The prophet Amos invites us to “Seek him who made the Pleiades and Orion, and turns deep darkness into the morning, and darkens the day into night; who calls upon the waters of the sea and pours them out upon the surface of the earth: The Lord is his name.” (Amos 5:8)
At this moment, upon hearing the news that the current U.S. administration intends to withdraw from the Paris Accord (an agreement on climate change), it seems that seeking the Lord is the only thing left in me. I fully and freely admit that I am one of those individuals who does not consider issues of climate change to be opinion. I consider them to be fact; there is too much science present.
I am also willing to admit that scientists could be wrong, and that we could be in a climate cycle. That said, if we take action to reduce greenhouse gases, lessen or remove our dependency on fossil fuels, embrace the development of green and renewable energy, and while we are at it pick up and reduce our trash, and it turns out to be a cycle, we have lost nothing. If it turns out the science was right, we’ve gained much.
I’m reminded of the Rabbi Gamaliel in the fifth chapter of the Acts of the Apostles. He counseled that one ought be prudent in how quickly one dismisses things. In his case he addressed the established faith community saying, essentially, if these men (the apostles) and their undertaking is of human origin, it will fail, but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. Why, you may even be found to be fighting against God. In the case of climate change, to go against the science could cost us “this fragile earth, our island home.” (Eucharistic Prayer C, 1979 Book of Common Prayer) Going with it would only strengthen and sustain the common good.
The strengthening and sustaining of the common good seems to me to be very consistent with God’s intention. When in Genesis God gives us dominion, I believe it was a carefully chosen word – a place of habitation and of living. It was not domination.
We can keep cutting the tops off of mountains. We’ve gotten pretty good at it. We can keep gouging the land and shattering the aquifers, causing the very earth to move beneath our feet. We can continue to pump metric ton after metric ton of hydrocarbons into the atmosphere – and enjoy the red sunsets they create. But at what cost? The making true again the declaration that the sins of the parents will be visited upon our children to generations upon generations.
To those who shout about jobs, I hear you. I care about you. Really smart economists indicate that even in the beginning the jobs lost would be equaled or exceeded by the jobs created. Jobs that will lead us to new and bigger and more sustainable things – the things upon which economies, and here I’m really talking about the lives that populate and drive economies, find generative vitality and longevity.
The psalmist invites us to “worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness; let the whole earth tremble before him.” (Psalm 96:9) As people of faith, I believe our stewardship obligation extends to the creation, and like so many other things, we cannot, we must not, wait on governments and the interests they serve to exercise the decisive stewardship over all that has been entrusted to us. We are Christians. We should stand up and act like it.