CEJ Director to Travel to NYC Climate March

Written by Sr. Patricia Siemen




I’m going to the People’s Climate March in New York on September 21.

The security of our home, planet Earth, is threatened. That’s why I’m going. It’s not the terrorists, nor the immigrants, nor people who are poor that is causing this threat to Earth’s viability. It’s the continued excessive emissions of greenhouse gases created by those of us who live in highly industrialized, corporatized, and technology-rich countries.

We baby-boomers in the U.S. are uniquely responsible for this major climate disruption. We’ve benefitted enormously from a way of life that provides every convenience, gadget, and technology, beyond anything imagined by our parents. We’ve bought into the increased consumerism and easy access to a way of life made possible by increased use of fossil fuels. We taught our children to do the same. We didn’t know to teach them that Earth has capacity limits, just like every family.


Thousands are marching to reinforce the critical importance of the United Nations Climate Summit. I’m showing up with young and old, indigenous and immigrants, conservatives and liberals, business and labor, and people of every race, color and creed from all 50 states. Together we will march, sing, and pray along the 26 blocks of the march route. We hope that our presence will demonstrate to the world leaders that they must take urgent action to prevent further ecological threats and mitigate the damage already done.

We’re marching to demonstrate our solidarity with everyone who has a commitment to change the environmentally destructive ways we are living as a people—for the sake of our children and a viable future. We’ll march on behalf of all our kin:  the threatened and endangered species, ecosystems, and watersheds that are dying because of shifting climate patterns.

I’m going to publicly witness my own complicity in bringing about this major threat to Earth our home, to the people of the small island nations, and to the people, plants and animals who struggle to survive in already decimated deserts, forests and pastoral lands. Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org, says it’s time for the elders to step up and take responsibility for the mess we’ve created. The youth of the world didn’t create this threat and we shouldn’t leave it to them alone to fix.

I’m going as the Director of the Center for Earth Jurisprudence, joining with colleagues who are advancing a rights-of-nature framework for protecting the spontaneity and ecological processes of the natural world. We’ll attend a special panel presentation on Tuesday, September 23, organized by WECAN, the Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network, on Rights of Nature and Systemic Change in Climate Solutions. Panelists will address a new legal paradigm which treats nature as a rights-bearing entity. Recognition of the inherent rights of nature to exist and flourish is at the heart of genuine climate solutions.

I’m showing up and marching as a Catholic Sister, joining others from the 28 interfaith groups who have endorsed the march. As a woman of faith, I believe it’s our moral responsibility to care for all of creation. Our core identity flows from belonging to the whole. We’re not meant to be separate. We’re an integral part of an emergent Universe and kin to all that exists.

Today, love of our neighbor means love for all the species and life systems that sustain planetary wholeness. The entire cosmos is the handwork of a God who not only set this Universe in motion, but also embedded God’s very self into it. What’s at stake with climate disruption isn’t only the future existence and flourishing of the planet, it’s the existence and flourishing of the sacred within ourselves as well.

Talk and debate about climate disruption have been going on for years, to no avail. Meanwhile, the laws of physics wait for no one. I pray we’ll have the spiritual strength, discipline and creativity to make the necessary changes in our laws, economics, and relationships, so we can live as a single comprehensive community and mitigate the devastation being done to Earth and to those who are most vulnerable. Now is the time for world leaders to mobilize into action.

I’m marching in New York on September 21 to show my commitment to making the necessary changes. Will our leaders have the moral courage to make bold changes as well?

This article was previously published in slightly different form in the Global Sisters Report.