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Three things you can do when the world gets too hot

In the face of record-breaking temperatures and wildfires across Europe and other parts of the world, what can we do?

Written by Tarryn Pegna | 19 Jul 2023

Wildfire leaves a burned tree silhouetted against flames. Spain and Greece are experiencing wildfires as a result of anticyclone Charon, a weather event that seems to be exacerbated by climate change.

A wildfire leaves a burnt tree silhouetted against flames. Anticyclone 'Charon' has brought extreme temperatures and caused fires in Southern Europe. Photo credit: Zoltan Tasi/Unsplash

Europe is on fire. The newspapers this week have been full of sweltering temperatures across Europe. Communities in Spain and Greece – including holiday homes and summer camps for children – have been evacuated because of wildfires, and danger warnings have been issued in Italy, where temperatures are forecast to reach 48 degrees. Southern Europe is in the grip of an anticyclone called ‘Charon’ (named after the Greek mythology ferryman who carried the souls of the dead to the underworld). 

The USA and China have also both reported temperatures of over 50 degrees this week.

Heatwaves and floods

Such high temperatures put lives in danger from fire as well as medical risks, and The World Meteorological Organization states that: ‘Heatwaves are amongst the deadliest natural hazards with thousands of people dying from heat-related causes each year.’ 

The high temperatures in Southern Europe look set to continue until August. 

Meanwhile, in other parts of the world, such as Pakistan and India, extremely heavy rains have caused deaths and brought destruction through flooding and landslides.

Large swathes of East Africa are still facing severe hunger due to extended droughts followed by sudden flash floods in the region. 

The climate is in crisis.

New record temperatures

Whereas it would be normal for Europe to expect warm temperatures or heatwaves at this time of year, and for other countries to be experiencing monsoon season, what makes these uncomfortable and damaging conditions even more worrisome is the unprecedented extremes being recorded. 

Record-high temperatures are being replaced with new records. We are seeing new record lengths of time that weather events such as cyclones are lasting. The fragile balance that supports life on this planet, is being threatened by more frequent and more extreme weather.

Science points us to things like emissions of greenhouse gases and other human activity causing ocean temperatures to rise as cause factors. In other words, we are doing this – or at the very least, we are making it worse.

The outcomes will affect us all, but already those living in poverty are bearing the brunt.

The Anthropocene epoch

Some scientists are calling it the Anthropocene epoch. Anthropology refers to the study of humans and Anthropocene refers to the idea that we are living in a time where the greatest influence on climate and on our planet is us.

There is still debate about the term, but what does seem clear is that, as humans, we have been both massively responsible for causing damage to the equilibrium of our environment, and that we have a massive responsibility to try to put it right.

The Christian responsibility to care for creation

This responsibility to care for creation is in line with our faith. And we are all part of hope in the crisis.

As Christian climate activist Laura Young says: ‘We know everything we need to do, we just need to do it!’

So, what can we do about the climate crisis?

1. Pray for the climate crisis

Our faith puts us in the wonderful position of knowing that we are not the last stop. God is bigger than us and our efforts, and whilst that does not absolve us of action, it means we can go to him to move in ways that are beyond what we can achieve in our own strength. This is great encouragement and hope in a world full of news stories of devastation, fear and loss. 

As such, we are called to pray.

‘If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways,’ says 2 Chronicles 7:14, ‘then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.’ In many ways, how we as humanity have treated creation is nothing short of sinful, and no matter where we see our own personal culpability (or lack thereof), we can pray. 

2. Make small lifestyle changes

We can make small life changes. If each of us makes a few small alterations to how we do things each day, the groundswell of all the little changes will add up to making a big difference. 

You could start by making some of the daily choices outlined here and getting others to do so too. They can help you take some clear, basic steps to begin or continue your lifestyle of loving creation and the people around the world that climate change is impacting the most already.

3. Learn more and speak up

Research lots. Find trusted sources to help you learn more about what’s happening and how individuals and governments can make better decisions that will protect people and the planet – especially those living in poverty who are already hardest hit by the negative effects.

And add your voice to those calling on governments around the world to take action. Find out more and sign our urgent-action petition asking the UK government to keep its promises on climate finance here.

Pray for the climate crisis

    • Pray for people who are currently being affected by things like fires, extreme heat and flooding. Ask God for protection for them and their livelihoods and belongings.
    • Lift up all those working toward better ways of protecting creation. Pray for business leaders and governments to make strong decisions that will address the problems we are facing. Ask God to give scientists new insights and innovations.
    • Pray for hope – that everyone will be able to approach the situation with eyes of hope so that they will have courage, grace and inspiration to keep pushing forward and making a difference, rather than becoming weighed down by discouragement and fear. Praise God that nothing is impossible with him.

Written by

Written by  Tarryn Pegna

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