Former vice president urges activists to unite and seek solutions to ‘twin crisis of climate and racial justice’
Washington • Former Vice President Al Gore called on black interfaith leaders and environmental activists to increase their collective efforts to find solutions to the “twin crises of climate and racial justice.”
Speaking Tuesday to about 100 representatives from Christian, Muslim, Buddhist and Native American traditions, Gore said faith leaders must continue their work as the effects of global warming disproportionately harm poor and vulnerable communities, including neighborhoods predominantly populated by people of color.
“Nineteen of the 20 hottest years ever measured by instruments have been since 2002, and every day watching international television news feels like a nature walk through the book of Revelation,” said Gore, who founded the Climate Reality Project. to advocate for answers on global warming.
“We must work to build bridges of understanding with those who are worst affected,” he added at an event hosted by Interfaith America’s Black Interfaith Project at the Smithsonian’s Oprah Winfrey Theater and National Museum of African American History became culture.
It has been found that nearly 70% of black Americans live within 30 miles of a coal-fired power plant, posing a threat to their health, he noted.
Gore and other speakers noted that African-American faith leaders have sought to address these environmental and health disparities created by the climate crisis, which he said “is, at its core, a spiritual crisis.”
But black leaders of all faiths need to speak up on the issue, said Rev. Fred Davie, senior adviser on racial justice at Interfaith America, which works with the Religion News Service on a journalism grant.
“The black presence around and in this issue has not been as prominent and significant as it perhaps could and should have been,” said Davie, who is also a board member of Gore’s project. “We want to change that. And we’re specifically trying to change it not just from one perspective, but from the many perspectives of beliefs that make up the black community in America.”
Gore, who said his studies at Vanderbilt Divinity School decades ago helped shape his awareness of the “beauty and wonder of all creation,” was joined at the event by members of the next generation of leaders who strive are to reconcile concern for ethics and justice with their environmental goals.
Karenna Gore, founder and executive director of Union Theological Seminary’s Center for Earth Ethics, the other co-host of the gathering, spoke of the need for faith communities to be “pastoral, prophetic, and practical.” The vice president’s daughter said pastoral care is needed to address those who deny there is a crisis. She also pointed to practical steps such as “greening houses of worship” and joining those already on the front lines to prevent oil and natural gas pipelines threatening Native American lands and black neighborhoods.
Crystal Cavalier, co-founder of 7 Directions of Service, described how her Indigenous advocacy group helped lead a campaign against the Mountain Valley natural gas pipeline, which the group and its allies believe could be harmful. She said her gatherings began with a time of interfaith prayer, which helped build unity among activists.
“Once people feel comfortable and trust each other,” said Cavalier, a member of the Occaneechi Band of North Carolina’s Saponi Nation, “it’s much easier to organize our communities, especially when it comes to environmental degradation and environmental degradation like we do.” we all have to stand up and fight back.”
William J. Barber III, director of climate and environmental justice at Al Gore’s project, noted that current interfaith work with people of color follows earlier efforts by leaders like Rev. Benjamin Chavis of the United Churches of Christ, who is credited with coining it the term “environmental racism”.
“The presence of the black faith community in the early stages of the environmental justice movement,” Barber said, “makes us realize that faith traditions have been and continue to be some of our greatest bastions of activism.”
Gore pointed out that when Barber’s father, Rev. William J. Barber II, helped start a new version of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Poor People’s Campaign, it combined environmental justice and the earlier focus on the “three evils” racism, poverty and militarism.
Ibrahim Abdul-Matin, a Muslim environmental activist, linked the climate crisis to a drop in voter turnout.
“Why do you think blacks and browns aren’t such consistent voters?” said the author of Green Deen: What Islam Teaches About Protecting the Planet. “Because the climate crisis is driving people from their homes, forcing people to migrate that they don’t necessarily want to do. It’s a lot easier to vote when you’ve been voting at the same polling station for 30 years.”
The former vice president warned against following those who have moved from “climate denial to climate desperation” and missing the crucial step in between – taking action to seek clean energy solutions, which he said will help solve the climate crisis and environmental racism can contribute.
“The transition to a cleaner future can also be a transition to a fairer and fairer future,” he said. “Rather than build a dirty fossil fuel infrastructure that’s crippling communities, we can use sources like wind and solar to bounce them back up.”
https://www.sltrib.com/religion/2022/05/19/al-gore-says-climate/ Al Gore Says Climate Crisis Is Like “A Nature Walk Across The Book Of Revelation”