Inspired by opening worship where California Assistant Bishop Steven Charleston urged ongoing work for a sustainable planet and respect for all God's creation, the participants heard a variety of speakers and engaged in conversation on environmental issues.
Jane Houlihan of Environmental Working Group (EWG) addressed the conference on current studies in environmental toxins. EWG is a non-profit organization focused on research and advocacy around issues of environment and health.
Conference participants chose among breakout sessions on energy, water conservation, food, and waste management. Led by local experts, each session focused on practical "strategies for fostering environmentally sensitive behavior change," according to Commission on the Environment co-chair Barbara Bisel.
Dr. Nancy Grove, conference co-host and panelist at the session on food, noted that all the session topics have implications for climate change. "According to the United Nations, the number of hungry people will exceed the one billion mark for the first time this year," she reported, "and climate change induced drought is a major factor in that increase."
The Commission on the Environment encouraged parishioners to seek out and participate in local events marking Global Climate Week. The United Nations' Seal the Deal initiative supports and coincides with the Secretary General's High Level Summit on Climate Change, September 22, urging a just climate agreement at the Conference on Climate Change this December in Copenhagen.
Bisel also called attention to the National Council of Churches Eco-Justice Program Countdown to Copenhagen campaign. Michael Schut, the Episcopal Church's environmental and economic affairs officer, in a message to the church’s economic justice and ecological networks, has urged participation in this opportunity for people of faith to speak together on climate change.
Postcards, available from Tyler Edgar at the NCC Eco-Justice Program, urge President Barack Obama to attend the climate change negotiations in Copenhagen this December. They include a pledge to do one's part toward reducing green house gases and ameliorating the effects of climate change, especially as it impacts the poor at home and abroad.