Many of us have experienced emergencies and catastrophic weather events related to climate change in the last few years. Rather than just hearing about a natural disaster somewhere else, most people on the planet are experiencing these events at or near their homes. It’s important to do what we can to a) change our practices and policies to be more sustainable and equitable, and b) create communities that can mitigate, respond with resilience, and adapt to climate change. This is both long-term and short-term work: responding rapidly in emergencies, and building strong community partnerships and relationships so the community can work together in good times and when facing challenges. What might be the role of faith communities in contributing to community resilience in the face of climate change?
I’ve spoken about faith communities as potential hubs for climate resilience, such as last year at Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, and this year we had our Oregon Interfaith Earth Summit on the theme, “Flourishing in a Time of Climate Crisis,” at which we focused on faith communities and climate resilience. I got to put together some of my thoughts and ideas with some connection to theory and research in an article recently published online in The Palgrave Encyclopedia of Urban and Regional Futures. My article is: “Faith Communities as Hubs for Climate Resilience,” and the volume will also be in print later this year. (Comment on this post and I can send you a PDF of the article.)
I hope this article is useful for people of faith who are interested in participating positively in communal climate resilience, and for communities looking for partners in the work of building local climate resilience. Here is the abstract for the article:
As impacts of climate change are felt with increasing regularity in everyday life and in climate-related natural disasters, it becomes imperative to building resilient communities that can mitigate and reverse climate change impacts, adapt to local changes, and recover quickly and equitably from climate disasters. This chapter considers faith communities as potential hubs for community resilience to respond to vulnerabilities due to climate change. By first situating faith communities as integral members of social-ecological systems offering cultural as well as provisioning and regulating ecosystem services, the chapter then discusses the ways faith communities contribute to community resilience.
Specific examples from faith communities in the State of Oregon, USA, are offered in regard to the ways faith community buildings and grounds contribute to spiritual and recreational services, food justice, resource cycling, and climate disaster preparedness and response. This chapter shows that faith communities can be valuable partners in working toward social and ecological resilience as the climate changes, helping decrease inequitable outcomes, implementing more efficient and sustainable energy and landscaping options, and providing accessible green spaces within urban and suburban settings. Places of worship can also be used as community spaces in the case of disasters, particularly if equipped with solar power and backup batteries, contributing to a distributed energy grid. Faith communities, embedded as they are in their local communities and networked with local partners as well as larger national and international groups, are well situated to respond quickly to climate disasters in context-specific ways.
If you are connected through an academic institution you can access the article here, otherwise please leave a comment with your email address and I will send you a PDF.