2C: the FCNL Staff Blog

Rekindling the Moral Call to Action on Climate Change

By Jose Aguto on 05/23/2012 @ 05:02 PM

Tags: energy, environment

Many religious and indigenous traditions express the need for humanity’s care for creation and concern about the dangers of climate change. They call upon “respect for the ecological integrity and the sacredness of the natural world” and for humanity “to relate to Earth as God’s creation in ways that sustain life on the planet and provide for the needs of all humankind”, for “irresponsible stewardship of the Earth and global warming threaten the pacific coexistence of mankind.”

Climate change is harming peoples and communities now, and will have severe impacts upon our children and future generations and national security. As such, it is far more than just an environmental issue, but one in which we all share. Such impacts will become more severe and in some cases irreversible, if our nation’s leaders choose not to discuss the issue, much less propose and enact the necessary solutions needed to unleash the human potential capable of solving this preventable crisis.

Today, in stark contrast to three years ago, the most conspicuous expressions about the climate crisis are by those who would deny it. Many who agree with the virtual scientific consensus that climate change is real and will have harmful impacts to our Earth and present and future generations, are nevertheless downplaying or not even speaking of that knowledge, sometimes to the point of avoiding mention of the phrase “climate change.” Extant national policy and legislative battles involving reductions in greenhouse gas emissions are not of the kind of magnitude capable of directly addressing the immense challenge before us all. The national political approach to the climate crisis has flipped on its head, yet causes and impacts of climate change remain the same, or if anything have worsened. We are capable of solving the problem and the majority of the American people want action. Yet mere discussion of needed national and international solutions, much less action, is absent in the halls of Congress.

If you are supportive of this action, we are pleased to provide you with the opportunity to endorse a resolution to be introduced by Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA) and to call upon your representative in the House to sign on as an original co-sponsor. The resolution can also be presented to candidates for elected office as a marker for their commitment to addressing the climate crisis in ways commensurate with the impacts and threats it poses. A fact sheet  elaborates on other dimensions of this effort.

We welcome any person’s endorsement of this resolution regardless of affiliation – including political, religious, or lack thereof. The resolution enables people to express their deeply held conviction that unabated climate change will provide our children and descendants with a future that will be profoundly and unnecessarily difficult – a future we have the ability to prevent. American citizens can take this resolution to their representatives and others seeking elected office, as a tangible marker of a candidate’s commitment to act in this and the next Congress.

This resolution is a plea to members of the House of Representatives, in affirmation of our common humanity and shared future and regardless of any affiliation, that the institution is essential to the enactment of meaningful national and international solutions. We have been reaching out to representatives of both parties to support this resolution with this non-partisan message. It is hoped that member support will result in briefings, hearings, and consideration of requisite legislative action that is currently absent within the halls of Congress.

We ask you to join this first step to rekindling action on the climate crisis, by joining this moral call to the House of Representatives to act upon it. We hope you will consider endorsing this resolution and asking your Representative to become an original co-sponsor. We cast this call as a moral one which seeks to move us all beyond political partisanship, so that all of us together, may use our talents to solve what is perhaps the greatest challenge humanity has ever faced.

The Gravity of the Climate Crisis Transcends Politics

The Friends Committee on National Legislation and other organizations of faith do not seek or welcome the politicization of what we view as a fundamental moral and humanitarian issue. The Earth is warming in an unnatural way - affirmed by a virtual scientific consensus of 97% - causing disruptions that are harming peoples and ecosystems now. If we do not exercise our ability to dramatically curb the amount of greenhouse gases emissions we are causing, the future impacts will cause even greater impacts, some of which may be irreversible. Seeking to prevent a future for our children and their descendants which involves food and water insecurity, drought, sea level rise, increasing threats to national security and world peace due to population dislocation, scarcer resources, and armed conflict across the globe is not, in our view, a partisan issue.

We have the capacity to prevent this kind of future for our children and the generations to come. We must act swiftly and boldly. Today, the cooperation and will of our nation’s leaders is one of the most significant barriers to this necessary action. It is through this lens that we continue to reach out to members in both parties for sponsorship to work in true collaboration and partnership for the betterment of humanity’s collective future.

The Moral Call Rekindles the Motivation for Significant Action

The resolution seeks to complement, not replace or diminish, existing efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions on the international, national, regional, state, tribal and local levels. The resolution explicitly states the message which is currently being avoided or downplayed in many of these efforts, but which is our fundamental reason to act: Climate change is real; human induced greenhouse gas emissions are the primary cause; these emissions are continuing unabated; the impacts of global climate disruption are and will be harmful to the Earth upon which we depend, and therefore to us in ways profound and unprecedented; and because our actions are causing it, our ingenuity, motivation and actions can and must solve it.

Understandably, this resolution is a modest step compared to just a few years ago when the nation was nearly posed to pass comprehensive climate legislation which would significantly reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, and propel the United States as a leader in international negotiations on global greenhouse gas reductions. Yet in today’s vastly different circumstances, the resolution is a modest yet important step that enables citizens to express their deep conviction directly to their representatives in the House of the urgency of the climate crisis, and hold their representatives and other candidates accountable for their response to the intent of the resolution.

The resolution seeks to foster today, open discussions within Congress, on how to significantly reduce national and global greenhouse gas emissions, as such discussions have largely ceased. By increasing moral and popular support to act, our nation’s leaders might once again consider, introduce, negotiate, and pass the solutions which we have the capacity to implement. It seeks to affirm growing awareness from sectors like the Pentagon of the threat climate change poses to national security, and complement the tremendous accomplishments and activities being undertaken in the regional, state, tribal, and local levels.

Why a Non-Binding Resolution Matters Now

Only a few years ago, the 111th Congress, responding to the will of the American people and concerns echoed in the national media, was actively considering legislative solutions through bills aiming to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the major cause of climate change. If passed, international efforts to meaningfully reduce global emissions – the most critical act if we are to realize sustainability of our planet and a thriving future for future generations – might have been agreed upon.

Today is a film negative of the recent past. Our national political institutions and the media are practically silent about the gravity of the climate crisis, much less willing to respond meaningfully to it. If it is openly discussed in the national political sphere, it can come in the form of a political attack to repeal and legally void the scientific finding that greenhouse gases pose a danger to public health and future generations. Today, the very fundamentals of the science of climate change, agreed upon by 97% of climate scientists, and upon which 70% of the American people want our national political leaders to act, are often attacked by a Congress with historically low approval ratings hovering around 13% since September 2011.

President Obama just recently broke the Administration’s self-imposed silence on the very mention of the phrase “climate change” in an interview with Rolling Stone magazine. His statements, welcomed by many, were published on April 25th just three days after his 2012 Earth Day proclamation conspicuously omitted its mention.

The profound causes and impacts of climate change upon Earth, the resources upon which we depend, and by inextricable extension, on present and future generations, are often not expressed as the fundamental reason to support clean energy development or other advocacy efforts. When the primary reason and motivating force for dramatic reductions of greenhouse gas emissions is not voiced outright, skeptics, particularly those who would profit enormously by inaction, fill the void. National awareness and understanding of the significance of global warming is unduly perplexed, pre-empting attempts to even discuss solutions and act in meaningfully ways.

In this atmosphere, troubling manifestations arise. During Earth Week, many representatives of the faith communities came to Washington D.C., and representatives in the Administration and Congress, regardless of party affiliation, greatly welcomed our visits, noting that for months, few constituents of any kind have been meeting with them to discuss climate change. Outside of the Beltway and in the national media, a nationally televised seven-part series was recently announced which documents the impacts of warming occurring around the Earth’s polar regions, yet intentionally avoids exploring the cause.

The general approach to climate change (or lack thereof) has nearly flipped on its head. Yet the fundamental scientific causality of climate change has not, and our greenhouse gas emissions, the present day impacts and future projections, if they have changed, have largely increased and/or worsened. This resolution is a modest first step in establishing a healthier equilibrium between awareness, knowledge and action.

We Must Create a Space that Allows Human Ingenuity and Hard Work to Solve the Climate Crisis

Fortunately, the bounty of national and international level solutions for this climate crisis, proposed by some of the world’s greatest minds across many fields and disciplines, remains intact. Through this resolution, we can create the space necessary for these solutions to be reconsidered, introduced, negotiated and implemented.

It is a modest but critical step which we must take, to begin again with very basic but critical steps, by expressly acknowledging the gravity of the climate crisis and by activating humanity’s great potential and will to solve it. This resolution is but one opportunity to renew this moral call to our shared higher purpose, re-orient the national tone, and re-connect our Congressional representatives with our common purpose, so that they may participate in the solutions that will allow our planet, our children, and future generations, to flourish.

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