The world is in bad shape and not in a metaphorical sense. No I mean the earth - the giant rock that we all live on - is in really bad shape. As of May 31, 2012, carbon dioxide readings are above 400ppm, 50 ppm more than the generally accepted “safe levels” of carbon dioxide for our planet. Wildfires are blazing out of control all across the southwestern United States and temperature’s are once again at record highs. You don’t need to be a climate scientist to notice that something is more than slightly amiss.
The heat wave this summer has people asking questions in ways and numbers they never have before. Unlike in years past, climate change is becoming real and noticeable. Before it was a nebulous concept that was hard to qualify and hard to feel. Humans don’t seem to be great at believing things they can’t feel or experience. There are many exceptions to this of course - faith and religion being two of the largest - but I would maintain that if humans can’t see it, they won’t believe it. In regards to environmental matters, many humans cannot see the dire impacts we are having on the planet. For most, rising sea levels that are swallowing islands in the South Pacific are only stories.
If trends continue climate change will be undeniable. Weather will become more erratic with summers being hotter and winters more intense. Climate change is going to come home to all of us. We will – and currently are- being faced with the very things climate scientists have been predicting for generations. And like the media, people of faith have been disappointingly silent on these issues. I’m not expecting people of faith to all be members of GreenPeace but I would think that there would be more of an uproar about the flagrant degradation of the planet God gave us to be stewards of (or so the Abrahamic’s tell us). How can we say that we love our neighbor when we daily partake in systems of consumption that destroy the very land that the neighbor lives on?
Read this as a call to become more involved. Recognize the earth as a Thou. Care about the trees not because you’re a hippie activist or because they enable you to breath. Care about them because they are alive and beautiful and what lies at the elements of their being also lie in yours. Nature is remarkable and most certainly can survive without us. We, on the other hand, desperately need Nature to stay healthy.
Let me be honest for a second, though: I’m not changing my ways very much. I know more than average person about climate change and while all the information has me scared it doesn’t have me making my own clothes or growing my own food. I mean I flew to Rio for a conference on environmental sustainability. I labeled myself hypocrite the second I pressed ‘buy now’. It’s hard to be human and not be complicit in the systems that are destroying this planet. It’s hard for a lot reasons mainly because no one really knows what sustainable living means. Turn off the lights, unplug unused devices, use less water, drive less and bike more. These are small practical solutions but they seem woefully inefficient looking at the wall of problems in front of us.
So often, this life seems like nothing but a wall of problems. This rings especially true for liberals who can’t help but be incensed by the smallest sign of oppression. This of course isn’t a bad thing but at times it does make the liberal religious person a glutton for punishment (or at least existential angst). I often wonder why more liberal religious types don’t pay more attention to environmental issues. Without the earth we won’t have any systems of oppression to fight against, putting most all of us out of a job.
But honestly, who cares –or has the ability to care- about the weather when there are bills to pay? It’s hard to think green when you’re a single parent trying to meet a mortgage or an activist fighting for basic human rights. I would argue that it’s not that most people don’t care about the environment, it’s either that they can’t afford to care or simply don’t have any reason too. As I’ve hinted at above, though, if we as a species don’t start making some serious moves, it’s going to be a lot harder to care about a mortgage or basic human rights because we’re all going to be searching for water.
This isn’t meant to be fear mongering nor am I suggesting a worst-case scenario. It’s happening right now in Eastern Africa, in Bangladesh, and all over the Southern United States. We’re at Dust Bowl levels of heat and drought right now and no it’s not an anomaly. An anomaly is when it happens once every 100 years. We’ve had record high temperatures for the last twelve months in a row.
It’s time to start caring about global warming. Not to be cavalier but add it to your list of things to be upset about. On the plus side, the odds are good that environmental degradation are linked to human rights violations. Mountain top removal, coal plants, toxic waste depositories… all these things take place in communities that have been forgotten about. It’s hard to hear that our recycled computers most often go to villages in China where they burn the precious metals out of old computer motherboards with the same iron pans they cook their dinner with.
Demand change. Demand equitable and environmentally conscious practices. The smog and trash we create doesn’t disappear. It comes full circle and ruins a whole lot of days along the way. Those of us who are able to care have a responsibility to do so and that responsibility begins now.
 CBS Report http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZHTWRYXy2gE