Compost Collection for Creation
Bring your compostable products to deposit anytime in the green bin. Also, pick up compostable garbage bags at the church (NO standard plastic bags, please). Questions about what goes in the bin? Go to reunityresources.com or call Melanie Lohmann (505- 617-0700). Thanks!
United's Carbon Offset Program
The goal of this program is to reduce our carbon footprint. While we can do much to reduce that footprint, most of us cannot reduce it to zero. The only way to negate the impact of the remaining emissions is through emissions reduction projects. This is done via carbon offset programs.
The average U. S. citizen emits 16.6 tons of CO2 emissions per year. A significant portion of this is via travel, both automobile travel and air travel. Air travel is sometimes called “the biggest carbon sin” because of the miles logged and the low efficiency of airplane fuel.
The United Church Carbon Offset Program finances carbon offset projects in order to offset travel emissions.
To do this we have the work of two organizations in view, both with a New Mexico focus.
New Mexico Interfaith Power & Light (NMIPL)
UCSF is a member of NMIPL. Not all programs of NMIPL are direct carbon offsets. But some are, often focusing on carbon sequestration, and others are preventive measures—regulating methane or limiting fracking, e.g. Sr. Joan Brown can be trusted to make judicious choices for offset funds provided to NMIPL. For more information, go to nm-ipl.org.
Trees New Mexico
Trees are the most effective and least costly of all carbon sequestration means, as well as the most available for the widest variety of land ecosystems. This includes deserts such as ours. For details, go to treenm.com and see especially, Why plant trees in the desert? See also the statistics for energy conservation for cities such as Albuquerque and Santa Fe. The estimate is that 300 trees counters the amount of air pollution one person produces in a lifetime.
Members who participate calculate their own offset cost and make out a check to the UCSF with a notation in the memo line, Carbon Offset Program. If cash is used, please include a note, Carbon Offset Program.
We are rounding off to $8.00 per ton calculations that vary between $7.78 and $8.37 to offset 1 ton of emissions. (Emissions here combines emissions of CO2, methane, and nitrous oxide, the three most significant of the greenhouse gases.) The following are the figures for flights, calculated for roundtrip flights. The calculation is $8.00 per ton per person for every 3 hours of flight time.
Up to 3 hours: $8.00
4 – 6 hours: $12.00 -$16.00
7 – 9 hours: $18.00 -$24.00
13 or more: $26.00 -$32.00
Following the same carbon offset cost above, we are rounding to $8.00 to offset 1 ton of emissions (combining CO2, methane, and nitrous oxide).
The following are the figures for car travel, calculated for average miles driven per year.
Up to 4,999 miles: $0 -$16.00
5,000-9,999 miles: $16.00 -$32.00
10,000-14,999 miles: $32.00 -$48.00
15,000 or more: $48.00 -$64.00
Carbon Offset Program
United Church of Santa Fe
(A united Church of Christ Congregation)
Beginning in 2020, United offers a Carbon Offset Program to members and friends. How that works for those who participate is explained on the separate sheet, UCSF Carbon Offset Program. What follows here is the broader context of which this program is part and which it addresses.
There is overwhelming international consensus that we, the planet’s people, must lower our carbon emissions in order to stave off climate calamity. The goal of both the Paris Climate Agreement (195 nations) and the Energy Transition Act of the State of New Mexico is carbon neutrality by 2050.
While all of us can lower our carbon footprint, our present way of life precludes anyone achieving zero emissions. The Carbon Offset Program is a modest effort to address the gap between our current emissions and the goal of zero emissions.
This program belongs to an array of Environmental Ministry/Desert Faith efforts by United. Some examples:
• A 42-panel solar carport that generates carbon-free electricity for 100% of the church’s annual need (and saves $3600 – 4800 in annual utility bills); • LED lights everywhere, including the full parking lot;
• Replaced or repaired windows in the Sanctuary and the children’s Nurture Center as well as energy efficient windows in the new Education Wing;
• Enrollment in the Energy Star Portfolio Manager, a software that allows us to track monthly and annual energy use and locate inefficiencies; • Worship that incorporates Earth-honoring and Desert Faith prayers, litanies, music, and scripture (since 1987);
• Education opportunities for children, youth and adults that incorporate United’s commitment to “Love Creation” along with love for God and Neighbor.
• A new foam roof, with maximum insulation capability and pitched for water harvesting, channeling rain and melt water from the 13,797 sq. ft. of roof area into four 8,000 gallon cisterns that provide water for the Desert Faith landscaping project;
• 274 trees and 541 shrubs, many of which are new plantings, sequester ca. 8.97 tons of CO2 annually on the 3.429 acres of church grounds.
While there is more to the congregation’s Environmental Ministry, the significant fact is that from the time we entered the GreenFaith Certification Program for houses of worship (2012) to the present we have reduced carbon emissions 40%. (Incidentally, none of the money given to the Offset Program stays with United. 100% goes to the recipients who do the on-the-ground work of carbon offsetting.)
The broader context is grim, even in New Mexico. The Energy Transition Act is law. Yet in 2018 state oil and gas revenues made up 32% of the state’s general fund revenues with a record high of $2.2 billion. Furthermore, the Permian Basin is slated to become the largest source of oil and gas in the country. And while most of the basin is in Texas, the richest reserves are believed to be in New Mexico. This effective commitment to fossil fuels has led to an “all of the above” state energy policy (both renewable and non-renewable sources).
New Mexico joins Alaska, North Dakota, and Wyoming as the top four states whose fiscal revenue is as least 20% from natural resource extraction. This is sometimes referred to as the “resource curse” because the reliance on resource revenues seems to correlate with poor economic performance. Most recent state rankings for economy places Alaska at 46th, North Dakota at 35th, Wyoming at 42nd, and New Mexico at 47th. (For countries rather than states, the International Monetary Fund has long noted a correlation of rich natural resources and economies with high levels of poverty and poor performance—the “resource curse”.)
Internationally, nations are falling far short of the Paris Climate Agreement goal of holding global warming to 1.5 degrees C. above pre-industrial levels. We are presently at 1 degree above and have already seen more intense storms, including hurricanes and flooding rains, more wildfires that are more intense and over a longer season, sea level rise and ocean acidification, severe loss of biodiversity and the onset of a mass extinction event, etc. What the planet would be with a rise at our present pace – 2, 3 or 4 degrees – is simply a different Earth, well beyond the climate stability that has made possible the human civilizations of the last 10,000 – 12,000 years. All this makes carbon offsets of all kinds, and carbon reduction, imperative.
United Church of Santa Fe Environmental Task Force (Larry Rasmussen, Mary Roessel, Joe Neidhart, Pam Homer, Scott Wagner. Staff: Sr. Minister Talitha Arnold