Pierre Teilhard de Chardin and Thomas Berry, two theologians who spent part of their lives in New York's Hudson Valley, wrote about an inextricable link between science, nature and spirituality. A few years ago, religious and environmental leaders from all over the world converged at the United Nations and on college campuses to celebrate the teachings of de Chardin, who lived for a time at a Jesuit seminary in Hyde Park, N.Y. and whose remains are buried there.
Mary Evelyn Tucker, one of the most eloquent voices of the eco-spiritual movement, spoke at the U.N. about the daunting challenges faced by 21st-century humanitarians: widespread environmental degradation, crippling poverty, social inequities and unrestrained militarism. However, she sees in the vision of de Chardin that "the spirit of the earth is calling us into the next stage of evolutionary history, moving us forward from viewing ourselves as isolated individuals and competing nation states, to realizing our collective presence as a species on the planet."
These are lofty and inspiring thoughts for us here on the ground in the Hudson Valley and for those who are attempting to follow the teachings of these leading thinkers across the world. They teach us to value and respect nature, to look for the common ground across religious, sovereign and ethnic divides and to help boost our collective efforts to protect the earth from environmental threats into higher orbits.
That same spirit was in the air last week in the Hudson Valley and at more than a thousand college campuses throughout the United States at teach-ins on global climate change. The non-partisan national event, endorsed by Senator Barack Obama and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger among others, was sponsored by Focus the Nation. Simultaneous events drew together college students, professors, environmental activists and industry leaders who are working to implement strategies that will stem the tide of climate change. Dr. Sharon Nunes, vice president of Strategic Growth Initiatives at IBM, spoke about the efforts this major global corporation is taking to make their computer technology more energy-efficient and supportive of conservation strategies. Scenic Hudson education and membership staff Susan Hereth and Lisa Lynch talked directly with students about what they can do to reduce their carbon footprints, while I spoke about the benefits of land preservation in sequestering carbon. Every acre Scenic Hudson or other conservation groups protects from deforestation keeps 3.5 tons of carbon on the ground, rather than releasing it to the atmosphere, where it adds to the greenhouse effect.
Read Ned Sullivan's Oct. 24 speech to the World Affairs Council of the Mid-Hudson Valley.
Enter your city or zip code to get your local temperature and air quality and find local green food and recycling resources near you.