People of faith have a calling to find solutions for global climate change

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This article by Reverend Micheal L. Burk was originally published in the March 20, 2019 edition of the Des Moines Register. Reverend Burk is a member of the Luther College Board of Regents.


For the longest time, human beings have assumed that what was good for us would be good for the planet. It is increasingly clear that it works the other way around. What is good for the world is good for human beings. And as people of faith, we are called to care for our common home.

The determination to enter into a deeper relationship with creation is not a new calling. The spirit of equity among all people and the respect, even reverence, for an earth that sustains us is a fundamental gift from God.

In her 2018 Earth Day Statement, The Rev. Elizabeth Eaton, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, writes, “The present moment is a critical and urgent one, filled with both challenge and opportunity to act as individuals, citizens, leaders and communities of faith in solidarity with God’s good creation and in hope for our shared future.”

Too often, talk of addressing climate change leads to people lining up on opposing ends of a political spectrum. This need not happen. At best, we see ourselves as a ‘we,’ part of a world-wide movement to address documented changes in climate patterns that have the potential of permanently altering much of what we take for granted and we hold dear, including the ability to feed an increasingly hungry population.

2019 is shaping up to be the year Iowans start to take serious action to address the climate crisis. Christians and all people of faith are well positioned to lead the movement. We have the technology, the resources, and the human ingenuity to diminish the rate of change with the hope of averting catastrophic consequences. And our commitment is rooted in God’s good intention for the earth and all of her inhabitants.

Iowans can lead the world into a future of clean, renewable energy that is much less reliant on fossil fuels. It is a daunting task and it will require a change of societal will. But with the spiritual courage to name and face the truth, individual and localized efforts can accelerate the journey toward greater global health.

I am particularly grateful for the work of Iowa Interfaith Power and Light, a partner organization with more than a decade of experience inviting Iowans for faith to help advance renewable energy and energy efficiency.

Iowa IPL is calling on Iowa’s faith communities to defend net metering. Existing law provides support to homeowners, farmers, business owners, congregations and schools to install customer-owned energy generation. If this support is eliminated, the increasing expansion of solar installations will likely come to a standstill because of new fees and related expenses, delaying rather than accelerating advances in clean energy. This faith-based advocacy is a step in the right direction.

Of course, no one has a corner on the best solutions to global climate change. But people of faith have a calling to engage and encourage wise public policy, sound business decisions, innovation driven by free market ideas. My hope is that people and whole communities of faith will rise to the challenge of assertively caring for our common home.

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  • April 11 2019 at 7:39 pm
    Connie Plaehn

    Great article, Michael! I am just seeing it today, but so impactful and critical for us all to recognize where we are.  Warm regards!

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