Protecting my family with my whole body, soul, and heart

10689801_757310180994744_7519201329579905246_nGretchen Dahlkemper Alfonso is a field organizer with Mom’s Clean Air Force.  With her permission we’re reposting her beautiful piece about why she’s disrupting her weekend to go to the People’s Climate March in New York on 9/21.  Gretchen, got an early start on environmental issues with Sister Pat Lupo and the Benedictine Sisters in Erie, PA.  She will join with Sister Claire Marie Surmik, OSB and Sister Lucia Surmik, OSB in New York City for the People’s Climate March. *Sister Pat can not travel to NYC because she is leading a linked event in Erie (Flier 09-03-14).

I am marching for Reny, my fun-loving 5 year old who loves to spend his summers swimming, kayaking, and playing on the beaches of Lake Erie – a lake that, due to climate change, is threatened by toxic algae blooms.

I am marching for Fiona, my sweet 3 year old who loves animals – frogs, snakes (much to her mother’s dismay!), insects, birds, you name it! I am marching because Continue reading

In times of great challenge, community is revealed

Remarks originally delivered on September 11, 2012 at a  NWF press conference on the release of Ruined Summer: How Climate Change Scorched the Nation in 2012

The report that inspired this conference is about the loss of the American summer.  For most Americans, our mental and emotional pictures of “summer” show a quintessential time of innocent childhood, of backyard gardening, evening strolls, and flashlight tag.  Although few family photo albums are a perfect reflection of the ideal, most adults do have memories of Continue reading

Mom, 14th century scholars, and 21st century religious leaders: do right with or without “everyone else”

Joelle Novey is the director of Greater Washington IPL.  She submitted the following comments to the EPA, and has shared them with PA IPL in anticipation of being a workshop leader and keynote panelist at Climate Justice: Faith in Action, PA IPL’s 2014 annual conference. 

joellenoveyThrough Interfaith Power & Light, hundreds of local congregations of all religious traditions work together on energy and climate issues.

This morning, I’m only one of over two dozen religious voices you will hear speaking out in support of strong safeguards on carbon pollution from power plants. These voices come from nine Christian denominations and six other faith traditions: Baha’i, Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, and Unitarian Universalist.

I’m speaking with a stack of postcards that good folks signed in support of the Clean Power Plan on card tables after services in their congregations throughout our region. And we are joined by religious voices around the country who’re participating in the EPA’s other hearings.

The teaching from my own tradition that informs my thoughts on carbon pollution comes from Rabbi Isaac ben Sheshet, a 14th Century scholar of Jewish law. He wrote: “One is forbidden from gaining a livelihood at the expense of another’s health” (Responsa 196). Simple, ethical wisdom. Not bad for the Middle Ages. Continue reading

Suffering first: what it looks like in the US

Jaqueline Patterson is the director of the NAACP Environmental and Climate Justice Program.  She submitted the following comments to the EPA, and has shared them with PA IPL in anticipation of Climate Justice: Faith in Action, PA IPL’s 2014 annual conference, and which she will be a workshop leader and member of the keynote panel.   Download the NAACP Climate Justice Toolkit here. JP at Bridgeport Plant

In February 2011, my father began to complain of a cough, which worsened over 6 months until he was homebound and tethered to an oxygen machine.  He was severely winded just from walking from the living room to the kitchen to get a glass of water.

Dad’s diagnosis was pulmonary fibrosis.  My father never smoked a day in his life.  His doctor stated that the scar tissue in his lungs was likely due to past exposure to environmental toxins from his work place or otherwise.  Dad spent 40 years residing within 10 miles of the Fisk and Crawford Coal Plants in Chicago. We laid my father to rest on September 12th of 2011. How many more people must we bury before we are granted equal protection under the law?

Approximately 68% of African Americans live within 30 miles of a coal plant.  The impact is clear in the rates of respiratory illnesses in African Americans. Even though we have lower rates of smoking, we are more likely to die Continue reading

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 Continue reading

Methane pollution is a climate concern, too.

Rev. Leah Schade is the pastor at United in Christ Lutheran Church in Lewisburg.  She submitted the following comments to the EPA.  They are published here alongside  PA IPL’s remarks. When you’re inspired,  submit a written comment of your own.leah_schade_at_epa_hearing,moorhead_bldg

First, I want to thank the EPA and Administrator McCarthy for paying serious attention to this issue of carbon emissions and their deleterious effect on our planet’s atmosphere.  I commend you for giving citizens the opportunity to be heard on this important issue.  The proposed rule is well-researched, with solid background in science regarding greenhouse gases, their effect on the planet, and their negative impact on public health.  It offers a wide range of options for states and power generators to meet the new requirements to reduce greenhouse gases.

As a pastor who has particular concern for “the least of these,” I was especially pleased to see attention given to the health of children when weighing the input of stakeholders.  I come today on behalf of myself, my husband and two young children, my congregation, United in Christ Lutheran Church in Lewisburg, the Upper Susquehanna Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Lutheran Advocacy Ministry of Pennsylvania, and the Interfaith Sacred Earth Coalition of the Susquehanna Valley to express my support for the new EPA rule to reduce carbon pollution, even while it is under attack from industry groups that want to weaken this life-saving measure.  As a clergyperson, you can be assured of my backing of this proposal.

However, as a member of my synod’s task force on slickwater hydraulic fracturing which spent two years studying the ethical and moral issues surrounding fracking; and as a member of Continue reading