We need to move past disbelief, apathy, and the fears holding back ecological balance and recognize climate change for the moral issue that it is. We as individuals are connected with all creation on Earth.
This message brought a capacity crowd to Good Counsel Hill in Mankato on Saturday, November 9, for the Eighth Annual Earth Conference sponsored by the Center for Earth Spirituality and Earth Ministry focusing on Climate Change: Finding Hope for a Healthy Planet.
The Center for Earth Spirituality and Earth Ministry, is one of the ministries of the School Sisters of Notre Dame (SSND). The Center embraces people on all spiritual paths and encourages them to strive toward earth justice and sustainability through education, spirituality, sustainable agriculture, rural ministry, and political advocacy. You can read more about the Center here.
CURE Senior Director, Duane Ninneman, was this year’s conference keynote speaker. Ninneman presented a brief history of climate change, a climate science overview, and the latest climate facts and trends. His two-part talk featured work underway by organizations and individuals statewide who are building the climate movement and moving our state to a low-carbon sustainable future.
Minnesota is a national leader in addressing climate change through policy and community action. Utilities in Minnesota are all meeting statewide renewable energy goals. Government agencies and business institutions have incorporated sustainable design into new buildings and adopted sustainable practices as part of their operations. Many Minnesotans have come to understand that reducing atmospheric carbon and reducing our use of fossil fuels such as coal, will help keep the worst consequences of climate change in check. Minnesota just hosted its first climate adaptation conference in response to the changes we are already experiencing.
The best immediate strategy with the most societal benefit to meet carbon reduction goals is to retire and replace the oldest and dirtiest coal-fired power plants in Minnesota. Xcel Energy’s Sherco 1 and 2 should be next in line.
CURE members from across the state joined over 11,400 Minnesotans who filed a record number of comments with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) urging electricity regulators to replace the state’s largest carbon polluters—Xcel Energy’s Sherco 1 and 2 coal-burning power plants in Becker, MN—with energy efficiency and cleaner forms of energy such as wind and solar. Comments were generated with the help of students from the University of MN Morris MPIRG Chapter, the attendees at the Granite Falls’ Climate, Energy and Health Public Forum and from the commitment of CURE’s committed members to speak up on this important issue.
Ninneman ended his presentation by returning to the title of the conference: Finding Hope for a Healthy Planet.
I think hope is that place populated by ordinary people who get out of bed every day, go off to work or school, and face the many challenges of everyday life. It’s a place shared by dreamers, artists, and storytellers. It’s where we meet problem solvers, caretakers, and the spiritual. Hope is found in ordinary struggle and hope expands when we come together as community to confront big challenges together. We find hope together and hope will thrive when our common purpose is to leave the world in a healthier, more equitable and just condition than we found it.