I attended the Christian Educators Fellowship gathering over this past weekend. It was a really full and rich experience. And several of your congregations were represented there-- if not in person, then in the presentation I was invited to give on Worship, Education and Mission in the Emerging Mission Church. Thanks to all of you who shared information here on the blog or in offline email or phone conversations.
The keynote address of the conference was provided by Bill McKibben, who is the first person to write about global warming (over 20 years ago now) for a "lay" audience. He's also one of the key organizers of what appears, right now, to be the movement with the greatest chance of succeeding at mobilizing enough people power actually to get real action to happen to BEGIN to reduce the effects of the rapidly rising levels of greenhouse gases in earth's atmosphere.
I've written a longer piece about this for a different group (The Order of Saint Luke) which I'll append below. But here I just want to urge all of us to do whatever we can in concert with 350.org and our local communities-- faith or faithless-- to deliver the strongest possible message we can to our national and world leaders that we MUST do everything we can to arrest the escalation and start the reduction of CO2 in the atmosphere. And we must do so now. And we will hold them accountable for doing it.
This is mission 1. It really does make all other issues facing the human species and Christian missional concern pale in comparison. We're talking about billions of lives and up to half of the earth's species being endangered or destroyed by mid-century if we don't act now and begin to act dramatically. And this isn't hype-- it is what the science says.
Having dominion over the earth-- God's first mission statement to humanity in the Abrahamic traditions-- also means we have responsiblity for the ways we exercise that dominion-- responsibility to act for the good of all, not just ourselves. Loving God means we accept this first mission statement for humanity as a priority for ourselves, personally and corporately as the human species, and as Christians among the human species. Loving our neighbor as ourselves includes loving the earth that makes possible the survival of our neighbors, human and otherwise.
Those of you who are part of our Google emergingumc group have already received an invitation form me to connect with 350.org. Consider this an invitation-- an EXHORTATION-- to the rest of you.
If we're not out there working on this as we can, the rest of what we do matters little...
Peace in Christ,
My note to OSL...
Sisters and brothers,
I've been at the Christian Educators Fellowship conference this past weekend (Thursday through today). Today's keynote speaker was Bill McKibben, who was perhaps the first major writer on global warming beginning about 20 years ago.
Bill has created a website-- 350.org-- which I strongly commend for your consideration as part of living out our Rule of Life and Service. Clearly, part of the Apostolic Hope is that the poor get good news. Global warming already means that the poor are getting very bad news indeed, with the rise and expansion of Denge Fever across the Southern Hemisphere, directly attributable to the increase in the earth's temperatures. The nearly 2.5 billion people whose life and livelihood depend on living near existing coastal lands will be destroyed by 2050 at current rates of the increase in parts per million of CO2 in the atmosphere. The best scientific models indicate a rise in sea levels approximately 7 feet by that time, assuming current growth rates.
Here's the deal for us. McKibben says, and I think he's right, that no amount of simple practical actions we can take as individuals will make much difference for the world. We can change all our lightbulbs to flourescents, we can change our heating/cooling systems as individuals to solar panels, and it won't stop the inevitable catastrophe that will dislocate or kill literally billions of people and half the species on this planet by 2050. What he advocates is symbolic action that will dramatically catch the attention of the leaders of the political systems of this world. It worked in Vermont. It worked in the current presidential campaign, as Barack Obama at least changed his policy to sign on to an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions for the US by 2050. So did Hillary Clinton, by the way. Less so in the other major party, but at least a clear statement from its leading candidate the global warming is a reality we must address through regulation of greenhouse gas emissions by some sort of cap system (cap and trade).
The website McKibben has is 350.org. It's worth a gander.
But more than that, what the best consensus of climatological scientists now says is that unless we take decisive action by 2012, the feedback loops built into the planet will mean we don't have much a significant chance of averting massive destruction of all sorts of things-- not just financial meltdown, but literally the death of 1/3 of the human species and nearly half of other existing species. This makes the current economic issues pale by comparison.
We are an international Order. So is this CyberChapter, which includes people from Estonia, Zimbabwe, Germany, South America, Asia, North America and I think Australia-- all or nearly every continent on the planet.
Only international action will make the difference needed.
What McKibben is asking churches to do is not only to encourage the smaller practical actions, but to participate in an international symbolic action that will catch attention of the press and all the communities where we live on the planet. He is asking that we ring our church bells-- or make some other noise (handbells, public hymn singing, something that lets our "YOP" be heard around the world as Christians and as co-inhabitants of the planet) on October 24, 2009.
That's far enough away for all of us to plan to do something with the faith communities where we are a part! Maybe you don't have a carillon. Maybe you have handbells. Or maybe another congregation where you are does. This really is "Horton Hears a Who." What I'm calling all of us to do is figure out how to encourage our own faith communities to plan a fun and solemn day around making this voice known-- we want to keep the earth sustainable for life on this planet. We are committed to being part of doing what it takes to return the earth to 350 parts per million of CO2 or less as soon as possible. That's the sustainable limit for CO2 in our atmosphere, and we're now, as of 2008, at 387 parts per million and accelerating.
So we've got to stop the madness with carbon emissions. And we've got to get a global commitment--including a US commitment, NO MATTER WHAT ANYONE ELSE DOES since the US represents 25% of the world's carbon emissions-- to stop the increases and start radically decreasing CO2 emissions as we can. The Polar Ice Caps melted this past year at a rate far in excess of even scientific expectations. There simply is no time to wait on making a commitment to new ways of economic, energy, and ecological commitments, globally. This isn't about Democrats and Republicans, or liberals and conservatives-- it's about the facts of what's happening on this planet.
So, I encourage you, visit 350.org, and start planning today for a wonderful, fun, but also serious expression that says "We mean business-- more than the current big businesses mean business-- we expect our leadership to do what it takes to make this planet habitable for us all for the sake of the generations now and to come."
Peace in Christ, Savior of the World,