Because God created an interconnected web of life that is radiant with value and goodness, we teach respect for all creation, we work to protect this beautiful and fragile planet, and we pursue cultural, economic, and environmental stewardship and sustainability.
Climate change is, first and foremost, a moral issue. Those who have contributed least to climate change are the first and most impacted by the consequences. Jesus calls us to love our neighbors as ourselves. Working to slow climate change is one powerful way we can do just that.
FROM THE MAGAZINE - ON CLIMATE CHANGE
April 2011: How to talk to Climate Change Skeptics
by John Cook
Trying to remove politics from the debate.
April 2011: Climate Change: Just the Facts
by Bill McKibben
Getting the basics in 600 words
April 2011: Addressing the Naysayers
by Katharine Hayhoe
Climate change is real, but we all know someone who thinks it's a hoax.
June 2010: Climate Change Generation
by Jeannie Choi
Eighty-one percent of evangelical young adults are more likely to believe their religious leaders than any other source about global warming.
February 2010: Earth, Science, Climate Change
by Amy Barger
Leading evangelicals and climate scientists met on Capitol Hill in November to urge policymakers to tackle the issue of climate change.
FROM THE MAGAZINE - ON ENVIRONMENTAL STEWARDSHIP
January 2012: Poisoning Eden
by Delani DeGraf
Patagonia is A land of myth. Like Siberia or the Australian outback, it’s one of those far-off places that, despite today’s round-the-clock global information flow, remain a mystery.
November 2011: Standing Up for the Earth
by Rose Marie Berger
The two week demonstration against the Keystone Pipeline was the largest on global warming in U.S. history.
August 2011: Growing Together
by Melissa Aberle-Grasse
While deeply rooted in their tradition, Koinonia's members are creating fresh structures in community life -- and they have a new approach to the land based on permaculture, a design system for sustainable habitats.
RESOURCES FROM THE SOJO STORE
How to talk to climate change skeptics (with all due respect)
- Ten global warming myths and what science really says
- Is the earth a megastore or a garden?
Climate Change and our Future
- How Climate Change affects the poor
- Biblical visions for saving the earth
How cleaning up our act can help the environment
- The green industrial revolution
- "Green reads" and how the book business impacts the planet
Christians and the Environment (PDF)
The Christian theology of domination has played a destructive role in the degradation of the environment, but the Christian theology of stewardship and sacred relationship between God, humans, and creation was also an essential element of the environmental movement.
4 sessions, 10 articles, 34 pages.
Climate Change Resources at Sojourners
Thomas Tidwell, the chief of the United States Forest Service, told Congress hotter, dried conditions produced by climate change are causing America's longer wildfire season and increasing the amount of land burned. Since 2000, the forest service has almost doubled its spending on fighting fires from $540 million to $1 billion last year. The Guardian reports:
"Hotter, drier, a longer fire season, and lot more homes that we have to deal with," Tidwell told the Guardian following his appearance. "We are going to continue to have large wildfires."
Read more here.
I’ve believed that climate change is the greatest moral issue facing us, and something I want to work on in my congregation. But how? I asked someone who had conducted a survey in our denomination, and he said that most churches discussed the issue but had little or no concrete action. I talked to activist congregations whose members were experiencing burnout and no longer meeting as a group. In a meeting with concerned congregations, I found that they experienced a big separation between climate-change interest groups and social action groups. In my congregation, we formed a “Green Team” that was concerned with saving energy, but it was reluctant to do any political action.
After much prayer and many conversations and group meetings, our Social Justice Minister called a group together that he called “The Climate Change Initiative.” Twenty-five of us showed up, and after we introduced ourselves, our minister said he had noticed three groupings emerging: Practical, Political, and Spiritual Action.
We started to meet in three subgroups, but still collaborated. A year later, I met a leader of a United Church of Christ congregation who had pioneered and formed the UCC national denominational emphasis. She said the same three elements were evident in their congregation work, and that had, she thought, contributed to the pattern for change.
An overwhelming 97.1 percent of peer-reviewed papers in scientific journals agree that climate change is caused by humans. This finding can be used as a rebuttal against those who believe the scientific community is still debating the causes of climate change. Public opinion is still mixed with only 42 percent agreeing that human activity is the main cause of climate change. The Guardian reports:
"Our findings prove that there is a strong scientific agreement about the cause of climate change, despite public perceptions to the contrary," said John Cook of the University of Queensland, who led the survey.
Read more here.
The residents of Newtok, Alaska could see their village washed away within five years, making them the first American climate refugees. Newtok is surrounded by the Ninglick River, which continues to carry off 100ft or more of land each year. The highest point in the village could be underwater by 2017. The small community of 350 will be scattered across Alaska, with Newtok ceasing to exist. The Guardian reports:
"The snow comes in a different timing now. The snow disappears way late. That is making the geese come at the wrong time. Now they are starting to lay their eggs when there is still snow and ice and we can't go and pick them," Tom said. "It's changing a lot. It's real, global warming, it's real."
Read more here.
A recent study by biologists and climate researchers finds 57% of plants and 34% of animals will see their habitats cut by 50% or more by 2080. At the current rate worldwide temperatures are expected to rise 7 degrees by 2100. This change will make habitats in sub-Saharan Africa, Central America, Amazonia and Australia unsuitable for animals and plants. USA Today reports:
"The terrifying loss of biodiversity predicted by this study shows that climate chaos will fundamentally transform our planet," Shaye Wolf of the Center for Biological Diversity, a conservation group, says in a statement on the study. "We need to cut emissions now, before our ecosystems suffer catastrophic damage."
Read more here.
How do we sustain our climate activism? It can't be about fear.
We have come to Kenya to hear our brothers and sisters bear witness to the ways environmental degradation and recent changes in the climate are harming them. Their testimony is disturbing and compelling. We are privileged to hear their stories, and honored by their trust in us as bearers of the message that they and their land, water, and air are suffering. Their words are a painful reminder of the brokenness of our world.
It is the most vulnerable in our world who suffer primarily and predominately from climate and other environment-related problems. While here, we are reminded that it is the poor who are affected first of all, and most of all, by these problems. The loss of one season’s crop can be catastrophic for those who live on the margins. Today, we are looking at massive dislocations in the ecosystems which sustain our world and all the life on it. Of these dislocations, the world’s poorest bear the brunt.
The U.S. climate change envoy proposed allowing countries to create their emissions reduction plans rather than working toward one goal. The U.S. hopes to bring more countries to the table and energize U.N. climate negotiations. The Guardian reports:
"Countries, knowing that they will be subject to the scrutiny of everybody else, will be urged to put something down they feel they can defend and that they feel is strong," Stern said from Berlin during a summit of environmental ministers focused on ways to advance the UN climate talks.
Read more here.
A study published May 1 from two researchers at the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Colorado found the widespread belief in "end-times" and the "Second coming" of Christ could impact the environmental policy movement negatively. The Huffington Post reports:
A belief in the Second Coming reduces the probability of strongly agreeing that the government should take action by more than 12 percent. In a corresponding manner, a belief in the Second Coming increases the probability of disagreeing with government action to curb global warming by more than 10 percent.
Read more here.
If you are reading this and are from North America — and perhaps even if you aren't — you are no doubt aware of just how divisive the issue of climate change is in the US and Canada. Experts from both sides of the issue are regular installments on the 24-hour news networks, presenting the latest data in favor of or disputing the warming of the planet. Policy experts offer the pros and cons of legislation aimed at cutting greenhouse gas emissions. Law makers debate possible action steps. Facebook posts supporting or refuting climate change turn into hotbeds of political (and sometimes a little bit of personal) attacks. Friends bicker; family relationships are strained.
This is simply the reality of the political climate in North America, but the existence of such rigorous debate is no coincidence. If warming trends continue the way that scientists are currently projecting (four degrees celsius by the end of the century), things in North America won't look all that different. We'll probably experience more droughts, our growing zones will shift, and Michigan will have the climate of Tennessee. Even if things do get bad in North America, we have the money and technology necessary to adapt fairly well to any changes in weather patterns or growing seasons that we might experience. In short: North America can afford not to worry about climate change — at least for a while.
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