Posts Tagged ‘carbon’


Climate Change

February 4, 2014

by Phil Porter, Minister of Art & Communication

The weather in the Bay Area is deceptively mild.

This part of the country has managed to avoid the dramatic “in your face” weather events that other areas are experiencing—events that are being linked to climate change and the use of fossil fuels. Our challenges are more subtle but no less important—a drought that is being described as the most serious since 1850.

hot earthIn Australia, however, climate reality is uncomfortably obvious. Last year in Sydney there was one day when the temperature was over 110 degrees. It was not figuratively, but literally, like a sauna.

This year while I was in Sydney, the weather in Adelaide (where I would be going next) was hitting record highs. At one point Adelaide was the hottest city in the world. I joked that I had sent off my advance team to cool things down before I arrived. It was cooler when I got there, but on the day I left to return home, you could once again begin to feel the oppressiveness of the heat. I escaped just in time. Or is there really an escape?

As President Obama proclaimed in his 2014 State of the Union message “…the debate is settled. Climate change is a fact. And when our children’s children look us in the eye and ask if we did all we could to leave them a safer, more stable world, with new sources of energy, I want us to be able to say yes, we did.”

Is there any more fundamental issue facing us today than to address the global threat of climate change? And as progressive Christians, given our deep commitment to the common good and the stewardship of the earth, can we stand by wringing our hands rather than taking to the streets both literally and figuratively?

Fossil fuels are limited and will run out. There is no future in oil. While in the US, the market seems to be turning away from coal (though probably not fast enough), tons of coal is being mined in Australia and sent to China. But the science tells us that if the path we take is to keep extracting and burning the remaining fossil fuels—releasing carbon into the atmosphere—the result will be a significant increase in the global temperatures which would take thousands of years to reverse. We must leave the carbon in the ground. This is a hard reality for the carbon-addicted.

Without my faith, I would be tempted to despair. The situation seems dire and critical. In this country, when we need leadership at the highest level to address this problem, our political system seems shockingly inadequate to the task. Will reason prevail? Will we speak truth to power and reverse damaging trends?

I am still hopeful that this is possible, but only with the help of God. I guess this is taking the authority question to the next level.

On February 16, First Church will participate in a National Preach-In on Climate Change organized by Interfaith Power and Light. Senior Minister Patricia de Jong will address the issue at 9 am and First Church scientist and theologian Rev. Dr. Robert Russell will preach at 11 am. A related Learning Hour will be held at 10 am in the Large Assembly. More about events on February 16…

Come. Pray. Hope.

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