"The penalty good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men." attributed to Plato

"Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing." attributed to Edmund Burke

Let's between us make the world a better place.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Christianity, Climate Change and Sustainable Living

West Burton BWWhen we eat into our capital investments, everyone knows that the income from those investments will decline. Over the longer term it is dangerous to do this. We run out of the resources that enable us to live. But that is what we are doing to the earth.
I read somewhere, cannot remember where, that the maximum ecological footprint we should leave from our activities is 1.8 hectares per annum, but we are using up 2.2 hectares - eating into our capital investment. We cannot continue to do this if we want a long term future on God's earth.

Of course we are getting better at recycling, reusing, being more economical with our energy usage, etc etc. But "The fact remains that without Government intervention, these (measures to address climate change) are likely to remain disconnected, piecemeal and ultimately insufficient...Personal efforts, when not secured by Government intervention, are likely to pove ultimately ineffectual."

This quote comes from a fine book I have on my shelf: Christianity, Climate Change and Sustainable Living by Nick Spencer and Robert White, (2007, SPCK), of the Jubilee Centre. In spite of the title, this book is written, as stated in the Preface, for Christians and non Christians alike, as a "uniquely holistic response to the problem of climate change."

After revisiting the nature of the problem, the book then explores the biblical perspective of sustainable living, and concludes with 3 chapters on how Christians can and must respond, emphasising the unique position of global faiths to tackle global problems.
This is not only a fine theological journey through the links between faith, religion and climate change, it is also a very practical book, full of what we are doing and what we can and must do.
Whilst government intervention is all very well and good, I fear that too many of us expect such interventions to solve every ill of society without accepting our own personal responsibilities. And Christians have a huge responsibility to lead on these issues. If we fail to care for the things that God cares about, we are surely failing to love God.

Another book that has come out more recently is Creation in Crisis - Christian Perspectives on Sustainability, edited by Robert S White, a fine collection of essays by both distinguished scientists and theologians.
Why, the blurb asks, is so little being done to save our planet. Because, it points out, "we do not want to face up to the fact that the material comforts we enjoy are bought at a cost to other people and to the natural world. This volume highlights the seriousness of environmental degradation and climate change, the root causes and possible solutions, and the contribution of Christian thinking to these issues."

13 years ago Hugh Montefiore, former Anglican Bishop of Birmingham UK, wrote a gem of a little paperback: Time to Change - Challenge for an Endangered Planet, a book designed to stir people to action and commitment to saving the environment, illustrated throughout with biblical readings and notes for reflection. Towards the end of his life, Montefiore was so dismayed with the lack of Christian action on these issues that he moved his allegiance to the Friends of the Earth, where he was chairman for several years. His book is still available and still worthy of a read.

So much science, so much data, so much evidence, so much need to live simpler lives so that others may simply live.
When are we all going to wake up and start living those simpler, more sustainable lives? For God's sake?

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