Last month, I took a day off work to jump on a boat with a group called “GreenFaith” to visit the Block Island Wind Farm off Rhode Island. It is the only wind farm off the US coast — in contrast, Europe has built 4000 offshore wind farms since 1991.
I had not expected the emotional impact of riding out to these five gigantic and beautiful structures, washed by the wind the entire way, suspended in the ubiquity of energy that exists in the air off our coasts. Staring up at the blades and the platform that workers access through an elevator inside the enormous supporting pole, I felt like I was seeing the image of a possible future, that slim chance we will make it to the other side of this century with a climate that will support higher life.
I was moved to tears. Now these enormous structures have pylons that extend 70 feet into the ocean and 60 feet into the Earth’s crust below that — if I remember the lecture accurately. They are monuments to what is actually possible with the skills of our iron workers and specialized turbine mechanics. The mechanics were just leaving for the day in a boat dwarfed by the windmills…so tiny in the distance with structures towering over them.
The future is an ocean horizon with workers sharing our genuine concern for the well-being of whales and sea birds—and a livable climate. This can be achieved by work that is done at the correct time of year, at the correct height, and in the correct location from an ecosystem perspective. The ironworkers in Rhode Island were advised by the National Wildlife Federation, working collaboratively.
In New York State (NYS), ceaseless advocacy resulted in NYS choosing to build a wind farm in state waters off Long Island, while forgoing the chance to build a liquid natural gas export facility. Construction is set to begin soon! This one decision made me feel like it’s possible to turn NYS around — though it is not at the moment leading in any category of sustainable energy development. Future wind farms are expected to be 20 miles offshore, in federal waters, unlike these two accessible, state-permitted farms.
A few words on GreenFaith Interfaith Partnership For the Environment: these forward-looking priests, ministers, reverends, rabbis, imams, and other religious leaders sent the invitation far and wide for environmentalists from Rhode Island and surrounding states to come see the gorgeous windmills and set our intentions towards demanding more offshore windmill construction. This is one of the most crucial things we can do, to love and preserve our planet, which is buckling under the weight of our collective demand for energy.
The group is international and has listed on their website many programs in which your church or other faith group can get involved.
Their six key points of unity are:
Six Key Points within the Interfaith Climate Change Statement:
- Urge governments to rapidly sign, ratify and implement the Paris Agreement, and to increase pledges to reduce emissions in line with keeping the global temperature rise to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels;
- Insist on rapid emissions reduction and peaking by 2020, in order to keep the 1.5C goal within reach;
- Strongly advocate for greater flows of finance, especially for adaptation and loss and damage;
- Urge the swift phase-out of all fossil fuel subsidies and a transition to 100% renewable energy by 2050;
- Encourage faith communities to reduce emissions in their homes, workplaces and centers of worship and to support and stand in solidarity with communities already impacted by climate change; and
- Call for fossil fuel divestment and reinvestment in renewables and low carbon solutions, including within our own communities, and/or by engaging companies on climate change.
I couldn’t say it better; the time to change is now.