Posted by: mcgurker | July 25, 2008

Climate Change and Race

I may have finished my first week as Eco-justice Advocacy and Outreach Specialist for Healthy Churches, but my life seems to be full of new beginnings. The list of firsts I have experienced this past week is about as long as my title. Already I am seeing exciting things happening within the faith community on green buildings and global warming and there are many opportunities for action on the horizon.   

Yesterday, I attended my first briefing on Capital Hill. The briefing was for a new report titled, “A Climate of Change: African Americans, Global Warming and a Just Climate Policy for the U.S.” It was authored by the Environmental Justice and Climate Change Initiative (EJCC) and Redefining Progress, and can be found on the web at  A Climate of Change details the ways in which global warming will amplify existing racial and socioeconomic inequalities and explains the connections between global warming, economic and racial justice policies. It makes the case that climate policies that best serve African Americans also best serve all U.S. citizens as well as our brothers and sisters in the Global South. The report also details the effects different potential climate change policies will have on African Americans and criticizes the apparent lack of solicited input from African Americans in the formation of policy proposals. 

One of my favorite scripture passages is Proverbs 31: 8-9, “Speak out for those who cannot speak, for the rights of all the destitute. Speak out, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy.” I have always counted creation to be among the poor that needs to be spoken for and defended, and have attempted to do so. But, as I read the report and listened to the briefing, I began to realize that there were those who felt the human voice to the story was being drowned out.  We must take great care that in our fervor to give voice to the voiceless; we do not silence or attempt to speak for those who are ready and waiting to speak for themselves. Working together, we can create such a clamor that the walls built up to prevent the formation of a comprehensive climate change policy will come crashing down. The report states “Engagement in climate change policy must be moved from the White House and the halls of Congress to social circles, classrooms, kitchens and congregations.” I am already seeing this transition take place in congregations across the country as I look for success stories to highlight on our website, and can’t wait to see what happens next.  If you have a success story to share, please let me know by commenting to this blog!


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