Sermon Date: November 14, 2021
By Pastor Elaine Boone
“May the words from my lips and the meditations of our hearts always be pleasing to you O God”
Our reading today from the Gospel of Mark comes from the section called “the little apocalypse”. Apocalyptic writing was not a new literary genre - it was used by writers well before Jesus’ time - we are familiar with it in things like the book of Daniel. In fact we could probably make the argument that Jesus himself was an apocalyptist. This type of literature was meant to provide comfort to people at the margins in times of oppression.
In Mark we have Jesus saying that no matter what is to come - do not be alarmed. We are to have faith in God’s power to make all things new.
But today I am not so sure that we should not be alarmed. In fact I think that there are very good reasons to be deeply alarmed.
A few days ago someone said to me that they believe climate change to be THE moral issue of our time. Since then I have spent quite a bit of time thinking about this. And I believe that I agree.
As I write this 130 world leaders are meeting in Glasgow for the COP26 conference. The host country - Britain says that this is the last realistic chance to keep global warming to 1.5 degrees celsius. The goal that was set 6 years ago with the Paris agreement.
In August the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change sounded a “code red” reporting that climate disruptions are guaranteed for decades if not centuries due to greenhouse gas levels.
Climate disruption sounds somewhat benign. But its not. This means more heat waves, more droughts, more floods more crop failures. More hunger. More people losing their lives, livelihood or homes. Last year 38 million people were displaced because of climate change. In a worst case scenario that could rise to 216 million by 2050.
2050 is the year targeted by many nations to become carbon neutral.
How are we doing so far? In the Paris agreement there was a pledge to reduce deforestation - but in many countries it has increased.
And how are Canadians doing? We are responsible for less than 2 per cent of total global greenhouse emissions. But we are one of the highest per capita emitters in the world. You might be surprised to find that on a per capita basis we are one of the greatest offenders of CO2 emissions. The average person in Canada produces an equivalent of 14 tonnes of CO2 as of 2019. In the Uk its 8.
Why so high? Well we like our meat and we love our cars and we love our large homes heated by fossil fuels. We have been reluctant to invest in renewable and clean energy. The tired old argument comes out that we cannot afford it - that jobs will disappear - that economies will crumble. That’s not going to matter if we have elevated the planet’s temperature to the point where we are in danger of human extinction!
The UN’s report was a ‘code red’ stating that no where and no one will be unaffected by climate change. We are dangerously close to runaway warming.
NO ONE, NO WHERE.
Canadians are not immune to this. This year we saw the highest recorded temperature in Canada - Lytton BC at 49.6 degrees.
We may be heading toward unpredictable and irrevocable tipping points in the climate system. Rising sea levels around the world may be with us for centuries to millenia.
We are seeing the effects of climate change in Canada. More heat waves, melting of arctic ice, flooding in places that did not flood before. And in our cities the temperatures are getting hotter because of the concrete, the tall buildings close to one another. This limits cooling and the buildings give back the heat at night - so hotter nights and higher pollution.
And it takes a toll on our health.
The UN report found that temperature increases are expected to be very large in North America compared to the global average - particularly in the winter. And at first that did not sound so bad. But it is. It means more crop failures, more droughts and more forest fires.
We in our lifetime we may see no ice in the arctic seas during the summer.
And what about our children and their children? What about the next generation? The prediction is that today’s children will see 7 times more heat waves than we have experienced and 3 times more droughts, floods and crop failures.
We have not been good stewards of this planet. We have not cared well enough for God’s good creation.
Is it too late? Can we make changes? Yes there is good news. People are making changs. But it has to be a committed and united effort. Individuals must change their habits. Businesses must change their habits and Governments must change as well.
We cannot erase what we have done - and we probably cannot get back much of what we have lost. But maybe we can survive.
So what can you do? Lower your footprint - drive less - eat less meat - hold companies and governments to their promises.
If we can limit warming with lower emissions if we can get to net zero by the middle of this century we can limit warming to 1.5 degrees.
As the British Prime Minister said during the COP26 conference it is time “to end humanity’s long history as nature’s conqueror and instead become its custodian”.
This is where we find the Gospel - this is where we find the good news. That people are listening - people are changing their habits - people are working together.
Climate change is THE moral issue of our time.
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