Latest report from Global Environmental Relief.

cropped-cosmos.jpg[Curated.]

By Darrell Smith, director of Global Environmental. 

For those of you who live in the United States, what sights come to mind when you think of natural beauty? Majestic mountains? Sun-washed seashores? Golden fields of grain? Lazy rivers that spread across our nation? America is a beautiful country – with a myriad of parks and green spaces for all to enjoy. We have enacted laws to control litter and limit the cancerous effects of second-hand smoke. Sadly, in the upcoming years, the greatest danger will not be from litter or cigarette smoke – it will be the increasing air pollution, the growing number of unusual and extreme droughts and floods, and the creeping rise of the seas, whose effects are already being felt in certain coastal areas.

Many of us will never see the slow effects of climate disruption, until we go to the grocery store and notice the rising cost of food, or perhaps we’ll receive our annual homeowner’s insurance bill and it will have increased once again. Even then, most Americans won’t starve due to climate disruption. This is not true for others around the world…[Read more at GER website].

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The difference between weather and climate: A Science Lesson

Inhofe[Curated]

The Climate and Environmental debate in the United States often confuses the difference between weather and climate.  For instance, some time ago, Sen. James Inhofe (R-Oklahoma) confused weather and climate when he brought a snowball into Congress to argue that human-induced climate change is misplaced.  This article from Global Environmental Relief blog takes a closer look at the difference between the two terms and their relationship in the larger scope of the planet’s history.  It’s worth a read (disclaimer: Rev. Joe LaGuardia serves as vice president of the GERI board.)

By Dr. Darrell Smith, Global Environmental Relief

There’s a great deal of talk today about the difference between weather and climate. For many who grew up in North Central Texas, the changeability of the weather was a daily conversation topic.  In this part of Texas, the weather sometimes changed drastically over the course of a few hours.  A sunny balmy day outside on the lake could have you running for cover as a severe thunderstorm and hail suddenly appeared from out of nowhere.  Winter days in the 70s changed in a few hours to ice storms and a foot of snow (we have the pictures to prove it!).

Often attributed to Mark Twain, the old adage, “If you don’t like the weather wait a minute, it’ll change” certainly applies to this part of Texas – except in the summer, when it is just hot.

August is notorious for days close to or exceeding 100 °F with no rain in sight. The Hotter’N Hell 100 bicycle race held here each year in August is aptly named!  All of these frequent changes in weather led many from the area to become profoundly interested in weather phenomenon around the world, and some eventually to discussions of climate.

Weather is the day to day changes in temperature, humidity, or rain in a particular place.  Climate, on the other hand, is quite different!  Climate is the prevailing weather conditions of a region throughout the year, averaged over a series of years and decades….

The evidence for climate change won’t be found in the weather you experience this week – or even next month.  The evidence will be found by looking outside of our nightly weather reports and even outside the United States.  The evidence can be found in looking at the climate that is changing around the world and also with the people and natural world already suffering from its effects.  [Read More here…]

Climate change is a very real challenge, requiring prophetic responses

The extraordinary and history-making cold spell we experienced several weeks ago reminded me of a time that one of my good friends posted on Facebook that, with all this cold weather, human-induced climate change is certain to be a hoax.

Although I’m sure that my friend confused weather with climate, it made me think of the importance of caring for God’s creation.  Aside from the science, we are called to be stewards over the earth, for “the heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork” (Ps. 19:1).

Most people now realize that climate change is a very real challenge, that studies show a dramatic shift in the earth’s climate following the industrial age in the last century or so.  In fact, just recently, a group of 200 evangelicals petitioned Congress to take climate change seriously, echoing President George W. Bush’s worldview that “an increase in greenhouse gases caused by humans is contributing to the problem [of climate change].”

climateworldbankI have a feeling that my friend’s personal opinion is a result not of his biblical worldview but his place in our great society.  Ours is a nation of plenty and abundance.  We can eat meat, vegetables, fruit, and other foods whenever we want, wherever we want.  Most of us don’t have to farm the land, rely on seasonal changes for produce, and slaughter our own beef in order to provide for our families.  We can drink more water in one movie sitting than most impoverished villages get over a period of several days.

Frankly, this abundance keeps us from experiencing what other nations experience when it comes to farming and food sustenance (or lack thereof).  Currently, because of climate change, people around the world face severe droughts, flooding, deforestation, and famine.  Economic, political, and social conflicts also ensue wherever climate change is most devastating.

Scientist and director of Global Environmental Relief (and, admittedly, one of the co-chairs of our church’s Faith in Action Committee), Darrell Smith, has experienced these issues first hand in his own travels around the world:  “In Sub-Saharan Africa,” he explains, “most climate change effects are expected to have their greatest impact on food security.  Droughts and floods are already increasing due to shifts in rainfall, as I saw in South Sudan last year.”

The U.S. Department of Defense now perceives climate change as a threat to our national security.  The department funded the University of Texas to the tune of $7.6 billion for a study called “Climate Change and African Political Stability.”

What does all of this mean to us Christians?  For one, it means we have to take a closer look at how God ordained our partnership with all creation.  God did not give us “dominion” over the earth to destroy it, but to care for it.  We have a God-given responsibility to take any and all threats to our environment seriously.

For Princeton professor, George Philander, this biblical worldview should shape a positive approach to creation care.  He encourages scientists and Christians to focus less on “stories of gloom and doom” and “tell people what an amazing planet we live on” (http://www.christiancentury.org/article/2013-08/temperature-rising).

Second, we need to raise awareness about how other people in our globe live.  Then we need to take responsibility for our relationship to them and our interdependence with the wider human community.  We are not an island unto ourselves, and our actions, spending habits, and way of life make an impact, either positively or negatively, on entire people groups.

Since we are not likely to have personal, intimate relationships with many of these people groups, common-sense legislation related to environmental concerns can help us balance our ignorance with a healthy sense of corporate stewardship.

Last, we need to de-politicize creation care.  It does not help to side with partisan issues on this subject when this subject is (1) so close to God’s heart and (2) larger than our political debates make it out to be.  Creation care should be one of those things we find common ground on.  After all, why wouldn’t we all help nurture and restore a world that “God so loved”?  If God didn’t condemn the world than neither should we.