By Kermit Hovey 9-25-2017

“Things are not as they should be. Lord have mercy.”

The line recurred through our congregational prayers earlier this summer the Sunday after returning home from a climate conference, the eighth annual International Citizens’ Climate Lobby in Washington, D.C.

How are things “not as they should be?” The fact that we still have to hold this conference — despite decades of scientists and policy makers warning us about global warming — and lobby our political leaders' about climate change is sad, painfully sad. Greenhouse gas emissions, carbon dioxide levels, global warming trends, and climate change impacts continue to increase regardless of what our politicians think. The final draft Climate Science Special Report published in early August, part of the congressionally mandated quadrennial National Climate Assessment, spells this out in fresh detail.

Global warming-induced climate change is really happening, really serious, really human-caused, and still really addressable.

Yet there is hope and progress. Fortunately, CCL has a solution strategy — revenue neutral carbon fee and dividend (RNCFD). It demonstrably works to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, carbon dioxide levels, global warming trends, and climate change impacts — all while growing the economy.

In my experience, Democrats in Congress see the iceberg and want to steer away while Republicans, with mercifully increasing exceptions, don't. Congressional offices tend to fall into three categories: climate affirmative, climate dismissive, and climate indifferent.

In one climate-affirmative representative's office the staffer said they support RNCFD to address the very real climate crisis. Nevertheless he suggested, in light of the current administration's “climate dismissiveness,” that people work as hard as they can to mobilize climate protection effort at lower levels of government such as state, county, and city.

In a climate-dismissive representative's office, the staffer seemed disinterested and skeptical of our climate change concerns. He did helpfully note that their district manufactures different products, including electricity-generating wind turbine technology. That raised hope that although the representative explicitly dismisses climate change as a real problem, he might support action to increase renewable energy and inadvertently help protect the climate.

Then there’s the House Climate Solutions Caucus (CSC). This truly bipartisan effort brings Congress together across the aisle to work for a climate crisis solution. This sign of God’s mercy and a growing source of hope builds in “Noah’s Ark” style. Members must join in pairs — one Democrat and one Republican — at a time. While recently reaching a total of 48 members, a “climate affirmative” staffer encouraged us to not let them off the hook just for joining but to hold them accountable to act.

In honesty and with sadness I can say and even pray, “Things are not as they should be. Lord have mercy.” At the same time I can rejoice that we have seen tokens of mercy and signs of hope. In striking ways, things are becoming more as they should be with respectful conversation, bipartisan cooperation, courageous voices, and a powerful RNCFD climate protection strategy on the table. 

May we have strength and persistence to persevere whether in the face of inertia or opposition.

Kermit M. Hovey, Jr. is a concerned Christ-following husband, father, son, and citizen.  As Director of Operations at Care of Creation, a globally engaged faith-based environmental action and outreach group, he is mobilizing the church to care for creation.

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