Act now! Inspiring Churches to act on Climate Justice

Author: Ben Niblett, Head of Campaigns, Tearfund

Abstract:

If you close your eyes and say the words ‘climate change,’ what image comes to mind? There are a few common responses – wind turbines revolving in the sun, dry-cracked earth in a farmer’s fields, recycling bins, smoking factory chimneys. But the most likely, by a long way, is a polar bear on Arctic ice; an iconic image of the Environment under threat from polluting humans. It is a striking image, but sadly it does not seem striking enough to make us want to do much about it!
I have led Tearfund’s campaigns team since 2005, and during that time I have been talking to church audiences around the UK as to why we need to take action on climate. There is much interest, but so far climate is nowhere near the top of the Christian community’s agenda, Redcliffe College excepted. In this article I would like to explore why not, how we can wake the church up to this part of our discipleship, and why it should matter to us.
Stop Saying ‘Environment’
Climate change is an environmental issue. Species are being threatened with extinction, patterns of wildlife are being changed, glaciers are retreating and the Arctic sea ice is melting as a result of climate change.
Nonetheless, I think there is a problem with the word ‘Environment.’ The majority of people, most of the time, see the Environment as of secondary importance, and as something slow-moving. It is not that people do not care about it, but we care about other things more. And it is not that people, or even churches, cannot respond quickly; we just do not expect the Environment to need a quick response, since it is always there. We are not used to it giving us ‘deadlines’ for acting, in the way it now is.

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