by the Rev. Mitch Hescox
One of the latest examples of gridlock in Washington occurred this morning when my fellow Republicans on the Senate's Environment and PublicWorks (EPW) Committee boycotted a confirmation vote for Gina McCarthy to become the next head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Without the Republicans, the committee didn't have a quorum, and so no vote could be taken.
Across the nation, Christians are sick and tired of Washington's gridlock. We want decisions and not political games. To that end, in March I organized a group of Christian leaders to pray on the lawn of the US Capitol for an end to gridlock; around the country Christians joined us in prayer -- including the states from where these Republican senators on the EPW Committee come from. We prayed that our elected officials would seek common ground for the good of our nation.
I'm on record supporting Gina's nomination. She has excellent qualifications, has the record of listening to all sides, and even has the support of many in industry. I consider her a "good cop" in protecting the health of our children. Even a few weeks ago, not a single Republican during her EPW nomination hearing questioned Ms McCarthy's qualifications. Senator Sessions (AL) even stated she would be confirmed.
If a Senator, Democrat, or Republican, wishes to vote no on Ms McCarthy's nomination, that's their right. But cast a vote, and live by our American democracy and way of life. Too many of our service men and women put their lives on the line everyday (including my own son) to protect our way of life to have Senators play such games.
If Congress doesn't like the Clean Air or the Clean Water Act that protects our children's lives and health, then change the law -- that's part of their job. Just don't play games with the "top cop" for environmental health whose job is to enforce what Congress already passed.
Give Gina McCarthy the confirmation votes she deserves, and let's put in place the "top cop" to protect our children from pollution.
The Rev. Mitchell C. Hescox is President/CEO of the Evangelical Environmental Network.
Today we spent a full day visiting Fombe village in the Chickhwawa district. We met with many of the families (all farmers) and learned a lot about how they are trying to adapt to the changing and uncertain rainfall. We heard story after story of farmers telling us that before the rains used to come in October now they come in December. Here's a group of us in Fombe village today.
When the rains do come they come in downpours leading to significant flooding problems in the surrounding villages. Here's an adaptation dam built to correct a deviated river flow that threatened to destroy several homes in the village.
This year was a good year for rain, but checking on actual official measurements that meant a 6 week rainy season for the year. In that span there were two significant days of rain and no rain after Feb. 17th. These farmers have already abandoned using corn crops for millet. Even that is only enough to last three to four months of the year. So this good year was still not nearly sufficient for survivial.
The next step for food is widespread adaptation of conservation agriculture which involves a specific planting method that keeps nutrients and moisture in the soil. Some farmers are using this new method with success, but there is a long way still to go.
by Alexei Laushkin
Energy poverty is a major challenge when it comes to climate change and Malawi. Only 6% of the country has acess to electricity, with the vast majority of that power coming from centralized grid systems in the cities. Without energy you are literally in the dark.
Here's an example of the sort of energy access available in one of the villages we visited.
This is what energy poverty looks like in the villages of Malawi. This is the only light this family owns. That's it. When it's the middle of the night this lights an entire room. Other than this light the only other option is to start a fire. It's hard to develop without access to energy. One of the keys to overcoming climate change is turning energy poverty into energy prosperity. Decentralized energy in the form of solar, biomass, and mini-hydro are among the market based innovations that will be key.
Without clean and safe sources of energy children suffer. Indoor air pollution is a leading cause for health problems for children in Africa. Women are also susceptible to burns when cooking over large open flames like you see below.
Cleaner burning stoves and solar stoves are an important adaptation that cuts down on the amount of wood needed to heat a stove. But in addition to the cooking needs, addressing energy needs through market based mini-grids are key to helping entrepreneurship thrive. Finding ways to build wealth capacity among the poorest of the poor is one of the best ways to combat the impacts of climate change on these rural communities. Access to food, water, new crop methods, energy, and cleaner stoves are all key to making the prospects for Africa's children much brighter.
Help us share what we're seeing by contributing to our film work.
Our U.S. team are all in country today. We spent the morning meeting with representatives from the government, church, and civil society to hear reports on climate impacts and how they're responding. Their stories and reports were startling. More than once we heard "the challenge and level of response needed is comparable to our efforts around HIV/AIDS."
They have seen a six fold increase in major events which include droughts and floods. The predictability of planting no longer exists. Short rainy seasons are the norm. The result is that in this country where 80% of the 14 million people subside off the land, is real insecurity around food and a major impact on cotton and tobacco sales.
We made the beautiful drive down from Lilongwe to Blantyre in the afternoon and will spend all day tomorrow visiting some local villages to hear first hand testimony.
Thursday, April 11, 2013, was a good day. First, I had the honor to speak with one of my senators, Bob Casey, and thank him for continuing to stand firm in protecting our children from mercury poisoning. During the recent Senate budget vote-a-thon,Senator Casey voted no on an amendment offered by Senator Coats that would have delayed the implementation of the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards. These standards are critical to reducing the one in six babies born with threatening levels of mercury. Senator Casey understands that protecting our children from toxic chemicals both inside and outside the womb is a pro-life issue.
Additionally, I asked Senator Casey to support Gina McCarthy as the new Administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency. "Why?" asked theSenator. I replied, "Gina and I have become friends over the last several years and I am confident she will make an excellent EPA Administrator. She is a good cop for protecting our childrenand considers all viewpoints." (Please see my March 4 post.) Senator Casey was a bit surprised that that a former coal miner's son personally knew the EPA Administrator nominee. Hopefully, my opinions were helpful as the Senator expressed his support for Gina.
Second, I was privileged to attend the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee confirmation hearing of Gina McCarthy. Right before the hearing I told Gina I was praying for her. I continued praying in the EPW hearing room. My prayers were for peace and wisdom not only for Gina but also for all the senators. I don't know about you, but I'm tired of Washington's partisanship. It's long past time for all America,including our elected and appointed political leaders, to work together. And yesterday demonstrated that prayer works.
From the beginning of the Obama Administration my fellow Republicans have used the EPA as their favorite political punching bag. Here's the problem with that: no one should try to score political points at the expense of our children's health.
But I'm proud to say that las tweek's hearing was respectful all around. The top Republican (or Ranking Member) Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) did have some tough things to say about the EPA, but treated Gina fairly, as did the rest of my fellow Republicans on the EPW Committee. I especially liked Senator Sessions approach,and the prediction that Gina would be confirmed.
Last week was more proof in power of prayer. I'll continue prayers for Gina as she leads the EPA, but I will also pray for all our elected and appointed leaders. I would encourage you to do the same.
Christians Gather to Pray for National Challenges
Bipartisan Leadership Needed to Tackle Immigration, Entitlement Reform, Poverty,Environmental Health, & Unemployment
Our nation faces critical challenges, and in this time of extreme partisan politics, the inability of our government to take action impacts the nation and the world. The Christian church cannot idly withdraw its presence. Christians are ambassadors of our loving God,and we need to take action. Coming from our evangelical tradition, the first action remains prayer.
Prayer Vigil Program
Purpose and Call To Prayer
Greetings and Introductions of Elected Officials Present
Matthew 5:1-14 (NIV)
Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountain side and sat down. His disciples came tohim, 2 and he began to teach them.
3 "Blessedare the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 "Blessedare you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds ofevil against you because of me.12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
13 "You arethe salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
14 "You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.
God of all ages,
in your sight nations rise and fall, and pass through time of peril.
Now when our land is troubled,be near to judge and save.
May leaders be led by your wisdom;
may they search your will and see clearly.
If we have turned from your way,
reverse our ways and help us to repent.
Give us your light and your truth, let them guide us;
through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of this world, and our Savior. Amen.
(Presbyterian USA Worship book)
1 Timothy 2:1-4 (NIV)
I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people" 2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.
Prayer For All Government Leaders
God of power and might, wisdom and justice,
through you authority is rightly administered,
laws are enacted, and judgment is decreed.
Assist with your spirit of counsel and fortitude
the President and other government leaders of these United States.
May they always seek
the ways of righteousness, justice, and mercy.
Grant that they may be enabled by your powerful protection
to lead our country with honesty and integrity.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Micah 6:6-8 (NIV)
6 With what shall I come before the Lord
and bow down before the exalted God?
Shall I come before him with burnt offerings,
with calves a year old?
7 Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams,
with ten thousand rivers of olive oil?
Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression,
the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
8 He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.
Look graciously, O Lord, upon our nation and its leaders.
Where there is pride, subdue it.
Where there is need provide it.
Where there is error, rectify it.
Where there is fault, correct it.
And where we hold tothat which is just and compassionate, support it. Amen
Proverbs 1:20-21 (NIV)
20 Out in the open wisdom calls aloud,
she raises her voice in the public square;
21 on top of the wall she cries out,
at the city gate she makes her speech:
Lord, I pray for all government officials.
I pray for the president, that he may conduct the affairs of national government with wisdom, bravery, and true justice.
I pray for the members of Congress that they may truly represent the needs of the people, and work in harmony for the advancement of all men, women, and children.
I pray for the judges that rule the courts of our land, that they may balance justice with mercy, and civil law with divine mandate.
Grant all of our national,state, and local leaders the gifts of wisdom, justice, counsel, and fortitude,that they may conduct the affairs of humanity in accord with the will of God.
Grant to all the gift of respect for lawful authority, justly exercised, that we may live as a united people, one nation under God.
May all the governments of the world seek to reconcile power with the needs of society. May they all strive to form bonds of unity between countries, that we may one day share a united world of prosperity and peace. Amen. (based on Praying for Our Nation)
Philippians 2:1-12 (NIV)
2 Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7 rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death"
even death on a cross!
9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
12 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence continue to workout your salvation with fear and trembling,
The Lord's Prayer
Our Father, which art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy Name.
Thy Kingdom come.
Thy will be done in earth,
As it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive them that trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
The power, and the glory,
For ever and ever.