A few weeks ago I was pulled into one of those team guessing games with a group of family and friends. The kind where one person has to get their teammates to guess an answer that only he or she knows. Somewhere along the line, I pulled a card from the “entertainment” category that said “James Cagney.” Seemed pretty easy – you don’t need to have Jimmy Fallon’s skills to impersonate an iconic movie actor like Cagney. Much to my surprise, my superb impression was a total bust. Other than the person who said “Dick Cheney!,” it was blank stares all around. As I looked around, it hit me that I’d landed on a team where the oldest teammate was half my age.
Anyway, I’ve grown accustomed to blank stares. You don’t get invited to parties because of your engaging stories about divestment from fossil fuels. Nevertheless, around the world there were a lot more people talking about divestment in 2014. And, as with so many aspects of the global warming movement these days, it was heartening to hear voices from outside the traditional environmentalist world (whatever that is). One particularly vocal community this year stands on a powerful podium that can cut through the babble of misinformation and political noise – the faith based community.
“The Earth is a stunning gift. It supports life. It is our temple, our mosque, our sanctuary, our cathedral. It is our home.” Those words come from a September GreenFaith statement on divestment signed by Desmond Tutu and 80 other religious leaders, theologians and ethicists. The range of people and geographies on that list illuminates the truly global nature of the support within the community. And, these words are backed up by action – many, many religious groups committed to divestment over the past two years.
While its fair to argue that GreenFaith is not exactly outside the “traditional” movement, the push for broad action on global warming is coming from a broad base of religious leaders. In the run-up to the November G20 meeting in Brisbane, an expansive cross-section of Australian faith based leaders urged governments to “commit to a rapid transition away from fossil fuels and towards renewable energy.” A few days ago, Pope Francis stated that “there exists a clear, definitive and unpostponable ethical imperative to act.” In February, the Dalai Lama once again reiterated his unwavering position that governments and business leaders need to “listen to the scientists.” In 2014, we have seen the emergence of a new level of engagement among faith based leaders. If the religious community across the planet becomes fully engaged, the impact on revving up action on global warming will be astounding.
The statement from GreenFaith wraps up with this: “Today, the balance of life on Earth is threatened by climate change. We must act decisively, now, to choose life. Divestment and reinvestment embody that choice.” Let’s hope that in 2015 we’ll see a huge wave of individuals and institutions join this call for divestment – and an even bigger upsurge in all actions tied to the crucial push to find a better way to power the planet.
One small hope I hold ties back to that guessing game I was talking about earlier. In a few years, I’ll be playing that game but we’ll be using, say, the 2018 version. I’ll look down and find myself staring at a card from the “popular phrases” category that says “fossil fuel divestment.” And, they’ll get it despite the fact that my Bill McKibben impression is really lousy.