"We want our children to live in an America that isn’t burdened by debt, that isn’t weakened by inequality, that isn’t threatened by the destructive power of a warming planet."
Mark E. Rondeau
So said re-elected President Barack Obama in his victory speech in Chicago on Tuesday night (early Wednesday morning in eastern time zones).
Neither major-party presidential candidate spoke much about global warming -- and humanity’s role in it -- until Hurricane Sandy barged into the national debate like an uninvited guest.
After Sandy, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., sent out a release urging action on global warming: "Hurricane Sandy is a wake-up call for all Americans that we must act to reverse global warming. While scientists do not attribute this storm or any single weather disturbance to global warming, it is increasingly clear that global warming is fueling more extreme weather disturbances. Scientists have already documented how rising sea levels and warmer ocean surface temperatures in the Northeast increased rainfall, flooding and storm surges from Hurricane Sandy,"
The national debate on gay marriage has "evolved," until voters in three states for the first time on Tuesday approved marriage equality questions in referenda; until now, these unions were allowed in various places by legislative action or judicial decisions. Similarly, I suspect, moral and religious conviction in the U.S. about the reality and threat of climate change will finally spur real political action to limit it.
Much as tea party activists will rail about the "debt we’re leaving our grandchildren," I foresee more and more Americans soon railing about the climate we’re leaving our grandchildren, as the president acknowledges above.
Moreover, as a Roman Catholic, a member of a church which places a high priority on "life" issues, I welcome increasing conviction that climate change is an intensely moral, life-and-death issue. And it is an issue that around the world is already adding to the misery of the poor.
That is why I am pleased to note the existence of the Catholic Climate Covenant. Visit: catholicclimatecovenant.org. This organization is proof that there is nothing un-Christian about concern for the environment and acknowledgment of humanity’s role in global climate change. I particularly like how this group focuses most on the impact of climate change on the poor.
Here is some of what you’ll find on the Catholic Climate Covenant’s website:
"All across our country, Catholics are taking the St. Francis Pledge to Care for Creation and the Poor and joining the Catholic Climate Covenant. The St. Francis Pledge is a promise and a commitment by Catholic individuals, families, parishes, organizations and institutions to live our faith by protecting God’s Creation and advocating on behalf of people in poverty who face the harshest impacts of global climate change. To join the Covenant, you commit to act on each of the five elements of the St. Francis Pledge."
Here is the St. Francis Pledge:
I/We Pledge to:
PRAY and reflect on the duty to care for God’s Creation and protect the poor and vulnerable.
LEARN about and educate others on the causes and moral dimensions of climate change.
ASSESS how we-as individuals and in our families, parishes and other affiliations-contribute to climate change by our own energy use, consumption, waste, etc.
ACT to change our choices and behaviors to reduce the ways we contribute to climate change.
ADVOCATE for Catholic principles and priorities in climate change discussions and decisions, especially as they impact those who are poor and vulnerable.
Mark E. Rondeau is the Banner’s religion editor. This column first appeared as a blog post on http://www.blogsouthernvermont.com/worldoffaith/