A New Report – Faith, Morality and the Environment: Portraits of Global Warming’s Six Americas

climatechange-report-faith-Jan164Last month the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication released its “Faith, Morality and the Environment: Portraits of Global Warming’s Six Americas” report, which explores Americans’ receptivity to a moral framing around the issue of climate change. As the report highlights, there has been an evolution in public discourse on climate change in recent months. Traditionally referred to as a scientific, environmental or political issue, climate change is now being cited as a moral and spiritual issue by religious leaders.

According to the Yale Project, “Americans are now hearing – often for the first time – that global warming will have severe impacts on the world’s poor; that it violates divine dictates on the treatment of nature; and that it requires a concerted response from all nations in the name of social justice…” The new report assesses the religious and spiritual values and beliefs of ‘Global Warming’s Six Americas,’ six groups within the American public with very different views on global warming. (The six groups include the “alarmed, concerned, cautious, disengaged, doubtful and dismissive.”) Of note is that a moral framing of climate change may resonate with people previously not concerned about the issue.

According to the report, “A moral framing of global warming is new to most people in the U.S. In the spring of 2015, only 10 percent of Americans viewed global warming as a religious issue; 13 percent thought it was a spiritual issue, and just over a third (36%) thought it was a moral issue. Threequarters, by contrast, saw it as an environmental issue (76%). If a moral framing resonates with values people already hold dear – protecting future generations, for example – it may shift people’s perceptions of the meaning and importance of the threat posed by climate change.”

We at the NW Earth Institute were particularly struck by the role that empathy plays in how the ‘six Americas’ relate to climate change. The report highlights that the ‘doubtful’ group report the lowest empathy for others of the six groups, and the ‘alarmed’ report the highest. It reminded us of one of our previous blog posts on how empathy may indeed be a critical link to our survival. The Yale Report carries with it a reminder to those of us engaged in protecting our environment: remember the primacy of how moral and spiritual underpinings, and the capacity for empathy, directly inform our beliefs and subsequent actions.

*To read the whole report and for more information, click here. To engage deeply with your friends, family, co-workers or community via thought-provoking dialogue, organize NW Earth Institute’s newest discussion course on climate: Change Is Our Choice: Creating Climate Solutions.  



What Do Racism and Poverty Have to Do with Pollution and Climate Change?

As an organization, we have always had a systems thinking perspective, and seen justice as an integral part of our sustainability vision. In recent years, it has become even more clear that a successful sustainability movement must reflect the diversity of our communities. That’s why we love this new short video from Grist.org addressing the links between racism, poverty, pollution and climate change. For the full piece, click here. 

We already know that pollution and climate change negatively affect people’s health and quality of life. But we’re not always clear about which people are most exposed and impacted.The harm that comes with rising seas and contaminated water systems isn’t evenly distributed. To the contrary: Those who are already disadvantaged by race, wealth, and income are usually the most affected by environmental disasters. Without recognizing that inequality, we’re not always solving the problems with our water, air, and soil in ways that serve the people who need it most — which is why environmental justice is a critical part of planning a green future that’s good for everyone.

If you’ve never heard the term “environmental justice” before, or if you just want to know more about it, this video is a great place to start.

*Want to dive deeper into systems thinking and environmental justice issues? Check out our Seeing Systems: Peace, Justice and Sustainability discussion course. 

Our Winter 2016 EarthMatters Newsletter is Here

The Winter Edition of our EarthMatters Newsletter is here! Click here, or the image below to download a PDF version of the EarthMatters newsletter. Enjoy!


We Believe Every Person Can Be Part of the Solution

The NWEI gathered for an annual staff retreat near Mt. Hood, Oregon last week
The NWEI staff gathered for an annual staff retreat near Mt. Hood, Oregon last week

Last week the NW Earth Institute staff gathered for our annual planning retreat on the north side of Mt. Hood in Parkdale, Oregon. It was a perfect opportunty to reflect on our evolution as an organization as we welcomed the presence of our new Executive Director, David Macek. Together, we reflected on NWEI’s values-driven culture and strong sense of purpose, while also considering the often slow, mysterious processes of change.

NWEI is a place where those of us on staff marvel that our work becomes more and more engaging with each passing year (10 years in, I can attest to this!). It’s a place where everyone on staff is involved in letting the best responses emerge from a sense of collective intelligence. With a great deal of ongoing work and diligence, we seek to embody the values we espouse in our discussion courses, and we are excited to offer programs that are defined by our deep sense of purpose.

cb12a8ec-fe0b-4681-85d7-bf4c885dda58This year, we spent extra time reflecting on WHY we do the work we do. What’s NWEI’s “endgame”? And why?

Ultimately, we want to change the world – with you. We believe that every person can be a part of the solution. And, we are so full of gratitude to be on this journey of change with you – the NWEI community. 23 years and 170,000 participants later, we’re going strong and looking forward to what the new year brings.

We leave you with this “spontaneous poem” co-created by the NWEI staff (each staff member contributed a line at the close of our retreat). Wherever you are and whatever your current work in the world, we invite you to look proudly to the future, to say yes, and to dive deeper, continually asking the important questions in life.

NWEI staff enjoy a moment of rest outside at last week's planning retreat
NWEI staff enjoy a moment of rest outside at last week’s planning retreat. 


The trees

are singing

in harmony

on a journey 

with me.

Now is the time

to welcome the unknown

and look proudly to the future,

to say yes

and dive deeper,

but most importantly – ask why.


(*For more photos from our retreat, click here to visit our Facebook page).

Join NWEI’s Next Course Organizer Training Webinar, February 11th!

8384002527_b44dce561c_z-300x174We’re excited to announce that registration is open for our next Course Organizer Training Webinar on Thursday, February 11th at 10amPST/1pmEST. Please join us and invite others in your community who might be interested! To register for this one-hour training webinar, click here.

As you know, NW Earth Institute discussion courses give people a framework to talk about their relationship with the planet and to share in discovering new ways to live, work, create and consume. And – all NW Earth Institute discussion courses begin with a Course Organizer –someone just like you who has the desire to create change. The Course Organizer initiates the discussion course group and serves as the primary contact for the group. You don’t have to be a ‘sustainability expert.’ Organizers are simply people who are motivated to help others learn about and commit to action through the discussion course experience.

This Course Organizer Training Webinar will provide you with background information on our courses and best practices for organizing a course, strategies for success and a question and answer period with NWEI staff. We’ll also provide you with access to helpful tools, including a detailed Course Organizer’s guide. We’ll host this training using a webinar format in order to make it accessible to our friends near and far, and hope you’ll join us if you’re looking for the tools to connect with your community about the issues that matter in 2016.

*Space is limited — please register here to reserve your spot. 


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