By Lynne Nittler

The Yolo Interfaith Alliance for Climate Justice Conference: Putting Faith into Action brought together 113 people on Sunday, April 30 at the Davis United Methodist Church.

Our topic could not have been more timely. The IPCC released its report the following morning with the warning words from Rajendra Pachauri, the chair of the IPCC, “no one on this planet will be untouched by climate change.”

Adrienne Alvord, our keynote speaker and Director of Western States for Union of Concerned Scientists, spoke on “Science and Faith: Working Together to Inspire Action on Climate Change”. She took us through the sobering scientific reality of climate change to some encouraging actions taking place at the state and local levels. But what stood out for many of us was the turning point in her talk when she admitted that facts alone are not enough to turn us away from fossil fuel; we have to settle into our hearts and understand what is truly at stake. This latest UN report predicts crop failures and resulting hunger, glacier melting and loss of downstream water supplies, violent conflicts over lack of food and water, increasing health crises from heat waves and floods, and more.

The determination to change ourselves, our government, and our corporations comes when we allow ourselves to take in the human suffering already imposed by climate change, and move to action from that motivation, as Adrienne suggested.


In our workshops, participants considered whether to advocate at a political level by speaking up to legislators, or by taking action with a group such as Citizens Climate Lobby which calls for a particular solution: a carbon tax. Many conference participants chose the practical pair of panels on greening our homes and greening our places of worship, knowing we must align our personal lives with our beliefs even as we advocate for policy changes. Others took time to evaluate their ethical eating choices with Chef Debra or to reflect on how our various faiths speak of climate change.

From the opening blessing and song, every contribution added to the richness of our time together. Twenty seven people helped with the program in various capacities, others volunteered with the logistics of the afternoon, and 76 folks came to learn and exchange ideas, so 113 folks in all.

Our youth

Seven youths from the Lutheran Churches in town joined us for part of the afternoon, reminding us of the line in the Pete Seeger song we sang, “When we sing with younger folks, we can never give up hope!/ God’s counting on me, God’s counting on you.”

Save the Date:  March 7, 2015 Interfaith Conference with Kathleen Dean Moore

I know that Kathleen Dean Moore will move us profoundly when we hear her at next year’s conference on Saturday, March 7, 2015. As a preview, consider listening to her speech at the recent Spring Creek Project Symposium in Corvallis, Oregon: Transformation without Apocalypse: How to Live Well on an Altered Planet here, or read some of her books described at

Let us hope this year’s conference generated small actions that will inspire a crescendo of actions, so when we gather with Kathleen Dean Moore we will affirm that yes, we have a moral obligation to take action to protect the future of a planet in peril, and we will state what we have done both individually and together to fulfill that obligation.

In closing, we repeat words read from the International Dharma Teachers’ Statement on Climate Change: The Earth as Witness.

Today humanity faces an unprecedented crisis of almost unimaginable magnitude….

To be wise we must also, individually and as a society, adopt the firm intention to do whatever is necessary, no matter what the cost, to reduce the climate crisis to manageable levels and over time re-stabilize our planet’s climate….

…we come together to celebrate our love for the natural world and all of the beings that inhabit it…Together, we can seek to ensure that our descendants and fellow species inherit a livable planet.