This past summer brought climate change to the fore in this country (even though other human-caused disasters required plenty of press). In the West, raging fires continue to devour forests, farms, ranches, and towns, as a Biblical-style drought dries up the Colorado River and causes restrictions never before imposed. Not to mention searing and deadly heat in the Northwest, a region quite unprepared to deal with it. In the East, fierce storms and floods left horrible destruction in their wake. It is becoming more and more evident that we must come to grips with the consequences and how we will deal with them on a national level. Will we continue to subsidize building in dangerous areas, using programs such as the national flood insurance program, or the water allotments in the West? How much money can we devote to FEMA every year?
As Christians, though, we are called to consider even more. The call to justice and compassion echo down from the earliest books of the Bible. We may feel compelled to donate to disaster relief, but God’s call is for more. The EPA released an analysis on Sept. 2 examining the negative health and environmental impacts from a warming planet, including deaths from extreme heat and property loss from flooding in the wake of sea-level rise. The study examines particular effects on low-income and minority citizens. A rise in global temperature of 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) compared to preindustrial levels would lead to expectations that American Indians and Alaska Natives are 48% more likely than other groups to live in areas inundated by flooding from sea-level rise, Latinos are 43% more likely to live in places where they will be losing work hours due to intense heat, and Blacks will suffer significantly higher mortality rates. The world has already warmed 1.1 degrees since the Industrial Revolution began. Extreme heat puts the United States on track to lose an average of $100 billion a year from lost productivity, a figure expected to rise to $200 billion by 2030.
The BHCC Eco-Justice Team has taken into account the fact that individual efforts at conservation are not enough. We are studying the possibility of joining the Pennsylvania affiliate of Interfaith Power and Light, a faith-based initiative with a bigger reach than an individual congregation. With the cooperation of the Adult Ed. Committee, we have invited a Mt. Lebanon resident who represents this organization to talk to us on Oct. 10 during the Adult Ed. hour. Please join us then as we examine what this organization can do to further our commitment to God’s will.
The photo accompanying this report is from a climate protest in London, where senior citizens, admitting that older generations have contributed thoughtlessly to the situation, took a stand on the issue. Known as “Gray Greens,” they frequently explained, “I’d do anything to protect my grandchildren.” Amen!