Hurricane Irma is a very loud wake up call. Hurricanes occur...
It is rumoured that President Trump is about to pull the USA out of the Paris Agreement on climate change. He always said he would but climate scientists hoped he would change his mind once he was in office and properly briefed. Barak Obama signed up to the Paris Agreement of 2016 along with 144 other countries. America’s withdrawal will undermine international efforts to reduce the rate of global warming which threatens the lives of millions of people.
Global warming is caused by the emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases into the environment. They occur naturally and pose no harm but their levels have risen as a result of human activity to a point that is no longer sustainable. This is the result of such activities as burning fossil fuels, deforestation, decomposing organic matter, and the use of fertilizers in agriculture. The result is global temperatures increasing to a level that the polar ice caps are melting, raising sea levels and submerging low lying islands and coastal regions. Rising temperatures also causes climate change. We have seen the evidence here in serious flooding but in parts of Africa desertification has been a consequence.
People are suffering as a result. We see the evidence of flooded homes here but in poorer countries the victims cannot turn to public services and insurance companies to bail them out. Some of the so-called economic migrants coming to Europe are fleeing the effects of climate change they did little to cause as it makes it impossible to farm their strip of land with too little or too much rain. What condition of the planet are we bequeathing to our children and future generations? Human beings are adaptable to changing conditions but we need to ask ourselves what we can do to leave them and all peoples a safe and stable environment.
Christians have a special responsibility in this regard. Our Creator gave Adam and all humankind the responsibility of care-taking his planet. Jesus taught us to love our neighbours and his Good Samaritan parable defines ‘neighbour’ in the widest cultural sense. Africans fleeing desertification and Bangladeshi farmers whose land is no longer farmable because it has been ruined by salt water are our neighbours from that perspective. Nor should we hide behind the expectation that when Christ returns there will be a new heaven and earth so the state of the planet now need not concern us. He will renew this earth, not replace it with a new one.
Nor should we take seriously the global warming deniers. Too many of them are defending vested interests, like President Trump. He claims global warming is a Chinese conspiracy designed to damage America’s coal and oil industries. A vast majority of reputable scientists support the evidence for global warming and many of the papers casting doubt on it emanate from right wing think tanks which have an ideological basis for opposing the Paris Agreement.
There is an urgent need for the incoming Government in June to produce serious policies for tackling global warming and working in cooperation with other nations on this. They should also do more to encourage households to play our part in this, insulating our homes to conserve heat, buying our gas and electricity from producers using renewable sources, and using public transport rather than gas-guzzling cars wherever possible.
It is time for each of us, and Donald Trump, to become conscientious care-takers of God’s creation.