Faith-based climate care: Phila Inquirer Editorial

By - Philadelphia Inquirer, Editorial
Tuesday, October 17, 2006 - Web Link
October 17, 2006
Historians and scientists may someday tell us whether New Orleans was, in fact, the first city destroyed by global warming, as some believe. They're vigorously studying whether rising sea surface temperatures contributed to the wrath of Hurricane Katrina.
Regardless of their conclusion, the lesson is clear: Natural disaster hurts most those least able to cope with it.
Katrina could be a harbinger of things to come. Without mitigation, rising global temperatures are expected to cause ferocious hurricanes, tornadoes and floods; spawn heat waves, drought and famine; and prompt the spread of disease-carrying insects.
Middle- and upper-class families will hop in their cars to seek refuge from storms. They'll vaccinate their children and find good health care. They'll buy air conditioners. The poor, lacking resources to adapt, will disproportionately suffer and die.
Global warming isn't just an environmental debate. It's also about social and racial justice.
That's why faith communities can no longer look away. Their prophets call on them to care for the Earth and the least among us. They should offer the leadership Washington lacks.
"Faith is meant to be for the big stuff, where the odds are against us," says the Rev. Jim Wallis, author of God's Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It. "Global warming is a mountain."
Wallis spoke last week at a forum sponsored by the environmental group PennFuture at Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church. Most politicians won't lead on global warming because they're averse to calling people to action. "We are the ones we have been waiting for," Wallis said.
More than other environmental challenges, global warming is motivating faith communities.
Eighty-six conservative evangelicals have issued a "call to action" demanding government restrictions in emissions that contribute to warming. Richard Cizik of the National Association of Evangelicals, which represents 30 million believers, preaches "creation care." PBS documentarian Bill Moyers recently pondered "Is God Green?"
In this region, at least four rabbis broached global warming during Yom Kippur services. A northwest Philadelphia mosque and dozens of Pennsylvania places of worship are showing Al Gore's global warming documentary, An Inconvenient Truth. An interfaith forum, "Sacred Seasons, Sacred Earth," at Arch Street Friends Meeting House recently examined the "crisis of global scorching."
Religious communities, working together, could inspire smarter energy and environmental decisions to protect the planet and its people. It just takes faith.


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