Last year in November the political rulebook in the US was torn up by the election of Donald Trump, and on multiple occasions he has indicated his intention to take the US out of the Paris Agreement. America had ratified the Agreement in September 2016 along with China. The directions the world’s two largest economies take on climate change will, of course, have momentous consequences for the world. The final phase of the North Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) has also been approved by the Trump administration, in a move that could devastate not only the region but also the Standing Rock Sioux community. And the nomination of Rex Tillerson, CEO of ExxonMobil, to secretary of state suggests that the environment will not exactly be a sacred entity to the US government.
Nevertheless, discouraging signals from the US are no excuse for feeling dispirited and helpless: if anything, they are a clarion call to vigilance and resolve. Climate change was a crucial issue long before Trump and no government is spotless when it comes to climate change policy. While there are reasonable grounds to expect a more complacent or destructive response to the greatest environmental question of our century from Trump, the deteriorating landscape of melting ice caps, biodiversity loss, desertification, and hundreds of other issues would persist if his rival had been elected.
Rather, I would look to the very encouraging signs of faith groups all over the world that are taking action to educate their communities about mitigating climate change. As recently as November 2016, 303 religious leaders lent their endorsement to a landmark interfaith climate change statement in Marrakesh, Morocco. Of course, statements are only the beginning, but awareness of the problem and a moral imperative to do something about it are important steps to practical action. That is what faith leaders, through their sermons, writing, and personal examples, are doing. It is what HKICN is promoting through our networks of friends from diverse traditions. Do things look bad? Personally, I think they do. However, they’ve been looking bad for a long time. The task remains the same. We just need to double on our resolve.
I will be back with more thoughts about how our little community can contribute to the fight to save our planet.