Press Conference - Interfaith Declaration on Climate Change presents Religion & Science on the same page.
Mr. Stuart Scott, Director of Interfaith Declaration, had arranged this press conference in co-operation with the South African Faith Communities Environment Initiative (SAFCEI). Former Bishop Geoff Davies, coordinator of SAFCEI, underlined that in the spirit of trust there has to be co-operation between us. He is often asked the question, “What has God got to do with climate change?” He answers: “Everything! It is God’s creation that is at stake”.
Usha Jevan from the BK centre in Durban, in her capacity as a board member of SAFCEI, was invited to participate in the presentation of the Interfaith Declaration to Christiana Figueres, UNFCCC Executive Secretary, who listened attentively and commented that the message was loud and clear in that the planet is not ours, and so not ours to destroy, but to care for. Usha Jevan had the opportunity to present our material on exploring the connection between mind and matter.
Other participants were Ela Gandhi, granddaughter of Mahatma Gandhi and Cardinal Wilfrid Napier, Archbishop of Durban, who stated in his concluding remarks that a change in the hearts of our political leaders is necessary.
Vegetarianism & Non-Violence for Sustainable Living - Pratiba Daya - UKZN, NGO forum
The presentation started with the statement: “Tell me what you eat and I’ll tell you who you are” and was followed by a short video with the message that global warming could be stopped if everyone chose to eat meat, fish and dairy free products. To put meat on the table, forests are being decimated and waste from factory farms is destroying marine environments across the globe. Sea fishing results in the unnecessary death of turtles, seals, dolphins and whales. There is a need for justice, kindness and compassion where food choice is concerned.
The powerpoint slideshow that followed gave references for scientific research and highlighted the devastating consequences of industrial breeding of animals. Figures were given for the extent of the damage done by the meat production industry. Deforestation, massive pollution, climate change, misuse of agriculture and crops were mentioned and the impacts of industrial breeding on the environment, on human health, on society and on animals in terms of the level of their suffering were discussed.
Animal breeding has the 2nd highest impact on greenhouse gases resulting in increase in greenhouse gases and acid rain. A large proportion of cereal production worldwide goes to feed meat animals and raising farm animals takes enormous amounts of water - some 1.3 million gallons of water a year. 95% of Americans are against harming animals but currently about 95% are happy to eat them! Growing 1kg of beef meat produces 36.4kg of CO₂. It takes 100,000 litre of water to produce beef meat and 2-4,000 litres of water to produce 1 litre of milk. The United States alone produces animal waste at the alarming rate of 86,000 pounds per second!
The slideshow ended with the Einstein quote: “Nothing can be more beneficial for human health, or increase our chances for survival on earth than an evolution towards a vegetarian diet.” Questions and comments were invited from the audience of 30 people. In the discussion, Sister Pratiba allayed fears that protein from animal flesh is vital for body health by explaining that the nutritional needs of the human can be satisfied by vegetarian diet. The importance of clear labelling of products was highlighted by a Norwegian participant who shared that “free range” in Norway means thousands of chickens are kept in a large hall with artificial light 24/7, and fed with hormone laden chicken feed, whereas the “free range” label in other countries requires that chickens roam freely in natural conditions.
Evidence that the presentation was effective was indicated by the fact that one person decided to become vegetarian and another stated her intention to commit to veganism in future.
NIA Dance and Meditation and the Environment – NGO Forum, UKZN
Under the theme of Arts for Environment, a NIA (Neuromuscular Integrative Action) dance and meditation was arranged. In this Climate Change Conference there has been much artistic input such as musicals and concerts, solar cinema and art exhibitions. The Brahma Kumaris and seven instructors from Nia Dance came together to share NIA, a sensory-based movement practice that leads to health, wellness and fitness.
The response was overwhelming. With little advertising, it was easy to encourage about 60 delegates to join in at the end of a long week of sitting in negotiations. The facilitators worked in such harmony and drew the crowd together in such interconnectedness, and the graceful dance helped each one connect with their heart and soul.
With the doors open to passersby, many other individuals came to join in. Some cleaners also stopped their work and started taking videos on their cell phones of the invigorating, soulful movements that included music from all parts of the world. The press also attended.
At the end we shared the importance of looking for solutions holistically and using methods such as NIA and meditation to connect with the spirit. A final meditation left each one in a state of peace and tranquility. After this experience, the Nia facilitators were also keen to begin meditating and the cleaners also asked for more information on the Brahma Kumaris.
(Picture to come here)
Special program for World Aids Day - Living with Dignity and Hope
This workshop, created by BKs from South Africa especially for individuals living with HIV/ADIS and cancer, was conducted on December 1st for World Aids Day at the Diakonia Interfaith Centre. The facilitators also highlighted the link with the environment, as a healthy wholesome individual who respects and values oneself can also respect and value the environment.
The workshop was attended by eight individuals. One delegate shared her experience of the workshop: “It is as if I am taking my first breath of life after this workshop. I have been through many challenges from childhood and have suppressed a lot and this workshop has such a healing effect – it is indescribable. There is a feeling of such warmth and interconnectedness, a presence that is unique and nurturing.” Another participant shared that this programme is exactly what she needed as a delegate at C17 (Civil Society Committee for COP17). She felt that if each one could address and work with their inner world, we could find solutions to the problems of the world out there.