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Obama Links Faith
to Environmentalism

Obama Links Faith
to Environmentalism

Democrat presidential candidate Barack Obama said Sunday in Iowa that his religious beliefs influence his plans for how to protect the environment. Speaking before religious leaders and others at what he called an ''interfaith forum on climate change,'' the Illinois senator said God has entrusted humans with the responsibility of caring for the earth, and ''we are not acting as good stewards of God's earth when our bottom line puts the size of our profits before the future of our planet.''

Democrat presidential candidate Barack Obama said Sunday in Iowa that his religious beliefs influence his plans for how to protect the environment.

Speaking before religious leaders and others at what he called an ''interfaith forum on climate change'' in Des Moines, the Illinois senator said God has entrusted humans with the responsibility of caring for the earth, and ''we are not acting as good stewards of God's earth when our bottom line puts the size of our profits before the future of our planet.''

''It is our responsibility to ensure that this planet remains clean and safe and livable for our children and for all of God's children,'' he told about 200 people gathered at the downtown public library. ''But in recent years science has made it undeniably clear that our generation is not living up to this responsibility. Global warming is not a someday problem, it is now.''

Last week Obama released a plan to combat global warming that calls for an 80% reduction in U.S. carbon emissions by 2050.

Obama said he would force industries and power companies to clean up their operations. He would institute a ''cap and trade'' approach that would require polluters to buy allowances, essentially putting a price on pollution and creating an incentive to cut emissions.

He said $150 billion from the sale of allowances could help drive the development of environmentally friendly technologies, including the next generation of biofuels, expansion of a delivery infrastructure, and fuel-efficient vehicles.

''We've heard promises about energy independence from every single president since Richard Nixon, but we are actually more dependent on oil today than ever before,'' he said.

Obama said many of his rivals have talked about the issue but ''have taken a pass on it in years in Washington.''

He said he would ask the biggest carbon-emitting nations to join the United States in creating a global energy forum to develop climate protocols. He would also share clean energy technologies with all nations.

Obama also challenged individuals to do their part to help the environment, and he called for making government, businesses and homes 50 percent more energy efficient by 2030. He said he wants all federal government buildings carbon neutral by 2025.

Among other White House hopefuls, New York senator Hillary Rodham Clinton has said she is intrigued by a carbon auction system but has stopped short of endorsing it. Sen. Chris Dodd of Connecticut has proposed taxing polluters for their carbon emissions. Former North Carolina senator John Edwards, who has pledged to have a carbon-neutral campaign, also proposes a ''cap and trade'' system that aims to reach the 80 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2050.

On Sunday, Edwards and Sen. John McCain picked up environmental endorsements from Friends of the Earth Action and Republicans for Environmental Protection, respectively.

Meeting the threat of global climate change will take hard work and faith, Obama said.

''Not a blind faith, not a faith of mere words, not a faith that ignores science, but an active, searching faith,'' said Obama, a member of the United Church of Christ. ''It's a faith that does not look at the hardship and pain and suffering in the world and use it all as an excuse for inaction or cynicism, but one that accepts the fact that although we are not going to solve every problem here on earth, we can make a difference.''

Despite the event's environmental focus, Obama also addressed the Iraq war and a House proposal for a tax to cover war spending. He said he agrees there's no such thing as a free lunch and that tax cuts and war spending can't coexist for ever.

''The only reason we haven't been feeling the pinch is because China and South Korea and Mexico have lent us money,'' Obama said. ''I believe in the basic principle that you pay for what you've initiated. I would say that the idea of a war tax is probably a little late. I would have liked to have seen that suggestion before we spent $600 billion.'' (Amy Lorentzen, AP)

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