Many of us have heard plenty about global warming. That’s certainly true in environmentally-aware Marin County, California, where I live and lead a Presbyterian congregation. Sometimes I wonder if people have heard so much about it that they’re either paralyzed by fear or numbed by boredom into non-action. Sometimes I wonder whether people are thinking, “If I don’t think about it, won’t it go away?” or “Why should I worry about it when there’s nothing I can do, anyway?”
There are plenty of good scientific answers to these questions. I will not repeat here the scientific research about the current impacts of global warming and what we can expect in years to come if nothing changes. There are loads of articles by scientists that document these facts and offer predictions. I even found a “Global Warming for Dummies” website, if you want the facts plain and simple. What I want to address is why this is an issue for people of faith; specifically, for people who are Christians.
This question has come up recently because in 2014, our congregation is sponsoring a series of speakers we call the Green Chautauqua. The speakers, starting with Union of Concerned Scientists climatologist Melanie Fitzpatrick on January 31, will speak about how we can respond to global warming – not just why we should be petrified by the prospect, but what we can do. A number of people have asked me, “So, why is a church doing this? What does global warming have to do with the Christian faith?”
There is a two-part answer to this question. First, Christians believe that we belong to God. As the psalmist wrote, “The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it.” (Psalm 24:1) Everything belongs to God, who created us and entrusted this beautiful, blue-green planet to us to enjoy and to thrive. A faithful response to this blessing is to be good stewards; to be caretakers of the creation: the air we breathe, water, the oceans, wild and domesticated animals, plants, minerals, agricultural land, wilderness – and human life. My denomination, the Presbyterian Church USA, has a long history of activism in social, political and environmental justice issues because we believe that God calls us to take care of what God has given us. Christ set the example for us, by healing, telling us to love our neighbors as ourselves, and speaking out for the outcast and the oppressed.
And so because global warming affects people and the other creatures, and threatens God’s good creation, we are called to respond. To act. Depending on their location, people may be affected by disease, rising sea levels, drought, extinction of species, reduction of food supplies or major storms. The impact of these effects will be greatest on those with the least financial resources to adapt to or recover from the effects.
We Presbyterians are committed to the truth in both science and faith. Our Green Chautauqua speakers are not what you would call “faith-based.” They may or may not be people of faith; they will speak about responses that anyone and everyone can do. Regardless of your faith, the Green Chautauqua is offered to our friends and neighbors in Marin and beyond as a challenge to think critically about both the issue of global warming and our responsibility to respond.
For the details about our speaker series, go to http://www.togetherweserve.org/green-chautauqua/.
There are no comments yet on "Why Christians Need to Speak Out – and Take Action – On Global Warming"
Start the discussion and leave a comment »