Category Archives: Climate Caretakers

The Next 100 Days

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Acting In Faith - 100 Days V2

Today a new president will take the oath of office–a man who puts God’s creation at risk with his brash denial of climate change.  His choices for cabinet secretaries and other key positions reveal that his policies will likely be harmful for the climate and for God’s creation.  To say that we are concerned about the impact on the climate of a Trump administration and a Republican Congress would be an understatement.  We are deeply worried.  This inauguration day undoubtedly represents a gigantic step backward in our efforts to protect the vulnerable and to care for the climate.

But today does not represent a loss of hope.  Isaiah tell us that “those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint” (40:31).  Despite the obstacles in our way, the ominous news coming out of the new administration, and the overwhelming odds against us, we at Climate Caretakers intend to soar!  God hasn’t taken down the “open” sign to his redemption business just because there’s a new president.  He still redeems—people and his creation.

Hebrews says that faith is the “evidence of things not seen” (11:1).  We may not see how God can redeem our current situation, but we have faith in our Creator and we press on.  We press on for the vulnerable and the marginalized.  We press on for the immigrant, for our brothers and sisters of color, and for those of different faith from us.  We press on for the beauty and diversity of God’s creation.  We press on because Jesus Christ, our maker and redeemer, presses on with us.

Much has been made of the upcoming first 100 days of Trump’s administration, and he will undoubtedly implement policies that are destructive to the climate and harmful to our neighbors.  In partnership with Micah Challenge USA, Young Evangelicals for Climate Action, and the Christian Reformed Church’s Office of Social Justice, Climate Caretakers is today launching our own effort called “Acting in Faith: 100 Days of Prayer and Action.”  Here’s how it works.

  1. Sign the 100 Days letter to members of Congress. Just after the 100 days we’ll deliver an open letter to members of Congress, signed by thousands of evangelical Christians, asking them to act on climate change.  Add you name to the letter to make your voice heard!
  2. Commit to pray daily for the next 100 days. We’ll post brief prayers daily on our Facebook page between now and April 29.  Will you join us in praying?  For the new administration.  For climate action.  For the vulnerable and marginalized.  For bipartisan solutions.  For clean energy.  For protection of creation.
  3. Take action on Saturday, April 29 and Monday, May 1. Our Acting in Faith campaign will culminate in a conference in Washington D.C. called “Christian Climate Advocacy Days.”  On Saturday the 29th we’ll take part in the People’s Climate March—joining hundreds of thousands of others in the streets of Washington D.C.  Then, on May 1, we’ll send 80 evangelicals to Capitol Hill to advocate with their members of congress on climate change.  Stay tuned for more information in the coming days, but put these dates on your calendar.  Even if you can’t join us, we’re aiming to have hundreds of people call their members of congress on that day.

Are we worried?  Yes.

But do we press on?  YES!  We intend to soar on wings like eagles.  We place our hope and faith in our Creator, and we press on in faith, with hope and love, through prayer and action.

Will you join us?

Joy to the World

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White candles, wood cross and red heartJoy to the world
The Lord is come
Let earth receive her King
Let every heart prepare him room
And heaven and nature sing…

This carol has always been one of my favorites to sing at Christmastime. Our King has come–what a time of celebration! Yet this year, I couldn’t help but think of that last line a bit more seriously. What does it mean for heaven and nature to sing?

The Benedictine monks have a prayer that reads, “O glorious God, your whole creation sings your marvelous work; may heaven’s praise so echo in our hearts that we may be good stewards of the earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

The song of creation is one of joy because it is the song of God’s beauty, his care for us, and his plan of redemption that will one day reverse the curse of decay and death. Scripture tells us in Romans 8 that creation “waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God….that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.”

We celebrate Christmas because it is the arrival of our redeemer, the beginning of this great reversal and the promise that God’s promise to make all things new will come to completion through Christ. So as we celebrate this season by giving gifts and gathering with friends and family, why not take part in not only every heart preparing Him room, but in the song of heaven AND nature itself?

If you need help getting started, here are some ideas we’re pretty excited about for this holiday season. (As a disclaimer, we are not being paid to advertise for any of these products and are not affiliated with them in any way. We just think they’re doing great work and wanted to share it with you!)

  • Gifts made from recycled materials: You’d never know this beanie from United by Blue was made entirely from recycled plastic water bottles. We’re also pretty thrilled about these Adidas shoes made from ocean waste & recycled plastics! Other great organizations like Servv are nonprofits using recycled fashion to empower women and families around the world.
  • Gifts from companies that steward the earth well. The fashion industry is considered one of the dirtiest industries of the world today. Consider looking for organic cotton, earth-safe dyes, and naturally produced materials. Companies like Fair Indigo, PACT apparel, and BabySoyUSA are great places to start.
  • DIY Projects. Thanks to Pintrest, you have almost an infinite number of possibilities to transform, say, a wood pallet or thrift store teacup into a one-of-a-kind gift. Not an especially crafty person? Check out the artists on Etsy and you can pay someone to do these kind of projects instead!
  • Cool tech gifts. Solar phone chargers, anyone?
  • The gift of experience. Tickets to a concert, summer rafting trips, a trip to their favorite bookstore–think outside the box (literally) and give your loved one something to look forward to this year!

Have any other great ideas for celebrating the season as a Climate Caretaker? We’d love to hear from you!

By: Jenna Funkhouser

Stewardship of Creation Means Building Healthy Cities

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nighttraffic

By: Jenna Funkhouser

I just returned from a trip to Asia visiting some good friends who live and work only a few miles outside the city of Jakarta, Indonesia. One day, my husband and I spent over seven hot, frustrating hours trying to simply take a taxi in and out of the city to see a few sights. Although we loved experiencing the culture, eating the delicious food, and meeting such friendly locals, we left saddened by how difficult the transportation system is for those who live there, much less those who visit.

The city of Jakarta is a prime example of a city built around the sovereignty of the automobile. While most other large cities such as Paris, New York, and Hong Kong have a reliable metro system that makes getting around quick and easy, Jakarta went the route of simply building freeways and relying on people’s access to their own cars, motorcycles, or taxis. The result? Literally the worst traffic in the entire world, a sky so full of smog you barely ever see the beautiful mountains only a few kilometers away, and a nearly 10 year decrease in life expectancy.

So why, when our own cities began to form traffic jams on overcrowded roads, do we assume the solution is simply to keep building freeways? This is a dead-end solution that shows how ultimately destructive our reliance on cars for transportation will become. When we assume that driving should be our default mode of transportation, when we don’t stop to consider the needs and options of the less fortunate in our own communities, and when we complain about not enough parking or roads that need to be widened (again), do we realize how short-sighted we have become?

A well-built, walkable, and vibrant city is a beautiful piece of what it means to steward God’s creation.

So let’s not be Jakarta. Or Atlanta.  Or Los Angeles.  Or any city lacking adequate public transportation.  Instead, let’s consider the needs of those in our community who have fewer transportation options–the elderly, the disabled, the minimum wage workers. Let’s consider walking riding the bus, riding our bikes, sharing rides, or taking the train as viable options instead of assuming a car is always necessary. Let’s ask our local government to build roads that are safe and accessible for pedestrians and bikers, create better public transportation systems instead of just building more freeways, and think long-term when it comes to air quality, pollution, and resource management.

This is an extremely practical and urgently needed way to be a good neighbor in our communities, practice wise stewardship of our cities, and demonstrate the love of a God whose desire is for true human flourishing. We can create healthy, beautiful livable cities together that will give future generations something to thank us for, but we have to start now.

Stewardship of Creation Means Protecting the Vulnerable

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design

By Jenna Funkhauser

In the law of our broken world, it’s the strongest that survive. But as Christians, we understand that “the meek will inherit the earth.” We stand with the vulnerable, the voiceless, the helpless, because that is the way of Christ.

The Bible makes it clear that God is on the side of the underdog, and so should we:

Psalm 82:3-4
Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.

Proverbs 31:8-9
Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute. Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy.

Isaiah 1:17
Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.

Matthew 18:14
So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.

Zechariah 7:10
Do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner, or the poor, and let none of you devise evil against another in your heart.

Many of us are familiar with these verses. We share them when we speak out against abortion, human trafficking, and many other injustices that exist in our society. But have you ever considered what these verses have to do with the stewardship of Creation?

Several recent reports by the World Bank and United Nations have confirmed that “those who did the least to cause climate change would be the first in the line of fire: the poor and the weak, and communities that were subjected to discrimination”. As average temperatures rise and extreme weather patterns increase, areas already vulnerable will be more quickly devastated by rising food costs, natural disasters, and less access to water.

“But what does this have to do with me?” You may be asking. I know I have asked the same question, as I feel small and powerless in the face of threats such as famine and natural disaster. So how can we be better stewards of the earth, and “give justice to the weak and fatherless”?

Here at a few examples of where poor stewardship causes the vulnerable to suffer, and what we can do about it:

  1. Fashion: The fashion industry creates more pollution and waste than any other industry in the world today, other than oil. Our demand for lots of cheap clothing is devastating communities around the world. Many men and women are also exploited through factory work, too desperate to provide for their families to leave abusive and dangerous situations. When we support companies who treat their workers fairly and take responsibility for industrial waste, we are protecting some of the most vulnerable populations in the world.
  2. Technology: Slave labor is commonly used to mine the metals and minerals needed to create our cell phones, laptops, tablets, and much more. Because the mining is done illegally, the slavemasters are under no regulations to treat the earth or their workers with respect. Illegal mines have even been found in the heart of protected rainforests and world heritage sites.
  3. Transportation: The amount of CO2 produced by our car-centered cities is wreaking havoc on the Earth’s weather patterns. As mentioned earlier, many of the world’s poorest countries are already being hit hardest with the effects of our Western lifestyles. When we commit to intentionally taking action in reducing the amount of carbon we create, we are committing to stand up for those who have no means of standing up for themselves, or changing the system that is destroying their communities.

As Christians, if we donate money towards organizations working to end poverty and exploitation, but then use the rest of our time and resources contributing to the very factors which feed this vulnerability, are we really loving our neighbors well? Are we being considerate of our global sisters and brothers in Christ, and bearing one another’s burdens as the Scripture commands?

In my own life, recognizing how my choices impact my global neighbors has been revolutionary. Although I’m learning to remain full of grace for less than perfect solutions, it’s profoundly meaningful to know that my seemingly insignificant choices have a much larger and cumulative impact.

Robert Perkowitz notes that climate change is “moving from an environmental issue to a public issue that is affecting everyone — all our communities, businesses, churches and hospitals. So, Americans are not just urging the government to take action, they are taking action themselves.” The time has come when climate change is no longer a “political” issue. Let’s take the commands of the Bible to protect the vulnerable and “correct oppression” seriously. We’re all in this together.

When Loving Others Means Riding My Bike

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bikeportland

By Jenna Funkhouser

Confession: Until the last few years, I was entirely ignorant of the realities of climate change. I can’t remember ever learning about it in school, or talking about it at home or church. I had no idea that my seemingly insignificant decisions were exploiting the earth’s resources, contributing to global warming, and playing a part in the same natural disasters I saw on the news.

More recently, however, my husband and I have begun learning about the extensive scientific research that supports global warming–and the huge role the Western world (especially North America) plays in causing harm to the rest of the world. As a result, we’ve sold one of our two cars and made it our goal to ride our bikes and take public transportation as much as possible.

Fast forward to this morning. I admit that I woke up feeling lazy. I was just not motivated to walk/ride my bike on all the errands I had to run today. I sat on the couch for several moments with an internal battle in my mind. I could just drive my car, after all, no big deal. But there, in the back of my mind, was the realization that this was no longer about me. Choosing to drive wasn’t just the “lazy” decision, and choosing to bike wasn’t just the “healthy,” active option. Every time I wake up and make this choice, I am also affecting millions of people around the world, many of them much more vulnerable than I.

I can honestly say that this was the only reason I got on my bike this morning, and many other cold, rainy Pacific NW mornings unlike this one. It feels like I’m doing so little, but I know it’s the daily, seemingly insignificant decisions of millions of people which are all piling up and adding to this problem. Today, I realized how important it is to have the courage to keep telling stories–stories of people affected by changing weather, stories of how we can engage in climate justice, and stories of what could happen if we get this right. I’m thankful for organizations and people who are telling these stories, and reminding us that living justly often looks like those daily, small acts of going against the norm and choosing to stand for others.

 

New Energy & New Jobs

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Prayer Update: Shifting Jobs from Coal to Solar

We all know that we need to shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy, but what about all those people with jobs in the fossil fuel industry?  How will such a shift impact regions heavily dependent on the fossil fuel industry, for example coal country in the Appalachian region of the U.S.?

A new study published in Energy Economics demonstrates that coal industry workers are actually very well suited to jobs in the solar industry, with many individuals standing to benefit from higher paying positions even given their current experience and education.  Vocational retraining and geography form an important challenge in making this work, but this is good news for workers heavily invested in coal.  Change can be hard for individuals, but this study provides hope that this change might actually bring some benefits to folks on the front lines of the energy industry.

Luke410

Creator God,

Thank you for giving us minds that can solve difficult problems.  We pray today for those who are currently working in the fossil fuel industry.  As our world attempts to shift to new technologies that will protect your creation and bless our global neighbors, we ask that you also bless and protect those working in industries that will see dramatic change.

Please provide new, well-paying jobs for those in the fossil fuel industry.  We pray that such a transition will be smooth and that funding and geography will not be a barrier to a healthy transition toward renewable energy.  Please bless these people with a positive spirit, enthusiasm for a new challenge, and support for a shift that is good for all Your creation.  And help the rest of us know how we can support such a change.

Amen.

Prayer for partisan politics on climate

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Galatians 3,28

Prayer Update: Partisan Politics Blocks Non-Partisan Action On Non-Partisan Reality of Climate Change

The symptoms of a disrupted climate continue to stack up. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) declared June the hottest on record for the contiguous US, Arctic sea ice melts to lowest extent ever recorded, and a recent study documents that 90% of Australia’s West coast kelp forests died-off.

On the one hand, the Democratic presidential nominee and Party platform formally acknowledge the need for climate change action to address this unfolding reality. On the other, the Republican Party denies climate change’s human causes, finds ways to block government action such as defunding the Pentagon’s climate directive and fields a presumptive presidential nominee who waffles at best and dismisses climate change as a hoax at worst.

Creator God,

We need a miracle.  Creation and the climate suffer greatly and together cry out for care.

Open all of our eyes to both the reality of the problem and the need to pursue healing action regardless of partisan affiliation.

Remove whatever filters, whether red, blue or some other shade that keep us from seeing your gift of creation and the climate crisis clearly.  Unblock all of our ears that we may hear your call to tend and keep the garden.  Unite us in care, concern and compassion for our neighbors, our climate and our common home.  Amen.

Ditch the Disposables!

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Summer day picnic basket with plastic cutlery and paper plates in outdoor setting

Did you know that 1 trillion plastic bags are produced globally each year?  That’s almost 2 million bags per minute and requires 120 million barrels of oil to produce.  That doesn’t even include all the paper plates, plastic forks, and styrofoam cups.

While such items are certainly convenient, that’s a lot of trash and a lot of carbon pollution considering that it only takes a few extra seconds to grab a resuable plate, wash a fork, or bring the cloth shopping bags.

First Steps
Commit to zero disposables this summer by bringing your own reusable items with you.  It’s easy enough to bring your own dishes and wash them later.

  • Having a picnic?  Bring your own and wash when you get home.
  • Going shopping?  Remember your cloth bags (if you forget, ask them to just place the items back in the cart and you’ll unload them manually–you won’t forget very often if you get in that habit!)
  • Going to a potluck? Bring a bag to carry your dirty dishes home.
  • Traveling?  Bring a reusable bottle instead of buying bottled water.
  • Hosting a party?  Ask friends to bring their own dishes or to help you wash up.
  • Coffee-time at church?  Bring your own mug.

Dig Deeper
Make zero disposables a lifestyle by buying or making reusable alternatives.  Cloth napkins are readily available at home stores, but can also be made cheaply using any absorbent material.  Cloth shopping bags can be purchased for as little as $1 each.  If your tap water is safe, use it; otherwise, buy drinking water from large services that reuse the jugs.

One simple way to remember your zero disposable commitment is to stock things where you’ll remember them.  Keep a stash of cloth bags in your car or by the front door.  Store a set of reusable dishes in the car or where you used to keep the paper plates.  With basic sewing skills you can also make your own gift bags instead of disposable wrapping paper.  There are plenty of DIY reusable ideas online if you need some inspiration.

All In
You can help make it easy for others to go reusable by encouraging your church or office to use ceramic coffee mugs instead of disposable cups.  You can cheaply buy lots of mugs from a thrift store or ask people to donate unused mugs (most of us have more than we need).

It’s a small step, but it sends a signal to others that this is important.  Better yet, why not use the opportunity to make an announcement in church about why you’re switching to reusable mugs?  This could be a great opportunity to start a Climate Caretakers team at your church.

What will YOU do this month?

Brexit and Climate Change

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Psalm 33,20

Unless you’ve been living in a hole somewhere, you’ve heard the news that Great Britain officially voted to leave the European Union (Brexit = British Exit). Leaders in the U.K. and United Nations are quick to say this is not a vote against climate change, though.

There is a worry among few that a Brexit-led majority leadership could influence climate change initiatives negatively, but leaders seem optimistic this won’t happen.

While there will be some obvious complications, as there will be with many international rights and economic issues, UN Climate Chief Christiana Figueres has gone as far as saying, “Climate change action is by now unstoppable. It is global.” Let us hope and pray this is true and that Brexit will not derail the Paris Agreement in any way.

 

Creator God,

We ask that you be with our leaders today. In the midst of change and uncertainty, guide them to do what is right.

Help them to see how issues such as climate change and immigration affect people, not businesses and not the bottom line. Let them see people first.

Please do not let the decision of the people of Great Britain derail all the great work currently being done on the issue of climate change. Let the voices of those who have so steadfastly pursued justice ring out above the din of the naysayers. Please help what was decided and signed in Paris remain a top priority for Great Britain, the European Union, and the rest of the world.

Amen.

Why I’m Choosing to Spend Father’s Day Away From my Kids

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My kids

My three best reasons to be in Washington D.C. on Father’s Day

I never really grasped how amazing Father’s Day is until I became a Dad.  Other than my birthday, Father’s Day is the one day a year I can do whatever I want.  Not only does this translate to no cooking and no washing dishes, but it usually involves some combination of going to church, lounging in the hammock, watching a baseball game with the kids, burgers for dinner, our local homemade ice cream joint for dessert, and an action movie.  It also means lot of love from the kids, cute cards, and loads of hugs and snuggling.  Did I mention no dishes?

I love my kids, and I love being a Dad.  But this year I’m skipping Father’s Day.

That’s because I’ll be in Washington D.C. sharing with members of Congress why this Dad wants to see urgent action on climate change so his kids don’t have to deal with our failure to fix a solvable problem.  While I hate missing Father’s Day, I can think of no better thing to do as a father than to advocate on behalf of my children and the billions of other children in the world who will grow up in a dramatically altered world because of our inaction today.

One famous quote often attributed to Wendell Berry claims; “We do not inherit the world from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.

There’s a lot of wisdom in this statement, and it connects to my primary role as a father—to create an atmosphere in which my children can learn, grow, and thrive.  This means providing for them financially, teaching them to read and write, and installing in them the values that lead to godly living.  But it also involves making sure that my generation faithfully stewards the world that Cadie, Lilee, and Ian have loaned to me.

To be honest, we’ve done a pretty crappy job at this last one.  Climate change isn’t the only major world problem by a long shot, but it does cause significant, negative, and long-term impacts on the world my kids will grow up in.  More importantly, we actually know how to solve it!  We simply lack the political will to do so.

That’s why I’m in DC advocating for change with a group called Citizen’s Climate Lobby.  CCL is a volunteer-based, non-profit organization that lobbies members of congress to implement a Carbon Fee and Dividend.  This legislation would both solve the problem of global climate change while simultaneously stimulating the economy, saving lives, and helping the average American household.  Check out this video to learn more about Carbon Fee and Dividend legislation.

This Dad wants to give the world back to my kids in better shape than it is now.  Will you join me by signing the Climate Caretaker Commitment or by getting involved with Citizen’s Climate Lobby?

By: Brian Webb, Director of Climate Caretakers