Our members and friends send letters to editors at Arkansas newspapers, explaining our perspective on environmental issues. The following letters have been published or submitted for publication.
Letter to Editor Submitted February, 2015
The Guardian cites the visit by Pope Francis to the Philipines, the site of the devastation of hurricane Tacoban, as the first of several actions planned for 2015 focusing on climate change. The Pope wants to influence world leaders when they convene in Paris at the end of 2015.
An encyclical on climate change is rumored to be released by the Pope this year. The thrust will be to focus on those who will be most affected, the already disadvantaged, and to frame action on climate change as a moral and social justice issue. At the same time, the Pope may convene a meeting of world religious leaders aimed at accord on climate change. Already, the Pope has convened a summit with scientists and economists on how the church can address climate and sustainability.
As a psychotherapist who is deeply concerned with healing and development, when I read about the Pope, two things come to mind. First, the film Selma reminds me of the clergy’s leadership role in the advancement of civil rights. Second, I think of how often I am called upon to reframe crisis as opportunity. Climate change is likely the greatest crisis to ever face the human race. It is spoken of in apocalyptic scenarios of floods, fires, starvation, destruction, and extinction, not only of animals but of humanity. It is easy to despair, and I long for hope. Pope Francis and Dr. King raise the possibility of opportunity, hope.
Dr. King said “Only in darkness can you see the stars.” I hope that the severity of the climate crisis will spur truly creative thinking, behaving, consuming, governing. Religious leaders and the scientists could stand side by side to put their best efforts, their heads and hearts, into what is crucial for both–life on this planet.
Religious leaders will set aside particular names of Gods and dogmas and focus on what we all have in common–dependence on the earth. They will hold foremost the loving care of the millions in their congregations, especially children, and the spiritual community will be instrumental in forging and living the values needed for a sustainable future.
The earth and its resources will be seen not as that which is to be exploited but as a sacred trust. Each time we take a breath, drink a glass of water, eat a meal, or be kept warm at night we shall feel grateful.
Dr. King dreamed of a world where Black children and White children play together. I dream that when a child turns on a light switch in Arkansas, that child will know there is an effect on a child in Africa.
In speaking my hope, I shall be constantly challenged to live up to that hope and shall fail many times but I must try. Arkansas Interfaith Power and Light is sponsoring a Preach-In on climate change for February 13-15. For information, check www.arkansas.ipl.com. I hope congregations all over Arkansas take the opportunity to speak and act on climate change.
Nancy Brown; Rogers, Arkansas
I applaud President Obama’s June 25 speech on the National Climate Action Plan. Some people say the costs of addressing climate change are too high, but what about the costs if we fail to act? I am a person of faith and I have faith in our ability to innovate. I know it can be done because we are doing it. I’ve worked with congregations to help them become more energy efficient. We changed light bulbs, sealed up cracks in doors and windows and turned off unused lights and appliances. It was not difficult, but it is saving significant money on energy bills each month than can now go to other programs. There is a cost to all of this carbon pollution. We are paying with damaged health and an uncertain future we’re leaving to our children. It is time for action. I support promoting energy efficiency, renewable energy and putting standards on polluting power plants.
Daniel B. Johnson, Little Rock
June 29, 2013 - published in Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
As a person of faith, it was important to me that President Obama reminded us that God has commanded us to care for this fragile planet. In his recent speech on climate change solutions, he said, “…our children and our children’s children will looks us in the eye and they’ll ask us, did we do all that we could, when we had the chance, to deal with this problem and leave them a cleaner, safer, more stable world?” Like any parent, he understands what is at stake if we fail to act. I agree. I will be calling my senators and representative to let them know climate change is a moral issue and we need action. We need to set limits on industrial carbon pollution from power plants, promote renewable energy and build more energy efficient cars and buildings.
Responsibility to Lead
by Bishop Ken Hicks
published October 16, 2009 in Arkansas Democrat-Gazette Newspaper
As a person of faith concerned with caring for creation, I urge Senators Lincoln and Pryor to support the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act. The earth is our home – a precious gift from God. We did not create it or earn it. We do not own it. We have a sacred responsibility as faithful stewards to protect it.
Earth resources are finite. Technology is upsetting the fragile balance that supports life. Our activities impact eco-systems. Our planet is in danger from the threat of climate change.
As a member of Arkansas Interfaith Power and Light, I accept the vast body of scientific evidence forecasting severe consequences if we fail to act. Our consumption of natural resources and reliance on old energy sources has led us to a crisis.
Religious traditions call us to serve and protect the poor and vulnerable. They contribute least to the problem but suffer the most. A recent Pentagon report concludes that conflicts will surge if people are displaced by climate change and forced to fight for diminishing resources like water.
The U.S. is the world’s largest economy and historically the largest emitter of greenhouse gases. We have a responsibility to lead the world toward global solutions through development of clean energy technologies.
I pray that we may come together to provide solutions that will offer future generations clean air, good health, jobs worth pursuing, and a prosperous future.
Bishop Kenneth Hicks, retired
United Methodist Church
Member of Arkansas Power and Light, Established September 2009
Call to Action Issued
by Leo Hauser
published November 11, 2009 in Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
As a United Methodist, I am pleased that our Council of Bishops issued a Nov. 4 statement urging people of goodwill around the world to serve God as stewards of creation. Saying that they “cannot remain silent while God’s people and God’s planet suffer,” the 69 active bishops asked 11.3 million members of 42,600 congregations worldwide to join them in effective action to address environmental degradation. Their request was based on many months listening to the concerns and hopes of more than 5,400 United Methodists worldwide of every age and status.
That viewpoint is consistent with the United Methodists I know in Arkansas plus members of many other houses of worship who have joined the Arkansas Green Faith Alliance and Arkansas Interfaith Power and Light. Together, with the help of Senator Lincoln and Senator Pryor, we can protect God’s world for future generations.
Sincerely, Leo Hauser
Plenty to Gain from Climate Legislation
by Rev. David Gill
published April 2, 2010 in Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
“May we leave future generations a glimpse of God’s world as it was in the beginning – not just after we got through with it.”
This quote is not from a minister/camp director such as me, but former President Lyndon Johnson. His state of Texas leads the U.S. in wind power – a technology producing clean jobs. Our neighbors in Texas are making money from renewable energy sources. We can too.
Who says that our faith, economic well-being, and the environment can’t be aligned? Instead of working to eliminate federal authority to reduce pollution, our Senators can look for ways to bring more green industries to Arkansas.
We have generous solar and biomass resources, but get only 1% of our energy from renewable resources. We have an opportunity to use resources God has provided in a way that enhances our children’s future. Arkansas has already attracted a wind power manufacturing plants. There is more potential.
I belong to Arkansas Interfaith Power & Light, a growing faith-based coalition. We believe we are called to be stewards of God’s creation. We listen to scientists and others who say global warming is a serious challenge. We consider it an act of faith to address impacts of climate change.
As people of faith we are taking action to limit our global warming impact. With some effort, we can improve our Natural State and save on electricity bills. We are asking elected leaders to address global warming and add positive incentives for clean energy and efficiency.
Support clean energy
by Ann Owen, Little Rock
published in Arkansas Democrat-Gazette April 3, 2010
Recently, you published an editorial cartoon that showed a bird perched atop a gas station sign. The sign said, “Higher Gas Prices.” The caption read, “The First Sign of Spring.”
Many energy experts predict that gas prices will rise nationally to more than $3 per gallon this spring. Instead of accepting higher gas prices as the first sign of spring, why don’t we do something about them?
My husband and I drive fuel-efficient cars so that we don’t have to pay so much at the pump. But individuals can only do so much to reduce their dependence on foreign oil. Sens. Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor can help Arkansans by ending Washington’s addiction to foreign oil. Stop bailing out big oil companies. Invest in domestic sources of clean energy. Create jobs that cannot be out-sourced.
Passing comprehensive clean energy legislation will help us take back the nation’s energy policies from Big Oil. That’s why I urge Lincoln and Pryor to exercise political leadership and vote yes on clean energy.
Every step of the coal-fired process is dirty and dangerous to human health, from mining and processing to burning and storage of waste ash. Those most impacted are the most vulnerable members of our community: the poor, the elderly, children.
Utilize Cleaner Power
published May 31, 2010 in Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
by Bob Kinzel
As a member of Arkansas Interfaith Power and Light, I thank the Ark. Supreme Court for ruling against the coal-burning Turk plant. I thank activists who worked for years to defeat a utility company that would send 85% of electricity produced to Texas and Louisiana while polluting Arkansas with mercury soot and toxic smog. The May 13 decision is a victory for the health and environment of our Natural State.
Ark. does not need another plant. Union Power is a natural gas facility less than 100 miles from the Turk site. Currently U.P. is being utilized at only 25% capacity.
Science clearly indicates that we must reduce carbon dioxide emissions and other global warming pollution. Arkansas should not be the last state to get the picture. The ruling means we are moving one stop further in the right direction toward clean renewable energy that will protect God’s creation for future generations.
As a faith organization with a religious response to global warming, IPL believes climate disruption is among the greatest challenges that humanity has ever encountered. We commit ourselves to preserving the planet. An effective strategy to address climate disruption must move us away from last century’s technology that depends on antiquated coal power generation.
Advocate for options
Published in Arkansas Democrat-Gazette – June 12, 2010
by Rev. I. Malik Saafir
Things are heating up all over America. The battle to pass clean energy legislation that is comprehensive and strong will intensify in the coming weeks and months. I pray that people will stand up and speak out about 1) devastation to our environment, 2) the disproportionate burden on low-income communities when areas are polluted, 3) the need for the U.S. to lead the new energy economy with new green jobs, 4) eliminating our dependence on fossil fuels, especially foreign oil, 5) putting a stop to burning coal, which contributes to dangerous greenhouse emissions.
Join me and Arkansas Interfaith Power and Light in advocating for alternatives that won’t destroy God’s creation, habitats, homes, health, and ways of life. We need changes in corporate responsibility, government regulations, public accountability, energy sources and energy consumption. At a deeper level, we need to change our habits of the heart and our lifestyle choices. We need to mobilize people to protect endangered waters, coasts, species, and livelihoods. We need an economy of sustainability – what the sacred scriptures call “stewardship.”
G.K. Chesterton, Christian essayist and father of the “small is beautiful” movement, was once asked what was most wrong with the world. “Me,” he replied. I pray that each of us will answer the call and become part of the change we want to see. Join me in caring for creation.
Current tack isn’t working
Published in Arkansas Democrat-Gazette June 16, 2010
by Rev. Steve Copley
Every day articles in your newspaper remind me why the U.S. Senate needs to pass comprehensive climate and energy legislation this year. The continuing oil catastrophe in the Gulf makes it clear that our current national approach to energy is not working. The energy policy we have now, which devastates human health and God’s creation, represents a profound moral failure.
I am a member of Interfaith Power and Light, which represents a multitude of congregations in Arkansas and 10,000 congregations nationwide in 38 states. Members of Interfaith Power and Light nationwide are taking action by reducing our energy use to take care of creation while saving money on our electricity bills. Here in Arkansas, we celebrated Earth Day by working on energy efficient improvements at a small 110-year-old church. Volunteers were able to make small changes that add up to a big difference.
But we also need thoughtful national legislation to address this problem. We all need to let Senators Lincoln and Pryor know that we want the U.S. Senate to set a strong cap on global warming pollution to protect vulnerable communities from further destruction and support our rapid transition to clean energy. A new energy economy can bring good jobs, green jobs to Arkansas.
Take Care of Planet
published August 9, 2010 in Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
by Rev. Victor H. Nixon
Psalm 8 celebrates God the Creator: “O Lord, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth!” (8:1)
This mighty God, who strung atoms and molecules together to form the universe and all within it, continues to create and mold new life, new species, new frontiers. God is not finished with the creation, nor the creatures, including you and me. I believe in the one God, creator and sustainer of all things and all nations, the source of all goodness and beauty, all truth and love.
I also believe that stewardship responsibilities compel us to act with haste to protect and defend God’s creation. Dilution may not be the solution to pollution. As people of faith, we should not just sit idly, waiting a year or more as some have suggested, to determine the long-term effects of an environmental catastrophe like the BP oil disaster.
The biblical affirmation is that this powerful God is not some “unmoved mover,” but a caring God, “pure unbounded love,” as the Wesleys put it, who adores and takes joy in the creation and its creatures. “What are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them?” the psalmist asks, then answers. “You have made them a little lower than God, crowned them with glory and honor, given them dominion over the works of your hands, all animals, birds, fish—all life.” In short, God cares deeply about the creation, all creatures and us.
The story of Noah’s ark isn’t just about saving humanity, but the animals and world as well. The challenge for people of faith today is to live up to our designated job responsibility of “having dominion” over the wonderful works of the Creator. It’s about caring for the creation and all life, preserving and protecting the Earth and its delicate environment—our home, not merely exploiting it for financial gain.
We are called to love what God loves, to use our natural and human resources wisely, to practice peace with justice. We inevitably fail in that high calling and need to be rescued from the messes we tend to make with our lives, relationships and the creation. Fortunately, God is not only our Creator but also Savior and Redeemer. God always provides an Exodus, a way out of what holds us captive, a way through our wildernesses, a way to a promised future.
The primary human task following creation in Genesis was caring for the creation. (2:15) I call upon all people of faith to make caring for the creation our primary task as well.