By Ivor John – past President of CEC’s Board of Directors
Sharing the common belief that we are called to be intentional stewards of the environment, ECOFaith of Santa Barbara is a coalition of faith communities working to harness a collective spirit to take action against the most critical issue of our day – climate change. In addition to calling on leaders to act on policy, we represent dozens of churches, mosques, temples and other spiritual gathering places that are taking our own initiative by reducing the carbon footprint of our places of worship and our homes. Indeed, we believe that people of faith and spirit have a moral responsibility to live in harmony with the Earth’s natural systems, and to eliminate the human-related causes of global climate change. And, as citizens of Santa Barbara County, we urge all faith communities, our governments and fellow citizens to join us in becoming exemplars of sustainable living.
The science is clear.
The science is clear. Climate change is happening all around us, and we have a moral obligation to address its effects, especially as they wreak havoc on coastal communities throughout the world and negatively impact our public health, especially among the poorest and most vulnerable among us. We are painfully aware that we contribute an inordinate proportion of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions and this is impacting public health and the sanctity of our sacred planet. Accordingly, we hold the responsibility to take meaningful action that will reverse the course of climate change and safeguard the health of our children and grandchildren.
To this end, the members of ECOFaith are taking steps to increase energy efficiency and conservation in our places of worship, and we encourage our congregations to adopt sustainable lifestyles as part of their spiritual practice. For example, the Unitarian Society of Santa Barbara recently reduced their carbon emissions through energy efficiency and conservation measures taken during their latest capital campaign, including the installation of solar panels. Second Baptist Church recently won a prestigious award for its efforts to reduce its utility bills by 50 percent. And the Islamic Center of Santa Barbara is building its mosque to achieve the highest standards of sustainability.
I will act on climate change.
In addition to moving our faith communities to respond to this moral and ethical crisis, we also need leaders at all levels of government to recognize climate change as one of the greatest threats of our time.
Thankfully, President Obama has made the health of the public and the environment a priority by unveiling a national climate action plan, which includes the nation’s first-ever limits on carbon pollution from power plants, along with measures to strengthen our nation’s infrastructure against the effects of climate change and new investments in clean energy and energy efficiency.
The president’s plan is a major step forward in spurring innovation in clean energy technologies that will create jobs and reducing the extreme weather impacts of climate change on Santa Barbara and other U.S. cities.
We applaud these actions and those of a growing number of Santa Barbarans who are working together to make Santa Barbara County a model for environmental sustainability. It’s our hope that, collectively, we can reduce our carbon footprint and stand in support of our local Community Environmental Council’s vision for a Santa Barbara that is powered by cleaner, safer energy in the next 20 years.
Together we are joining the chorus of people and communities across the country who are saying “I will act on climate.” From our strength as an interfaith organization grounded in centuries of collective wisdom, we hope to inspire a transition to a cleaner, healthier community that is both feasible and economical, and may help foster a good life for all. We hope you will join us in fulfilling that mission.