Monthly Archives: May 2016

The Response to Climate Change Comes from the Heart

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Guest blog post by Dr. Katharine Hayhoe

Every day seems to bring startling new headlines about climate change. From climate refugees and out of control wildfires to record flooding and warnings of global water shortages, its impacts are here, now, and serious.

The science is clear that climate is changing. It’s not just a matter of thermometers or satellites. Around the world, there are more than 26,500 indicators of a warming planet—from cherry trees in Washington, D.C. blooming ever earlier in the year to the wintering ranges of migratory birds creeping northward—many of them right here, in our own back yards.

The science is also clear that it’s people—not natural cycles or the sun—causing these changes. If the earth’s temperature were being controlled by natural factors right now, it would be cooling. Why isn’t it? Because when we dig up and burn massive amounts of coal, gas and oil, we are wrapping an extra blanket around our planet. This extra blanket traps the earth’s heat that would otherwise escape to space. And that’s why the planet is warming.

The science is clear too that our choices matter. If we continue to depend on fossil fuels, the impacts will be expensive, extensive, and dangerous: for our food supply, our water resources, our economy and our health. Transitioning to clean, renewable sources of energy will give us time to adapt, and to help others – particularly the vulnerable and disadvantaged of the world –prepare. The choice is up to us.

Science can tell us a great deal about how we are affecting this world we live in. But science can’t tell us what’s the right way to fix what we’ve done. Should we divest from investments in the companies that profit from them, or work from within to change their trajectories? Should we support a price on carbon here at home, or a Green Climate Fund to help poor nations prepare? These are questions we can only really answer from our hearts; and for many of us, what’s in our hearts relates directly to our faith.

As Christians, we believe that we have been given responsibility over every living thing (Genesis 1:26-28), and we are to be faithful stewards of that with which we have been entrusted (I Cor 4:2). The Bible doesn’t just talk about duty and responsibility; it also tells us that we are to love one another in the same way we have been loved, and we will be recognized by that love (John 13:34-35).  And finally, we know that we are not called to act out of fear, but rather from the spirit of power, of love, and of a sound mind we’ve been given by God (2 Timothy 17).

So what is an appropriate response to a changing climate? It’s one that accepts our unique responsibility to care for all of creation, including ourselves; one that demonstrates in a clear and unmistakable way our love for our brothers and sisters here at home, and on the other side of the world; and one that is not motivated by fear, but rather by a spirit of power and conviction, and informed by a sound mind. That’s our litmus test for the right choice.

This essay originally appeared on Fossil Free PCUSA.

Plugging Leaks of a Potent Greenhouse Gas

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Last week, the Federal government released its final rules requiring oil & gas producers to plug their methane leaks from new wells. This is an important step in the global struggle to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, because methane is roughly 25 times more powerful than CO2 at trapping heat. The EPA estimates that the rules will reduce methane emissions by the equivalent of 11 million tons of CO2, effectively offsetting the carbon emissions of one million Americans.

We have a long way to go, since there are more than 300 million of us, and we generate more greenhouse gases than almost anyone else. But it’s a necessary start in meeting our commitments under the global agreement among 195 nations last year in Paris to act on climate change.

Of equal importance is the downside of failure to act: If the world’s second largest emitter of greenhouse gases refuses to honor its Paris commitments, others will surely follow suit. But the oil industry wants to do just that: the American Petroleum Institute has vowed to fight the pollution rules.

Creator God,

You formed us from the dust, and breathed into us the breath of life, creating living souls. You placed us, who bear your image, as stewards of your handiwork on earth. And you poured out your love and mercy in sending your beloved Son to redeem us and to reconcile all things to yourself.

But now, our Father, the atmosphere that we share with all your creatures is threatened by gases that are corrupting the systems in which our lives flourish. We lament our complicity in this pollution, and ask that you grant us true repentance to preserve your wonderful, clean air. And we ask that you move those in power to recognize the call of justice in plugging leaks of harmful gases into the air which sustains the lives of all your creatures.

We pray in the name of the Redeemer,


Prayer Update: The First U.S. Climate Refugees

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The first official U.S. climate refugees are scheduled to be relocated by 2022

The first allocation of federal tax dollars were granted in January for the sole purpose of relocating an entire community that is struggling with the effects of climate change.  The Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw tribe has lived on Isle de Jean Charles in the southern bayous of Louisiana for generations, but are now facing the reality of leaving their ancestral lands to escape the rising seas.


Creator God,

We mourn today with the people of the Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw tribe, and the countless other people around the world, whose livelihoods and heritage is being lost to the effects of climate change.  Move us to compassion, Lord. Not trite sympathy or meaningless cliches, but real empathy and costly solidarity.  May we embody the words that you spoke through Isaiah and bring comfort to those who are in pain.


Prayer Update: 1.3 Billion People and $158 Trillion At-Risk

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As a whole, the global community is highly unprepared for the predicted rise of climate change-related natural disasters.

The World Bank is currently urging cities to take action and plan for these disasters before it is too late. The report released on Monday, encourages cities to invest in new technology for disaster preparedness as well as devise a strategy for response in areas of ever-increasing population where housing is poorly planned and regulated.

With an estimated 1.4 million people moving to cities each week across the world, slums are growing at alarming rates in many places. These impoverished communities are highly vulnerable to natural disasters and will be the most impacted.

However, there is hope! If cities take action to invest in new and innovative technology, they can be more prepared for natural disasters in the future. Proper preparation can mitigate not only a significant loss of trillions of dollars from the global community as a whole, but also the loss of millions of lives.


Creator God,

Thank you for creating people with a passion for innovation and a passion to see the world become a better and smarter place.

We pray that you give our leaders wisdom as they see these reports, and that they heed the warnings. Let them not be swayed by those with financial power, but consider those who have few material possessions to be just as worthy of protection from harm as those with significant political sway.

May you grant us the words and give the halls of power our ears as we seek to speak with those living in dire conditions. Move us to action as we strive to mitigate the potential harm of future natural disasters on our brothers and sisters around the world.