What Is The Defining Issue Of Our Time?

Carol George

Duluth residents, Sally Munger and Beth Tamminen, agree with the 97% of climate scientists who believe the answer to this question is unequivocal: Climate Change.
 They want to invite you to join them for the People’s Climate March and Rally starting at Leif Erikson Park at 1pm on Saturday, April 29th. Rain or shine, it’s a ¾ mile walk along the Lakewalk to Lake Place Park. Parking is at the Rose Garden & London Rd. This will be held in conjunction with the People’s Climate March in Washington, D.C. and around the world.

 How Our Local Movement Evolved
 Sally Munger offered succinctly, “Climate change is the overarching issue of our time.” Religious, non-religious, conservative, liberal, young, old and everyone in between; it is an issue that affects us all and we have a moral obligation to help fix it, especially for future generations. Regardless of our personal beliefs and biases, the evidence is clear: the planet is warming up due to human activity and we are already seeing the negative impact it is having.

 Munger continued, “Our Unitarian Universalist national organization (UUA) had a Statement of Conscience on climate change because of its overriding importance. I encouraged our minister and folks in our local congregation to become more involved, and in 2014 we created a Climate Action Team which is still going strong.”

Tamminen added, “Just after the Minnesota legislature passed a bill encouraging the development of community solar gardens, we started to find out that there were people from other faith communities who also had a strong interest in this. Since we had very little solar energy in Duluth, members of local faith communities offered up their buildings as possible locations for these solar gardens. Twenty faith leaders got together and wrote Minnesota Power a letter, asking them to ‘Please partner with us because we want to help make this happen…’ We received a cordial response but no action on their part. Minnesota Power had another plan in mind and many reservations about community solar gardens and any kind of distributed solar energy.”

 “During this same time, we also learned about a national organization, Interfaith Power and Light, which has 40 active chapters around the United States. Our state chapter, Minnesota Interfaith Power and Light has been very active in creating community solar gardens in Minneapolis so we decided to work with them. They sent a staff person up to help us develop our own climate care teams and come up with plans, actions and initiatives that would be adapted to Duluth and we’re still working on that.” Minnesota Interfaith Power and Light along with the Sierra Club are co-sponsoring the April 29th March.


Marches In The Past
 In September 2014, there was a climate march in New York City with an estimated four hundred thousand people demonstrating.  Duluthians had a companion hike the same day with about a one hundred and fifty people gathering at Kingsbury Creek by the zoo, highlighting the damage caused by torrential rains and flooding in 2012.

 Additionally, in November 2015, local activists decided it was important for Duluth to show its support for the Paris Climate Summit. Two hundred or so people showed for a rally at First Lutheran and walked along the Lakewalk for this event.
More Details About The People’s Climate March on April 29
 At 1:00pm, the Duluth People’s Climate March will join 250 sister marches around the globe. Their theme is, “We Resist, We Build, We Rise.” The march will celebrate local leadership while demanding broader action and supporting the transition to a new clean energy economy. The goal is to directly and rapidly reduces greenhouse gas and toxic pollution, combatting climate change while improve public health.

 Unfortunately, climate change has become politicized and is inextricably tangled up with the global economy and big money interests. 
 One counter concern is that green initiatives are too costly and will damage the U.S. economy, but according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, climate change is a much bigger culprit. 2016 was a devastating year with fifteen major weather and climate events with monetary losses exceeding one billion dollars each. Drought, wildfires, inland floods, severe storms and a tropical cyclone caused a total of $46 billion dollars worth of damage.

 Both Tamminen and Munger want to emphasize that this is neither a Republican vs. Democrat issue, nor a rich vs. poor issue, nor liberal vs. conservative issue; this is an issue for all of humankind and all plant and animal life on our planet. We must put aside our differences and come together to find solutions for ourselves, for our children and for all future generations.

 “It took tobacco companies fifty years to come ‘round and acknowledge that cigarettes were a health hazard and caused cancer. We don’t have fifty years for big oil and coal to acknowledge what we already know. Time is running out and the time is now,” Munger said. “We have to do this.”