The climate crisis is so big, there’s nothing I can do to make a difference.
Every time I read an article about climate change, I feel overwhelmed.
Nothing I try to do for the environment matters because other people don’t care.
Do any of these thoughts resonate with you? It’s common to experience a sense of powerlessness and overwhelm when thinking about climate change. It’s not only a complex environmental, economic and political problem, it also poses a significant existential crisis. Scientists tell us that climate change is dramatically altering the earth’s ecosystems because humans are spewing too much carbon into the atmosphere. But reducing carbon emissions requires deep changes to foundational elements of the modern world, including shelter, transportation, trade and more. To have an impact on the problem, individual change must be coupled with systemic change. The magnitude of the changes needed can be overwhelming. We don’t know where to start.
What creation most needs from Christians right now is for us to figure out how to tolerate the horrible discomfort that comes with recognizing our brokenness and the ways it has become institutionalized in systems that fail to account for the costs of waste and pollution and destruction. Because it’s only when we can tolerate looking directly at our hypocrisies and our failings that we can confess, repent and call for the collective social, economic and political change that the world needs in order to move toward sustainability.
Meaningful engagement with creation care that goes beyond Earth Day platitudes isn’t grounded in a short-term, instant gratification kind of hope. Rather, it’s buoyed by a hope that requires us to believe that the decisions we make in response to God’s gift of free will matter. That our commitments to God’s call in Genesis 2:15 to till and keep the garden of creation matter. It’s a hope that if we take that call seriously, that our lifetimes of work and action and advocacy might contribute to a better world, even if its horizon is beyond our sight.
If your deep love for God’s creation moves you to real grief in moments when you acknowledge the reality of the climate crisis, now is the time to raise your voice as a person of faith. God made us to care for creation. Let’s make this work a priority for the church. Here are some entry points for engagement.
To learn more about faith, the climate crisis, and what we’re called to do, read the book Green Faith by the Rev. Fletcher Harper, and join our very own Meet-the-Author webinar on Sunday, May 17 at 6:30pm.
To engage with Fossil Free UMC, the movement to add fossil fuels to the denomination’s socially responsible investment guidelines, start a study group, visit the Fossil Free UMC website, and follow Fossil Free UMC on Facebook and Twitter. At annual conference, we’ll consider sending legislation to General Conference 2016 to amend the Book of Discipline and Book of Resolutions investment guidelines.
To get resources on how your church can build a garden, add solar panels, and/or become an EnergyStar congregation, attend Earth Ministry’s Resource Fair on May 2, 9:30am-12pm.
To influence the Washington State legislature, join the email list for the Environmental Priorities Coalition. They will send you weekly alerts on where your advocacy is most needed. Your voice is particularly needed right now, before the session ends!
To join the movement to prevent Shell from drilling in the Arctic, join demonstrations on April 26 and May 16-18 protesting the drilling equipment being housed in Seattle’s harbor. More information here.
None of these actions alone will solve the climate crisis. But they are important entry points into the deep action and advocacy that is required of those who take seriously God’s call to care for creation.