Climate One hosts a panel of religious leaders who discuss the intersection of interfaith teaching and sustainable environment development.
Rabbi Yonatan Neril, founder and executive director of The Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development, spoke of the message in the book of Genesis, Chapter 1: "And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth." As part of the oral Jewish tradition, Rabbi Neril stated, "We are only given dominion over creation if we act righteously."
The scripture that Rev. Canon Sally G. Bingham, president and founder of Interfaith Power & Light, calls on to support an environmental ethic is the second commandment, to love your neighbor as yourself. "If you love your neighbor, you don't put engine oil in your storage drain behind your house because it goes to your neighbor and then it goes to the Bay and to the fish, and who eats the fish? We do. And that points out the interconnectedness of all things," she said, then added, "Religion would not have a prayer without science." Her organization stays in close contact with what the scientists are saying, and translates that into religious language to teach to her constituencies.
Rev. Ng believes that scientists are partners with all of humankind to understand "the beautiful world that God has created in the first place." He stated that when science and religion are in conflict, it's when religious leaders read scripture in a very literal fashion. "Science and scientists have helped us to see how the world has come to be, and there needs to be a constant dialog so that we can understand how discoveries can inform each other. I don't see a conflict [between science and religion]." A few years ago, he had solar panels installed on his church. "We have reduced our energy bill and are contributing electricity back into the grid," he said. The savings go toward the ministry. "I've always operated with the understanding that when we are doing the morally right thing, God will bless us beyond our imagination."
According to Rabbi Neril, "The environmental crisis is actually a spiritual crisis. It's a crisis of how we live as spiritual beings in a material reality. Consequently, a lot of the changes that religions can be most effective and encouraging are spiritual changes." He believes that finding spiritual contentment is "the greatest source of our pleasure, and weaning ourselves away from finding our greatest pleasure in material satisfaction-that shift, that reorientation-is a tremendous environmental act." - Lucy Sanna
Reverend Sally Bingham
Sally has brought widespread attention to the link between religious faith and the environment through her work on The Regeneration Project and the Interfaith Power & Light campaign. As one of the first faith leaders to fully recognize global warming as a core moral issue, she has mobilized thousands of religious people to put their faith into action through energy stewardship. Sally serves as Canon for the Environment in the Episcopal Diocese of California and is the lead author of Love God Heal Earth, published by St. Lynn’s Press in 2009. In 2012, Sally was awarded the Audubon Society’s Rachel Carson Award for her environmental leadership.
Gregory Dalton is chief operating officer at the Commonwealth Club of California and Director of The Club's Climate 1 Initiative. He previously was international editor at The Industry Standard magazine, an editor for the Associated Press in New York, and a correspondent in China and Canada for the South China Morning Post, a Hong Kong newspaper.
Proficient in both Mandarin and Cantonese, he is a former term member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
Rabbi Yonatan Neril
Yonatan Neril directs The Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development and its branches Jewish Eco Seminars and Eco Israel Tours. A native of California, he completed an MA and BA from Stanford University with a focus on global environmental issues, and received rabbinical ordination in Israel. He has spoken internationally on religion and the environment, and organized two interfaith environmental conferences in Jerusalem in which religious leaders of several faiths spoke. He is the lead author and general editor of two publications on Jewish environmental ethics. He lives with his wife, Shana, and son, Shacharya, in Jerusalem.Yonatan Neril directs The Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development and its branches Jewish Eco Seminars and Eco Israel Tours. A native of California, he completed an MA and BA from Stanford University with a focus on global environmental issues, and received rabbinical ordination in Israel. He has spoken internationally on religion and the environment, and organized two interfaith environmental conferences in Jerusalem in which religious leaders of several faiths spoke. He is the lead author and general editor of two publications on Jewish environmental ethics. He lives with his wife, Shana, and son, Shacharya, in Jerusalem.
Reverend Donald Ng
Senior Pastor of the First Chinese Baptist Church, in San Fran.cisco, California