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Who’ll suffer from Climate Change?

By Ian Wells (writing about the fifth 'mark of mission': environmental concern).

God has given us all the gift of being able to understand the creation he has placed us in. Not only can we start to contemplate the mysteries  of stars and galaxies far beyond our own world, but we're also learning more and more about the world here on earth that God has given us. The more we learn about our world and nature, the more we can see we are blessed and have been given a very special planet to care for.

God has also given us the ability to understand that our earth's natural environment is at great risk right now. Scientific data is  clear. We humans are changing the climate, a climate that has been reasonably stable for tens of thousands of years. Climate change is a global problem and, despite what we might wish, is now one of the principal challenges facing humanity.

God has given us the ability to understand the effects of these climate changes and we can easily predict they will  have a disproportional effect on the poor of the world. As a small example, rich people can afford to move, while the poor cannot.

Christians have a special contribution in addressing climate change, because Jesus has taught us to care for the poor. This is a time for us to act on the principles that Jesus taught us.

Climate change is no longer a scientific issues - science is very clear what is happening to our earth. It's not a technical issue - there is no magic "technical fix" or "app" that will reverse climate change (although we wish there was one!). It's not just an economic issue or a business issue - dollars alone will not buy a "solution" (and parts of exponential economic growth are hitting hard our planetary boundaries). It's not something that will get resolved only by some expert or a political leader. The Paris climate summit will help, but isn't sufficient. The actions required to help the poor and our planet require significant choices and work by all of us.

Addressing climate change also requires moral choices. Which is why our Christian voice is so important.

How is Climate Change related to mission?  Here are five Oceania environmental impacts (as measured by Caritas)

  • Extreme weather

  • Coastal erosion, flooding and rising sea levels

  • Access to safe, healthy food and water

  • Offshore mining

  • Climate finance - who is benefiting?

  • ​The major Oceania communities are currently seeing the most impact from extreme weather (such as recent severe cyclones). Money and resources should be going into building a low-carbon, climate resilient future, not "business as usual." Ecological citizenship needs to be developed, in our faith communities and in our mission.

    This topic can appear overwhelming. Some people feel its so big and our voices are so small, we just do nothing. Apathy results. This is not what Jesus taught us to do. There are similarities to the abolition of the slave trade in 1807. Christians, even those benefiting economically from the slave trade, acted on their Christian values to end the slave trade. It was not easy. But it was the Christian thing to do. Again we are called.

    What can you do now? Start simple. Start fun. Take the first step and join with other Christians in this Saturday's Climate march: Christchurch - Victoria Square,  12:30;  Auckland - Mt Albert park, 11am; Wellington - Civic Square, 1pm. There will be many groups at these parades - look for the Christian church signs and meet others.

    This problem is hard. We cannot do it alone. But God is with us. Please contribute your ideas and concerns on our Facebook page.