David Attenborough addresses the UN on Climate Change (23rd February 2021):
“If we continue on our current path we will face the collapse of everything that gives us our security: food production; access to fresh water; habitable ambient temperature; and ocean food chains. And if the natural world can no longer support the most basic of our needs then much of the rest of civilisation will quickly break down. Please make no mistake: climate change is the biggest threat to security that modern humans have ever faced. I don’t envy you the responsibility that this places on all of you and your governments. Some of these threats will assuredly become reality within a few short years. Others could, in the lifetime of today’s young people, destroy entire cities and societies, even altering the stability of the entire world. Perhaps the most significant lesson brought by these last 12 months has been that we are no longer separate nations, each best served by looking after its own needs and security. We are a single, truly global species, whose greatest threats are shared and whose security must ultimately come from acting together, in the interests of us all. I do believe that if we act fast enough we can reach a new stable state. It will compel us to question our economic models and where we place value; invent entirely new industries; recognise the moral responsibility that wealthy nations have to the rest of the world and put a value on nature that goes far beyond money. And through global cooperation, we may achieve far more than tackling climate change. We may finally create a stable, healthy world, where resources are equally shared. We may, for the first time in the entire history of humanity, come to know what it feels like to be secure.”
These important words only got a brief mention in the passing news of the day. And we think dealing with a pandemic has had its challenges! In this world where fake news and denial of reality seem to pervade our lives, I trust the words of David Attenborough, given his lifetime dedicated to the natural world and his knowledge and expertise which is surely beyond reproach. We had nothing but Brexit on our news, we have rightly had the pandemic update on our news for the last year – the communication battle with deniers and idiots and couldn’t-care-lessers needs to be strong – but as we see the light at the end of this particular tunnel, surely the headlines must be the battle against climate change until we reach the “new stable state” we urgently require. If we don’t, then the consequences for our world, for ourselves and for future generations, will be catastrophic. If you think a pandemic has brought misery then you ain’t seen nothing yet!
The biggest word is “IF”. If we continue on our current path we will face the collapse of everything that gives us security. But “IF” we do something about it, then we may finally create “a stable, healthy world.” Christian Aid once ran a campaign called “The Big IF”, I think we should recall that campaign and keep running it. IF we want a secure and safe world for people everywhere then we must act now, we must demand that our politicians and nations rise to this global challenge because IF we don’t then it may be too late.
The Church has its part to play. IF we believe in a Creator God who has given us the gift of this planet, given us the responsibility of caring for it and each other, and given us the gift of life, what is more important in our time that the issue of climate change?
But what do we do? We heat and light and maintain many large buildings, many of which we do not need, we can’t bear to see “our Church” close. Some are still caught up in the trivia of who is using the Guild china, should ministers wear robes, and how we must meet Regulation 2 (d) sub-section 3.4.2 of Act 1901 as amended. Some grumble about Nicola not allowing worship to re-start until the beginning of April – I say keep Church buildings closed throughout March and April, allow vaccines to be rolled our further, allow lives to be saved and the NHS to be protected, and then bring back worship in a controlled way if circumstances allow. But we will miss Easter! No, we won’t, we live every day on the glorious side of Easter! Do we really want to be taken up by how we select the 20 to attend, how we clean the building between several “20 people” services, and lament how we still can’t belt out “Thine be the glory”?
Through all this uncertainty, I am glad to say that my Kirk Session and members of my congregation are looking forward, planning for that day when more of Church life can return, from renewed worship through to new ways of outreach. We might not know exact dates and circumstances we will face but we aim to hit the ground running when we can, so let’s not say we are being left in limbo with closed buildings, the Church is well and truly active and being the Church Without Walls that it was called to be. So Nicola, thanks for the offer, but don’t worry about the Church buildings being open, we have come thus far, we can bide our time a little bit longer. IF we wait productively, then we can re-emerge with new energy and purpose.
And perhaps our traditional Harvest festival season will take on new meaning IF we view this as a time to highlight, act, pray, and campaign, for climate change, the biggest issue of our time and the darkest threat to the future of our planet and humankind. Not only has the Church to get its house in order, people everywhere need to wake up to this challenge, rise up above the petty issues and concerns that dominate our often selfish lives and come back to our senses, and come back to our God. Now there’s a thought for Lent!