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CNY Faith Leaders Get Behind Efforts To Reduce Fossil Fuel Dependence, Adopt Renewable Energy


Leaders from just about every faith in Central New York are throwing their support behind efforts to reduce or eliminate fossil fuel dependence. The group Climate Change Awareness & Action brought together some of the leaders virtually Monday, just ahead of Earth Day on Thursday. 

Episcopal Bishop Rev. Dr. Dede Duncan-Probe says communities of faith need to get involved with environmental activism.

"It is clear that when climate change occurs and is occurring in this world, that people of color, of poverty,   people who do not have the power over their environment are often the first to suffer the tragic consequences.  As people of faith, it is essential that we not only speak out, but that we take measures to be part of the solution."

A large part of that solution centers on New York States Climate Leadership Community Protection act of 2019. The act mandates that new york state cuts its Fossil fuel emissions by 40 percent by 2030. To do so, it looks to local community leaders to make climate conscious changes. Oren Lyons with the Onondaga Nation has been warning local residents...and the world about the effects of fossil fuels for decades.

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Oren Lyons with the Onondaga Nation has been raising awareness about how we use the earth's resources and the lasting impact of pollution on the land, water, and air for decades.

"We're in very dire straits at this point.  I made this speech at the United Nations in 2000.   I brought the issue of the environment, I said the ice is melting.  So, here we are, 21 years later, and the issue is just now beginning to resound, and basically not getting very much response from industry, corporations.  That's who we're talking to."       

Lyons urges the community to bond together and make behavioral changes that focus on sustainability. He believes that changing the way people relate to the planet will foster a healthier environment.  Cornell University Professor and climate scientist Robert Howarth agrees.  He says while large scale change is critical and urgent, he’s optimistic.

"The good news is we have a path.  Renewable energy sources and technologies are now quite affordable.  In fact, they're less expensive than fossil fuels when we consider the damage to human health and to climate change."

Cornell University Prof. and Climate Scientist Bob Howarth says the Earth continues to warm at a rapid rate, which will lead to further climate disruption in the form of stronger storms, more frequent and greater floods, larger, intense fires, longer and deeper droughts, and pronounced changes in ocean and atmospheric circulation.
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Howarth is a member of the climate action council, which is preparing a scoping plan to achieve the state’s clean energy and climate agenda. He says the need for action is dire. The Earth keeps getting warmer, CO2 levels keep rising, and storms keep getting stronger. Howarth says human intervention, at both the local and national levels, presents our best chance at putting a stop to climate change.

Scott Willis covers politics, local government, transportation, and arts and culture for WAER. He came to Syracuse from Detroit in 2001, where he began his career in radio as an intern and freelance reporter. Scott is honored and privileged to bring the day’s news and in-depth feature reporting to WAER’s dedicated and generous listeners. You can find him on twitter @swillisWAER and email him at