Opinion: Obama, Romney Wrong to Ignore Climate Change

"Climate change is a moral issue. We can’t ignore the growing reality of weather havoc, and we owe it to our kids to act now for their future."

By Alexis Chase

Executive Director of Georgia Interfaith Power

Plenty of talk about the weather, but not much on climate

The weather is our nation’s favorite topic for small talk, and there’s been plenty to discuss in this year of record-setting temperatures, wildfires, drought and storms.

Yet when it comes to talking about the larger, long-term implications of the weather – that is, climate change – our leaders shy away from the issue. The economy is the top issue on many Americans’ minds this fall, and rightly so. But when several areas of this nation have been declared disaster areas and farmers lose crops due to widespread drought, there’s a direct tie between disruptive weather, jobs and even our food supply.

A recent poll by the Yale University Project on Climate Change Communication found that 61 percent of undecided voters said they see global warming as an "important issue" they'll consider when making their choice in this fall's presidential election. An even higher share of the undecided electorate – 64 percent – said the president should take action to address climate change.

Yet during the first presidential debate on domestic policy on October 3, neither moderator Jim Lehrer nor candidates Barack Obama and Mitt Romney even mentioned the topic. Pundits and politicians may shy away from talking about climate, but as people of faith, we cannot be silent.

The member congregations of Georgia Interfaith Power & Light recognize that God calls us to be good stewards of Creation and to care for our neighbors. Climate change is a moral issue. We can’t ignore the growing reality of weather havoc, and we owe it to our kids to act now for their future.

Houses of worship generate big utility bills, and congregations would rather put resources into mission work and programs to serve our communities. That’s why Georgia IPL has been working with congregations for almost 10 years to reduce energy use. Through our Power Wise program congregation are saving, on average, over 20% on their gas and electricity bills.

We also feel called to support measures that will mean cleaner air for the coming generations we are asking lawmakers to uphold protections to the Clean Air Act, which Congress sought to dismantle just before its current recess.

Rather than arguing false choices between good jobs and cleaner energy, we should celebrate that Americans have the ingenuity to successfully address the challenges of our changing climate. We invite all Georgia faith communities to join us in this vital work.

Alexis Chase is the executive director of Georgia Interfaith Power & Light. To learn more, go to gipl.org.


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