I met my husband Jim 15 years ago this June at a Christian rock festival in rural western Pennsylvania. Neither of us had gone for the music – Jim was there staffing the table for his organization, Evangelical Environmental Network, and I had been asked to chaperone a group of teens. Nonetheless, the concert was a very special event for us because it resulted in our marriage. (Read our story here).
As we first started talking at the table where Jim was working, one of the first things he shared was that he was dedicated to working on climate change from a Christian perspective. While I had explored the moral dimensions of other conservation issues as a graduate student and later as a practicing conservationist, I had not considered climate change from a moral perspective. Since then, after many family dinner conversations on the subject and the privilege I’ve had of working with many inspiring leaders on the issue, I’ve come to more fully appreciate the ethical aspects of climate change.
A changing climate impacts whether my neighbor has enough fresh water to drink, and healthy air for her children to breathe. It affects the conditions that all creatures need to thrive. Climate change impacts all of us and all those we care about, with the most vulnerable being the hardest hit. I believe that we are endowed as stewards to care for the creation that God entrusted to us – and in doing so, to protect all people who depend on it.
Increasingly, faith leaders around the world are recognizing the importance of creation care and calling for climate action. This past Tuesday, top Vatican officials met with the head of the United Nations and leading climate scientists to formally frame climate change as a moral issue. As Cardinal Peter Turkson, head of Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, put it, "The wealthiest countries, the ones who have benefited most from fossil fuels, are morally obligated to push forward and find solutions to climate-related change and so protect the environment and human life.” U.N. secretary-general Ban Ki-Moon echoed this sentiment, calling climate change “an issue of social justice, human rights and fundamental ethics,” and adding that it is “the defining issue of our time."
Momentum around this message is building. That’s why I’m excited for Pope Francis’ forthcoming encyclical on creation care and climate change, and inspired to see so many leaders gathering for the Moral March on Washington on September 20. With all the important opportunities we have this year to accelerate our transformation to a clean energy future, and with moral leaders like Pope Francis calling attention to the issue, more hearts and minds will be open to receiving a positive message on climate solutions than ever before. So if you believe that climate change is a moral issue because solving climate change protects people and our natural world, and that we can all be part of the solutions, now is your moment to have your voice be heard. Join us at the Moral March in September. Get involved. Engage others in your sphere in the ways that seem best to you.
For more about how to motivate and inspire others on climate solutions, check out our faith initiative, Blessed Tomorrow.