Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

The Moral and Climate Crises

Climate

Ted Glick 

“Part of the challenge over these past three years has been that people's number-one priority is finding a job and paying the mortgage and dealing with high gas prices. In that environment, it's been easy for the other side to pour millions of dollars into a campaign to debunk climate-change science. I suspect that over the next six months, this is going to be a debate that will become part of the campaign, and I will be very clear in voicing my belief that we're going to have to take further steps to deal with climate change in a serious way.”
—Barack Obama, in “Ready for the Fight: Rolling Stone Interview with Barack Obama,” April 25, 2012

From April 22-26 there were a series of activities on the climate crisis in Washington, D.C. organized primarily by religiously-based groups. One took place on April 23  in an auditorium of the Old Executive Office Building, right next to the White House. Several Obama administration officials, including Heather Zichal, assistant to the president for Energy and Climate Change, spoke to and answered questions from about 100 people from a variety of groups and parts of the country.
 
One question, asked several times, was if President Obama was going to be speaking out on the climate crisis in coming months. He has not been doing so, by and large, ever since the December, 2009 international climate conference in Copenhagen, Denmark.
 
Zichal’s response to this question was unclear. Either she did not know about the Rolling Stone interview, about to come out two days later, or what Obama said in that interview is somewhat provisional, not to be relied on. Hopefully, recent polls that have shown broad support for action on global warming—in the mid- to high-60’s percent range—will help to move Obama and others running for office to reflect that broad support in what they say between now and Nov. 6.
 
It is clear, however, that if the climate emergency is going to be a major campaign issue, and if, after the election, we are going to get the kind of federal action urgently needed on it, we can’t depend upon Democrat/Republican interactions and messaging. We need to take action so that this and other important issues are visible, out there, difficult to sweep under the rug.
 
It is good news that a growing number of religious denominations and leaders are doing just that. Among the activities over the past week in D.C. were these:
 
• an event at the National Cathedral on Earth Day, April 22, honoring Wendell Berry, organized by the National Religious Coalition on Creation Care (NRCCC);
 
• the meeting next to the White House on April 23 organized by two Christian evangelical student-based groups, Renewal and Restoring Eden, and supported by many other organizations;
 
• a day-long conference also on April 23 organized by NRCCC on the scientific, religious and Cultural Implications of Global Warming, which included presentations by 24 religious, government, scientific, military, medical and cultural leaders;
 
• a day-long series of activities on April 24th organized by Interfaith Moral Action on Climate (IMAC), a newly-formed collaborative initiative endorsed by 45 groups and scores of religious leaders. Highlights were:
- an inspiring program at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial early in the morning featuring Bill McKibben, Ibrahim Ramey, Luci Murphy and Sarah James;
- a diverse multi-faith service at the NY Avenue Presbyterian Church with leaders from Christian (Evangelical, Protestant, Catholic), Islamic, Jewish, Baha’I, Hindu and Native American faith traditions;
- a religious procession/march down Pennsylvania Avenue to Capitol Hill led by Native American women from the Onondaga and Mohawk Nations, Buddhist drummers, a Sikh environmental leader and others; and,
- the public announcement of and distribution to every Senator and House member of an “ethical report card” grading the response of Congress and individual Congresspeople to the climate emergency. The overall grade given by IMAC to Congress was an “F.”,
 
• a Global Day of Prayer for Creation Care event organized by the Evangelical Environmental Network on April 26, the highlight of which was a 3 ½-hour program of music, videos, presentations and prayers by a range of evangelical leaders from the U.S., Europe, Latin America and Africa.
 
I can’t remember ever participating in so many actions on an issue organized by religiously-based groups over such an extended period of time. It is a very hopeful sign that among people of faith, many different faiths, there is a clear stirring into action on this huge moral issue, this threat to human civilization and the ecological systems that have allowed for its development over the last 10,000 years.
 
The climate crisis is a deeply moral and ethical issue. To quote from the Call to Action issued by Interfaith Moral Action on Climate: “It is morally wrong to unjustifiably cause human suffering and death. Human-induced climate change is correlated with storms, floods, droughts, crop failures, diseases, and water and food shortages, as well as associated breakdowns in political, economic, social and ecological systems. . . The greatest impacts are falling on low-income people, communities of color, Indigenous peoples and others who have contributed little to climate change. . . To disrupt the climate that is the cornerstone of all life and to squander the extraordinary abundance of life, diversity and beauty of the planet is a moral failure of the first order.”
 
May the inspiration and power of Earth Week actions continue to grow in ever-widening circles so that all of us, of all religious and spiritual traditions and ethically-based belief systems, act with courage and conviction to create a more secure and sustainable future for all of us, our children and future generations.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A child stands in what is left of his house in Utuado, Puerto Rico, which was almost completely destroyed by Hurricane Maria, on Oct. 12, 2017. U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class Jon-Paul Rios. Flickr, CC by 2.0
By Mark Hertsgaard and Kyle Pope

To hear many journalists tell it, the spring of 2020 has brought a series of extraordinary revelations. Look at what the nation has learned: That our health-care system was not remotely up to the challenge of a deadly pandemic. That our economic safety net was largely nonexistent. That our vulnerability to disease and death was directly tied to our race and where we live. That our political leadership sowed misinformation that left people dead. That systemic racism and the killing of Black people by police is undiminished, despite decades of protest and so many Black lives lost.
Read More Show Less
President Trump's claim last September that Hurricane Dorian was headed for Alabama's gulf coast was quickly refuted by employees at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). An independent investigation found that NOAA's chief violated the agency's ethics when he backed Trump's warning and doctored map that used a Sharpie to alter the storm's path, as EcoWatch reported.
Read More Show Less
African bush elephants in the Makgadikgadi Pans Game Reserve in Botswana on Nov. 22, 2016. Michael Jansen / Flickr

More than 350 elephants have died in Botswana since May, and no one knows why.

Read More Show Less
People relax in Victoria Gardens with the Houses of Parliament in the background in central London, as a heatwave hit the continent with temperatures touching 40 degrees Celsius on June 25, 2020. NIKLAS HALLE'N / AFP via Getty Images

The chance that UK summer days could hit the 40 degree Celsius mark on the thermometer is on the rise, a new study from the country's Met Office Hadley Centre has found.

Read More Show Less
A crowd of people congregate along Ocean Drive in Miami Beach, Florida on June 26, 2020, amid a surge in coronavirus cases. CHANDAN KHANNA / AFP / Getty Images

By Melissa Hawkins

After sustained declines in the number of COVID-19 cases over recent months, restrictions are starting to ease across the United States. Numbers of new cases are falling or stable at low numbers in some states, but they are surging in many others. Overall, the U.S. is experiencing a sharp increase in the number of new cases a day, and by late June, had surpassed the peak rate of spread in early April.

Read More Show Less
A Chesapeake Energy drilling rig is located on farmland near Wyalusing, Pennsylvania, on March 20, 2012. Melanie Stetson Freeman / The Christian Science Monitor / Getty Images

By Eoin Higgins

Climate advocates pointed to news Sunday that fracking giant Chesapeake Energy was filing for bankruptcy as further evidence that the fossil fuel industry's collapse is being hastened by the coronavirus pandemic and called for the government to stop propping up businesses in the field.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Youth participate in the Global Climate Strike in Providence, Rhode Island on September 20, 2019. Gabriel Civita Ramirez / CC by 2.0

By Neil King and Gabriel Borrud

Human beings all over the world agreed to strict limitations to their rights when governments made the decision to enter lockdown during the COVID-19 crisis. Many have done it willingly on behalf of the collective. So why can't this same attitude be seen when tackling climate change?

Read More Show Less