Gathering of religious leaders

Published 12:00 am Monday, January 18, 1999

By Paula Henderson / L’Observateur / January 18, 1999

DEAR EDITOR: I was inspired by a recent gathering of religious leaders from six southeastern states who came to New Orleans to learn more about the universal problems created by global warming – problems which most directly impact coastal regions like Louisiana. I was refreshed by theirperspective that care of our environment is a spiritual responsibility and by their commitment to organize their communities to take active steps to reverse the onslaught of man-made climate change.

On the other hand, I was appalled when the head of the New Orleans Chamber of Commerce, Robert H. Gayle Jr., declared in a letter to theeditor that there was no need to worry because there is “not an established fact that anything created by man is causing temperatures around the planet to rise.” This “head in the sand” approach advocated byindustries who are reluctant to modernize their methods is not doing any of us any good. Mr. Gayle would do better to advise his business membersto look to the examples of industry leaders, such as Lockheed Martin, who have realized that it is in their best economic interest to get involved in being part of the solution and have joined in the national Business Environmental Leadership Council to deal with the reality of necessary change.

Global warming is not the bogeyman out there in the dark, as backward- looking businesses would have us believe. We are already feeling it inrecord-breaking heat and drought, unusually severe weather systems, and deadly tropical storms. We are seeing it in measurable sea-level rise, landsubsidence, coastal erosion, and a growing dead zone in the Gulf. Thesechanges may be good for the mosquitoes, but they are disastrous for our economy – agriculture, forestry, seafood, and the tourism industry, for our environment, and for the health of our families and communities across the state.

Fortunately, we have had a wake-up call. There are concrete steps we cantake which will actually improve our quality of life and the lives of our pocketbooks – but most importantly, the lives of our children and their children.

Paula Henderson Baton Rouge

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