World Oceans Day is June 8, with extraordinary news to celebrate! On June 2nd, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy announced a proposal for rules to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from existing U.S. power plants. This is a huge step toward protecting the future of our climate and reducing ocean acidification. We at the IOEC share Rev. Sally G. Bingham’s joy as she says, “As people of faith called to care for God’s people and Creation, especially the most vulnerable, we have a moral obligation to address the profound impacts of the way we use energy.” The US Conference of Catholic Bishops also voiced their support, among many other diverse religious leaders and organizations.
Coastal and arctic communities know that climate change is already here. Rising sea levels are already submerging their shorelines, and they are experiencing more frequent and intense storms, like Hurricane Sandy. Warming waters are shifting fish populations and reducing reproduction, harming vulnerable fisheries. Oyster beds and coral reefs are dissolving and bleaching from the seawater’s acidity and warmth. These are only samples of the harm being felt now from fossil fuel pollution and resulting climate shifts.
According to a recent ABC poll, 70% of Americans—from diverse backgrounds and political views--favor these tighter federal emissions limits to even if utility prices rise and some jobs disappear. Reducing CO2 emissions by 30% from 2005 levels by 2030, as proposed in the EPA’s new “Clean Power Plan,” also offers a chance for the U.S. to lead other governments toward more responsible policies.
Yet we also urge that this first step be followed by still greater efforts, personally and together. We ask that all communities of faith do what they can and lead their members and supporters in transforming our habits and products and in advocating for still-stronger policies. We must press ahead to require even steeper cuts in emissions, worldwide, investments in new sources of energy, and reforestation of our planet to absorb the carbon already in the atmosphere, knowing that together we can—and must—“renew the face of the earth.”
Blessings and gratitude,
Marybeth Lorbiecki and Julie Dunlap