Climate change a spiritual issue

Feb 16, 2020 by Aaron Dunbar Letter to the Editor in the Marietta Times

As someone who spent the first twenty years of his life as a devout Christian, I’ve long been baffled by the church’s unwillingness to confront the issue of climate change.

“The gospel call to love one’s neighbor is, in our time and place, most fully a call to do something about climate change,” says Bill McKibben, author of “The End of Nature,” which introduced many readers to the topic of global warming in 1989. “Because at the moment, we’re drowning our neighbors, sickening our neighbors, making it impossible for our neighbors to grow food.”

McKibben, who also founded the well-known climate campaign, is a long-time Methodist, and regularly draws on his Christian faith as a source of inspiration for his writing. Working alongside the likes of Rev. Dr. Jim Antal, author of “Climate Church, Climate World,” McKibben has fought for years to convince religious followers of every ilk the climate fight is, in fact, a spiritual one.

In my own experience, however, I’ve seen very little enthusiasm from most Christians when it comes to tackling the issue of climate change. At best I hear rationalizations that, if climate change is in fact really happening, then it’s all right, because it must just be part of God’s plan. On the more extreme end of the spectrum are those who welcome the collapse of the biosphere as a sign of end times, and the fulfillment of some oblique prophecy from the book of Revelation.

As far as I’m aware, there is nothing in the Bible that explicitly refers to the subject of climate change, as tempting as it may be to cite biblical incidents of God smiting humankind for its failure to abide by the rules and limitations He set in place for them.

What the Bible does tell us, repeatedly, is to reject the temptations of material wealth. It tells us it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. And finally it tells us literally hundreds of times to respect and take care of the poor among us.

When aligning these edicts with the narrative of manmade global warming, the connotations for our own lives couldn’t be clearer.

Climate change is a direct effect of human materialism. The burning of fossil fuels has long been concealed by perversely wealthy industrialists and politicians as the primary cause of global warming, in their pursuit of profit above all else. As a result, hundreds of millions of people will suffer from elevated sea levels, rising global temperatures, and collapsing ecosystems, a disproportionate number of whom represent the world’s most impoverished populations, who have had no hand whatsoever in bringing about the crisis we face.

The preservation of our planet for future generations is both a moral issue and a spiritual one. I challenge all leaders of faith to inform themselves on the subject of climate change, and inspire their congregations to act accordingly.

For more information on how you can get involved in the fight for climate justice, please contact Mid-Ohio Valley Climate Action today!