Bell ringing, postcard campaigns and community connections will point the way to Copenhagen when congregations join in the International Day of Climate Action this Saturday, October 24.
Organized by the 350.org campaign, this year's annual celebration will call for a fair climate treaty when world leaders gather in Copenhagen in December. Three hundred fifty parts per million is considered to be the safe upper limit for carbon dioxide in earth's atmosphere.
Episcopal congregations have marked the day in previous years by ringing steeple bells 350 times. This year, Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org, and Mary Evelyn Tucker of the Forum on Religion and Ecology are urging greater participation by religious congregations.
Tyler Edgar of the National Council of Churches' Eco-justice unit points out that it is important for the United States to be committed to reducing its own greenhouse gas emissions if it is to be effective in Copenhagen.
"More than 10,000 individuals from the broader ecumenical community have signed postcards, asking President [Barack] Obama to attend the upcoming climate negotiations and calling on Congress to pass climate policy that will protect God's creation and God's people," Edgar reports, adding that Episcopal congregations have requested more than 5,000 postcards.
On Sunday, October 18, the first of 350 postcards were stamped and distributed by the Simpler Living Ministry at a forum on alternative transportation at St. Paul's Cathedral in San Diego, California. Some congregants tried new ways of getting to church, by bus, bike and car pool. All had an opportunity to learn about the impact of climate change and how their transportation choices could make a difference.
Edgar explains that the House of Representatives passed a comprehensive climate and energy bill for the first time in June. The Senate has begun to move things forward with the introduction on September 30 of the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act by Democratic Senators Barbara Boxer of California and John Kerry of Massachusetts.
Edgar adds, "As the world's largest historical emitters of greenhouse gases, we have for decades, contributed to the global climate crisis and must take responsibility for our actions."
The Countdown to Copenhagen Campaign was originally scheduled to end in early October, but congregations requested an extension so postcards could be signed and collected during the events of October 24.
The Anglican Communion Environmental Network (ACEN) in the introduction to a statement to leaders worldwide, emphasizes that "we have always known that âwithout a vision, the people perish'. The Copenhagen Conference can either produce a bland, minimalist set of non-enforceable targets or it can sketch a vision to inspire the world and its peoples. Leaders lead, please â¦ do not let us down."
Margaret Bullitt-Jonas, priest associate at Grace Episcopal Church, Amherst, is preparing to lead this year's October 24 actions in her community. She explained her commitment to address the reality of climate change in the Amherst Bulletin of October 16.
"I, for one, refuse to believe that human beings will simply cool our heels and resign ourselves to living in a world of violent weather as we placidly bid our glaciers, coral reefs and alpine forests goodbye," she said. "I refuse to believe that we will not stand up to climate skeptics and do everything in our power to pass along to our children and our children's children a world whose living diversity and stable climate resembles the world into which we were born. This is indeed the moral challenge of our generation, and it is a privilege to take part in this great work."