October 14, 2015

Local initiatives explore aspects of climate change

As published in The Erin Advocate

There’s a lot of local action on the front lines of the climate change battle these days, with a faith-based vigil planned for McMillan Park and the launch of A Handbook on Climate Change for Baby Boomers.

The vigil is on Saturday, October 24 at 6:15 pm, hosted by Rev. Felicia Urbanski of Erin United, Rev. Susan Wilson of All Saints Anglican and Heidi Matthews of St. John Brebeuf Catholic Church.

The ecumenical service is part of a National Day of Action for the Climate initiated by the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace, which is running a campaign called “Create a Climate of Justice”.

It is a justice issue because climate change will most severely affect world’s poorest people. Human responsibility for safeguarding creation is also being identified by leaders such as Pope Francis as a spiritual issue.

The campaign asks Canadians to make lifestyle changes to reduce carbon emissions. It calls on the federal government to transition away from a fossil-fuel dependent economy and adopt a fair and binding agreement at the United Nations’ Climate Change Conference (COP21) in Paris in December.

“People have erroneously assumed that Christianity has nothing to do with climate change action, or stewardship of our Earth,” said Rev. Urbanski. “Christians have misconstrued the phrase in the Book of Genesis about humans "having dominion" over the Earth. We have thought that we could do whatever we wanted to our planet. Yet, having dominion really means having responsibility to care for our Earth and to protect its precious resources.

“This climate vigil gives people of all church affiliations - and those of no affiliation - an opportunity to come together. We can share our concerns and lift them up to God. We can network with each other and find ways to have more of an impact on decision-makers.”

The vigil will include prayers, a scripture reading, singing and an opportunity for participants to share ideas for positive action.

“We are not without hope – there are so many movements coming together to work for a better world,” said Heidi Matthews.

“There was a time when we remembered to be grateful to the Creator and to be responsible with the gifts of the earth. I think the role of faith communities is to lead us back to that understanding – not in small steps but in giant leaps.”

In a separate initiative, Liz Armstrong of Erin is promoting a climate change book for baby boomers. She says just opening the handbook is a big step, since “there are millions, maybe billions, thinking that climate change is just way too big a problem for non-scientists to help conquer”. The book is an “urgent plea to lend your voice (and possibly other talents) to help this extraordinary Earth through a big mess of our own making.”

The first part is an easy-to-read education in the science, economics and politics of climate change and renewable energy, with an attractive series of photos and illustrations. The second is a series of bite-sized ways to take action.

Download a free copy at climateactionforboomers.ca, or order a paper copy for $20. Armstrong has been part of the local environmental movement with the Climate Change Action Group of Erin, Transition Erin, the Fast Forward film nights and the Citizens Climate Lobby.

“It’s about our moral responsibility to our kids and grandkids, because what’s at stake is nothing less than leaving them a livable future,” she says. “So much of what we Boomers took for granted on this amazing planet – and had hoped to leave to our kids – is now at risk.”