Last Tuesday, February 12th, the Sustainability Literacy Institute held an event on campus entitled “Faith, Justice, and Global Warming: Discussing the Climate of Our Times.”
Professor Todd LeVasseur welcomed and moderated the discussion between guest speakers Peterson Toscano and Corina Newsome.
Toscano described himself as a “queer and quirky” individual from rural Pennsylvania, where evidence of wildlife is abundant. He was raised first in Roman Catholic then in Evangelical Churches. Once he came out, he found the Quakers, and they welcomed him with open arms.
and explained how it was considered “against the grain” to be gay and come out as a young adult in his church community. Due to his love and support for the LGBTQ community, he began to view the issue of climate change as one directly associated with civil rights. Therefore, Toscano took a year off and started to educate himself on climate science and got involved with citizens climate policies. He explained that he is now a Bible Scholar who has his own podcast, inviting different perspectives, ranging from everyday people with a story to tell to pastors and preachers from neighboring states. Toscano is interested in hearing what people have to say regarding what the Bible has to say about climate change.
Newsome explained that she grew up in the city of Philadelphia and experienced a very different childhood from Toscano when it comes to nature. She discussed how she was never really exposed to animals until she went to visit them in zoos when she was older. This experience combined with learning about how so many species are endangered and threatened instantly spiked Newsome’s interest in wildlife preservation and ultimately, climate change as well.
She explained that once she brought up climate change to her church community, she was immediately shunned. She was frustrated but soon found some peace in joining the Young Evangelicals for Climate Action in college.
Newsome also explained that she has tried to “build bridges” where she can when it comes to discussing climate change to others. We had a mini-discussion during the event about how a large portion of the older generation dismisses merely the problem of climate change. She explained that by not beginning with the topic, but instead relating with the other person on another level, could eventually create a level of trust.
Similarly, Toscano discussed how he tries to come up with topics others are curious about. Once that connection is formed, he can create the bridge to how that thing is affected by climate change. For example, he discussed how many people care about their pets and once you ask someone, “Have you ever wondered how climate change affects your pet?” this makes them curious.
Ultimately, many different points were touched on and brought up during the event regarding how faith, class, and race are all connected back to climate change in different ways. Newsome encouraged the audience to become educated on who they are voting for and what they hope to get out of when it comes to this “wicked problem” called climate change.