Editorial: Beyond the here and now

Of the almost half million strong People’s Climate March this week in New York City, almost 100 marchers came from Rappahannock County! I must be kidding, of course; and I am.

For Rappahannock’s demographics — aging population, rural, Republican majority — are precisely those usually associated with American citizens who view climate concerns as not serious. Moreover, Rappahannock residents have not had to feel firsthand such consequences of climate change as unprecedented drought, wildfires or, needless to say, coastal flooding.

Still, there are many here who are indeed concerned about climate change, as well as many other issues beyond the provincial “here” and the myopic “now.” For a good example, Amissville’s Bev Hunter — founder of the local environmental organization RappFLOW — traveled to Alexandria last weekend to attend a conference titled “Climate Change as an Ethical Challenge: Religious Creativity and Empowerment for Change.”

The keynote speaker at the conference, held at the Virginia Theological Seminary, was Willis Jenkins, an associate professor of religion, ethics and environment at the University of Virginia. “Climate change represents a broad moral and cultural crisis,” he challenged his audience. And thus it is a crisis that cannot be addressed by politics as usual or simply pragmatic policy “solutions.”

It is ultimately a religious question, Jenkins said, given humanity’s ever-increasing power over nature and the basic systems of all life. What is our responsibility to future generations, to other people around the globe, to the planet we have inherited?

Blessed to live here in Rappahannock — with the reassuring prospect of yet another stunningly beautiful autumn in this special part of the world — these are all questions worth pondering as we watch the sun set over the Blue Ridge.

Walter Nicklin