Tag Archives: news

Great Barrier Reef in Trouble

The Business Insider reported back in January of this year that the Great Barrier Reef has been opened to dumping of dredge waste inside protected national park areas of the Reef as well as a coal port expansion.

The Reef is already in poor health and faces many challenges. The additional stress of waste being added to the waters and then a coal port expansion on top of that risks major destruction for the animals and plants that depend on the Reef and its unique environment. The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority has tried to say that the waste dump and port expansion will not harm the Reef in any way:

According to GBRMPA, the dumping will not significantly affect the Reef.

“It’s important to note the seafloor of the approved disposal area consists of sand, silt and clay and does not contain coral reefs or seagrass beds,” Dr Russell Reichelt, Authority Chairman, said in a news release. (Source: http://www.natureworldnews.com/articles/5847/20140201/australian-government-approves-dumping-dredged-waste-great-barrier-reef-marine.htm)

However, this is a very short-term view, and disregards the fact that the Reef is in poor condition as it is. How anyone thinks dumping additional soil and silt into an already fragile environment will not have an impact is beyond logic. The expansion of the coal port also means an increase in shipping traffic along the Reef. The Reef is supposed to be protected, as it is listed as a World Heritage Site. UNESCO has made public statements that condemn the decision and has submitted a report to the World Heritage Committee stating the Reef could potentially be downgraded to a status of “In Danger”. UNESCO has also urged the government of Australia to reconsider. However, as of the time of this post, I have not been able to find any news articles that have the government’s response or any news of a change in the decision.

As if this weren’t enough to cause alarm, there is another project planned to take place in the same rough location. Australia also plans to build a huge natural gas export terminal at Abbot Point, which is in the same region as the coal port expansion project. The dredging for the natural gas terminal would amount to about 800,000 tonnes of dredging–an enormous amount that is certain to have an impact on the Reef and the ecosystem. They plan to dump all of that soil and silt onto land, which is better than dumping it elsewhere in the Reef, but also brings the risk of potential harm to areas on land, depending on where this dredged material is being dumped.

I urge everyone who believes in protecting the environment to take action. Speak out, either in person or online. Sign petitions if you’re able. Work spells, if that is what you do. Write to influential people and demand their action to protect valuable ecosystems like the Great Barrier Reef.

To sign petitions or contribute money to legal funds organized to fight these decisions, check out the following links: Save the Reef, Reef Fighting Fund through GetUp!, Fight for the Reef legal fund, Sounds for the Reef,

Additional news sources about the decision:
Bloomberg: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-01-31/australia-permits-coal-port-dredge-dumping-near-barrier-reef.html

RT News: http://rt.com/news/156100-unesco-barrier-reef-dumping/



In the News: ‘GOP struggles to banish ghost of Jeremiah Wright’

Published 5/17/2012: “GOP struggles to banish ghost of Jeremiah Wright” by The Washington Post.

I don’t usually like to write about political things.  Too much turmoil, too many times of getting yelled at for having a different opinion.  But this story caught my eye when I read it yesterday and I just had to bring it up.  The story is about the Romney campaign and some remarks Romney made regarding President Obama.  Here’s my favorite quote from the story:

Romney responded, in part:

“Without question, the legal code in this country is based upon Judeo-Christian values and teachings, Biblical teachings, and for the president not to understand that a wide array of religions and a conviction that Judeo-Christian philosophy is an integral part of our foundation is really an extraordinary thing. I think again that the president takes his philosophical leanings in this regard, not from those who are ardent believers in various faiths but instead from those who would like America to be more secular. And I’m not sure which is worse, him listening to Reverend Wright or him saying that we must be a less Christian nation.” [emphasis comes from the article, not me]

As you may have guessed, I’m writing about this because I have a little problem with the statement.

How does the idea that the Founders based the Constitution and the country on Christian values and the Bible keep coming back up?  Hasn’t this been disproved and discredited often enough that it should have died by now?  The Founding Fathers were mostly Deists, which, while not necessarily incompatible with Christianity as far as I understand, is not the same as Christianity.  How does the idea that the US is a “Christian nation” still find a way to live?  The US is a nation of many different faiths and beliefs, and clinging to this idea that it is one way and only one way is putting a stranglehold on attempts to move beyond the belief and the politics associated with it.

And I would hope that the legal code in the country is not based on Judeo-Christian values and teachings, but on reason, logic, and common sense morals such as murder is bad no matter what religion you believe in.  If the legal code is based off “Judeo-Christian values and teachings,” then wouldn’t that imply that a lot more of the Biblical teachings would have made their way into the laws?  Like it would be illegal to wear poly-cotton blends, or illegal to eat shellfish, etc. etc.

Anyway, that’s my opinion on this one tiny portion of the current political atmosphere.  I suspect we’ll be seeing more of this kind of thing coming up as we get closer to the election.

In the News: “Rock Group ‘Junkyard Prophet’ Delivers…”

OK, so this story isn’t exactly about religion, it’s more about a religious band promoting some anti-gay and anti-abortion ideals to high school students–but I have a feeling they would be anti-Pagan.  And anyway, regardless of whether it has to do with religion, it’s outrageous enough to share.

The article is “Rock Group ‘Junkyard Prophets’ Delivers Controversial Message at School Assembly,” published by Shine! on Yahoo.  The main gist of it is that this group was invited to speak at a high school in Iowa and they talked about some very non-pc topics that the administration didn’t intend for them to cover, such as homosexuality and abortion and, although I couldn’t tell you for sure from the contents of the article, probably some hate speech in there for good measure against homosexuals.

What I find astonishing about this incident is that the administration didn’t put an immediate stop to it when the anti-gay talk began.  No, they let the group finish, and then the superintendent stands up and tells the kids to, oh, just forget what they were just subjected to.  What I find even more astonishing is that the band separated the assembly into three groups–boys, girls, and teachers–and the teachers allowed this to happen as well.  Granted, I am assuming that these breakout groups were all in different rooms, but when you have students in tears and walking out of an assembly or breakout group, wouldn’t you question what’s going on??  Even more so if the breakout groups were in the same room!

It just makes me question what happened to peoples’ common sense.  How could the administration and the teachers have allowed it to happen?  That’s what I fail to understand.  And for the superintendent to step up after and say “oh, we don’t endorse these messages at all…” yet allow the group to finish the presentation in the first place.  Sending very mixed messages to these students, as well as causing a good bit of harm.  Some students called home in tears after the assembly!  It’s disgusting, and I hope the parents of these kids take the school district to task for allowing it to happen.

The original article, “Iowa high school assembly stirs protest,” can be found at the La Crosse Tribune.

In the News: Loss of City Trees

Read an alarming article today from Discovery News, “Loss of City Trees Costs Billions.”  It talks about how trees in cities are vital and necessary not only to city costs, but to positive environments for us humans.  Some stats and figured included at the end.  Very interesting, and brings up the need to put more green in urban areas.

Tips for Talking to Pagans

So this has been going around the religious blogosphere today, and I thought I would contribute my two cents–as much as I hate to follow trends, I feel the need to weigh in on this topic.

It starts here, with a post by Matt Stone on Glocal Christianity.  Then hop over to Wild Hunt for a very brief link to the same article, which is how I found out about it.  Then pretty much go to almost any other pagan blog for various opinions on the topic, and definitely read the comments in the original article.

Before I get started, let me say this: I am glad that at least there are people who are open to the idea of talking to pagans.  It’s far better than trying to persecute or otherwise terrorize people simply for being different.  I am glad that some of the suggestions in the post are actually good ones: don’t jump to conclusions; do some research on your own assumptions to find out what’s real and what’s misconception; don’t expect the Bible to be revered by people who are not Christian; etc.  My favorite quote from this post is ultimately a positive step in the right direction: “And consider, even when you consider them [pagans] unbalanced, who created the imbalance that necessitated this counterbalance? Yes, us! So maybe we can learn a thing or two from them here.”  I like that quite a bit.

Now for the things I don’t like . . .

My contribution to this discussion: The whole point of these “tips for talking to pagans” is for conversion.  Did anyone ever stop to think that perhaps we don’t want to be converted?  Does anyone stop to think that maybe it’s kind of offensive for a person of one faith to automatically assume that a person of another faith is going to be interested in anything that person would have to say.

Would you like to talk to me to ask questions about paganism and/or my personal opinions on religion for learning or friendly debate purposes?  I’m happy to oblige.  I like a friendly debate, especially when the other person is able to speak knowledgeably about the subject or admit their own ignorance if they don’t know.  Would you like to talk to me to ask how my day is, or ask me something about school, etc.?  Great.  Again, happy to do so.

But if you want to talk to me and learn these tips on how to talk to a pagan for the purpose of trying to be sneaky in expressing your doubts about my faith, please don’t even open your mouth.  Walk away.  I was a Christian.  I know what it’s about.  It didn’t work for me.  I have now found something that does work, and I’m happy.  I’m quite sure there are hundreds, if not thousands, of other pagans who can say something similar.

I know it’s in the scripture for some religions to proselytize.  But come on, pagans are humans too (in case you didn’t know that already).  We can tell when you’re listening because you’re genuinely interested in what we have to say, and when you’re listening in order to debate our faith and try to show yours as the better one.  We can tell when someone is BSing us for their own reasons or gain.

Not to mention all the stereotypes in the slideshow. . . really, we aren’t all like that.  I’m an average person and an average pagan.  My family doesn’t know I’m not Christian.  Which I guess means I look like your everyday average Christian most days.

“Your story is what makes the good news real, plausible, and hopefully even attractive.”  Yeahh . . . not so much.  I’m glad you’ve found God and all, and I’m glad that your path works for you.  That’s great.  Really, it is.  But my acknowledgment of that does not mean I want to hear all about your personal relationship with God, or why Christianity is so awesome, or why the “good news” is good news.  Your personal story is no more moving to me than a recitation of the Bible.  It’s actually probably more off-putting, because then it’s obvious that your whole “relationship-building” with me has been an excuse for you to spout this story about the wonders of Jesus and how God has made your life wonderful.  Again, I’m glad that you love life and have a religion that works for you.  But that doesn’t mean I automatically welcome a story about it.

And my biggest issue with this kind of post: it sort of makes pagans sound like some kind of alien creature that needs to be approached with a 10-foot pole in case we decide to bite.  As Hecate points out briefly in her own rant on the subject (and hers is far more snarky and enjoyable than mine), this article puts us firmly in the Other category, the Unknown category, the Not Human category.  Saying lovely words like “pagans are people just like us” does not in fact make the subject more human, it does exactly the opposite.  If someone needs to be reminded of another person’s humanity, then the subject was not considered human in the first place.  Plain and simple.  And I can’t say I particularly enjoy being called a non-human.

OK, before this builds any more steam and I work myself into a truly angry frenzy, we’re going to let this issue go and I will let you all read the articles for yourselves and form your own opinions–if I haven’t influenced you too much first!

Why, yes, I do like being lumped into a stereotype, thanks ever so much!