Climate Change Report Lays Out Consequences

By Jessica Maudlin
At the Presbyterian Hunger Program, this time of the year usually finds our attentions turned towards World Food Day and Food Week of Action. This year however, we also find ourselves focused on the report from the United Nations’ scientific panel on climate change which was released on October 7, 2018 in South Korea. A Dire Reality The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a group of scientists convened by the United Nations to guide world leaders on issues of climate change, lays out a grim picture of the immediate consequences of climate change and describes a world of worsening food shortages, drought, rising sea levels, and more as soon as 2040. According to the New York Times, “Absent aggressive action, many effects once expected only several decades in the future will arrive by 2040…To prevent 2.7 degrees of warming, the report said, greenhouse pollution must be reduced by 45 percent from 2010 levels by 2030, and 100 percent by 2050. It also found that, by 2050, use of coal as an electricity source would have to drop from nearly 40 percent today to between 1 and 7 percent. Renewable energy such as wind and solar, which make up about 20 percent of the electricity mix today, would have to increase to as much as 67 percent.” Climate change isn’t a future problem. Our Joining Hands partners in Peru, Red Uniendo Manos, have been sharing with us for years us how they’ve seen it unfold in their country. “Temperatures have been rising, and, as a result, the snowcaps of our mountains, which we once considered eternal, are melting at an increasing pace. Our elders remember years ago that when traveling up the central highway into the Andes and crossing over the continental divide at Ticlio at an elevation of approximately 16,000 ft., the mountains were covered with snow year round. Now, the mountains are bare and brown.” What Do Presbyterians Say? Among several policies passed at the 223rd General Assembly was a policy called “the Earth is the Lord’s” which encourages “the whole church to raise a prophetic voice regarding the urgency of healing the climate of the earth, our home and God’s gift for the future of all life, human and nonhuman” as pastors take on the moral mantle of preaching and teaching while congregations and Presbyterians lead by our example of making energy choices with integrity. These policies, and the decades of GA policies and Presbyterian action on climate, are especially crucial now, as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has just released a report that climate change impacts are worse than predicted and that we may hit a crisis sooner than expected. What Can I Do? The problem of climate change requires large-scale, collective action. Exercise your rights as a citizen: speak up and demand change. You can also take direct personal action to reduce your carbon footprint in simple ways that will save you money. You can plug leaks in your home insulation to save power, install a smart thermostat, switch to more efficient light bulbs, turn off unused lights, drive fewer miles by consolidating trips or taking public transit, waste less food, and eat less meat. Using your voice and purchasing power, support the companies taking the lead on clean energy practices, and let the others know you expect them to do better. For some, buying an electric or hybrid car or putting solar panels on your roof is a good way to do that. Raising your own consciousness and the awareness of the people around you about the problem is critical. Discussing this issue with your friends and family is one of the most meaningful things you can do. Blessed Tomorrow offers resources to help have these conversations. We can all take steps in the right direction—becoming energy efficient, purchasing renewable energy, lowering our carbon footprint, and advocating for safe environmental policies at all levels of government.

The Presbyterian Church in the USA is a proud partner of Blessed Tomorrow, a coalition of faith leaders committed to serve as faithful stewards of creation. Founded by ecoAmerica, Blessed Tomorrow offers tools, resources, and communications to demonstrate visible climate leadership, inspiring and empowering faith leaders to speak about, act on and advocate for climate solutions. Learn more about our partnership and the resources available to you here.

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