By The Rev. Susan Guy
The weather is a favorite topic for small talk among Iowans, and there’s been plenty to discuss this year of extreme temperatures, drought, wildfires 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 Iowans understand that when all 99 counties in Iowa are declared disaster areas, according to the Iowa Emergency Management Association, and farmers lose crops due to widespread drought, there’s a direct tie between disruptive weather, jobs and even our food supply.
A recent national 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.
Yet during the first presidential debate on domestic policy on Oct. 3, neither moderator Jim Lehrer nor candidates Barack Obama and Mitt Romney even mentioned the topic. We’ve seen the same thing happen on the state level.
As people of faith, we cannot be silent. The member congregations of Iowa Interfaith Power & Light recognize that collectively we are called to be good stewards of Earth and to care for our neighbors both locally and globally. Climate change is a moral issue. We can’t ignore the growing reality of climate disasters, and we owe it to our children and grandchildren to act now for their future.
Houses of worship generate large utility bills, and when congregations lower their energy use, they have more resources to put toward ministry and outreach. That is why Iowa Interfaith Power & Light’s Cool Congregations program was started, to teach participants how to become more energy efficient in their homes and places of worship.
We also feel called to support measures that will mean cleaner air for the coming generations. We have been advocating for an extension of the Production Tax Credit for wind energy, which will expire at the end of this year unless Congress takes action. The PTC, supported by all seven members of the Iowa delegation, supports rural economies, creates jobs, and is a source of homegrown clean energy that is good for the earth.
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 Iowa faith communities to join us in this vital work.
n The Rev. Susan Guy is executive director of Iowa Interfaith Power & Light, a state organization advocating that the religious community become leaders in the fight against global warming. Comments: firstname.lastname@example.org.