When Climate Justice and Religion Mix

Feb 24, 2019

Credit Aaron Burden / unsplash

When it comes to climate change, there’s a growing realization that there’s a lot of overlap between what scientists tell us we need to do and what faith leaders say we should do.

Last May, more than a hundred scientists and 500 religious leaders from Massachusetts signed a joint appeal for climate action and launched a coalition to formalize those common interests and goals. The faith leaders continue to speak out.

“The study of ecology is the study of relationships,” said Reverend Mariama White-Hammond, one of the architects of that partnership. She is pastor of New Roots AME Church in Boston and a fellow with the Green Justice Coalition. She recently spoke at Woods Hole Research Center.

“Climate is an important part of that,” she told Living Lab Radio. "Science is pointing to a problem in our relationships.”

White-Hammond sees the issue of climate change as a crisis of inaction. It’s a spiritual crisis and not a scientific one, she said.

Further, the conversation about climate change must be about love, she said.  

“We've got to cut our consumption at levels that, for some of us, feel unimaginable,” she said. “What would make you do that other than a deep feeling of love for your great grandchildren and for your neighbors?”

White-Hammond said her desire to bring love into the conversation comes from her knowledge about what makes people act.

“I’ve just never seen them do [something] because they read an article and got a mathematical equation,” she said. “But I have seen parents make sacrifices out of a deep love for their children. I’ve seen communities rally behind each other to save each other.”