Posted: February 1, 2019
“The earth is the LORD’s and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it; for he has founded it on the seas, and established it on the rivers” (Psalm 24:1–2).
“Climate change”: these two words often generate anxiety concerning the future of not only humanity, but the entire planet.
The effects of climate change have undoubtedly become more evident. Scientific studies in the last 100 years show that if global temperatures increased beyond 1.5° Celsius, there will be negative impacts on ecosystems all over the world.
This small change causes rainfall patterns to shift, temperatures to change, and a higher risk of heatwaves, flooding, melting ice sheets and glaciers resulting in sea level rise.
Climate change poses a risk to human societies and natural ecosystems. A disruption in the ecosystem equilibrium is already measured in plant and animal species that are changing physiologically. With effects such as a decreased crop yield, climate change will cause higher rates of poverty.
While scientific evidence presents many negatives, the church can highlight positives. As a Christian, currently studying environmental science, I believe we can look to science for solutions and still exalt God for his greatness because he created the world and bestowed us with the desire to understand it.
The engagement of the church is vital. Here, I offer action points using the acronym CHANGE.
Many of us need to change our mindset, perspective and attitude about climate change. This is not a problem solely for politicians, scientists and experts. It is everyone’s problem, including the global church.
Although we hope for eternal life through Jesus Christ, while we walk on the earth we are its custodians. Genesis 2:15 says, “The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it.” God instructed people to look after his creation.
The issue is not whether climate change is a true phenomenon or not, but how we as members of the global church are involved in adapting our communities to the changes. It is a global issue, one that should be tackled by joint effort rather than individually.
The global church, fostering a spirit of togetherness and community engagement can help bring people closer to Christ, and steer their communities in a positive direction.
Action and Awareness
As the church, we can be a place where people look for accurate information on what climate change is, who it impacts, and how to adapt and mitigate its effects.
The global church could help not only financially but also spiritually to understand the dynamic between developed and developing countries. Inhabitants of developing countries will suffer the impacts of climate change more than those of developed nations. As a global body, we could be a conduit for region-specific information.
Local congregations could promote conservation strategies that start at community level. The church could offer resources on improving efficiency in both energy and food systems, building green infrastructure and nurturing green spaces in urban and rural areas.
Take time to appreciate nature and see God’s greatness in it. Remember that as the climate changes, so will certain aspects of it.
We must keep God as the centre. Where scientific evidence disappoints us, God’s Word remains a true guide. Prayer is a powerful tool that connects us to God and each other.
We are living in a world full of turmoil. Scientists rely on evidence and projections to predict future scenarios, but it can never be 100 percent accurate. However, as believers, our consolation resides in God as our peace in a time of chaos and uncertainty.
Our lives are rooted in Christ. Whatever happens, God is always with us. This is not an excuse to sit back and watch the chaos unfold, rather, it is a time to CHANGE. As the global church, we can embrace this opportunity to reach out to those who are lost.
—Makadunyiswe Ngulube is YABs Representative for Africa. She is a member of Mount Pleasant BIC Church Zimbabwe. She is studying environmental science at Saint Mary’s University, Nova Scotia, Canada.
Sources used (in English):
Global warming of 1.5°C. An IPCC Special Report, https://www.ipcc.ch/sr15/
D. Lobell, M. Burke, C. Tebaldi, M. Mastrandrea, W. Falcon, and R. Naylor. “Prioritizing climate change adaptation needs for food security in 2030” in Science (2008).
Terry L. Root, Jeff T. Price, Kimberly R. Hall, Stephen H. Schneider, Cynthia Rosenzweig, & J. Alan Pounds. “Fingerprints of global warming on wild animals and plants” in Nature (2003).