Parishes, individuals told how to help environment
Bp. Robert Morneau gives keynote address at interfaith climate change conference
By Sarah Malcore
Environmental issues and worship may appear unrelated, but they
are connected, said speakers at an interfaith conference on
climate change and global warming. The 100 attendees learned what
their parishes can do at the Feb. 17 session at the UW-Green Bay
Green Bay Auxiliary Bp. Robert Morneau was the keynote speaker at
the conference, which included a discussion of the scientific
aspects of what global warming is and why it is happening.
Afternoon sessions looked at what parishes and individuals can
Rich Bogovich stressed the need to influence legislators and
public opinion. "We Americans are responsible for 25% of the
greenhouse gases and we only make up 4% of the Earth's
population. That is why it is our responsibility to work toward
fixing this problem."
Bogovich of Wisconsin Environmental Decade, said "talks on global
warming were scheduled to be completed before the end of the
Clinton Administration, but did not happen. Now under the Bush
Administration, things will be held up for a few months. This is
not necessarily a bad thing because the administration commented
that 'they would like to have the time to become familiar with
the issues at hand.'"
Eric Mosher, a climate specialist with the Wisconsin Department
of Natural Resources, advocates forming congregation or
Eco-Teams, Mosher said, "support each other in actions taken to
help conserve energy. An Eco-Team does a number of things
including helping people realize the effects that our actions
have on the environment. It helps bring responsibility back to
"The Eco-Team also gives people a chance to work together to
learn new tricks on conservation," Mosher said. "In addition to
all the positive benefits forming an Eco-Team has to offer, it is
a great opportunity to meet new people."
Mike Mangan, coordinator of Wisconsin Interfaith Power & Light
and an alternative energy specialist, spoke about becoming an
energy stewardship congregation.
"The goal of a being a member of the Wisconsin Interfaith Power &
Light is to find ways to save energy and money," Mangan said. "We
are 'called into action' to find things we can do at home and in
our religious community to reduce energy consumption which will
in turn reduce the global climate change."
Mangan hopes to get 50 like-minded parishes to join together.
"Once this occurs, each parish will be encouraged to tighten up
the buildings and save energy. There is also talk about the
potential group to go in together to get a utility wind turbine.
The wind turbine will hopefully present a symbolism to other
parishes and cause more to participate in using the clean and
free resource that God has provided us."
The Rev. Dave Steffenson, coordinator of the Wisconsin Interfaith
Climate Change Campaign, said, "Sometimes priests are reluctant
to start new programs within a parish for the simple fact that
the question of 'who will oversee this' arises, and the pastor
often ends up with one more thing on his plate."
But, he remains optimistic and said that reluctance by a pastor
is not a reason to give up. "It only takes one enthusiastic
individual to get a program like this off the ground, and that
one person is the one to make the difference," the Rev.