Sharing a blog that appeared on Blessed Tomorrow’s website, a partner organization.
With thanks to the author, Ryan Smith, for this eloquent spotlight on Delaware. We second his closing challenge!!
Why Delaware Faith Leaders Can’t “Live in a State of Denial” About Climate Change
By Ryan J. Smith – December 27, 2016
Delaware is a beautiful and tiny state with a big impact on the United States. Known for its significant role in ratifying the U.S. constitution, Delaware was the first colony to sign it. While The First State, as it came to be known, has long been a leader in American history, it has recently been making a name for itself as a leader in climate solutions.
Delaware’s mid-Atlantic river opens into the Delaware Bay which, according to the state’s climate impacts report, is rising at an alarming rate, with projected increases of 1.6 to 4.9 feet by 2100. In some cases, according to an Aljazeera report, major roadways have already been closed due to ocean sediment and water overflow. For Delaware’s residents, these impacts act as visible reminders of the consequence of inaction.
If the rising sea level persists as it has in Florida and Louisiana, it would effectively submerge up to 11 percent of the state’s land mass – but Delaware citizens aren’t wading around to find out. State and local officials, business leaders, and faith communities have all seen a recent uptick in climate action.
With years of successful climate leadership behind them, our partner organization Delaware Interfaith Power and Light (DeIPL) is stepping up their efforts by teaming with Delaware Sustainable Energy Utility to “expand energy conservation resources for Delaware’s faith-based institutions.” These expanded efforts will provide “energy audits, remediation strategies, funding options, and ongoing cost-saving energy education” for the state’s many faith facilities.
One participant of the DeIPL’s Faith Efficiencies program is John Mears, Green Team co-chair at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Lewes, a seaside community that would undoubtedly be on the front line of coastal climate impacts. While the encroaching water level is motivation enough, the church’s involvement is actually a response to “The Episcopal Church’s Genesis Covenant goal of reducing [their] carbon footprint by 50 percent in ten years.” Mears explained that the “Efficiency Program enabled [them] to establish a base year, identify reductions that have already been achieved and quantify costs, savings, and resources to support additional efficiency upgrades.”
But this isn’t DeIPL’s first rodeo in the Delaware climate circuit. For years, they have worked closely with Unitarian Universalists of Southern Delaware, also in Lewes, to combat climate change and take action on Pope Francis’ call to ‘care for our common home.’ Together they helped initiate the Efficiency Program to help other Delaware faith communities reduce their carbon footprint.
Climate solutions and climate talk go hand-in-hand
Lisa Locke, Executive Director of Delaware Interfaith Power & Light, has had many successes under the Efficiency Program, but she also understands the importance of talking about climate change to provide insights on what she recently called the “defining moral challenge of our time.” Addressing national columnist Susan Stamper Brown’s article It’s Time to Chill About Global Warming, Locke examines Brown’s parting question, “What if man has no control over what happens on the planet but the God who created it does?” Brown continues, “Maybe it’s time for alarmists to chill, stop guilting, and trust God more.”
Ideas like this may appear fringe in nature and isolated to faith outliers but the truth is that Brown isn’t alone in her thoughts. Earlier this year, the Yale Program On Climate Change Communications reported that “fifteen percent of Americans think God controls the climate, therefore people can’t be causing global warming.” Surveys conducted in March 2016 in Yale’s report, Global Warming, God, and the “End Times,” found that 11 percent of respondents expressed a belief that “the apocalypse will happen within their lifetime, therefore we don’t need to worry about global warming.”
While eschatological indifference is more of an American pastime than modern phenomena, there is a swelling number of faith leaders engaging those who perpetuate it. But, we need more!
Locke explains, “We do not believe that God will intervene to save us from our ill-informed and reckless mistakes,” continuing, “We cannot afford to live in a state of denial. Nor can our policy makers. We need a reality check for ourselves and we need to hold our leaders accountable.”
Talking about climate change has never been more important, but maintaining an optimistic approach is even more critical. As Locke says, “We need to believe that we can pull back from the brink of our own destructiveness. It will require inquiring minds, open hearts, helping hands and a certain leap of faith…”
Hats off to Delaware climate leaders like Locke for their persistent and long history of caring for God’s creation. They are a testament to the power of faith in climate solutions, and I can’t wait to see what they have in store for 2017.
While Delaware has challenged itself to complete some amazing tasks for God’s creation, I have a challenge for you. In the first month of 2017, I am asking you to write one letter to an editor explaining why climate solutions are important to you. Write this from any perspective you like, submit it to any publication you like, and share it on social media. Who knows – we may just be writing a blog about you in the new year.
Need help getting started? Check out our many resources at Blessed Tomorrow.
Ryan Smith is a writer at Blessed Tomorrow. He received his master’s degree in Religious Studies with an emphasis on faith and climate change from the University of California, Riverside.
Give a gift of Warmth and Hope…
The Windows of Hope custom-made interior storm windows project, launched in Wilmington’s West Center City, seeks to:
- decrease utility bills and increase comfort for our neighbors in greatest need
- provide skills training and spark local employment opportunities
- increase the value of the communities’ infrastructure while lessening the negative impacts on the environment.
Your tax deductive gift of $49.00 will cover materials and labor for one window. Contribute before Thanksgiving and the National IPL organization will match your contribution, dollar for dollar. Please click on the link below and contribute any amount you can to support this community project. Windows of Hope is a project of Delaware Interfaith Power & Light.
Sustainable Energy Utility and Delaware Interfaith Power and Light Announce Expanded Faith Efficiencies Partnership
Delaware Interfaith Power & Light (DeIPL) has been contracted by Sustainable Energy Utility (SEU)/Energize Delaware to administer an energy audit, remediation and education program geared to faith communities throughout the state of Delaware. That program is titled Faith Efficiencies.
Religious institutions are offered a comprehensive energy audit, with 90% of the cost being covered by the SEU. DeIPL coordinates the process, offers consultation on repair and upgrade strategies and provides information on available financial incentives.
John Mears, Green Team co-chair at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Lewes, is part of a team approach to conserving energy. “Our energy audit through the Faith Efficiencies program was in response to The Episcopal Church’s Genesis Covenant goal of reducing our carbon footprint by 50% in ten years. It enabled us to establish our base year, identify reductions we have already achieved and quantify costs, savings and resources to support additional efficiency upgrades.”
This year, DeIPL is offering, and SEU is funding, an additional service: design and establishment of an Energy/Earth Care display and coordination of the systems to support it.
The total cost to the faith communities for all program services is estimated at $100-$200, excluding remediation. See HERE for Program Overview. Those interested should contact Lisa Locke at email@example.com or 616.914.1597.
Join faith communities around the country…and the world…in celebrating Earth Day!!
Celebrate with US…become a member of Delaware Interfaith Power & Light TODAY.
And consider this:
- The first Earth Day celebration, April 22, 1970, has been called the largest demonstration in human history.
- 20 million people across the US participated.
- American Heritage Magazine named it, “One of the most remarkable happenings in the history of democracy.”
- Legislatures from 42 states passed Earth Day resolutions to commemorate the date.
- Congress closed its doors as politicians went home to attend or participate in local events.
- Democrats & Republicans, rich and poor, factory workers and farmers, business leaders and labor leaders united on a common cause.
- Launching the contemporary environmental movement, it is credited with leading to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts.
Closer to home, our own legislature passed a resolution in 2015:
… WHEREAS, Earth Day is celebrating its 45th anniversary since its founding in 1970; and…
… WHEREAS, children are the leaders of the future and it is paramount that they learn the importance of ensuring a safe and clean environment; and…
…BE IT RESOLVED by the House of Representatives of the 148th General Assembly of the State of Delaware that we support the designation of April 22, 2015 as Earth Day…
…BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that all of Delaware’s citizens are encouraged to join the campaign to learn and raise awareness about Earth Day in the hope of achieving optimum health for today and tomorrow…
Let’s work together……RAISING VOICES…INSPIRING HOPE…NURTURING FAITH…TAKING ACTION!
DELAWARE INTERFAITH POWER & LIGHT is one of 40 state affiliates whose shared mission is to provide a religious response to climate change. We consider our work a moral imperative, as we see climate change as the defining moral issue of our times. We approach that imperative through very practical strategies and partnerships – to reduce our energy use, promote cleaner energies, support green job creation, and save us all some money. Our goal, ultimately, is to assure the preservation of a healthy, sustainable planet; and, closer to home, to improve the everyday quality of life of our families, our neighbors and our communities.
FAITH EFFICIENCIES: An energy audit, remediation and education partnership between DeIPL and Energize Delaware. The goals of the program are to lower energy costs, improve building operations, increase comfort levels, provide healthier environments and raise consciousness.ENERGY-seminar-flyer-160309
Contact Lisa Locke for more information, firstname.lastname@example.org or 616.914.1597.