Early each morning, I meet with an ecumenical but politically and geographically diverse group via zoom for Centering Prayer and reflection. Yet since the recent Supreme Court rulings our group has been reeling. As one international group participant recently observed, “You Americans may think that the rulings handed down by your highest court only affect you. But this is misleading. Borders are permeable. The decisions made just don’t just affect you. All of us in one way or another, are impacted.”
Mused Bill McKibben, climate activist and author, during a recent television interview, “Fifty years ago, a memo emerged from staunch conservative, Lewis Powell, who was not yet a Supreme Court Justice. Reacting to the passage of the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act that led to the creation of the EPA, along with other rights, Powell’s memo said, ‘American business needs to use all the wealth at our disposal to win back our country.’ Fifty years later and as evidenced by recent Supreme Court rulings; they (the industrial elites) have succeeded.’”
Following last Thursday’s decision by the Supreme Court, assurances were made that progress towards reducing carbon emissions can still be done. States and local government can still try to limit the impact of polluters by persuading them to adopt cleaner measures. The EPA can, as one official insisted, use all the tools at its disposal to try to get around this latest hurdle. However, climate change is catastrophic precisely because it does not respect borders, state lines or national boundaries. No body of water, landmass, glacial mass, airspace, human body or sentient life has evaded its impact.
So where does this leave us as people of faith? Must we resign ourselves to accepting these rulings, however onerous and oppressive? Must we pretend as if there won’t be devastating consequences from these ill-fated decisions? Or is this a summons to give voice to the Spirit of God’s Power within?
It helps to remind ourselves that the events leading to the creation of the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the emergence of the EPA and other protections, did not happen on their own but were the fruit of advocacy. Indeed, God does not leave us on our own but choses us to be partners in the mending of all creation. In hope and in faith, let us join together in partnership with the Triune God.
In peace and in faith:
Rev. Dr. Jessica McArdle
FCCW’s Environmental Justice