Can we fix it? Can we avert the climate chaos predicted by the evidence and analysis provided from scientists the world over? After all, climate change is really happening, really serious, really human caused, yet we can still, if we act boldly, really do something about it. Unfortunately, the current U.S. Administration blatantly rejects the growing understanding that unrelenting fossil fuel combustion and persistent greenhouse gas emission disrupts and destabilizes the climate we rely on for our livable common home.
Fortunately, growing numbers of people recognize both the problem and
the need for action. On Earth Day, April 22, 2017, thousands of those people from around the area took to the streets of Madison, WI. First, in a “March for Science”, one of hundreds of similar marches around the country and the globe. Second, in a “People’s Climate March”, an early event to be followed this coming Saturday, April 29 by hundreds more around the country and the globe. Many attended both.
The two marches reinforced and paralleled each other not only by messages but by participants. In the first, citizens, scientists, and speakers advocated appreciating, recognizing, and funding science. Why? Because science provides information, insights, and intelligence essential to increase understanding and improve living. In the second, citizens, scientists, and speakers more specifically advocated appreciating, recognizing, and funding climate science and climate protection. Why? Because of climate change, or more accurately climate disruption!
Can we fix it? Science and marches will not be enough. We need to engage all of civil society – education, arts, business, government, media, family, and religion. We need to engage all of people’s moral and spiritual resources. We need to call attention to the challenges and call on leaders to act – whether by mass action, individual conversation or other means. We need to connect the dots: peoples’ hearts to their minds, their values to climate change, and themselves to actions – both solitary and combined.
To this end, I happily participated in Madison’s People’s Climate March. To further this end I happily look forward to joining thousands upon thousands in Washington D.C. April 29, 2017 for the main U.S. People’s Climate March. I will do so as part of a small faithful contingent of Evangelical Christians who will not only march Saturday, but prepare Sunday to meet with members of congress and congressional staff on Monday. Under the banner “Acting in Faith: Evangelical Climate Advocacy Days,” we will work to connect the dots. This will increase
awareness and mobilize action to care for creation through care for the climate.
And what distinctive perspective and moral grounding do those of us Evangelical Christians bring? We care for and protect the climate for two key reasons. First, we desire to love and honor God – not only by loving what God created, loves and has declared is good, but by stewarding what God has entrusted to our care. Second, we believe that caring for and protecting the climate cares for and protects our neighbors whom God calls us to love. In other words, as we care for and protect the climate we fulfill the first and second greatest commandments Jesus gave us – to love first, God and second, our neighbors and ourselves (Matthew 22:34-40).
Unfortunately, this biblically-centered approach to climate care-taking has been largely lost in the fog of ideological bickering. Nevertheless, we believe followers of Christ have a critical role to play in highlighting the spiritual, moral and ethical reasons to address climate change. In doing so we believe we can help our decision-makers recognize transcendent shared values and move them across political divides to shared common ground. We recognize that everyone – regardless of ideology and party, whether liberal or conservative–must be part of the solution.
Yet the current U.S. President is a man who puts God’s creation at risk with his brash denial of climate change. His choices for cabinet secretaries and other key positions put in power people who reject both the missions of the departments they run and the best science that should inform those missions. Consequently, they reveal policies likely to harm the climate and God’s creation. In sum, I am deeply worried about this administration’s stance against addressing the real and present threat of climate change.
Can we fix it? I don’t know for sure. Nevertheless, this situation does not require a loss of hope. The Old Testament prophet Isaiah tell us that “those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint” (Isaiah 40:31). Despite the obstacles in our way, the ominous news coming out of the new administration, and the overwhelming odds against us, we people of faith, Evangelical Christians and members of Climate Caretakers intend to soar and invite others to do likewise! God hasn’t taken down the “open” sign to his redemption business just because there’s a new president. God still restores hope and redeems not only people but all of creation.
The New Testament book of Hebrews says that faith is the “evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). We may not see how God can redeem our current situation, but we have faith in our Creator and we press forward. We press forward on behalf of the vulnerable and the marginalized. We press forward on behalf of the immigrant, of our
brothers and sisters of color, and of those of different faiths from us. We press forward for the beauty and diversity of God’s creation. Moreover, as Christ-followers, we press forward in faith with Jesus Christ, our redeemer.
Can we fix it? People in general and people of faith, in particular, have cared for creation with painfully mixed results over time. For years – in faith, hope, and love – I have embraced and expressed God’s call on my life to care for creation. Whether speaking before a congregation, meeting in congressional offices, coordinating the Middleton Climate Referendum Project, strategizing on Citizens Climate Lobby conference calls, marching at 350.org protests, testifying at public hearings, and more I have done so grounded in my faith, motivated by my love for God, neighbor and myself.
Can we fix it? We won’t find out if we don’t try. Join with me, join with all people, to care for creation and to protect the climate. Please do so! If you don’t for my reasons, then do so for your own and for the sake of our common home.
For More Info: www.climatecaretakers.org, www.madisonccl.info, www.350madison.org, www.facebook.com/middletonclimatereferendum, www.CareofCreation.org
Kermit Hovey is a volunteer and advocate for creation care and climate protection with Citizens Climate Lobby, 350.org, the Middleton Climate Referendum Project and other efforts. An active co-founder of Climate Caretakers, a national Evangelical Christian climate action and advocacy group, he is also Director of Operations and Development at Care of Creation, “mobilizing the church to care for creation”. (Note: some brief parts adapted by the author from an online post by Brian Webb, Executive Director of Climate Caretakers – used by permission. The text of this article also will be found as a guest column in the April 27, 2017 issue of the Middleton Times Tribune)