The world faces a climate crisis.
Los Angeles County hit a record temperature of 121 degrees Fahrenheit last week, placing severe strains on power grids and leaving poor citizens sweltering in the heat.
In California and Oregon, over 4 million acres are ablaze, leaving 26 of our fellow citizens dead and millions of dollars in property damage.
In the Gulf of Mexico, another hurricane targeted the coastline leading to torrential rain, flooding, property damage and death.
Last week, a late summer snowstorm swept over the Rockies, leaving people shaking their heads wondering if Mother Nature made a mistake.
Furthermore, a report recently surfaced that a Manhattan-sized piece of the ice shelf broke away from Greenland.
All of this is quite troubling for any serious person willing to observe facts and draw reasonable conclusions. The climate is rapidly changing, causing damage and irreparable harm.
As the world faces the growing climate crisis, people of good faith are in a unique position to lead a global effort in climate care.
While some Christians believe human-caused climate change is a hoax, I nevertheless see a growing number of Christians and other people of faith are both concerned and inspired.
They are concerned the world is warming, the climate is rapidly changing, resources are not keeping up with demand, the weather intensifying, and the future growing darker with every passing day without a real solution.
However, this growing number of Christians – primarily younger – is also inspired to act. Feeling abandoned by preceding generations who have either denied or ignored climate change, this new generation of creation care advocates wants to put an end to global warming to create a better environment for all living beings.
Evangelical author Lindsay Linsky explains in her 2016 book, Keep It Good: Understanding Creation Care through Parables, that Scripture teaches humans are responsible for creation care. Citing Psalm 24, Linsky points out the world belongs to God and that humans are recipients of God’s benevolence.
Earlier this month, Pope Francis offered a homily encouraging Catholics to take creation care seriously. He announced a theme for this renewed emphasis on creation care, calling it Jubilee for the Earth. His holiness wants Catholics to remember, return, rest, restore and rejoice, for the earth is the Lord’s.
As a global faith community, we need to take bold and significant steps to address climate change. In the U.S., we need to place pressure on the legislative and executive branches of government to re-enter the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement.
The agreement’s central objective is “to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change by keeping a global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius.”
Globally, this would be a significant step forward in reducing climate change and securing a promising future for the next generation.
In addition to policy advocacy, we can embrace some simple personal practices to help people reconnect to creation. Establishing and nurturing a human connection with nature empowers people to discover the symbiotic relationship that persists within God’s creation.
Therefore, let me offer the following:
First, get outside. As more and more people find themselves behind locked doors and connected to digital screens, humans are missing the great outdoors. Jim Qualls encourages us to increase our outdoor activities in his book, Taking Care of Yourself. As a created being, we are meant to be part of God’s creation, not set against it.
Jesus was a master at connecting with God’s creation. He walked from village to village. Fishermen were some of his best friends. He enjoyed crowds gathering outside so he could minister to them through healing and teaching. Jesus was an outdoor guy!
As we reconnect with the outdoors, take time for a jog or walk each day, even if it’s just around the block. For the more adventurous types, kayak down a river or hike a trail. Create a space in the backyard or find the perfect outdoor spot. Bask in the sun, enjoying the cooler temperatures and the fall foliage as it begins to turn.
Second, plant a garden or flowers. Some of Jesus’ favorite spots to pray were gardens and vineyards. After a long day of walking, teaching or healing, Jesus would escape to the solace and peace of these small Edens.
There is something significant about gardens and flowers. The act of planting and watering them demonstrates an engagement with nature, connecting humans and creation in a very special way. When we plant something, we are declaring an intention to care for it. We bond with what we plant, worried about its health and excited when we see its growth.
Third, feed the birds. Jesus reminded his followers even God feeds the birds (Matthew 6:26).
As many of you know, I have found a new enjoyment for bird watching in my backyard. Each morning, I am greeted by hummingbirds, cardinals and finches looking for food and water. Putting food into the feeders and water into the bath, I wish my feathered friends good morning.
Some may say I am leaning into old age far too quickly, but there is something meaningful in my new morning routine. With each chirp and song from my new friends, I connect with them knowing God placed them upon this earth for a purpose.
Therefore, as each day breaks, my concern grows for the birds in my backyard. Now, please do not misunderstand me, the birds have not started talking back to me – yet. However, my connection to them underlines my place in God’s creation and my responsibility to be a creation caretaker.
As the world grows warmer, as wildfires rage out of control, as hurricanes form and ice shelves keep melting and breaking away, let’s find something bold and simple to combat this climate crisis.
The United States needs to re-enter the Paris Climate Agreement to join other nations in combating climate change, and each of us needs to do what we can to reconnect with the world that God created.
CEO of Good Faith Media.