We’re burning down creation. Will the church speak out?

What’s going on?
Fires are destroying huge areas of the Amazon rainforest – one of the most important environments on Earth.

They have largely been caused by loggers and farmers clearing the forest for agriculture. It has been a problem for many years; however, recently the laws to regulate this practice have not been enforced, allowing the problem to spiral out of control.

This year’s fires are the most widespread on record, and the Brazilian government has been heavily criticised by the international community.

Why is it important?
The Amazon is the largest rainforest on the planet. Home to 34 million people, it also contains thousands of plant and animal species that are found nowhere else. The fires have devastated this natural wonder, and have forced vulnerable indigeous communities from their homes.

By burning the rainforest, we’re burning the Earth’s lungs.

The rainforest is a huge store of carbon. When it is burned, this is released into the atmosphere, contributing to global heating. Furthermore, the destruction of the rainforest reduces the Earth’s ability to reabsorb that carbon, since trees and plants turn carbon dioxide into oxygen. By burning the rainforest, we’re burning the Earth’s lungs.

Is this really an issue the church should care about?
Yes.

These fires are another wake-up call that a climate emergency is wreaking havoc with our world. When we harm nature, we harm ourselves; when we damage creation, we insult its creator.

The church must not be silent on this.

Christians, with our biblical mandate to steward creation and care for the most vulnerable, should be first in line to defend creation and speak out against the climate crisis, which affects the poorest communities most.

What can we do?
The Amazon fires are the latest in a long line of injustices against God’s creation. They are part of a systemic problem in which governments and companies put economic greed above caring for people and for nature.

To tackle problems like the Amazon fires, we must address the wider climate crisis and the systems and attitudes that are causing it. Here are a few things that you can do:

Pray: As with everything, we start with prayer. We have included a prayer at the bottom of this article for you to use on your own, in your Bible study group or at church.

Speak up: Does your church discuss environmental and justice issues? If not, could you be an advocate for them? Visit tearfund.org/action to find out more about how your church could connect with these issues.

Campaign: Write to your MP – or even meet them in person – and let them know that the climate emergency and caring for the environment should be a top priority. You can contact campaigns@tearfund.org for more information on how to do this.

Act: Small actions can add up to make a big difference. You can reduce your carbon footprint by choosing to holiday in the UK or take the train to Europe rather than flying. You can also switch to renewable energy in your home and take steps to reduce food waste.

What we eat has an impact on creation. The fires in the Amazon have in part been started to clear the area for intensive agriculture and rear livestock. As the global population eats more and more meat and dairy, more forests will have to be destroyed. We can help by eating more plant-based meals as a healthy and environmentally-friendly alternative.

PLEASE PRAY

Creator God,

We lift up voices of anguish over what’s happening to the Amazon. Lord, please stop the fires – both in the Amazon and anywhere else that forests are being recklessly destroyed. We pray that you will open the eyes of governments, companies and individuals to the importance of safeguarding creation.

In Jesus’ name we pray,

Amen.

Gideon Heugh

Gideon is a Copywriter in Tearfund's Brand and Communications Team. He's passionate about poetry, nature and a good cup of coffee, and he has an MA in Creative Writing.