Catholic Archdiocese Asks Governor to Address Global Warming
Wow! In spite of the shameful decision to declare bankruptcy and ignore their responsibility to the community in that respect, the archdiocese just did a really cool thing. Their Office of Justice and Peace just sent the following letter to Kulongowski, Gregoire, and Schwarzenegger. Awesome!
Governor Ted Kulongoski
160 State Capitol
900 Court Street
Salem, Oregon 97301-4047
Governor Christine Gregoire
Office of the Governor
PO Box 40002
Olympia, WA 98504-0002
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
State Capitol Building
Sacramento, CA 95814
February 1, 2005
Catholic social teaching calls for bold, generous and compassionate
action on behalf of the common good. One of the seven major principles
of Catholic social teaching invites the faithful to care for God's
creation. As Catholics, we are motivated by a profound respect for
creation and the desire to protect our environment for future
The US Catholic Bishops endorsed a response to the issue of global
warming at a meeting in June, 2001. In a document entitled Global
Climate Change: A Plea for Dialogue, Prudence, and the Common Good the
US Catholic Bishops stated:
"We accept the consensus findings of so many scientists and the
conclusions of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) as a
basis for continued research and prudent action...
...As an act of solidarity and in the interest of the common good, the
United States should lead the developed nations in contributing to the
sustainable economic development of poorer nations and to help build
their capacity to ease climate change. Since our country's involvement
is key to any resolution of these concerns, we call on our people and
government to recognize the seriousness of the global warming threat and
to develop effective policies that will diminish the possible
consequences of global climate change."
Here in the Pacific Northwest the US Catholic Bishops in the Columbia
River international watershed have previously expressed their deep
concern for the stewardship and protection of God's creation. Both U.S.
and Canadian Bishops in the Columbia River watershed region unanimously
endorsed the Columbia River Watershed: Caring for Creation and the
Common Good, published in January 2001. This publication, written with
input from the diverse groups within the watershed, addresses the moral
imperative to care for all creation and to work in faith to effect
spiritual, social, economic and ecological transformation that will
protect the Columbia River watershed for future generations.
It is in the spirit of this pastoral document that we wish to address
the issue of greenhouse gas emissions and its consequences for the
global environment. The facts on global warming issued by the IPCC are
clear, and we believe the mandate for Catholics is equally clear: to
become fully informed of the magnitude and seriousness of the problem,
to acknowledge our interdependence and our responsibility for the
well-being of others, and to work for lasting change that will benefit
all within the Community of Life.
The impacts of global warming fall most heavily on the world's poor
Eighteen of the twenty hottest years on record have occurred since 1980;
nine of the top ten hottest years occurred since 1990. Scientists say
that unless greenhouse gas emissions are reduced, average temperatures
could rise another 3 to 9 degrees Fahrenheit in the United States by the
end of the century.
The United States is the largest contributor to global warming,
accounting for 25% of the world's carbon pollution [greenhouse gas
emissions] with only 4 percent of the world's population. An average
American is responsible for 80 times more global warming pollution per
person than an average Kenyan.
It is estimated that over 150,000 people die every year, mostly in
developing countries, from the side effects of global warming, which
include crop failure, flooding, desertification, tropical diseases, and
malnutrition. The numbers could almost double by 2020, according to the
Whole Health Report 2002. Thus, our way of life in the United States has
environmental consequences that fall very disproportionately on the
world's poorest. The "preferential option for the poor" is a major tenet
of our faith that calls upon us to reverse this trend and act in
solidarity with the poor.
A call for leadership and stewardship for greenhouse gas mitigation
Many studies demonstrate that improved forest resource management,
natural resource conservation, and carbon mitigation strategies create
jobs, and would result in economic benefits to the Oregon economy that
would far outweigh their cost.
We concur with the October 2004 letter entitled A Call to Climate
Stewardship: Caring for God's Creation, which was prepared by the
Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon. The letter states, "As religious
leaders, we are playing a major role in raising awareness around global
warming, renewable energy, and conservation. It is our responsibility to
introduce the moral and ethical reasons for reducing our carbon
pollution. To be faithful in caring for the Earth that has been
entrusted to our care, we must work with our legislators to change how
we generate and use energy." We support the efforts of fellow members
of our faith community to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and explore
ways we can reorient Oregon's economy toward environmental stewardship
and conservation of the state's natural resources.
According to the Oregon Strategy for Greenhouse Gas Reductions Report by
the Governor's Advisory Group of Global Warming, Oregon's greenhouse gas
emissions were 18% percent above the 1990 emissions level of 60 million
metric tons benchmark. The state of Oregon created Oregon Benchmark # 76
which sets a goal of reducing carbon dioxide levels to the 1990 level or
below by the year 2010.
The Governor's Advisory Group proposes the following major goals:
1) Arrest the growth of Oregon's greenhouse gas emissions and begin
to reduce them, making measurable progress towards meeting the existing
Benchmark of not exceeding 1990 levels by 2010.
2) Achieve a 10% reduction below 1990 greenhouse gas levels by
3) Achieve a "climate stabilization" emissions level that is less
than or equal to 75% below 1990 levels by 2050.
While these goals represent a good step forward, we are concerned about
the failure of Oregon citizens and the state to meet Benchmark # 76 of
not exceeding 1990 emission levels by 2010. We are deeply concerned
about the cumulative effects of greenhouse gas emissions. The "climate
stabilization" level identified in Goal 3 would allow the carbon dioxide
level to reach 550 parts per million - nearly twice the pre-industrial
level of carbon dioxide. It is difficult to imagine and project the
severe climatic and environmental disruptions that will likely occur at
carbon dioxide levels that have not been felt in the past 20 million
years on Earth.
We support Governor Kulongoski's efforts to reduce greenhouse gas
emissions in the state of Oregon, and encourage the state of Oregon to
actively pursue all Category I and Category II action strategies
identified in Oregon Strategy for Greenhouse Gas Reductions Report. We
support the West Coast Governor's Initiative on Global Warming and
encourage the three states to vigorously pursue other strategies. In
addition, we encourage you to consider other meaningful efforts,
* Adopting tough greenhouse gas emission standards for cars, as
California has done.
* Ensuring our utilities generate an increasing share of
electricity from renewable sources.
* Adopting a "carbon-content standard" that would cap and then
reduce the proportion of fossil fuel electric generation in utilities'
energy resource mix.
* Seizing every opportunity to promote energy efficiency. The
cleanest power is the power that is never produced.
We call upon all parties on the local, regional, national, and
international levels to do everything possible to reduce greenhouse gas
emissions and protect God's creation for the common good and for future
Thank you very much for your consideration.
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