My name is Sister Mary Elizabeth Clark. I am a Sister of Saint Joseph of Philadelphia, PA and an Ambassador of the U.S. Catholic Bishops Climate Change Coalition. I minister at Chestnut Hill College as assistant to the president for sustainability and as director of the Earth Center. Working with many other people of faith, I am here to urge you to keep the ethical and moral perspectives as a lens for your deliberations. Thank you for this opportunity to speak to you.
Protecting Air Is Moral Issue
As people of religious faith, we believe that the atmosphere that supports life on earth is a God-given gift, one we must respect and protect. It unites us as one human family. If we harm the atmosphere, we dishonor our Creator and the gift of creation. The values of our faith call us to humility, sacrifice, and a respect for life and the natural gifts God has provided.
As the U.S. Bishops said in 2001, “At its core, global climate change is not about economic theory or political platforms, nor about partisan advantage or interest group pressures. It is about the future of God's creation and the one human family. It is about protecting both "the human environment" and the natural environment.” Global Climate Change A Plea for Dialogue Prudence and the Common Good A Statement of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops , June 15, 2001
Since I am representing those who see this issue from a faith perspective, I want to be clear that I trust the Sierra Club and its scientific expertise. From their research I believe this regulation to be the single biggest step in our country to tackle global warming, therefore, I urge you to accept the President’s proposal without loopholes.
For more than 14 billion years, our Planet Earth has sustained itself and life as we know it. In my own lifetime, I have experienced a growing dependency on oil. From the millions of tons of plastics now filling landfills to the burning of fossil fuels beyond our imagining, the use of oil has created a dependency similar to an addict’s. As a result, our one precious Earth cannot continue to sustain life as we know it.
Our Responsibility To Future Generations
How irresponsible can we humans be to allow this phenomenon to happen? Earth is a sacred trust given to us by the Creator. As people of faith, we see this tragedy as a moral one. There are ways we can diminish the effects of our polluting the air by reducing gas emissions now. What would we say to the next generations if we know what we could do to effect change yet we refused to do it?
As we take personal and communal actions in our churches to mitigate the effects of global climate change, it is not possible to make a significant difference without your taking the necessary systemic action within our federal government. We call on you as our federal protection to approve the proposal of President Obama.
The amount suggested by the President is not enough but at least it is a beginning. Please think carefully about the consequences of your decisions. By the year 2030, the proposed standards would cut annual oil consumption by nearly 23 billion gallons, roughly equivalent to the U.S. imports from Saudi Arabia and Iraq in 2010. Although this is not enough, how can we not do the minimum?