In his new encyclical on climate change, Pope Francis calls for "a new dialogue about how we are shaping the future of our planet." It is easy to feel helpless and hopeless when we hear predictions about global warming, ocean acidification, drought and extinctions. Hand-wringing is understandable as the very air we breathe seems fragile and in peril. This week, however, is a great time to speak, write and tweet to public officials on the subject of climate change -- and engage in that "new dialogue."
Congressional Climate Message Day, for example, takes place on Monday, June 22. Citizens can call or tweet their senators and representatives to support a fee on greenhouse gas emissions. On June 23, nine hundred volunteers for Citizens' Climate Lobby will meet with senators and representatives in Washington, DC to support the greenhouse gas fee. You can find out more about Congressional Climate Message Day here, on the Citizens' Climate Lobby website.
Solar energy producers - a key component in efforts against climate change -- are in jeopardy in many states. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) notes that coal and other fossil fuels are major contributors to greenhouse gases, which trap heat and lead to global warming. As the Snake River Alliance points out, solar and other renewable energy sources are vital as utilities phase out coal-generated power.
Here in Idaho, residents will attend a public hearing this week on a proposal from electric utility companies that could undermine competition form solar power companies. The utilities want the Public Utility Commission (PUC) to shorten the length of contracts with independent power companies from 20 years to two years -- a move that would make financing nearly impossible for solar power companies. The general public can attend the Idaho PUC hearing in Boise on June 24, or learn about submitting written comments here.
Wherever you live, you can speak up on behalf of the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the creatures and plants that share God's creation with us. No need to travel or speak in front of large groups -- just take a breath and start where you are. Hope you'll join us!