Nana Firman (right foreground)
  • Nana Firman (right foreground)
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The latest local climate action group to launch, dubbed San Diego Coalition to Preserve our Common Home, gathered on the steps of Saint Joseph Cathedral downtown on Thursday morning (September 24) to cheer on Pope Francis and his comments supporting measures to combat climate change in Washington DC earlier in the day.

The coalition, spearheaded by the environmental group San Diego 350, counts faith, community, and labor unions among its supporters, in addition to others in the environmentalist community. Speakers at the morning's event included representatives of Christian, Muslim, and Jewish populations.

"It is clear that our Earth is in its present condition, in significant measure, because we humans have overvalued power as a virtue and rationalized the use of power for purposes of social and economic domination," said Rev. Frank-Placone Willey of the Summit Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Santee. "Our moral and spiritual bankruptcy is even now being proven by our own destructiveness and disregard for the environment."

Nana Firman, with the Islamic Center of San Diego, says that people of her faith, many dwelling in arid, oil-producing regions, are particularly affected by climate change.

"Our collective future is at stake, which makes it even more important that Muslim voices are heard. It is imperative that we take both practical and spiritual steps toward addressing the imbalances and the injustices in our world," Firman said. "Islamic teachings endow us with invaluable sources of ecological consciousness. We must act now."

San Diego 350's Masada Disenhouse explained that the new organization has yet to establish specific actionable goals beyond gathering support for a mission statement, though more events and concrete action are in the works.

"We want to do what the pope urged in his message, which is to start a dialogue. A lot of people aren't very aware of the issues surrounding climate change, so we're hoping to introduce the topic to new people as well as reach others who are already concerned."

To that end, the group is hosting a forum series beginning tonight (September 24th) at 7 p.m., at St. Paul's Cathedral (2728 Sixth Avenue, downtown), featuring a "panel of faith, labor, and community leaders speaking about the interconnectedness of social justice and climate change and the moral imperative to act on climate." Attendance is expected to top 300.

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