The Editors – National Catholic Reporter

Kudos to Joseph Iannone who suggested Pastors take a lead in placing solar panels on buildings to mitigate global warming. Thomas Edison said, “I would put my money on solar.”

At one point in USA history there were more Catholic Churches than Post Offices in our country. How many have solar panels in 2016?

It is certain that Pope Benedict made Vatican City “carbon neutral” by placing solar panels on buildings there. Vatican City is the first city-state/nation to achieve that status. 195 countries will eventually follow into the solar age. Theologian Reinhold Niebuhr said, “Nothing worthwhile is achieved in a lifetime. We must rely upon hope.” Thomas Berry (1914-2009) believed we have one daunting challenge in life: survival. Franciscan spiritual leader Richard Rohr points out the first incarnation was creation itself. Christmas is when we recall the compassion of God taking on human flesh. The “second incarnation” occurred prior to our industrial revolution and excavation of fossil fuels. One ton of coal emits more than two tons of carbon dioxide now making the ocean dangerously acidic. If more than half of our oxygen flows from ocean going plankton, we must cease killing this bountiful body of water. Shifting to renewable energy is our means to make life on earth possible.

The Universalist Church in Lakeview, near New Orleans was the first and only church to install solar panels in Louisiana.

The Sierra Club is the largest environmental organization in the nation. The Sierra magazine for November-December 2016 carried an article on “Climate Steward” Rev. Rodrick Burton, Pastor of the Northside Missionary Baptist Church in St. Louis, MO. He is happy to report “we save $3,000 annually. But we are leasing the panels. In 20 years when we own the panels, our electric bill will go down 40 percent.”

The laboratories located in Mauna Loa, Hawaii and another in Cape Grim, Australia report carbon dioxide emissions have gone beyond 400 parts per million. Carbon dioxide coming into contact with water is basic high school chemistry warning all to change our ways. In 1968 Thomas Merton said, “We must develop an ecological consciousness – and fast.”

An ecumenical environmental action of placing solar panels on thousands of church buildings is a certain effort in reducing carbon dioxide emissions.

Two churches in Louisiana and Missouri are to be applauded for solar leadership.