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Climate Change as a Matter of Faith in Ohio

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IMAGE: Scientists will join with clergy from across the state this weekend to discuss ways in which climate change can be a matter of faith. Photo courtesy Ohio Interfaith Power and Light.
IMAGE: Scientists will join with clergy from across the state this weekend to discuss ways in which climate change can be a matter of faith. Photo courtesy Ohio Interfaith Power and Light.
 By Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH, Contact
January 17, 2014

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Scientists and clergy members from across the state get together this weekend to discuss the ways in which climate change is a matter of faith.

Leaders from dozens of congregations will be part of an Interfaith Power and Light Teach-In on Climate Change on Sunday, hearing from researchers from Ohio State University’s Byrd Polar Research Center.

Jason Cervenec, the center’s education and outreach coordinator, says researchers will share the science behind climate change, how it's influenced by human behavior and why it should be addressed sooner rather than later.

"We feel it's important that people have a good knowledge base,” he explains, “so that both members of the business community, the faith community, policymakers can use that knowledge to make informed decisions about policies and how people live."

Researchers also will preview a new National Climate Assessment report.

The Teach-In will be streamed live from Ohio State and viewed at locations in Columbus, Dayton, Cleveland and Cincinnati.

It will be followed by a conversation about how faith leaders can share the information with their own congregations, and prepare for a National Preach-In on Climate Change on Feb 16.

OSU lecturer Greg Hitzhusen says the Teach-In fits the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s call to confront the issues of our time.

He says religious communities already play a role in addressing moral and ethical issues – and now, they're learning that climate change is a matter of faith.

"There are issues of justice and fairness that come out in terms of the disproportionate impacts of climate change,” he stresses. “And I think there also is just a concern for harm to the planet and harm to humans of all walks of life, when you look at the impacts of climate change."

Hitzhusen says that together, clergy and scientists can strike a balance between the moral approach to climate change and the desire for reliable information.

"Faith communities working together with scientists can do a good job of clearing up some of the confusion around an issue like climate change,” he says, “but also just helping just to clarify, 'What can we do about this?'"

The events will be followed by Act on Climate, a program that encourages congregations to get involved and make their own facilities more energy-efficient.


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