Dr. King was a drum major for social justice and especially on behalf of the poor. Dr. King once said “As long as there is poverty in the world, I can never be rich, even if I have a billion dollars. “
Dr. King’s voice speaks to us today and it says that the United States of America will never be all that it can be until we address the concerns of the poor and this is one of the major reasons why the Black Church should be concerned about Climate Change and mark Earth Day which is this Tuesday, April 22.
We are concerned about climate change because of its detrimental impact on the environment and our biblical moral imperative to be stewards of God’s creation. However, we are also concerned about climate change because of our mandate to take care of the least of our brothers and sisters.
Global warming and climate-related disasters present an increasing burden that to those least capable of dealing with the impacts and people in developing countries are more than 20 times as likely to be affected by such disasters as compared with those in the developed world.
Even the most conservative estimates are worrisome: Across Africa, 75 million to 250 million people could face severe water shortages by 2020.
Also, more African Americans will be “fuel-poor” as the demand for energy rises due to higher air-conditioning loads, population growth, and urbanization. African Americans already spend an estimated 25% greater share of their income on energy than the national average, and total spending is rising in the face of increasing gasoline and resource prices.
We already are tired of the results of climate change including the seemingly never ending Winter of 2014 which has been caused by Climate Change and the devastating Typhoon in the Philippines. Serious public health effects will also be experienced among vulnerable low-income and elderly populations, especially heat-related illnesses as climate change worsens. According to the recent Scientific Assessment of the Effect of Climate Change in the US, “climate change is very likely to accentuate the disparities already evident in the American health care system.”
Solutions to climate change must be designed with poor people’s needs in mind. As the largest economy in the world, as well as one of the largest historical producers of greenhouse gas emissions, the US has a responsibility to provide international leadership on climate change. The US should not only prevent harm, by rapidly cutting its emissions. The Government must also start helping by providing financial assistance to poor communities who are already being hit by climate change – even though they are least responsible for causing the problem.
PNBC churches can do their part by greening their buildings, and encouraging congregants and the community to go green and by becoming advocates for climate change legislation that meets the needs of the poor at the national and state levels.
Peace and Blessings, Pastor Kip Banks, Sr.