An oft-overlooked question in the climate change debate is what should be done to help the people who are most affected adapt to the destructive environmental changes it’s already causing. Droughts in Africa and floods in South Asia are increasing in severity, adding new hardships for already-poor people who are least responsible for climate change and whose survival depends on adapting to these extremes.
Fortunately, majorities of Americans — including people of faith — are aware of this and believe the US needs to act now to address it. A new poll, sponsored by FPL and Oxfam America and conducted by Public Religion Research, reveals that:
- Majorities of Americans, including majorities of Catholics, Mainline Protestants and Evangelicals, believe dealing with climate change now will create new jobs and help avoid more serious economic problems in the future.
- Nearly 7-in-10 (69%) Americans and similar numbers of Catholics, Mainliners and Evangelicals agree that climate change is making it harder for the world’s poorest people to support their families.
- Approximately three-quarters of the general public and similar numbers of Catholics and Evangelicals favor helping the world’s poorest people adapt to food and water shortages caused by rising global temperatures.
Click here for full poll results — there’s plenty more info of interest.
These findings are helping fuel a broad effort to encourage undecided Members of Congress to support climate change legislation that includes significant funding for adaptation efforts and measures that will help low-income Americans with energy costs and energy efficiency. A new media campaign promoting these aims — including ads in key districts in Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, Virginia and Ohio and emails to over 5.3 million evangelicals and Catholics in Georgia, Florida, Alabama, and North Carolina — is launching this week, as legislative action heats up. (UPDATE: pardon the pun.) As the climate crisis pushes the poor to the brink, the time to act is now.
The actions of AIG executives–with their reckless credit default swaps–contributed to the economic collapse we’re experiencing today. The fact that $165 million of federal bailout funds were funneled to these same AIG execs symbolizes the core corruption behind it.
The popular response so far has centered on punishing offending investment banks, but we need a more holistic approach as well. Regardless of what happens with those AIG bonuses, the bottom line is that Americans are suffering. People are losing jobs and health care, unable to provide for their families and to ensure their immediate needs are met. Non-profit organizations across the country, like food banks and free health clinics, are stepping up to help, but they are buckling under the pressure of this recession. With donations sagging and investment values plummeting, these organizations are facing debilitating budget cuts. We need to help. These programs are lifelines for thousands of struggling families, and Faithful America is advocating for a budget that supports them.
The new federal budget submitted by the president is a step toward fairness. By increasing funds to food assistance, health care, and providing tax cuts for low and middle-income families, it renews our commitment to the common good. This budget says we’re not going to bail out investment banks while leaving food banks and other service providers behind.
To this end, Faithful America is starting a campaign to build support for a federal budget that addresses the needs of on-the-ground service providers and the people they assist. Click here to learn more and lend your support.
Members of Congress will be under intense pressure to cut these vital funds. We need to remind them that difficult times are when these programs are needed the most.
The AIG bonuses are shocking, not just due to their size, but what they represent: the rejection of the idea of shared sacrifice and the common good. We might not be able to get those executives to reconsider their priorities, but we can demonstrate our values and commitment to the well-being of all — not just a wealthy few.
UPDATE: Recipients of 15 of the 20 largest bonuses have returned them, including 9 of the top ten. Good start.
UPDATE II: The Coalition on Human Needs has more information on how the budget can improve opportunity and address needs for millions of Americans. Read the statement of support they sent every member of Congress here.
Last week we posted about PICO’s “Recovery Express,” which brought hundreds of congregation-based organizers and activists from across the country to Capitol Hill to lobby for bankruptcy reform to remedy the foreclosure crisis. The urgency of the crisis grows with every passing days, as people are evicted from their homes by the hundreds of thousands. It was a creative, visually appealing, large-scale event that earned media coverage nationwide, including most recently a segment on CNN’s Faces of Faith on Sunday:
It strikes me that the host encourages the guest, Pastor Lucy Kolin of San Francisco, to speak from a ground-level perspective that puts a human face on the statistics we see in the newspaper and on tv. That’s one of the key ways in which faith-based community organizers can enhance the public conversation. The economic crisis shows little sign of relenting, and the faith community’s witness on its consequences and solutions can breathe life into the statistics that grab the headlines.
Earlier this week, PICO’s “Recovery Express” campaign brought 20 bus loads of religious leaders and people whose homes had been foreclosed to DC. It was the end of a cross-country tour gathering support for an economic recovery plan focused on mortgage relief and bankruptcy reform, which made stops in communities hit hard by the economic crisis, such as Flint, Mich. and Camden, N.J.
Here’s video of the rally on Capitol Hill from local ABC station WJLA:
The caravan earned media attention all along the way, too. PICO’s web site has a full list of stories about the Recovery Express, including video of a CNN report on it.
After a decade of exaltation of individual enrichment, today the USA, struck by the economic crisis, is witnessing instead the pressing resurgence of the values of solidarity.
The principle of solidarity–key to Catholic Social Tradition–roughly translates to “we’re all in this together.” The Catholic Church urges individuals and government to make decisions that will benefit society as a whole, rather than just a few powerful individuals.