‘This isn’t just about polar bears, it’s also about people’: Dan Misleh of Catholic Climate Covenant shares what drives his work
Dan Misleh was all set to study business and spend a lifetime in the secular world, until a college course about Catholic Social Teaching at Xavier University in the U.S. changed his life.
“It sort of shifted my worldview pretty dramatically,” Misleh says in the latest Global Catholic Climate Movement podcast.
Decades later, Misleh has spent his career working for social justice. He started as a Jesuit Volunteer Corps member in Alaska, and he now serves as the founding executive director of the Catholic Climate Covenant.
The U.S.-based organization is a Member Organization of the Global Catholic Climate Movement and was created in 2006 with help from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Today, Catholic Climate Covenant is supported by 19 national partners and helps U.S. Catholics respond to the Church’s call to care for creation and the poor.
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In the podcast, Misleh talks about why the organization’s tagline – “Care for Creation. Care for the Poor.” – has always been about more than just caring for the environment.
“We’re not the Sierra Club at prayer. We are first Catholic, and then we’re environmentalists,” Misleh says.
“The notion that this isn’t just about polar bears, it’s also about people, is something I think that really resonated with me. We know that low-income communities are particularly hard hit by a number of things, including environmental degradation and climate change.”
Misleh also shares a story about how one of his sons opened his eyes to the need to care for creation. Later on in the podcast, he talks about how he stopped feeling depressed about the climate crisis.
“Eventually you have to kind of let go of that and just say, ‘I have to do my part, and I’ve been given this opportunity to help the Catholic Church understand and act on this issue of climate change, and so that’s what I’m going to focus on,’” he says.
Read more about the Catholic Climate Covenant:
Finally, Misleh shares the one thing people can do to understand the climate crisis better.
“Get outside. Go out and be in nature and marvel at the beauty of this creation. It doesn’t matter where you live… there are always trees and small parks to be found. Just take a look at that, take that in, take in the beauty of creation and the wonder of all the different species and landscapes.”