Why being ‘green’ should matter to Christians.

Dwell – Tony Anderson

“So we are left with a stark choice: allow climate disruption to change everything about our world, or change pretty much everything about our economy to avoid that fate. But we need to be very clear: because of our decades of collective denial, no gradual, incremental options are now available to us.” [1]

With world justice issues constantly on my heart, I wanted to make take some time and sure up my own reasons why as a Christian I would be actively involved with green living and acting to halt climate change. What is the point and why should we care? This post is only scraping the surface, but here are a few of my thoughts.

1) God made the earth and was pleased with his creation. 2015-03-18_0001

 “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.” Genesis 1:31

I’ve always liked this verse. Many times I have made or created something and I’ve sat back and admired what I have done. I can just imagine God here almost leaning back on some kind of cosmic chair with his hands behind his head with a big grin surveying all of creation. Not only did God see all that he had made but it was also good. For me this is the most important part of this verse as he values what he has made highly. Wouldn’t you just look at all, it’s vast and in parts largely incomprehensible and so beautiful. I believe that God also wants us to have the same feeling towards his creation to see it as good and to value it as precious. After all in the comos, our planet it is very rare and unique.

 2) God appointed humankind to be the stewards of this world

And God blessed them and said to them, Be fruitful, multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it [using all its vast resources in the service of God and man]; and have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and over every living creature that moves upon the earth. Genesis 1:28

I’ve started some jobs and wondered when I start to miss details out why didn’t someone inform me of that aspect of my role; why wasn’t I filled in? I feel a bit of that from this verse. God has given us responsibility over the earth and tasked us with looking after it. I wonder what this world would look like if Christians started from day 1 with this mindset of doing their utmost to protect God’s creation. We have a duty therefore to the earth and everything in it.

3) Scientists have 95 percent certainty that human activity is causing climate change.

This is an interesting statement to throw into the mix, mainly because for years it was debated hotly. Although the rich capitalist elite still do debate it / probably because they have the most to lose from sanctions and reform / I’m not going to debate or spend time looking at this – I accept this as fact. I encourage you to go read the articles yourself if you have any doubts.

Climate Action Commissioner Connie Hedegaard put it like this: “The issue is not whether to believe in climate change or not. The issue is whether to follow science or not. The day when all scientists with 100% certainty warn you against climate change, it will be too late. If your doctor was 95% sure you had a serious disease, you would immediately start looking for the cure. Why should we take bigger risks when it’s the health of our planet at stake?. [1]
2015-03-18_0005

4) Global warming affects us all but most of all the poor.

Now here is the crux of my thinking and indeed why as Christians we need to be actively involved in positive change. For the richer countries of the world due to our spending power, climate change at best might be a slight inconvenience, although this is truly wishful thinking.

In the poorer countries of the world that don’t have the same power, an unstable climate can only increase vulnerability and disadvantage.

“People who are socially, economically, culturally, politically, institutionally or otherwise marginalised are especially vulnerable to climate change.” [3]

Why you might ask? Here are some suggestions:

a) Crop yields are dropping which leads to more famine – In ‘Turn Down the Heat: Climate Extreme, Regional Impacts, and the Case for Resilience” the World Bank  reports showed that by 2030, about 40% of land currently used for agriculture would be unable to yield any crop due to drought. By 2050, the number of under-nourished people in this region is expected to rise by 25-90%, compared to the current population.

b) Poorer countries will find it harder to get out of poverty due to larger debts.

“Climate change will make it harder for developing countries to climb out of poverty, and would create ‘poverty pockets’ in rich and poor countries.” [4]

c) The poor are being hit hardest in weather-related disasters.

“It’s the poor suffering more during disasters, and of course the same hazard causes a much bigger disaster in poorer countries, making it even poorer. There are already more weather-related mega-disasters such as heat-waves and storm surges occurring under climate change and the number of natural disasters between 2000 and 2009 was around three times higher than in the 1980s. The growth is almost entirely due to ‘climate-related’ events.” [5]

d) An indirect increase of violence and war due to famine:

“Climate change, on its own, does not start wars, but it does have a hand in producing situations that lead to conflict.” [6]

e) An increased risk of food- and water- borne diseases [7]

5) The Christian response to poverty and the ‘poor’

God calls us directly to the poor consistently and relentlessly. We are urged to love our neighbour with our actions and to act justly.

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?  When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” Matthew 25:37-40 (NIV)

Love does no harm to a neighbour. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” Romans 13:10 (NIV)

And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” Micah 6:8 (NIV)

6) Be active, be the change. 2015-03-18_0004

There’s no doubt that this is a global issue, one that requires a global response. But like many big and complex problems, if we all played our parts then there is a chance real, tangible, positive change can happen.

This is always my favourite part. Here are some ideas of practical actions to take, to lessen your contributions to pollution and care for the health of our planet and its ecosystems:

Recycle

Use re-usable bags instead of plastic ones when you do your shopping

Cut down on your plastic consumption. This is a hard thing to do as everything is either wrapped in plastic or is plastic of sorts.

Use environmentally friendly products. Some many products we use in the home are harmful to the environment, especially when they enter the water system. Switch to other brands like Method, Ecover, Bio-d or similar. It’s more expensive but there is a cost to saving the planet.

http://methodproducts.co.uk/ and http://uk.ecover.com/en/ 

You can also make the switch to natural, environmentally friendly and biodegradable personal care/beauty products.

Use energy saving light bulbs. This is something easy you can do straight away.

Conserve energy. Turn off non-essential lights and electrical appliances.

Offset your carbon foot-print

– See where you can swap car journeys for walking, cycling and public transport

Change to a green energy provider. It’s an easy change to make. We use Ecotricity: http://www.ecotricity.co.uk

Say no to junk mail. Stop junk mail coming to your house.
http://www.royalmail.com/personal/help-and-support/how-do-I-stop-receiving-any-leaflets-or-unaddressed-promotional-material

– Buy local food. So much of our food can be shipped in from the world around us. Wherever possible choose British food or seasonal food, and shop at farmer’s markets.

Grow your own food!

Reuse leftovers. Plan your meals and incorporate anything left over from the previous day in to today’s meal.

Monitor your electricity output. Energy monitors devices are widely available and very easy to use. It just makes you conscious of what you use.

Have no-electricity nights. Play some guitar, light some candles, have long conversations.

let your phone drain down and try charging it during the day instead of overnight.

Turn off non-essential power sockets at night.

Visit green websites – www.nigelsecostore.com/acatalog/Adopt-a-Beehive.html#aFP_2dAAH

Consider solar panels.

– Lobby for climate change and green living to be prioritised on governmental agendas.

Join in with Tearfund’s campaigns.

Be radical with your belongings. Give things you don’t need away, for free.

Reuse your clothes and items. Give any unwanted clothes to charity shops. Remember that even very tatty clothes can be sold by charity shops for rag money.

Buy certified organic products.

Lobby your church about green issues. How green is your church? what could it do to change?

Pray continuously for the planet, and for people to take action to care for its future.

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 Research

[1] Naomi Klein, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate

[2] Connie Hedegaard – Climate Action Commissioner – http://ec.europa.eu/clima/news/articles/news_2013092701_en.htm

[3] Dr Rachel Warren of the Tyndall centre for climate change research at the University of East Anglia – http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/mar/31/climate-change-poor-suffer-most-un-report

[4] Maarten van Aalst, director of the Red Cross climate centre – http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/mar/31/climate-change-poor-suffer-most-un-report

[5] http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/mar/31/climate-change-poor-suffer-most-un-report

[6] Neil Adger, a professor of geography at Exeter University – http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/mar/31/climate-change-poor-suffer-most-un-report

[7]  Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability – IPCC – http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar5/wg2/WGIIAR5-PartA_FINAL.pdf

[8] Website research – The Guardian – http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2013/sep/27/climate-change-poor-countries-ipcc

[9] Website research – The Guardian – http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/mar/08/how-will-everything-change-under-climate-change

[10] Website research – The Guardian – http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2013/sep/27/climate-change-poor-countries-ipcc

[11] Website research – Nature world News – http://www.natureworldnews.com/articles/2533/20130619/global-warming-will-affect-poor-countries-world-bank.htm

[12] Turn down the heat : climate extremes, regional impacts, and the case for resilience – full report (English) – http://documents.worldbank.org/curated/en/2013/06/17862361/turn-down-heat-climate-extremes-regional-impacts-case-resilience-full-report

[13]  World Bank President: Rising Temperatures Could Slow Poverty Reduction in Africa – Video – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s53KPcnquqU

[14] Website research – The Guardian – http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/mar/16/argument-divesting-fossil-fuels-overwhelming-climate-change

[15] IPCC http://www.ipcc.ch/ – http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar5/wg2/WGIIAR5-PartA_FINAL.pdf –