Climate Change

Scriptural and Theological Foundation

1. God’s Creation is Good and Holy

At every Eucharist we proclaim: “Holy, holy, holy Lord… heaven and earth are full of your glory”.

We also proclaim that God’s glory is not limited to the earth: “At your command all things came to be: the vast expanse of interstellar space, galaxies, suns, the planets in their courses, and this fragile earth, our island home. –By your will they were created and have their being.” [Eucharist Prayer C, Book of Common Prayer, page 370]

In the account of Creation in Genesis chapter one, each act of creation ends with the affirmation, “And God saw that it was good.” [e.g., Genesis 1:10 NRSV]

2. Humankind is Responsible for Creation

God blessed humankind and gave us “dominion” over the earth. [Genesis 1:28 NRSV] This does not mean domination, but rather a responsibility to care for and preserve God’s good Creation. God entrusted humanity with the care and nurture of all that God created. God did not give us the right to pollute, destroy, or cause extinctions.

As Christians we accept our responsibility to protect and maintain Creation. We were put here to be the caretakers of what God loves and called good. Our own health and welfare depend upon our response to that call and how we take care of Creation will determine whether or not humans will survive in the long term. God put “Adam in the garden to till it and keep it” [Genesis 2:15 NRSV]. The earth does not belong to us, we are to nurture and sustain it as in sacred trust.

3. We are Responsible for One Another

We hear the commandant to “Love one another! … Everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” [John 13:34-35] It could not be clearer. If you love your neighbor and one another, you don’t pollute your neighbor’s air or water and you certainly don’t destroy your neighbor’s right to a safe and healthy life and environment. That is not love, but rather action that is in direct disobedience to the commandant to love one another.

In our Baptismal Covenant, we promise to “seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving our neighbors as ourselves.” [BCP, pg 305] That means not to destroy the very basic stability that poor nations and poor people around the world need for survival. Yet it is the poor nations of the world (our neighbors) that are paying for mistakes that we in wealthy countries have made without their contribution or their knowledge. This is a question of justice and one that religions have come to see in just that way. Jesus said “just as you did it to the least of these… you did it to me.” [Matthew 25:40 NRSV] We have a responsibility to serve the poor. Preserving the world in which we all live is a part of that service.

Scientific Foundation

Because burning fossil fuel for energy is one of the things that is increasing levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, a greenhouse effect is occurring. The greenhouse gases act like a blanket around the earth and do not allow heat to escape. As a result, temperatures all over the planet are rising, and this is causing great harm to God’s Creation.

We recognize that global warming exacerbates all other environment problems; air quality, water shortages, severity of storms, species extinction, crop disruption, and disease. Everyone and everything will be effected by global warming, but it is the poor nations of the world that are already suffering from a condition that they knew nothing about and did not contribute to.

Bibliography

The best references for the science can be found on these websites, but there are many more.

http://www.realclimate.org/
http://www.ipcc-wg1.unibe.ch/
http://www.ucsusa.org/global_warming/science_and_impacts/science/
http://www.edf.org/page.cfm?tagID=54099
http://www.aaas.org/spp/cstc/pne/year/2010.shtml

The North Carolina Council of Churches has a really good policy statement on climate at http://www.nccouncilofchurches.org/resources/policystatements/Climate%20Change.pdf

Take Action

Parishes can…

10 Things You Can Do Right Now

1. Sign up your congregation to become an IPL member in your state. No IPL group in your state? Click here to see how your state can become a member or call 415 561-4891.

2. Calculate your congregation’s carbon footprint at CoolCongregations.com.

3. Conduct a home energy audit. Use thermostat settings and insulation to conserve energy with heating, hot water, and air conditioning.

4. Sign up for renewable energy from your utility. In some states there is still no renewable energy to purchase. If this is the case in your state, you can buy wind tags – vouchers to help build wind energy — from Native Energy with whom we have partnered.

5. Ask your clergy to give a sermon on global warming.

6. Buy energy efficient appliances and buy a fuel efficient vehicle.

7. Be an Energy Star Congregation by considering ways to improve the efficiency of your buildings and equipment and curtail unnecessary energy use. For information, call 888 STAR-YES.

8. Use a car less and walk, bike, and use mass transit more.

9. Write, call or email your elected officials. Tell them global warming is a religious issue, that the U.S. must participate in strong and fair international agreements and adopt a strong national policy. This is the most important thing you can do right now!

10. Stay informed.