New Center Unites Environmentalism with Religious and Humanist Moral Concerns
For Immediate Release, April 22, 2015
Contact: Shay O’Reilly
New York, NY — Facing the reality of human-caused global climate change, people of conscience from around the world came together at Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York last fall for the Religions for the Earth Conference. The success of that conference has led to the creation of the new Center for Earth Ethics, launching today at Union and headed by Karenna Gore (Union MA ’13), with the aim of further articulating and enacting a moral response to the climate crisis and its root causes.
“People are understanding climate in a new way that recognizes the spiritual dimensions of this crisis,” Gore said. “It’s important now to move from talk to action, and particularly action on behalf of the most vulnerable peoples, communities, and ecosystems.”
Goals of the Center for Earth Ethics (CEE) include facilitating practical partnerships between secular and faith-based environmental leaders; encouraging deeper engagement in ecological issues among religious communities and “spiritual but not religious” people; and developing better indicators for well-being than short-term economic growth.
“At the root of global climate change is human greed, and gross and violent power inequities,” said Serene Jones, president of Union Theological Seminary. “To address this social justice issue, we need wise, inclusive, justice-driven and well-informed leaders. I am proud to have the Center for Earth Ethics at Union to convene and nurture these leaders.”
As more and more people become aware of the real costs of climate change, CEE particularly emphasizes the effects of ecological destruction on poor people and other marginalized communities. Working with partners, CEE seeks to support locally-rooted leaders in eco-ministry and eco-justice.
“The CEE facilitates partners making the connection between environmental justice, history, and poverty through moral lenses,” said Catherine Flowers, Senior Fellow at CEE and Director of the Alabama Center for Rural Enterprise. “Working along the Selma to Montgomery march trail, and throughout the rural South, we work with marginalized communities and seek solutions that take into account how vital earth justice is to economic and social justice.”
The launch of this new center was galvanized by the Religions for the Earth Conference, held during the UN’s 2014 climate summit. Now, in preparation for the UN’s 2015 climate talks in Paris, the Center will join a coalition calling for a meaningful climate treaty and mobilizing the world’s religious traditions to pressure governments into taking action as part of “Religions for the Earth: The Road to Paris.”