My First Week in DC as a Columban Climate Change Advocate

Chloe Schwabe
August 14, 2012

On July 23rd I joined the staff of the CCAO as the new Advocacy Associate. I am excited to share the stories of Columban missioners across the world to influence policy outcomes that protect God’s most vulnerable people and Creation. On July 26th I had my chance to do just that.

Our summer intern Roselle Adgipa covered the critical portfolio of environmental justice issues all summer. I was lucky enough to start the last week that our interns were in the office to have her by my side on my first visit. She and I met up with advocates from Catholics United, the Friends Committee on National Legislation and the Church of the Brethren to meet with Representative Moran from Northern Virginia to discuss with him a new resolution he introduced, H. Res 672, calling attention to the urgent need to take action to address climate change.

After nine years in Washington, this was the first time I had met directly with a member of Congress in a formal capacity. I was nervous and excited to speak directly with Representative Moran about the impacts Columbans across the world are already seeing because of a changing climate. After six years working on environmental issues at the National Council of Churches, I am familiar with the causes and effects of climate change, but I didn’t know as much about the Columban perspective and mission work.

In preparation, I read an anthology produced by the Society that highlights stories from the different countries where Columbans are in mission. In Fiji there is concern that the irrigation water will become too salinated to grow food. There is also concern about rising sea levels and storm surges. In Pakistan, communities are concerned that the Indus River, a lifeline for many people, will dry up. In Chile and Peru, there is already concern that the glaciers are melting and that soon there will not be that snow pack- a source of drinking water and river water. Chile expects also to see an increase in desertification as rain storms decrease. These conditions may cause an increase in both internal and external migration in the years to come.

Roselle and I joined our colleagues in the Capitol to meet with Congressman Moran in between votes and to share with him both local and international stories our members have witnessed. We thanked him for the resolution and for having the courage to get the conversation started again. He was very receptive and even requested a copy of the Columban anthology- Climate Change: The Agenda for Mission Today. To order a copy send an email to ccaoprograms@columban.org, Subject: Book Order to receive your copy.  A suggested $20 donation is appreciated.

The following week I attended a hearing in the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. It was apparent to me just how important resolutions like H. Res 672 are when senators were still debating the existence of climate change. Unfortunately, whether or not the senators believed in climate change came down to partisan lines rather than the science itself.

The hearing highlighted for me that sharing the ministries of Columban missionaries across the world is more important than ever before and that people of faith are called  to share not only the stories but also to help legislators to understand that protecting God’s Earth is a moral imperative. I am excited to take on this challenge as the Advocacy Associate for the Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach.


[aa1]Is there a link to the action alert we did on this?

[aa2]Is there a link to this book in case people want to order it?