Climate Change is not just a scientific or political issue, but a moral and spiritual issue of love and justice touching core issues of faith and Christian life. But here we will first look at the basic facts of climate change (also referred to as Global Warming, Anthropogenic Global Warming, Climate Disruption and more, see NOTE below). In brief, It’s Really Happening, Really Human Caused, Really Serious and We Can Still Really Do Something About It!
Climate Change: It’s Really Happening
Gases in the air allow energy from the sun to reach and warm the surface of the earth. Some of those gases block the heat energy of a warming surface from leaving the planet. These greenhouse gases include carbon dioxide (CO2) – a product of burning things – and methane – a fossil fuel and major byproduct of animal agriculture.
Lab tests, observing the planet, records from the past and many other types of evidence confirm that greenhouse gases allow light energy to pass through them to warm up a surface. They also confirm that those gases block heat energy from leaving. The heat energy that can’t leave builds up to increase temperatures.
This post comes to you from an airport lounge in Nairobi, Kenya, where I am waiting for my flight to Tanzania to visit the new Care of Creation project in Iringa. Meanwhile, I am thinking of the many people, sights and sounds from the last week. One of the most important events is actually one that happened on April 28, a week before I arrived, when an unaturally large rainfall event caused a portion of the mountain above the community where our project is located to slide down. Such an event is a natural part of God’s creation – or is it?
The evidence of God’s grace and mercy in the aftermath of the April 28th landslide in Kijabe, Kenya, is clear. The slide happened after midnight on a Saturday night, so the path the slide took down the main street of the town (which runs straight down the slope) hit no vehicles, no houses and no people. It did wipe out several hundred meters of the boundary fence of Rift Valley Academy, and could have done serious damage to a local high school and the famous Kijabe Christian Hospital but for a strong fence and row of trees at the bottom of the street – and because of the damming effect of a railway line above the town – but we’ll come back to that in a minute. Continue reading →
Care of Creation’s Kenya project is housed in Kijabe, on the campus of Moffatt Bible College, overlooking the Great Rift Valley of central Kenya. Kijabe town is perched on the edge of the Rift Valley escarpment, with steep slopes all around covered by forest – forest that has been under siege for many years. The destruction of the forest is suddenly creating a monumental problem for the Bible School, a major mission hospital, a school for missionary children – and Uganda’s only rail link to the port of Mombasa. Read on:
East Africa, suffering from years of drought, suddenly finds itself almost drowning in rain. It has been raining hard for weeks – and the rains, normally a blessing to be prayed for and for which songs of praise are offered, these rains are bringing a new level of challenge all their own. Persistent, ongoing and accelerating deforestation has left the slopes of the escarpment unstable. Landslides over the last few weeks have destroyed one of the waterlines supplying Moffatt Bible College, Kijabe Mission Hospital and Rift Valley Academy. Road access to the hospital is threatened by slides – potentially much more important, a railway line that links the country of Uganda to the port of Mombasa has been blocked several times already. Continue reading →
Care of Creation, my organization, does a lot of work teaching people in Kenya and other East African countries about the dangers of destroying forests. God gave us trees for good reason: In terms of hydrology (water cycles), trees are essential. They are like the columns holding up the roof of a building – lose the trees, the whole system falls apart. It turns out that something very similar is going on in the Mississippi River watershed of middle America. We’re a richer country – but it appears that mere wealth can’t stop a flood. When we human beings carelessly destroy vital parts of the world God gave us to live in, it doesn’t seem to matter whether we’re living in a village in Kenya or on a farm in Missouri.
Lost in the blizzard of headlines over the last week – tornadoes, weddings, the death of a terrorist – is the developing flood situation in the Mississippi River valley. The few stories that we’ve seen have focused on what one commentator called a solomonic dilemma: Whether to save a small, struggling riverside city (Cairo, Illinois) or hundreds of thousands of acres of the country’s best farmland in Missouri. That case has been all the way to the US Supreme Court in the last 48 hours, with the result that last night the Corps blasted two miles of levees at Bird’s Point, just south of Cairo in order to reduce the pressure on that community’s flood defenses. As of this writing, the river has receded by a foot – the Corps hopes that they’ll see three more feet of decline in the next couple of days. Continue reading →
The Egyptian revolution now underway has a personal connection for me – my niece Annie is attempting to pursue graduate studies in the middle of the chaos. I had a conversation with her mother, my sister Marilyn this morning: “So what’s Annie doing? Trekking to the airport every day to try to get out?” “Not exactly – she’s trekking to demonstrations every day…” Anyone who knows Annie – heck, anyone who knows her mother – would not be at all surprised by that. Marilyn’s family lived in Egypt for a number of years, and she has been covering the crisis very competently on her blog here if you’d like a well-written day-to-day overview including occasional eye-witness reports from Annie.
There are so many dimensions to this uprising that it’s hard to know even where to start. There are plenty of obvious dimensions of this crisis: A hard-pressed population’s desire for freedom. The fear many have of the possibility – maybe remote, maybe not – of an Iran-style Islamic state taking the reins after Mubarak leaves. Continue reading →
A Conversation about God, His Creation and Our Role in Creation