Spirituality, global warming, and grief: How clergy can help tackle climate anxiety

By Rebecca Randall
June 9, 2023

A growing number of spiritual leaders believe they have a vital role to play shepherding people toward action.

Rabbi Dean Shapiro recalls considering the future as he looked down at a baby’s head while giving her a Hebrew name and welcoming her into the covenant of Israel. She was born into a megadrought in Arizona that is only getting worse. As one infant after another is welcomed into his congregation, he finds himself reflecting on their future well-being amid a growing climate emergency. If this child spends her entire life in Phoenix, she could experience 146 days each year with a heat index topping 100 degrees by the time she reaches 30.

As he pondered that eventuality, Shapiro could not help but think that life for this newborn will not look like it did for her parents or grandparents. Rising temperatures will impact the food supply, increase migration, and create other challenges, he thought. Less fortunate children around the world will surely face even worse.

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