This is post 2 of 3 on the COP21 climate conference in Paris
We live at an important moment in history. Perhaps more so than any generation before us, today’s leaders have the opportunity to shape what the foreseeable future of humanity looks like. Here’s what I mean…
Largely because of fossil fuel combustion, last year’s global carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere topped 400 parts per million. That’s 42% higher than our pre-industrial average. This increase serves as the primary driver behind rising global temperatures and the corresponding climatic changes that the world has been experiencing recently. 2014 was the hottest year ever recorded and this year is set to blow the record away by a long shot. The scientific consensus has never been clearer, with 97% of climate scientists agreeing on human activity as the primary driver behind these changes.
We need a different kind of change.
Most experts believe we’re approaching, if not already at, a threshold with regard to climate change. Failing to act now could result in irreversible and significant damage to the global climate system. On the other hand, bold and decisive action today could keep global warming below 2 degree Celsius—a critical point for minimizing long-term climate impacts.
There are many reasons to hope that such bold action lies within our reach, and, indeed, that change is at hand. For example:
- Last year the People’s Climate March demonstrated the political will to solve climate change on a scale never before seen. More than 400,000 people hit the streets of New York, along with thousands more at marches in 162 countries.
- Pope Francis’ recent encyclical, Laudato Si, provided a theologically robust and motivationally stirring call to action on creation care and climate change. As the leader of more than 1 billion Roman Catholics, the influence of his outspoken urgency on this issue cannot be overstated.
- Prominent evangelical organizations are beginning to make public statements about the need to address climate change. Just last month the National Association of Evangelicals published a statement in support of urgent action on climate change, joining the World Evangelical Alliance, the Lausanne Movement, and hundreds of evangelical leaders in support of climate action.
- China is becoming a climate leader. Pointing the finger at China no longer works as an excuse for U.S. inaction, as China is rapidly emerging as a legitimate global leader in addressing climate change. China not only outpaces the U.S. in renewable energy (by a long shot), but they just announced a national carbon cap-and-trade program to be put into effect in 2017.
- Climate denial is dying. Recent polls about public opinions on global warming have shown sharp increases in belief in global warming, including among conservatives.
In short, there’s a growing belief that we’re at a tipping with regards to public opinions on global warming and the need to take action, and it couldn’t come any sooner. Let us pray that the COP21 climate negotiations in Paris provide a clear and decisive path forward in tackling this pervasive problem.