Why is climate change a Justice issue?

Plenary panelist Victoria Furio has shared her opening remarks at Climate Justice: Faith in Action, PA IPL’s annual conference held on October 26, 2014 at Summit Presbyterian Church. Resource links at the end of this post!VickyFurio - Version 2

Civilization is based on the principle of not harming the other — We could not coexist if we didn’t assure a reasonable expectation of comfort for everyone.

And our legal system is structured the same way — An individual’s rights extend only as far as they do not infringe on another’s. So justice is about freedom from harm. Our laws aim to provide protection for all.

As persons of faith, we have an even higher law to respond to. What God wants is a total harmony among all creatures, in all of Creation. God wants us to have joy and life in abundance. This cannot happen if some take away that possibility from others. Where is justice if we take more than our share of what God provided for all?

When we poison the waters, pollute the air, cause droughts and floods and disrupt the balance of the natural system, this is a supreme injustice against our fellow creatures, against their means of sustenance, and a grave sin against God.

Speaking for Christians, we were given Two Great Commandments (Matt 22:37-39):

Love God with all your heart and soul and mind; and love your neighbor as yourself. These are our guideposts. And all other religions have similar precepts.

It is not possible to love God when we destroy Divine Creation. Nor is it possible to care for the other as we are commanded to do, when we deny them the plenitude that God intended for all.

We are all well aware that as human beings we are not assuring a future of life through environmental destruction, but rather causing death and dying for the planet’s inhabitants, large and small.

Ecocide is not only a great sacrilege and a crime – it is also suicide! So this complete aberration is unfathomable! It defies all logic! Every principle —from sheer self-interest to obeying your God – speaks against the havoc being wrecked on a once-precious world. There is no justification.

So our most urgent and sacred task is to right this injustice. Because on our shoulders rests the future of the planet.

—Victoria Furio
   Climate Justice, Union Theological Seminary

Victoria has generously shared the link to her Climate Justice collected resources page , as well as the resources she shared in her workshop, which can be downloaded as PDFs here.  As a courtesy, PA IPL requests that you please credit Climate Justice, and pass on feedback and photos