actions related to food production, consumption and waste make up four of the top eleven most impactful actions to reverse global warming of the eighty identified in the book. For our part, Earth Partners is learning more about the huge connection between food and global warming.  We are discussing and assessing how changing behavior both individually and collectively around food might be a courageous action to reverse global warming.

By far, the most impactful action regarding food that will impact global warming is reducing our food waste (Ranked number 3 of the 80 possible actions).  Hawken highlights the following data:

  • A third of the food raised or prepared globally does not make it from the farm or factory to the fork and up to 35 percent of food in high-income economies is thrown out by consumers.
  • The food we waste contributes to roughly 8% of total greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Ranked with countries, production of food is the third largest emitter of greenhouse gasses globally, just behind the countries of the United States and China.
  • Consider this data about food while knowing that hunger is a chronic condition for nearly 800 million people worldwide.

These statistics and the world’s hungry compel us to consider our own food waste and how we might waste less. What decisions can we make individually and collectively to address reducing our food waste? We encourage you to read Drawdown and join us in reducing food waste to positively impact climate change.

You can also learn what you can do about food waste. Use the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s “Food: Too good to Waste” toolkit to measure how much food is really going to waste in your household and ways to reduce food waste at home and in your community. https://www.epa.gov/recycle/reducing-wasted-food-home#toolkit.

 


Mission and Goals

The Earth Partners Working Group’s mission is to raise awareness of the interconnectedness of all creation and change behavior, individually and collectively, for the beneficial life of the planet.

Goals:

  • Facilitate and support sustainability actions in partnership with the CSJ community (zero waste events, waste management, composting, food catering company, toxic product use, green burial options, etc.).
  • Influence Act of Chapter processes in regard to communion with the Earth community commitments.
  • Raise awareness and educate on sustainability actions we have taken as a community.
  • Collaborate with other groups internally and externally to offer programs and educational opportunities.
  • Offer ongoing support for sustainability efforts at St. Kate’s (gardens, bees, food shelf, pollinator pathways/commons, etc.)

For more information contact Marty Roers at mroers@csjstpaul.org.