Guest Columnist

Calling the faithful to act on climate

Liberal arts colleges provide endless opportunities to grow and learn. As a Loras College student, one quote I’ve memorized and hold close to my heart comes from American theologian and writer, Frederick Buechner — “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” Our world’s deepest hunger is a response to the climate crisis.

The human-caused phenomenon of climate change is altering the Earth’s natural systems, causing immense suffering across the planet. While it can be extremely troubling to think about this current and future suffering, I find my “deep gladness” in being a climate action leader. Like so many of my generation, I find joy and meaning in being called to a life of climate action.

This past summer I worked with Iowa Interfaith Power and Light and four other interns from Mount Mercy University, Luther College, and Central College. We spent the summer developing the project “Called to Climate Action.” I couldn’t be more inspired in finding my vocational call in helping the world solve the climate crisis. More devastating events related to the climate crisis occurred this past summer, such as the warmest June on record, a report indicating the wettest six months ever, ice-sheets melting at a faster pace than scientists projected, and even the release of a study predicting the end of humanity by 2050. Yet, I remain hopeful.

We are lost without hope. Early on in the internship, the director of Iowa IPL said something that really resonated. “The experts say we have the technology to solve climate change. We don’t have to invent something unthinkable. It’s completely solvable; we just have to go make the change.” Not only do we have the needed technology, but we also have faith, which is arguably just as important.

With all aspects rooted in faith, summer interns developed Called to Climate Action, an interfaith statewide gathering scheduled for Saturday in Greater Cedar Rapids, featuring a keynote address by Dr. Katharine Heyhoe, a climate scientist and evangelical Christian, who will talk about the need to bring science and faith together to solve the climate crisis. Following the statewide gathering, teams from across Iowa will participate in a college student leadership workshop hosted by Mount Mercy University.

Above all, my favorite part of this past summer was shaping the 2019 Religious Leaders Statement on climate change, which is focused on how people of faith are called and must participate in climate action. When considering the climate crisis, it’s easy to become hopeless. However, acting through faith instills a sense of optimism that we have the ability to solve this emergency.

Please join us at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish on Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon. Doors open at 8 a.m. for local and statewide networking. This is a free public event.

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My increased passion for climate action has been one of the greatest gifts of my liberal arts education. Climate change is the defining issue of our time, and I am so lucky to have spent a summer and hopefully a career in my “deep gladness” helping alleviate “the world’s greatest hunger.”

Jacob Jansen of Elkader is a senior at Loras College, where he double majors in politics and sociology. Comments jacob.jansen@loras.edu

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