Yesterday the U.S. Climate Emergency Council sent out an alert to all of its members calling on people to join a nationwide fast on September 4th. Notable signatories include (but not at all limited to), Bill McKibben, Van Jones and Dave Robinson of Pax Christi USA. The response was good: 50 people had registered within just 10 of blasting our list.

This morning Jon Rynn, a Gristmill blogger who received our call to fast, critiqued the fast saying that the goal of the fast was not specific enough:

The problem as I see it is that in the past, direct action and protest have had very clear achievable goals, whereas in the case of global warming, we know we want drastically reduced carbon emission, but the devil is in the details.

Rynn had two propositions: 1) That the fast be linked to some piece of legislation and 2) That the fast tie global warming to other issues, job creation for example.

Unfortunately, there is no piece of legislation that goes far enough. A discussion I was part of at the Climate Crisis Coalition’s annual strategy meeting in New York last summer came to a complete standstill over this issue of specific legislation. Some thought we should focus on the best legislation out there (which at the time was the McCain-Lieberman Stewardship Act) while others could not stand advocating for such a flawed and weak bill.

In the end it just doesn’t seem honest to me to say that we are in the midst of a climate crisis and then rally behind a piece of legislation that doesn’t go far enough. According to George Monbiot, we might need as much as an 87% reduction by 2030 and there is no piece of federal legislation that goes nearly that far.

So, although we will not be fasting in support of specific legislation, the fast will not be without specific demands:

What will we be calling for? Three things: no new coal or coal-to-liquid plants; freeze greenhouse gas emissions and move quickly to reduce them; and a down payment of $25 billion for energy conservation, efficiency and renewable energy.

And as for tying global warming in with another issue, this fast ties global warming to the biggest issue of all: Morality.

To draw attention to this threat and its moral implications, we are calling on thousands of Americans to voluntarily give up food for one day…Fasting is a simple yet profound way of combining the spiritual and the political. Mahatma Gandhi called it “the sincerest form of prayer.” It communicates seriousness and urgency without violence, thereby focusing peoples’ attention on the issues of the fast.

It’s no surprise that many in the faith community, including the national Catholic peace movement, have gotten behind this fast. Global warming, as Al Gore tells us in An Inconvenient Truth is not a political issue. Global warming a moral issue and focusing on this morality is the ultimate purpose of the fast on September 4th.

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