Faith and the Climate Crisis

I’m out in Pullman, Washington, visiting my daughter Claire’s family for the first time in nearly two years. I hadn’t seen their three-year-old son Neil in all that time, so there is a lot of catching up to do. I am grateful for the speedy development of vaccinations that made this visit possible. We had a lovely Easter weekend together, exploring the outdoors, coloring, hiding, and hunting eggs, and eating Easter cheesecake.

This Sunday, April 11, Presbyterian Climate Advocates start a new series of classes called Faith and the Climate Crisis. This time we have 36 Presbyterians registered from all over the country, most of them in groups from congregations. This is our third round of teaching about climate change, environmental justice, the ties between faith and creation care, and, most importantly, what we who are concerned about climate change can do as individuals and groups, not only to reduce our own carbon dependence but to help advocate for real change in our energy sources by making large social and economic changes in the ways  pollution is discouraged and renewable energy boosted.

President Biden and his cabinet are working hard to address these necessary changes, transitioning from the fossil fuel-based economy that has had a stranglehold on jobs, taxpayer funding, and infrastructure, to a future of using power that does not pollute, and creating work across the U.S. to build the system we need for the 21st century. One thing is still missing: a tax on carbon pollution at the source–i.e., where coal, gas, and oil are mined or imported. Such a tax is revenue-neutral and simple, sent back equally to all Americans as a monthly rebate to cover the increased cost of fossil fuels. This will help stimulate a greater drive toward efficiency and renewables, a drive we badly need if we wish to avoid an irreversible breakdown in the health of the earth’s ecosystems, including human life. It is huge, but as we saw this past year, when a challenge is huge and enough people rise to it, it can be done.

The Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act of 2021 (H.R. 2307), which has been vigorously supported by Citizens’ Climate Lobby, has 65 endorsements just in our congressional district in Indiana, including both First Presbyterian Church of Jeffersonville and First Presbyterian Church of Scottsburg, as well as endorsements from all over the country by organizations, corporations, and individuals.

After we lead this group of Christians through the April class, Presbyterian Climate Advocates plan to offer it again in July and October. I hope that we will be able to inspire more support for an economic and environmental future that humans around the world can be proud we created.

I don’t want to apologize to Neil or our other six grandchildren that our generation slept through the decimation of their world. I want to be able to tell them how we faced down the largest threat to human life in history, and to urge them to face their challenges–the ones we may leave them, the ones we are baffled by, and the ones we don’t even see yet–with courage, grit, and brilliance, since that is what humans at our best do.



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