Why Should I Care?
When you arise in the morning, what do you absolutely have to have to survive to the end of the day? Air to breathe, food to eat and water to drink. Where do these come from? God created Earth from nothing and put it all in our care (Genesis 1), and that gift abundantly supplies these most basic of needs. These fundamental necessities are in peril and we must take steps to be stewards of what God has given us. This responsibility arises due to our relationship to our Creator as well as self-preservation.
According to Rajendra K. Pachauri, “Nobody on this planet is going to be untouched by the impacts of climate change.” Dr. Pachauri, Chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), is an Indian national who completed his doctoral work at our very own NCSU. Small world indeed.
The IPCC, established in 1988 by the United Nations, is the leading international body for the reporting of climate change. Their mission is to provide the world with an objective view of the current state of climate change on our planet and the existing and potential environmental and socio-economic impacts. Currently, 195 countries are members of the IPCC, which was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 for its work of tightly focused, objective reports on the current and projected state of our planet’s living environment.
Thousands of scientists from around the globe contribute to this mission on a voluntary, unpaid basis, providing an unequalled, rigorous and balanced scientific assessment for decision makers to use in their deliberations. The work of the IPCC is policy-relevant and policy-neutral for government decision makers and never policy prescriptive.
There are three working groups within the IPCC reporting structure which independently compile information from published literature, both peer-reviewed and non-peer-reviewed sources. Group I provides a comprehensive assessment of the physical science basis of climate change. Group II reports the climate change impacts, adaptation and vulnerability on human natural systems. Group III analyzes the options for mitigating climate change. These three perspectives provide a combined, comprehensive view of life on Earth now and in the future and how we survive and thrive, or don’t.
This work in turn informs the work of the United Nations on international treaty work regarding climate change. Climate change and policy decisions about climate change will affect God’s Kingdom on earth and you.
There’s good news and bad news. The good news is the newest working group reports (WG1, WG2 and WG3) from the IPCC indicate that the effects of climate change can be mitigated. Here is what the Interfaith Power and Light group gleaned from this report. Viable renewable energy sources such as solar, wind and nuclear are available now and remain our best option for sustainable life as we know and love it here on Earth.
Further good news is that utilizing these renewable options has collateral benefits including a reduction in air pollution and the provision of energy security which would negate the use of fossil fuel supplies as a political weapon. Imagine the number of lives that have been lost by the wars that have been fought over oil. The bad news is we have to get the nations of the world to agree and implement a unified plan to reduce carbon emissions in a drastic way, quickly. Failure to do so portends a litany of biblical-proportion calamities like ecological collapse, famine, flooding and pestilence.
Only planet-wide cooperation can result in the mitigation needed to avert disaster. The mechanics are not rocket science but the politics are fraught and an economic commitment is the underpinning foundation. Our own government still hands out about four billion dollars a year in tax incentives to producers. This is not a partisan issue and both sides of the
aisle share the blame and responsibility for failing to take a leadership role in this ultimate challenge to human civilization. A page from Churchill seems useful he: ”It is no use saying we are doing our best. You have got to succeed in doing what is necessary.”
What is necessary is that we keep our greenhouse gas emissions below 450 ppm. This comes with a price tag of 0.06% reduction in consumption growth worldwide until the end of the century. Seems like a bargain compared to sticking our head in the sand and waking up to a planet beyond repair.
A stitch in time saves nine. This will require tripling or quadrupling the share of the world’s energy production from renewable sources as well as reforestation. This is the fifth report in 24 years and we still have not made productive progress in reducing world carbon emissions. If we fail to act now, we will be “trying to concoct some scheme to suck the CO2 out of the air and bury it in the ground.” (reference) That technology does not exist today. Viable renewable energy sources do exist today.
What can you, Home Moravian Church and the wider Christian community do?
- Continue to educate yourself utilizing the news outlet of your choice and the IPCC.
- Make intentional lifestyle decisions about everything you consume: housing, food, clothing, transportation, home energy sourcing, etc.
- Help our church make similarly appropriate decisions.
- Let your elected representatives know that you are concerned about energy production in your state and nation and that you want to see incentives for the increased use of renewable energy sources and elimination of tax incentives for carbon producers:
- Like and follow the IPCC on Facebook or Twitter.
For I can do everything God asks me to with the help of Christ who gives me the strength and power. (Philippians 4:13)
—Submitted by Helen Bushnell Beets for Earth Stewards Team