The eco-mission of the church in a critical time

Why get involved in climate action? 

We are in a climate emergency.

Climate scientists have been sounding the call for decades. In recent years their call has turned to a ringing alarm: we must act, we must act together, and we must act urgently if we do not want to see massive suffering and death because of climate change. Already we are experiencing the effects of a warming climate caused primarily by human activity: an increase in extreme weather events leading to droughts and fires and floods. As is always the case in these catastrophes, it is those most vulnerable to harm—fragile ecosystems, impoverished peoples—who bear the brunt of suffering and death. 

For us as Christians, the good news always starts with this: “God so loved the world” (John 3:16). God our Creator, the Creator of the earth and all that is in it, has crafted all things in love and deemed them “very good” (Genesis 1:31). We live and move and have our being in the God who is love (Acts 17:28; 1 John 4:16). Every time we as humans have destroyed God’s good world in our hubris through violence or greed, God has stepped into this world through faithful people to reverse the tide of suffering and death (e.g. Genesis 6:5-6; 9:8-17). The incarnation of God in Christ, God entering God’s good world through Jesus, is the ultimate instance of this divine redemption of the world God loves (John 1:18; Colossians 1:15-23). In Jesus God is shown to be the one “who gives life to the dead and calls into being that which does not yet exist” (Romans 4:17). With God, new life is always possible, even in the midst of suffering and death.

God calls us as the church to live into this mission. Prompted by God’s love for the world and emboldened by resurrection hope, God summons us to enter into the groaning of God’s suffering creation, to walk in solidarity with all that suffers because of human greed and violence, walking toward newness and fullness of life (Romans 8:18-27). God calls us to care for creation, to stand with and stand up for the vulnerable, and to resist non-violently the powerful forces of evil in this world opposed to God’s good purposes (Genesis 1:26-28; 2:7-9, 15; Isaiah 1:16-17; Luke 4:16-21; 2 Corinthians 10:3-5; Ephesians 6:10-18; Revelation 12:10-11).

There is also good news related to climate change.

Although some effects of a warming climate are now inevitable and will require us to adapt, we can still act now to avoid many of the most devastating effects of climate change. According to the most recent reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the earth has warmed 1.09 °C since pre-industrial times, now proven to be almost entirely because of human activity. Increased extreme weather is now clearly tied to climate change. Sea-level rise and glacier melt are now virtually irreversible. If we continue on this path the earth will warm to well over 2 °C since pre-industrial times by the end of this century, coastal regions will be under 2-6 metres of water, many species will become extinct, fragile ecosystems will be damaged beyond repair, and large segments of the globe currently populated by humans will be uninhabitable.

But there are still things we can do. If we reduce carbon dioxide emissions to net zero and other greenhouse gas emissions significantly during this decade, we can avert some of the worst effects of climate change. This is good news, but it is no small task.