Article 10: Loving our world
Loving our world, rebuilding, dreaming
– what role do we play in rebuilding with the climate crisis in mind?
It feels a bit strange to raise another global crisis during this time of a global pandemic, but let’s take this opportunity, during this time of slowing down, to think about how we are going to rebuild our communities after this crisis. And suggest that as the community of God in the North East, we can rebuild prophetically and with the climate crisis in mind.
'They will be called rebuilders of ancient walls...' What will we choose to rebuild?
As you may know, almost everything we do is powered by fossil fuels; our cars, the heat in our homes, on our hobs, in our kettles, our whole economy. In the UK, in 2015, we went through about 250 million litres of oil each day (that is extracting, processing and generally burning a lot!). All that oil, as well as gas and coal, that we burn and have burnt since the mid-19th century has slowly led to a rise in gases that form a blanket around the world, trapping in heat and changing the atmosphere.
This rise in global temperature (County Durham for example is 1.2°C warmer today than it was 150 years ago) has an impact on all of us, whether locally through more extreme weather; flooding, and storms, or for our global neighbours who risk losing land to sea level rise, or crops due to drought or homes due to storm. Like the current crisis, the climate crisis impacts all of us, but particularly impacts the most vulnerable around the world.
'The earth is the Lord's and everything in it'
What is that impact of climate change...? Briefly, we risk
Climate refugees - people whose homes and livelihoods are lost to sea level rise, long-term change in rainfall, or through extreme weather events will need to move somewhere safer. Where will they go? Will the UK, in a safer, less extreme environment, open doors for Climate Refugees?
Species extinction - during the Australian wildfires earlier this year it is estimated that a billion animals died...
Climate chaos – storms that are stronger than ever. Droughts leading to crop failure. Wildfire. ‘The beast from the east’. Consistent temperature records (the last decade was the hottest ever recorded)
Plastic pollution - endless piles of waste on land and in the oceans, leads to microplastics in our water and plastic damage to animal habitat. Research by Tearfund suggests that 2 billion people live on or near piles of rubbish without any way of processing or disposing of it. Our overconsumption putting the most vulnerable at risk
Air Pollution – do you notice the cleaner air during this lockdown? Imagine what we breath on a normal day
That reality of climate chaos is that the people around the world who have done the least to provoke climate change (those in developing countries, the young, the poorest) are likely to be the most to be affected by it. Today, in Africa alone, there are 45million people at risk of severe food shortages because of floods and storms. 45 million people created, like me and you, in the image of God.
What we are seeing today is in the context of about 1.1°C of warming from pre-industrial levels. Currently, with the pledges that have been made internationally, we are still heading for over 2.5°C of warming - imagine what the world looks like when we get there... we are in a time of emergency, but until this lockdown, our lives were just ... normal...
We have pushed creation to breaking point, we have built a world of personal convenience on the backs of pollution, mountains of waste and the risk of an ever-changed world.
'God so loved the world'
Some of what Pastor Tim has been preaching about over the last months is the shared life we live as a community - OUR father, give US, OUR daily bread, forgive OUR sins. That God so loved us as individuals but also loved the whole world. That God's plan for the restoration of all things includes restoring creation to the beauty that he made it with. As God's ministers on Earth, commissioned to disciple nations, do we have any responsibility for all this? What is the shared responsibility we have for climate change? Or, prophetically, what is the shared future we want to build?
In the UK, our government has made net zero CO2 emissions by 2050 legally binding. That feels so far away - someone, somewhere, by then will sort all of this out won't they?
But I think that we need to start to take responsibility personally, locally, regionally. My call to you, as Sons and Daughters of the creator God, the God who made, owns and wants to restore all of creation, is to start the prophetic act of cleaning up our communities and building something more sustainable, one household at a time. I am calling you to look up from the current crisis and dream a little about what a world restored could look like.
Practically, I think that means starting with something from this list
Ask God to show you the kind of world he wants us to rebuild
Eat one extra meat free meal each week
Switch to a renewable energy supplier - have a look here
When it is practical, walk or ride a bike instead of driving your car
And from there, dreaming with God about what the Kingdom Come might look like in the North East.
Tom is part of the Bethshan congregation in Durham, works as a Carbon and Energy Analyst in County Durham and has started Vlogging about a Low Carbon Lifestyle on Youtube.