Climate crisis heats up: A special feature from the Social Responsibility and Justice Team

Yeah, yeah, we all know that the earth is in danger from the climate crisis.  Well…some of us know this.  It’s easy to become desensitized to news about the crisis since we hear so much of it, but our recent heat wave has prompted much new research that is the most shocking to date.  

The New York Times reports that a team of international researchers confirmed that human-caused climate change is driving the life-threatening heat waves in the U.S., Europe, and China. The U.S. has broken more than 2,000 high temperature records in the past month, and it looks like July will be the hottest month on Earth since scientists have kept record. Many places in southern Europe are experiencing record-breaking, triple-digit temperatures.  A remote township in China hit 126 degrees, breaking a national record (July 26, 2023).

Because humans are continuing to burn fossil fuels, which add to greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, the odds will continue to tip in extreme heat’s favor:  even if we stop, temperatures will not cool again, they will just stop rising.

Globally, 44% of the world’s oceans are experiencing a marine heat wave.  On July 23 and 24 of this year, the ocean water off the tip of Florida reached temperatures over 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37.8 Celsius), the same temperature as an average hot tub (NOAA).

Many local and national governments, especially in Europe, have created heat action plans than include things like public cooling centers, and advance warning and coordination between social services and hospitals (World Weather Attribution).

So what is UUFD doing to help alleviate this crisis? Tom Miller, leader of the Environmental Justice Team, says the team is focusing its efforts on climate optimism through bringing awareness and actionable items to the attention of the congregation. Current areas they are looking at include helping to find financial support for the addition of heat pumps to replace our fading HVAC system in the Sanctuary, what additional work can be done to make our campus more environmentally responsible, how we want to respond to the lack of emphasis on climate justice in the current discussion of the revision of our principles, how to include the spiritual aspects of our environmental concerns more into worship, and how we can participate as a group in concerted political action on environmental issues.

Many, many thanks to the important work of the Environmental Justice Team.