Episcopal Diocese of Virginia
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Resolution 1S - Accepting Our Duty of Care for God's Creation

Adopted; text pending final review

Whereas, we are beings endowed by God with insight and reasoning and, therefore, are obligated to a greater level of accountability; and

Whereas, scientific research of integrity is in overwhelming agreement that human activity, specifically emissions of greenhouse gasses associated with burning of fossil fuels, is causing global average temperatures to increase to levels that are now causing significant harm to forests, cropland, the oceans and their shorelines with impacts including extreme weather, wildfires, famines, disease, and species extinctions, impacts that are harmful to humanity generally and particularly to the most vulnerable in our Diocese and globally; and

Whereas, recent research has concluded that an average global temperature increase of 2.7 degrees, (1.5? C.) before 2050 is nearly inevitable; and

Whereas, there is a large body of research concluding that a rise in average global temperature beyond 3.6 (2? C.) degrees will cause the world to pass a tipping point at which the world will be locked into a near-term future of drought, food and water shortages, melting ice sheets, shrinking glaciers, rising sea levels and widespread flooding; and

Whereas, the window of opportunity to prevent an average global temperature increase greater than 3.6? (2? C.) is narrow and closing; and

Whereas, production of electrical power by burning fossil and other fuels to power steam generators contributes to further concentrations of greenhouse gasses and, in addition, threatens water supply and water quality, particularly in areas where water supply is at risk, including Virginia’s Coastal Plain; and

Whereas, a projected global doubling of the world’s middle class by 2030, from 3 billion to 6.00 billion, will impose unsustainable demands on resources of all kinds, absent changes in lifestyle and technologies for energy production; and

Whereas, economically feasible and technologically viable means are available as alternatives to continued reliance on fossil fuels that can enable charting of a sustainable future course consistent with alleviation of poverty and hunger in poor nations and continued enjoyment of the benefits of a modern economy in the developed world; and

Whereas, continuation on humanity’s present course is a path that will lead to incalculable suffering and harm to creation; and

Whereas, our accountability to God’s creation must encompass whether the whole of creation continues to flourish; now therefore be it

Resolved, that this Council, accepting the call to act as Christian stewards of creation, urge churches in this Diocese and their members to:

(i) educate themselves about the issues of global warming, sea level rise and the environmental effects of energy production and use, as well as the risks and benefits of steps to address (or failing to address) these issues;

(ii) take reasonable steps to reduce their energy use and to mitigate the adverse effects of such usage;

(iii) celebrate creation in prayer and liturgy;

(iv) advocate with relevant decision makers, both in government and in business, for changes to reduce the adverse environmental effects of energy production and use, particularly adverse effects which disproportionately affect the poor, both in this country and in foreign countries.