By Rev. Sally G. Bingham, president and founder of Interfaith Power & Light. Rev. Bingham has served on EDF’s board of trustees since 1986.
It’s unfortunate that discussions about climate change, which should focus on solutions and our responsibility to act, often become political arguments. That’s why it’s so refreshing and important that Pope Francis, who will address Congress this month, is bringing us all back to what really matters.
The climate change debate should be about what kind of world we want to leave our children, and how we treat the most vulnerable among us.
I’m an Episcopal priest and have been working at the crossroads of religion and climate change for 15 years. I deeply respect Pope Francis’ powerful, moral voice.
All of us, Catholic or not, Christian or not, must recognize our responsibility and obligation to act in the face of human-induced climate change.
Pope Francis has reminded us that everyone has a moral responsibility to be a caretaker of God’s creation. At the very least, he says, we must not leave a damaged and unhealthy world to future generations.
We don’t want our children to ask, “You knew and you continued to pollute?”
We don’t want to leave the poor of the world – who will be hardest hit by extreme weather, instability, disease and other impacts of climate change – to suffer for our failure to act. We all have a responsibility to care for one another, but people of faith have an obligation to do so.
Do unto others…
Most religions have a version of the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. That’s the message we should convey to everyone, everywhere.
Right now we are leaving a great burden to our children and grandchildren, even with overwhelming evidence of the consequences. Would we want that done to us?
As a person of faith, I cannot say I love God and love my neighbor (two of the Bible’s Ten Commandments) without doing all that I can to preserve creation – to act out of love for what God loves.
We must look after our garden, Planet Earth
As Pope Francis says, God put us here with the purpose of looking after “the garden” and each other. We have a particular responsibility for vulnerable communities that are hurt first and worst by a changing climate.
In the end, it is about this fragile Earth, our island home, and all who live on it.
Environmental Defense Fund, on whose board I serve, is working with people across the political spectrum and both parties to find answers to this challenge.
Our scientists and economists are focused on finding practical pathways to a cooler planet. But nothing brings people together like a moral call from someone who’s above politics, which makes the pope’s message so profoundly important.
Pope Francis is helping us live up to our responsibility and to finally do something about this catastrophic threat to our common home.
This post originally appeared on our EDF Voices blog.