Phew, that’s winter over with no devastating floods and mercifully mild temperatures. Heating bills are down and everything’s right with the world… or is it?
This winter has been the sunniest on record and while not many of us are going to complain, it is another reminder that our weather is continuing become more extreme.
In Britain, some sunshine is very welcome but elsewhere there is increasing evidence of the devastation that climate change will bring. Warning bells have been sounded again by agricultural scientists who are forecasting steep drops in crop yields. Increases in chemical use and water extraction in an attempt to keep production levels up is likely to accelerate the trend.
As if that wasn’t enough, the peak population number is being revised sharply upwards placing even greater strain on our planet’s ability to support us all.
The results are hard to predict accurately but all are worrying: conflicts over access to land and water – this is starting to happen in central Africa where Boko Haram’s activities are in part a reaction to the catastrophic shrinking of Lake Chad. Mass movement of human populations – waves of migration of which the boat loads of refugees in the Mediterranean may be just the start.
So, what might our Christian response be?
First, we PRAY. Our God is the creator and sustainer of life and deeply involved in the plight of our world. We pray in the knowledge that he cares and listens to us when we cry for those suffering the consequences of climate change. Specifically, 2015 will see a major climate summit in Paris and we pray for wisdom and courage for our leaders to take the difficult decisions required.
Then, we HOPE. In frightening times, the biggest gift we can give is the gift of hope built on the promises of God who sent His son to die so that we might have life. Being hopeful and ready to give a reason for our hope will open the door to some interesting opportunities for the Spirit to work.
Next, we CHOSE. Spending our money in ways that encourage sustainable production can have a far-reaching effect at home and many miles away.
Then, we can SPEAK through whatever forums are open to us. Last December a bid to slash Britain’s foreign aid budget was defeated in the Commons but, in tough times, the world’s poor are an easy target. Climate change could drive poor communities to destruction and we will need to raise our voices to keep their plight in the minds of our leaders.
Finally, we can GET INVOLVED. That could be by giving to one of the many Christian charities working to bring relief, water or education to affected communities. Or, it might be by exploring whether God’s purpose is for us to ‘go’ and become directly involved somewhere. There are many opportunities to volunteer with Christian organisations and see for ourselves what God could use us to do.
Whatever we are able to do, we know that when we do respond, we are following the example of Jesus who had compassion on those he saw who were harassed and helpless.