Buddhist Climate Action Kit

Hi friends,

This morning I attended the launch of the Buddhist Climate Action Kit at the Sydney Buddhist Centre. There was a lovely gathering of a variety of Sydney Sanghas from a range of backgrounds and the action kits were distributed.

You can see a copy of the action kit here - Buddhist Climate Action Kit

I think this action kit is an amazing tool that can be worked through with communities, temples, households, etc, on the local level to help develop and sustain more positive action around climate change. It’s been created with the collaboration of the Australian Religious Response to Climate Change but most aspects are universal to all communities. This one is especially for Buddhists. :dharmawheel:

I know for myself some of the issues in the world today cause so much pain and grief - so much that it’s paralyzing or causes us to ‘numb out’ to give some relief or escape. But that’s why I feel like this kit is so great: there’s solid, clear and structured information and actions to begin to take steps and make a difference without getting overwhelmed.

There wasn’t much provided about the content or origin of the kit, but I believe most of the original content was provided by Bodhinyana Monastery and Añña Samaneri, although it may have been edited or reworked. I expect there will also be more updates and amendments in the future too. Sadhu to those who made the effort to create this great tool for all our benefit! :pray:


Sadhu! Thanks so much for posting this here. The idea for this came up many years ago in an interfaith meeting I took part in in Canberra as part of ARRCC. It is wonderful to see it come to fruition, thanks to the hard work of so many, especially Ayyā Aññā.


The projections of the extent of human-induced climate change are concerning enough. But as a scientist I am here concerned with the inability of Buddhist groups to practice “right speech” in it’s reporting on science.

Among several examples of poor reporting lets look at one that is easier to explain. In the section How the climate is changing: Scientific observations from NASA and the IPCC we find the following statement:

Globally-averaged sea level has risen over 20 cm since the late 19th century …

I suggest this statement misleads as much as it helps our understanding.

The late 19th century would be around 1880 to 1890 but CO2 levels didn’t begin to rise significantly until 1950. So what caused the rise before 1950? Sea levels have been rising long before 1880. Correctly understood this information suggests that a lot of sea level rise is not due to fossil fuels / CO2 levels in the atmosphere. Yet I’d bet that many readers would not come away with that conclusion. Thus I judge that statement as an example of wrong speech.

There are reasons to be concerned about climate change but that factoid is not one of them.

My somewhat political plea is this: <deleted by the author - inappropriate critical, blanket and somewhat abstract comments about politicians.}

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Thank you for your concern for our practice of right speech. As a scientist, perhaps you don’t have time to spend two minutes googling to check your sources before complaining about this. But as a mere Buddhist with no scientific background, but an actual concern for right speech, I did spend this time, and found the following on Wikipedia:

Since 1880, as the Industrial Revolution took center stage, the ocean began to rise briskly, climbing a total of 210 mm (8.3 in) through 2009 causing extensive erosion worldwide and costing billions.[16]

Sea level rose by 6 cm during the 19th century and 19 cm in the 20th century.[17] Evidence for this includes geological observations, the longest instrumental records and the observed rate of 20th century sea level rise. For example, geological observations indicate that during the last 2,000 years, sea level change was small, with an average rate of only 0.0–0.2 mm per year. This compares to an average rate of 1.7 ± 0.5 mm per year for the 20th century.[18] Baart et al. (2012) show that it is important to account for the effect of the 18.6-year lunar nodal cycle before acceleration in sea level rise should be concluded.[19] Based on tide gauge data, the rate of global average sea level rise during the 20th century lies in the range 0.8 to 3.3 mm/yr, with an average rate of 1.8 mm/yr.[20]

Here’s a graph, taken from [Skeptical Science] showing the same thing:(https://www.skepticalscience.com/sea-level-rise.htm):


Here is a document from the IPCC confirming this:

issea.pdf (116.1 KB)

As a scientist, you will of course want to read the actual peer-reviewed article to establish this, for example from the Journal of Geophysics

This article contains the following graph:


Or the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA:

Which has its data available on Github, so as a scientist, you will obviously want to check their methodology:

I can understand, however, if you, as a scientist, are not able to keep up with all the information in the journals. However, the good folks at the New York Times have apparently found time to read them:

In the 19th century, as the Industrial Revolution took hold, the ocean began to rise briskly, climbing about eight inches since 1880. That sounds small, but it has caused extensive erosion worldwide, costing billions.

As did some other fairly busy people:

We're seeing the fastest rise in sea-levels in nearly 3,000 years: https://t.co/MwO2QKE4GW #ActOnClimate

— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) March 1, 2016

Such knowledge is in fact reported quite widely on a number of sites:



What are your credentials? Where do you work and what is your position there?

You’ll forgive me for probing since you are the one who has brought up your occupation in the first place, so I assume you’re not averse to sharing more.

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As food for thought I would like bring to attention this chart:

Source: Energy Flow Charts

To be effective, any climate action, Buddhist or not, will have to address the three elephants in the room: the roles of natural gas, coal and petroleum in the current global energy flows.

Anthropogenic Climate change is a by product of our specie’s addiction to energy. Our tangible and intangible production systems are more than ever heavily dependent of someone somewhere burning something to spin a generator 24/7.

The number one priority of any climate action initiative should be therefore to find ways to bring about the innovation and paradigm change needed to allow humankind to gradually but steadily give up this addiction or at least bring maybe one day to zero the contribution of fossil fuels.

I personally doubt we will see any material progress to that end in the next 50 years or so! (nevertheless I voluntarily gave up driving!)


The petroleum elephant will start shrinking soon enough. Most of it goes to transportation, and everything suggests that cars will switch to electric. There is a nice analysis done here:

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This seems to be the key contention in Feynman’s post. What is the evidence for it? And what is the definition of “significantly”, as used in this context?

I suggest your statement above is an example of snarky, non-harmonious speech. It’s usually easiest to get a second opinion on that from a trusted friend.

Please know that I was commenting on what was actually written in the materials – not what might or could or perhaps should have been inserted in it’s place.

I’m going to wait a day or so before saying more.

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Wonderful. Just mind that beside cars we have trucks, trains, airplanes and ships.
Also, even electric cars will not escape the fact that the only baseload generation available to most of us is either coal or gas fueled - we will use it one way or the other to recharge them or source the ancillary services needed to keep the grid stable when recharging them!

Last but no least, note that the amount of capital already invested but not yet amortized/recovered is so huge that a meaningful radical transition would mean write-offs so huge and for so long that would in turn bring the current world economic system to a major recession, not to say about​ political instability.

Not that I am skeptical but I really doubt people are seriously analysing what is within the range of possibilities, even less coming up with action plans​ or ideas that really address the root cause of the issue.


DKervick, I commend you on your attention. It’s easy to get distracted by commentary from the monkey mind and lose track of what has occurred vs. our “reading between the lines” and other forms of duhkkha.

The Buddhist Climate Change Action Kit declares:

We need to understand how we see ourselves in the world – in terms of how humanity relates to the natural world [and] how we relate to each other.

What I’m said about the monkey mind above and The Buddhist Climate Change Action Kit seem to me to be highly relevant to both those goals. I believe that effective engaged action demands that we consider, develop and articulate our own principles and guidelines for a noble path of engaged action. The noble principles of right view, right speech, right diligence all strongly suggest to me that high quality science reporting matters.

Now, as to the data or evidence as you call it.

CO2 levels since 1850 as reconstructed from ice core data combined with measurement station data.

This table shows CO2 levels since 1850 as reconstructed from ice core data combined with measurement station data.

1890 295 ppm ( ice core paleoclimate estimate)
1950 311
1958 315 (first year of data from Mauna Loa)
2011 391 (last year of data from this table)

See also: https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/CarbonCycle/images/global_carbon_dioxide_1850_2009.png

Why 1950?

  1. Estimates of man made emissions of CO2 increase dramatically around 1950.
  2. The year 1950 appears frequently in IPCC assessments.

Global CO2 Emissions

Thanks for the information Feynman. But I don’t think it actually answers my question. The rate of CO2 increase might have accelerated in 1950, but that doesn’t entail that the human technological contribution to CO2 levels in the 100 years prior to 1950 were not already high enough to contribute to human-induced sea level rises at a rate in excess of the previous natural trend. The data I have seen show CO2 levels in the late 19th century already to be higher than those in previous millenia, and so likely the result of human technology. One might want to argue that, although this is true, those higher CO2 levels were not yet “significant” enough to contribute to an acceleration in sea level increases. But that’s the assertion that needs defense.

The statement originally in question was:

the fact that you felt the need to ask these follow up questions (and they are “good questions” IMO) supports the idea that the statement originally in question was indeed lacking useful information. At first appearance it may seem to say something significant about anthropocentric warming but it really only says that sea levels rose and nothing more.

Thanks for the information Feynman. But I don’t think it actually answers my question.

Well, actually, I do believe I answered the actual question, the question that you actually posed quite well. I think you meant to say that I didn’t answer another question on your mind. Which underlines my argument about the relevance of the original question.

FYI: I think the word “actual” gets overused and abused. My repeated use of it actually was intentional. :slight_smile:

I believe you did not answer the original question. You did not say why the pre-1950 CO2 increases were not significant.

Hi Dan, is it just me or has @Feynman just cherry-picked a single, actually factual, clause, and, completely ignoring the surrounding text from which it is found, is attempting to somehow make a suggestion on Trumpian politics?



Let’s find attached here a fuller context preceding psychoanalysis shall we?:

pg. 20

How the climate is changing: Scientific observations from NASA and the IPCC

2015 was the warmest year on record for the globe since reliable global surface air temperature records began in 1880. The last 15 years are among the 16 warmest years on record.

  • Globally-averaged ocean temperatures are increasing. Observations reveal this warming extends to at least 2000 m below the surface.

  • Globally-averaged sea level has risen over 20 cm since the late 19th century, with about one third of this rise due to ocean warming and the rest from melting land ice and changes in the amount of water stored on the land.

  • The Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets have been losing mass in the last two decades and Arctic sea ice has continued to decrease in extent.

The human-induced activities of fossil fuel burning and agriculture, are responsible for about 98% of the global warming effect. Natural changes in solar activity and volcanic aerosols have made only a small contribution to the global warming effect, except for brief periods after large volcanic eruptions.

Let me insist on the elephants in the room. …

I think that the action kit could say more about transportation and how the current model of centralized retreats - in which teachers and retreat-takers often fly or drive miles to attend short retreats - could be improved.

Let’s pick of someone who flies from London to Perth (WA) to take a retreat in Jhana Grove. The estimated emission of a economy class return flight is 5.9 tons, that is equivalent to 256 times the amount of carbon emitted in a 100 km drive to let’s say a retreat center or quiet setting located somewhere in the English countryside! :open_mouth:

Amazing isn’t it?!

Isn’t there potential to provide Buddhist community more encouragement towards pursuing stable and solid practice locally / at home and/or in a decentralized way, potentially with remotely transmitted instructions or use of recorded teachings as their guide?

Anyone interested in understanding better the maths of the thing may check these links:



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is it just me or has @Feynman just cherry-picked a single, actually factual, clause, and, completely ignoring the surrounding text from which it is found

Thank you. Clarifying your, might I call them suspicions?
and/or possible understandings of the situation and also re-posting the section of the document in question was a skillful communication move IMO. It helps me appreciate how my words might be heard by others.

I am not a Donald Trump fan. But his sometimes unskillful and unwise pattern of speaking and acting has made me more sensitive than before to unskillful communications by Buddhists on topics I regard as consequential.

As to your questions/observations:

I am not disputing the “over 20 cm number”. It’s a widely accepted figure.

I am making an assumption here about the surrounding text. As the first sentence of the Action Kit states, the issue at hand is “SCIENTIFIC EXPLANATIONS FOR HUMAN-INDUCED CLIMATE CHANGE”. With the emphasis on “human induced”, also known as anthropogenic climate change.

Was focusing on the phrase “Globally-averaged sea level has risen over 20 cm since the late 19th century” cherry picking? No.

BUT considering the text of the entire bullet point or just the phrase I chose to quote doesn’t change my critique because the statement says nothing about the cause of the change, human induced or otherwise.

Globally-averaged sea level has risen over 20 cm since the late 19th century, with about one third of this rise due to ocean warming and the rest from melting land ice and changes in the amount of water stored on the land.

That data is perfectly consistent with the theory that the seal level change is due entirely to natural or unknown causes. Which raises the obvious question “why are they telling me this?” Or even “are they trying to lead me on with clever insinuations?”

In like fashion taking the entire section as the larger context does not improve or help the bullet point.

I know of cases where climate scientists have made comments in like fashion in response to reading similar statements.

I put it to you that a serious, attentive and informed lay reader would likely find the bullet point anomalous. It has the form of an error, sloppy writing / science reporting or even propaganda.

I put it to you further that my critique is not rare or unusual in science or in other fields where quality is important. I would expect a teacher of critical thinking would comment likewise.

Sorry I’m not really interested in your banal meanderings here perhaps until you might clarify your so-called point, which would have to be that you believe “about 98%” is incorrect for your original ascerbic accusations to have any kind of merit for consideration.

You might be given the benefit of the doubt that you have some mind-blowing revelation in your, let’s assume, fervent and well-funded environmental research, and so your bare-hinting at the incorrectness of 98% is called for.


Unless you’re saying that “a serious, attentive and informed lay reader” has poor reading comprehension, I don’t know what you’re trying to say.

I have removed or modified my previous comments about President Donald Trump. They were not up to standard. We all are mixes of the wise and skillful and the unwise.

It occurred to me that chansik-parks words about “attempting to somehow make a suggestion on Trumpian politics?” might indicate that he took exception to what I had written in regard to President Trump. Which in turn caused me to re-think the wisdom of my words.

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