Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Carbon Covenant for Epiphany

The Feast of the Epiphany, January 6, was the first anniversary of the Green Sprouts blog. That first post a year ago talked about the wise men and the star of Epiphany, and how the world around us serves as a door or opening to The Holy. The desire to care for the Earth as a precious spiritual resource is one reason for churches to be intentional about environmental stewardship. The fact that we believe God created the world, pronounced it as good, and gave humankind charge over caring for it is another major reason to be engaged in this work.

For many of us, though, the fact that pollution of all sorts and climate change tend to affect the poorest people in the world first and worst is at least as big a reason as these others for Christians to make environmental stewardship a priority. A January 4 article, Shelter from the Storms, in America magazine talks about a new category of refugees in our world, environmental refugees. According to the article, there are already more environmental refugees than political refugees.

In Epiphany we think about how to help bring Christ’s redemptive love into the world. This year, other parishes may want to join St. Stephen’s, Grand Island, in considering a new program from Interfaith Power and Light, the Carbon Covenant project. The Carbon Covenant gives parishes an opportunity to do something fairly concrete to help people in parts of the world most affected by climate change. The program links faith communities in the Global North with faith communities in the Global South who are addressing deforestation, one of the biggest sources of carbon emissions. Parishes can make a pledge of financial support or a one-time contribution to partner in one of these projects.

The four projects featured at this point are in Ghana, Cameroon, Cambodia, and the slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. Details about all four projects are available on the website . As we connect with these other communities, we will learn more about the effect of climate change on our neighbors in the global community, and have the joy of knowing we are doing something meaningful to help make life better for people whose daily lives are affected by climate change.

It may be hard to think about carbon emissions and global warming when we have experienced so much cold weather this winter, but of course specific weather events and general climate patterns are two different things. Summer is a warm season and winter is cold in Nebraska (that’s our climate) even though we can have cool, rainy days in the summer and a sunny day with 70 degree temperatures in the winter (that’s the weather). Similarly, the overall climate trend of global warming is obvious to statisticians and climate scientists even though the weather in much of North America and Europe has been cold this winter. And meanwhile, in the southern hemisphere, Melbourne just had its hottest night in 100 years with a temperature of 98 degrees F. at midnight.