People often comment, ‘I am concerned about the climate crisis but I don’t know what to do!’
There is a whole range of things we can do, from at one end changing our lifestyle to making acts of civil disobedience. To say this is a range is not to say it is a progression and that having started with changes to lifestyle one must then progress down the line to acts of civil disobedience. Nor is it to say that either end of the range is better or more worthwhile. However from the viewpoint of integrity one hopes that those who engage in campaigning and actions are also prepared to adapt their lifestyles.
Within each type of activity there will again be a range of responses. People choosing to change their diet for example may choose to have a meat free day each week or to become fully vegan.
What is the purpose of do something?
It is to minimise, halt or reverse the adverse effects we humans have on the environment and to help, support or improve the lives of others (both human and non-human) who are adversely and/or unfairly affected by the crisis.
What can we do?
Change our lifestyle to reduce the impact of our footprint on the earth and its impact on the lives of others.
Whilst it may feel that changing one person’s lifestyle will not make a difference, it does. Each person who makes the change shows that change is possible. This will encourage others to follow suit. And each person making these changes is creating a new – climate friendly – normal. We will only get to net zero when everyone has made changes to their lifestyle and the sooner we started the better.
Swop to a largely plant based diet – a plant based diet can reduce your carbon footprint by at least 60%; opt for local, organic, fair trade and animal friendly foods; minimise food waste – https://greentau.org/2021/08/09/eco-tips-4/
Opt for active travel (walking and cycling) and public transport in preference to driving; avoid flying – sign the Flight Free Pledge https://flightfree.co.uk/
Reuse, repair, recycle; minimise single use items; buy good quality long life products – The Ethical Consumer has helpful guides; buy second hand; borrow or hire for occasional use. Don’t buy what you don’t need – enjoy what you have!
Avoid waste by seeking out zero waste options for what you use in and around your home.
Green your finances – use banks, insurance and pension providers etc that take an ethical and environmentally responsible approach to their investments – https://makemymoneymatter.co.uk/
* Re wild part of your garden; plant trees or hedges; plant insect friendly plants; install a water butt, a compost heap and maybe a pond.
Support B-corps – companies that undertake to do that bit more for the environment and for society. Avoid supporting companies that disregard the environment, don’t pay all their taxes, and/ or don’t pay their staff a fair or living wage.
Support environmental charities financially and/ or as a volunteer. Support social well being charities.
Read up on climate science, and on the ways and benefits of adapting our lifestyles.
* Find a like minded group of friends for encouragement; set up a green group in your church; join Green Christian.
Campaign for change.
Whilst individuals can make significant changes to their lifestyle, there are somethings they personally cannot change. As an individual you cannot change the tax system that doesn’t tax aviation fuel. As an individual you cannot implement a subsidy scheme that would make public transport cheaper than private car travel. As an individual you cannot change legislation that discourages the building of on-shore wind turbines and solar farms. As an individual you cannot require all local councils to adopt a common recycling policy. And the list goes on – as an individual you might wish to an expansion of nature reserves, of rewilding landscapes, of implementing nature based flood defences, of ensuring all homes and commercial premises are adequately insulated against extremes of temperature, the provision of safe cycle routes through and between all urban areas, an end to the discharging of sewage into seas and rivers, curbs on industrial farming and fishing etc.
Where we can’t effect changes as an individual, we may find we can as a group – the more people in the group, the stronger their collective voice. As individuals we can address issues of climate, biodiversity and social justice in various ways.
Becoming an active supporter of an action group
Donating to support an action group.
Signing petitions addressed to local and central government, to big business and to multi nationals.
Writing individually to lobby MPs, local councillors, business leaders etc.
Joining organised marches and demonstrations.
As with changing lifestyle, read up on climate science and what changes we can make as a society to safeguard the environment and protect lives.
Non-violent direct action
Martin Luther King Jr wrote that the goal of non-violent direct action was to “create such a crisis and foster such a tension” as to demand a response. Non-violent direct action has come to the fore in climate issues because of the lack of response from, in particular, the government and the oil industry.
Non-violent direct action may include sit-ins, strikes, blocking roads, climbing onto significant structures, and boycotts. It may extend to include damaging property such as graffiti, breaking windows or letting down car tyres. Often these are acts of civil disobedience (and probably increasingly so as the government introduces stricter laws limiting the right to protest). whilst others
actions, such as strikes and vigils, are lawful.
In terms of the climate crisis, non-violent direct action is being used to demand a response from government, from the oil industry, from banks and financial institutions, from churches (asking them to divest from fossil fuels), from charities (asking the National Trust to bank with somewhere other than Barclays) to actions that target consumerist products such as private jets and SUVs.
Within groups that engage in non-violent direct action, there will be different roles for people some of which will involve the risk of being arrested, whilst others will not.
Climate action groups also focus on educating and informing the wider society about the issues and how they can be addressed with the hope of increasing the number of supporters. The greater the number of supporters, the louder their voice will be.
Read up on the climate science and what changes we can make as a society to safeguard the environment and protect lives. Be informed about how government, local councils, and businesses work – and the media. Join a group for support and so that your voice becomes part of a greater whole. It is especially important that if you are considering putting yourself in a position where you might be arrested that you fully understand what that entails and are sure that you can cope with the consequences. It is really important to be part of a group that offers advise, training and support. Christian Climate Action would be one such group – https://christianclimateaction.org/
Resources and support groups for green lifestyles.
This is just a selection of possible sources of information and groups you might wish to join.
A Rocha UK’s Wild Christian scheme is a community of families and individuals exploring the connections between our Christian faith, the natural environment, and how we live.As we journey together, reflecting biblically and acting boldly, we invite you to share your story, ideas and learning so that collectively we can live more joyfully and sustainably with the rest of God’s Creation.
Sign up and each month we’ll send you something to think about and some practical actions that you can take to help you enjoy, nurture and protect nature. You’ll also have the opportunity to share your own stories, if you wish, and to help us generate ideas for future editions.https://arocha.org.uk/wildchristian/
Green Christians offers various resources including Nine Ways of living gently in the earth; using LOAF as a means of eating in an environmentally friendly way; the Seven Rs plus prayer resources etc.
And offers ways to get involved in campaigns about caring for the environment.
Also The Way of Life: Many spiritual communities have Rules or Ways of Life involving a set of disciplines to assist believers in living out their faith in a deeper and more structured way.
The Way of Life is a calling for deeper engagement and shared encouragement. Followers of the Way are called ‘Companions’.
22nd August 2021 – Proper 16: Joshua 24:1-2a,14-18, Psalm 34:15-22, Ephesians 6:10-20, John 6:56-69
The passage from Joshua comes towards the end of the book and towards the end of Joshua’s own life. The Israelites have settled in the promised land, each tribe in its own territory and peace has been established. Joshua calls together all the tribes and their leaders for one last exhortation that they live according to the ways ordained by God. It is as if they are again standing for the first time on the threshold of a new land, on the threshold of a new life. They are enjoined to leave behind old ways of living, old gods and old allegiances.
Do we need to reimagine ourselves as being on the threshold of a new beginning, a new of life? Is this how we should be approaching the COP26 climate conference? Then nations and NGOs, communities and other parties, will gather to make agreements about new ways of living in a carbon neutral world, to affirm ways of ensuring worldwide biodiversity, setting up funds to enable everyone to be part of the new future. We will all need to stand alongside one another as let go of old ways of doing things, as we leave behind of old habits, and forsake our reliance on fossil fuels.
If so should we not now be reassessing our lives, preparing how we can make and sustain the necessary changes we must make, and encouraging and supporting each other, and above all celebrating with joy our new greener, cleaner, kinder future?
May God bless our endeavours – for “The righteous cry, and the Lord hears them and delivers them from all their troubles.”
I would not wish to say that the current climate crisis is either the work of God or the work of the ‘devil’. The world God has created is beautiful and complex. It is a world in which things evolve and continue to re create in new and diverse forms. It is a world in which cause and consequence exist. It is a world which is continuing to develop over time. It is a world in which God has created humankind as a being with intelligence, imagination, determination, and with an awareness of right and wrong. It is a being with unique skills and possibilities, and it is a being which can choose to have an affinity with God.
Depending how we use these attributes, we are capable of doing great good or of doing great harm. When we – and/ or others – are not in tune with God, our actions can become so mired in greed, dishonesty, hatred, apathy, and prejudice, we can describe our situation as being evil and bedevilled. We can feel as if we are struggling with forces or powers beyond our comprehension. Perhaps this is when we need to put on the armour of God, to refurnish our lives with the gifts of God, to be open to God in prayer and to be constant in seeking channels through which God’s Spirit can flow.
If this seems hard to grasp, we need to recall the words of Simon Peter, “Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.”
“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile. Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you. Matthew 5:38-42
The above comes from the Beatitudes: Jesus’s teaching to the crowds on the approach to life that would bring its own blessings.
An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth sounds very mercenary. A contractual arrangement in which neither side looses out. A fair’s fair deal that leaves no space for argument not for generosity. It has the feel of a fixed price market. Anyone who tried to pay more than the asking price would be a fool. Yet Jesus invites the listener to be that fool. To pay more than the asking price. To give more that is required or demanded. To act in a way that undermines the normal way of doing business. It is a radical counter-cultural way of being that will bring its own blessings.
In the world of the climate crisis, old ways of doing things will have to change, old traditions and old norms will be replaced by new ways. Heating homes with gas will be history; the supermarket run in the car and the lift to school will disappear; holidays won’t start at the airport; strawberries will be a treat for the summer not Christmas.
Change like this can be hard to accept. After a life time in which cars have become the default means of transport, it is hard to rethink in terms of walking times. After a life time in which air travel has become part and parcel of the holiday package, it is hard to rethink in terms of trains and local destinations. After a life time in which seasonal food describes food linked to sporting/ social events, it is hard to re shape our eating round a annual cycle of what is currently in peak production: raspberries in June, plums in August, avocados in February.
Change can be expensive as new practices, new products are scaled up and developed. The bonus of economies of scale take time to kick in, the benefits of lower energy bills will be felt gradually over the years whilst the initial cost of new equipment – heaters, electric cars, solar panels – may be steep.
Following Jesus’s teaching, we can become trend setters, living a new lifestyle, adopting ways that will curb GHG emissions and restrain the climate crisis. We can lead by example and do things that are not the norm, that are not (yet) fashionable. We can choose to walk or cycle that bit further than usual rather than going by car. We can refuse to buy the plastic wrapped fruit or sandwich. We can explore the UK rather than the world. We can decline avocados in summer and strawberries in winter.
Those of us with money can invest in carbon neutral technology, we can buy the eco friendly products and services, and we can do so generously, supporting producers as well as the climate. Train travel can be more expensive that going by car or plane, but we can choose the climate friendly option. Organic food may be more costly – now – but we can choose it over cheaper products that are less environmentally friendly.
Jesus asks that when we choose how to live, that we choose to think of the needs of others and be ready to meet their needs first. The results? A transformed world!