The work of the Carbon Busters—as Keith Fox has dubbed us—is about continuous learning. We share writings on climate science, then meet by Zoom to discuss them. With a growing sense of urgency, we’re developing emission-reduction proposals to present to our community.

We have been looking at groundskeeping, insulation, electricity and heating, travel, and food, following a greenhouse gas emissions questionnaire developed by Cool Congregations. We have recently been focused on our travel to Meeting and food. As for travel, our striving for “carbon-neutrality” is much advanced by Friends’ adoption of Zoom for Meeting for Worship plus committee and social gatherings. Also, Zoom includes Friends from across the planet! A hybrid future, combining physical presence and Zoom, offers both climate and inclusivity advantages.

As for food, we’re examining how shifting from animal-based to plant-based protein supports the climate, rainforests and other habitat, human health…and food sovereignty in areas of the world where farmers face the impacts of big, international grain and soymeal companies. On the level of personal impact, divestment from animal products has more climate-preserving power than divestment from fossil fuels. Planning a plant-based fellowship hour is as vital as reducing our annual mileage or easing our heating requirements.

Unlike the other pieces of the emissions pie, diet encompasses our relationship with other feeling beings. Notably, the lives of John Woolman and Benjamin Lay stood for dismantling both human slavery and the exploitation of animals. Fast-forward to today, when social justice, climate, and extinction pose simultaneous challenges. We needn’t rank them by priority to spot a deep ethical question underlying them. Can human beings interrogate our habit of seizing the upper hand in our relationship with other people, other beings, and our Earth? In April—Earth Month—we’ve been examining these intersections and we will be bringing these queries to our May 23rd forum.