Elaine Storkey's Thought For The Day - 24th Jan 2001

Global Warming and Climate Change

Good morning,

Well, scientists are never infallible, and there are some discrepancies in estimates on the speed of global warming. But when an Intergovernmental Panel of scientists from 100 countries, and sponsored by the United Nations produces a report on climate change I think we do well to heed their findings. Sir John Houghton, who led the panel of 500, gives us what they believe to be their most reliable story so far,

However details are calculated, nobody disputes that global warming is an issue for the future of our world. We can see it. I was in the Canadian Rockies recently, struck by the enormous shrinkage of the glaciers, and what this meant for natural habitats. The glory and majesty of God's creation was still evident in the mountain peaks, but something magnificent for centuries was disappearing. Even more significant, is the impact that climate change will have on developing countries. For the melting of the polar icecaps reaches them. Rises in sea level, flooding, drought, and random weather conditions will endanger staple crops and expose millions of people to hardship. Already 96% of deaths from natural disasters occur in the developing world.

So what's our moral responsibility for the impact of natural changes? It's a question that both ecological and relief organisations are already tackling. Our Christian agency, Tearfund, works with communities preparing for disasters, helping map risk-prone areas, planning evacuation routes, redesigning to withstand the deluge, relocating homes to avoid flood planes. Loving our neighbours means facing climate change together.

But our full responsibilities go much further. For the scientists are in little doubt that these natural changes are not natural at all, but a result of the way we in the developed world, are conducting our relationship with nature. We're deeply complicit in the concentrations of carbon dioxide and pollutants in the atmosphere. And it is an urgent choice for human governments as to what we do about them.

Human beings always have to decide whether to live within God's created structures, respectfully, or to play God. Too often we choose the latter, to live the way we want and hang the consequences. But here, frighteningly, the consequences are not just for us, but for our great grandchildren. For if the scientists are right, this is one area where the sins of the fathers and mothers will be visited on the children even to the third and fourth generation. Jesus promised that the meek will inherit the earth. But the arrogant could well destroy it.

Elaine Storkey

Copyright (c) Elaine Storkey 2001.
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