Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Caring for the Earth by Acting to Protect the Climate

A note to our readers: Mid-Missouri Pagan Pride routinely asks members of the community to contribute to our blog by writing articles which may be of interest to neopagans. Some of these articles discuss topics of a political nature. Mid-Missouri Pagan Pride takes no official position on these topics but instead maintains a policy of respectful discourse based on scientific validity and the promotion of equality for all people.

Caring for the Earth by Acting to Protect the Climate
by Mark Haim

We all have very good reasons to protect the environment of the one known habitable planet—the one we all live on—the Earth. Those involved in Earth-centered spirituality are, on average, even more keenly aware of this than the general public. Yet we often are not in touch with a sense of empowerment, and thus, with a sense that action on our part, right now, will help make a difference.

We shouldn’t need a reminder: climate change is real. We have all seen its impact already. It constitutes a major threat to our security. The draft National Climate Assessment (NCA), a joint project of 240 scientists representing thirteen federal agencies, was released in January of this year. It begins with the following:
Climate change is already affecting the American people. Certain types of weather events have become more frequent and/or intense including heat waves heavy downpours and in some regions floods and droughts. Sea level is rising, oceans are becoming more acidic and glaciers and arctic sea ice are melting. These changes are part of the pattern of global climate change, which is primarily driven by human activity.”
The introduction continues:
“U.S. average temperature has increased by about 1.5°F since 1895; more than 80% of this increase has occurred since 1980. The most recent decade was the nation’s hottest on record. . . .U.S. temperatures will continue to rise, with the next few decades projected to see another 2°F to 4°F of warming in most areas.”
The results are diverse and complex, including more extreme weather of all kinds, but the impacts of these changes are overwhelmingly negative. We’re looking at unprecedented loss of habitat, more species extinctions, less food, more disease, more extreme flooding, catastrophic fires, super-storms, in a nutshell multiple-disasters.

If ever there was a time for leadership by elected officials, this is surely it.

Where’s Claire on Climate & Why Does it Matter?

One elected official who should be responsive, but to date has failed to rise to the occasion, is Missouri Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill. Claire is not a climate change denier. She acknowledges that global warming is real, but she stops there and fails to embrace any policies to address the climate crisis. Moreover, she continues to support the expansion of the use of dirty fossil fuels. She backs the Keystone XL and Flanagan South tar sands pipelines, fracking for gas and oil, offshore drilling in the Arctic, and continued use of dirty coal. Policies such as these will only accelerate and exacerbate the climate crisis.

Far too many politicians, including Claire McCaskill, find it convenient not to challenge the basic premise that keeps fossil fuels producers making enormous profits, while leading us down the path to catastrophe. That premise is the notion that it’s feasible—without unacceptable harm to the climate—to keep drilling for more, to keep fracking, digging up tar sands, and building pipelines and other infrastructure that will allow these corporate giants to profitably market their climate-altering products for many decades to come.

In reality, if we burn just 20 percent of the world’s proven fossil fuel reserves, we will raise global temperature by 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees F).* This will cause severe dislocation. Burning more will truly lead to climate disaster. And the costs of climate change are never included in the price of dirty energy. [*For more information on this data, see Bill McKibben’s seminal article “Global Warming's Terrifying New Math” in July 2012's Rolling Stone.]

Our elected officials claim to be concerned about national security, but our real security needs, including the climate crisis, are not being addressed. And apparently the politicians are not feeling the heat over their failure to effectively deal with climate change.

We need to change that, and we don’t have the luxury of time. The climate crisis demands immediate attention, and that’s why Peaceworks and groups like ours around the nation are aiming to get the attention of our elected officials and insist on action now. We need to translate the polls that show tens of millions of concerned citizens into an effective movement that can generate sufficient pressure that yields real changes in public policy; changes that move us toward a Peace Economy and Real Security. And along the way, we must educate our friends and neighbors, so that even more will recognize the urgent need for action.

How Can You Plug In?

I’d like to urge all reading this to make your voices heard on this. There are many ways to do this. Here are a few you can join in:

EASIEST: Sign Peaceworks’ on-line petition at You can access this at, and you can share this shortlink via the social media network of your choice!
Send Claire a message through her website.
Call to share your concerns: DC# is 202-224-6154 and the CoMo# is 573-442-7130.

And, if you’re not already getting Peaceworks’ occasional e-updates and would like to keep up with upcoming events and other ways to get involved in this effort, please send us a post at with a request to “subscribe.” We send these on average about 2-3 times a month.