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Rethink the News

Perspective matters.

Reducing news to hard lines and side-taking leaves a lot of the story untold. Progress comes from challenging what we hear and considering different views.

2018
September
19
Wednesday

What does an institution do when a proud history turns out to have some uncomfortable caveats?

Take Scotland’s University of Glasgow. Its staff members figured prominently in Britain’s anti-slavery movement before the transatlantic slave trade was abolished in 1807; among its alumni is James McCune Smith, an emancipated slave who in 1837 became the first African-American to graduate from medical school after being shunned by US schools.

But last year the school acknowledged it benefited significantly in the past from bequests rooted in slavery wealth, and began to explore how to respond. This week it issued a report saying it wanted “to fully engage with the history … recognising that the heritage of historical slavery continues to shape our lives and society.” First steps, it says, include better addressing racial diversity on campus, creating an academic center to study of all forms of slavery, and naming a major building after a “significant” figure (perhaps Smith).

Instead of ducking an uncomfortable truth, the school is moving to embrace it. Afua Hirsch, a Guardian columnist of color, noted that  “the University of Glasgow should be applauded for breaking through the paralysis of fear and denial” when it comes to debating Britain’s history with slavery. The university, meanwhile, noted that it could deploy its values of “justice and enlightenment” to understand its past, “while moving forward in new directions….”

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Now to our five stories, including a deeper look at leverage in a trade war, a moderate challenge to political Islam, and how two towns are responding as legal cannabis comes to Canada.

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1. ‘Right time’ for a trade war? Depends who you ask.

We heard today from Tom Donohue of the US Chamber of Commerce, who says businesses agree on confronting China, but see a trade war as the "biggest threat" to economy.

Amelia

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Ever since President Trump took office, business groups and others have warned against a trade war. But if a trade conflict had to erupt, the timing isn’t bad. The US economy is booming, and jobs are plentiful. That gives the US leverage. And at a Monitor Breakfast Wednesday, Chamber of Commerce president Tom Donohue agreed that China needs to be confronted over trade practices in areas like intellectual property. “If we don’t fix [the issues] now it’s going to get more and more difficult to do it,” he said. Yet the Chamber itself is opposing the escalating tariffs, arguing for other tactics instead. And for consumers, the latest round of tariffs will raise prices on everything from Chinese high chairs to handbags, toilet paper to seafood. Still, absent a plunge in economic growth or the stock market, it’s not clear that there’s enough political opposition in the United States to stop trade tensions from rising with China and others. Says economist Gregory Daco, “The endgame, sadly, may actually be further escalation before things begin to ease back.”

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‘Right time’ for a trade war? Depends who you ask.

If ever there was a good time for America to launch a trade war, this is it.

The economy is booming. Jobs are plentiful. Even as tariffs begin to raise prices and slow business activity, things are going so swimmingly that consumers may barely notice.

Even the politics pose little obstacle, with Republicans holding both houses of Congress and hesitant to challenge their president on trade while Democrats are divided over the issue.

So as President Trump pushes trading partners to make concessions – and threatens a trade war if they don’t – he is doing so from a position of strength. His challenge is that the more he exerts his economic leverage on other nations through tariffs, the more opposition he is likely to face at home.

Businesses, feeling the squeeze, are already becoming more vocal. Consumers will eventually notice those higher prices and, possibly, fewer choices on the store shelves.

“The single biggest threat facing the economy right now is the potential for a real trade war,” US Chamber of Commerce president Tom Donohue said Wednesday at a breakfast hosted by The Christian Science Monitor. He said his group agrees on the need to confront China over its trade practices, but that “it shouldn’t be the US consumer that’s paying.”

This week, Mr. Trump escalated his trade battle with China. The administration announced on Monday 10 percent tariffs on some $200 billion in Chinese imports, scheduled to take effect next week. On Tuesday, China announced it would retaliate with tariffs of its own affecting $60 billion in US imports.

“The economy is giving him a lot of leeway to conduct policy this way,” says Bart Oosterveld, director of the global business and economics program at the Atlantic Council, an international-affairs group based in Washington. The dollar is so strong, keeping import prices low, that consumers may not notice the price hikes, he adds. “The people who line up in front of the doors of Walmart at 5 o'clock on Black Friday, I’m not sure they’re going to be concerned with the two or three dollars that they're going to pay more for certain goods.”

Latest tariffs will affect consumers

But those duties will go up to 25 percent at the end of the year, the administration announced. And the more tariffs spread to new goods, the more personal they become to consumers. When the administration first announced tariffs on Chinese goods back in June, they hit products like auto parts and semiconductors, things most consumers don’t buy directly. The latest round of tariffs, by contrast, will raise prices on everything from Chinese-made high chairs to handbags, toilet paper to seafood.

What will happen if the tariffs hit the new Apple iPhone XS or XS Max, models that are already giving consumers pause because of their $1,000 and up price tags? (Notably, Apple's smart watch and wireless headphones were trimmed from the list of tariffs announced this week.)

Another important voice is big business. While some industries such as steel applaud tariffs because of the insulation it provides from foreign competition, more industries, which depend on exports or imports, are likely to resist Trump’s trade policies as tariffs spread to new sectors and disrupt supply chains. In a survey of its members released Tuesday, the US-China Business Council found 73 percent of companies saying their business has been affected by trade tensions.

Mr. Donohue, speaking for businesses nationwide, said the Chamber of Commerce isn’t brushing off concerns such as the erosion of American firms’ technological edge or theft of intellectual property. At the breakfast, he said the issues with China are “real serious, and if we don't fix them now it's going to get more and more difficult to do it.”

But the Chamber would like to see the US lead a multilateral effort on trade policy, rather than going it alone in a stand-off with China.

Donohue said that in urging against a trade war, “we're finally getting other people to join in this effort in a broader basis than we had in the past, because they're beginning to understand the need to convey what their concerns are – individual associations, other national groups, to say, ‘Hey, this is affecting our constituents.’ ”

Another potential change looming on Trump’s horizon are the midterm elections, although their effect on trade may be limited. If Democrats recapture the House, the president will no longer be able to rely on automatic support from Congress. And if they retake the Senate as well, in a “blue wave” election that calls into question Trump’s popularity, even GOP lawmakers may be more likely to criticize his trade policies.

But if a blue wave happens, the GOP lawmakers who fall will be the moderates who support free trade, and those who remain will be solid red-district Trump supporters, says Stephen Biddle, professor of international and public affairs at Columbia University in New York. And “Democrats are conflicted on trade,” so they’re unlikely to push on an issue that divides their party.

Overall, tariffs are not a winning political issue. Forty percent of voters oppose them while 38 percent support them, according to an AP-NORC poll of 1,055 adults in mid-August. But two-thirds of Republicans approve of the imposition of tariffs, fueling suspicions that Trump is taking a tough line with trading partners ahead of the elections to whip up his supporters.

To some observers, Trump’s trade policy is purely based on such domestic political considerations. “This is playing to the base,” says Professor Biddle.

Too big an ‘ask’ from Trump to China?

Trump’s fans, by contrast, say the saber-rattling bravado is all part of a shrewd strategy to extract maximum concessions from trading partners. They point to trade deals the president has completed with South Korea and now Mexico. And some of China’s trade-related actions have been so egregious that other countries as well as previous US administrations have also complained about them, they point out.

The problem is that it’s not at all clear what the administration is asking China to do. Some administration officials suggest it is to end certain practices, such as forcing US companies to transfer technology to a Chinese partner in return for permission to operate in the country. Other officials appear to be calling for China to renounce its strategic development plan.

“The US administration is really asking China to surrender unconditionally on all trade fronts,” says Gregory Daco, an economist at Oxford Economics, a forecasting and analysis firm based in Oxford, England. “We know from prior experience that China will not fold just because there is a threat of tariffs.”

So the escalation in trade tensions is likely to continue for some time, analysts say. Perhaps until there’s a sharp plunge either in the stock market or economic growth (says Mr. Daco), or “a new president,” (says Biddle).

Staff writer Mark Trumbull contributed to this article from Washington.

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A deeper look

2. How Islamist moderates seek to remake the politics of the Muslim world

The era of political Islam appears to be waning in some regions. But as some Islamists broaden their appeal, there's an opportunity to increase our understanding of the nuances of Islam in politics.

Amelia
Zoubeir Souissi/Reuters
Ennahda party member Souad Abderrahim celebrated after being elected the first woman mayor of Tunis, Tunisia, in July. The wider adoption of democratic principles could transform the discourse in a region where – as elsewhere – politics are often bound to identity and bitterly polarized.

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From Tunisia to Egypt to Jordan, Islamist activists and organizations are adopting a more progressive and moderate tone. They are reaching out to minorities and secular Muslims, while doing away with old political goals to impose their interpretation of Islam on society. Part of the move is simple pragmatism. After watching the Muslim Brotherhood – with its call for sharia (Islamic law) – get routed in Egypt, and the defeat of other political Islamic groups, many Islamic activists believe that for their organizations to survive, a more moderate stance is the way to gain and hold power. Others say a deeper ideological shift is under way, with increasing recognition of the importance of religious tolerance and political pluralism in modern societies. Experts say this shift is a natural evolution for movements that are taking part in the decisionmaking process for the first time after decades in the opposition. “As the opposition, you can refuse, you can criticize, you can obstruct,” says Rachid Mouqtadir, professor of political science at Hassan II University in Casablanca, Morocco. “But when you are in a coalition with other parties and trying to govern, the parameters change, your approach changes, and as a result your ideology changes.”

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How Islamist moderates seek to remake the politics of the Muslim world

Alaa Faroukh insists he is the future. After nearly a decade in the Muslim Brotherhood, he says that he has finally found harmony between his faith and politics, not as a hardcore Islamist, but as a “Muslim democrat.”

“We respect and include minorities, we fight for women’s rights, we respect different points of view, we are democratic both in our homes and in our politics – that is how we honor our faith,” Mr. Faroukh says.

The jovial psychologist with a toothy smile, who can quote Freud as easily as he can recite the Quran, is speaking from his airy Amman clinic, located one floor below the headquarters of the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood, the very movement he left.

“The time of divisive politics of older Islamists is over, and everyone in my generation agrees,” says the 30-something Faroukh. “The era of political Islam is dead.”

Faroukh is symbolic of a shift sweeping through parts of the Arab world. From Tunisia to Egypt to Jordan, many Islamist activists and some established Islamic organizations are adopting a more progressive and moderate tone in their approach to politics and governing. They are reaching out to minorities and secular Muslims while doing away with decades-old political goals to impose their interpretation of Islam on society.

Taylor Luck
“The time of divisive politics of older Islamists is over, and everyone in my generation agrees. The era of political Islam is dead,” says Alaa Faroukh, a young Jordanian who left the Muslim Brotherhood for a moderate political party.

Part of the move is simple pragmatism. After watching the Muslim Brotherhood – with its call for sharia (Islamic law) and failure to reach out to minorities and secular Muslims – get routed in Egypt, and the defeat of other political Islamic groups across the Arab world, many Islamic activists believe taking a more moderate stance is the only way to gain and hold power. Yet others, including many young Muslims, believe a deeper ideological shift is under way in which Islamist organizations are increasingly recognizing the importance of religious tolerance and political pluralism in modern societies. 

While Islamist movements remain the largest and most potent political movement in the region, a widespread adoption of democratic principles by their followers could transform the discourse in a region where politics are often bound to identity and are bitterly polarized.

“We believe that young Jordanians and young Arabs in general see that the future is not in partisan politics, but in cooperation, understanding, and putting the country above petty party politics,” says Rheil Gharaibeh, the moderate former head of the Jordanian Brotherhood’s politburo who has formed his own political party.

Is this the beginning of a fundamental shift in the politics of the Middle East or just an expedient move by a few activists?

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Many Islamist groups say their move to the center is a natural step in multiparty politics, but this obscures how far their positions have truly shifted in a short time.

Some 20 years ago, the manifesto of the Muslim Brotherhood – the Sunni Islamic political group with affiliates across the Arab world – called for the implementation of sharia and gender segregation at universities, and commonly employed slogans such as “Islam is the solution.”

In 2011, the Arab Spring uprisings swept these Islamist movements into power or installed them as the leading political force from the Arab Gulf to Morocco, sparking fears of an Islamization of Arab societies.

But instead of rolling back women’s rights, the Tunisian Islamist party Ennahda pushed through gender equality laws and helped write the most progressive, gender-equal constitution in the Arab world. The Moroccan Justice and Development Party (PJD) has played down its Islamic rhetoric, abandoning talk of Islamic identity and sharia and instead speaking about democratic reform and human rights. And the Brotherhood in Jordan traded in its slogan “Islam is the solution” for “the people demand reform” and “popular sovereignty for all.”

The past few years have seen an even more dramatic shift to the center. Not only have Islamist movements dropped calls for using sharia as a main source of law, but they nearly all now advocate for a “civil state”­ – a secular nation where the law, rather than holy scriptures or the word of God, is sovereign.

Muhammad Hamed/Reuters
Supporters of the National Alliance for Reform rally in Amman, Jordan, in 2016. They have rebranded themselves as a national rather than an Islamic movement.

In Morocco and Jordan, Islamist groups separated their religious activities – preaching, charitable activities, and dawa (spreading the good word of God) – from their political branches. In 2016, Ennahda members in Tunisia went one step further and essentially eliminated their religious activities altogether, rebranding themselves as “Muslim democrats.”

Islamist moderates say this shift away from religious activities to a greater focus on party politics is a natural step in line with what President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has done with his Justice and Development Party in Turkey, or even, they hope, with the Christian democrats in Europe: to become movements inspired by faith, not governing through faith.

“While we are a Muslim country, we are aware that we do not have one interpretation of religion and we will not impose one interpretation of faith over others,” says Mehrezia Labidi, a member of the Tunisian Parliament and Ennahda party leader. “As Muslim democrats we are guided by Islamic values, but we are bound by the Constitution, the will of the people, and the rule of law for all.”

Experts say this shift is a natural evolution for movements that are taking part in the decisionmaking process for the first time after decades in the opposition.

“As the opposition, you can refuse, you can criticize, you can obstruct,” says Rachid Mouqtadir, professor of political science at Hassan II University in Casablanca, Morocco, and an expert in Islamist movements. “But when you are in a coalition with other parties and trying to govern, the parameters change, your approach changes, and as a result your ideology changes.”

The trend has even gone beyond the borders of the Arab world. The Malaysian Islamic Youth Movement (ABIM), founded in 1971 by Malaysian university students inspired by the Brotherhood and now one of the strongest civil society groups in the country, is also shedding the “Islamist” label.

In addition to running schools and hospitals, ABIM now hosts interfaith concerts, partners on projects with Christians and Buddhists, and even reaches out to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender activists in its campaign for social justice.

“We are in the age of post-political Islam,” says Ahmad Fahmi Mohd Samsudin, ABIM vice president, from the movement’s headquarters in a leafy Kuala Lumpur suburb. “That means when we say we stand for Islam, we stand for social justice and equality for all – no matter their faith or background.”

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Experts say this evolution in political thought is as much a survival strategy as it is a political shift – an attempt by Islamists to secure their footing on the shifting sands of the Arab world.

Islamists are all haunted by the specter of Egypt, where what was supposed to be the crowning achievement of a century of political Islam turned into a disaster. By 2013, the Egyptian Brotherhood – the original, mother organization – had won both a majority in parliament and the presidency in the Arab world’s most populous state.

Yet only one year into Mohamed Morsi’s tenure, the movement had done little to calm the fears of secular or minority Egyptians, show transparency in its decisionmaking process, or overcome claims of mismanagement. A large portion of Egypt’s 100 million people came out to protest and supported a military overthrow of the democratically elected Mr. Morsi.

Following his ouster, Arab Gulf states led by the United Arab Emirates banned the Brotherhood as a terrorist movement, while Morsi’s successor, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, mercilessly cracked down on Brotherhood activists, killing hundreds and arresting thousands.

This dramatic fall from power looms large over nearly every decision Islamists make today. In Tunisia, faced with popular protests following the assassination of a leftist politician and Ennahda critic a few weeks after Morsi’s ouster, Ennahda relinquished power. The party later entered into a governing coalition with the secular Nidaa Tounes party as a junior member of the government. In Morocco, the PJD appealed more openly to the monarchy, conceding the king religious legitimacy.

Muhammad Hamed/Reuters/File
Jordan’s Muslim Brotherhood leader Salem Falahat speaks in Amman in 2011. It was during these Arab Spring protests that the hardline Islamist began to soften his views.

“This is not an ideological shift underway; this [moderation trend] comes from these groups’ survival instinct,” says Shadi Hamid, a Brookings Institution senior fellow and author of multiple books on Islamist movements. “Islamist movements prioritize survival and self-preservation at any cost. After the experience in Egypt and pressures from the Gulf and regimes, these groups had no choice but to move in this direction.”

Whether the shift is ideological or pragmatic, Islamists agree that the move to the center has been a recipe for electoral success. In May’s Tunisian municipal elections, the first since Ennahda became the Muslim Democrat party, the movement came away with the largest number of votes of any party at 29 percent, and snagged 2,135 out of 7,000 municipal seats across the country.

In 2016, Morocco’s PJD gained an additional 18 seats in parliament in its second parliamentary election, cementing its hold on power. The successes have won over even hard-line supporters who demand party “purity” and are drawn to these movements solely for their Islamic identity.

“As long as people see these movements rack up victories, studies and recent history have shown supporters will stick with them no matter how less Islamic they become,” says Hassan Abu Haniya, a Jordanian expert on Islamist movements.

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With his traditional red-and-white checkered headscarf, sharply trimmed beard, and no-nonsense demeanor, Salem Falahat was widely known as a hard-liner – a conservative with a capital “C.” It was his religious zeal and trademark unwillingness to compromise that helped propel Mr. Falahat through the ranks from a teenage recruit in 1968 to become overall leader of the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan in 2006.

Taylor Luck
Salem Falahat holds a copy of his book criticizing the Muslim Brotherhood at his office in Amman, Jordan.

His views were that of a “true believer”: Christians had no place in the Brotherhood, universities should be segregated, Western culture was corrupting Jordan from within. People who disagreed with the Brotherhood were not just foes. For him, they were unbelievers, infidels.

“I was very, very conservative,” Falahat says, shaking his head. “So conservative that you could call me an extremist.”

It was while serving as the Jordanian Brotherhood’s coordinator for the Arab Spring protests in 2011 that Falahat says he began to have a change of heart. Each day, he would be on the phone, arranging protests and statements with leftists, communists, Baathists, nationalists, and seculars – the very people Falahat believed were his enemies.

As they linked arms one Friday to march in protest for greater political freedoms, he made a startling discovery: He realized he had much more in common with them than he did differences.

“It turned out that these people who I thought were our enemies had the very morals, ethics, and kindness that Islam calls for,” Falahat says. “I realized then that you don’t have to be a devout Muslim to have Islamic values – and you certainly don’t have to be an Islamist.”

Falahat tried to take his new political gospel back to the Brotherhood, urging the movement to open up and work with nonmembers. Yet while Tunisia’s Ennahda thrived in post-revolution elections and the PJD formed a government under the monarchical system in Morocco, the Jordanian Brotherhood, which is more closely aligned with hard-line Hamas and the Egyptian Brotherhood, resisted change.

Falahat and others watched in dismay as the Jordanian Brotherhood boycotted Jordan’s post-Arab Spring elections in 2013 and invitations from the king to take part in the reform process. After four years of being met with stiff resistance, Falahat left the Brotherhood in 2016 to join with nationalists, leftists, and tribalists to form a “third-way,” unity party devoted to constitutional reform and rooting out corruption. The Partnership and Rescue Party was licensed last December.

Its followers claim to practice what they preach. The party’s secretary-general is a nationalist, the assistant secretary-general is a woman, and the head of the politburo is a leftist woman. Former Islamists who followed Falahat make up around 10 percent of members. They openly support a Christian or a woman becoming prime minister.

This is more than a strategic shift, Falahat insists. It is a recognition of political reality: If Islamist movements do not moderate enough, their followers will – with or without them.

“Either you keep up with the times or you are left behind,” Falahat says. “Sooner or later even conservatives will realize that this is the future and will change their tune. Until then, we are offering a third way.”

Third-way political movements that prioritize political reform over ideology have become a refuge for disenchanted young Islamists. Several hundred of them have left the Jordanian Brotherhood over the conservative old guard’s stranglehold on the movement’s leadership.

Some, like Faroukh, the young psychologist, have flocked to Zamzam, another third-way political movement formed by Mr. Gharaibeh, the moderate former head of the Jordanian Brotherhood politburo who was excommunicated from the group for his pragmatic views in 2012.

“The failure of the Brotherhood in Egypt and the success of Ennahda in Tunisia proves that cooperation and moderation is the future,” Gharaibeh says from his party office in west Amman.

The more open and democratic tone was on display during a meeting of Zamzam deputies at the party office in late August. Voices and passions rose as party leaders took turns vigorously debating the new government, the income tax law, social media messaging, and preparations for a potential early election. Religion did not come up once.

“When we focus on national issues rather than identity politics, we have solutions, we have a strategy, and we have support,” says Gharaibeh.

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But questions remain: Will rank-and-file Islamists support watered-down Islamism? And what is an Islamist movement without Islam?

In Tunisia, Ennahda’s core supporters – working class Tunisians and those from marginalized rural communities – remain divided over the group’s new direction.

Many gravitated to the movement for its calls for social justice and an Islamic state, not for technocrats talking about “power-sharing” and “democratic transitions.”

Taylor Luck
“While we are a Muslim country, we are aware that we do not have one interpretation of religion and we will not impose one interpretation of faith over others,” says Mehrezia Labidi, a member of the Tunisian Parliament and Ennahda party leader.

“Ennahda decided that they will worship the seats of power they sit on and not God,” says Mounira Ben Salem, a resident of the marginalized Tunis suburb of Douar Hicher, fresh off a 12-hour shift cleaning rooms in a downtown four-star hotel. “When they turned their backs on Islam, they turned their backs on us.”

Yet the movement also retains a solid base of committed supporters who believe in the more moderate approach.

“We need patience, wisdom, and vision to navigate our transition to a democracy at a time counterrevolutionary forces are waiting for us to fall,” says physician Ahmed Ali, near his office in the upscale Tunis neighborhood of Les Berges du Lac earlier this year. “Maybe in 10 or 20 years we will have passed these challenges and be free to fully implement our agenda.”

These contrasting views symbolize a wider division within Islamist movements over their future identity. Underneath the veneer of pragmatism and rebranding, experts say, Islamist groups are “battling for their soul.”

“You sit down with the conservatives in the movement and you agree with them, and then you sit down with the moderates and liberals and you agree with them,” says Hussein Khalil, a lawyer who has been a member of the Jordanian Brotherhood for more than 20 years. “But you put them in the same room together and no one can find the middle ground.”

One question is whether those who have moderated their views will continue to do so even if the political calculus changes. Some experts remain skeptical, claiming that the very pressures and crackdowns on Islamists from regimes and outside powers pushed them toward moderation. In a free democracy, they say, these movements may be tempted to drift back toward hard-line positions to appease their base.

“If you have full-on democracy, you will see Islamist parties feeling more pressure from the right and veering rightward to maintain electoral constituencies tempted by the competitors who will emerge,” says Mr. Hamid, the Brookings expert. “In the 21st century, the lesson is if you want to win elections, it doesn’t pay to reach out to a mythical center where voters are moderate.”

Although violent extremists such as Islamic State and Al Qaeda grab headlines, the true rivals of the moderates are hard-line Salafists. They preach an austere interpretation of Islam that has spread rapidly from the Arab Gulf through the Levant and North Africa the past two decades. Their vision, promoted by autocratic Arab Gulf monarchies as a rival to the Brotherhood, is strict, requiring long beards and obeying rulers unconditionally. They also ban music, Western dress, and politics.

The spread of Salafism has been achieved through the Gulf-funded construction of mosques as well as through aid. Hundreds of Salafi charity groups provide food, build homes, offer scholarships, and donate laptops to vulnerable families across the Muslim world in return for fealty to certain sheikhs and their Gulf backers.

Taylor Luck
“We believe that young Jordanians and young Arabs in general see that the future isn’t in partisan politics, but in cooperation, understanding, and putting the country above petty party politics," says Rheil Gharaibeh (r.), a former member of the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood who has formed his own moderate political party.

Salafists have exploited the same openings created by the Arab Spring that gave rise to the Islamists: With Arab strongmen weakened or toppled, Salafi groups have filled the void left behind – offering citizens social services, education, security, and an identity.

All this poses stiff competition to the moderates, and in many areas the hard-liners continue to prevail. Both Salafists and the Justice and Charity movement have outflanked the moderate Moroccan PJD by openly calling for implementation of sharia in Morocco. Salafists and their Al Nour Party have taken up the Brotherhood’s mantle as the “Islamic party” in Egypt.

Brotherhood-affiliated preachers are all but banned in Jordan, giving Salafists control over many pulpits. The Madkhalis, a Salafi group, control territory in Libya and have made pacts with various militias and warlords. Even in Malaysia, ABIM has come under fire from its own Muslim Malay constituency, particularly the ultraconservative Malaysian Islamic Party. Hard-liners consider the moderates sellouts.

“Whether it be Salafist movements or extremist jihadist movements, there will always be groups further to the right of political Islamists,” says Abu Haniya, the Jordanian analyst. 

Still, Islamist moderates insist that they will not be cowed into changing their views. “Arab nationalism has failed, communism has failed, Islamism has failed,” says Faroukh, the Jordanian psychologist, counting on his fingers the political trends that shook the Arab world over the past century. “We are demanding a new approach. We have been fooled by politicians too many times.”

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3. Cutting emissions still matters. But carbon capture rises as a battlefront.

Climate mitigation strategies tend to focus on emissions reduction. But carbon capture is becoming an equally vital prong of climate action. And the technology to do it is rapidly catching up.

Amelia

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Emissions reduction plays a key role in plans to limit global warming to 1.5 or 2 degrees C. But increasingly, experts say that reduction alone won’t be enough. Removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere is also necessary. Luckily, our understanding of how to do that effectively is rapidly growing – even if most of the means to do so still have big challenges or drawbacks. Some carbon removal relies entirely on biology, such as using the natural potential that forests and farms have as carbon sinks. Others – like capturing carbon dioxide directly from the air before storing it geologically – harness technology. Experts say these technologies have big potential, but also a long way to go before they can be cost-effective or deployed at a large scale. Carbon removal “is at an interesting inflection point,” says Noah Deich, executive director of Carbon180, a nonprofit that aims to change the way we think about carbon. Now, he says, “it’s about moving from conversation to action.”

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Cutting emissions still matters. But carbon capture rises as a battlefront.

By now, virtually everyone knows something about the need to curb emissions if we have any hope of keeping global warming in check. But what about actually removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere?

Increasingly, carbon removal is becoming an important part of the conversation – and many experts say it’s a necessary part of any plan to keep global temperature rise below 1.5 degrees, or even 2 degrees, C. And the technology to accomplish it is rapidly advancing.

“The first rule of holes is to stop digging,” says Noah Deich, executive director of Carbon180, referring to the need to lower emissions. “But we can’t just stay down in the hole, we’ve got to climb our way out…. We have to figure out how strategies on the removal side can complement what we’re doing on mitigation.”

Some of the means to do that are entirely natural: Forests and farms, managed the right way, can both be carbon sinks. Others are technological: Bioenergy with carbon capture and storage – better known as BECCS – converts biomass into outputs like heat or biofuel and captures and stores the carbon dioxide emitted in the process, either underground or in products like concrete or plastics. Direct air capture and storage scrubs carbon dioxide out of ambient air, often using a chemical adsorbent to separate the carbon dioxide, before storing or using it.

And a suite of other nascent technologies is slowly emerging: A technique known as enhanced weathering accelerates natural reactions between certain minerals and carbon dioxide. Seawater capture extracts carbon dioxide from the oceans. Plant engineering involves selectively breeding certain plants for traits that increase carbon storage in soils.

All those options have potential, as well as significant challenges, says James Mulligan, an associate at the World Resources Institute and lead author on a series of papers that the WRI just released on carbon removal. It’s one reason he and others favor a portfolio approach: pursuing each of those options at a scale and a manner that make sense, investing in research and development to further our understanding or drive down costs, and not seeing any one carbon-removal strategy as a silver bullet.

SOURCE: United Nations Environmental Programme
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Jacob Turcotte/Staff

 

A range of options

Some of the biological means of removing carbon – reforestation and managing forests to maximize their use as carbon sinks, planting some trees on agricultural and grazing lands, and managing farms to capture more carbon in the soils – are an obvious place to focus energy first, says Mr. Mulligan.

“They’re easier to do now, and they generally have very good co-benefits,” says Mulligan. One of the biggest downsides is that the carbon storage isn’t necessarily permanent: Forests can burn down; soils can release their carbon with changes in climate. But many of the climate-friendly practices also boost soil health, aid in biodiversity conservation, and engage rural communities in meaningful ways in climate action.

“I view the land-measures side as really critical in buying us time,” says Mulligan.

SOURCE: World Resources Institute
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Jacob Turcotte/Staff

 

But other efforts to remove carbon from the atmosphere – including direct air capture – are rapidly advancing, and experts say they’re no longer the aspirational or theoretical models that some people used to consider them.

That isn’t to say there aren’t real challenges. BECCS has potential – but requires better and cheaper carbon-capture technology, and would require a lot of sustainable biomass to do it at scale. “It’s challenging to do BECCS right, and when it comes to bioenergy, we’ve done it wrong in the past,” says Deich.

Both Mulligan and Deich say they’re particularly excited about the future potential of direct air capture, since if the costs come down, there’s no real ceiling to how much carbon could be captured. Several companies doing direct air capture already exist. Still, the technology for direct air capture and storage isn’t as far along, and at this point, the costs are high. It also requires a lot of energy, which would need to be carbon-neutral.

SOURCE: World Resources Institute
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Jacob Turcotte/Staff

 

A matter of time?

Mulligan, for one, sees an analogy between the carbon-removal technologies and solar energy, which, decades ago, was also cost-prohibitive and only used at a small scale.

Given public incentives – like some kind of carbon-pricing system – and a real investment in research and development, he believes the cost and the scalability of all these options could improve rapidly.

“It’s about getting them to the place where they’re cheap enough, and we know well enough how they work, and how they can be deployed safely and prudently,” says Mulligan. “So that, when we’re ready to start paying $50 or $100 or $150 a ton for that service, there are options on the table and we know how to deploy them.”

Last week, just before the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco, California Gov. Jerry Brown committed the state to carbon neutrality by 2045 and “net negative emissions thereafter.” It was a public recognition that just reducing emissions won’t be enough, and a stated hope – enshrined in executive order – that the technology by that point will be far enough along to deploy many of these technologies at a meaningful scale.

Carbon removal “is at this interesting inflection point,” says Deich. “I think we’re going to see countries and governments and organizations all around the world start to see [net negative emissions] as the benchmark. At the same time, nobody really has a plan as to how we’re going to make that happen… It’s about moving from conversation to action.”

SOURCE: United Nations Environmental Programme, World Resources Institute
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Jacob Turcotte/Staff
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4. Canadian ‘green rush’?: Where cannabis stands to light up a jobs boom

In the debate over legalization of marijuana, the greatest community issue may not revolve around prohibition. Instead it's jobs, and some towns in Canada are finding the pot industry is bringing in much-needed ones. Part one of two. 

Amelia
Sara Miller Llana/The Christian Science Monitor
A worker inspects marijuana plants at 7ACRES, a company that is ramping up employment in Kincardine, Ontario, ahead of marijuana legalization in Canada on Oct. 17.

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Smiths Falls, about 40 miles south of Ottawa, used to be known as “Hershey Town” before the chocolate factory shuttered its doors. Today the ailing community of about 9,000 has re-emerged as the cannabis capital of Canada, says Mayor Shawn Pankow with pride. Such is the attitude of many in the towns seeking to capitalize on Canada's legalization of recreational marijuana, set to go into effect on Oct. 17, by turning themselves into cornerstones of the nascent industry. Entrepreneurs and investors are pushing their way through the doors, while those supplying the already legal medical arena scale up to target a much bigger audience. Sales alone could amount to $7.2 billion by this time next year, according to one study. And that’s not including the ripple effects of new infrastructure, technology, or construction. Many unknowns remain, including how ready governments will be to implement the law, how high unintended costs might be, and whether this “green rush” is just a bubble that will burst. But the move is also being viewed as a potential solution that could stamp out an illicit market while it generates new taxes and jobs. Tomorrow, a town taking the opposite approach to Canada's legalization act: It wants to bar pot shops within its borders to minimize the uncertainty of the new legal regime.

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Canadian ‘green rush’?: Where cannabis stands to light up a jobs boom

Doubling the staff; tripling the number of grow rooms; quintupling production.

These are just some of the goals that Ram Davloor, the general manager of medicinal cannabis producer 7ACRES, shares with employees in a company strategy session ahead of the legalization of recreational marijuana on Oct. 17 in Canada.

“All of you who have come in right now are coming into a business that’s right at the very beginning,” Mr. Davloor tells the three dozen employees gathered at company headquarters in Kincardine, a municipality of about 11,000 on Lake Huron. “And this industry is going to be around for the next 200 years. So all of you here, if you think you are coming late, you are wrong.”

His words seem to have moved the crowd, especially as he lists the production aims of 50,000 kilograms annually of premium cannabis, with each gram selling at an estimated $6 (Canadian, US$4.60), by the end of next year. Adam Schacher, a team lead hired six months ago, breaks in. “Did anyone else do that on their calculator? Fifty thousand kilograms of premium cannabis. That will gross $300 million a year. This will pay power bills, water bills. This is quite a thing.” Applause and cheers erupt.

They are calling it a “green rush.” The legalization of recreational cannabis in Canada, the first major world economy and only the second country in the world to do so after Uruguay, has touched off frenzied economic activity across Canada. Entrepreneurs and investors are pushing their way through the doors, while those already supplying the medical arena like 7ACRES scale up to target a much bigger audience. Sales alone could amount to $7.2 billion, half of that the legal recreational market, by this time next year, according to a study by Deloitte in June.

And that’s not including the ripple effects of new infrastructure, technology, or construction. There are even new college programs dedicated to commercial cannabis production. “It is a big deal to us,” says Sharon Chambers, the chief administrative officer in Kincardine.

Many unknowns remain, including how ready governments will be to implement the law, how high unintended costs might be, and whether this “green rush” is just a bubble that will burst. And there is a cultural dissonance depending on how you see the issue affecting your community. But the move is also being viewed as a potential solution that could stamp out an illicit market while it generates new taxes and jobs. Nowhere is hope higher than in municipalities with cannabis production facilities, especially where they’ve taken over inactive plants and symbolize the rise of a new industry.

“I think we're going to show the rest of world how it can be done properly,” says Shawn Pankow, the mayor of Smiths Falls, where Canopy Growth, North America’s first publicly traded cannabis supplier, based itself four years ago.

The pot boom

Smiths Falls, about 40 miles south of Ottawa, used to be known as “Hershey Town” before the chocolate factory shuttered its doors. Today the ailing community of about 9,000 has re-emerged as the cannabis capital of Canada, says Mr. Pankow with pride.

Marijuana producer Tweed, a subsidiary of Canopy Growth, is now Smiths Falls’ largest employer and has generated growth across industries. Pankow says last year his town saw $30 million in construction volume, more than the previous four years combined, while this year they’ve already exceeded $150 million, mostly due to the cannabis industry. They also hope to draw cannabis tourists. “This has been moving faster than we ever expected,” he says.

Sara Miller Llana/The Christian Science Monitor
Ram Davloor, general manager of 7ACRES, stands in front of construction as the marijuana company majorly scales up operations ahead of legalization Oct. 17 across Canada.

Murray Clarke, who was Kincardine’s chief administrative officer when 7ACRES opened its doors, says it helped diversify the local economy, which is marked by high-paid jobs at Bruce Power, a nuclear generator, and the low-paid service sector. It is telling that there was no pushback from the town council to the production plant. The municipality even sent a letter in support of 7ACRES in March when the government was reviewing the Cannabis Act, noting that the company was honored by the Kincardine Chamber of Commerce as “best new business” in 2017. With plans to grow to 500-plus employees by the end of next year, holding several job fairs to meet those goals, 7ACRES is the second biggest employer in the region after Bruce Power.

Brad Thomas, owner of Lake Huron Rod & Gun down the road from 7ACRES, says he hasn’t heard anyone protesting the cannabis facility, housed in a formerly abandoned tomato greenhouse, on moral or any other grounds. “Most people don’t really care,” he says. “If anything it’s creating jobs.”

For those in the industry, it is more than just a job, however. Davloor used to have a traditional job as a manager at Bruce Power. But he was restless, and happened upon a handful of people in the area planning a start-up to supply the medicinal marijuana market. “When I entered first here, it felt like an underground operation,” he says. Some of his friends thought it was hilarious that he should leave the nuclear power industry for pot. “My mom and dad didn’t like it. There was some kind of stigma attached to it,” he says. “That’s getting purged really rapidly. People here are coming from just mainstream society.”

Today he works at a state-of-the-art facility. He still doesn’t talk to his parents about his job, however.

At the strategy session, he tells the staff, who range from former basement growers to scientists, that their opinions about personal use of cannabis don’t matter. They only have to have a passion for growing it as a plant.

For him, job satisfaction comes from being part of an industry with no road map. That's the vibe around the lunch table too.

“It’s a new era, it’s exciting to be around in this time,” says Mr. Schacher during a pizza break from the strategy session. “This is a movement. This whole cannabis industry is a massive thing taking place.”

• Tomorrow, a look at a town that is taking the opposite approach to Canada's marijuana legalization act: It wants to bar pot shops within its borders to minimize the uncertainty of the new legal regime.

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5. Correcting an incongruence: outdoor festivals with waste in their wake

Music festivals tend to attract an environmentally conscious crowd. So why do they generate so much in the way of carbon emissions and garbage? We found organizers who are tackling that disconnect.

Amelia

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The aftermath of an outdoor festival is seldom a pretty sight. Empty water bottles, plastic bags, cups and straws, and all manner of debris typically litter the ground where, hours earlier, revelers danced and partied. Festivals also generate millions more tons of waste that we can’t see, in the form of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. Yet if given the opportunity, attendees appear more than willing to clean up after themselves. In the United States and Britain, festival organizers are pushing to shrink carbon footprints and keep as much waste as possible out of landfills. Some of the efforts are restrictive, like banning plastic water bottles and charging extra for single-occupancy vehicle parking, while others, like using music to encourage picking up litter, aim to harness festivalgoers’ natural inclinations to clean the environment. “You’ve got to have congruence between your ideas and the things you do,” says Teresa Anderson, director of the University of Manchester's Discovery Centre at Jodrell Bank Observatory in Britain, which hosts the annual Bluedot Festival.

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Correcting an incongruence: outdoor festivals with waste in their wake

It’s almost 2 a.m. at Lightning in a Bottle, a music festival in Bradley, Calif. The Portland, Ore.-based DJ, Emancipator, is playing his last hypnotic beat and the final headliner, Zhu, just finished an intense electronic set. But neither of these will be the last song of the night. That honor goes to the “Clean Up Song” by Mr. Nigel & Friends and its slight reggae tones that float over the chattering crowd.

Clean up / Clean up / Boys and girls let’s clean up

Suddenly, heads bow and backs hunch as people scour the ground for empty cups, dirty forks, and ripped festival guides, and drop the trash into landfill, recycling, and compost cans dotted around the festival.

“It works,” laughs Jesse Shannon, marketing director of Do LaB, the organization that hosts Lightning in a Bottle. “It reminds people in a fun and cute way not to leave everything on the dance floor.”

The “Clean Up Song,” has been a tradition at Lightning in a Bottle since the beginning. It’s just one of the innovative ways music festivals are trying to reduce their impact on the environment.

Outdoor festivals have been called environmental disasters. A 2006 analysis conducted by Burning Man, the annual gathering in the northwestern Nevada desert, estimated that the seven-day event produced 91 million pounds of carbon emissions, or 1,400 pounds per person. These events literally produce tons of trash, anything from 60 tons at Lightning in a Bottle in 2015 to almost 550 tons at Bonnaroo in 2017.

There is a tension between these realities and the beliefs of those who run and attend these festivals. They cater to an audience that’s educated about the environment. Many attendees are concerned about their environmental footprints but still sometimes leave huge amounts of waste in their wake.

Clean Vibes, an on-site waste management company for outdoor festivals, calls these people “hippie-crits,” a combination of the word “hippie” and “hypocrite.” Burning Man has a strong “Leave No Trace” policy. Lightning in a Bottle hosts talks from climate activists and scientists including the Buckminster Fuller Institute and Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project. Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival in San Francisco has worked with Clean Vibes to responsibly manage its waste. In 2016, the festival diverted 91 percent of all waste from the landfill by encouraging recycling, reuse, and composting. 

“No one throws anything away without talking to us,” says Anna Borofsky, co-owner of Clean Vibes.

And under the shadow of the Lovell Telescope, the British science and music festival Bluedot is built on the idea that the Earth is a very fragile speck in space.

“You’ve got to have congruence between your ideas and the things you do,” says Teresa Anderson, director of the University of Manchester's Discovery Centre at Jodrell Bank Observatory, home of Bluedot.

These and other music festivals have sustainability procedures in the hopes of addressing their carbon footprint. They use LEDs for all the lighting except on stages. Many offer free water and have banned the sale of plastic bottles. The food vendors are required to serve on compostable plates and silverware. More than 300 volunteers at Lightning in a Bottle spent the days during and after the event knee-deep in dumpsters sorting trash. According to the 2015 Green Report, the festival's “green team” diverted 44 percent of trash from landfills to compost or recycling centers. In 2017, Bonnaroo reported diverting 55 percent of its waste.

But the most significant portion of any event’s carbon footprint is transportation. Lightning in a Bottle and Bluedot both have bus programs to lessen their carbon impact by transporting more guests per vehicle from the surrounding areas. Lightning in a Bottle also charges a $30 fee for single-occupant cars, while all other parking is free to encourage carpooling.

Festivals hope they can affect people’s attitudes and awareness instead of simply mitigating their own environmental effects.

“People [at a festival] are exploring an alternative way of living, and it’s a good opportunity to reassess your relationship to waste,” Mr. Shannon says. “While camping, there is a unique opportunity to see all the trash you are going to generate in a single weekend because you have to take it all with you. Hopefully [the guests] take some of those strategies and learnings into regular life.”

“I find that people are in a different state [at music festivals],” says Amanda Ravenhill, executive director of the Buckminster Fuller Institute. “They are more open, reflective, and have the potential for an epiphany that might become a deeper shift.”

At a venue surrounded by nature and awe-inspiring stages made from recycled materials, speakers find they can have a more profound effect than when speaking from a Marriott Courtyard conference room. Since the 1960s, music festivals and outdoor gatherings have taken on a decidedly countercultural flavor. It’s not surprising, then, that organizers feel the need to address environmental concerns.

“People have been gathering for as long as there have been people,” Shannon says. “So it’s not something we are going to stop doing. It’s more what can we do to reduce the impacts of these gatherings and at the same time have a positive effect. We are confident we are helping people’s minds expand and change, and that’s why we do it.”

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The Monitor's View

An African model for ethnic reconciliation?

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Ethiopia’s new leader, Abiy Ahmed, has already begun democratic reforms, such as releasing political prisoners and making peace with neighboring Eritrea. Now he has begun to search for ways that Ethiopia's more than 80 ethnic groups can work together to form a civic identity that prevents violence. It is his most urgent piece of reform. With the new freedoms allowed under his leadership, ethnic fighting has picked up. Many groups are settling old scores. The new prime minister hopes to build a democracy based more on individual rights and freedoms than on a balancing of ethnic interests. But to achieve that, he still needs to help Ethiopians come to terms with the past, such as government use of torture and other rights abuses. He is expected to set up an official inquiry, to seek justice while also allowing enough mercy to achieve national reconciliation. Mr. Abiy, who has a PhD in conflict resolution, knows the key to reconciliation lies in changing people’s thinking. The success of reforms, one analyst notes, could have significant implications for an entire continent.

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An African model for ethnic reconciliation?

With its great diversity of ethnic groups, Africa has long needed models of governance that are inclusive, especially after conflicts driven by ethnic differences. For nearly six months, Ethiopia has shown promise of being such a model. A new prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, has so far achieved a whirlwind of reforms, such as releasing political prisoners and making peace with neighboring Eritrea. But now he has begun to search for ways that Ethiopia, with its more than 80 ethnic groups in Africa’s second-most-populous nation, can work together to form a civic identity that prevents violence. 

With the new freedoms allowed under Mr. Abiy, ethnic fighting has picked up in recent months. Many groups are settling old scores, often over land rights. Hundreds have been killed. More than 2 million have been displaced. The old authoritarian political structure in place since 1991 was able to suppress many of these ethnic-based resentments. But with its collapse earlier this year and the surprise assent of the reformist Abiy, a new structure must be put in place quickly – one that works against ethnic antagonisms.

“We need to create a society in which love and solidarity rule over cynicism and polarization,” Abiy tells Ethiopians. 

He hopes to build a democracy based more on individual rights and freedoms than on a balancing of ethnic interests. 

But to achieve that he still needs to help Ethiopians come to terms with the past, such as government use of torture and other human rights abuses. He is expected to set up an official inquiry to air the truth about past misdeeds and seek justice while also allowing enough mercy to achieve national reconciliation. That is an essential path to prevent ethnic conflict.

Other African countries, from South Africa to Sierra Leone to Liberia, have used various types of “truth and reconciliation” processes in an attempt to reconstruct their societies after racial or ethnic conflict. Now it is Ethiopia’s turn. 

Abiy is also racing to create jobs in a country where the median age is 19 and many youths are unemployed. He is selling off state enterprises, winning international finance, and wooing Ethiopia’s vast diaspora to return home. 

“If reform succeeds, Ethiopia could become one of the world’s few victories for democratic governance with significant implications for the entire continent,” says Yoseph Badwaza at the Washington-based Freedom House.

Abiy, who has a PhD in conflict resolution, knows the key to reconciliation lies in changing people’s thinking. “I call on us all to forgive each other from our hearts. To close the chapters from yesterday, and to forge ahead to the next bright future through national consensus,” he said in his inaugural address.

Such a future could provide just the hope needed in many of Africa's ethnic-riven nations.

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A Christian Science Perspective

About this feature

Each weekday, the Monitor includes one clearly labeled religious article offering spiritual insight on contemporary issues, including the news. The publication – in its various forms – is produced for anyone who cares about the progress of the human endeavor around the world and seeks news reported with compassion, intelligence, and an essentially constructive lens. For many, that caring has religious roots. For many, it does not. The Monitor has always embraced both audiences. The Monitor is owned by a church – The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston – whose founder was concerned with both the state of the world and the quality of available news.

How can we pray for our environment?

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Today’s column explores how an understanding of God’s care for His universe helps us become more open to solutions to environmental issues.

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How can we pray for our environment?

Today's Christian Science Perspective audio edition
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Earth’s largest landfill can be found in the ocean. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, as it’s known, is a swirling mass of mostly plastic debris. Divided into an Eastern and Western Patch, it is estimated to be larger than the state of Texas.

European nations have led the way in recycling efforts to stem environmental catastrophes such as this. We’re also seeing more retailers banning plastic bags in the United States. These and other global efforts for our environment are certainly steps in the right direction. But there is more we all can do to bring a healing light, rather than discouragement, to large problems.

The Scriptures have inspired my prayers for the environment, as they emphasize God’s tender care for all that He has made. In Nehemiah we read, “You alone are the Lord; you have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and everything on it, the seas and all that is in them, and You preserve them all” (9:6, New King James Version). God, divine Love, would never leave its creation in disrepair.

Rather than give up hope or let consumption and greed continue, we can do our part to witness the true beauty and harmony of God’s creation and become more open to healing solutions through prayer. Prayer helps us see more clearly the true nature of God’s creation as spiritual, made and maintained by divine Love. Being more aware that what really exists is created by divine Love, we find ourselves seeing our world in this more spiritual light. We cherish what this world represents. We become less me-focused and more God-focused. And more unselfish.

As our thinking changes, sincere action follows: “The test of all prayer lies in the answer to these questions: Do we love our neighbor better because of this asking? Do we pursue the old selfishness, satisfied with having prayed for something better, though we give no evidence of the sincerity of our requests by living consistently with our prayer?” asked Mary Baker Eddy in her textbook on Christian Science (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 9).

I have attempted to answer these questions by viewing the environment as I might view my neighbor – with a spirit of care and spiritual understanding. As a result, I’ve become a more conscientious consumer and my family and I make concerted efforts to recycle more than half our household waste, among other things.

If our actions are truly filled with the spirit of Christlike love and the confidence in God’s care and control of His universe, then we will regard our environment – and our neighbor – not through a lens of fear or worry, but with the love that heals and transforms. “For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands” (Isaiah 55:12).

Originally published as a Christian Science Perspective article on June 27, 2016.

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Viewfinder

A battle gets bookish

Mykola Tys/AP
A visitor reads at a book fair during a Publishers Forum in Lviv, Ukraine, Sept. 19. A regional council in western Ukraine passed a motion to ban Russian-language books, films, and songs in the region, voting Wednesday to impose the moratorium and maintain it until Russia withdraws all of its troops from Ukraine.
( The illustrations in today's Monitor Daily are by Karen Norris. )
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In Our Next Issue

( September 20th, 2018 )

Thanks for reading our stories today. Tomorrow, Howard LaFranchi will focus on next week's gathering of nations at the UN General Assembly. The US and Iran may face similar dynamics there – though for very different reasons. 

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September 19, 2018
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