The following piece is a great article published in Episcopal Life written by our friend Mike Schut, environmental and economic affairs officer for the Episcopal Church in the U.S. You can visit www.350.org/faith to learn more about how many communities of faith are acting on climate and involved with 350 and 10/10/10. Thanks, Mike, for the renewed inspiration, and we look forward to working with as many Episcopal congregations as possible — and any church, mosques, or synagogue.
When I last wrote here, I titled the piece "Copenhagen: Jesus with a Bullhorn." I wrote about why international climate negotiations in Copenhagen mattered. And I suggested that if Jesus were here in the flesh today, he may well have greeted the negotiators at the airport with a bullhorn, exhorting them to develop a strong international treaty to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
Climate change just may become the issue of our time — many think it already is. Massive flooding in Pakistan, the heat wave and wildfires in Russia and flash floods in India have topped this week's news. Last week an enormous piece of ice — four times the size of Manhattan — broke away from Greenland. These are precisely the kinds of events that climate experts the world over predict will increase in frequency and strength as the globe warms.
It's important to point out that no one single event can be conclusively attributed to climate change — but at some point writing this caveat is simply going to be a tired formality.
As we all know, hopes for a comprehensive, binding, effective international treaty on climate change and greenhouse gas emissions were not realized at Copenhagen.
So at this point I'm thinking Jesus might just lay down his bullhorn, pick up a shovel and join one of the thousands of work parties organized by 350.org on Oct. 10 — 10/10/10.
The work parties follow last year's great success when the 350.org team mobilized people from 181 countries to organize more than 5,200 demonstrations – what CNN called the most widespread day of political action in the planet's history.
The concept is simple: get together with your faith community — your parish, your school, a neighboring church or synagogue or mosque — and dedicate yourselves to improving your community that day, by getting your hands dirty cutting carbon emissions.
Easy ways to cut carbon emissions include:
• Install weather-stripping, efficient lighting and more insulation in your parish;
• Plant trees;
• Harvest community gardens to demonstrate local food solutions;
• Organize a carpool/bike to church Sunday (Oct. 10 is a Sunday);
• Host a bike-repair workshop or install bike racks outside your church;
• Paint your roof white to cool off without air-conditioning.
Whatever you're doing, celebrate with music, food, prayer, dancing — be creative and have fun together.
Why 350? 350 parts per million is what scientists say is the safe upper limit of carbon in the atmosphere; the current level is 390 ppm. As May Boeve from 350.org writes, the number 350 is "a symbol of a world where murderous heat waves, massive flooding and oil spills large and small aren't the new norm — as well as a vision of a more just and whole planet we can build together.” To return to 350 ppm, we need to cut our carbon emissions… which is what the Global Work Party is all about.
Why the Episcopal Church? Like I mentioned above, I think Jesus would be pitching in. His life was committed to defending "the cause of the poor and needy," to raising up those whose voices were not heard.
And, in case that's not enough, our church specifically supports the kind of work happening on 10/10/10. General Convention 2009 passed the Genesis Covenant, a resolution strongly encouraging all of us (parishes, church schools, camp and conference centers…) to reduce energy use in all of our facilities by 50 percent over 10 years. At General Convention 2006, we passed resolutions titled "Acknowledge and Reduce Global Warming," and "Recognize Global Warming and Reaffirm Church's Environmental Responsibility."
The faith community has been there in the past, lending our moral voice and our bodies to social movements that have changed the course of history. "The arc of history is long, but it bends toward justice," Martin Luther King once said.
10/10/10 is an opportunity to build and showcase the global climate movement, and to launch and amplify the call to action in thousands of communities. It's an opportunity to bend history toward justice.
The cool thing is that tens of thousands of shovels, wielded by people from a majority of the world's countries … well, that turns into a pretty huge bullhorn.
Join the party. Get to work with your faith community. Have fun working to cut carbon emissions. And make sure the world's leaders see and hear you doing so.
If you are planning to participate in or organize a 10/10/10 event, I want to hear about it. E-mail me at mschut[at]episcopalchurch.org.