The super storm that struck the New York City area is like an exclamation mark on the scientific statements regarding climate change. “Things are different now,” the storm seemed to be saying. This has been what scientists have been warning us will happen.
It is important to use the term “climate change” and not “global warming” because the latter term can lull one into thinking if “my temperatures” are not getting hotter, then this must all be a bunch of hogwash. “Climate change” indicates a broader, more subtle phenomenon.
With that stated, I never remember a Texas fall like this one. I have no idea if this weather has been a result of climate change or not, but it’s strange when you can wear a t-shirt to a Christmas parade and not even be cool. There always are some Indian Summer type days, but we have had unbelievably pleasant weather in Texas for weeks.
Rising sea levels seem to be one of the biggest concerns. A great New York Times page shows what land around major U.S. cities would be “permanently flooded, without engineered protection” if the seas rise to varying levels. Galveston doesn’t fare well.
Climate change should not be a political issue, and there is no need to argue about the degree of human causation. Global temperatures are rising, and we are going to have to do everything possible to stem the tide, literally.
And this is not just about protecting American cities; millions of the poorest people in the world would be displaced by rising sea levels. We will not just let them die; we will have to help them move to safety.
In 2006, messengers to the annual meeting of the Baptist General Convention of Texas passed a resolution on environmental stewardship. It noted that “the earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it” (Psalm 24:1) and that “we are called by God to honor the goodness of creation and to secure its well being” (referring to Genesis 1 and 2). The messengers understood that “the earth’s air, water, soil, and inhabitants are increasingly threatened by environmental degradation” and that “our failure to address adequately environmental degradation threatens generations present and future.”
In short, this planet of ours is God’s creation and God has called us to care for it. This requires action. As the 2006 resolution said, we need to “practice faithful stewardship of the environment in concrete ways in our churches and in our everyday lives and that we advocate for sound environmental policies in the public square.”