Moyers on America

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Is God Green? Resources . Glossary

Below you'll find a glossary of terms and links for additional research. For more information on matters referred to in "Is God Green?" and the MOYERS ON AMERICA Citizens Class, visit the Timeline, Documents, and Sites of Interest sections.

Biblical literalism: Or "Biblical inerrancy" is the stance that the Bible, as the direct word of God, is literally without error.

Clean Air Acts: The Air Pollution Control Act of 1955 was the first in a series of clean air and air quality control acts which are still in effect and continue to be revised and amended. It resulted from a study of the 1948 Donora, Pennsylvania smog disaster in which 20 people died and more than 7,000 people were sickened from noxious fumes from industrial plants. Congress passed the nation's Clean Air Act of 1963. This act dealt with reducing air pollution by setting emissions standards for stationary sources such as power plants and steel mills. Amendments to the Clean Air Act were passed in 1965, 1966, 1967, and 1969 among which were the first standards for auto emissions. The Clean Air Act of 1970 established stringent new goals for limits on emissions from stationary and mobile sources to be enforced by both state and federal governments, and increased funds for air pollution research. The Clean Air Act of 1990 addressed five main areas: air-quality standards, motor vehicle emissions and alternative fuels, toxic air pollutants, acid rain, and stratospheric ozone depletion. Critics charge that President Bush's Clear Skies Initiative will undercut some of the standards set in the Clean Air Act and its amendments.

Clear Skies: The Bush Administration's Clear Skies Initiative was first introduced in 2002. The administration called it "the most significant step America has ever taken to cut power plant emissions" and said it would "aggressively reduce air pollution from electricity generators and improve air quality throughout the country." But there were critics of Clear Skies, who argued that it weakened the standards of the Clean Air Act. In early March 2005, the bill did not move out of committee when the committee members deadlocked 9-9 and the initiative appeared dead. The EPA has since implemented some of the elements of Clear Skies administratively.

Copenhagen Consensus
The Copenhagen Consensus project originated with a group headed by controversial author Bjorn Lomborg, author of THE SKEPTICAL ENVIRONMENTALIST. Lomborg, whose work derides some environmental concerns as alarmist and advocates a strict cost-benefit analysis on environmental programs, has been widely criticized, and also widely cited. The Convention, co-sponsored by the Danish government and the magazine THE ECONOMIST, gathered thinkers to create a priority list addressing the achievablity of proposed solutions some of the worlds most pressing problems. Projects with only a "fair" chance of success included The Kyoto Protocol. The Consensus Project's conclusions are cited in many debates over environmental and economic policies.

The Cornwall Declaration on Environmental Stewardship: The Cornwall Declaration was written in October 1999 - the creation of a gathering of 25 theologians, economists, environmental scientists and policy experts. The declaration, acknowledged that "concerns about the environment have grown in recent decades, the moral necessity of ecological stewardship has become increasingly clear." But it also criticized the aspects of the environmental movement for putting forth "certain misconceptions about nature and science, coupled with erroneous theological and anthropological positions." Many of those taking part in the Cornwall gathering are part of the Interfaith Coalition for Environmental Stewardship (ICES) and the Interfaith Stewardship Alliance (ISA).

Creation care: Creation care denotes an environmentalism based in biblical teaching. CREATION CARE is also the name of the magazine of The Evangelical Environmental Network, founded in 1993 by the Evangelicals for Social Action (ESA), a national organization of progressive evangelicals formed in 1973 that focuses on poverty and family issues. The EEN statement of purposes reads: "As followers of Jesus Christ, committed to the full authority of the Scriptures, and aware of the ways we have degraded creation, we believe that biblical faith is essential to the solution of our ecological problems."

The Crichton Effect:
In a January 2005 speech on the floor of the U.S. Senate, James Inhofe, (R-OK) reiterated a 2003 statement condemning the idea of global warming as "the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people." Inhofe made frequent reference to the fictional work by author Michael Crichton, best known for the rebirth of dinosaurs in JURASSIC PARK and STATE OF FEAR, a novel in which eco-terrorists engineer disasters to prove their theories about global warming.

Environmental stewardship: Environmental stewardship is a phrase used by disparate groups. The origin of the phrase comes in part from the Biblical passage, Genesis 1:26-27: "And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth." Richard Cizik, who favors religious involvement in environmental activism, supports a "Climate Stewardship Act," a U.S. bill which would limit greenhouse emissions. The Acton Institute, a major think thank which does not see global warming as a religious issue, defines environmental stewardship as "an approach to the earth and its resources that attends both to the demands of human freedom and flourishing and to the Biblical call for human beings to exercise caring 'dominion' over creation."

Endangered Species Act:
The Endangered Species Act was the last of the core environmental legislation passed in the 1960s and 1970s after the publicity surrounding publications like Rachel Carson's SILENT SPRING. Signed by President Nixon in 1973, the Act strengthened two earlier bills and strengthened mechanisms to protect species and habitats. The Act has a long history of controversy — often posited as a battle between human economic interests and overweening federal regulation. In 1978, the Supreme Court ruled that the Endangered Species Act requires that construction of Tellico Dam be halted as it is a "critical habitat" of the endangered snail darter, a fish. Another Supreme Court challenge involved protecting the habitat of the spotted owl in the Pacific Northwest — old growth forest of import to the logging industry. In 1995, in Babbitt vs. Sweet Home, the Court ruled against a coalition of landowners and lobbying interests in that destruction of habitat causes real harm to an endangered species. The authorization of the Act expired in 1992 and legislative battles continue over whether to strengthen or weaken the legislation. In February 2006, the Fish and Wildlife Service lists 1,838 species as threatened or endangered, 282 species considered to be candidates and another 4,000 as species of concern. Some species which have made their way back in population numbers — notably the grey wolf and the mountain lion — have caused considerable debate between neighboring ranchers and those charged with protecting wildlife. The debate over the Endangered Species Act has also taken on a religious cast through "What Would Noah Do?" a campaign by a consortium of religious groups to keep the Act from being weakened by 2005's proposed "Threatened and Endangered Species Recovery Act."

evangelical: The term originates in the Greek word evangelion, meaning "the good news," or, more commonly, the "gospel," but today the term means different things even to self-described evangelicals around the globe — though the majority would share the definition: that Jesus Christ is their lord and savior. That salvation entails a personal conversion - being born again and that the Bible is God's word. In a 2006 article for FOREIGN AFFAIRS magazine on the effect of religion on President Bush's foreign policy, scholar Walter Russell Mead described evangelicals as, "the third of the leading strands in American Protestantism, straddl[ing] the divide between fundamentalists and liberals." But that definition would not satisfy many who define themselves as evangelical. The group Religious Tolerance maintains a web page with a number of definitions of evangelical, as does the The Institute for the Study of American Evangelicals at Wheaton College.

The "Evangelical Climate Initiative:" On February 8, 2006 the "Evangelical Climate Initiative" was announced with the backing of 86 Evangelical leaders, a major initiative that will include television and radio spots in states with influential legislators, informational campaigns in churches, and educational events at Christian colleges. Media reports of the group's January '06 statement, "Climate Change: An Evangelical Call to Action," prompted the ISA to attempt to forestall the participation of the National National Association of Evangelicals. They sent a letter entitled "An Open Letter to the Signers of "Climate Change: An Evangelical Call to Action." The missive requested that the NAE: "not adopt any official position on the issue of global climate change" as "global warming is not a consensus issue, and our love for the Creator and respect for His creation does not require us to take a position."

Evangelical Environmental Network & Creation Care Magazine (EEN): The Evangelical Environmental Network was formed in 1993 by Evangelicals for Social Action (ESA), a national organization of progressive evangelicals formed in 1973 that focuses on poverty and family issues.

Interfaith Coalition for Environmental Stewardship (ICES) and The Acton Institute: In 1999 participants in the Cornwall meeting formed the Interfaith Coalition for Environmental Stewardship (ICES) which dedicates itself to the spread of the "traditional principles of stewardship." The ICES is closely associated with The Acton Institute, a think tank with the stated mission to "promote a free and virtuous society characterized by individual liberty and sustained by religious principles." The Institute, which has been criticized by some environmentalists for financial ties to Exxon Mobil, publishes research on environmental stewardship.

Interfaith Stewardship Alliance (ISA): Interfaith Stewardship Alliance (ISA) is an outgrowth of the Interfaith Coalition for Environmental Stewardship (ICES) formed in 2004. The group is more narrowly focused on affecting specific public policy issues related to the environment. In November, 2005 the ISA released "An Examination of the Scientific, Ethical and Theological Implications of Climate Change Policy," with E. Calvin Beisner, a founding member of ISA as one of the authors. The paper argues the uncertainties of climate change and to "apply the principles of prudence" Jesus Christ espoused when addressing the issue. In 2006, ISA sent a letter to the National Association of Evangelicals requesting that the group "not adopt any official position on the issue of global climate change" as "global warming is not a consensus issue, and our love for the Creator and respect for His creation does not require us to take a position."

Kyoto Protocol: In December 1997, more than 160 nations met in Kyoto, Japan to negotiate binding limitations on greenhouse gases for the developed nations, pursuant to the objectives of the Framework Convention on Climate Change of 1992. The outcome of the meeting was the Kyoto Protocol, in which the developed nations agreed to limit their greenhouse gas emissions, relative to the levels emitted in 1990. Controversy has surrounded the Bush Administration's decision not to participate in the Kyoto Protocol, which went into effect in 2005.

Mercury Emissions: Coal-burning power plants emit vaporized mercury. As aerosol droplets of mercury from the air settle into streams, lakes, and oceans, it is converted into methylmercury, a form of mercury that accumulates in fish at all levels, and which is then passed on to humans when they consume the tainted fish. In March 2004, the FDA and the EPA issued the first ever joint advisory on this topic, "What You Need to Know About Mercury in Fish and Shellfish." On August 25, 2004, the Environmental Protection Agency released new data showing that pollution in one out of every three lakes and nearly one out of every four rivers in the U.S. is so severe that people should avoid eating fish caught there. The figures also showed that today 48 out of 50 states issued fish advisories in 2003, up from 44 in 1993. On March 15, 2005 The EPA issued the Clean Air Mercury Rule (CAMR) for regulating mercury emissions from coal-burning power plants, which utilizes a controversial "cap and trade" system. Critics charge that the new rules, which are similar to those proposed in President Bush's stalled Clear Skies Initiative, lessen the goals of the Clean Air Act.

Mountaintop removal mining: The mountaintop removal method is a variant of surface mining. In order to reach coal seams, the top of the mountain or the "overburden" is broken up and removed by blasting. Once the rock surrounding the coal is blasted off, in what is known in the industry as "shoot and shove," the excess rock and earth is dumped over the side of the mountain into the valleys below, often burying the streams that run through them. In October 2005, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), US Fish and Wildlife Service, US Office of Surface Mining, and West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection released an Environmental Impact Statement on the effects of mountaintop removal on water quality and other environmental quality issues.

National Association of Evangelicals (NAE): The NAE is the largest umbrella organization of evangelical churches in the United States with sixty member denominations. In December of 2005 the Financial Times reported in "Evangelicals Converted on the Environment" that the NAE "is circulating among its leadership a draft policy statement that would demand strong action against the causes of climate change." In January 2006, the Interfaith Stewardship Alliance sent a letter to NAE requesting that the NAE "not adopt any official position on the issue of global climate change" as "global warming is not a consensus issue, and our love for the Creator and respect for His creation does not require us to take a position."

What would Jesus drive? This campaign of the Evangelical Environmental Network garnered much attention and renewed debate over the role of the evangelical community in environmental activism. The educational campaign defined as its main objective is it to bring awareness to the fact that "transportation choices are moral."

Wise Use Movement: The Wise Use Movement emerged in the last quarter of the 20th century in part as a counterfoil to the growth of the environmental movement. Although it takes its name from the theories of early conservationist Gifford Pinchot, the movement advocates a natural resources policy which favors free market approach to environmental management. As Ron Arnold, one of the movement's intellectual founders, describes it, wise use is an evironmental policy based in the "right to own property and use nature's resources for the benefit of mankind." Advocates of Wise Use include Alliance for America, the American Land Rights Association, the Cato Institute, the Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise, People for the West, the Blue Ribbon Coalition, and the Heartland Institute. Critics charge that Wise Use Movement groups are often fronts for industry interests in their advocacy of use over protection. Wise use movement proponents were prominent in the administrations of President Reagan and both Presidents Bush.

Wilderness Act: The 1964 Wilderness Act created a mechanism to forever protect from any sort of development some remote lands. "A wilderness, in contrast with those areas where man and his own works dominate the landscape, is hereby recognized as an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain. "The Wilderness System now includes 106 million acres. Efforts to remove acreage from the system for development or modify the Act's provisions occur in every legislative session.

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