Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Trampling on the Needy

2020 Climate Treaty Proposal

Today’s Daily Office lesson from Amos (Amos 8:1-14) is an appropriate prophetic passage to respond to the news coming from the UN climate talks in Durban, South Africa. Some of us have been praying for this meeting , along with praying that our own hearts be open so that we can see the needs in the world around us and respond to them.

Much depends on the nations of the world figuring out a way for us to reduce carbon emissions and mitigate the damage already done. The Jesuit magazine America has an excellent article Climate Change: A Life Issue  that looks at climate change, its very real effects on people in the world today, and its expected effects in the future:
In 2009, a study conducted by the Global Humanitarian Forum found that climate change was already responsible for 300,000 deaths a year, the suffering of 325 million people, and economic losses of over $100 billion. Over 90 percent of those persons most severely affected were from developing countries that have contributed least to global carbon emissions. In the coming decades, climate change can bring deadly famine, displacement and disease to large sectors of the human population and spawn mass extinctions of other species. In the long term, the climate could change so radically that the earth could no longer support human civilization. In this sense, caring for the climate and the biosphere is a paramount pro-life issue.
At the conference in Durban, the United States has proposed that a new climate treaty be negotiated that would take effect in 2020.  Jamie Henn of writes:
This isn’t just a delay, it’s a death sentence. Scientists have stated over and over that in order to avoid catastrophic climate change, emissions must peak by 2015 or 2020 at the absolute latest. (For a closer look at the scientific reasoning, read David Roberts.)It is especially callous and cold-hearted for the U.S. to be pushing the 2020 timeline here in Durban. Africa is already seeing the devastating impacts of the climate crisis, from the deadly drought still ravaging the Horn of Africa to terrible flooding, including here in Durban where heavy rains killed at least eight people just last week.

At the beginning of the meeting in Durban, Oxfam wrote a media briefing Extreme weather endangers food security: 2010-11: A grim foretaste of future suffering and hunger?.  This briefing outlines the relationship between the extreme weather events resulting from global warming and hunger.

“Hear this, you that trample on the needy, and bring to ruin the poor of the land,” writes Amos. Continuing, he describes the consequences God will send in response to callous disregard for the needy, including consequences for the earth itself. The response to our callous disregard for the needy is unfolding according to the laws of physics and chemistry. Our planet continues to warm, and while it is affecting the poorest people in the world first and worst, we will be affected by it also.

Please pray for a better outcome from this meeting. Pray for those suffering from the callous disregard of those with money and power. Pray for us to be able to see what is happening in the world around us. If prayer leads you to a desire to act, there is a petition to President Obama and our climate negotiators to sign here . The conference ends in two days.

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