A Monthly Message from our minister, the Rev Dr Neil Dougall: September 2019

Climate Change – A Looming Catastrophe and Crisis.

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The challenge posed by climate change is very serious. The vast majority of scientists are convinced that human behaviour is leading to a warming of the planet. Unless radical action is taken very soon the consequences will be terrible. There is a time delay between our actions and the effect they have on the climate. That means that if we do nothing today, the effect won’t be felt tomorrow. In ten or twenty years time, though, there will be an impact. By then, it will be too late to do anything about it.

In June, when the Youth Fellowship took the morning service, they spoke passionately about the need for urgent action. I’m glad they did. There needs to be a wake-up call. Most people find change difficult. We prefer what we are used to. Changing what we do and how we live takes effort. It carries a cost. That’s why we prefer to stick with patterns we know. That’s why, although the evidence about climate change has been clear for many years, most people appear to be ignoring it.

Or have they?

The picture turns out to be quite complicated. Overall, the world is producing 60% more carbon dioxide than it did in 1990. But this increase is not spread evenly, even across the developed world. Australia is emitting 50% more than it did in 1990. The USA is emitting exactly the same amount. And what about Britain?

It turns out that we have significantly reduced our carbon dioxide emissions. Our country only emits 2/3 the amount of carbon dioxide it did in 1990. Our country has found ways to reduce our impact on the planet.

(See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_carbon_dioxide_emissions)

In St Andrew Blackadder Church we have played our part in this. During the last 10 years we have replaced all our light fittings with LED bulbs. We began with the oldest and highest wattage ones. The new fittings use about 5% of the electricity that they did. We’ve now replaced even the old ‘low energy’ bulbs, because they used a lot more than LEDs do. We’ve installed under floor heating in the sanctuary because it’s better at heating the people instead of the air underneath the ceiling. We’ve just fitted new radiator valves which allow us to control the heating in each room rather than the four zones of the previous controls. All of this has taken time. It’s cost a lot of money. It’s required effort. It’s not been one thing but a whole bunch of things. Together they’ve made a difference.

It turns out that across our country lots of people have been doing what our church has done. They’ve improved the insulation, fitted low energy light bulbs, turned down the thermostat and installed more efficient heating. None of these things on their own seems very much. Yet taken together, they make a difference.

The challenge of climate change is unbelievably urgent. Some of the scenarios that people are painting are truly frightening. On the one hand we need to hear these because they prompt us to act. On the other hand we must not let them paralyse us.

Sometimes urgent warnings have completely the opposite effect than was intended. They make the problem seem so big people feel powerless. We begin to feel there’s nothing we can do to prevent this catastrophe. We don’t believe that the human race is capable of making the changes needed to prevent it. Once we think it’s inevitable, we don’t think it’s worth doing anything.

It turns out that climate catastrophe is not inevitable. The UK has reduced its carbon dioxide emissions by one third. That shows it is possible to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

This must not be a reason for complacency. It must not be used as an excuse for not doing more. Instead it should be taken a sign that change is possible. It shows that if lots of people do a lot of little things, it can make a difference.

If one person walks into town rather than taking the car, it doesn’t make much of a difference. But when a thousand people make one more journey on foot each week the effect becomes significant.

And if one developed country (the UK) reduces its emissions, then others also begin to see what’s possible. Our country on its own can’t solve the problem. But what we do in our country can encourage others to take steps.

When God made the world he was pleased with what he saw. He’d made a good world. Then he invited humans to join him in looking after it. None of us on our own can do this. Each of us, though, by the choices we make contribute to it. If each of us decided to do one new thing to help reduce our carbon dioxide emissions, together it would make a difference.

 God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. (Genesis 1:31 ).

Holy God,
earth and air and water are your creation,
and every living thing belongs to you:
have mercy on us
as climate change confronts us.
Give us the will and the courage
to simplify the way we live,
to reduce the energy we use,
to share the resources you provide, and to bear the cost of change.
Forgive our past mistakes
and send us your Spirit,
with wisdom in present controversies
and vision for the future to which you call us
in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
(Anglican Church in Australia)

To see other messages from Neil, click on the appropriate month in the table below.

November 2018 December 2018 January 2019 February 2019 March 2019 April 2019 May 2019 June 2019 July 2019 September 2019 October 2019
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