Congress Gets Failing Grade on Climate Change
Congress gets failing grade on climate change, A+ needed, says interfaith coalitionGlobal humanitarian agency Church World Service was among a diverse coalition of high profile interfaith leaders and activists who took to Capitol Hill and the streets of Washington on Tuesday, with an urgent call for legislation to combat climate change.
In an interview with Rolling Stone Wednesday, President Barack Obama said he believes climate change will be an issue in the presidential campaign and that the U.S. is "going to have to take further steps to deal with climate change in a serious way."
Members of the Interfaith Moral Action on Climate (IMAC), who include Baha'i, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish and Muslim advocates, are hoping that the President is right. The group took action on the Hill on Tuesday to reinforce the urgency - by delivering "ethical report cards" to lawmakers, grading them on their handling of the growing climate change crisis.
In short, according to the Interfaith Moral Action on Climate group (IMAC) in its report, "Congress gets an 'F-' but needs an 'A+' on climate disruption."
"In our meetings with Congressional offices, however, we were encouraged," said Pamela Sparr, a climate change advocacy and policy consultant with Church World Service, an agency whose development work worldwide increasingly is focusing on helping vulnerable communities adapt to the impacts of global warming.
Despite the polarization of positions and beliefs on Capitol Hill on the climate issue, Sparr felt their Congressional visits were productive. "I think they really heard and respected the moral imperative arguments we were making.
"We were inviting Congressional leaders not to be obstructionists, but instead to launch a new conversation that brings people together based on our common humanity and our common destiny. I think that resonated.
"Some were surprised to hear that Evangelical young adults have a strong interest in this issue and will factor this into their voting decisions," she said.
"The level of diversity of the faith community in this climate action was amazing. Even though we may have differences on theology and some policy issues, we stood firmly united in our call to legislators to drop their partisanship and begin a new national conversation."
At a Tuesday multi-faith sunrise service at the Martin Luther King Jr. monument, environmental activist, author and founder of 350.org Bill McKibben, a United Methodist, noted that "time is not on our side related to climate change." Yet, he continued, "one of the things the faith community can provide is hope in the face of those odds." * * *Climate change: the new 'fierce urgency of now'*
Prominent Muslim American human rights and peace activist Ibrahim Abdil-Mu'id Ramey, who wrote the litany for the climate coalition's sunrise event, called up King's "fierce urgency of now" in the American struggle for civil and human rights. Ramey said that today's fierce urgency is "the real danger of climate change that confronts us all, and all our future generations."****
As part of a service at the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church, Richard Cizik, president of the New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good, had a three-part message on hearing, caring and action- orbiting around the call to "hear the cry of the earth."
Cizik said Christians often read the word "behold" in the Bible. "The challenge is to see more clearly and deeply. We have to dare to care more deeply. And caring is a lot more than just attitude." In action, "We have to create a heroic culture."
Sparr said for local examples of the faith community in action on climate change, members of Congress need look no further than a few blocks from Capitol Hill. The District's Florida Avenue Baptist Church (FABC) hosted Mayor Vincent C. Gray's Town Hall Meeting, as part of the launch of the city's sustainability plan. The church's pastor the Rev. Dr. Earl D. Trent Jr., and the congregation have installed solar panels on the church's roof, saving about $400 a month in electricity as part of a broader "green ministry." Trent is chairman of the board of Church World Service.
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