Today’s entry is part of a periodic series of observations about changes in the world’s climate that will affect all of us, old and young alike. The series will lean into the basic question: As God’s people, what can we think or do about these matters? Today I offer a summary of some essentials.
“Earth’s climate is now changing faster than at any point in the history of modern civilization, primarily as a result of human activities.” That’s the first sentence in the Introduction to the *Fourth National Climate Change Assessment (Volume II). No ifs-ands-or-buts there—we can’t run away from these ideas. Also front-and-center: Hopeful adaptations in behavior that are rising up to meet the problems head-on. That will be good to remember when you read news reports or commentary about this report!
These conclusions in the NCA deserve our attention:
• If we don’t take action, the environment will keep getting worse.
• The time frame for these changes is coming at us more quickly than we previously thought.
• Some elements of climate change are already occurring, perhaps drastically so.
• We’re not matching the effects of global warming with our current actions. We need to do more. It will be harder than we thought.
• We all live on the same planet, so the changes will spread around the entire world.
• The effects of climate disruptions will be distributed unevenly—some of us will be affected sooner and more greatly than others. No one can sidestep the shifts in our way of life.
• The lifestyle adjustments will eventually affect every part of society. Minor inconveniences to start out with, but they’ll grow into big problems soon enough.
• Numbers tell a lot, but so do the anecdotes. The stories in the NCA are noteworthy.
I’m still reading around in the report—starting with the summaries. But after a few scans, I’m trying to look more honestly at my own reactions to the information. As an older adult with a spiritual core, I want to understand things in a different way. See if any of my reactions connect to your own older-adult self:
• The facts about climate change—including computer modeling of future scenarios—ring true. There’s no future in denying what’s going on.
• I’ve faced adversity before. I remember the feelings and know what to do about them.
• Knute Rockne was right: “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” Maybe all of us tough and all of us together?
• My behavior has helped cause climate change, so my (changed) behaviors can help solve the situation.
• Thank goodness for the wise and courageous people who have raised the alarm.
• This whole matter has spiritual underpinnings, overtones and invitations.
• The people of God—whomever we are—can lead others out of what seems like a dark future.
If you’ve read the report—or its summaries—you may have different reactions. (I’d love to hear them!) I hope that you can find hope and courage inside yourself. I also hope you’ll start your own conversations about what’s happening and what you can do—with others—to reverse these climate trends.
And hold this thought: We can trust God to help us, maybe even inspire us…?
(Coming next: Climate Conversation 3: A spiritual core?)
*You can find the 4th National Climate Change Assessment at www.nca2018.globalchange.gov. It’s not all that difficult to read and understand, especially if you poke around among the inner links. Volume II is a good place to start—Volume I contains the inner workings of the research.