This article can be found published on the Daily Local News‘ website.
RADNOR — Just a few short months since Pope Francis released the environmental encyclical, climate control has come to the forefront of conversation.
Grasping those reins, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey moderated a discussion with area experts and religious leaders about climate change on Friday afternoon at Eastern University.
“His encyclical and his visit are going to be substantial factors in moving the agenda forward to finally begin to wrestle with the challenge of (climate change),” Casey said following the discussion. “We’ll have to figure out ways to sustain the momentum and some of the debates will still continue. Both (the encyclical and visit) have been significant developments.”
Joining the senator on stage in the McInnis Auditorium were the Rev. Mitchell Hescox, president and CEO of the Evangelical Environmental Network; Sister Mary Elizabeth Clark of the Sisters of Saint Joseph Earth Center; Daniel Scheid, assistant professor at McAnulty College & Graduate School of Liberal Arts and of the Department of Theology at Duquesne University; Gretchen Dahlkemper, national field manager at Moms Clean Air Force; and David Unander, professor of Biology at Eastern University.
…[Please continue the story on the Daily Local News website by clicking here.]
“I feel a sense of unworthiness, in some ways, leading off this discussion because this panel has great expertise, great passion, great commitment and scholarship on these issues,” Casey said. “As unworthy as I am to lead off, I’m truly honored to be a part of this. This topic that we’re talking about and the mission-driven approach that we must take to it is a mission worthy of a great country and worthy of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.”
In the pontiff’s encyclical, he called for a new partnership between science and religion to combat the human-driven rise in temperatures.
That same approach is what brought about Friday’s discussion with a mix of scholars and experts in both fields.
The auditorium filled with a variety of people, from students of the university to residents and community members.
“Too often, our public policy debates are limited to back-and-forth in Washington as opposed to coming into communities and engaging people,” Casey said. “(The audience gathered) shows the diversity of coalition that wants to meet the challenge of climate change, and that’s going to be very important, like any major initiative or challenge.”
Though climate change is a worldwide issue, Casey wants the Commonwealth to lead the way in turning things around.
Casey is no stranger to fighting to protect the environment as he has introduced things such as the Clean Vehicles Act and the TRASH act to restrict the flow of out-of-state trash into Pennsylvania, designated Lake Erie’s waters as a marine sanctuary and has urged the USDA to increase support for farmers who try to prevent pollution.
“The voters of our state ratified a constitution. It says people shall have the right to clean air, to pure water and to the preservation of the natural, scenic historic and aesthetic values of the environment. That is a constitutional directive. It’s not a ‘try to’ or ‘see if you can make some progress on’ or a ‘maybe’ or a ‘hope for.’ It’s a directive and we are all bound by that, in my judgement.”
Even after the 2015 World Meeting of Families ends and Pope Francis returns to Vatican City, Casey hopes people in the state and country continue to keep climate change in the forefront and finds ways to reverse our fortunes.
“This is about human life, the world and it’s about how we will live and how we much react and act in this challenge,” he said. “I think we can say we are failing in our duty as stewards of God’s creation. It is imperative for us to develop sensible policies to prevent horrific outcomes over the next century.”