Eco-Journey is the blog of the Environmental Ministries Office of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). It will include a wide array of environmental topics: upcoming environmental events, links to interesting articles and studies, information on environmental advocacy, eco-theology topics, and success stories from churches that are going “green.”
Author Rebecca Barnes-Davies is the Associate for Environmental Ministries at the PC(USA). She recently graduated from Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary with a M.Div. and Master of Arts in Religion (MAR) dual degree.
Earlier this summer some shocking research was published on health risks associated with mountaintop removal coal mining (learn more about this practice). The study looked at 1.9 million live births from 1996 to 2003 in Central Appalachia. Separating births by counties with no mining, mountaintop removal mining, other mining, and, it was found that birth defects were more prevalent in counties with mountaintop removal mining.
After adjusting for other factors that may affect birth defect rates (such as mother’s age, prenatal care, etc.), it was found that birth defects were significantly higher in counties with mountaintop removal mining from both 1996-1999 and 2000-2003. In the later period, from 2000-2003, birth defects in counties with mountaintop removal mining were 42 percent higher.
The effect of mountaintop removal mining on birth defects is even stronger than the effect of a mother smoking during pregnancy. View a fact sheet with more information on this new MTR study from the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition.
Environmental Ministries started the Earth Care Congregations program in 2010, and since then more than 50 churches have used A Guide to Greening Presbyterian Churches to become certified as Earth Care Congregations. The goal of the program is to inspire churches to care for God’s earth in a holistic way, through integrating earth care into all of church life. In addition to recognizing churches that have committed to the mission of earth care, the program guide can be used to help churches that are just getting started on earth care structure their program and find ideas and resources.