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Faith Communities Must Protect the Vulnerable During Land Use Discussions

With every passing day I become less of an optimist and more of a realist. This past year has provided many of us a glimpse of the chaos and destruction that might be in store for us all if no meaningful action is taken on climate change mitigation and adaptation. Although I am encouraged by the outpouring of support for devastated regions, I am losing faith in our government's ability to pass any legislation, nevertheless a meaningful energy/climate bill. There will be no national strategy to tackle the inevitable consequences of climate change, and as we just witnessed in Doha, an international solutions continues to be unlikely. The dysfunction taking place in Washington D.C. and the lack of an international agreement leaves the burden on local communities to take the lead on climate issues. In this regard I believe faith communities have a crucial role to play. A great example will be the conversation that will likely take place here in New York regarding zoning. The debate has already been taking place as to whether homeowners in certain vulnerable areas should be allowed to rebuild. Most of these areas are home to working class families and so it further complicates the issue. In my opinion, faith communities should not be making the case one way or the other as to whether a homeowner is allowed to rebuild but instead should be fighting to make sure that if allowed to rebuild these communities are protected against future storms and based on principles of sustainability, or if not allowed to rebuild that homeowners are provided the resources to find adequate housing. There are tough decisions that will be made over the next few years regarding land use and the ability to build in flood zones. Faith communities must make sure to be at the table in order to protect the interest of low income and working class families who have been disproportionately impacted during these major weather events over the past decade. The following are some interesting articles on this topic and I welcome you to join the discussion.

http://science.time.com/2012/11/20/after-sandy-why-we-cant-keep-rebuilding-on-the-waters-edge/

http://www.opednews.com/articles/Climate-Change-and-Rebuild-by-Mark-Dunlea-121224-905.html

http://www.cnn.com/2012/11/13/opinion/safina-rebuild-sandy/index.html

http://blog.nj.com/njv_guest_blog/2012/11/kean_florio_hurricane_sandy_re.html

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324595904578120962784383982.html

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