creation care

A Rocha’s Rich Living

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Last year’s Intermission on sustainable living and mission mentioned that A Rocha would be producing a resource for churches and Christian groups. It’s finally here! They’ve made it available for free online, so we encourage you to check it out and consider how your church can engage with the material.

It’s important to remember that this isn’t merely about caring for the environment or creation, but is actually about evangelism as well. Many younger people believe – rightly or wrongly – that Christians don’t care much for the environment, and as a result they have no interest in hearing what we have to say. If we want our witness to mean something in today’s world, we need to take seriously our original commission to steward God’s creation!

Evidence that contemporary human consumption habits are unsustainable and that existing Western ‘lifestyles’ have a detrimental affect on ecosystems, thus negatively affecting the lives of our neighbours (both human and non-human), is overwhelming. However, rather than believing that nothing can change, Christians are to be agents of hope. We believe that Christian faith communities have the potential to offer a glimpse of what true “rich living” entails. A Rocha has partnered with Tear Fund NZ to create the Rich Living series – to assist faith communities to reflect upon how they live and offers practical steps to make sustainability integral to lives of faith.

The first of the Rich Living series, Climate Change is available now, with four other booklets (Water, Food, Transportation, Stuff & Waste) soon to follow. To download your copy click here.

 

Waste Not, Want Not (Issue 27)

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Sometimes I feel as if I’ve graduated from a Recycling 101 class… and with flying colours. I work in a trauma hospital in Cambodia’s second biggest city. No, I’m not a doctor or a nurse; I’ve started a crafts programme to help with patients’ psychological recovery. Because of where I am, and because the project isn’t funded by the hospital, I’ve needed to find ways to make it sustainable and cost-effective. And sustainability also means it’s important that it doesn’t cause any harm to the community we live amongst. That’s one reason the Hollander Critter papermaking machine we started using in our project last year has been so valuable.

But there’s another reason this machine has proven so valuable. By using it, we’re able to make something out of nothing. I find this very satisfying, and it turns out I’ve been able to role-model this for those with whom I interact and work daily – almost without exception, the patients here struggle to find enough money to pay their hospital bills, adding considerably to the stress of being a long-term patient. By watching the project and participating as they’re able, people can discover that there are useful resources all around us – we just need to change the way we view things!

“One man’s trash…”

The world around us starts to look different when we have this change of perspective. Here’s some examples from the paper project:

Pages coloured in and thrown away by children in the hospital become the base of the fabric pulp for our paper making Pre-loved cotton that started its days as clothing, bedding, towels or tiny bits of fabric of no use for our “Days for Girls” (org) project become essential elements for the paper A tailor’s scraps of traditional Khmer silk and lace become trimmings for the cards we make Small pieces of silk fabric and offcuts of traditional Khmer scarves become a source of colour and texture for plain paper Husks discarded by the man who makes sugarcane juice are rescued from the roadside and are turned into paper as well Leftover coconut husks from a foot massage project which uses coconut oil products made by the staff become valuable for adding texture Discarded banana tree trunks can also be used to make paper of a tissue-paperlike consistency Pieces of handmade paper too small to be made into greeting cards become gift cards to complement the bigger cards we make

I’m not just involved with papermaking. Another thing I do is operate a small mobile library. This warms my librarian’s heart as I can put books into the hands of many who don’t normally have the opportunity to read. The trolley I use to distribute the books was cobbled together from old IV drip stands and other scrap metal from retired hospital equipment! I found what I needed in a shop, photographed it, showed it to the maintenance team and bingo! A week later I had my very own recycled trolley . It works a treat!

Many patients have benefitted from donations of retired reading glasses from an optometrist in Melbourne. The two most common reasons I’m given when asking patients if they want to borrow a book are “Knyom ot jeh arn” (I don’t know how to read) and “Knyom ot merl kern” (I can’t see). While we can’t help with the first problem, the donated glasses go a long way towards helping people who otherwise couldn’t read the books I offer.

And so the various aspects of my project inter-connect and I’m able to use leftovers from one part of the programme, or from another hospital department, in some other way. A smile crosses my face when I reflect on how I’m making a difference in the lives of patients who have met tragedy in their lives. That’s what I came to do. It’s doubly satisfying to know I’m also modelling good practice in reusing resources while being a responsible steward of what God has provided. God can indeed do amazing things with very little and I’m both honoured and humbled to be the vessel he’s using in this place at this time.

Anne and her husband Anthony are NZCMS Mission Partners serving patients in a Cambodian hospital.

 

For discussion

In what ways is God challenging you to ‘change the way you see’?

Is there anything from your daily life that could be recycled in a creative way rather than going into land-fill?

Integral Mission (Issue 27)

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By Dr Andrew Shepherd

Since the 1970’s there’s been a reawakening within the evangelical Church to the socio-economic dimensions of the Gospel. Activities such as disaster relief, medical welfare, community building & empowerment, job & income creation, trauma-counselling, peace-building, tackling structural injustices, are all now affirmed as an integral aspect of seeking the Kingdom of God.

And over the last two decades, our understanding of the scope of God’s mission has broadened further, with the rediscovery of God’s love for all of creation. The biblical narrative from beginning to end gives an account of this, explicitly stating: the goodness of creation; that creation is created and sustained by the power of God’s life-giving Spirit; of nature’s agency in praising its Creator; that creation reveals the power and nature of God; of God’s intention for the land be a place of life-giving abundance; that humanity, as caretakers, are to respect and nurture creation to fulfil its Creator’s intent for it to teem with life; that God, in Christ, is reconciling all things.

This biblical understanding – that God’s missional intent is not confined to homo sapiens but is about creating communities of shalom in which relationships between humanity, God, and all of creation are reconciled and renewed – is evident in declarations such as the Anglican Five Marks of Mission. But what does this fifth mark of mission actually mean: “to strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustain and renew the life of the earth”? How does safeguarding the integrity of creation relate to the other marks? Is caring for ecosystems and endangered species of the same priority as care for our fellow human? And, how does this fifth mark become an integral aspect of missional living in the contemporary world?

Five Marks yet interwoven

We need to recognise that the five marks, while distinct in our declarations, are in practice inextricably interwoven. Consider the work of Christian conservation organisation A Rocha in Uganda. A project of providing cheap and easy to use bio-sand water filters to produce clean and safe drinking water for slum-communities near Kampala looks, on first glance, as simply a response to essential human needs. But the benefits of this project spread beyond individuals to families, communities, the land and countless other species!

The distribution of 600 bio-sand water filters has eliminated the need for women to boil water over charcoal fires. Each bio-sand filter is utilised by five families (strengthening community) meaning 15 000 people now drink safe drinking water (health benefits), thus saving $152 000 NZD p.a. in charcoal costs and medical fees (poverty reduction). Healthy children are less often absent from school (education benefits) and women now have 15 days per household p.a. – the total time previously spent boiling water! – to devote to income-generating enterprises (gender empowerment).

And the benefits beyond homo sapiens? Previously, families required approximately 12 bags of charcoal each year for boiling water. So, for every five families, 60 fewer bags of charcoal are bought. For 15 000 people, that’s 36 000 bags. One felled tree makes two bags. Therefore, because of the filters, at least 18 000 trees each year are still growing (less carbon-emissions and on-going carbon sequestration), thus preventing top-soil erosion and desertification, and continuing to provide habitat for wildlife (bio-diversity gains).

Here in Aotearoa the Karioi – Maunga ki te Moana conservation project which seeks to restore biodiversity to a sea-bird mountain near Raglan likewise provides multiple benefits: community building & empowerment, environmental educational for youth, job and income generation for local hapu. (See www.arocha.org.nz/projects/karioi-maunga-ki-te-moana).

What’s our role?

But what of those of us living here in Aotearoa New Zealand not engaged directly in community development or conservation work? How can “safeguarding the integrity of creation” be an integral aspect of our missional living?

The Paris Climate Change conference in November 2015 was a watershed moment. After decades of denial we seem to have acknowledged that the global ecological crisis stems from the unsustainable mode of living pursued by homo sapiens (especially Westerners). Since the industrial revolution, powered by the cheap energy provided by fossil fuels, we’ve created a way of life in which speed, transience and limitlessness are seen as virtues. We live largely in ignorance to the detrimental impact our pattern of living has on other non-human inhabitants who share this planet with us. Whether we care to admit it or not, the average New Zealand standard of living is unsustainable – dependent upon an overuse of ecological capital and the exploitation of others (human and non-human).

Missional living that is serious about safeguarding the integrity of creation will reflect intentionally on the nature of our housing and churches (size, heating, energy efficiency, water use); our frequency and mode of transportation (public vs personal vehicle); our leisure activities (the luxury of overseas vacations); what we purchase (needs vs wants and the power of advertising; the ecological footprint of a product from extraction-manufacturing-transport to market to disposal; product design & longevity); and what we eat (carbon footprint; water use; ecological impact of insecticides).

Just as we should be aware of the human impact of our consumer choices (explored in Intermission Issue 25), we need to become awake to the ecological impact of our patterns of living. Such awareness however, should not to lead to paralysis.  For the sake of the poor and the planet, we need to transition towards a low-carbon economy – lowering our carbon emissions and then off-setting the rest (see www.climatestewards.org). Background knowledge provides the context where, as missional communities of faith, empowered by the Spirit, we can explore creative ways of living which will benefit all of God’s creatures.

Dr Andrew Shepherd is the National Co-Director of A Rocha Aotearoa New Zealand. Later this year, A Rocha in partnership with Tear Fund, will be releasing the Rich Living programme, designed to assist faith-communities explore sustainable ways of living. Visit www.arocha.org.nz/education-advocacy/ or email

 

For discussion

Share examples of projects which weave together the 5 Marks of Mission (evangelism, discipleship, compassion, social justice, creation care)? Why is this interweaving an essential insight for local and global mission?

What steps will you and your group make to reduce your environmental footprint?

 

 

This article mentioned a holistic bio-sand filter project that simultaneously addresses environmental, social, educational, gender and economic issues. The French government is offering funding for 100 environmental projects that receive the most votes. We encourage you to register and vote, enabling this project to grow. Voting is open until July 7. For more information, click here. To vote, click here.

Want a Flourishing Community? Care for God’s Creation (Issue 27)

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By Brittany Ederer (with contributions by Lydia Robledo)

Caring for God’s good creation, and caring for the plight of those who experience poverty, unifies Christ followers all over the globe. In 2010, 4200 evangelical leaders from 198 countries met in Cape Town, South Africa for the third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization. Item 7 of the ‘Cape Town Commitment’ clearly connects God’s act of love through creation with our response in worship: “If Jesus is Lord of all the earth, we cannot separate our relationship to Christ from how we act in relation to the earth.” The authors specifically call out our mistreatment of God’s good creation through addictive consumerism, pollution and wastefulness of God’s bountiful gift of the earth.

The strongest statement reads, “Creation care is thus a gospel issue within the Lordship of Christ,” and inspired further collaboration of Lausanne leaders to pursue action on creation care, culminating in a meeting of world leaders in Jamaica in 2012. From this gathering the Lausanne Creation Care Network and the ‘Jamaica Call to Action’ were formed.

In 2016 the World Evangelical Alliance officially partnered with the Lausanne Creation Care Network, now called the Lausanne/WEA Creation Care Network. Through conferences in places such as Southeast Asia, East and Central Africa, thousands of Christ followers from every corner of the globe are mobilising their local communities and national Christian networks to enact plans to tackle creation care issues. So far, five regional conferences have touched 47 countries and over 480 participants, with at least four more conferences being planned for 2016 and beyond.

Example from the Philippines

One strong leader within this Creation Care Network is Lydia Robledo, a Filipina woman who is the founding chairman of Christians in Conservation Philippines. She’s especially passionate about solving problems of human rights and ecological health in the Philippines. Below is her account on the challenges of ecology and poverty in her country.

The Philippines is ranked as one of the 17 megadiverse countries of the world, possessing two-thirds of the earth’s biodiversity due to high species endemism (which means most plants and animals are only found in this one place). In fact, the Philippines is believed to have more diversity of life on earth per hectare than any other country in the world.

Based on the United Nations latest report, our current population is 102 million, the 12th most populated country. Its people are largely dependent on land and sea ecosystems for their basic needs. The forest ecosystems provide important supplies of water for agricultural, industrial and domestic use. The islands’ coastal areas provide food and generate livelihood for millions of people.

The Philippines ecosystems are threatened by the consequences of poor governance, over population, lack of education and greed. The forest reserves have been severely logged due to the high demand for fuel and timber, agricultural expansion, upland migration of poor families (who practice slash and burn activities), poorly planned eco-tourism and urban development. Mining has not only caused massive destruction of the forests but has affected gravely the water systems including marine life. Local communities have been displaced and the fishermen’s livelihood severely affected.

The unabated destruction of the Philippine environment is now aggravated by the devastating effects of climate change. In 2013 Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest storms recorded in history, woke the world from slumber. More than 6000 people were killed and over 4 million lost their homes. The people of the island of Leyte, which was hit especially hard by the typhoon, don’t understand storm surge or climate change. Likewise, people affected by heavy deforestation, who live far from coastal areas, don’t realize that they’re experiencing a similar ‘environment surge’ – just at a much slower speed than the typhoon. The effects of deforestation due to heavy logging and mining subtly confront those unprepared for the consequences of climate change. The present status of the Philippine environment puts the people in a dangerous situation. This country, devoid of green cover that keeps soil from running off during storms, has been suffering greatly from extreme weather.

Climate change intensifies the adverse weather conditions a tropical country normally experiences. For 150 years highly industrialised, developed countries have induced the devastation of climate change due to high levels of greenhouse gas emissions. The Philippines has already suffered too much from its effects. Together with other developing and poor countries, we remain at the mercy of those responsible for the greenhouse emissions, who continue their economic dominance with reluctant commitment to address the urgency and trauma brought about by climate change.

Filipinos believe climate change is a human rights issue. We’re doing our share to address the local environmental situation while the government campaigns in the global arena, urging polluting countries to find lasting solutions and to compensate countries gravely affected by it. Many lives, property and livelihoods have already been lost. Many are still unaware and are ill prepared.

An active campaign is needed to make climate change known to every Filipino, in terms that can be readily understood. Christians in Conservation is a non-profit evangelical organization established to inspire and equip Christians to become responsible stewards of God’s creation. Through Biblical and science based research, education and advocacy, our vision is to see transformed Christian communities caring for creation, thereby honouring God.

Without understanding ecology, it will be difficult for anyone to feel the need to care for our environment. We urge people, young and old, to go out to experience, discover, learn and enjoy nature. To reduce carbon footprints, we teach and encourage everyone to live simply. We also plant trees to help mitigate the impact of climate change.

 

People like Lydia and Christians in Conservation Philippines address simultaneously the dire problems of poverty and ecological damage, because the present status of the Philippine environment puts the people in danger of losing their homes, property or their very lives. As Christ followers, it’s our duty to continue working together to restore human dignity and environmental health.

Brittany Ederer works for Care of Creation, a Christian environmental non-profit in Wisconsin, USA, and serves as the Global Campaign Administrator for the Lausanne/WEA Creation Care Network. Lydia Robledo is the founding chairman of Christians in Conservation Philippines

 

For discussion

What do you make of the contrast between the ecological richness and the dire environmental problems in the Philippines, especially when we consider it’s about 90% Christian?

In what other ways are human flourishing and ecological health interconnected?

Souls, Seals and Creation (Issue 27)

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When you hear the words ‘Creation Care,’ what immediately comes to mind? There are three typical Christian responses:

Irrelevant. Caring for the earth isn’t important for Christians – we should be concerned about people’s eternal future, not this earthly dwelling. For these people, the Gospel is about saving souls, not saving seals, and environmentalism is a distraction from real mission.

Incidental. Caring for creation is right and important but it’s not everybody’s calling. Just as some are ‘Christian Surfers,’ others are ‘Christian Conservationists.’ These people are glad somebody’s caring for the planet – so long as it doesn’t have to be them!

Integral. Caring for God’s world is a core Christian commitment. It’s found throughout the Bible and is essential to discipleship, worship and mission. All of us are called to witness to God’s creating, sustaining and saving love in how we care for the natural world.

God’s World, God’s Story

The story of Scripture can be summed up as Creation, Fall and Redemption. As Christians we often see this story as two dimensional, about our relationship with God and our relationship with others. But the story has a third dimension: a relationship with non-human creation.

As God created the world, he saw that all his creation – human and non-human – was good (Genesis 1). Human beings are a part of creation; we’re creatures, made on the same day as the animals. However, being made in the image of God, we’re also called apart within creation (1:26-28) and given a role to care for non-human creation (2:15).

We know that Adam & Eve’s disobedience (Genesis 3:1-19) caused a fracturing in the relationships between God and humanity (they hid from God) and between people (e.g. Adam blames Eve). However there were two other fractures: between humans and the rest of creation (3:17-19), and even between God and his creation (Romans 8:18-21). All of these relationships are damaged.

As we move through the Old Testament we see the importance of God’s relationship with not only people but also non-human creation. It’s emphasised in Genesis 9:8-17 where God establishes his covenant between himself and all life on earth. If we had space we could look at Israel and their relationship with the land, and some of the ways God expected his people to care for the land and wildlife (e.g. Deuteronomy 22:6,7; Leviticus 25:1-7).

Turning to Jesus, Colossians 1:15-20 tells us much about Jesus’ relationship with human and non-human creation. He’s the reconciler of everything on earth and in heaven. Jesus’ death brings healing to all these broken relationships, and his resurrection brings hope for the future of all things. It’s Jesus’ resurrection that’s the guarantee of hope for the whole universe. The risen Jesus was neither a ghost nor a disembodied soul. There was no dead body left behind in the tomb. He was and is physically alive. The risen Christ is the guarantee that those who trust in him will be raised from the dead and that the whole created order will be transformed and renewed.

So… what does this mean for you, me and those three damaged relationships? If we truly love God, we’ll love and care for his creation. If a friend you loved gave you a beautiful ceramic fruit bowl that she’d made, would you use it as a rubbish bin, allowing it to become dirty and trashed?

If we love God we’ll love what he loves. Every time we’re too lazy to rinse out that container so it can go into the recycling bin, or can’t be bothered walking to the local shops so take the car, we make a spiritual choice to be selfish and say ‘no’ to treating the earth as if it really is the Lord’s. Whenever we buy cheap meat without asking if the animal was cruelly farmed, we show disrespect to our Creator. These are uncomfortable truths, and I don’t always get it right, yet it’s vital we realise the links between our relationship with God and our relationship with the planet.

If we truly love God and love others, we’ll love and care for God’s creation. Today’s average Kiwi uses such large amounts of the earth’s resources that we’d probably need more than three planet earths for everybody in the world to live the same way. How I live and the daily lifestyle choices I make affect everyone else on the planet. We can’t escape the reality that the over-consumerism and waste of 20% of the world, us included, leaves the remaining 80% starving and dying early from poisoned waters, soil and air. (You can do a ‘foot print’ calculator to find out how many planet earths we’d need if everyone lived like you: goo.gl/5WnnD9) .

Changing our lifestyles is one of the hardest things to do, but if our desire for change stems ultimately from our relationship with God and with others then I believe it can happen, just one step at a time.

Acknowledgements to A Rocha International’s Director of Theology Rev. Dave Bookless for some of the ideas in this article. Lesley recommends his book Planetwise: Dare to Care for God’s World.

 

For discussion

Which of the three views (irrelevant, incidental, integral) have you held throughout your Christian life and why?

What more can we learn about the relationship between Jesus and all creation from Colossians 1:15-20?

 

Why Care About Climate Change? (with reading list) (Issue 27)

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By Dick Tripp. 

Creation care. Climate change. There’s two reasons I believe this is the most important issue the human race has ever faced, particularly at this present time.

It’s about justice.

It may come as a surprise, but I see climate change as an issue of human justice. Millions of people worldwide have suffered and are suffering as the direct result of climate change. Hundreds of thousands have already lost their lives. Yet the topic of climate change has sometimes been controversial, particularly within Christian circles. While some groups have no problem accepting it as scientifically certain, for one reason or another some others have denied that human-caused climate change is a reality. Yes, there are a few scientists who deny climate change… but it’s equally important to recognise that the overwhelming majority of experts – Christian or not – affirm its reality. What’s more, this is also the growing consensus among biblical scholars, theologians and missiologists. It’s no longer valid to hide behind beliefs that are unable to reconcile with the clear reality we now face!

James Lovelock, one of the world’s most influential scientists, has spelled out clearly how all earth’s ecosystems are interconnected. If you affect one, you affect all the rest. Today we are seeing this everywhere. We’re putting 110 million tons of heat trapping global warming pollution into the lower atmosphere every twenty-four hours. That is the equivalent of 400 000 Hiroshima atomic bombs! One consequence is that extreme warmer days are 150 times more common than 30 years ago. 14 of the hottest recorded years have been in the first fifteen of this century. The world is now hotter than it has been for many, many millennia and it is warming 10 times faster than ever in the earth’s history.

The obvious consequence of this is extreme weather conditions. 93% of heat is absorbed by the oceans, resulting in more water vapour being sent into the atmosphere which is then dumped back on the earth. As an example of this, the equivalent of two days water from Niagara Falls down poured in central Houston in two days last July shutting down everything. Then on December 29, the storm that caused massive flooding in Mid-West US raised the temperature of the North Pole 30˚C, causing thawing of the North Pole in the middle of its long, dark winter night.

And warming draws water from the soil. The three-year record breaking drought in the Middle East that began in 2006 destroyed 60% of farms and 80% of livestock in Syria and sent one-and-a-half million people into the cities where they collided with a similar number of refugees from the Iraq war. This was likely one contributing factor to the turmoil that exists today. Even in New Zealand extreme weather is causing significant trouble, with around 200 farmers have had to pay about $100 000 each for flood damage. Others are paying $5000 a week for extra stock food which is unsustainable.

We’re likely to see half our plant and animal species gone this century. For example, coral, which has been called the building architect of the marine ecosystem, will probably be gone this century. 1000 species of fish spend at least part of their life-cycle on coral, so if coral goes these fish will go too. This will be devastating for many places such as the Pacific islands where people depend on fish to survive. On top of that, rising sea levels results in salt getting into groundwater, which in turn prevents the growing of traditional crops. At present there are two million people in an area of Papua New Guinea that are facing hunger, disease and poverty. Their crops have been destroyed and they have only polluted water. Most are living on one meal a day.

Many positive steps are being taken worldwide at an ever-increasing rate. More countries are now getting half their energy supplies from renewable sources. But is it fast enough? The warming pollutants we put in the atmosphere will all be there for 1700 to 3000 years. The International Energy Agency has said we will have put enough carbon into the atmosphere by next year to raise the temperature two degrees. If other countries follow our government’s example, it will likely be four degrees or more. In fact, reputable organisations such as the World Bank and PriceWaterhouseCooper have warned that we’re heading for a change of six degrees.

But are we acting fast enough? That’s today’s pressing question – not just for the planet but for its people, particularly the poor and vulnerable.

God cares for his creation.

The second reason caring for the planet matters is because God cares for his creation, not just us. This is spelled out in Scripture. One of his purposes in putting us here was to “care for” or “serve” his creation (Genesis 2:15). His covenant with Noah included “all living creatures of every kind” (Genesis 9). The laws of Moses include numerous passages about how the land was to be cared for and the produce from it was to be available for all to share, even if circumstances had driven them to poverty. The Psalms contain passages stressing God’s ownership of his creation, his delight in it and the way in which it brings glory and praise to him. Isaiah has some has some magnificent passages regarding God’s future plans for his creation. Paul tells us that creation reveals God’s “eternal power and divine nature” (Romans 1:20) and it will share in the blessings that he has prepared for us (Romans 8). Creation is God’s gift to his Son. All things were created “for” him (Colossians 1:16). These passages and more are spelled out in some detail in my book The Biblical Mandate for Caring for Creation, which can be read and downloaded as a pdf file on www.exploringchristianity.co.nz.

So why should we care about creation? Because God does!

 

Further reading.

 

For those who are serious about exploring these issues further, I would suggest the following books. I also highly recommend watching a recent video from Al Gore at youtu.be/u7E1v24Dllk

 

The End Game: Tipping Point for Planet Earth by Anthony D. Barnosky and Elisabeth A. Hardy. The best I know on how climate change, food shortages, decreasing water availability, pollution, population growth, sea rise and acidification, and dwindling resources all interact with one another and result in increasing violence and cross-boundary migration etc., on a world-wide scale. It highlights the need for immediate action to mitigate future disastrous effects. They know their stuff, offering considerable, hand-on global research.

This Changes Everything by Naomi Klein. Award winning journalist. Great research over 5 years. She has attended the significant conferences and interviewed the significant leaders on climate change and also significant sceptics and fossil fuel CEOs, who she often quotes. She deals with all significant issues. Devastating critique of fossil fuel industry and climate sceptics. Naomi was co-leader of Pope Francis’ Climate Change Conference when multi-church leaders, leading scientists, activists, economists and climate change experts were brought together for the first time.

The Future: Six Drivers of Global Change by Al Gore. New York Times Best Seller. Significant information on virtually every page concerning what is happening in the real world in areas such as monetary transactions (making the rich richer and increasing inequality), power (shifting from West to East and governments to corporations), politics (why USA is no longer a democracy), business (globalisation and robotics and how these increase unemployment), communication, climate change, etc., and how all these are related. They affect how governments respond to climate change.

The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert. Winner of the 2015 Pulitzer Prize. Very good on-the-ground global research. I expect this is the best read on the subject.

Atmospheric: The Burning Story of Climate Change. Written specifically for older teens but a good starter for adults. Well researched, very clear including useful charts, and deals with all the main issues. Great for youth and grandchildren who will have to live through it. I have sent a copy to my three son’s families who all have teenagers.

The Vanishing Face of Gaia and A Rough Ride to the Future by James Lovelock. He is one the world’s most influential scientists. He must be in his 90s now. He is responsible for the Gaia theory, how all the earth’s ecosystems operate as one, which is now an accepted scientific theory. In the latter book, written recently, he envisions a time when all humans will live and grow their food in air-conditioned cities far enough away from the ocean.

Storms of my Grandchildren by James Hansen. An NASA scientist, widely regarded as the world’s leading climate expert and one of the first to warn people fifty years ago of the probable effects of the warming world. Once an advisor to the US Government.

By far the best thing I have read on the justice and moral issues involved in climate change is Pope Francis’ Encyclical Laudato Si’, which can be downloaded from the internet. Thoroughly biblical. He has had a great impact in this area and is one of my heroes.

The Biblical Mandate for Caring for Creation by Dick Tripp. After five chapters giving the history of the environmental movements from both secular and Christian perspectives, I trace the relevant passages through the Bible from Genesis to Revelation that relate to God’s attitude to his creation. Printed copies are available but it can be read on www.exploringchristianity.com and downloaded as a pdf file.

Two of the best websites for keeping up with information on climate change are www.350.org and www.theguardian.com/series/keep-it-in-the-ground .

For those interested in the politics of climate change I recommend the blogs put out by Kennedy Graham of the Green Party who has been involved internationally in the climate change issue from the beginning. For a very significant up-to-date article “February breaks temperature records by ’shocking’ amount,” click here.

 

Dick is a ‘retired’ Anglican minister (though failing to find the word in Scripture, he has yet to ‘retire’ from Christian ministry). He takes any opportunity to speak about climate change – we owe it to future generations.

 

For discussion

Christians have sometimes struggled with the concept of climate change. Why do you think that is?

Do you know of other examples of how creation care is actually an issue of justice?

From the Editor (Issue 27)

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Does God care about his creation? Should we? They’re questions many Christians struggle to answer. Perhaps we’ve been told – directly or indirectly – that environmentalism isn’t important, that our mission is about getting people into heaven (and maybe looking after them during this life too).

The ‘5 Marks of Mission’ keep our view of mission balanced: it involves evangelism, discipleship, compassion, social justice and creation care. But we like to prioritise lists like these, treating them as distinct items and then ranking their importance. Maybe you’d put social justice on top. Or evangelism. Or discipleship. Yet, reality isn’t that clear-cut. We may have identified 5 Marks, but in practice they always overlap and intersect and complement. They are intrinsically interwoven. That means creation care can’t be put at the bottom of our list as an ‘optional extra.’ If we remove it from our mission efforts we hurt our witness to a God who loves his world, our shaping of holistic disciples, our ability to help the needy, and our voice as we challenge unjust structures.

This issue of Intermission explores creation care, sustainability and mission. For some, this will be a challenging topic. For others, realizing that creation care is something God’s people are to value – indeed, something that God values! – may be very healing.

Who’ll suffer from Climate Change?

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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.