Commentary: ‘Climate Conversations’ offer discussions on Delaware environmental issues

By Charanjeet Singh Minhas
Posted 1/28/22

When we have a fever, the body is telling us something is wrong. It holds for the Earth, as well. Its rising temperature is altering the climate in disparate and often disastrous ways. Parts of the …

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Commentary: ‘Climate Conversations’ offer discussions on Delaware environmental issues

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When we have a fever, the body is telling us something is wrong. It holds for the Earth, as well. Its rising temperature is altering the climate in disparate and often disastrous ways. Parts of the world are burning and drowning at the same time. Natural disasters — earthquakes, storms, floods, wildfires and cyclones — are now more frequent and extensive.

Delaware isn’t isolated from these upheavals. In recent years, homes in Laurel, Seaford, Dover, Middletown and Wilmington have dealt with increasingly severe flooding. Because the sea level is rising, our coastline is shrinking. Storms and even once rare tornadoes are becoming more frequent in the First State.

I was part of a climate rally last November where Sen. Stephanie Hansen, D-Middletown, chair of the Senate Environment & Energy Committee, said, “Delaware is the lowest-lying state in the country, ... and we have already seen a 1-foot increase in the sea level in Delaware since 1900. ... They are projecting additional 9 inches’ to 23 inches’ rise by 2050 and 5 feet by the end of the century.”

Delaware’s Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) also addresses the alarming sea level rise. In a short video, a group of environmental scientists explains the effects of sea level rise on Delaware’s coasts and wetlands. It is an informative source for a Delawarean who wants to learn about the health of the state’s environment.

Also, you will find on the website Delaware’s Climate Action Plan (dnrec.alpha.delaware.gov/climate-plan), which “is the result of a year-long process involving residents, businesses and technical experts” and “is a roadmap for how the state can prepare for climate change in the decades ahead.”

If you care about climate change and environmental justice but prefer more immediate and interactive platforms, participate in the monthly, no-cost “Climate Conversations.” These online programs are hosted and organized by Delaware Interfaith Power & Light (DeIPL) (delawareipl.org) and sponsored by Energize Delaware (energizedelaware.org), a nonprofit that helps provide sustainable-energy solutions through the Delaware Sustainable Energy Utility (DESEU).

The next program is Tuesday, Feb. 1, from 5:30-7 p.m. The topic is “DNREC Recently Released the DE Climate Action Plan ... Let’s Talk About It!” You can click here to attend  or contact Shweta Arya, shweta.arya@delawareipl.org.

Susan Love, DNREC climate and sustainability section administrator, will present a brief overview of the newly released Delaware’s Climate Action Plan and discuss how the state plans to reduce its carbon emissions, mitigate the impacts of climate change and what role Delawareans can play to support these efforts.

Four prominent faith leaders — Rabbi Yair Robinson of Congregation Beth Emeth; the Rev. Andy Jacob of Hanover Presbyterian Church; Irfan Patel, interfaith chair of the Islamic Society of Delaware; and the Rev. Joseph W.A. Archie III, Delaware District superintendent of the Peninsula-Delaware Conference of the United Methodist Church — will also share their perspectives on climate change and how faith communities are responding to this challenge.

After they speak, participants will break into small groups and join their assigned “Zoom rooms.” Here, they have a chance to ask questions and share personal perspectives in an open and respectful setting, with facilitators in each breakout room. Participants also will explore individual and collective action strategies.

DeIPL, a Rehoboth Beach-based nonprofit, is an interfaith nonprofit working with various communities and faith groups to explore and pool resources to collectively respond to the challenges posed by climate change. According to John D. Sykes, DeIPL’s president, “This is done by providing energy-saving opportunities for worship centers, homes and self-help programs for needy neighbors.”

He said the “Climate Conversations” program is reflective of the organization’s goal of “creating spiritual refuges that include a venue for the safe discussions of fears and concerns over the existing climate crisis.”

Charanjeet Singh Minhas is a board member of Delaware Interfaith Power & Light.