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Beliefnet News

U.N. Looks to Faith Community to Combat Global Warming

By Kat Glass
Religion News Service

(RNS) The United Nations is looking to partnerships with the faith community to spearhead the drive against global warming.
The U.N. recently linked with the Bath, U.K.-based Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC), pouring funding and attention into the ARC’s ongoing campaign to use faith groups as a vessel for tackling environmental problems.
Members of the Baha’i, Buddhist, Christian, Daoist, Hindu, Jain, Jewish, Muslim, Shinto, Sikh and Zoroastrian faiths will launch a seven-year climate change plan starting in 2009.
Indian Sikhs, for example, plan to cut down on fossil fuels by cooking with solar power and other fuel-efficient equipment in their gurdwaras, or temples. Japanese Shinto shrines will follow sustainable forestry standards during their ritual rebuilding every 20 to 25 years.
Around 50 countries are already involved in the effort with the ARC.
The U.N. support will give the project a “massive, massive surge forward,” said Martin Palmer, ARC secretary general.
Faith groups are a natural steward for environmental conservation, Palmer said. “If you’re looking to the longterm future, they are the strongest and most stable unit anywhere in the world,” he said.
Palmer criticized the new trend of buying carbon offsets, likening it to the sale of indulgences in the 15th and 16th centuries, which sparked the Protestant Reformation. “Indulgences remove from you the moral responsibility,” he said.
He instead promotes a more direction-action approach. “We’re saying, let’s celebrate that this is a fabulous world created by the divine. And because it is being so severely damaged, we should move — not from fear, but from compassion,” Palmer said.
The partnership with the ARC is a major shift for the U.N., which has maintained a secular approach since its inception, Palmer said.
“The old ideology that religion would fade away … is giving way to a recognition that in many parts of the world, it is religion that holds society together,” Palmer said. “So to exclude it is to be quite foolish.”

Copyright 2007 Religion News Service. All rights reserved. No part of this transmission may be distributed or reproduced without written permission.

  • pagansister

    Whatever works. The UN is right, religions aren’t going anywhere. This proves that all religions can actually work together, instead of trying to prove “My God’s better than your God”. All Gods and Goddesses are equal, and can work to help to improve the common planet we inhabit.

  • Anonymous

    Precisely right, whatever works. This is the over-riding problem we face, and we all face it together. So far global warming seems to be affecting things faster than if had been predicted. I presumed I’d be safe, and hopefully my offspring, but had real qualms about grandchildren; it may be I was too optimistic. In any case we owe it to the future of mankind to do all we can.

  • friendofsaints&angels

    Al gore, and alot of other people like to give whats happening to the world cute little names like global warming. I would disagree with that, and it makes me smile every time I hear that term used. Look around the world, and you can figure out whats going on. How about too many people complaining and not enough Praying, How about a lack of respect for GOD, and for alot of GOD’S people, How about a lack of people attending mass on sunday, and atleast giving GOD an hour out of our week. (We should all be giving him alot more than that). The more GOD gets taken out of the equation The worse off the world gets. The goverment was pressured to take Prayer out of public schools by certain groups, And now there are shootings in schools so often its not even shocking when you hear about one anymore. coinsidence? sign of the times? I don’t think so.

  • jestrfyl

    The United Church of Christ has been there, tryng to do its part for over 20 years. Now some of our conservative colleagues are joining in. GREAT!!! Now, lets show the world how we understand faithfulness and stewardship are all part of the same whole and holiness. It is as much a justice issue as it is simply faithful stewardship.

  • pagansister

    Taking your god out of the equation has nothing to do with humans messing up the world. How in the world does taking prayer out of the schools have ANYTHING to do with Global Warming??? Separation of church and state, no prayer in PUBLIC schools. How do the school shootings have ANYTHNG to do with Global Warming??(unless it is the heat from the gun or the bullets flying to their target). Lack of people not attending mass on Sunday (not everyone is Catholic, there are other religions)have anything to do with Global Warming? Lack of prayer=global warming??
    BTW, why is global warming a “cute little name?” It is the accurate name for what is happening.
    Believing or not believing in a divine being has NOTHING to do with Global Warming.

  • Anonymous

    fos&a, you are, I’m sorry to have to say, a shining example of why some forms of religion are really bad for us. You look at a real problem, global warming, and see an imaginary but very religious solution, more prayer. While you and anyone you can influence tries your solution the problem will only get worse.
    Assuming you and I agree that global warming is a real problem, I have several concerns about your solution. First, prayer may not work. It didn’t work on 9/11 when presumably millions or billions of people watched those towers burn and prayed for the people to get out safely. Second, if there is a god one could effectively pray to, you might be praying to the wrong one; there are hundreds, maybe thousands of gods different people worship and many more possible gods. Third, there’s the old, wise saying “God helps those who help themselves.” I’d suggest we all assume that’s what works and proceed to use it.

  • Henrietta22

    Solar skylights, are great for dark rooms. It gives natural light, and keeps you from having to turn on electic lights during the day. We saw them at a “Home Show”, check them out. It’s a way to do something positive in helping global warming.

  • Ernie C

    I think “global warming” is a modern scientific fallacy,totally without adequate foundation! If science,politicians and religion want to unite for a “cause”, they should do it to combat a PROVEN problem that clearly needs to be and can be dealt with effectively now! There are many to choose from-poverty,a variety of diseases,combatting terrorism,etc.-they don’t need to waste time looking for or inventing problems to address,just work more AND BETTER on the things we KNOW we have to and can deal with NOW!

  • nnmns

    Ernie, those are also real problems and if you want to do something about one or more of them, go for it! But the evidence is quite strong that the earth is getting warmer at an unusually fast rate and it’s strong that we are a big part of the cause. And what we do is the only part of the cause we can try to control, so we’d be fools not to act on the evidence as the experts and many of the rest of us see it.

  • nnmns

    For a summary of what’s known and what seems quite likely check out this Wikipedia article .

  • jestrfyl

    friendof saintsandangels
    Thee are folks who will not accept what is directly in front of them. Just because an elephant is standing on your foot doesn’t mean you HAVE to accept it is an elephant. But pain is pain no matter what you name the source – and the earth is responding to more than 3 centuries of intoxication from burning carbon. I am sorry if your church has not seen what other churches have perceived. But that can’t be helped. But when the cost of heatng and electirfying your church facility, when the cost of fuel for getting to the church, and when the cost for food and medicine rises you may see a common thread. It ain’t sinner, demons, or liberals – it is rising fuel prices due to the need to decrease our use of it.
    So here is an idea. I encourage prayer – with action. So why not have your congregation go out and pray while they clean up litter. Or pray while they hang storm windows and doors for folks who cannot afford them. Or pray while you help build energy efficient house for groups like Habitat. But don’t simply follow your prayer with an ill-informed whine. Do something after you pray and you will discover that you will be taken more seriously by other people, God, and maybe even yourself (we are our own greatest deceivers).

  • sagenav

    ernie, you’ll have to forgive me if I choose to believe 99.9% of the scientific community over “experts” like yourself, Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, Rush Limbaugh, Fox News etc.

  • Tunamelt

    sagnav siad: you’ll have to forgive me if I choose to believe 99.9% of the scientific community over “experts” like yourself, Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, Rush Limbaugh, Fox News etc.
    99.9% eh? I see you don’t let facts get in the way of your opinions.

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