Perhaps as we have been looking at skies over our beloved Valley of the Sun this summer, we have seen, if not smelled at some times, the smokey haze from the numerous wildfires burning in our state. It’s not just Arizona. In late July Clint and I visited Pastor Dick and his wife Shirley at their Estes Park cabin, and the Colorado skies were similarly smokey. Most times it was hard to appreciate the views of the great Rocky Mountains through the smoke. Concurrently, the news reported that on July 20, smoke from Canada and our western wildfires even darkened the skies over the Yankee Stadium in NY!
I simply don’t know how anyone can deny climate change any more; we are constantly immersed in its unhealthy effects. What’s more, I certainly don’t know how God’s People can deny or ignore climate change, believing that there is nothing we can do to stall it or mitigate its effects, which often impact the poor and marginalized the worst. I italicize God’s People, because for us, the Book of Genesis is foundational to our theology. God clearly entrusts the earth to humankind and calls us to steward it properly (Genesis 1:26-28). If you are reading a translation that uses the word “dominion,” please realize that “dominion” connotes RESPONSIBILITY to care for nature in a way that is consistent with God’s will.
Scientists tell us that we need to reduce fossil fuel C02 emissions by 65% by 2030 and then to 0% by 2040 if we are to avoid the displacement of 760 million people from sea level rise and a “hothouse earth” (see http://blueprintforbetter.org/articles/architectures-carbon-problem/). Christians need to be on the forefront of working for this. Rather than relying on cable news, I encourage all to read scientific sources (like the one in the link above) as well as professional journals and papers. Our denomination takes climate change very seriously, and at the July 2021 General Synod, the UCC became the first denomination to declare that NATURE HAS RIGHTS. You can read more about it here: https://www.ucc.org/a-new-first-united-church-of-christ-declares-that-nature-has-rights/. Let us all take the steps we can to care for God’s creation for the least of these, for nature, and for us all.