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Climate change is considered by many to be the greatest challenge facing humanity. We are the first generation to recognize the errors in the way we live our lives, and perhaps the last generation able to do something about it. The stakes are vast and monumental.

Asterio Takesy, Ambassador for the Federated States of Micronesia, talked about the stakes for his nation in his address to faith leaders at the Religions for the Earth conference in New York City last September:

“We come together out of the common conviction that we are common heir of the earth and its bounties. And that our inheritance is in great peril…

“[In Micronesia] we live on the crop called taro. It grows in a swampy area. The sea level rise is pushing up the water level and it has already reached a quarter of the taro patches across Micronesia. They still grow, but they are unfit to eat. Many of our islands depend upon water from the well. Many of the wells are no longer fit for human consumption.

“We are just 6 feet above sea level. I was born in a home 500 yards from the sea. My house is no longer there. If we continue in this way, we will be history, maybe in this very century.”

In the fall of 2014, FCNL brought Amb. Takesy to a congressional briefing on the impact of sea level rise. He told his story to members of Congress and their staff. Other speakers gave scientific, faith and tribal perspectives and spoke of the devastation their communities already face from the changing climate.

The scope of the solutions must be massive to address the massive problems we face.

Such is the predicament of the Anthropocene Era. The scope of the solutions must be massive to address the massive problems we face. It will take a collective social and political change larger than the civil rights movement. It will take a global financial and infrastructural commitment greater than the Marshall Plan.

There is no shortage of viable policy solutions. There’s a shortage of heart. The writer Andrew Revkin recounts how, “[i]n a discussion over dinner, Walter Munk, at 96 one of the great oceanographers of modern times, spoke not of gigatons of carbon or megawatts of electricity: ‘This requires a miracle of love and unselfishness,’ he said.”

This is why I feel blessed to advocate on behalf of FCNL for action on climate change. The source of the change starts from where so many faith traditions reside. Walter Munk’s call for a “miracle” begins from loving the Creator and all creation with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength. Applicable to all, whether religious, spiritual or atheist, it means intentional focus on the Golden Rule. We must do unto others — a whole world full of others — as we would have others do unto us.

This is a “radical” return to commonly understood principles. It has resonated with so many of the faith leaders with whom I have been in conversation. But partisanship — adherence to the few in one’s own party above the whole world full of others — is devastating to the heart we need for actions. George Washington in his farewell address, held that partisanship is a kind of despotism ruinous to the nation. We must humble ourselves, drop self-righteousness and partisanship affiliations, and talk to those who may not agree with us. According to Moshe Dayan, “If we want to make peace, we don’t talk just to our friends. We talk to our adversaries.”

This is what we aspire to embody in the Call to Conscience on Climate Disruption. The love and humility cultivated from within, then reflected outward to manifest the beauty and potential of our participatory democracy to reflect the moral character of our peoples, focused at this moment in time, upon the most urgent of issue of our generation. From here is where the solutions emanate.

Jose Aguto

Jose Aguto

Former Legislative Secretary, Sustainable Energy and Environment

Jose Aguto advocated for national policies supporting the sustainable use and management of our Earth’s resources and ecosystems so that all may thrive. He lead the Sustainable Energy and Environment Program, which leads interfaith, non-partisan, grassroots and multi-sectoral efforts on climate disruption to promote bipartisan dialogue and solutions in Congress. It also seeks to facilitate stronger relationships and collaboration across different sectors of the climate movement.