Buddhist Peace Action Vermont

Aware of the interconnectedness of all beings, members of Buddhist Peace Action Vermont practice to cultivate conditions for peace and compassion in our hearts and in all our relationships. As engaged Buddhists, we advocate for social justice and environmental sustainability in our home communities and in the wider world.

As Socially Engaged Buddhist Practitioners

We aim to recognize the interdependence of all beings; meet suffering in and around us directly and with compassion.


Economy Ethics

Dear friends, here’s an important Letter to the Editor written by BPAV board member, George Plumb.

Our exploding global population — 186,000 more people each and every day — clings for life to an exploding economy, a system faithful not to the habitat it exploits, but only the single species which gorges on it. Our economy obeys not the limits of the biosphere but the limitlessness of human greed.

I have long distrusted this economy. I was among a few volunteers who helped found the Hunger Mountain Coop when it was just a small group of us who gathered to buy bulk from a national cooperative and then met to divide up the bulk among us locals. That was in the ’60s and we judged that was a better way to buy than through commercial stores. I have invested my modest discretionary wealth in a green investment business instead of the regular stock market. I have flown in a jet plane only once in my life for recreation because I felt jet travel is harmful to the environment. The list goes on. The economy not only seemed to be helping the few, more than the many, but also day by day inflicting more and more damage on our habitat.

So, I was very pleased to learn that a Vermonter has written a book calling for a “new economy.” The book is “The Progress Illusion: Reclaiming Our Future from the Fairytale of Economics” written by Blittersdorf Professor of Sustainability Science and Policy at the University of Vermont, Jon D. Ericson. It is a challenging read, I’ll admit, but well worth the effort.

We are all connected to the Earth and all living things on it and this connection, not mindless devotion to our appetite, is what our economy must reflect.

                            — George Plumb

Published in the Times Argus newspaper, January 10, 2023

An Invitation

Care to sit in on meetings with Buddhist Peace Action Vermont? You’d be most
welcome. We gather online about once a month, Thursdays at 1:30 PM. Meet
BPAV members; learn about our Buddhist roots and social activism. Our meetings
include discussion of actions we can take, and readings related to topics of
interest—currently climate catastrophe and anti-war/nuclear disarmament.
New to the Buddhist worldview, or to activism? Not a problem. We look forward
to knowing you and discovering common interests.

Our next meeting: January 5th, 1:30 PM. Link provided upon request.

A deep bow,
Neville Berle nmbe1022@gmail.com

George Plumb: Today, the world’s population has hit 8 billion

The following is from George Plumb, a board member of Better (not bigger) Vermont and Buddhist Peace Action Vermont. In 2013, he initiated and oversaw development of the “What is an Optimal/Sustainable Population for Vermont” report. He lives in Washington, Vermont.


According to the United Nations, the world will reach a population of 8 billion people on Nov. 15.

The United States now has a population of 338 million. When I was born in 1937, the world population was 2 billion and the U.S. population was 129 million. What an incredible growth in such a short period of time. 

The U.S. feels like a totally different place now than it was when I was growing up. Now it is projected that the world population will reach 9.7 billion in 2050 and 10.4 billion in 2,100. The United States is projected to grow by nearly 79 million people in the next four decades, from about 338 million to 417 million.

Another important measurement is the number of people per square mile. Worldwide it is 40; in the U.S. it is 94; and in Vermont it is 64. 

Yet another important factor is the ecological footprint of individuals. Ecological footprint is a metric computed by the Global Footprint Network  that is used to determine the impact humans are having on the environment in a given place or country. Ecological footprint measures the natural resources humans are consuming in the environment through activities such as forestry, farming, fishing, mining and manufacturing. 

The United States ecological footprint is 8.04 acres. This means that every U.S. resident requires, on average, about 8 acres of productive land to sustainably enjoy an average quality of life. If you don’t have 8 acres of land, then you’re living off someone else’s land, and/or living off nonrenewable resources such as petroleum or natural gas. 

Further, the U.S. ecological footprint is two times greater than the biocapacity within our borders. This means that we are living off the biocapacity of other countries and/or living off nonrenewable resources. 

This also means that the U.S. is in a state of ecological overshoot. For comparison, the ecological footprint of the total Earth population is 6.7 acres, of which 60% is carbon emissions.

Every year, Global Footprint Network raises awareness about global ecological overshoot with an Earth Overshoot Day campaign, which attracts media attention around the world. Earth Overshoot Day marks the date we (all of humanity) have used more from nature than our planet can regenerate in the entire year. 

Earth Overshoot Day has moved from late September in 2000 to July 28 in 2022.

The combination of population size and consumption rates is having a devastating impact on all life on Earth in many ways. It is causing the 7th Great Extinction as more and more other species do not have a place to live. The world could lose more than a quarter of its forests for food production alone by 2050 to feed the growing human population.

Yes, climate change is a direct result of population growth. Global carbon emissions have more than doubled from 17 billion tons in 1974, when the population was at 4 billion. And a growing population is only going to make it worse, as humanity will need nearly 50% more energy by 2050. And the U.S., with 4% of the world’s population, has generated approximately 20% of all greenhouse gas emissions. 

Because of population growth, the human species also faces many other threats, including wars over resources and conflict among people living in the same area.

We each have a responsibility to deal with population growth, both on the individual level and in the larger community. I urge everyone to talk and act on population growth to the extent that they can. We need talk and action at the family, community, state, and national governmental levels. This should include civic and spiritual organizations.

Noted Vermont climate change author and activist Bill McKibben wrote the book “Maybe One: A Case for Smaller Families” back in 1999. He has been right on climate change and let’s follow his suggestions on family size.

A Climate Activist’s Manifesto for Our Times

Dear readers,

Following the publication of BPAV’s recent commentary, “Thriving With Less; Toward a Livable Climate,” one of our members was contacted by Tim Stevenson, social activist, community organizer, founder of Post Oil Solutions, and author of “A Climate Activist’s Manifesto for Our Times.” Please note: The views represented here do not necessarily reflect those of BPAV.



We have reached the point in the climate crisis when we can no longer postpone
a transformation of everyday life to sometime other than now. This is the only life-
affirmative choice we have. We either embrace and take responsibility for ourselves, for
life, and for our fellow beings with our inherent heart values. Or we submit to the
catastrophe that is increasingly and rapidly unfolding all around us, with its threat of
near-term collapse

 “anything above 1.5˚C will see the advent of a world plagued by intense summer
heat, extreme drought, devastating floods, reduced crop yields, rapidly melting
ice sheets and surging sea levels. A rise of 2˚C and above will seriously threaten
the stability of global society.”
 “as of April 2022, none of the world’s biggest economies—which together
generate 80 per cent of carbon emissions—are on target to keep the promises
they made in Paris (in 2015) to stop the global average temperature rise topping
 “the global average temperature rise is slated to exceed 1.5˚C within a decade.”
 “a rise of more than 2˚C (3.6˚F) is already ‘baked-in’ or in plain language, certain”
 “our climate is changing for the worse far quicker than predicted”
 “the most worrying thing about the frequency and intensity of unprecedented
weather events” (this past summer from hell, for example, included extreme heat
and wildfires, flooding and drought, famine and storms in places from Pakistan
to southern Florida, France to East Africa, the Pacific Northwest to Central
America) “is that this is being driven by a relatively small temperature rise.”

 “there is now no chance of dodging a grim future of perilous, all-pervasive climate
(Gratitude to Professor of Geophysical and Climate Hazards, Bill McGuire, for his
book, “Hothouse Earth: An Inhabitant’s Guide” whose conclusions are quoted
above, and are totally consistent with those of the world’s recognized authority on
climate science, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.)
A slew of recent major reports have laid bare how, as one scientist expressed it,
“we are very, very close to irreversible changes.” The New York Times recently wrote,
“keeping warming to 1.5 degrees would require drastic steps that would be costly,
politically difficult and disruptive, and would require leaders of nearly all countries to act
in concert. They would need to slash their collective fossil fuel emissions roughly in half
by 2030, and then quit adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere altogether by 2050.
That would require a complete overhaul of all electricity and transportation systems at
an unprecedented pace.” For this reason, the UN’s climate agency concluded that only
a “rapid transformation of societies will limit the worst impact of the climate crisis.”
Bill McKibben has written, “It’s too late to stop global warming, that’s no longer on
the menu….even if we do everything right at this point, the temperature will go up. The
main question is whether we’ll be able to hold the rise in temperature to a point where
we can, at great expense and suffering, deal with those crises coherently, or whether
they will overwhelm the coping abilities of our civilization. The latter is a distinct


As a longtime climate activist, I support the continuing efforts of those working to
bring about the political change necessary to avoid the worst calamities, but for myself, I
no longer see the value of focusing my efforts on trying to convince the petroleum
industry and its political allies to do the right thing when the evidence, repeatedly and
overwhelmingly, has demonstrated that this is not in their interests. At best, anything
short of transformative change will only result in a green washing of the power
relationships that are at the heart of our present dilemma.

In the interests of being relevant, therefore, I choose to act upon the
unmistakable reality that we live in a rapidly collapsing world, where nothing less than a
practice of selfless service that responds to the suffering people will increasingly
experience as the unraveling intensifies will suffice. At the same time, this will serve as
an everyday example of the righteous behavior that prefigures in the present living
moment the restorative and wholesome future we seek. Rather than trying to change
people to politically correct behaviors, activism would render non-judgmental service to
all in need, providing a spiritual approach to what is essentially a spiritual crisis,
demonstrating through a hands-on practice the practical love required in the face of the
pending apocalypse.
In order for such a practice to be effective, it must be delivered not only in what
we do, but equally on how we perform what we do. Heart-inspired, life-sustaining values
are the basis of this practice, where our acts of love are done for their own sake, and
because they are the right thing to do, without expectation about future outcomes. A
practice of our inherent goodness is an end in itself, nourishing and sustaining for all
There is no guarantee, of course that this will translate into a transformation of
our collapsing society. But this is not to suggest either that an act of heart is
inconsequential. Quite the contrary, consistent selfless behaviors of kindness and
compassion, acceptance and generosity is what a transformed society is all about.
In fact, such a practice of life-affirmative integrity in the moment of now is
precisely what is needed for our times.
Tim Stevenson is a community organizer with Post Oil Solutions from Athens,
and author of “Resilience and Resistance: Building Sustainable Communities for
a Post Oil Age” (Green Writers Press), and the forthcoming, “Transformative
Activism: A Values Revolution in Everyday Life in a Time of Social Collapse”
(Apocryphile Press)

Thriving With Less; Toward A Livable Climate

In Vermont and across the world, people are understandably anxious. Once stable democracies are in peril; the tide of refugees fleeing unlivable homes continues rising; nuclear war with Russia is again a possibility. While all of these crises require immediate attention, what hope is there of addressing them while we’re struggling to survive a hostile climate?

Many believe the worst can yet be avoided if we take decisive action now. But of what kind? As we work toward a renewable energy future, we often ignore simple, low-cost strategies. Things like preserving the world’s old-growth forests – our most efficient carbon-sinks. And if people everywhere did nothing but limit family size, global population would fall steeply. Local economies might suffer in the short term but at some point, expansion has to stop. We cannot have endless growth on a finite planet.

 Another, obvious strategy for regulating our climate involves reducing personal consumption, i.e., returning to local, healthy activities like biking, hiking, and skiing; avoiding cruises and minimizing air travel; eating less meat, leading to improved health and vast reductions in land and water used for agriculture.

In pre-industrial times, we survived through close attunement to our surroundings; we thrived through acute sensitivity to our place within the greater web of life. For humanity in the 21st century, the rules remain the same.

Our world is at a turning point; American democracy may not stand. But while elections come and go, our duty as citizens remains the same. Those we elect need to know we’re serious about protecting our only home, that choices we make now will impact the earth for generations. Are we willing to work for what we love, to act on behalf of a world that yet may be?

Neville Berle,

Member, Buddhist Peace Action Vermont


Saying No to Nukes at Montpelier Farmers Market

Two BPAV members, Glenda and Laurie, at the Montpelier farmers market, October 22nd. They handed out many information sheets about anti-war and anti-nuclear weapons actions, engaged in conversations with shoppers and received supportive responses.