How our faith can ease eco-anxiety
It was a sunny day across much of the UK, as thousands of children and many adults took to the streets on Friday 20 September. But it wasn’t the sun that brought us out, it was the Earth.
Our beautiful world needs shouting about. It’s God’s creation, but we haven’t treated it with the respect it deserves.
A UN report last year gave governments just 12 years to act before we run out of time to prevent dangerous levels of global heating.
Before then we need to reduce current emissions of carbon dioxide by at least 50 per cent. It’s the only way to avert the worst effects of climate change, such as droughts, famine, and flooding.
Youthful and truthful
A placard at the climate strikes in Australia read: 'You'll die of old age, I'll die of climate change.’ A pupil at Brimsdown Primary School in Enfield told Sky News: ‘I care about climate change because I want to live on planet Earth.’
We shouldn’t be surprised that it’s young people who are leading the way. After all, they are the generation who will be picking up the pieces.
And they're right: this is worrying stuff.
Hoping for better
The Telegraph recently reported that an increasing number of children are being treated for ‘eco-anxiety’.
Where do we find our hope? What can we say to those who are anxious about the future? Jesus said ‘Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me.’ (John 14:1)
Even without diving into the context of when, where and why Jesus said this, they remain encouraging words. Our hope is in Jesus, and in his restoring love.
We can participate in Christ’s restoration story by caring for our neighbours and for creation, offering a vision of a kingdom come by acting through love.
Further hope can be taken from our identity not just as individuals, but as the church. It’s not just about 'what can I do?', but 'what can we do together?"
For some, a sense of anxiety comes from feeling like every lifestyle decision we make has an impact. We can feel isolated and guilty if we use a tumble-drier or need to drive to work.
But if we focus on what we can do 'together', we can replace some of our climate anxiety with a sense of purpose. Many churches have switched to renewable energy suppliers. And if we lobby our politicians as a collective, they are far more likely to take action.
Everyone deserves to live free from the fear of climate change. A world with cleaner air, less waste and less relentless consumerism is possible – if we join together in faith, hope and love.
Help us to hold on to hope, even in the midst of a crisis. Help us to hold on to peace, even when it seems impossible. And help us to hold on to love, taking action on behalf of our neighbours and your whole creation.
In Jesus’ name, amen.