The Compass: Official Newspaper of the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay
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February 23, 2001 Issue
Local News

Parishes, individuals told how to help environment

Bp. Robert Morneau gives keynote address at interfaith climate change conference

By Sarah Malcore
Compass Correspondent

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 Ecumenical Center.

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 do.

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 neighborhood Eco-Teams.

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 'me'.

"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. Steffenson said.

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