While there may be different motivations and pathways, studies and scripture have led us to the same conclusion: faith and health leaders alike recognize the urgent moral imperative to act on climate change. People — our friends, families, and neighbors — feel the impacts of climate change right now. In response, we need to act swiftly to prevent the worst case scenarios for ourselves, our children, and future generations. This includes curbing carbon emissions and adapting to the changes already happening. There is incredible power in leveraging voices of health and faith leaders on climate change to make a bigger impact.
Last week, Climate for Health and Blessed Tomorrow, partnered with the Planetary Health Alliance, Harvard Divinity School, and the Center for the Study of World Religions to host a webinar, “The Moral Imperative to Improve Planetary Health Through Climate Solutions.” Cross-sector dialogue connected the available data on the direct health impacts of climate change and global environmental degradation with lessons from scripture and the lived experiences of communities. Faith and health leaders are some of the most trusted voices for information and guidance on climate change action, and are intimately aware of the experiences of those they treat and serve. Both can inspire meaningful action on climate solutions, especially when they are heard in unison. Watch the webinar here.
Highlights from our webinar speakers include:
Dr. Teddie Potter defines herself as a nurse with a scientific background and a person of faith who does not have any trouble navigating those two identities. She says,
“Science is deeply engaged in ethical considerations and ethical questions. It is an ethical practice. We would not be coming up with any ideas for areas of inquiry or research if we were not naturally oriented towards wonder and awe.”
We also know those most impacted by climate change are contributing the least to it. Kristie Trousdale details how children face unique susceptibilities to climate change impacts, as context for how youth around the world are currently taking to the streets to demand a healthier future.
Reverend Michael Malcom offers a question from his mentor, Reverend Gerald Durley, “How can we preach to them in their pews when they can’t breathe out in public?” Climate change hurts our ability to breathe, and also damages the spirit. Centering environmental justice in climate solutions brings us closer to health, racial, and economic equity.
Reverend Jim Antal shares his recent experience of faith and health sector collaboration with his recent partnership with the American Psychiatric Association. In discussions on public health, mental health and faith Jim advocates that faith-based leaders can complement the scientific authority of health professionals and unify efforts to advocate for significant action from policymakers, elected leaders, and the general public.
The webinar panelists and audience members share an appreciation for the urgency of action and the potential for cross-sector collaboration. How can health and faith leaders in communities across the country come together to cut through divisive rhetoric? Naming the universal moral imperative to act on climate change is a start. Other ideas include the importance of local or regional coalitions, sharing information about climate change’s impact on the most vulnerable, and communicating the urgency of taking action.
Blessed Tomorrow and Climate For Health are eager to continue to convene dialogue across these two sectors, and to identify concrete ways to form a united voice on climate solutions. Our newsletters are the best way to stay abreast of the latest tools, resources, research and opportunities to engage with us in the coming months, so please subscribe!
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Resources shared during the webinar:
- Mental Health and our Changing Climate: Impacts, Implications, and Guidance
- Children’s Environmental Health Network: www.cehn.org
- Children and Health Disparities: https://cehn.org/our-work/policy/policy-factsheets/children-and-health-disparities/
- CEHN climate change policy statement: https://www.cehn.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/CC-position-statement_final2.pdf
- American Lung Association. (2019). Climate change and lung health. Retrieved from https://www.lung.org/our-initiatives/healthy-air/outdoor/climate-change/climate-change-lung-health.html
- Center for Disease Control and Prevention. (2019). CDC’s climate and health program. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/climateandhealth/default.htm
- Center for Global Health and Social Responsibility. (n.d.). Climate change and health: An interprofessional response. Open access slide decks on the health impacts of climate change retrieved from https://globalhealthcenter.umn.edu/education/climatehealth
- Medical Society Consortium on Climate and Health. (n.d.). Health effects by region. Retrieved from https://medsocietiesforclimatehealth.org/learn/health-harmed-climate-change-map/
- Planetary Health Alliance. (n.d.). Non-communicable disease. Retrieved from https://planetaryhealthalliance.org/non-communicable-diseases
- Union of Concerned Scientists. (2019). Killer heat in the United States: Climate choices and the future of dangerously hot days. Retrieved from https://www.ucsusa.org/sites/default/files/attach/2019/07/killer-heat-analysis-full-report.pdf
- US Global Change Research Program. (2018). Fourth national climate assessment: Impacts, risks, and adaptation in the United States. Retrieved from https://www.globalchange.gov/nca4
- World Health Organization [WHO]. (2018). Climate change and health. Retrieved from https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/climate-change-and-health
- Antal, J. (2018). Climate Church, Climate World. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.
- United Church of Christ’s Creation Justice webinar series: https://www.ucc.org/creation_justice_webinar_series
- The People’s Justice Council: https://www.thepeoplesjusticecouncil.org/about-us
- Twitter: @AlabamaPJC
- Instagram: thejusticecouncil
- Facebook: The People’s Justice Council
- Alabama Interfaith Power and Light: https://www.alabamaipl.org/
- Twitter: @alinterfaithpl
- Instagram: alabama_ipl
- Facebook: Alabama Interfaith Power and Light
- Southeast Faith Leaders Network (no website)
- Facebook: Southeast Faith Leaders Network
- The Southeast Faith Leader Network is planning a convening for Faith Leaders in the Southeast in 2020 and need help with planning, outreach, and sponsorship.