So I turned on the TV the other night to watch the first game of the World Series in Los Angeles and there is was…103 degrees in October in Los Angeles, the hottest recorded start ever to a World Series game. And it didn’t take much reflection to think about all the other weather related events that have occurred in the recent past: the California wildfires, three major hurricanes hitting the U.S. – Harvey, Irma, and Maria. I began to think back on the year and remembered the extreme high temperatures in Pakistan, India and Afghanistan followed by recorded breaking flooding rains just months ago. In the Arctic Circle there were record breaking temperatures, melting permafrost, and more long term sea ice loss. Antarctica also continued to show signs of ice shelf and glacial ice loss. Ocean temperatures have risen causing coral bleaching and thus loss of rich ocean ecosystems. The last three years have been the three warmest since records have been kept. Global carbon dioxide has risen above 400 parts per million for the first time in at least a million years. Sea levels are rising and already causing climate refugees among the Inuit peoples and South Sea islanders.
Climate change is here. It’s not something that is going to happen. It is happening now and will only worsen. The time to act is now. This is the reason that the Baptist Creation Care Initiative was formed. It began with a group of friends eating dinner together to talk about their interest in what can be done to battle climate change. Out of that discussion grew the idea that we needed to found an organization to draw all the diverse Baptist groups who were already caring on the fight against global warming together under an umbrella to share resources and ideas. And that is what it will take to make any impact…large scale initiatives to lobby government as well as smaller local initiatives to teach churches and individuals what they can do.
There are at least two biblical principles that demand our care for the creation. One comes from the first book of the Bible, Genesis. In it Adam and Eve are given “dominion,” a Hebrew word denoting great power, over the creation. But with this power they are made stewards of the Garden and all kits creatures. By extension, we are the stewards of the world that God has given us. The Fall has made the power given to Adam and Eve a dangerous thing. It has been abused and has made humans often to see the world as simply something to be used for our own gains with no concern for the cost of those gains. Other times it is simply our own limited knowledge tied to this dominion that has caused trouble. The internal combustion engine was a great advance for humans bringing benefits to large groups of humankind. But at the time knew one knew what billions of vehicles emitting carbon dioxide would do to the breathable air and ultimately to the planet itself. The hour has come to own the stewardship of the earth in a serious manner. Our grandchildren…my grandchildren… will one day look back and either thank us or curse us for the world we leave to them.
The second biblical principle may be even more important. Jesus told us that the greatest commandment is this, “Love God and love your neighbor as yourself.” Our shrinking global village has thrust upon us millions of new “neighbors.” The Inuit and the South Pacific islanders are our neighbors as are all the other climate refugees who will emerge. They are our neighbors and we are called as Christians to find ways to help them and to take them in. Because of climate change, everyone on the planet is now in some way or another, our neighbor. We must take on the task of fighting climate change to improve, maybe even save, all our lives.
The Baptist Creation Care Initiative was formed to draw various Baptist groups together to continue to develop a Creation Care Theology and to seriously discover ways to fight climate change on a global and local scale. We hope that you will prayerfully consider joining us, especially here in the initial stages, to help form and guide the organization in what may be the most serious challenge ever to face humankind.