You’ll remember a while back, we talked about what the Democratic candidates had to say about Keystone XL and climate change issues related to it, and we promised to turn the spotlight on Republican candidates’ views as well. I intended to get to that once the GOP field had settled down into a discrete group, but that has yet to happen.
The simplest way to put it is, all of them support KXL, most repeating some combination of the lies attached to KXL, including jobs, energy security, and safety. (Our friends at Grist have compiled a nice collection of the candidates’ public statements on KXL.) And almost all of them have highly questionable stances on climate change, to put it charitably.
The notable exceptions to the climate-denying rule are former New York Gov. George Pataki, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who acknowledged in May that climate change is real and human activity is playing an important role in it. Christie has good reason to peel away from the rest of the herd: his state suffered billions of dollars in damage and 12 deaths from Superstorm Sandy in 2012. While Sandy can’t be linked definitively to global warming, scientists say more and more powerful storms can be expected as ocean temperatures rise.
Rising oceans are already causing problems in Florida, but that state’s junior senator, Marco Rubio, and former Gov. Jeb Bush aren’t giving much attention to global warming. Jeb is in the “we don’t know enough” camp, and Rubio is in the “don’t say anything that can be used against you” camp.
Interestingly, while the entire GOP field claims some measure of religiosity, none of them have come to terms with the fact that leaders for all of the major religions have called for action in combating global warming.
The latest faith to do so is Islam, whose leading scholars and clerics released a statement this week that condemns exploitation of the planet’s resources and despoilment of its air and water. An international symposium in Istanbul denounced poor stewardship of the Earth, motivated by greed and lacking concern for humanity and other residents of the planet. Its demands were clear and hard-hitting, including this:
“We call on the people of all nations and their leaders to –
- Aim to phase out greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible in order to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere;
- Commit themselves to 100 % renewable energy and/or a zero emissions strategy as early as possible, to mitigate the environmental impact of their activities;
- Invest in decentralized renewable energy, which is the best way to reduce poverty and achieve sustainable development;
- Realize that to chase after unlimited economic growth in a planet that is finite and already overloaded is not viable. Growth must be pursued wisely and in moderation; placing a priority on increasing the resilience of all, and especially the most vulnerable, to the climate change impacts already underway and expected to continue for many years to come.
- Set in motion a fresh model of wellbeing, based on an alternative to the current financial model which depletes resources, degrades the environment, and deepens inequality.
- Prioritise adaptation efforts with appropriate support to the vulnerable countries with the least capacity to adapt. And to vulnerable groups, including indigenous peoples, women and children.”
With that, Islam joins the Roman Catholic Church, which this summer issued a highly controversial papal encyclical that likewise denounced the greed and inhumanity of unfettered capitalism as a driving force for global warming and other social and environmental ills. Likewise, more than 400 rabbis offered their support this June for “unity of justice and Earth-healing,” describing it as part of the Jewish call to fight for social justice and the Torah’s teachings of benevolent stewardship of the land.
Leaders of the Hindu faithful, one billion strong, were way ahead of the curve on climate change, issuing their declaration in 2009, calling not only on nations but on individual Hindus to change their ways to minimize their impact on Earth. They wrote:
Our beloved Earth, so touchingly looked upon as the Universal Mother, has nurtured mankind through millions of years of growth and evolution. Now centuries of rapacious exploitation of the planet have caught up with us, and a radical change in our relationship with nature is no longer an option. It is a matter of survival. We cannot continue to destroy nature without also destroying ourselves. The dire problems besetting our world–war, disease, poverty and hunger–will all be magnified many fold by the predicted impacts of climate change.
The Dalai Lama, the foremost recognizable leader of the Buddhist faith, also spoke out in 2009, saying before a meeting of industrialized nations in Australia, ”Sometimes their number one importance is national interest, national economic interest, then global (warming) issue is sometimes second. That I think should change. The global issue, it should be number one.”
A large number of Protestant faiths have also issued statements on global warming, encouraging the faithful and their leaders to mend their ways to stop and roll back the harms done by carbon pollution.
Clearly, the religious traditions that lay claim to the hearts and souls of the vast majority of the planet’s population speak with one voice: everyone– individuals, corporations, nations alike– needs to respect the planet and take all necessary steps in all due haste to mitigate the damage climate has done and will continue to do.
So as they preach their “values” bona fides to the Republican voters, perhaps the candidates can square their religiosity with their unyielding support for the Keystone XL project, and the global warming it will exacerbate.