116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
By Rev. Susan Guy
As a person of faith, I have become increasingly concerned about the rising toll from floods, tornadoes, drought, wildfires, tornadoes, and other climate-related disasters in Iowa and around the world. I am saddened by stories in the media about the impact of these events on those who are most vulnerable in our communities.
In addition, we are confronted almost daily with stories about America's energy future, including ongoing questions about the safety of nuclear technology, subsidies for the fossil fuel industries and the wisdom of supporting the controversial Keystone XL pipeline.
No matter how much Iowans, myself included, might like these issues to go away, it is not possible to roll back the clock and make that happen. These issues are here to stay and will almost certainly get worse. There is a new climate and energy reality.
Iowans would like cheaper sources of domestic energy, like we had in the 1960s and earlier. The truth is, however, that a project like the Keystone XL pipeline is not domestic, it is not cheaper and it is not sustainable. It would commit the world to even more dangerous levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
Other controversies, such as hydraulic fracturing, offshore oil drilling and mountaintop coal removal, have similar economic, environmental, health and climate costs.
Fortunately, this combination of problems can be addressed through the common values of our diverse religious traditions.
In April, I was one of 71 religious leaders in Iowa who issued a statement on global climate change, calling on Iowans to be leaders on this issue “to reaffirm our commitment to be responsible stewards of Earth's resources and to act in love toward our neighbors both locally and globally.”
In our statement, we recognized the scientific links between global climate patterns and extreme weather events in Iowa, the United States and the world.
We also recognized the issues of justice and fairness that are being raised, “as those who are least able to adapt to climate change and who contribute least to the problem are likely to suffer the worst consequences.”
When understood as basic issues of fairness, justice and stewardship, these seemingly intractable controversies become much easier to answer. People who are called to stewardship and love for our neighbors can reject the excess consumption of resources that drives the apparent need to develop expensive, dirty and dangerous energy resources.
This does not mean it will be easy.
At a personal level, we can reduce our energy use at home, at work, and in our vehicles, and use renewable energy resources. For tips and a complete copy of our statement, visit our website, www.iowaipl.org.
At the local and state level, we can get involved in organizations making a difference. I-Renew's 20th annual Renewable Energy Expo from June 8 to 10 at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids is a great place to start to learn more about renewable energy and energy-efficiency technologies and industries.
At the national level, now is the time for Iowans to tell the Environmental Protection Agency that we support the historic new safeguards that would place limits on carbon pollution from new power plants.
Although the new energy and climate reality seems daunting at times, living out of our diverse faith traditions we can provide leadership on this issue and act in the interest of the common good.
The Rev. Susan Guy is executive director of Iowa Interfaith Power & Light based in Des Moines. Comments: firstname.lastname@example.org.