Why christians should care about climate change

Bangladesh floods

We have seen that the scientific data quite definitely shows that the world is warming up, and the last decade has been the warmest on record. And we have seen that this has four clear effects:

  1. A change in weather patterns.
  2. A rise in ocean water levels.
  3. Increasing melting of ice.
  4. More extreme weather events – fiercer storms, larger floods, longer droughts.

So why should christians be concerned about these effects?

It will affect western countries

The effect will depend on where we live. For example:

  • Those living on seaside land will experience higher tides, stronger storms, and quite likely greater storm erosion of their seafront.
  • Some current agricultural land (e.g. much of south eastern Australia) will become drier and less productive.
  • Flooding of urban areas, roads, etc will become more frequent in many places.
  • Some ski fields will have less, or no, snow cover.

Most of these problems will cost us wealth and amenity, but western countries will generally have enough resources to cope – though standards of living are likely to fall. Christians will be affected like everyone else.

It will be disastrous for some struggling countries

Climate change will have an enormous impact on many countries, and is probably already beginning to do so. For example:

  • Millions of people living in low-lying parts of Bangladesh will experience increased flooding due to changed monsoonal weather patterns, increased river flooding, sea level rise and worse cyclones. At the same times, drought will increase in many parts of the country.
  • I have a friend who spent several years in Nepal doing aid and development work, and he found that the summer rains are coming later and over a shorter period, increasing soil erosion and reducing the water available at the crucial stage for the crops. This is potentially disastrous for subsistence farmers in a poor country.Nepal agriculture
  • At the opposite extreme, drought, famine and devastation are no strangers to many parts of north Africa. Yet as climate change bites, there will be reduced rainfall across large areas of Africa, making the problems even worse.African drought
  • Tuvulu is a small island whose maximum elevation is only 4.6m above sea level. Consequently it already suffers when king tides or storm waves hit, and it is predicted that it will become unlivable as the sea level rises, and flooding and salination increase. Maldives will be similarly affected.Tuvulu sea level rise

Climate change will destroy some species’ habitat

As the oceans heat up and ice melts,Polar bear with no ice habitats change. The polar bear is especially at risk. Polar bears live and hunt on the Arctic sea ice, which has lost 40% of its summer area in 40 years. Unless something is done immediately, summers could be sea ice free within a few decades.

Christian responsibility

We are stewards of God’s world, and we have special responsibility to care for the poor, the weak and the helpless. Large areas of God’s creation are facing destruction by climate change, and millions of people face a bleak future. That is why christian aid organisations like TEAR and World Vision are actively campaigning on behalf of poor nations for action on climate change.

Even if the cause of climate change was totally natural, it would be a natural disaster on an unprecedented scale, and God’s love would compel us to act.

But the scientific studies show that human impacts are the most significant cause, as we’ll see next post.

Christians should care deeply about climate change.

Next: Climate change: causes and remedies

Photos (in order):
Flooding in Bangladesh (TEAR Australia)
Agriculture in Nepal (Wikipedia)
African drought (World Vision)
Sea level rise in Tuvulu (TEAR Australia)
Polar bear with no ice to stand on (Cam Green, Wikispaces)

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