Christianity and Climate Change

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Last week, I embarked upon my bi-weekly mission to gather up and sort all of our recycling, ready for collection day. I’m the kind of person who tends to just throw everything into a big bag for life and hope it doesn’t all fall over. Our recycling area regularly looks like it’s about to topple because of all that’s spilling out of it!

For many of us, dealing with our recycling can feel like a real chore. It’s time-consuming to have to separate out the plastics and the paper, and even worse when you have some plastic attached to some paper (windowed envelopes, I’m looking at you). It can be easy to start wondering what’s the point of it all.

I think there are probably very few people now who haven’t seen David Attenborough’s groundbreaking series Blue Planet II. Alongside showing us incredible footage of marine life, a lot of which had never been caught on film before, Blue Planet II also opened our eyes to the massive impact our use of plastic has upon our oceans.

At the same time as all this, we have a US President who categorically denies the reality of climate change, and news has emerged that some of the large oil companies may have known about the impact of fossil fuels on our planet decades ago and chose not just to do nothing about it but to cover it up.

I personally believe that Christians should be among the loudest voices calling for renewable and sustainable energy and manufacturing. The Bible is clear about our responsibility as human beings to steward the earth and care for it (Genesis 1:28-29). God has given us dominion over the earth, and along with that comes the task of responsibly managing its resources.

I’m aware that there are some even within the Christian community who deny the science of climate change. If you are one of them, I would ask you to reconsider your position in light of Scripture. Look at the evidence which has been presented by people who are far more clever than I am, and ask yourself, “What does God require of us as those he set in place to steward his creation?”

I was encouraged to read recently that Iceland has decided to eliminate the use of palm oil from all their products, due to its proven effect upon deforestation. They are also one of the leading retailers in the reduction of plastic use. Imagine the impact if Christians all around the country and the world began to call upon retailers and manufacturers to follow Iceland’s example.

If we continue the way we have been going, the effects upon our environment will be long-lasting. We may not see the full impact of our consumption in our lifetimes. Some would think of that as a reason to do nothing. I’m reminded of King Hezekiah, who was told by the prophet Isaiah that after he died, his people and all the wealth of his kingdom would be carried off into exile in Babylon. His response? ““The word of the Lord you have spoken is good,” Hezekiah replied. For he thought, “Will there not be peace and security in my lifetime?”” (2 Kings 20:19)

What a selfish and irresponsible attitude! As a father myself, I refuse to follow the example of Hezekiah. If the small inconvenience now of sorting my recycling, and the effort of making my voice heard on this issue, will make even the tiniest difference for the good of my children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, then surely it’s worth it.

Living sustainably is going to cost us a lot of money as a society. Maybe your local council doesn’t offer much in the way of recycling at the moment. In all likelihood, it’s a simple matter of budget (or a lack thereof). Even so, if we raise this issue regularly on a local and national level, something will be done about it. Ultimately, the biggest impact will come from large businesses following the example of Iceland in seeking sustainable products and manufacturing methods.

It is easier than ever for ordinary people like you and me to make our voices heard. Let’s do it, and see what happens.

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