The debate surrounding climate change is intense. Often, Christians tend to brush aside the debate in favor of discussing other topics. We should not be doing that. The potential impact upon our neighbors is too catastrophic to dismiss. If the consequences of climate change are as huge as most scientists predict, we, as Christians, are contributing to one of the greatest abuses of the poor that the world has ever known.
Climate Change Will Disproportionately Affect The Poor
I focus on the poor because they will inevitably bear the brunt of the impact. They will not have the resources to relocate, they will not have the insurance needed to cover their losses when their houses are swept away by rising seas, they will not have the technology to overcome the droughts, they will not be able to adapt quickly to the changes in agricultural conditions. Like any environmental disaster, it is always the poor who fare worse.
The Poor Are Not The Cause, But Will Bear The Effects
What is interesting about this potential situation is that the vast majority of what may be causing the climate to change is being created by or for the rich. The poor do not consume as much per capita in food, housing, heating and cooling, travel, and stuff as the rich. If climate change is caused by humans, the poor will suffer a catastrophe forced upon them by the rich. It will not be of their own doing.
Are We Causing Climate Change?
The climate change debate often hinges upon whether carbon has the ability to be the greenhouse cause that many scientists say it is. I am not going to focus on that because there are much smarter people than I who are able to argue both sides. What I am going to comment on is that I believe climate change is real and it is happening already. Regardless of what the source is, something extraordinary is starting.
I recently read an article, "Rapidly receding Arctic Canada glaciers revealing landscapes continuously ice-covered for more than 40,000 years." published in Nature Communications 10, Article 445 (2019). This article covered the research from a team of scientists studying the glaciers on Baffin Island in Canada. One of the unique features of these glaciers was that they had soil with plants growing at the time when the glaciers were formed. Since the glaciers have melted to a point never before seen, these plants have been uncovered. The team measured the age of these plants, and the geological formations around them, and determined that the plants were more than 40,000 years old. You can read more about the scientist's techniques here. What this means is that this glacier has been covering the spots where the plants were sampled for more than 40,000 years. Many people who disagree with climate change say that the earth goes through normal fluctuations in temperature and our weather goes through natural ups and downs. Something that has not changed for more than 40,000 years seems like we may be facing a situation that is outside of the "normal" temperature fluctuations, in my opinion.
Is It Okay To Gamble On Our Neighbor's Safety?
We, as Christians, need to take climate change seriously because it is real. It is happening, and we may be a huge contributor to it. In doing so, we may be perpetrators of a crime that displaces millions, negatively affects the lives of billions, and causes harm to the least of these.
To a certain extent, if we do nothing to change our lifestyles, we are gambling with the lives of the poor. How does this align with loving our neighbor as ourselves? If there was a 50/50 chance that your brother, sister, mom, would lose their home, or suffer extreme poverty due to droughts or famine, would you take that bet? What if there was only a 10% chance that your father could lose his job? What if there was only a 5% chance that climate change was being caused by us and that because of it, your son would not be able to feed his family later this century, would you bet that it's not real and we don't need to change how we are doing things? My personal belief is that there is a real possibility that I am contributing to climate change. Based upon this, I am not going to risk my neighbor's safety. I have to change. It is a spiritual imperative. I haven't figured out exactly how to change everything, but we as a family are changing. We will share what we are doing and why in future posts.
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