Religious leaders and Al Gore tackle climate change using plenty of faith, brings hope
Save your planet from climate change now, or be eternally damned forever. Green is not a religion, no, but do I have your attention, now? Religious leaders of various faiths are stepping in to address the moral issues of climate change, which will affect all, and the poor most severely. CEO of Tesco, Leahy, believes in practical people-driven solutions: "It will be a transition achieved not by some great invention or some great act of parliament, but through the billions of choices made by consumers every day all over the world." The solution becomes a moral decision once we consider the consequences of poor choices. Climate change to cause eternal damnation of your soul is questionable, but immediate and irreversible planetary damnation is not.
Many already believe the Copenhagen summit is marked to fail; the religious will have to pick up the slack. So far they have made great strides. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, is one who said religions have the "moral vision" and will have "deeper roots" than any result to come out of the Copenhagen summit (Guardian, 2009). His statement came before the Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC), which met in Windsor Castle earlier this November. Representatives of all the major faiths congregated to declare their campaigns against climate change, from religious texts from sustainable wood to solar panel retrofits. The result of the conference was igniting.
Religious leaders pledging to fight climate change may have stirred up a light spirit of competition, which is good for the soul and the environment. Their promised measures are tremendous and far-reaching. "Faith communities own between 7-8 per cent of the habitable land surface of the planet, run (or are involved in) half the world's schools and control more than 7 per cent of international financial investments" (Ecologist, 2009). Collectively, religions hold a strong hand to engage resources to combat climate change, adding a touch of spirituality that cost-benefit analysis approaches lack.
Al Gore, former US vice-president, is one man also employing a spiritual approach. His sequel (to An Inconvenient Truth, his Oscar-winning climate documentary) Our Choice: A Plan to Solve the Climate Crisis strives to tap into individuals' spirituality to drive action. Gore has developed religious training programs using the findings his books to engage faiths with climate change, including: Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, and Christian faiths (Newsweek, 2009).
Yes, religion may hold the answer. There are two types of people searching for climate change solutions: the people that think that technology will pull through and an energy miracle is waiting (therefore they did not have to do anything personally); and those that believe the collective work of each individual's personal choices to conserve the environment will have the greatest impact. If the savings in costs from protecting against biodiversity loss, economic spillovers, national security, migration, and disease control, are unable to convince people to support climate change and green movements, then there's hope a little faith will.