This Saturday, Sept. 21st, the Good Steward Campaign will be in Philadelphia, PA to celebrate and honor International Day of Peace. There are events happening all over the country and world, but at the Philadelphia Friends Center, the day-long mini-conference is offering workshops and a place for students to gather to learn about, discuss, and contemplate the world in which we live. And we're partnering with Katie McChesney from 350.org on this event!
It might initially seem odd that we, the Good Steward Campaign, are getting involved with International Day of Peace. But I assure you, there are many connections between climate change and both national and international security.
When huge rural populations rely on farming to survive, one failed crop season has the ability to put them in dire economic straits. Multiple failed crop seasons, leaving families without food or income, push people to the point of desperation. This often results in families being forced to abandon their rural homes and farms and migrate to cities or to other regions that are not suffering as badly from climate change induced droughts or floods or fire.
So, people migrate. But in regions of the world where your home says a lot about your religious sect or your familial clan, migration means invading the homeland of other sects. This causes tension.
And where there was previously "almost" or "just enough," now more people are competing for fewer resources and this leads to desperation. Imagine a drought that lasts five years -- imagine not having enough food to feed your family for five years. You know that saying, "Desperate times call for desperate measures?" Well, it turns out that in the case of climate change and political unrest, that's especially true. Unfortunately the "desperate measures" in this case often includes violent action, riots, and various other illegal activities.
Furthermore, for decades, religious groups have addressed hunger and poverty in the developing world by investing in schools, agriculture, small business, public health, and more. These investments have helped millions of people across the world.
But climate change, caused by the burning of fossil fuels, threatens everything that religious groups have accomplished. Climate change creates weather conditions that increase the spread of disease, makes it harder to grow crops, and destroys vital infrastructure and natural ecosystems through extreme weather events. Those with the fewest resources are the most vulnerable to these impacts.
Fossil fuels undermine the investment in time and energy that churches make in reaching out to the poorest among us by exacerbating climate conditions that contribute to disease, hunger, and poverty.
And so, what are our options? Well surely we can consume less, use less energy ourselves, and continue to do peace-building work overseas. But on a larger scale, fossil fuel divestment is a peaceful action that takes a stand against fossil fuels on a larger scale. By getting rid of stocks, bonds or investment funds that are unethical or morally ambiguous, you're aligning you investments with your values -- and that's a powerful move.
To learn more about Saturday's event, visit http://www.peacedayphilly.org/ and check out the list of workshops here. Any and all are welcome and we would love to have you! As always, keep up with us on Twitter at @IAmAGoodSteward.