VIEWPOINT: The future of planet earth?

by Reverend John Wolfersberger


Pope Francis reminds us in his Encyclical Laudato Si, the earth is our common home. All Earth’s inhabitants are brothers and sisters, an interconnected family, and this relationship extends to future generations.

In the last half century, we have experienced amazing technological advance.

But, along with this great advance, a foreboding cloud hangs over humankind that threatens all life. Our planet is steadily warming, the result of human activity. NASA scientists tell us 18 of the 19 hottest years on record have occurred since 2001.

Too much CO2 in the atmosphere is keeping the sun’s heat from dissipating into space. Glaciers are rapidly melting; oceans are rising and becoming more toxic, increased devastating floods and fires, and more intense storms. Millions are on the move fleeing unlivable habitats where water and food are in short supply or have disappeared.

Experts tell us the sixth mass extinction in Earth’s history is underway, predicting terrible suffering and millions dying, along with millions of plant and animal species.

Those of us alive today, out of all history, will determine whether or not a livable planet is bequeathed to future generations. No past generation has faced such a crucible. We face a moral test. Do we care enough about our planet and its future to shift from fossil fuels, something that has brought us so much comfort, pleasure, technological advance, and prosperity, to an even more prosperous new age driven by renewable energy? What can we do to make this happen?

One thing we can do immediately, without waiting for the broad outlines of a Green New Deal to gain traction, is to support the bipartisan Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act currently before Congress (HR763). This legislation, will not cost the taxpayer or run up the national debt. It calls for a fee of 15 percent on all carbon mined from the earth, coal, oil and gas, at the source of extraction. The net revenue will be distributed to each American household. The Act will reduce greenhouse gases by 90 percent in two decades.

People alive at the turn of this century will likely look back upon this time and say one of two things:

1) “What were those foolish carbon people in the early 21st century thinking to allow this to happen to our planet?”

Or 2) “Those people in the early 21st century were saints. They saw a planet in peril, rose above self-interest, denial and partisan politics, and made the transition from carbon to renewable energy. We have them to thank for bequeathing to us a livable planet!”


John Wolfersberger is a member of the Claremont Citizen’s Climate Lobby, retired clergy Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) Dual standing with the United Church of Christ, a former Regional Minister (Bishop) of the Pacific Southwest Region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and a former member of the Ecumenical Council of Bishops of Greater Los Angeles


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