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Parishioners Discuss Their Climate Change Hopes and Fears

By Amanda Erickson


Parishioner Mary Lou Rife worries about how climate change will impact the most vulnerable. “It will be the poor people who feel its impact first,” she said.

Even in Washington, D.C., low-income residents in Wards 7 and 8 are more likely to live along the Anacostia river, and to be impacted by rising waters. Changes to the river can also impact water quality and access to clean water. And climate change can also exacerbate chronic health conditions like asthma.

Rife is uplifted, however, by the work of the Holy Trinity Green Team, which has inspired parishioners to live greener lives. Rife said she and her husband, like many parishioners, have incorporated compost and LED lighting in their home.

Her family has also focused on cutting water usage.

Rife was also inspired by a year-long reflection on Pope Francis’s Laudato Si', which gave her a deeper understanding of the powerful encyclical.

Parishioner Annie Hisle is inspired by the engagement of people around the work. “It’s exciting that so many young people are getting involved,” she said, highlighting the work of young activists like Greta Thunberg.

She is also inspired by the way more and more religious leaders like Pope Francis are taking up the fight against climate change. And she is moved by the way people are learning from each other to fight climate change with their own actions. “We’re learning from one another,” she said. “Inspiring people inspire.”

She has friends who have chosen to eat less meat or buy fuel-efficient cars because they were motivated by others.

Yet, she worries about the scale of change that will be necessary to fight climate change. “We really need to change our ways on a bigger and bigger scale,” she said, noting that we can’t assume that those in charge will figure out a way. “I think we all have to be as serious as we can about what we can do, and bringing others on board."

She points to projects like the Citizen's Climate Lobby, which is pushing a carbon tax, with proceeds mailed directly to American citizens: “We all have to be involved in changing structures and influencing our government."


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