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October 9, 2004
Column #1,206

           Church: Ask Candidates Global Warming Questions

     Top religious, union, academic and giant pension fund managers joined to "respectfully" request that the remaining Presidential Debates "include questions about the candidates' plans for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and promoting clean energy and clean vehicle technologies, as urgent matters of both domestic and foreign policy."

     Dr. Robert Edgar, General Secretary of the National Council of Churches, representing 130,000 Protestant and Orthodox churches, joined representatives of the American Jewish World Service, United Steelworkers of America, the Union of Concerned Scientists to cosign a letter with the State Controller of California and the Treasurers of Maine and Connecticut - to the Commission on Presidential Debates and to the moderators of the last two Presidential Debates.

     "There is a strong consensus in the science community that global climate change is underway and that we must dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions in order to slow the rate of warming," they wrote.

     "America's major faith communities have named climate change as a matter of great moral urgency for our nation and the planet. It is also becoming clear that as
the rest of the world moves to limit emissions from burning fossil fuels, we are on the cusp of a major industrial transition the United States must choose to lead in order to preserve and create jobs."

     Leo Gerard, president of the Steelworkers, lamented, "We have lost 3 million industrial jobs. If we are to have any chance in creating a strong industrial economy, we have to reject the notion that we have to make a tradeoff between a clean environment and good jobs. We need to lead the world in developing hybrid vehicles...and modern clean coal technology...

     "It is time for the Presidential candidates to declare energy independence for America and tell how they will reach it."

     Harvard Prof. Jim McCarthy noted evidence of climate change such as the "severe heat wave" that took 15,000 lives in France and 25,000 in Europe last year and the "more vigorous storms" that lashed Florida.  He said 188 nations have signed the Kyoto Protocol that requires industrialized countries to reduce collective emissions of six key greenhouse gases to 5.2 percent below the 1990 level by 2012.

     Kyoto has not gone into effect because both Russia and the United States refused to sign it.   However, this week Russian President Putin announced that Russia would sign Kyoto, only six months after a top Russian adviser called it a "death treaty." That automatically puts Kyoto into effect.

     Now only America, Australia and Iraq are non-signers, but they can no longer stop its implementation.

     Dr. Robert Edgar of the NCC, said, "the Biblical texts say our God is a God of creation, and He calls us in a moral way... to be good stewards, to see how we can sustain our fragile planet, earth, and regenerate it. Over 10 years we have worked on climate change. We made many laugh in our "What Would Jesus Drive? Campaign." As people of faith, we need to stand up and speak out on issues of energy and climate. What better place to lift this issue than a Presidential Debate?"

     I could not agree more. There is something profoundly wrong that the United States, the nation with 4 percent of world population, responsible for 36 percent of world carbon dioxide emissions in 1990, refuses to join a worldwide effort to reduce global emissions. 

     Both President Bush and Senator Kerry must be asked whether they will ask the Senate to ratify the Kyoto Protocol. More important, do they see the urgency of having America launch a complex Apollo-type project to promote environmental solutions that will create new jobs?

     Right now we are falling further behind other nations. Toyota has developed the Prius, a hybrid car that gets over 50 mpg by combining an electric engine with a gasoline one. At stoplights, its engine turns off. "The utter silence is wonderful," said a reviewer.

     In 2002 Edgar and the President of the United Auto Workers met with Henry Clay Ford and with General Motors executives to ask them "to take a look at what Toyota
was doing" with the Prius, a car that is now in such demand delivery takes nine months. Ford belatedly announced it will come out with a domestic hybrid.

     The first Chapter of Genesis, verse 26 reads: Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea...over the livestock, over all the earth..."

     America must become a good steward.

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