- Consciousness, Spirituality and Gratitude: A Prayer Meditation
- Why UNCOP 21 Paris Matters for the Faith Community and the World
- Why UNCOP 21 Paris Matters for the Faith Community and the World
- U.S Faith Leaders Urge President Obama and U.S. Congress to Act Boldly on Climate Change
- U.S Faith Leaders Urge President Obama and U.S. Congress to Act Boldly on Climate Change
- Children's Environmental Health Network
- Children's Health
- Children's health Initiative
- climate change
- COP 16
- COP 17 Durban
- Earth Day Network
- faith and climate change
- Inner Life
- James Hansen
- Mother's for Justice
- Mother's forum
- Rabbi Warren Stone
- Spiritual Practice
- United Nations
- World Leaders
- World Religions
World leaders, environmentalists, faith leaders and activists will soon gather in Paris, a city so recently plagued with violence and terrorism, to create a framework to reduce the grave dangers of escalating climate change.
I served as a Jewish faith leader at the UN Climate (COP 3) talks in 1997, in Kyoto, Japan and again at COP 15 in 2009, in Copenhagen, Denmark. Faith leaders from every world religious tradition gathered together with scientists, diplomats and environmentalists in support of a strong world standard to reduce the dangers of climate change. In Copenhagen we organized a march through the center of the city supported by thousands. Sadly, the world community failed to act. We can wait no longer. Once more the world’s attention will focus on Paris.
Diplomats and leaders knew then the grave dangers of unabated climate change and struggled to come up with a world strategy. We worked with faith leaders both within the conferences and outside, creating demonstrations to get the message out through the media. I sounded the Shofar the symbol of awakening at both of these UN COP events, calling upon people of faith and world citizens to act boldly while we had time to act.
We all know how painfully slow progress has been. Climate researchers around the world have been writing articles for decades about mitigating the rise in CO2 emissions. Now, the majority of articles are not about mitigation but rather about adapting to and documenting the pervasive climate change already occurring. These articles talk about growing rice in rising waters, saving coffee and grapes from destruction, and managing the growing shortage of fresh water the world will face.
Each year, we are breaking records in rising temperatures. I recently went to a conference at the White House and a meeting at the Department of State where Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz announced that because of the rapid change in climate, the world may need to shift from the goal of keeping the ocean temperature from rising no more than two degrees to a previously unthinkable three degrees if we fail to act now. He said this poses a deeply grave scenario which statistically presents a potential for dire climate consequences which would be unavoidable. Secretary Moniz, one of the world’s leading mathematicians and statisticians, made clear that the impact would be profound. We are entering unknown territory. We must not play dice with the world and the future of humanity.
COP 21 in Paris, where the nations of the world are gathering to create world standards and activate a New Climate Fund for developing nations serving as a key step for the world. As people of faith, we know how critical it is to protect life and to lift up life. The most vulnerable and some of the poorest of the world will be on the front lines of devastating climate change. We have already witnessed the world’s first refugees from climate in Micronesia. The heartbreaking Syrian East refugee situation is a result of war, but also of lack of water, food and resources for millions of people. Bangladesh, with its 100 million people, is also on the front lines of climate change as an island nation. Where would they go as refugees and how would our world cope with a refugee crisis that far exceeds anything humanity has ever known?
Climate change will impact human health and human security. Food sources, the management of water for humanity and dealing with climate refugees will take human ingenuity and political commitment. These challenges are not beyond us. In the last year, renewable sources of energy of all kinds have become more available and affordable. We must harness the power of our individual and communal voices, our capable and inventive minds, and our full devotion to the tasks ahead.
As a world faith community, let us support the work of the UN Paris Climate talks. Let us be bold and demand action and commit to doing our own part. It is incumbent upon us as individuals and as members of our religious community to learn to walk lightly on this Earth, to use up less, to seek alternative energy and to understand the deep spiritual dimensions of caring for the human family and all creation.
The National Religious Coalition on Creation Care (NRCCC) sends letter to President Obama urging him to take executive actions to avert a climate catastrophe. Executive actions include becoming an advocate for the carbon tax, modifying the Trans-Pacific Partnership, rejecting the Keystone XL Pipeline, and rejecting new coal leases on public lands.
Washington, DC September 22, 2015 — The National Coalition on Creation Care (NRCCC.org) sends letter to President Obama urging him to take executive actions to avert a climate catastrophe. The National Religious Coalition on Creation Care (NRCCC) is composed of members of all the major religious groups in America, including Catholics and Protestants, Jews and Muslims, Evangelicals and Orthodox Christians. They call climate change an urgent issue. The U.S. faith-based leaders speak to President Obama from a faith-rooted conviction that it is their God-given task to care for the earth by exercising a loving responsibility as stewards and guardians. They referenced President Obama’s speech when he introduced the Clean Power Plan where he stated, “no challenge poses a greater threat to our future and future generations that a changing climate.”
Rabbi Warren Stone, co-chair of the NRCCC.org states, “As we all face a common future knowing the grave challenges of climate change impacting ours and future generations, let us know that we acted boldly with prescience to do what we could to protect the earth our home. Now is the time for sacred action. We as faith leaders of the United States have called upon President Obama and the U.S. Congress and our world community to act with expediency!”
Executive Actions include becoming an advocate for the carbon tax, modifying the Trans-Pacific Partnership, rejecting the Keystone XL Pipeline, and rejecting new coal leases on public lands. To review the letter to President Obama which outlines the executive actions the NRCCC.org would like President Obama to take to save our planet, please click here. A similar letter was sent to Congress.
President Barack Obama The White House Washington, D.C.
Dear President Obama,
September 22, 2015
National Religious Coalition on Creation Care
We wish to thank you for the steps that you and your team have taken to address climate
change. We recognize that you face one of the most obstructionist Congresses in U.S. history, but we urge to you to use your Executive powers and moral authority to exercise bold, visionary, and consistent leadership to avert climate catastrophe. Every CO2 emission causes additional damage and creates additional risk.1 Extracting and burning fossil fuels is no longer an ethical choice. The world as we know it cannot survive with an “all of the above” energy policy.
We speak to you from a faith-rooted conviction that it is our God-given task to care for the earth by exercising a loving responsibility as stewards and guardians. The National Religious Coalition for Creation Care (NRCCC) is composed of members of all the major religious groups in America, including Catholics and Protestants, Jews and Muslims, Evangelicals and Orthodox
Christians. Joined in prayer, and united with people of every religious tradition, we advocate for a right relationship to God’s creation.
Many forces now converge to threaten our planet’s well-being – including, among others, a rising population, ocean acidification, deforestation, habitat loss, and pollution – but we are particularly concerned about the climate crisis, which threatens to unravel the web of life and to destroy the world that God created.
You understand that today’s choices will have enormously significant consequences for the
future. As you said in your speech introducing the Clean Power Plan, “no challenge poses a greater threat to our future and future generations than a changing climate.” Existing reserves of fossil fuels are more than sufficient to carry us through a rapid global transition to clean, safe, renewable energy. It is deeply unethical to continue to search for and to extract additional carbon-based fuels.
Therefore, we specifically urge you to take the following Executive actions, which do not require Congressional approval:
1. Communicate to the American public in a special nationally televised address the following: • The level of carbon dioxide in the global atmosphere is higher today than it has been for 3
million years, when sea levels were between 50 and 80 feet higher than they are today.
• Six glaciers on the huge West Antarctic ice sheet are in a process of unstoppable melt that
will lead to an eventual sea-level rise of 1.2 meters (4 feet), which means that we have already condemned to destruction Charleston, New Orleans, Fort Lauderdale, Tampa, Saint Petersburg, and
• The transition to a more arid climate in the U.S. Southwest and northern Mexico may
already be under way,2 and if we continue on our present path, we increase the risk of locking in permanent dust bowl conditions in the U.S. Southwest, as well as in southern Europe, northern Africa, southern Africa, and Western Australia.3
It is crucial that the language of “emergency” be adopted in this speech and in all your statements about climate change. Because of this country’s dependence on fossil fuels, Americans have been subsidizing the destruction of our own cities. Our nation must change course.
We urge you to conclude your speech with a call to mobilize the nation with the same focus and determination with which we mobilized during World War II, so that we reach 100 percent renewable energy in two or three decades;4
2. Become a staunch and vocal advocate for placing a rising price on carbon, using a fee structure. 100% of the fees would be returned to households as dividends, and a tariff would be imposed on goods imported from countries that don’t price carbon;5
3. Modify the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) with the European Union so that they contain no language that would prevent a future Administration from putting a price on carbon emissions and from imposing a tariff on countries that don’t price carbon;
4. Stop all fossil fuel exploration and extraction in the Arctic and on all Federal public land. Stop all drilling and all fracking on Federal public land. Call for an immediate end to governmental subsidies and tax deductions that support the exploration, extraction, delivery and consumption of fossil fuels, and call for increased subsidies for renewable energy;
5. Reject the Keystone XL, Sandpiper and other pipelines, and reject proposals for expanding refining operations. Do everything in your power to ensure that Canadian tar sands stay in the ground;
6. Reject new coal leases on public lands, starting with current proposals to use BLM land. Opening public lands to coal mining would release 3 times the carbon dioxide that your Clean Power Plan would save by 2030;6
4 Mark Z. Jacobson and Mark A. Delucchi, “A Path to Sustainable Energy by 2030,” Scientific American, November 2009, pp. 58-65; Jacobson, M.Z., Delucchi, M.A., “Providing all global energy with wind, water, and solar power, Part I: Technologies, energy resources, quantities and areas of infrastructure, and materials.” Energy Policy (2010), doi:10.1016/j.enpol.2010.11.040; Delucchi, M.A., Jacobson, M.Z., “Providing all global energy with wind, water, and solar power, Part II: Reliability, system and transmission costs, and policies.” Energy Policy (2010), doi:10.1016/j.enpol.2010.11.045
6 http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2015/06/01/3664633/blm-coal-lease-decision/; http://www.sierraclub.org/compass/2015/06/massive-new-proposed-federal-coal-leases-sound- alarm-bells/
7. Ban logging and privatization of our National Forests, both green and post-fire. Our National Forests sequester a tremendous amount of carbon and should be left standing. Veto logging bills HR 2647 and S 1691, and any other compromise logging bill that reaches your desk. Launch a major tree-planting program, support protection of tropical forests, and encourage world reforestation;
8. Modify The Methane Challenge Program emission goal to: “Cut methane emissions from this sector by 40-45 percent from 2012 levels by 2025, including limiting leakage to less than 1% at any wellhead, in any timeframe and in total”;
10. Support and personally promote an ambitious COP-21 agreement in Paris that includes clear and convincing short-term and long-term goals, and charts a course to a world based on clean, safe, renewable energy.
We are in the midst of a planetary emergency. With increasing alarm, scientists declare that we have only a very short period of time in which to avert an escalating, unmanageable cascade of changes that would render the planet ungovernable and possibly uninhabitable. The coal, oil, and gas industries already possess five times the amount of fossil fuel that, if burned, would propel the world into runaway climate change. If we continue with business as usual, scientists tell us that within two, three, or four generations we risk raising average global temperatures to a level that would destroy life as we know it on earth.
Until now humanity has seemed paralyzed by what U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has denounced as a “global suicide pact.” But a wave of religious protest and activism is rising up around the world. Religious leaders and institutions are proclaiming with one voice that climate change is a spiritual and moral issue that must be tackled without delay. Pope Francis’ powerful encyclical, Laudato Si, draws from the best of the Judeo-Christian tradition, and is gaining ringing endorsements from religious leaders. Evangelical leaders have expressed strong support,7 and over 400 rabbis have signed a Rabbinic Letter on the Climate Crisis.8 Islamic leaders from 20 countries recently released the Islamic Declaration on Climate Change, urging action based on a religious imperative to protect the planet.9 Anglican bishops just issued a fresh call for action on climate justice.10
As people of faith, we agree with your statements that it is unethical to leave a ruined world to our children and grandchildren and to generations yet unborn. We have a moral responsibility to stop
9 http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/religion/muslim-leaders-support-islamic-declaration-on- climate-change/2015/08/18/661490d4-45df-11e5-9f53-d1e3ddfd0cda_story.html
10 http://www.anglicannews.org/news/2015/08/anglican-bishops-call-for-climate-justice-action-in- new-video-series.aspx
9. Urge the EPA in its calculation of U.S. fossil fuel emissions to include emissions from
fossil fuels that are sold to or refined for other countries;
the surge of extinctions now underway because of climate change. These extinctions threaten the viability of humanity’s food supply. We refuse to stand idly by while the lives of the poor are devastated, suffering first and most grievously from the effects of climate change.
As you saw two weeks ago in Alaska, climate change is intensifying. We urge you to respond to this emergency with the conviction, consistency, and comprehensiveness that the situation
requires. We urge you to exercise your Executive powers and moral authority as President to accelerate our nation’s transition to an economy based on clean, safe, renewable energy, such as sun and wind, and to protect the poorest and most vulnerable. We need you to educate the public that fossil fuels are an increasingly immoral — even suicidal — option for our nation.
We ask you to act decisively and consistently, so that future generations will look back with gratitude on your legacy of hope. With our best regards, please accept a copy of NRCCC’s book, Religion and Global Climate Change. We are upholding you in prayer, asking God to bless your efforts to inspire and mobilize this country to choose a life-sustaining path.
Rabbi Warren Stone, Washington, DC
Rev. Owen Owens Valley Forge, Pennsylvania
Dr. Richard Miller Omaha, Nebraska
Frederick Krueger, Santa Rosa, California
Sr. Carlos Agnesi, San Antonio, Texas
Dr. Deborah Hopkinson, Tampa, Florida
Dr. Thomas English San Diego, California
Rev. Dr. Margaret Bullitt-Jonas Springfield, Massachusetts
Imam Sayyid M. Syeed Washington, DC
Rev. Dr. Gerald L. Durley Atlanta, Georgia
Rev. Dr. Olin Ivey Chattanooga, Tennessee
Allen Johnson Dunmore, West Virginia
Rev. Peter Sawtell Denver, Colorado
I once was hiking in the Sahara desert and arrived at a mountaintop Berber village. A little boy approached me and opened his palm to show me something he had found in a cave in the upper reaches of the desert: to my wonder, it was a fossilized shell completely crystallized within. It had survived hundreds of millions of years since the time that this desert was an ocean. I keep that shell on my rabbi’s desk. I show it to children to remind them of the Noah story and how we are on this earth to protect all life — the interconnected life of every other species and our own. The recently released film Noah likewise is a call to all viewers to tread gently on the earth and to treat our environment with care, raising a moral parallel between the flood and the continuing onslaught of climate change on our earth. One of the most powerful moments in the film for me as a rabbi was when all the world’s species were racing toward the ark. Each group of animals came with its own kind, from slithering reptiles, to amphibians and larger mammals and ultimately Noah and his family, representing the last people on earth. Witnessing this unity represents to me what we must do — people of different backgrounds must all move swiftly. Together, we must make of our daily actions and choices an ark. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), along with some of the world’s eminent climate scientists are warning us of the dire consequences we all face as a result of the currently shifting climate. All continents are now experiencing extremely unusual weather from droughts to arctic conditions to record rainfall. Consequently, we are in the midst of a silent genocide of the world’s species, from coral to polar bear, North Atlantic Cod to quiver trees. Species that have been resilient, even thriving, for thousands of years cannot cope with climactic disruptions. Among all assessed animal groups, 37 percent of freshwater fish species, 35 percent of invertebrates, 30 percent of amphibians, and 28 percent of reptiles are gravely threatened by climate change and the loss of their habitats. In addition, 21 percent percent of known mammals and 12 percent of known birds live under that same threat. For some, like the golden toad, it is too late; but for so many others, we still have a chance to preserve their lives. E.O. Wilson calls this die-off “the sixth extinction” — such a crisis, he explains, has occurred only five other times in the last half billion years. Nonetheless, he urges: “It is not too late to stem and then halt the extinction of species and the ecosystem they compose. We are certainly too late to save some of them, but global action now can keep the final loss to a minimum.” Ecologist Paul Ehrlich reminds us of our intricate interconnectedness on this earth: “In pushing other species to extinction, humanity is busy sawing off the limb on which it perches.” Wilson notes the epic and unforeseen potential losses: “Vast potential biological wealth will be destroyed. Still undeveloped medicines, crops, pharmaceuticals, timber fibers, pulp, soil-restoring vegetation, petroleum substitutes, and other products and amenities will never come to light.” Indeed, the tiniest creatures, so readily forgotten, are precious. Wilson tells of “the rosy periwinkle that provided the cure for Hodgkin’s disease and childhood lymphocytic leukemia, and the bark of the Pacific yew offer[ing] hope for victims of ovarian and breast cancer.” These creatures are also precious in and of themselves, separate from human use. In an article this week in the Guardian, Rebecca Solnit asks us to “just picture the tiny bivalves: scallops, oysters, Arctic sea snails that can’t form shells in acidifying oceans right now.” In a poem called “Prayer,” the masterful poet Jorie Graham insists on our close seeing, decentering the human self: “Over a dock railing, I watch the minnows, thousands, swirl/ themselves each a miniscule muscle.” During this festive season when Jews celebrate Passover and Christians celebrate Easter, let me share an ancient Passover Seder ritual that reminds us of our commitment to the natural world. It is traditional to say a blessing over greens in honor of spring. After the blessing, the greens are dipped into salt waters. This salt water is a catalyst for life: it is like the water of our oceans, from which all being emerged. It is also a catalyst for change: symbolizing tears to remind us of our responsibility to alleviate suffering in our world. Faith communities around our world deeply believe we are all connected in a web of Creation. It is time to use our righteous anger to ensure that our world leaders hear us and catalyze governments to work more diligently to protect life as we know it. We must each do our part and speak up to protect our fragile planet. The desert sand, where once water rushed, sieves through our fingers. We hold in our hands artifacts of loss and change. Like that shell, I offer this prayer, these lines from Jorie Graham: “More and more by each glistening minute, through which infinity threads itself, also oblivion, of course, the aftershocks of something at sea. Here, hands full of sand, letting it sift through in the wind, I look in and say take this, this is what I have saved, take this, hurry.”
“A Call to Mothers: Time to be Up in Arms to Protect Your Children!” The EPA’s Clean Air Act Threatened by the U.S. Congress and Industry
Mothers: it is time to be up in arms. The laws that protect the health of our children are under direct assault by industry. Three insidious bills are now pending before a shamefully receptive Congress to gut the Clean Air Act and to sideline its vigilant enforcer, the Environmental Protection Agency. How many more children are we willing to see suffer from asthma, cancer and other diseases through increased exposure of harmful air toxins? Is this a cost we are willing to have our children and our children’s children bear?
One of these bills, the HR 2250, misleadingly named the EPA Regulatory Relief Act, would void standards for industrial boilers and solid waste incinerators and delay industry compliance for 3.5 years. These delays have immediate and profound health consequences, allowing more lead, benzene, mercury and other cancer-causing dioxins into the atmosphere. The expected impact? According to Sustainable Business News, some 100,000 tons of toxic air pollution and up to 22,750 premature deaths, 143,000 more asthma attacks, and more than one million missed days of work or school
Another bill, the HR 2401, the TRAIN Act, (Transparency in Regulatory Analysis of Impacts on the Nation), would block the cross-state air pollution rule, which curbs power plant smog and soot pollution, and the Mercury and Air Toxic Standards, which limit mercury and other air pollutants from power plants.
The third bill, H.R. 2681 the so-called Cement Sector Regulatory Relief Act, would void standards for cement plants and would give the industry freedom to pollute the air for years with high levels of mercury, soot and smog, acids and metals.
According to Pediatrician Dr. Cynthia Bearer, Professor of Pediatrics at Case Western Reserve University, children’s biological sensitivity (the capacity to be easily harmed) “places them at special risk for harm from a toxic exposure. Because a child is a growing, developing organism, she is especially vulnerable to the effects of exposure. Her metabolic reactions-the body’s way of processing and excreting toxic substances-are not as developed as those of an adult.” According to a major symposium study by the Children’s Environmental Health Network: “Children are not just “little adults.” Their biological sensitivity, exploratory behavior, and a diet very different from that of adults make children particularly vulnerable to environmental exposures.”
More broadly, the latter two bills seek to restrict the EPA’s regulatory authority. They are part of an all-out assault on the agency’s mandate to enact regulations that protect the atmosphere and the air that all of us, including our most vulnerable, children, the most vulnerable among us – breathe. There is enormous industry pressure and lobbying to try to overturn the 2007 Supreme Court’s unanimous decision to authorize our EPA to protect family health with the Clean Air Act.
United States religious leaders oppose this immoral attempt to undermine the health regulations that protect our families. The Conference of Bishops, the Central Conference of American Rabbis, Evangelical leadership, the United Church of Christ, as well as the National Religious Partnership for the Environment and the URJ Religious Action Center all concur on the critical importance of the Clean Air Act and have supported the moral vision and work of the Environmental Protection Agency, under the stewardship of Administrator Lisa Jackson, in upholding these protections.
The need is urgent now. It is time for mothers, all concerned parents, and all who care for our children’s future, to call upon their representatives to speak out for the critical importance of clean air for their families and to ask them to vote against these bills. Congress and industry should never underestimate the power of mothers to act to protect their children and the children of future generations.