You may have heard of Greta Thunberg, the impassioned young activist who is pushing to change the way we view our planet. If you haven’t, it’s probably worth your time to listen up.
Sometimes we need to stop and learn and listen to the wisdom of young people – after all, they are the generation who will inherit the world in which we live. As Paul encouraged his protege Timothy: ‘Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.’ (1 Timothy 4:12)
Sixteen-year-old Greta wants to change the way we think and speak about the damage we’re causing to the world. She says: ‘You can’t solve an emergency without treating it like an emergency’. And on 1 May, that’s what MPs in Westminster did, making history by passing a Commons motion declaring an ‘environment and climate change emergency’.
It makes the UK the first nation in the world to declare a climate emergency. And with cyclones tearing through nations, droughts destroying crops and livelihoods, species becoming extinct, and plastic waste choking our sea life, it’s a move which can’t come soon enough.
Meanwhile, a new UN report reveals 1 million animal and plant species are now threatened with extinction. As the BBC put it: ‘The devastating impact of humans on nature is laid bare.’
And then there are the more tangible, visible manifestations. Cyclones are becoming more intense due to this climate emergency. In recent weeks, Idai, Kenneth, and Fani have all destroyed lives, homes, and businesses in southern Africa, India and Bangladesh. This is an example of how the changing climate is physically pushing people into the grip of poverty.
During his lifetime on earth, Jesus challenged people, systems and structures that created injustice. Our faith is a response to the good news of the gospel and it demands a response in the way we live. This includes challenging the systems and issues that keep people trapped in poverty, including this climate emergency.
It’s a sentiment echoed by Greta: ‘You say you love your children above all else, and yet you are stealing their future in front of their very eyes... If solutions within the system are so impossible to find, then... we should change the system itself.’
So, ask yourself: what is my role in responding to this emergency? Why not join with thousands of others on 26 June to tell your MP how much you care about the devastating effects of the changing climate on the world’s poorest people?
The earth is filled your glory (Habakkuk 2:14) and yet we have not reflected your goodness to us in the way we’ve treated it. Forgive us, Lord. Help us to respond quickly and effectively to this climate emergency we’ve brought upon ourselves. Help us to realise the consequences our actions have for our global neighbours, and to be good stewards of our beautiful world. In Jesus’ name, amen.