Climate change terrifies me.
Climate change is the biggest threat life on our planet has ever faced, and it terrifies me.
It terrifies me because I have two young daughters whom I love tremendously. I’m terrified the world they’ll live in will be mostly uninhabitable.
Climate change terrifies me because I have seen the destruction that is being caused already, the historic storms and floods and droughts, the destitution of destroyed homes and livelihoods and lives.
Climate change terrifies me because I am a follower of Jesus Christ, who commands us to care for the least and the lost, to protect those without power or voice to protect themselves. Climate change is already worsening the lives of the ones Jesus sent us to care for. Jesus will not turn a blind eye on those who profess to follow him but do not take care of those in need. (Matthew 25:31-46)
The Sheer Scope of it All
The US military refers to climate change as a threat multiplier.
Others refer to is as an extinction level event.
Climate change is scary.
The repercussions of our changing climate are difficult to fathom, and so are the various ways we are causing it and what we have to change to end it. Right now, humanity is releasing 51 billion tons of carbon into the atmosphere annually. We need to reduce that to zero.
I literally cannot imagine 51 billion tons of carbon. It is a mind staggering number connected to a scientific concept I have no training in.
When faced with something mind-bogglingly, soul-crushingly scary and big like this, we tend to bury our heads in the sand and ignore it.
This is not an option for Christians.
The Christian Responsibility
If you believe in the truth of scripture, then you believe that this world was created by God and entrusted into human hands.
With that trust comes a responsibility. I have written previously about what it means for Christians to have dominion of creation. Scripture tells me that we bear the responsibility for what happens to creation, all the more so when people are harmed by our negligence.
We already see how climate change hurts the marginalized the most. In my home state of North Carolina, we experienced two hurricanes resulting in five-hundred-year floods in the span of two years, 2016 and 2018. Today, communities made up of low-income earners, single-parent households, the elderly, the uneducated, immigrants and people of color are still struggling to rebuild.
We Christians have a responsibility to care. We have a responsibility to protect. We have a responsibility to fix this problem.
Yes, climate change is a scary, big problem. It is terrifying. But as Paul told Timothy, “… God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline.” (2 Timothy 1:7, NRSV)
In response for God’s love toward us and the rest of the world, Christians ought to be leading the fight against climate change.
But where do we start? Most of us are not policy makers, technological innovators, or captains of industry.
What can we do?
Here are the five things Christians need to do to fight climate change. (I’ll write more about each step separately in later posts.)
Five Things Christians Can Do to Fight Climate Change
- Educate yourself.
Education is the first step in fighting climate change; everything else is built on this.
You do not have to be a climatologist to understand climate change. There are countless resources that can explain it to you: books, podcasts, TED Talks, YouTube videos, and on and on. You have the whole of the internet at your disposal: use it!
Learn what you can about climate change: its causes, its effects, and the solutions available to us. (Please do your due diligence and check the legitimacy of your sources.)
2. Talk about it.
Climate change is a divisive topic. Most of us avoid bringing up divisive topics in our homes, workplaces and churches.
But we must talk about climate change.
We need to talk about it so that we can educate others, connect with others, and engage creatively with others. No single person is going to fix climate change, but all of us together can.
By the way, climate change might not be as divisive as you think. More on that later.
Talking accomplishes little, unless action is taken.
Once you learn about climate change and open up dialogues with others, it is time to organize and act. Contact your local officials. Sign petitions. March. Demonstrate. Rally. Join a group. Start a group.
Throughout its history, the Church has been a key component in improving life on earth, but only when it acted. It is time for us to get off our backsides.
4. Vote with your dollars.
Your money is probably the most powerful tool for transformation that you possess. Industries have no incentive to change their practices as long as their finances are stable.
Christians, we need to start thinking about where our money is going. Whether we are donating, spending, or investing, we have the financial power to shape this world. Is your money improving things, or making them worse?
5. Change your lifestyle.
Christians ought to live a different lifestyle from the rest of the world. Our lives should reflect the self-sacrificial and self-disciplined nature of Jesus Christ.
Very few of us have the power to make sweeping changes on a broad scale, but all of us can make changes in our own lives and households. When all of us make changes, big change is inevitable.
I’ll go into detail about what kind of changes you can make in a later post, but my general rule is simple: consume less, waste less.
It’s a Start
Climate change will not be overcome overnight, nor will it be overcome by a few individuals. It will not be overcome at all if we don’t all do our part.
This is the beginning of the solution, hardly its totality.
But some beginning is better than none.
Christians, you bear the responsibility for redeeming the world, because you are imitators of the redeemer of the world, Jesus Christ. Will you take on this challenge, strengthened in the power of the Holy Spirit, or will you bury yourself in the sand until the Master returns?