Religious Leaders Rally at the UN
to Stop Global Warming
Event Marks Fifth Anniversary
of US Signing Kyoto Protocol,
Rejected by Bush Administration
11/12/03 -- New York City --- Under threatening skies, nearly three hundred worshipers joined clergy from diverse faith traditions this afternoon in a service of “repentance and renewal” at the United Nations to stop global warming. Asking the world’s forgiveness for the United States’ failure to address climate change, worship leaders pledged to mobilize faith communities to protect the environment.
The service marked the fifth anniversary of the United States’ signing the Kyoto Protocol to address global warming. Congress never signed the treaty, which President Bush has rejected as too costly.
“Every religious tradition forbids theft, but global warming steals from our own children and grandchildren,” said Rev. Fred Small, Co-chair of Religious Witness for the Earth, which organized the service. “As Americans, we repent our nation’s recklessness. As people of faith, we ask our political leaders to stop the despoliation of God’s creation.”
Other speakers included Enele Sopoaga, ambassador to the UN from Tuvalu, a small Pacific island nation facing inundation by rising sea levels caused by global warming; Bishop Bud Cederholm, Jr., of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts; Rabbi Sheila Peltz Weinberg of The Spirituality Institute; and Rev. Rosemary Bray McNatt, representing the Unitarian Universalist Association.
Anne “Andy” Burt, a Quaker from Edgecomb, Maine, drove nearly seven hours in a biodiesel-fueled van to attend the service. “I have three little grandchildren, and I don’t want them to live under the tyranny of a degrading planet,” Burt explained. “Climate change is a curse upon creation, but it’s a blessing if it calls us to heal our relationship with the earth and with each other.”
Worshipers gathered in the morning at the Community Church of New York and then walked about 20 blocks to Dag Hammarskjold Plaza across from the United Nations. After the service, some joined small groups to meet with over a dozen diplomatic missions to the United Nations while others attended a workshop led by Ross Gelbspan, a Pulitzer-Prize-winning journalist turned climate activist.
Traveling to the event, some participants literally “walked the talk” of reducing carbon emissions. Four Buddhist monks led a contingent of walkers all the way from Western Massachusetts last week. Others arrived from neighboring states in fuel-efficient hybrid cars or vans powered by biodiesel made from vegetable oil. On a chartered bus from Littleton, Massachusetts, riders paid an extra five dollars to purchase renewable energy offsetting the carbon dioxide pollution from their trip.