In preparation for the 2017 American Climate Leadership Summit (October 25 & 26), ecoAmerica reached out to leaders of faith who are devoted to this year's objective, Taking Up the Mantle. Blessed Tomorrow leader, Shantha Ready Alonso gladly responded to our questions about the changing climate and the future of faith climate action.
Shantha Ready Alonso, Executive Director of Creation Justice Ministries educates, equips and mobilizes communions and denominations, congregations, and individuals to protect, restore, and rightly share God's creation. Its membership includes 38 Christian traditions, including Orthodox, Black church, peace church, Baptist, and mainline Protestant church bodies, altogether serving about 100,000 congregations in the United States. Shantha will moderate the "Faith Mantle," during ACLS 2017.
What do you wish more Americans knew about climate change?
Climate issues touch the most intimate decisions of our lives: where we live, how we eat, what our jobs will be and the way we travel. Yet, some people think of climate change as an abstraction. If we were to let it come too close into focus, we might get frightened about the changes we are called to make. It takes a community of courage to face climate challenges directly. From Alaska to Louisiana, severe weather events and rising sea levels are already disrupting and uprooting local communities. With faith and mutual support, we can find the strength to face our climate challenges together.
What are current climate initiatives or efforts that inspire you/give you hope that we will effectively address climate change, even with the dearth of federal leadership on the issue?
Faith communities are taking strong climate leadership. We are leading in adaptation. Disaster relief agencies are on the front lines of responding to and adapting to severe weather. Health ministries are on the front lines of confronting rising asthma and cancer rates which are exacerbated by pollution. We are leading in political will. Major Christian denominations have all been sending official representatives to the international climate negotiations and will continue to do so in spite of the US government signals that they will pull out. We are also leading in bringing about the new green economy. From innovating brand new economic opportunities to communities once dependent on fossil fuels to making our own religious community properties carbon neutral, we are on the job.
What do you hope/believe the American Climate Leadership Summit will accomplish in moving the needle on climate action?
When people from different sectors come together, the Spirit can move and creativity happens. We need creative breakthroughs for our climate.