Faith leaders see warming threat

March 14, 2010
By the Rev. Doug Hunt

In December, more than 100 diverse members of the world's faith communities met in Copenhagen with representatives of virtually every nation on earth as official delegates gathered to try to reach an agreement on steps all governments would take to meet a real and major threat to the future of their citizens.

The representatives of faith communities gathered to remind government leaders that Christianity, Buddhism, Judaism, Islam, and nearly all religious and spiritual traditions acknowledge a deep moral obligation to love, appreciate and safeguard the beautiful and verdant planet that our common creator has given to us. Christians call this stewardship. Jews speak of radah. Muslims practice khalifa. Whatever it is called, people of faith know their connections and feel deeply their responsibility to keep and protect all that God has given.

Also gathered in Copenhagen were people whose concern for the earth is expressed in scientific and mathematical terms: parts per billion or per million metric tons, greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide equivalents, temperature anomalies, uncertainty, confidence intervals, etc. It is enough to make most people's eyes glaze over. It is certainly a different language than that spoken by governments or the people of faith.

But all of these people shared a common understanding: The world we live on and depend on is changing in ways that are threatening the future of our children and grandchildren.


Red ants and crop fungi are in areas where they've never been seen before. The geographic center of blueberry production has shifted from Maine to Quebec, costing jobs. Critical glacier-fed water supplies for hundreds of millions of people
worldwide are drying up. The list goes on.

Faith, facts coexist

I accept the overwhelming scientific evidence that the way people are living has changed and is changing our planet. This is not a matter of belief. Religious people know the difference between beliefs that are at the core of their faith and
measured observations that are facts.

One cannot measure faith. It is not a matter of observation. Whatever one's views of the "global-warming debate," global changes are happening in ways that imperil the future of all God's creation. As people of faith, we look beyond ourselves and our local rainfall or any ideological debate.

We see the plight of our neighbors, the hardships that the planetary changes are causing and will cause, because love is at the heart of our being spiritual and loving people.

We judge these events in light of our moral obligations and the moral demands of our faith: that we care for each other and the earth.

And people of faith have always acted and spoken in love to help solve these growing problems.

The problems are great, but many of the answers are simple: Use energy more efficiently in our homes, businesses and places of worship; use less energy everywhere; demand that energy be generated from clean, renewable sources; live more sustainably; and pray, not only with our hearts but also with our heads, hands and feet.

Finally, ask elected representatives to take these problems seriously and join us in solving them.

Whatever is happening in "the global-warming debate," the need for action is clearly heating up.