African American Communities Need Faith Leaders to ‘Do the Right Thing’ in Climate Action

Climate change has altered the way we work, play and thrive in God's creation. Still, no other community in America has been impacted by the harmful effects of climate change more than the African American population. Accounting for only 13 percent of the U.S. population, the majority of people negatively affected by climate change are 'disproportionately African American.'

Blessed Tomorrow leader, Rev. Otis Moss III, Senior Pastor at Trinity Church in Chicago has worked tirelessly on his project of climate action in African American communities. Blessed Tomorrow was lucky enough to welcome Rev. Moss this past September at Coming Together in Faith on Climate, a coalition of faith leaders dedicated to ensuring not only the maintenance of God's gift but the overall welfare of those that inhabit it. 

Throughout American history, African American communities have primarily lived in proximity to the burning of fossil fuels and other harmful industrial sites, causing health related issues that far surpass the rest of the U.S. population. From Asthma to birth defects, these often lower income communities have been forced to bear the brunt of climate change, forcing many faith leaders to take a stand for these 'vulnerable communities.' Rev. Moss is among these faith leaders raising awareness about climate change. 

At Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia, and in the surrounding community, African American faith leaders are calling for further support of President Obama's Clean Energy Act. Will you join them in their fight to secure a healthy environment for all of those who inhabit God's creation?

Climate Change, Clean Power: Act Now

Rev. Dr. Otis Moss, III and Dr. Julianne Malveaux | Atlanta Daily World

Contrary to big polluters who deny it, climate change is real. The cost of neglect is real and incredibly high, for African Americans.

We represent 13 percent of the U.S. population, yet those living closest to coal-fired power plants and most exposed to their pollution are disproportionately African American. How is it that we suffer the most – higher rates of asthma attacks, premature deaths, and hundreds of thousands of missed school and work days? Furthermore our community is most likely to suffer the consequences of extreme weather due to a lack of proper heating and cooling or as in the case of Hurricane Katrina, living in poverty.

Along with cutting carbon pollution nationwide by 32 percent within 15 years, the Clean Power Plan will prevent up to 3,600 premature deaths, 1,700 heart attacks, 90,000 childhood asthma attacks and 300,000 missed school or work days. By any account, that’s significant, and saves lives. To suggest anything less is to employ, once again, the age-old scare tactic on communities of color, keeping us right where we are – breathing dirty, poor quality air while misunderstanding the facts.

So who would deny and seek to discredit the negative impact of climate change? The answer is simple: those with more money than conscience and those with the most to gain politically and economically.  The opposition to President Obama’s Clean Power Plan is well-funded and well-organized.  Over the last few years, hundreds of thousands of dollars have been poured into a campaign to convince the public and more specifically the African American community that the President’s plan is a job killer and will only increase black folks’ electricity bills. This accusation is once again an attempt to muddy the waters and bamboozle our community.  An overwhelming majority of African-Americans recognize that our communities suffer a greater burden from air pollution and climate change, than the population at large. Many of us even live on the front lines of environmental hazard and harm. And we demand a better future for our children and grandchildren.

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