Religion's Role in Climate Change

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Hava Tirosh-Samuelson, PhD (left), a professor of history and director of the Jewish Studies Program at Arizona State University, is one of 30 representatives of different major faiths discussing the world’s climate issues at this weekend’s Interfaith Summit on Climate Change, held in Uppsala, Sweden.

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Hosted by the Church of Sweden, the summit serves as an example of how the humanities and religion can make a difference with urgent worldwide issues.

“Today, it is widely acknowledged that world religions have an important role to play in revisioning a sustainable future, because religions are the repositories of values and norms that guide human actions toward the natural world,” Dr. Tirosh-Samuelson says. “Through cosmological narratives, symbols, rituals, ethical directives and institutional structures, religions shape, albeit not exclusively, how we act toward the environment. Hence, all attempts to transform our environmental attitudes so as to generate a sustainable world must include understanding of world religions and cooperation with religious people.”

At the summit, representatives will sign the Uppsala Manifesto, which will create a new framework for discussions about climate change after the Kyoto agreement expires in 2012.

The manifesto will communicate an urgent and ethical-religious message to the international community to slow down global warming by developing technologies that make efficient use of resources for heating, operating vehicles and industrial processes. It also calls for developing climate-conscious lifestyles among large populations with comparatively high levels of material consumption.

The manifesto will be made public after today and will be presented for ratification by the European Union.

Photo by Tom Story/Arizona State University

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