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Climate and Sustainability

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Over the last 30 years, Texans of all walks of life have become more concerned about human impacts on the environment. Increasingly, stories about environmental destruction and its effects on human health dominate the news and people are feeling those impacts in very real ways—in bans on fishing due to mercury contamination, in increasing asthma rates, and in ozone pollution days in Dallas and Houston, for example.

To fuel our modern lifestyle, forests are cleared, toxic waste dumped...

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Over the last 30 years, Texans of all walks of life have become more concerned about human impacts on the environment. Increasingly, stories about environmental destruction and its effects on human health dominate the news and people are feeling those impacts in very real ways—in bans on fishing due to mercury contamination, in increasing asthma rates, and in ozone pollution days in Dallas and Houston, for example.

To fuel our modern lifestyle, forests are cleared, toxic waste dumped into rivers, and chemicals spewed into the air. We are using the earth’s resources faster than they can be replenished, and scientists tell us that global warming is the biggest environmental crisis that we have faced, not just in our time, but in the entire history of human civilization. Our diverse religious traditions share a common call for people to care for the earth and live in respectful balance with other animals and people.

Texas continues to have more renewable energy potential than any other state, but in recent years clean energy discussions have taken a back seat to concern about electric reliability. Meanwhile, though cheap natural gas, made possible in large part by Texas’ controversial hydraulic fracturing—or “fracking”—boom, has kept energy costs low, fracking has left many communities and landowners dealing with collateral damage and unsustainable change.

Renewable energy continues to be key in addressing many of the concerns that Texas faces and will face. As renewable technologies become more cost-competitive and concerns about fracking mount, legislators should recommit to making Texas the nation’s clean energy leader and update the state’s clean energy goals. Texas’ long-term plan for electric reliability must include a commitment to clean energy that promotes long-term energy independence, human health, and care for God’s creation.

The state’s focus on electricity supply has elevated interest in energy efficiency and other demand reducing measures. Lawmakers should place particular emphasis on consumer-directed efficiency programs that yield benefits for the grid and the individual ratepayer. Too often, energy efficiency programs take a one-size-fits-all approach that rewards the heaviest users while minimizing the significance of small consumers. Legislators should affirm that energy efficiency is a community-wide effort, and craft policies that make energy efficiency attractive and effective for all ratepayers, including those who are low-income or otherwise disadvantaged.



 

 

A common initial response to the diagnosis of a chronic condition is denial. That’s understandable. No one wants to have heart disease or diabetes—and certainly no one wants climate change. Once we move through and past the denial, we face other challenges. Feelings of sadness, anger, and even despair are common. The changes we need to make as individuals and communities may seem insurmountable. We may feel defeated and hopeless, alone and unsure where to turn.

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Rev. Dr. Jeremy Rutledge is Senior Minister of Circular Congregational Church, South Carolina. During his time in Houston, he helped create the Houston chapter of Texas Interfaith Power and Light. This post originally appeared on his blog.

Eleven days ago the New York Times led with the headline, “Heat-Trapping Gas Passes Milestone, Raising Fears.”1 As the article reported:

“One day, the king ordered that an elephant be brought into the palace, along with the five wisest sages from the outskirts of the city, who all happened to be blind. The king instructed each sage to stand at a different place around the elephant, each touching a different part of the animal. ‘You are each touching one thing,’ the king said to the sages, ‘Tell me: what is it?’

The first sage was touching the trunk of the elephant. ‘It is long, coarse, and flexible,’ he said. ‘It is a rope.’

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