Thursday, 30 October 2014

Climate Faith For Beginners

There's a recent Guardian article about combating apathy about climate change.

Reports show the biggest threat to progress on climate change is cynicism. That’s why 10:10’s #itshappening project showcases positive action happening around the world now

I get this a lot on facebook - I have a high number of friends there, but it's rare that I see any of them post anything about raising awareness about climate change, and just as rare for them to like, share or comment on my frequent climate change posts. If cute kittens were the face of global warming activism we'd be in renewable utopia right now.

One of my biggest concerns about climate change is the serious possibility that in practice or in theory it's already too late. We know we're pretty close to exceeding the maximum amount of CO2 we can actually emit, but we also know that thanks to political efforts by the fossil fuel industry, we're still on track for the worst-case scenario for emissions.

The question is, assume that's the case, what happens then? I think, if I was an atheist (or possibly if I was pagan), then I'd either give up and just try to have as much fun as I could, while I could; or I might end up thinking that resolving global warming issues by violence would become my raging response to this slow inexorable crisis.

But I'm not, I'm a Christian who believes that we have a responsibility to take care of the planet. There's a school of theology that argues that Jesus won't return until the world is wrecked (and God plans to complete the destruction). In my post God Loves Green, you can read why I think that theology is misplaced so I won't cover it further here.

I think that a Christian perspective offers hope in a changing climate that I wouldn't have if I had other beliefs. And it centres on the message about Jesus. The message is this: everything we've fouled up, and everything people have damaged in us, was personally dumped on Jesus on the cross. The whole lot, as if he was to blame. He died, beyond any hope of coming back to life, and yet that's exactly what happened: Jesus was raised from the dead. It means that he overcame the lot and buying into him means you buy into that life, forever, from this moment.

This informs my perspective on climate change in three major ways.

Firstly: I'm already a winner; if I die tomorrow, I've already won. It means I can afford to lose in this world, I am not number 1. A practical example of this is the question of how I use my earnings. Almost a decade ago I was in a position to be able to buy a house of my own, instead I decided to invest in wind turbines and rent in shared accommodation. It put me at a disadvantage in a number of ways (e.g. my status amongst my peers who were buying houses), but I can afford to lose.

Secondly, because of the relationship between me (or us) and Jesus there really is a responsibility to act faithfully w.r.t God's creation. It does matter whether we de-carbonize or not, we can't just pray it away (though prayer, being the catalyst for God in action, is integral to everything we do and integral to the changes we see in others).

Thirdly, if we act faithfully, God will do the rest - he can do the impossible.

Put together, for me, my faith is the biggest hope I have for combatting climate change: it gives me a basis for being active even if the odds are against me. It means that I have a big, green light from God to act faithfully and it means I have hope even if I lose, because I've already won.