Monday, September 21, 2015

CLIMATE ACTION: A 'Hail Mary Pass' to Protect People and the Planet

'Rise Up for Climate Justice' Rally in Niagara Square
Rally will follow the Pope’s speech to Congress Thursday, September 24 on the road to the United Nations Climate Change Conference, Paris, December 2015

by Larry Beahan

A hundred and fifty nations are meeting at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris in December 2015. Let us pray that they will come to a workable and binding agreement that will put us on a path to zero greenhouse gasses before New York and New Orleans are totally inundated and California is scorched beyond habitability.

Agreed, church and state should be well insulated from one another, usually.  But with our planet on a deadly track for carbon-fueled climate disaster and with our politicians fumbling the ball, a prayer or two, maybe even a Hail Mary Pass is in order.

On TV the other night eleven presidential candidates vied for that quarterback-slot.  These eleven apostles of doom, one after another, washed their hands of the climate warming crisis. Meanwhile the religious leaders of the world have all dropped their prayer books and demanded that we quit strangling this God-given planet with fossil fuel fumes.

In August, Muslim leaders from twenty countries called on the 1.6 billion Muslims to phase out greenhouse gas by midcentury.

But Florida Senator Marco Rubio says, “I do not believe that human activity is causing these dramatic changes to our climate the way these scientists are portraying it.” His teammate, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, said “We shouldn’t be destroying our economy in order to chase some wild, left-wing idea that somehow, us, by ourselves, are going to fix the climate.”

Yet the leaders of the Anglican and Eastern Orthodox churches urge in a letter to the NY Times, that the nations of the world craft a clear and convincing course of decarbonization at the Paris Conference.

President Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency issued its CO2-reducing Clean Power Plan that delivers the death blow to coal as a source of electric power, yet the President has authorized drilling for oil near the dwindling Arctic ice cap.

In May, three hundred and forty Jewish rabbis released a Rabbinic letter on Climate Crisis calling for, “spiritual leadership of the Jewish people in this deep crisis in the history of the human species.”

And Donald Trump says, “I consider climate change to be not one of our big problems. I consider it to be not a big problem at all. I think it’s weather.”
The Dalai Lama disagrees. He calls on governments around the world to stop deforestation and stop burning fossil fuels. He says, “It is not sufficient to just express views, we must set a timetable for change in the next two to four years.”

Jeb Bush brushes off climate change, “I don’t think it’s the highest priority. I don’t think we should ignore it, either.

Good Pope Francis is coming to the US on September 24th to deliver what is expected to be a “Dutch Uncle” lecture to the US Congress. He will likely remind us that the United States has pumped carbon into the skies for generations, to profit this country but at great cost to poorer nations.  He needs to say that if climate change is to be curbed the United States will have to lead with a war-time, Manhattan Project-style total mobilization away from coal and gas and on to solar, wind and geothermal energy.

So here goes a Hail Mary that Pope Francis will succeed in persuading our politicians to go to the Paris UN Climate Change Conference in December and come away with binding agreements to cut greenhouse gasses by at least 40% in 2025 and 85% in 2050.

The environmental, social justice and religious communities of Western NY are united in the “Rise up for Climate Justice” campaign.  Join them at 5pm in Niagara Square on September 24 to demonstrate Buffalo’s support of Pope Francis on his Hail Mary mission to Washington.

This article was originally published in The Public

For more information on the Rise Up for Climate Justice Rally, click here.

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