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Earth Day and Faith Climate Action Week: Can Religion Address Climate Change?

David Langness | Apr 22, 2023

The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the authoritative views of the Baha'i Faith.

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David Langness | Apr 22, 2023

The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the authoritative views of the Baha'i Faith.

In the Northern Hemisphere spring has sprung, flowers have bloomed, and just as Abdu’l-Baha affirmed in a speech he gave in Washington, DC in 1912, we all feel quickened with new life:

At the time of the vernal equinox in the material world a wonderful vibrant energy and new life-quickening is observed everywhere in the vegetable kingdom; the animal and human kingdoms are resuscitated and move forward with a new impulse. The whole world is born anew, resurrected. Gentle zephyrs are set in motion, wafting and fragrant; flowers bloom; the trees are in blossom, the air temperate and delightful; how pleasant and beautiful become the mountains, fields and meadows. Likewise, the spiritual bounty and springtime of God quicken the world of humanity with a new animus and vivification. All the virtues which have been deposited and potential in human hearts are being revealed from that Reality as flowers and blossoms from divine gardens. It is a day of joy, a time of happiness, a period of spiritual growth.

RELATED: One Planet, One Habitation

This period of significant spiritual growth humanity has entered – the return of the divine springtime, the Baha’i teachings call it – emerges from the new energies released by the appearance of Baha’u’llah:

Awake ye to the realization of this heavenly opportunity. … The divine bounties are flowing. … This is the springtime of Baha’u’llah. The verdure and foliage of spiritual growth are appearing in great abundance in the gardens of human hearts. Know ye the value of these passing days and vanishing nights. Strive to attain a station of absolute love one toward another. By the absence of love, enmity increases. By the exercise of love, love strengthens and enmities dwindle away.

We can express our love for humanity – and not just those human beings who exist today, but the children of tomorrow,  as well – by doing what we each can to mitigate the effects of climate change. In this season when nature refreshes its great beauty, we can re-dedicate ourselves to ensuring that it remains beautiful, diverse, and verdant for every one of our descendants.

Americans of faith – all Faiths – have committed to a nationwide interfaith campaign called Faith Climate Action Week, held during the ten days of spring from April 14-23 this year, and leading up to the celebration of Earth Day on Saturday, April 22nd. Many states host Earth Day celebrations and Faith Climate Action Week projects and programs, all designed to promote stewardship of the Earth’s climate, resources, and diversity.

In March, the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of the United States sent a reminder to the country’s Baha’is, saying:

… we cannot forget that our global environment is in a state of upheaval. According to a recent report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 2022 alone saw 18 separate climate and weather disasters, leading to costs and damages of $165 billion, which made 2022 the third most costly year with the third highest number of extreme climate events on record. It is no surprise that the disintegrative forces of consumerism and materialism are wreaking havoc on our cherished natural environment.

RELATED: Changing the Way We Think of Climate Change

For some, this kind of frightening statistical evidence might feel overwhelming or even paralyzing. But Baha’is believe that people armed with spiritual purpose have the power to make constructive change in the world, and the National Spiritual Assembly went on to encouragingly say that: 

… there are practical ways of taking positive action. Over the coming weeks and months, there are multiple opportunities to participate in activities that promote environmental sustainability. The Wilmette Institute course on Climate Change will launch on April 12. Earth Day is April 22, and Faith Climate Action Week, with the theme of “Living the Golden Rule,” will take place from April 14–23. The latter includes events state-by-state in which individuals can participate, as well as resources that can be used locally. 

During this refreshing springtime, on this Earth Day, and as this year’s Faith Climate Action Week concludes, you may want to ask yourself: what have I done for my planet lately?

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