What the scientists are saying
- Climate change is the most complex and serious environmental
challenge of the 21st century (EA)
- People in the UK are responsible for emitting as much as 50
times more CO2 than people in the poorest countries. With the
USA, Japan, Germany and Canada we are one of the five largest
per capita emitters of CO2. These are the countries most responsible
for climate change.
- But it will not be they who suffer most. Rather it will be those
who are least to blame - and indeed they are already suffering.
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, loss
of life and adverse economic impacts from climate change are expected
to be greatest in developing countries. The three countries most
vulnerable to climate change during the 21st Century will be Sierra
Leone, Ethiopia and Afghanistan. According to the Red Cross, by
2022 the costs of climatic disasters are expected to rise to a
figure 10 times predicted aid flows. The number of refugees will
leap from 15 million today to 150 million or more by 2050. This
country already argues about how to receive refugees; but the
situation today is dwarfed by the likely situation in 2050.
- Sea levels are expected to rise by up to a metre before 2100
(IFRC), and to go on rising. A half a metre rise could create
92 million refugees in from low-lying coastlands and deltas, such
as in Bangladesh (IFRC). The Pacific nation of Tuvalu is already
abandoning its homeland because of rising seas
- But it will not just hurt people abroad. Over 1.8 million homes
and potentially 5 million people in the UK are at risk from increased
storm and flood damage (EST). The cost of damage from adverse
weather is rising 10% each year, while the world's economic growth,
measured in Gross Domestic Product, is growing at 2.5%. Damages
caused by unstable weather could exceed worldwide Gross Domestic
Product by 2065, reversing the gains of development (CGNU).
- And it is not just the poor today who will suffer; the effects
for our children and their children will be far worse. It takes
30 to 50 years for greenhouse gases to have their full effect
on the climate. The damage already done to the climate by artificial
greenhouse gas emissions will affect us for the next 1,000 years.
What the Bible says
Care for Creation:
For cattle you make the grass grow, and plants
for people to use, so that they can grow their crops. (Ps 104.14)
But climate change is upsetting the natural cycles upon which
God's creation - animals, plants and humans - depends.
Responsibility for the vulnerable:
"You hear the cries of the oppressed
and the orphan; you will judge in their favour." (Ps 10.17)
The effects of climate change will be felt most harshly by those
least responsible. The poor cannot afford to adapt or protect themselves
from increasingly erratic weather.
Justice between generations:
His mercy extends to those who fear him, from
generation to generation (Luke 1.50).
The full effects of today's greenhouse gas emissions will
take decades, even centuries to become apparent. We owe to future
generations the same love and care as God shows them.
Love for neighbour:
"Lord, when did we see you hungry or
thirsty, and do nothing?" (Mt 25.44) The
whole world is our neighbour when we cause atmospheric pollution,
because its effects reach across the globe.
Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness,
faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Gal 5.22)
Fossil fuels have become a cause of conflict and oppression. By
handling energy more carefully, and changing to benign fuels, Christians
can show the fruits of the Spirit.
Noah is a prophet and a guide for our times. When life on Earth
was under threat from violent weather, he used his skill to build
an Ark, and so saved the whole of creation from the Flood. It is
now time to protect the Rainbow Covenant, by which God promised
Noah never to destroy the earth by flood again.
CGNU - Reinsurance company, of which Norwich Union is a brand
EA - UK Environment Agency
EST - Energy Savings Trust (a body created and funded by Government
to promote energy efficiency) IFRC - World Disasters Reports 2000
and 2001, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent
UEA - Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, University of
UNEP - United Nations Environment Programme
WWF - World Wide Fund for Nature