This blog comes from Kim Hunt, Kim is the co-editor of Live Justly and co-conspirator of Climate Caretakers. She currently resides in Portland, Oregon. She loves to travel, sew, sing, explore the outdoors, take photos and read. She hates peas and is a Twitter newbie, where you can follow her @kimm_hunt.
“Climate Change. Many shudder at the thought.
It’s a touchy subject; it’s a divisive subject; and because of these things, it’s a difficult subject to talk about.
Climate change refers to the changes in our world’s climate patterns. While climates change under a normal progression of time, it’s no secret that humans are having an impact and causing an unnatural shift in the patterns. Because there has been such a significant and swift change technologically since the industrial revolution compounded with an exponential growth in population, there’s a whole new host of gases being released as well as an increased level of gases like CO2 building up in the atmosphere.
This isn’t just the “global warming” fodder we think about in relation to Al Gore – the thing many have been saying can’t exist because last winter they got more snow than they’ve ever seen in their life.
There has been a statistically significant increase in greenhouse gases (gases that absorb and emit infrared radiation – which affects the overall temperature of the earth), and it’s throwing our normal climate patterns out of balance.
The truth is 97% of climate scientists (yes, 97%) agree that human activity is having an effect on the changing climate. This is not just a single study. This is 2 decades worth of information gathered from around the world. It has been analyzed, tested, and peer-reviewed by different scientists and world-renowned organizations.
So why are we as Christians in the United States so hesitant to enter into the discussion about climate change?
The problem is that we hear about climate change in such politically divided terms that it has become synonymous with identifying yourself politically. We are naturally suspicious people in the realm of politics, so even when we’re faced with overwhelming evidence we don’t want to believe because it can feel like a political concession. It’s not a political concession, though. The fact that our climate is changing and hurting people around the world is a reality.
There are different human factors that come into play when we talk about climate change beyond just burning coal:
– Unregulated deforestation can erode soil, affect water tables, and overall affect and disrupt the local climate and biodiversity
– Intensified agriculture and grazing oftentimes doesn’t allow for the needed replenishment for the soil which can lead to desertification, unusable land, and drought
– Industrialization has led to an increase in greenhouse gases which are increasing the overall temperature of the earth and throwing our natural climate patterns out of balance
Climate change affects us all, but did you know that those in living in extreme poverty are affected the most by the changing climate?
Because countries with higher rates of extreme poverty are closely linked to ‘climate sensitive resources.’
Changing climate and weather patterns affect people living in extreme poverty in getting their basic needs met, like fresh water, food security, and even energy supply.
Our brothers and sisters living in the Global South are directly dealing with this. They don’t understand the political division surrounding climate change, they just know that something is happening and it’s affecting their ability to drink clean water, have enough food to eat, and provide resources for their families and communities.
Here are a couple stories of people dealing directly with changes in the climate from TearFund UK:
‘We do not get enough rain in time. It is
coming late and the last three years there
was almost no rain, then last year rain came
later and caused an unbearable flood.’
Sunil Raphael Boiragi, Salvation Army, Bangladesh
‘For centuries, Ethiopia used to be said
to be the water tower to neighbouring
countries because of the water potential
it was endowed with. But the volume of
many rivers has been decreasing. Now, the
recurrence of drought has increased. It has
now become almost a yearly phenomenon.’
Tesfaye Legesse, Ethiopian Mulu Wengel
Amagnoch Church Developmental
‘The seasons have changed more than we
would have expected. Farmers are waiting
for the dry season to plant certain kinds of
food and there is no dry season: it is quite
wet. And then when they expect the rainy
season, it doesn’t come: it remains dry.’
Osvaldo Munguía, Mopaw, Honduras
Caring for and about each other (Philippians 2:4, John 13:34-35) and for God’s creation (Genesis 1:26-30) is something we have been mandated to do.
This quote from Katharine Hayhoe, an Evangelical Christian and Atmospheric Scientist is very poignant:
“People ask me if I believe in global warming. I tell them, ‘No, I don’t,’ because belief is faith; faith is the evidence of things not seen. Science is evidence of things seen. To have an open mind, we have to use the brains that God gave us to look at the science.”
God gave us brains and intelligence to look at science. Are we going to ignore the science just because of political ideology or inconvenience?
You might say that the laws, regulations, and plans right now aren’t doing anything to stop or reverse the effects of climate change and are just serving to hurt the economy, but at least we’re doing something. At least we’ve recognized part of the problem. At least we’ve taken steps to address the issue.
I don’t want to leave it at “At Least” – I want to be able to tell the generations after us that we saw the problem and took steps to fix it so that they would have a chance. I want to be a part of the generation that seeks answers and innovates. I want to be able to talk to someone who is suffering in a drought right now and can’t farm to feed his/her family that I know there’s a problem, and I’m working my hardest to help find a solution. Don’t you?
So, how should Christians respond to Climate Change?
- Let us pray.
- Let us look at how we live our own lives and how it might be affecting the environment.
- Let us seek innovation.
- Let us seek alternative options for energy.
- Let us advocate for those living in extreme poverty facing climate change as a life threatening issue every single day!
- To learn more about how climate change is affecting people living in extreme poverty check out this TearFund Report comparing 2005 and 2012 climate issues!“