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New VA Initiative Unites Church and State Against Global Warming

April 3, 2008

Roanoke, VA - Environmental activists say no one group can solve the problems of global warming. Oxfam America is an organization that believes poverty is among those problems, and that the two issues should be addressed jointly.

The group is teaming up with the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy to promote local awareness of global warming as a way to help people who are most endangered by rising sea levels and other effects of climate change. Bishop Neff Powell, of the Episcopal Diocese of Southwestern Virginia, says it's a simple matter of faith.

"We're increasingly aware of the connection between the whole world ecology. We know what is done here in Roanoke, Virginia, has an impact on what happens in sub-Saharan Africa, or in London. We are all connected in God's world, and we're commanded to be good stewards of God's creation."

Powell considers it a commandment of faith to help those affected by global warming. The Virginia Interfaith Center advocates legislation to reduce greenhouse gases and provide assistance to vulnerable communities facing severe climate-related effects.

The new U.S. Farm Bill, although still languishing in Congress, includes provisions for biomass production and renewable energy incentives for farmers already seeing changing weather patterns. Bishop Powell believes any meaningful change will require not only government action, but the efforts of individuals as well.

"It's going to take a combination of good will on the part of private citizens in addition to some government regulation and encouragement, and government investment in the changes. That's the case, both in terms of working with our own people who are living in poverty as well as helping the situation overseas."

Powell says, much like the fallout from Hurricane Katrina on the U.S. Gulf Coast, the greatest impact of global warming will fall on the poorest people, no matter where in the world they live.

John Robinson/Don Mathisen, Public News Service - VA