Originally issued May 2007.
As people of faith, we return to the creation story in the book of Genesis and echo God’s response at the end of each day: “It is very good.” As people of conscience, we are compelled to speak out on the devastating effects of our continued reliance on fossil fuels and the growing crisis of climate change.
There is no time to argue about the reality of climate change. It is here. Average temperatures have already risen, glaciers are melting, and the sea level continues to encroach. Over the past decade alone, over 2.5 billion people have been impacted and economic losses have exceeded $690 billion. Climate change has been responsible for nearly 500,000 deaths—95% of these casualties occurred in poor countries.(1) Rising sea levels, projected to displace over 100 million people, will create a humanitarian crisis of unparalleled proportions.(2) Many experts say we have no more than ten years to make a difference—ten years to offer hope for all Earth’s peoples or witness the end of life as we have known it.
As people of hope, we are confident that with God’s grace we can accomplish the critical goal of reducing our carbon emissions significantly enough to mitigate the effects of global climate change and act as responsible stewards of creation. We accept the challenge that changing our habits and lifestyles will take tremendous will and effort, but our love for the whole community of life on Earth will provide us the courage and strength to act for the universal common good.
As people of justice, we assert that Earth is a gift to all. The effects of global climate change are already borne by the most vulnerable through displacement and shortages of land, food, and water, leading to increased poverty and desperation.
As people of peace, we acknowledge that the climate crisis exacerbates violence and war among God’s people. Our reliance on fossil fuels already is fueling conflicts from Iraq to Colombia. While people struggle for diminishing land, food and water, conflicts will increase and, without a fundamental break from this reliance on fossil fuels, the worst effects of climate change will become accelerated.
Hearing the call to prayer and action, we commit to:
- pray and meet with family, friends, and neighbors in the next several months to learn and incorporate into our daily lives practices to reduce our carbon uses and emissions;
- encourage our neighborhood schools and community institutions to teach and act on cutting carbon emissions;
- support bold action by the international community to drastically alter the global economy’s reliance on fossil fuels and cut our carbon emissions;
- advocate for effective action by the U.S. government to join international community efforts in adopting and pursuing goals for reduction of carbon emissions by as much as 80% by 2050 while simultaneously pursuing a dramatic and sustained increase in funding for the development of alternative energy sources;
- call on the international community to establish a Global Climate Change Fund to assist those communities already bearing the burden of the climate change crisis and prepare for future challenges to communities that will soon begin to bear that burden.
What does Earth ask of us? To fulfill our unique role as humans, as stewards of the common good, and to act as responsible members of the whole Earth community, ensuring that the whole of life flourishes, even as the needs of all are met.
(1) from the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, Tenth Conference of Parties, 2004
(2) from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change