On October 26, 2018, the CTUCC held the “Reviving Justice” event, which included a dynamic multicultural, multiracial worship and workshops on four justice issues, including environmental racism. During worship, Rev. Dr. Damaris Whittaker preached about the need for people of faith to show up in these times of rampant injustices. She said that “comfort is not our goal. We need disruption, because after disruption comes revolution, and then comes innovation.”
In early October, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its latest report on climate change. The alarming report says that, if current greenhouse gas emissions trends continue, the earth’s temperature will likely rise to 1.5º Celsius above the pre-industrial level by 2040. The report detailed the catastrophic impacts resulting from this temperature rise, including worsening food shortages and wildfires, a mass die-off of coral reefs, swelling numbers of climate refugees, and more, unless there are rapid and unprecedented changes in our fossil-fueled economy, immediately.
On Oct 29th, 2018, the #TrialoftheCentury, Juliana v. The United States, was scheduled to begin. This landmark case was brought by 21 youth plaintiffs against the federal government three years ago and has survived several attempts by the government to halt the case. The youth claim that the government violated their constitutional rights to life, liberty and property by enacting policies that encourage climate change, even after studies showed that the burning of fossil fuels contributed to global warming. The government again asked the Supreme Court to halt the case, and this time a temporary stay was granted. There were rallies held across the country on Monday, when the trial was supposed to begin, demanding that the youth be heard.
This case has been named the Trial of the Century because it just might create the conditions for the unprecedented changes we need to make to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions to avoid the worst-case scenario of climate crisis. This is a disruption to the normal operating procedure that our world so desperately needs.
It might seem daunting to imagine how our world might function with the necessary changes in fossil fuel consumption, but we’ve only powered our economy with fossil fuels since the Industrial Revolution. We know better now that our actions are creating great suffering across God’s Creation, and most devastatingly to those who have contributed least to the problem. It is beyond time to be revolutionary again.
The good news is that the innovative human spirit and the technology exists to support this revolution, now. What a time to be alive! Just as many couldn’t fathom the end of slavery in our country, we cannot fathom the innovations to come that will support the creation of a just, resilient and sustainable future. We need to commit to the disruption, to the revolution, and be open to innovation.
Our individual actions to reduce our carbon footprint are important, but the rate and scope of change needed requires us to act “in the public square” and to show up for the most vulnerable, for our most marginalized populations, including the youth, who are already suffering and will continue to bear an unfair burden of climate impacts. The interconnectedness of justice issues and climate impact means that your action at every level matters.
The UCC sermon campaign, Justice for #EachGeneration, urges clergy across the country, and young people of all faith traditions to preach a sermon for the plaintiffs, will continue for the duration of the case. Follow up with educational opportunities to learn more about what is happening, and how we can help co-create a just and sustainable future. Organize a green team at your church to engage and push the congregation to live their faith by acting on behalf of climate justice. Support and amplify the voices of those on the frontlines of climate impact and fossil fuel extraction, including our indigenous siblings, youth, women, and people of color. Taking action feels good - it feeds our souls and grows communities of hope and resilience, and helps shape our future.
Pam Arifian is the Director of UCC Northeast Environmental Justice Center.
As Director of the Northeast Regional Environmental Justice Center at Silver Lake, Pam Arifian is responsible for improving Silver Lake's environmental footprint, creating educational opportunities, and to serve as a resource, collaborator, and ...