Any hope for us on a hot planet?
e are likely to see longer fire seasons, worse
droughts and more frequent floods and cyclones if the earth’s temperature heats up by just 1.5°C. In August, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report indicated we could be only 10 years away from this becoming a reality. In its most comprehensive report on climate change, the IPCC observed that, by 2050, humanity was on a trajectory to heat up the earth by 2°C and called on policy makers around the globe to take urgent action. The hotter the earth’s temperature, the more difficult it will be for humanity to survive, let alone thrive. These major climate changes also have the potential to negatively affect our agriculture, fishing and farming industries, impacting food supply worldwide. It’s easy to be fearful of the bleak future painted by the report, and overwhelmed by the change it would take to reduce carbon emissions globally. However, understanding the place of creation and climate change in the Bible helps us face the future calmly.
FEAR GOD, NOT THE FUTURE The Rev Dr Lionel Windsor says acknowledging God’s sovereignty over all things, including creation, helps us avoid despair and complacency. Mr Windsor is a New Testament lecturer at Moore College and the author of Is God Green?, which explores how humans should relate to God’s creation. “Sometimes we need to be motivated by fear, but the problem is that ongoing human fear as a motivation doesn’t work long term, and ends in despair,” he says. “The flipside is complacency. We hear the doom and gloom and we say, ‘It can’t be true so I don’t need to care’ or, ‘God has it under control so I don’t need to worry’... SouthernCross
[but] fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. “We do need to feel the seriousness of things but God is the one we fear first. That’s not a kind of fear that leads to despair or complacency, but it leads us to confidence, action and obedience. If you want to know how to act rightly towards creation, understand who God is. He does call us to account, but he is great and wonderful and sovereign. “There are a lot of things we don’t know about creation but, in knowing God, we can act rightly and responsibly towards creation.” THE RIGHT FEAR LEADS TO THE RIGHT ACTION When we consider where we fit in the doctrine of creation, and couple that with the fear of the Lord, we can form a healthy response to environmental reports. “We are put in creation to work the garden and to keep it,” Dr Windsor says. “Our job is not just to do whatever we want with creation and make creation serve our needs, because we’re supposed to guard and keep creation. It’s for God’s purposes. But we’re [also] not just here to make sure nothing happens to creation either.” He adds that human industry is a good thing and it can have consequences that are good – as well as negative consequences that, at first, we may not see or understand. For example, “the coal industry is good, not demonic, and climate science is good inherently, it’s not demonic. But climate science tells us things about the coal industry we didn’t know when we started it, especially as our work in this industry has [grown]. Both are part of human wisdom and need to be incorporated in [this discussion]”. Sin also impacts our relationship with creation – and affects 21