Joint Appeal by Religion and Science for the Environment


Washington, DC, May 12, 1992

We are people of faith and of science who, for centuries, often have traveled different roads. In a time of environmental crisis, we find these roads converging. As this meeting symbolizes, our two ancient, sometimes antagonistic, traditions now reach out to one another in a common endeavor to preserve the home we share.

We humans are endowed with self-awareness, intelligence and compassion. At our best, we cherish and seek to protect all life and the treasures of the natural world. But we are now tampering with the climate. We are thinking the ozone layer and creating holes in it. We are poisoning the air, the land and the water. We are destroying the forests, grasslands and other ecosystems. We are causing the extinction of species at a pace not seen since the end of the age of the dinosaurs. As a result, many scientific projections suggest a legacy for our children and grandchildren of compromised immune systems, increased infectious disease and cancer rates, destroyed plants and consequent disruption of the food chain, agriculture damaged from drought and ultraviolet light, accelerated destruction of forests and species, and vastly increased numbers of environmental refugees. Many perils may be still undiscovered. The burdens, as usual, will fall most cruelly upon the shoulders of the poorest among us, especially upon children. But no one will be unaffected. At the same time, the human community grows
by a quarter of a million people every day, mostly in the poorest nations and communities. That this crisis was brought about in part through inadvertence does not excuse us. Many nations are responsible. The magnitude of this crisis means that it cannot be resolved unless many nations work together. We must now join forces to that end.

Our own country is the leading polluter on Earth, generating more greenhouse gases, especially CO2, than any other country. Not by word alone but by binding action, our nation has an inescapable moral duty to lead the way to genuinely effective solutions. We signers of this declaration--leaders in religion and science--call upon our government to change national policy so that the United States will begin to ease, not continue to increase, the burdens on our biosphere and their effect upon the planet's people.

We believe that science and religion, working together, have an essential contribution to make toward any significant mitigation and resolution of the world environmental crisis. What good are the most fervent moral imperatives if we do not understand the dangers and how to avoid them? What good is all the data in the world without a steadfast moral compass? Many of the consequences of our present assault on the environment, even if halted today, will take decades and centuries to play themselves out. How will our children and grandchildren judge our stewardship of the Earth? What will they think of us? Do we not have a solemn obligation to leave them a better world and to insure the integrity of nature itself? Insofar as our peril arises from a neglect of moral values, human pride, arrogance, inattention, greed, improvidence, and a penchant for the short-term over the long, religion has an essential role to play. Insofar as our peril arises from our ignorance of the intricate interconnectedness of nature, science has an essential role to play.

Differences of perspective remains among us. We do not have to agree on how the natural world was made to be willing to work together to preserve it. On that paramount objective we affirm a deep sense of common cause.

Commitment to environmental integrity and justice, across a broad spectrum and at the highest level of leadership, continues to grow in the United States religious community as an issue of utmost priority--significantly as a result of fruitful conversations with the scientific community. We believe that the dimensions of this crisis are still not sufficiently taken to heart by our leaders, institutions and industries. We accept our responsibility to help make known to the millions we serve and teach the nature and consequences of the environmental crisis, and what is required to overcome it. We believe that our current economic behavior and policies emphasize short-term individual material goals at the expense of the common good and of future generations. When we consider the long-term as well as the short-term costs, it seems clear that addressing this problem now rather than later makes economic as well as moral sense. We impoverish our own children and grandchildren by insisting that they deal with dangers that we could have averted at far less cost in resources and human suffering.

We reaffirm here, in the strongest possible terms, the indivisibility of social justice and the preservation of the environment. We also affirm and support the indigenous peoples in the protection and integrity of their cultures and lands. We believe the wealthy nations of the North, which have historically exploited the natural and human resources of the Southern nations, have a moral obligation to make available additional financial resources and appropriate technology to strengthen their capacity for their
own development. We believe the poor and vulnerable workers in our own land should not be asked to bear disproportionate burdens. And we must end the dumping of toxic waste materials disproportionately in communities of low income and of people of color. We recognize that there is a vital connection between peacemaking and protecting our environment. Collectively, the nations of the world spend one trillion dollars a year on military programs. If even a modest portion of this money were spent on environmental programs and sustainable economic development we could take a major step toward environmental security.

We commit ourselves to work together for a United States that will lead the world in the efficient use of fossil fuels, in devising and utilizing renewable sources of energy, in phasing out all significant ozone-depleting chemicals, in halting deforestation and slowing the decline in species diversity, in planting forests and restoring other habitats, and in realizing worldwide social justice. We believe there is a need for concerted efforts to stabilize world population by humane, responsible and voluntary means consistent with our differing values. For these, and other reasons, we believe that special attention must be paid to education and to enhancing the roles and the status of women.

Despite the seriousness of this crisis, we are hopeful. We humans, in spite of our faults, can be intelligent, resourceful, compassionate, prudent and imaginative. We have access to great reservoirs of moral and spiritual courage. Deep within us stirs a commitment to the health, safety and future of our children. Understanding that the world does not belong to any one nation or generation, and sharing a spirit of utmost urgency, we dedicate ourselves to undertake bold action to cherish and protect the environment of our planetary home.


Dr. Diane Ackerman, Poet, Naturalist, Author.

Dr. John F. Ahearne, Executive Director, Sigma Xi.

Dr. Richard Cartwright Austin, S.T.D., Environmental Theologian with Appalachian Ministries Educational Resource Center.

Dr. Ian Barbour, Professor Emeritus, Religion Department, Carlton College.

Reverend James Bell, Executive Director, Interfaith IMPACT for Justice and Peace.

The Reverend Thomas Berry, Director, Riverdale Center for Religious Research.

Dr. Alan Betts, Atmospheric Research.

Sally Grover Bingham, California Diocese: Environmental Commission, Episcopal Church.

Dr. Elizabeth Bowen, Representative, National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahai's of the United States, President-Elect, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Assistant Professor of Family Medecine, Morehouse School of Medecine.

The Most Reverend Edmond L. Browning, Presiding Bishop, Episcopal Church of America.

Reverend William J. Byron, S.J., President, The Catholic University of America.

Reverend Joan Campbell, General-Secretary, National Council of Churches of Christ.

Mr. John Carr, Secretary for Department of Social Development and World Peace, United States Catholic Conference.

The Rt. Reverend Frank S. Cerveny, Bishop of the Diocese of Florida, Episcopal Environment Commission.

Dr. Charles Chambers, Executive Director, American Institute of Biological Sciences.

Dr. Audrey Chapman, Program Director for Science and Human Rights, American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Reverend Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr., Executive Director of the Commission for Racial Justice, United Church of Christ.

The Reverend Dr. Herbert W. Chilstrom, Bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Dr. Eric Chivian, Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, Psychiatrist, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Co-Founder, International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War.

Father Drew Christiansen, S.J., Director, Office of International Justice and Peace, United States Catholic Conference.

Mr. Robert H. Cory, Quaker United Nations Office.

Mr. Herman Daly, Senior Economist, World Bank.

Dr. Calvin DeWitt, Director, Au Sable Institute of Environmental Studies.

Ms. Ann Druyan, Secretary, Federation of American Scientists & Senior Consultant, Joint Appeal by Religion and Science for the Environment.

Reverend Dr. Milton Efthimou, Ecumenical Officer, Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North and South America.

Mr. Warren Eisenberg, Director, of the International Council, B'nai B'rith.

Mr. Joseph Fitzgerald, Executive Director, National Catholic Rural Life Conference.

Ms. Susan Fletcher, Senior Analyst in International Environmental Policy, Congressional Research Service.

Ms. Amy Elizabeth Fox, Associate Director, Joint Appeal by Religion and Science for the Environment.

Dr. Jerome Frank, Professor Emertius, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Johns Hopkins University Hospital.

The Most Reverend William B. Friend, Chair, Committee on Science and Human Values, National Conference of Catholic Bishops, Bishop of Shreveport.

Mr. George T. Frampton, Jr., President, The Wilderness Society.

Reverend Dr. William Gardiner, Director of the Department of Social Justice, Unitarian Universalist Association.

Dr. Arthur Green, President, Reconstructional Rabbinical College.

Dr. Lester Grinspoon, Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School.

Mr. Paul Gorman, Executive Director, Joint Appeal by Religion and Science for the Environment.

Dr. James Hansen, Director, Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

Mr. Jaydee R. Hanson, Assistant General-Secretary, Ministry of God's Creation, United Methodist Church.

Dr. John Haught, Chairman of the Department of Theology, Georgetown University.

Dr. Raymond Hayes, Chairman of the Department of Anatomy, Howard University.

Professor Theodore Hiebert, Associate Professor of Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, Harvard Divinity School.

Reverend Theodore M. Hesburgh CSC, President Emeritus, University of Notre Dame.

Dr. Robert Hestenes, President, Eastern College.

Reverend Gilbert Horn, Executive Director, Colorado Council of Churches.

Reverend Father Vertanes Kalayjian, Diocese of the Armenian Church.

Mrs. Annette Kane, Executive Director, National Council of Catholic Women.

Dr. Henry Kendall, Stratton Professor of Physics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Chairman of the Board, Union of Concerned Scientists.

Ms. Kaye Kiker, Member, Executive Board, National Toxics Campaign.

Dr. Gail Buchwalter King, Associate Director for Program Services, Association for Theological Schools.

Dr. Richard D. Land, Executive Director, Christian Life Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Dr. Dan Lashof, Senior Project Scientist, Natural Resource Defense Council.

Dr. Harold Lohr, Retired Bishop, Northwestern Minnesota Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Chief Oren Lyons, Faithkeeper and Chief of the Turtle Clan, Onondaga Nation.

Professor Wangari Maathai, Founder, Kenyan Green Belt Movement.

Dr. Jerry Mahlman, Director, Geophysical Fluid Dynamic Laboratory, United States Department of Commerce.

Most Reverend James M. Malone, Chair, Domestic Policy Committee, United States Catholic Conference, Bishop of Youngstown.

Dr. Thomas F. Malone, University Distinguished Scholar, Department of Marine, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, North Carolina State University.

Dr. Jessica Tuchman Matthews, Vice President, World Resources Institute.

Sister Catherine McNamee, President, National Catholic Educational Association.

Mr. Alden Meyer, Director, Climate Change and Energy Program, Union of Concerned Scientists.

Reverend Charles Miller, Executive Director, Division of Church and Society, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Reverend Dr. Donald E. Miller, General Secretary, Church of the Brethren.

Dr. Irving Mintzer, Senior Research Fellow, Center for Global Change, University of Maryland.

Dr. Wendell Mohling, President, National Science Teacher's Association.

Ms. Kay Moran, Office of External Affairs, The Smithsonian Institution.

The Very Reverend James Parks Morton, Dean, Cathedral of St. John the Devine.

The Reverend Dr. Edwin G. Mulder, General Secretary, Reformed Church in America.

Dr. James Nash, Executive Director, Churches' Center for Theology and Public Policy.

Dr. C. William Nichols, General Minister and President, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).

Dr. Richard S. Nicholson, Executive Officer, American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Dr. Richard B. Norgaard, Professor of Energy and Resources, University of California at Berkeley.

Dr. Kusumita P. Pedersen, Joint Secretary, Global Forum of Spiritual and Parlimentary Leaders for Human Survival.

Dr. Albert M. Pennybacker, Professor of Homiletics, Lexington Theological Seminary.

The Reverend Dr. William R. Phillippe, Executive Director, General Assembly Council, Presbyterian Church USA.

Reverend Tyrone S. Pitts, Secretary General, Progressive National Baptist Convention Inc.

The Right Reverend Nathaniel Popp, Bishop of Detroit, Orthodox Church in America.

Dr. Charles C. Price, Board Chairman, Chemical Heritage Foundation, Benjamin Franklin Professor of Chemistry Emeritus.

Dr. H. Ronald Pulliam, Director of the Institute of Ecology, University of Georgia, President, Ecological Society of America.

Ms. Paz Artaza-Regan, Program Associate, Ministry of God's Creation, Board of Church and Society, United Methodist Church.

Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson, General Secretary, National Baptist Convention.

Dr. Howard Ris, Executive Director, Union of Concerned Scientists.

Most Reverend John R. Roach, Chair, International Policy Committee, United States Catholic Conference, Archbishop of St. Paul/Minneapolis.

Mrs. Barbara Bellows Rockefeller, Professor of History, Middlebury College.

Mr. Steven C. Rockefeller, Professor of Religion, Middlebury College.

Dr. F. Sherwood Rowland, Donald Bren Professor of Chemistry, University of California at Irvine, President, American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Dr. Robert John Russell, Founder and Director, Center for Theology and Natural Sciences.

Dr. John Ruskay, Vice Chancellor for Public Affairs, Jewish Theological Seminary of America.

Dr. Carl Sagan, Professor of Astronomy and Director of the Laboratory for Planetary Studies, Cornell University & Co-Chair of the Joint Appeal by Religion and Science for the Environment.

Rabbi David Saperstein, Director and Counsel, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism.

Rabbi Alexander Schindler, President, Union of American Hebrew Congregations.

Dr. William Schlesinger, Department of Botany, Duke University.

Dr. Stephen H. Schneider, Head of the Interdisciplinary Climate Systems Section, National Center for Atmospheric Research.

Dr. Ismar Schorsch, Chancellor, Jewish Theological Seminary of America [Tues. only].

Mr. Leonard Schwartz, Chairman, Rainforest Alliance.

Dr. Stephen E. Schwartz, Senior Physical Chemist, Brookhaven National Laboratory.

Dr. Cecil E. Sherman, Coordinator, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.

Dr. Ronald Sider, Professor of Theology and Society, Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Executive Director, Evangelicals for Social Action.

Mr. Art Simon, Christian Children's Fund.

Dr. N. Jean Sindab, Program Officer for Economic and Environmental Justice, National Council of Churches of Christ.

Dr. Bennett W. Smith, First Vice President, Progressive National Baptist Convention.

Dr. Anthony Socci, Professional Staff Scientist, Science, Technology and Space Subcommittee, United States Senate.

Mr. William Somplatsky-Jarman, Associate for Environmental Justice, Presbyterian Church USA.

Ms. Frances Spivy-Weber, Director of the International Program, Audubon.

Ms. Victoria Stack, The Albert Schweitzer Institute for the Humanities.

Dr. Jeremy Stone, President, Federation of American Scientists.

Sister Betty Sundry, Associate Director, Leadership Conference of Women Religious (Catholic).

Dr. Byron Swift, Executive Director, International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources.

Professor Ronald F. Thiemann, Dean, Harvard Divinity School.

Dr. Foy Valentine, Former Executive Director, Christian Life Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Dr. Anne Whyte, Director General, Division of Environment and Natural Resources, International Development Research Centre.

Dr. Timothy Weiskel, Fellow at the Center for Science and International Affairs, JFK School of Government Research, Associate in Environmental Ethics, Harvard Divinity School.

Dr. Edward O. Wilson, Baird Professor of Science, Harvard University.

The Rt. Reverend William Winterrowd, Bishop of The Diocese of Colorado, Episcopal Environment Commission.

Ms. Nancy Wisdo, Director, Office of Domestic Social Development, United States Catholic Conference.

Dr. Steven J. Zeitlin, Center for Psychology and Social Change, Harvard Medical School.

(Affiliations for identification purposes only.)

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