Mammon and death, or patriotism and love?

Victoria Furio is the Convener of the Climate Justice Initiative at Union Theological Seminary in New York, NY.  She submitted the following comments to the EPA, and has shared them with PA IPL in anticipation of being a workshop leader and member of the keynote panel at Climate Justice: Faith in Action, PA IPL’s 2014 annual conference.   Read another wonderful piece here.VickyFurio - Version 2

If for no other reason than self-interest, any normal human being would want to fight to preserve the only planet we have. The evidence of the relentless march towards destruction is overwhelming, as we watch typhoons rip nations apart in Asia, and drought shut down life in Africa, the Mediterranean and the western US.    But as Christians, we are even more compelled to act not only to protect life, but to stop ourselves from blindly committing the sacrilege of destroying God’s creation.  There will be no replacement once that happens.

This boding tragedy is completely avoidable!  But it means we must abandon our worship of Mammon, the god of money, which as Scripture tells us, can only lead to death.  The fossil fuel companies have willfully engaged in business activity with full knowledge of the harm it does, and their callous persistence is nothing short of criminal, to say nothing of its deeply sinful nature, especially in light of the gargantuan efforts they have made to conceal the situation from the public. Making reparations for all the damage done would be a small but necessary gesture.  More importantly, the source of harm must be eradicated —on moral grounds or out of sheer common sense.  And what should be plainly evident is that the fortunes amassed are no safeguard from the collapse of life systems so dramatically portrayed in recent scientific assessments.

Are we so deaf or so enamored of Mammon that we would prefer a few more years of “the good life,” only to witness life forms wither and die in just a matter of decades? Or to condemn our children to a struggle for survival when either heat or floods or wildfires or disease make it impossible to obtain sustenance?

As historically the greatest emitter of greenhouse gases, it is our duty to reverse this situation, to heed the desperate cry from the world’s best scientists for urgent, dramatic cuts in carbon emissions.  In this vein, Union Theological Seminary recently voted to divest its holdings in fossil fuels, adding its voice to a growing national movement. We can do no less than applaud and vigorously support the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan, which will significantly reduce carbon pollution from our power plants: a necessary and important first step in stemming catastrophic climate change. Preserving life for our fellow citizens is an act of patriotism; doing so for the world’s citizens is a moral obligation and a supreme act of divine love.

Vicky Furio is the Convener of the Climate Justice Initiative at Union Theological Seminary in New York, NY.  She submitted the following comments to the EPA, and has shared them with PA IPL in anticipation of being a workshop leader and member of the keynote panel at Climate Justice: Faith in Action, PA IPL’s 2014 annual conference.  Register and attend!