Category Archives: Climate Change

The Full Gospel Restores All Creation

By | Climate Caretakers, Climate Change | No Comments

“For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.” – Colossians 1:19-20

The Gospel–the Good News–reconciles, heals, and restores ALL creation

While creation care as a ministry may not be as widely recognized as other Christian causes, it is nevertheless profoundly important.  In fact, it is an essential part of the Gospel.  The Gospel (the “Good News”) heals, reconciles and restores ALL things.  This includes ALL creation.  As Colossians 1:19-20 reminds us, God works through Jesus “to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven.”

The call of discipleship brings us together to express, fulfill and live out the Good News. Not only does God call us to speak forth the Gospel, but also to fulfill, realize and live out that Gospel in all we do.

Thanks for being part of an exceptional cadre of Christ-followers whose hearts and eyes recognize the truth of the full gospel, who see the need to care for creation and who recognize protecting the climate as an essential part of caring for creation.

Dear God,

Thank you for opening our eyes and hearts to recognize creation care as an essential part of the Gospel and of Christ-following discipleship. Thank you for blessing us with faith in you that embraces your gift of creation.  May your Holy Spirit empower and sustain us to preach the gospel always, even using words when absolutely necessary.  May we find time, energy and faith to intercede on behalf of your gift of creation and the livable climate we all – rich and poor alike – need to survive. May we intercede not only through word and deed but through action and relationship. May we protect and preserve the climate.  By doing so may we also protect and preserve the least of these, the poor and disadvantaged, most damaged by thoughtless abuse of creation and the climate.

Amen

Falsehood entices us from sober reality

By | Climate Caretakers, Climate Change | No Comments

A Sweltering Year Veiled In Tweet Storms

Once again, we see a lie’s allure when matched with the abrasive truth.

The harsh reality: Newly-released NASA and NOAA reports say 2017 was one of recorded history’s three hottest – and the most stifling without an El Nino (NASA ranked it the second warmest while the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration rated it third; the agencies analyze global temperatures differently). This news comes as Cape Town, South Africa, braces for an impending “Day Zero” in April – when a three-year drought may nix the city’s water supply — and 99 percent of the Great Barrier Reef’s temperature-influenced sea turtles hatch as females.

Climate change marches apace, deaf to K Street lobbyists and the tumult of a government shutdown.

But Donald Trump’s administration follows the lie’s allure. Cynicism prevails. He’s the first president in four decades without a science advisor and he hasn’t filled a slew of federal scientific slots. His it’s-all-a-hoax climate stance collides with the US military, which views global warming as a severe security risk. The clipped sentences of generals and admirals may yet shield us from an ecological fiasco.

So how do Christ’s creation-aware followers pray? A hint comes from a survey that posed a question to leading Christian thinkers: “What are the most pressing cultural issues facing Christians in 2018 and what will Christian faithfulness look like in light of those issues?” The answers ranged from sexuality to immigration to abortion to denial of objective knowledge to cultural fragmentation – and then some. No one mentioned climate change. Maybe all the tweet storms blinded them to the hulking behemoth lumbering toward civilization.

So let’s pray our leading lights will see the abrasive truth and then, boldly and prophetically, speak it to power.

Lord God, we pray for the for academics, writers, prestigious pastors, and all who influence Christian thought. We pray they’ll see beyond the social media storms, the momentary headlines, and partisan wrangling. There’s no denying that sexuality and immigration and abortion and the nature of knowledge are vital concerns, but surely Christian thinkers can address them while discerning even greater issues and root causes. One such root cause is the temptation to forget our role as stewards and play God (Genesis 1:26-31; 3:5), the consequence of which is destruction. Awaken our thinkers, Lord, to the magnitude of climate change.

By: Chuck Redfern

Cold Weather Calls for Warm Hearts

By | Climate Caretakers, Climate Change | No Comments

Snowy city

Record cold weather across the U.S. underscores the danger posed by a changing climate.

Most of the lower 48 has felt like the Arctic the last couple of weeks. And though the cold snap has finally broken for most of us, experts are already calling for the bitter air to tighten its icy grip next week.

I don’t know about you, but these cold snaps are difficult for me. Given the general misunderstanding that weather is the same as climate (which it isn’t) and that popular expectation that global warming will make people lived experience well, warmer, freezing temperatures always feel like they take the wind out of the sails of climate action.

Just when I think we’re making progress in the church, a fellow parishioner jokes about the cold outside with a dismissive, “Global warming, huh?” as we shuffle through the icy wind to our cars after service.  Just when I think that general perception is reaching a tipping point, our own president tweets out ignorance and misinformation that is liked and retweet by hundreds of thousands.

But then the words of Paul call me back to hope. Hope in the truth that the work of shifting public opinion or of convincing every last person–whether a fellow church goer or the President of the United States–is not ultimately down to me. Hope that persistence and compassion are more powerful than ignorance and cynicism.

So if you too feel discouraged this week, remember the words of Paul. Remember that warm hearts can withstand any cold snap.

God of hope, our trust is not in governments or public perception, but in you and your coming Kingdom. When we feel discouraged in the work of educating and advocating for a stable climate, give us perseverance. When our hearts are cooled by apathy or disinterest around us, reignite them by the power of your Holy Spirit. May your will be done in your world as it is in heaven, and may we continue to be your servants, never tiring in doing what is right.

To Whom Much is Given…

By | Climate Caretakers, Climate Change | No Comments

IMG_9148

“Much is required from the person to whom much is given; much more is required from the person to whom much more is given.” (Luke 12:48b GNTD)

The United Nations climate conference is a beautiful menagerie of people from literally every nation and culture on the planet.  Walking through the halls one hears dozens of different languages.  We are all here as a unified body of humanity to combat a truly global problem that requires us all to work together.   That’s the beauty of the Paris Agreement—it brings every nation into a collaborative framework characterized by a positive spirit of hopeful action.  Well… almost every nation.

While we are all united in our effort, we are not all equal in our culpability, nor in our capacity to solve the problem of climate change.  Those of us living in wealthy, industrialized nations have been blessed with much.  Unfortunately, it is our wealthy lifestyles that serve as the primary contributor to global greenhouse gas emissions, and thus to global warming.  In contrast, impoverished nations—who do not contribute toward the problem—suffer the most from its impacts.

Tuvalu is one such nation.  Tonight I met up with an old friend, the Reverend Tafue Lusama, who is here in Bonn to represent the nation of Tuvalu at the global climate summit.  Rev. Lusama was speaking on a panel entitled “Pacific Night for Climate Justice,” which helped bring awareness to the plight of his people, who live only a couple feet above sea level.  In fact, according to current best estimates, the nation of Tuvalu will only be inhabitable for another generation or two before sea level rise submerges this low-lying island nation entirely.  At that point, his people will have no homeland.

This is what is meant by “loss and damage.”  Loss and damage refers to the reality that impoverished countries with fewer financial resources are suffering disproportionately from climate change.  Just as when a plaintiff in a court case seeks “damages” for unjust suffering, the people of Tuvalu rightfully deserve to be compensated for the losses that we have caused them.  Loss and damage is one of the stickier aspects of the Paris Agreement, but it’s also one of the most important when considering issues of justice.

“I would like to travel less frequently, but I must represent my people to the world,” the reverend emphasized to me after the panel.

IMG_9168 2

One thing that seems clear to me is that our efforts to solve climate change are not commensurate with our contribution to causing it.  And it is the most impoverished in the world—people like those living in Tuvalu—who suffer loss from this discrepancy.

Prayer:

  • As the second week of the COP begins, pray that progress will be made on identifying a mechanism that can account for loss and damage. Pray that wealthy countries will step up their efforts and make greater contributions for those who are most severely impacted. And pray for the people of Tuvalu and other low-lying island nations who are on the front lines of climate impacts.

Faith and Action at COP-23

By | Climate Caretakers, Climate Change | One Comment

COP23_twitter_header

In 2015, the world gathered in Paris to form one of the most important diplomatic accords in human history.  The Paris Agreement, which was signed by 196 nations, relies on voluntary greenhouse gas reduction commitments in order to turn the tide on climate change and avoid the worst repercussions of this global problem.

The agreement admittedly falls short of limiting global warming to a “safe” operating temperature (a 1.5- to 2.0-degree Celsius temperature rise).  Nevertheless, it forms a critical starting point by setting a global standard of accountability, providing adaptation assistance for those who most need it, and using positive peer pressure to increase ambition over time.  More importantly, the Paris Agreement represents the first truly universal climate accord, with participation from nearly every nation on earth.

Next week the 23rd Conference of the Parties (COP-23) is being presided over by the nation of Fiji and will be held in Bonn, Germany.  Fiji, like many other island nations, sits at the front line of climate impacts as their aquifers, shorelines, homes, and islands are threatened by sea level rise.  Yet despite their extreme vulnerability, Fiji (like other impoverished nations) has contributed very little to the problem.  Instead, greenhouse gas emissions from wealthy countries like the U.S., Canada, China, and the European Union serve as the primary cause behind human-caused global warming.  This discrepancy is the reason we’re traveling to Germany next week with a coalition of four North American Christian organizations.

Together for Faithful Climate Action at COP-23 will bring together Climate Caretakers, Young Evangelicals for Climate Action, the Climate Witness Project, and Citizens for Public Justice as we aim to mobilize awareness about climate change as a Christian issue.  We believe that our Christian faith compels us to respond in compassion with those who are impacted by climate change, and particularly for those who are the most vulnerable.

This year’s conference will particularly focus on the issue of “loss and damage.”  This concept refers to the negative impacts caused by climate change to the most impoverished countries and seeks to identify just and equitable avenues for addressing this problem.  This discussion comes at a particularly sensitive time given the recent decision by the United States to abandon the Paris Agreement.  Now, more than ever, we need to see a strong and unified support for the Paris Agreement and for bold and just action on climate change.

We stand together for climate action because of love for our local and global neighbors, because of our desire to see God’s creation restored, and because of our love for the Creator and Sustainer of this beautiful world.

Will you join us?

Over the next two weeks we’ll send daily email updates, post actively on social media, participate in local events around Bonn, and host daily live broadcasts from Germany.

Sign up here to receive daily email updates during the COP-23 climate conference (November 5 – 17), and be sure to check us out regularly on social media!

Caring for One Another in Irma’s Shadow

By | Climate Caretakers, Climate Change | No Comments

LA

By: Lee Anne Johnson, a Climate Caretakers in Ft. Myers, FL

There’s a terrible pit-of-the-stomach feeling that accompanies an approaching disaster. Before Irma, I had only experienced it second-hand, such as neighboring cities devastated by a tornado or flood. When my husband and I lived Kenya, a lack of seasonal rains would become drought, and drought became famine. This hit closer to home, because friends were affected and we were part of coordinating relief efforts, but I was still physically insulated from the disaster by my comparative wealth. Worst case, I could always drive to Nairobi and get supplies from a supermarket there. Not to mention, I could stop at an upscale shopping mall while I was there, have a glass of wine at a restaurant, and forget the troubles of the world altogether for a bit.

Many of us in Florida, myself included, watched with dread as Hurricane Irma ravaged its way through the Caribbean and turned north toward us. I quickly murmured prayers as I watched news stories of fuel and water shortages, or gathered containers for water, or packed my most treasured items (drawings of our kids done by a dear friend, a hard drive of digital baby photos). Natural disasters are unpredictable. In as much as we have developed technologies to control the world around us, we still can’t predict what exactly will happen with a hurricane. The uncertainty I felt produced lurching prayers asking God for safety, for lives to be spared, or for divine protection for all who would be affected.

Water has a remarkable ability to store heat. Hurricanes are driven by warm ocean waters – the warmer the ocean surface, the more energy to “feed” the hurricane. Our tropical climate naturally predisposes us to a yearly hurricane season. Over the years, as our climate has warmed, most of that heat energy gets absorbed by and stored in the ocean. The extremely warm waters of the Atlantic basin powered Hurricane Irma, allowing it to reach a sustained size and magnitude that has never been witnessed before. This year, two category 4 storms have ravaged the U.S. within two weeks of each other. Is this a symptom of climate change? Is this to be our “new normal”? Quite possibly. As an individual interested in both science and faith, I know that environment is changing and that the brunt of this change will be shouldered by those living in poverty worldwide.

Natural disasters bring out the best and worst in people. The worst is due to fear, and I get it. The sheer scope of Hurricane Irma made fearing for our survival a reality. And fear makes people hoard and fight over resources. I also witnessed incredible kindness as people went around neighborhoods helping board up homes, volunteering in shelters and offering people places to stay through the storm. Community buoys us up and is a physical embodiment of God’s spirit; it’s one of the ways He provides us comfort and strength to get through the really hard times in life.

While my family and friends came out of Irma relatively unscathed, I know others who weren’t as fortunate in our community. The devastation and loss of life caused by Hurricane Irma was much worse throughout the Caribbean.

As we look toward what the future potentially has in store, I hold onto the hope of both faith and science. Our faith reminds us of the inherent love that God has for all people and His creation. I hold on to the hope that we can use the ingenuity of science and the power of community to find ways to both care for God’s people and care for God’s creation. These two things do not have to be mutually exclusive. People of faith are poised to be a driving force for reconciliation in our world, demonstrating that we can be both climate caretakers and caretakers of one another.

Hurricanes and Climate: How to Respond to Irma and Harvey

By | Climate Caretakers, Climate Change | No Comments

In the past few weeks we’ve seen two horrific storms batter the United States and many Caribbean Islands.  Our hearts and prayers go out to the millions impacted by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.  As the damage is still being felt, consider these astonishing statistics:

  • Harvey dropped 52 inches of rain on Cedar Bayou, TX, setting a new all-time record for U.S. rainfall.
  • Harvey was so strong that the storm continued for a record 117 hours after making landfall—the previous record was 54 hours.
  • Irma sustained wind speeds of 185 mph for a record 37 straight hours, shattering the previous mark set by Typhoon Haiyan in 2013.
  • Irma set a new record for the highest wind speed and lowest barometric pressure of any Atlantic hurricane.
  • This is the first time the United States has been hit by two category 4 hurricanes (the second highest level) in the same season.
  • Texas Governor Greg Abbott estimates the costs of Harvey between $150 – $180 billion, far exceeding Katrina ($108B) as the costliest hurricane in U.S. history.  While it’s too soon to tell about Irma, it’s highly likely the storm damage will land in the top 10 for costliest U.S. storms in history.

That we would see two of these storms within weeks of each other is unprecedented.

Or is it the new normal?

Hurricane strength is driven largely by two factors—relative humidity and ocean temperature.  Warmer air holds more moisture, thus providing more water for storms.  Likewise, 93% of the global heat content added to our planet since 1955 has been absorbed by the oceans.  Hurricanes, even strong ones, are nothing new.  But these two changes are supercharging our hurricanes—setting the stage for more Harveys, Irmas, and Katrinas in the future.

The relationship between climate change and hurricanes is much more nuanced than this, but we can certainly state that rising global temperatures play a role in the superstorms we have experienced this month.  If you want to learn more about the relationship between climate change and hurricanes, we are planning a webinar on the topic during the last week of September.  Look for an email soon with more information.

What can you do about hurricanes and climate change?

Option 1: Pray.  Millions of people have been impacted by these recent storms.  Homes and businesses have been destroyed; crops ruined; infrastructure devastated; and many lives have been lost.  In particular, several Caribbean islands have been particularly hard hit, including Barbuda, St. Maartin, the Turks and Caicos, and the Dominican Republic.  Prayers is powerful, and these people need it.

Option 2: Bring it up.  Don’t be afraid to make the connection.  Putting the two together isn’t politicizing a natural disaster; it’s using science and education to help avoid future disasters.  See this link for sample social media posts you can use.

Option 3: Help those who have been impacted by Harvey or Irma.  Many experts recommend giving monetary donations (rather than gift donations) to help in disaster response situations.  A monetary gift to a trusted organization is much more likely to directly benefit someone in need than clothing or stuffed animal donations, which have to be sorted, stored, and distributed—often costing money and creating more work than benefit.  Not sure where to give?  Check out the “Go Fund Me” Harvey and Irma pages, where you can give directly to on-the-ground, local efforts.

Option 4: ADVOCACY CORNER: Call your Member of Congress’s office and ask them to do something about Harvey and Irma by acting now to reduce our carbon emissions.  No need for a fancy speech.  Simply tell them that you’re concerned about the connection between climate change and hurricanes and then ask for one of the following:

  • Join the Bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus (House only) – Hint: Make sure they’re not already on it before asking them to join.  If they’re a Democrat, ask them to find a Republican to join with them.
  • Advocate for the removal of tax subsidies for fossil fuel corporations in the next budget
  • Ask them to support a bill that puts a price on carbon-based fuels and then returns that revenue back to American households as a dividend

Hurricanes and Climate: Social Media posts

By | Climate Caretakers, Climate Change | No Comments

Not sure how to make the connection on social media between hurricanes and climate change?  Try these sample posts:

Twitter:

  • Irma was the strongest Atlantic hurricane ever. goo.gl/NTWd49.  It’s time to take climate change seriously. #CCaretakers
  • Praying for those impacted by Irma! Praying also that we begin to #ActOnClimate to avoid even worse. #CCaretakers
  • Damages from Harvey & Irma likely in the hundreds of billions.  Climate action suddenly seems to make a lot more sense. #CCaretakers
  • Concerned about the link between Irma and climate?  Join #CCaretakers to pray for and act on climate change. http://climatecaretakers.org/
  • Did you know that ocean temp and relative humidity drive hurricane strength, and that both are increased by climate change? #CCaretakers

Facebook:

  • Many people may be wondering whether Hurricanes Harvey or Irma have anything to do with climate change.  This informative article explains what we know and don’t know about the connection. https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/what-we-know-about-the-climate-change-hurricane-connection/
  • I’m praying for those impacted by Hurricanes Irma and Harvey.  But I’m also speaking out about the links between climate change and stronger hurricanes because I don’t want to see more destructive storms like these.  That’s why I’m part of Climate Caretakers, an organization devoted to pray for and act on climate change. http://climatecaretakers.org/
  • Climate change is a serious problem that is causing massive impacts on our country.  Hurricanes Irma and Harvey were both fueled by warmer than usual ocean temperatures, a product of our warming planet.  Will you join me to pray for and act on climate change? http://climatecaretakers.org/

Living with Trees

By | Climate Caretakers, Climate Change | No Comments

Doug_Satre
By Doug Satre of Plant with Purpose
This Labor Day weekend I enjoyed doing a lot of typical long-weekend activities–attending my daughter’s soccer game, extra time with friends, and catching up on sleep. I also knocked out a bit of late summer yard work, which for me always involves some time with my trees. Our family has a pretty small suburban plot, but we have managed to fit in a dozen or so fruit trees nestled in various corners of the yard – a few apple trees, avocados, figs, lemon and something called a mandarinquat. (A cross between a mandarin orange and cumquat that produces an egg-shaped fruit that one eats skin and all.)

At this time of year there are a variety of chores to do, including pruning, thinning fruit, checking for pests and fertilizing. While there is no escaping that taking care of  our trees has lengthened to my to-do list, it has also enriched my life in many, many ways. Here is a partial list:

  • Caring for trees has helped grow my understanding of one very important aspect of God’s creation. I find that the closer I get to something, the more I understand it, the greater sense of intimacy and appreciation I have. I really do love my trees, and believe that sense of stewardship is what God calls us to as creation caretakers. They have taught me more about seasons, and patience as I watch fruit slowly and anticipate the rewards of the harvest. (It’s so much more rewarding than just buying fruit from the store, and makes me more careful about wasting food, too.)
  • Caring for trees has given me a deeper appreciation for what it takes to grow food. As soon as you try to grow fruit, something will try to eat it–birds, bugs, raccoons and on and on. Like Mr. McGregor chasing rabbits in his garden, I do battle with these creatures, which mostly means trying to harvest the fruit right before they show up to eat it. Though this can be annoying at times, I’ve also learned a lot about how various animals live in harmony with trees by eating bugs, spreading seeds and taking shelter from predators.
  • Trees have enriched the biodiversity in my yard and helped me appreciate the wonders of God’s creation just outside my back door. Despite the challenges listed above, I love observing the rich variety of life that trees foster. Our yard is rich with birdlife, buzzing insects and butterflies. I need only sit still for a few moments on the patio and I am drawn in.
  • My trees have given me a greater appreciation for poor farmers around the world whose lives depend on being able to grow their own food in order to feed their families. In my work at Plant With Purpose I get to hear many of their stories, like the farmer in Haiti I met this last year who has restored his father’s degraded farm by planting trees all over it, despite limited access to water and rocky, eroded soil. In the aftermath of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, my trees remind me to pray for him. We are partners in our love and appreciation of trees, and in our dependency on God’s provision through his creation.

This is just a partial list! I am deeply grateful for the opportunity that God has given me to have a part to play in stewarding his creation. May we each grown closer to God as we learn to better love and care for the world that he has made.

Doug is the Director of Strategic Partnerships at Plant with Purpose, a Christian development organization that transforms lives in rural areas around the world where poverty and environmental degradation intersect.  He lives in San Diego with his wife and three kids.

Just a Normal Guy with a Couple Solar Panels

By | Climate Caretakers, Climate Change | No Comments
Michael

I consider myself moderately educated on climate issues.  Through Climate Caretakers and other avenues, I’ve come to understand the threat climate change poses and the effect it is having around the world on so many people.  I realize that it would be easy for me to ignore it and just do whatever I want to do, but I also feel compelled to act on it when I can.  Not so I can feel good about myself or because someone is making me, but because there are people that ARE being affected right now by climate change because of the actions I am taking.  I owe it to them to do something about it!

Now I’m not the type of person who is likely to restructure my life completely to minimize his carbon footprint.  I’m not going to move into a Tiny House, drive only electric cars, only buy locally sourced foods, or put up a wind turbine in my front yard.  While those things are all great…I’m just not committed enough to take steps like that myself.  However, I do try to find ways to make a difference when I can.  I figure…if I’m not ready to jump in 100%…every little bit can make a difference!

One step I made last year was switch to solar electricity!  Now before you go thinking, “I’m not going to buy solar panels to put on my house”…neither would I!  Even if I wanted to, there’s no way our neighborhood Homeowners Association would allow it!  Our electric company built a solar array last year, and they offer members a chance to lease sections of it.  Basically you pay $50 per month for 2 “panels” and whatever electricity is generated by your portion of the array is credited to your account.  I didn’t hesitate and signed up right away!  I figured it probably would end up costing a little more than normal, but it would be such an easy way to make a difference with no time, effort, or investment in equipment on my part so it would be worth it.

In the winter time (less daylight) I found that we ended up paying about $15 more each month than we would normally have.  Although it was too bad that we weren’t SAVING money by doing it, I felt that was a small cost to pay to know that I was doing my part to use clean energy.  But then just recently as we’ve gone through the summer months (more daylight) I’ve found that we’re saving around $10 a month!  So overall, a good portion of our home electricity is being run by clean renewable energy.  It has taken no effort on my part, no change in behavior, and no hassle to achieve it and the cost to me is negligible…and well worth it!

If you’re like me…you want to do something but aren’t ready to change everything about your life…I encourage you to look for small things to start with.  Check with your electric company and see if they have a renewable option.  It may cost a little more, but would be an easy way to get moving in the right direction.