Urgency of Now

Leading up to the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, we shared a message of active hope and resilience including an area of concern, sharing facts, and offering a prayer/meditation/reflection. Below is the archive of posts:

What does COVID-19 mean for the future?

This novel coronavirus has upended our world as we know it. Faith communities have been impacted in so many ways: how do we worship together? How can we console our frightened or grieving members without face-to-face contact, a comforting hug?
And how is this virus connected to climate change, one of the pressing issues affecting all of us? Adam Frank, professor of astrophysics at the University of Rochester states, “Climate change will mean one emergency after another, year after year, as heat waves, floods, fire and storms blow cascades of failures through our systems.”
While we still need to get through this crisis, let’s use these daily lessons to do all we can to take action in this urgent moment right now.

Prayer/Meditation/Reflection:
Slowly breathe in, slowly breathe out. Then envision the children, their beautiful faces, their hopes and dreams. Imagine a world where they are safe, healthy and whole.
What Can We Do?
– How is your faith community advocating for solutions?
– How will you begin or continue to work within and with other faith communities to face the urgency of climate change? This may just be the teachable – and reachable – moment.
Written by: Diane Lopez Hughes, ICEJ member

Resources
Interfaith Power and Light – https://www.interfaithpower.org/…/covid-19-prayers-service…/
Greenfaith – Faith community calls for care and resilience: https://greenfaith.org/…/Join-us-for-Faith-Community-Calls-…
Blessed Tomorrow – https://blessedtomorrow.org/

How do We Advocate for Moral Climate Policies?

It’s not that we don’t care. Maybe we feel
so overwhelmed by the enormity and inevitability of climate change’s dire effects that we experience inertia. According to Adam B. Smith of NOAA, “2017 was a year of 16 different billion-dollar natural disasters.” A 2018 national poll found that the voters who were “very concerned” about climate change stayed within the 40% range–where it’s been stuck for the past two years. How can this be? Some cite the complexity and accountability of the issue. Another problem is political will.

Facts: An excellent article from the Brookings Institution summarized, “We have trouble imagining the potential devastation of climate change. We have trouble trusting governments to lead us into much needed collective action. We have trouble defining the links between jurisdiction and accountability. And we have trouble understanding the causality in the first place.” What can we do? The author concluded: (1) We must invest in technological solutions with public and private money; (2) renew the focus on scientific literacy in our schools; (3) have the authority to reward and punish local and global actors for their actions; and, above all, (4) restore our trust in collective action.

While many local and regional authorities have advocated for responsible policies, the Federal government has effectively backed away from environmental action. So the focus of political will needs to generate from the people at the local, regional and national level.

Prayer/Meditation/Reflection:
Creator of all, we desire to steward your Earth and leave a
legacy of a healthy planet for our children. Grant us the will to pray and act daily, to advocate for change, to move our leaders to climate justice. Amen
What Can We Do?
VOTE! If we want to address the need to hold the ground
at no more than a 1.5 degree carbon increase, it is imperative now.
The Green New Deal, a nonbinding resolution, lays out a broad vision for how the country might tackle climate change over the next decade, while creating high-paying jobs and protecting vulnerable communities. Separate legislation would have to be introduced to make any of the resolution’s goals a reality. It’s an important start. Please share it with your faith community.
Written by: Diane Lopez Hughes, ICEJ member

Resources
https://www.brookings.edu/…/the-challenging-politics-of-cl…/
https://www.factcheck.org/…/the-facts-on-the-green-new-deal/

Climate Chaos Across Africa, from Cyclones to Locust Swarms

Last year, cyclone Idai, one of the worst tropical storms to ever hit Africa, devastated Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi. The storm killed at least 1300 people, destroyed farmland and infrastructure, and led to a massive cholera outbreak. Unusually heavy rains drenched the Arabian Peninsula leading to a massive locust infestation that has devoured croplands across the Horn of Africa; Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia were particularly hard hit.

One ton of locusts can eat “as much food in one day as 10 elephants, 25 camels or 2,500 people” and a locust swarm may have as many as 58 million locusts weighing 100 tons. 23 million people in these countries are already food insecure and now face epic food scarcity.

In other parts of Africa, the opposite is happening. A long-term drought continues in Zambia and in Southern Africa, where average temperatures are rising twice as fast as the global average. The UN estimates 45 million people will need food aid. Cape Town South Africa nearly ran out of water in 2018 before rains came in the nick of time. And in the Congo, the deforestation continues unabated in the world’s “forgotten” rain forest.

Like the Amazon, the amazingly diverse African rainforests provide a free service by soaking up CO2. But like the Amazon, mining companies and agriculture are decimating the forest, threatening to turn these forests from a carbon sink to an actual source of carbon exacerbating climate change.

Prayer/Meditation/Reflection
“Overcoming poverty is not an act of charity, it is an act of justice.” – Nelson Mandela
The most authentic thing about us is our capacity to create, to overcome, to endure, to transform, to love, and to be greater than our suffering.” – Ben Okri, author and poet
What can we do?
Short term: Give directly to programs such as Oxfam that provide immediate food and resources to locust and drought ravaged areas
Medium term: Work as faith communities to suspend debt payments and cancel the debts of the world’s poorest communities that have crippled infrastructure and made it impossible to adjust for climate chaos or deal with the coronavirus.
Long Term: Oppose our continued reliance on fossil fuels, help the transition to clean energy, and invest in the ability of African countries to make their own sustainable energy and food.
Written by: Scott Kelley, ICEJ Member

Empowered Youth Take Charge

All across the world – from Greta Thunberg to our local San Diego activists – youth of all faiths along with others are taking action to stem the tide of climate change and increase resiliency efforts. As people of faith, we applaud the many creative talents and initiatives of tomorrow’s leaders. They have witnessed the sacredness of all creation and are relentless in ensuring a positive future for all Earth’s inhabitants.

“Most importantly we should take bold actions to make sure our voices are heard and that these issues such as the climate crisis are taken seriously by those in power.” Shukriya Osman, San Diego 350 Youth member (Pictured)

Prayer/meditation: With your prayers or positive intentions, take a moment to support the courageous efforts of our youth.
What can I do?
On this 50th Anniversary of Earth Day, join the Earth Day 2020 Virtual Climate Uprising sponsored by San Diego350, the San Diego climate justice organization and partner of the Interfaith Coalition for Earth Justice. The main virtual rally will be from 12 – 1 pm with speakers including County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher, ICU nurse Shannon Cotton, high school and college leaders, and Bobby Wallace of the Barona Band of Mission Indians (Kumeyaay Nation).
From 1pm to 6pm, a series of workshops and panels will explore the Covid-19 disaster, environmental justice (in Spanish), the Kumeyaay perspective on climate, high school and college climate activism, living sustainably, climate activism from home, the San Diego Green New Deal, and more. Local artists, music, and yoga mindfulness between the workshops will keep the day lively and build community. A closing session at 6 pm will refocus the urgent need for climate action.
Also, work with your faith community to commit to new habits that will enrich their world of the future. Be part of the solution!

The Amazon Rainforest: The Lungs of the World

Facts: “The equilibrium of our planet depends on the health of the Amazon.” Parts of nine countries make up the Amazon Rainforest and spread over 6.5 million square kilometers. Over two million indigenous peoples belonging to 1,400 different tribes make up 60% of the Amazon population. The Amazon River, 7,100 kilometers long, is the largest in the world. The trees of the Amazon absorb most all of the carbon dioxide emissions of all 9 countries. In 2019 forest fires increased by 85%, destroying close to 500,000 acres of the Amazon rainforest.

The issue: These fires and smoke contributed to a human ecological emergency. Human beings and animals had to flee their native habitats. Many indigenous lost their identity, much of their culture and their livelihoods.

The world economic model looks at the area as a vacuum, a virgin resource waiting to be exploited. In 2018, 1.3 million acres of forest disappeared. The restrictive Bolsonaro government of Brazil not only ignored international help with the fires but also many national and international treaties to protect the indigenous. Under his government not only has deforestation increased but so has illegal mining, adding to destabilization. Some protesters were killed.

It is the moral responsibility of governments and all humanity to protect the people and all of creation in the Amazon. When our social conscience is dulled, there are environmental consequences. Pope Francis held a 3-week long synod on the Amazon in October 2019 after two years of listening to the voices of the people and the indigenous elders. He apologized for the past and continuing colonization. We can learn from the mysticism and contemplation of the indigenous people who see God in all creation.

Meditation:
Sustainable ecology requires humanity to change. The indigenous, like the slaves in Egypt, wait for God to hear the cry of the poor (Ex. 3,7). Will we care for our Earth, our common home?
What can we do?
In your faith community please advocate for the Amazon!
Written by: Fr. Emmet Farrell, ICEJ member

The Sustainable and Equitable Dream of Public Transportation

For insight into a City’s sustainable and equitable policies, look at how they structure their public transportation. Transportation is a social justice issue that when structured inefficiently is a detriment to those who depend on it; improvements would create greater access to jobs and educational opportunities, thereby improving regional equity. By increasing public transportation usage,we decrease the dependency on single person vehicles that produce a large amount of the emissions globally, and within San Diego County.

In San Diego County:
We need improvements to our public transportation, especially in underserved communities where people often face disproportionate environmental injustice. The people who currently use public transit: 70% don’t have a car, 66% travel to work or school, 84% have a household income less than $50k. Efficient transportation is key for bridging the socioeconomic gap in the County.

There have been initiatives to create an MTS Ballot measure to increase the sales tax by a half cent to create extra revenue that would go towards sustainable and equitable projects. Currently, this ballot measure has been put on hold indefinitely, but our push towards initiatives such as these must continue.

Reflection:
What unique gifts, perspectives, and actions can people of all faiths bring to this moment in struggling to address environmental justice and inequality?
What can you do?
– Consider taking public transportation as an alternative mode of transportation, even if not consistently
– VOTE for equitable and sustainable measures
– Sign onto a letter of support for similar measures in the future
– Call or send letters to representatives to show support for similar measures
– Work together with your faith community to increase community participation in similar measures and outreach
Resources:
SD 350 Transportation Team: https://sandiego350.org/public-policy-…/transportation-team/
City of San Diego 2018 Climate Action Plan Annual Report: https://www.sandiego.gov/…/city_of_san_diego_2018_cap_annua…
Elevate SD: https://www.sdmts.com/inside-mts-current-pro…/elevatesd-2020
Written by: Ioana Tcholokova, ICEJ Environmental Justice Intern

Who is Our Neighbor in a Time of Climate Change?

Today, there are 64 million forced migrants – sisters and brothers in creation – around the world: more than ever. They are fleeing war, persecution, disaster and, yes, climate change. The UN estimates that by 2050, there will be 200 million people forcibly displaced from their homes due to climate change alone.

Central America‘s average temperature is projected to rise 1-2 degrees before 2050. This will continue to dramatically affect weather patterns, soil quality, crop’s resilience, farmers and local economies.

People of faith must recognize that, while climate-induced migration has been increasingly framed as a security concern by policy makers and analysts, treating such migration as a security threat to countries is an inappropriate response. It takes crucial energy and political capital away from efforts to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions, adapt to climate change, and pursue development strategies to address environmental concerns. Although securitizing climate-induced migration plays easily to constituencies anxiety about immigration and climate change, it does not address more fundamental issues.

Reflection:
Who are my sisters and brothers? How can we support climate change initiatives in home countries so that people can make a just-living in their own communities? When people flee from harm, or seek a better life, how can we stand alongside them as they try to immigrate, or once they arrive?
What can we do?
Pray for and support local organizations working with our immigrant sisters and brothers, like St Luke’s Church Episcopal Church in North Park. Look for global programs in your own denomination that support climate solutions in communities throughout the world.
Resources:
How Climate Change is Pushing Central American Migrants to the US
https://www.theguardian.com/…/us-mexico-immigration-climate
Climate Change and Migration: Security and Borders in a Warming World https://www.oxfordscholarship.com/…/97…/acprof-9780199794829
Written by: Diane Lopez Hughes, ICEJ member