This past weekend, I attended the Religions for Peace USA Earth-Faith-Peace Teach In with a group of my fellow young faith leaders engaged in climate justice work. The group included participants from a wide array of religious traditions, from Franciscans to Zoroastrians, who flew in to the Teach-In from as far as Bombay and Brazil, as nearby as Boston and Washington, D.C. Together, our group explored sites of environmental degradation and pollution, learned about cap and trade and carbon tax models for mitigating climate change and shared environmental education and advocacy best practices from our communities.
By Jennifer Queen
Though Pope Francis may not know it, he and the ancient rabbis have a lot in common. As I participated in the Interfaith Update on the Papal Encyclical webinar yesterday, Rabbi Tarfon’s words, “it’s not your obligation to finish the work, but neither are you free to desist from it,” from Pirkei Avot (2:15-16), continually came to mind. The conversation between Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner and Rachel Laser from the Religious Action Center, founder of the Catholic Climate Covenant Dan Misleh, and Mark Rohlena from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, unfolded around Laudato Si: Sulla cura della casa commune (or Praised Be You: On the care of the common home), Pope Francis’ encyclical, released in June.
In California, residents are feeling the intensity of their continued drought and subsequent state-sanctioned fines for over-using water. One of the avenues Californians are using to enforce strict water use rules is “drought shaming.” Drought shaming is the practice of publicly tweeting, blogging and sharing images of neighbors and friends “carelessly” using water.
By Talia Berniker
Though skeptics will argue if it’s scientifically true, and politicians will argue about whether it’s relevant, climate change is a threat to our environment, health and economy. When confronting an international issue, like climate change, it is imperative that the United States be at the forefront of creating innovative policies. By refraining from acting on this increasingly time-sensitive issue, our government is ignoring the repercussions of America’s contribution to greenhouse gasses—endangering not only our livelihood, but the well-being of people around the world. In a nation categorized by its wealth and opportunity, it is unjust that the effects of climate change are impacting those in developing countries who leave a much smaller carbon footprint as a result of their inexistent spending power.
This week, the Supreme Court issued a decision in that obstructs further implementation of the Mercury and Air Toxics Standard rule. The regulation, put forward by the Environmental Protection Agency in 2011 and authorized by the Clean Air Act, required electric and energy industries to reduce mercury pollution. The decision in the case Michigan et al v. Environmental Protection Agency centered on the question of whether the EPA unreasonably disregarded the costs to industry of regulating hazardous pollutants. The Court ruled 5-4 that the industry did not have to follow the rule.
By Jenn Queen
Combating climate change is a moral imperative. Faith leaders have been calling for better policies and encouraging better personal practices to turn the tide of climate change for years. This week, the Vatican released Pope Francis’ latest encyclical (a papal letter sent to all bishops of the Roman Catholic Church stating the Vatican’s position on a particular issue), which details a strong connection between faith and environmental stewardship.
Today, the Vatican released Pope Francis’s encyclical titled Laudato Si, which roughly translates to Praised Be. The encyclical details a theology of “integrated ecology” – connecting care for the poor with environmental stewardship – leading many to call this an eco-encyclical, and Pope Francis the Green Pope. The document details specifically the human causes of climate change and our sacred obligation to care for our earth and combat climate disruption.