Overview: Listen to the Story
Climate change is happening, and it is already affecting people worldwide, such as Kenyan farmers who are grappling with changing weather patterns, and the Inuit people in Canada’s north whose traditional livelihoods are being affected by changing ice and animal-migration patterns. What does that have to do with our faith? Quite a bit.
The scientific consensus is broad and strong. Climate change is caused almost exclusively by human activities, especially the use of fossil fuel based energy. It is increasingly having serious effects on the Earth’s ecological balance and on its ability to support human life.
Canadians are especially voracious consumers of energy in comparison to almost other countries around the world. We have a special responsibility to cut back significantly on our consumption, for the good of all.
The effects of climate change are already serious—many experts such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are now seeing connections between the conflict in Syria and four years of devastating drought in the nation from 2006 to 2010, which pushed over 1.5 million Syrians off their land and into crowded cities, where the conditions for conflict were ripe. We are already seeing refugee movements related to climate change.
We have been inspired by movements such as Idle No More, an Indigenous movement started by women in response to the removal of legal protection from hundreds of waterways across the country in 2012. “Indigenous peoples have incredible gifts to share with the world, especially when it comes to matters of creation care. Indigenous peoples have been stewarding the land for millennia, in many cases long before Europeans arrived in their countries. We carry an ancient wisdom that helps us to live well, to preserve, protect, and respect the earth,” says Michelle Nieviadomy, a Cree woman who works at one of our partner ministries, the Edmonton Native Healing Centre.
Living the Biblical Story
Creation sings a song of praise to the Creator! “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands,” writes the psalmist (Ps. 19:1). If you have hiked through a pine forest on the Canadian shield, felt the power of the ocean breakers at Peggy’s Cove, or gazed at the expanse of golden poplars in autumn from a Yukon mountaintop, perhaps you have heard creation declare Creator God’s praises.
When humanity sinned, creation too began to feel the effects of this brokenness—Paul even writes that all of creation is “groaning as in the pains of childbirth” (Rom. 8:22). Confronting the challenge of climate change is both a political and a spiritual challenge—we need to repent of our overuse of fossil fuels and prioritize the common good, particularly the good of the most vulnerable, in order to move away from a broken energy model toward a more stewardly way of living on the earth.
As Christians who are called to steward the earth and care for the poor, we should be leaders in the fight against climate change. Too often Western Christians have forgotten this call and have seen the earth instead simply as a stockpile of resources. Many Indigenous cultures know that we cannot elevate “spiritual” things above “natural” things—often Indigenous cultures honour the Creator’s world much better than Western ones have. The fractures caused by sin are many—in our broken relationship to creation, we have divided Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians—and this rift has kept settler Canadians from learning Creator-honouring earth stewardship from Indigenous peoples.
We work and wait for Christ’s reconciliation of all things (Col. 1:19-20), to restore our broken relationships so that we all, together with creation, may again sing Creator God’s praises.
Education: (Re)learn the Story
Why I Care about Climate Change - Do Justice series
This series is dedicated to those voices—voices that do not shout the loudest or own the 24 hour news cycle, but have deep knowledge and important wisdom that needs to be heard. Voices of mothers concerned for their children's future. Voices of young people concerned about the viability of their future. Voices of missionaries worried about access to water and arable land for the community to which they have dedicated their lives. Voices of First Nations people lamenting the abuse of the earth and holding up the ancient wisdom of their ancestors. Voices that all explain, in one way or another, why they care about climate change.
8 Canadian Symptoms of Climate Change - Citizens for Public Justice
As Canadians, we may sometimes feel removed from climate change impacts. This infographic shows eight symptoms of climate change that already are happening in Canada, and provides links where you can learn more. Citizens for Public Justice has created a series of climate change infographics to make the complicated science and policy of climate change easier to process and remember.
Climate Conversation: Kenya video series - Office of Social Justice
For millions of subsistence farmers in Kenya, climate change is not a political debate. It is a reality in which adaptation can mean the difference between life and death. The Climate Conversation: Kenya video series is a chance to move past the white noise and to get up close and personal with the issues of climate change and environmental stewardship. It is a chance to meet people, not statistics; to hear stories, not arguments. It is an invitation to a conversation.
Adapting to Climate Change - World Renew
Farmers in many parts of the world aren’t debating climate change--they’re already dealing with its effects. Our partners at World Renew are helping them adapt through farming innovations like bocage, conservation agriculture, and floating gardens.
Canada cannot continue to depend on the oilsands. This organization, made up of oilsands workers, knows that for their own economic well-being and the well-being of our entire country and planet, we need to move towards renewable energy sources--and retrain oilsands workers to work in the renewables industries.
Featured Resource: Bangladesh - The Canary in the Coal Mine
Bangladesh: The Canary in the Coal Mine
To understand injustice, we must pay special attention to the voices of those most affected. Listen to the stories of people who are already being impacted by climate change in Bangladesh through this video series from the CRC’s Climate Witness Project, a project of the Office of Social Justice and World Renew.
Advocacy: Be Part of the Story
Estimates of a "fair share" contribution to reducing climate change suggest that at a minimum, Canada should align with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s recommended reductions of 25-40 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020. Canada's current target translates to only about 14 per cent below 1990 levels by 2030.
God’s creation and the life it sustains are precious. Urge your MP to ensure Canada contributes equitably to the Paris Agreement. Write to them today!
The Climate Witness Project is a campaign designed to walk with congregations as they learn about the realities of climate change, as they seek to be better stewards of the resources they have been given, and as they find their voice to speak to their public officials about common sense climate policy that will benefit the earth, people around the world who are poor and vulnerable, and future generations.
So far, nearly 250 CRC members from 40 congregations in the U.S. and Canada have come together to learn, act, and advocate for a safer and more just world. Join them!
How do I contact legislators? Is it better to call, or to write? What do I say?
Learn this and more with our helpful advocacy guide.
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