In “Day Six” campaign, people of faith advocate stepped up adaptation assistance

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“Dear Senator, We urge you to support a climate bill that addresses the root causes of climate change and makes needed investments in vulnerable communities already experiencing its devastating effects.”  The plea is not from another environmental group—rather, it’s the core message of the DaySix.org campaign sponsored by an interdenominational, online community called Faithful America that has more than 100,000 members. “Those who are hurt most and worst should not be helped the least and last.”

post by Anne Polansky

“Day Six” is a reference to the creation story in the book of Genesis:  “On the sixth day God created us, and he made us stewards of his creation,” a DaySix spokesperson is quoted.  A welcome shift in biblical interpretation, from one of dominion over the Earth and all of its creatures to one of stewardship and responsibility to care for and protect the Earth and its inhabitants, is central to a growing movement in the US religious community. 

While the religious community is still divided on accepting overwhelming scientific evidence that global climate disruption is caused largely by human activity, religious groups are increasingly able to agree and act on the need to help vulnerable communities cope with the impacts climate change and global warming.  They are pushing for the US to provide international aid for climate change adaptation.

Even former Alaska governor and vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin might be able to get her arms around this message, as her home state melts under her feet.

The plea is clear and simple:

“Many across the world, especially those who have done the least to cause it, are already bearing the brunt of climate change’s effects: drought, disease and catastrophic crop failure, to name only a few. Rapid, drastic changes in weather are wreaking havoc. Floods destroy their homes and droughts shrivel their crops, leaving communities unable to cope, and parents unable to feed their children…

On the sixth day, we were made in God’s image and given responsibility to care for the earth and each other. Today, we must fulfill that charge.” 

It has a different tone and tenor than a formal reading of Genesis, chapter 1, verse 28:

“And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.”

So far, human dominion hasn’t exactly been the best thing to happen to the fish of the sea and the fowl of the air—our oceans are acidifying rapidly, and many species are in danger of becoming extinct as a result of human transformation of the biosphere.  Now, people are endangered too, especially the weak and the poor, in coastal communities and other areas vulnerable to the ravaging impacts of climate change. 

Faithful America, “an online community of more than 100,000 citizens motivated by faith to take action on the pressing moral issues of our time,” has launched the DaySix.org campaign as part of its commitment to “restore community and uphold the common good in America and across the globe.”  (Faithful America was founded in 2004 to express regret to Muslims for the torture and abuse committed by Americans at Abu Ghraib prison.)

Other religious groups are also getting more vocal on the imperatives associated with global climate disruption.  The National Religious Partnership for the Environment, for example, formed in 1993 by several major religious organizations, makes the case that environmental protection is a religious concern.  And of course, a number of major environmental groups (such as the World Wildlife Fund) are urging the US to commit funding over and above what is currently provided for in the House and Senate climate bills. 

The Day Six campaign’s letter to US Senators reads:

Dear Senators:

Until we can stop climate change from worsening, innovation will be the key to protecting lives.

People in vulnerable communities across the world are finding innovative ways to adapt to unpredictable weather patterns and rapidly changing conditions in order to protect their families and livelihoods. But without adequate support, they won’t be able to keep up, and 50 years of development gains will be permanently lost.

I urge you to support a climate bill that addresses the root causes of climate change and makes needed investments in vulnerable communities already experiencing its devastating effects.

If we don’t take this opportunity to act, countless lives will be lost.

“Those who are hurt most and worst should not be helped the least and last,” a DaySix spokesperson is quoted.

A CBS News blog post puts the shift in emphasis from one of cause to one of remedial action this way:

Religious groups are stepping up their lobbying efforts in support of climate change legislation, focusing on a goal all of their flock can agree on: helping the poor and vulnerable impacted by global warming.  A number of Jewish and Christian groups are choosing to bypass climate issues that are contentious within the faith community, such as whether global warming is man-made, and are instead zeroing in on proposals in Congress to provide international aid for people impacted by the negative effects of climate change.

The Day Six plea for grassroots activism aptly captures the sense of urgency dictated by the science and the importance of better stewardship:

People are already experiencing the effects of climate change every day.

Many across the world, especially those who have done the least to cause it, are already bearing the brunt of climate change’s effects: drought, disease and catastrophic crop failure, to name only a few. Rapid, drastic changes in weather are wreaking havoc. Floods destroy their homes and droughts shrivel their crops, leaving communities unable to cope, and parents unable to feed their children.

Things will only get worse if we don’t act now.

Communities across the world are already learning to adapt to changing weather conditions, growing drought resistant crops, storing food for lean times and installing severe weather alert systems, just to name a few examples.

But if climate change keeps getting worse, they won’t be able to keep up. To avoid future disaster, we’re going to need bold action. We must counteract the root causes of climate change while at the same time making sure communities here and abroad have the resources they need right now to adapt to new conditions and rising energy prices.

Click here to help communities stave off the worst effects of climate change.

By taking a comprehensive approach to stopping climate change from worsening and helping those already feeling its effects, we can save countless jobs, homes and lives right here and around the world.

But we’re running out of time. The longer we wait to tackle the root causes of climate change, the harder it is to keep up and adapt.

This is the time to act. We need Congress to be good stewards now, in order to avoid irreversible damage later.

Tell Congress to act now by supporting innovation that is already happening around the world!

Then, after you send you letter to Congress, get the word out to the friends and family in your social networks.

 

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