• Canon Paul Black

Climate change the defining issue of our time

“To you, O LORD, I cry. For fire has devoured the pastures of the wilderness, and flames have burned all the trees of the field. Even the wild animals cry to you because the watercourses are dried up, and fire has devoured the pastures of the wilderness.” Joel 1:19-20

“The words of God’s prophet express the cries of our hearts. We grieve with and for those who have lost property and loved ones. We long for quenching rain and relief,” Bishop Mark Short.

While Australia has always had bushfires, there is little doubt that this season's bushfires have been enabled and exacerbated by the hotter and drier conditions resulting from climate change.

With over a thousand references to the Earth and caring for creation in the Bible, the message is clear: all in God’s creation – nature, animals and humanity – are inevitably linked to one another.

Creation care is a fundamental building block of Christian faith where our place on this planet as human beings – the ones with the most power – is not only a privilege to be enjoyed, but also a responsibility to be performed.

Global warming – which is the increase in the temperature of the Earth's surface, of both land and water – is the defining issue of our time and we are now at a defining moment.

Of course, some will say that an increasingly warming Earth is not evidence of man-made climate change but is just a natural variability in weather patterns.

But scientists are increasingly saying that changing precipitation and weather patterns in many parts of the Earth – making some places drier, with more intense periods of drought and at the same time making other places wetter, with increased flooding – are a result of man-made climate change.

Smoke from bushfires in Australia has drifted across the Pacific and affected cities in South America, and may have reached the Antarctic, the UN World Meteorological Organization has said.

The truth is, no matter who we are, no matter how wealthy or how poor, no matter where on the Earth we make our homes, we are all subject to the same forces of nature. We are all vulnerable to the impacts of the cumulative effects of our lifestyles, our consumerism and the other decisions we make daily that increase our ecological footprint.

We pray for those communities and individuals who have been affected by bushfires… those involved in fighting the fires… those who have lost their lives… those who have been injured and survived… and those who have lost their homes, livelihoods and properties.

But we also need to fervently pray that world leaders and governments would take more decisive action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions for the sake of our planet and wellbeing.

Photo: Air pollution from bushfires has been a major public health concern for weeks and Canberrans have struggled to get hold of the masks when needed.

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