Welcome to the Church of Humanism Blog

Here, as often as possible, the church founder Rev. Joseph Ben-David or other church members will comment on relevant topics of the day. You are all welcome to join in on the conversation by emailing your thoughts and opinons to the email address shown below.  We look forward to hearing from you.  

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Let’s Not Ignore the Climate Crisis

Recently the Trump administration weakened regulations that release mercury and other toxic metals from oil and coal-fired power plants.  This was reported in The New York Times on April 17th.  Here is the full article https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/16/climate/epa-mercury-coal.html.

While we are all practicing social distancing and staying safe, I want to remind everyone that we still need to pay attention to the climate crisis, even though it’s been relegated to the back pages of all news reporting. We may think it’s not an immediate threat, and unlike the coronavirus, climate issues aren’t overwhelming our health systems. However, serious climate changes are still affecting everyone in more subtle ways, and it is just as deadly. The climate crisis has and will continue to adversely impact us through: 

  • Devastating weather events (more hurricanes, tornados, typhoons),
  • Melting ice caps causing sea level rise (major seacoast cities with larger populations will be impacted),
  • Shortages of food and water (disruption with supply chain, contaminated water), and
  • Diseases caused by pollutants in the air (more cancer diagnoses).

In my April blog I mentioned that our earth is warming at an alarming rate.  I also spoke about the devastating fires impacting every inhabitant on earth.  This month, I want to recommend some environmental information websites, that can help us to stay informed and learn how to become more active in the fight to save our earth.  I know we are all consumed with the immediate coronavirus danger.  However, we can’t ignore that another more dangerous and devastating threat is on the horizon.  It’s urgent that we stay focused on this growing crisis because governments and fossil-fuel companies are disregarding the serious negative impact their actions will have on our environment.

Some of the websites I visit regularly for information are:

Food & Water Watch addresses concerns about how the environment impacts our drinking water and food supply.  Their website calls attention to several specific areas, such as the proliferation and impact of factory farms, corporate control over elections and policy, how corporate-backed schemes are falsifying and confusing data about GMOs, fracking and trade deals.  Food and Water Watch is currently addressing two immediate issues during this pandemic and they want us to add our names in support of:

I strongly urge you check this out and add your name in support of these issues.

The Environmental Integrity Project has, in collaboration with the United Church of Christ, produced a report regarding the 2018 top 100 plants responsible for 39% of toxic air emissions within populated areas within the United States.  (See https://environmentalintegrity.org/news/100-super-polluters-across-the-country/.)  Included in this report is a dynamic map of the offending companies and their locations.  I urge you to read this report.  It is very eye opening.

The Environmental Energy Law Program website has an EPA mission tracker.  Within this website page it states, “The Trump EPA is undermining the agency’s capacity to develop, implement, and enforce effective programs that reduce pollution and serve vital public needs. These efforts will leave behind a regime that delivers fewer reductions in harmful pollutants and an agency that lacks the institutional tools to protect public health and the environment.”  This EPA mission tracker follows adverse changes being made in four key areas: 

  • Science,
  • Public health,
  • Accountability, and
  • Enforcement and Compliance.

I urge you to review the tracker and the underlying EPA polices (or lack thereof) that will hurt our environment and make us less safe.  The EPA mission tracker is at: https://eelp.law.harvard.edu/epa-mission-tracker/.

And finally, the 350.org website is a good source for information on how we can build a better and safer future.  To have a better world to live in, for ourselves and for our future generations, we must all find a way to stay informed and become active in the fight against the destructive forces doing harm to our environment and its inhabitants.

As always, I welcome everyone’s feedback.  E-mail me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or use the comment link below.  Also, if you have other websites you use to stay informed and want to share them, again either email me or use the comment link below.  I look forward to hearing from you.

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Unprecedented Times

These are unprecedented times, as we face huge global challenges!  For One, climate change is leading to temperature rises in the most unlikely of places.  “Antarctica logs highest temperature on record of 18.3C”1 (article title).  That is an astonishing 69.4o Fahrenheit.  We have seen wildfires (brush fires) in many parts of the world:  not only Australia and in the US (California) but also in unusual places like Spain.  These fires have caused immeasurable damage to humans and animals alike.  “More than 1 billion animals have been killed so far, says Christopher Dickman, an ecologist at the University of Sydney.”3 To know that an estimated one billion animals have perished and that some of them may go extinct is incomprehensible.  

Secondly, in the last few years, we have witnessed the emergence of more autocrats who are violating human rights throughout the world.  It’s good to hear that these autocrats are facing resistance.  “Large crowds in Budapest protested Orban’s moves to shut Central European University, an academic bastion of liberal inquiry and thought. Tens of thousands of Poles repeatedly took to the streets to defend their courts from the ruling party’s attempts to undermine their independence. People across the United States and dozens of companies protested Trump’s forcible separation of immigrant children from their parents.”4 I’m hope that we continue to raise our voices in opposition to autocrats.  Human Rights Watch notes the following examples of recent human rights violations committed by autocrats:

  • “Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi persisted in silencing independent voices and civic groups and locking up thousands for their presumed political views.
  • Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte encouraged more summary executions, supposedly of drug suspects, but often of people guilty of no more than being poor young men.
  • Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban implemented his brand of “illiberal democracy.”
  • Poland’s de facto ruler, Jarosław Kaczyński, sought to stack his country’s courts with his preferred judges, undermining the judiciary’s independence.
  • Italy’s interior minister and deputy prime minister, Matteo Salvini, closed ports to refugees and migrants, scuttled efforts to save migrants’ lives at sea, and stoked anti-immigrant sentiment.
  • India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi failed to halt the demonizing of Muslims while attacking civic groups that criticized his rights record or environmental policies.
  • The Cambodian prime minister, Hun Sen, tightened his grip on power by holding sham elections from which the opposition party was banned.
  • US President Donald Trump disparaged immigrants and minorities and tried to bully judges and journalists whom he deemed to stand in his way.
  • Russia under President Vladimir Putin continued its multi-year crackdown on independent voices and political opposition.
  • China closed off any possibility of organized opposition to the increasingly one-man rule of Xi Jinping.”4

Third, of course, is the current novel coronavirus pandemic.  The entire population of earth is impacted.  As of the morning of april 1st, there are “873,767 confirmed cases of the virus and 43,288 deaths.”5  Nations throughout the world are (some more aggressive that others) are implementing isolation and social distancing practices to reduce the spread of the virus so as not to overwhelm their healthcare systems and to minimize the number of deaths.

These are trying times for sure!  We need to stay healthy in both body and mind if we hope to get through these challenges.  First and foremost, we need to stay calm; stay informed and avoid false information.  We can’t let our own personal beliefs stand in the way in overcoming these real crises’ facing us all.  Pay attention to the medical profession regarding the coronavirus and to the scientific community regarding the impact the climate crisis is having on earth’s inhabitants.  Furthermore, we need to stand up to leaders that don’t have their people’s best interest in mind.  Our politicians must stop playing partisan politics, be honest with their constituents, and stop pandering to special interests in order to ensure that current and future generations can thrive and be safe.  All businesses must work to advance prosperity and good will for all not just for a few.  Big Pharma, here in the United States, must not take advantage of people by looking at this pandemic with $ eyes (see Big Pharma article reference 6). The fossil-fuel industry must stop the harm they are causing for the sake of profits (see fossil fuel article reference 7). 

I know that many of us are afraid, but we must all understand that we are in this together.  We must drop our partisan behavior and come together.  We must resist those who continue to demonstrate divisive behavior by falsely asserting that the events we are facing are hoaxes.  We will overcome these existential threats by helping each other and by fighting the urge to consider only one’s self-interest.

Again, let’s stay aware, commit to resisting and overcoming these huge threats and to communicating clearly and honestly with each other.  I welcome everyone’s feedback.  E-mail me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  Also, you can provide feedback by utilizing the comment link below.  I look forward to hearing from you.

References:

  1. Antarctica logs highest temperature on record of 18.3C by BBC February 7 2020. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-51420681
  2. European heatwave: Spain battles major Catalonia wildfire by BBC June 19, 2019 https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-48790242
  3. Australian fires have incinerated the habitats of up to 100 threatened species. By John Pickrell, ScienceNews January 13, 2020 https://www.sciencenews.org/article/australian-fires-incinerated-habitats-threatened-species-ecological-disaster
  4. World’s Autocrats Face Rising Resistance by Kenneth Roth, Executive Director Human Rights Watch, World Report 2019 https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2019/keynote/autocrats-face-rising-resistance
  5. Coronavirus COVID-19 Global Cases by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University (JHU). https://www.arcgis.com/apps/opsdashboard/index.html#/bda7594740fd40299423467b48e9ecf6
  6. Big Pharma prepares to profit from the coronavirus by Sharon Lerner, The Intercept March 13, 2020. https://theintercept.com/2020/03/13/big-pharma-drug-pricing-coronavirus-profits/
  7. Oil Companies Ponder Climate Change, but Profits Still Rule. New York Times, By Stanley Reed, October 7th, 2019. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/07/business/energy-environment/oil-companies-climate-change-profits.html
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Alyson Ben-David — Carmine, Your blog's title "Unprecedented Times" made me tighten up in my certainty that this would be another in the endless stream of news about Coronavirus. Ironically, I was chagrined that I was actually relieved to be reading about climate change and autocrats. Yikes! Thus, you vividly brought to mind how we've been overwhelmingly distracted from the huge issues of climate change, nationalism, and the growing violations of personal online privacy. Thank you for that awareness!! 2019 was designated by many as the Year of the Protest, and you reminded us of some important protests. Then today I found a piece in Axios (Axios.com): "The year of the protest meets the year of the lockdown." It notes that planned protests are now on hold because of the Coronavirus, including the folllowing: "Climate activist Greta Thunberg has, for the time being, gone from leading people on climate marches to urging them to stay home. (She also suspects that she had the coronavirus.)" Well, yes, it IS good news for see Coronavirus cases cited in the past tense! But of course that's not a reason for us to not stay home! Alyson...