Stepping away from the science of climate change can bring to light the many issues embedded in our society’s infrastructure. Revealing these problems is one of the many things that leaders accomplished at the 2017 American Climate Leadership Summit (ACLS). Although the summit attracted cross-sector participation, leaders of faith were abundant at the event and there strongest messages were shared on day two during the ‘Faith Mantle.’
Of all the topics brought up by leaders of faith during the panel, the universal themes were ethics, equality, and partnership.
‘Finding the Ties That Bind Us’
Addressing the realities of climate change and working towards solutions often means finding common ground with individuals and organizations outside of your community. This is most important for communities of faith because the stakeholders whose actions affect everyone, often sit in positions of government.
One commonality is that all Americans live in a world that is being actively impacted by climate change. When one person is impacted, everyone is, says the Reverend Sotello V. Long.
‘Ethical and Spiritual Concern’
The history of faith communities in action is one of great importance but also one that is in need of reform. Instead of being led by what the Reverend Susan Henry-Crowe refers to as the “savior complex,” faith groups should act with regard to the people most affected by climate change.
We understand climate justice not simply as environmental or economic concerns but as a deep ethical and spiritual concern that the church must address so that abundant life is ensured for our children and for future generations.
Poor communities and communities of color experience the impacts of climate change more frequently and more harshly than others. It is because of this known fact that another faith leader, Colin Christopher of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), introduced the subject of equality to the panel.
Often, poor communities and communities of color fall victim to environmental injustice. A lack of resources and government action all play a part in this. Evidence of this fact is shown in conflicts throughout the world in places like Syria, where a drought led to civil war or in South Africa where activists are protesting “climate apartheid.” This problem is also seen closer to home in places like Michigan, North Dakota, and South Dakota.
Humanity is unique in its ability to heal and be resilient. This is even more likely when humans are united. By holding all of humanity accountable, faith leaders can lead the way and ensure that everyone is equally protected from climate change.
Perhaps the most valuable takeaway from the 2017 American Climate Leadership Summit’s ‘Faith Mantle,’ is the unanimous call for immediate action against climate change.
“This is not something that’s in the future. This is happening to us, to our families, to our children – every day.” Colin Christopher