Climate Progress: Why Moving Faster Than Nature Can Be a Good Thing

While at the beach last August, I read Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring. While my husband wasn’t sure that this qualified as vacation reading, I enjoyed a number of her other works there (especially The Sea Around Us), and hadn’t yet read her seminal work, so it seemed like a good time. 

Some credit Silent Spring for helping launch America’s modern environmental movement because Carson spurred awareness of how the biggest threats of her time – radiation, pesticides, and fertilizers – were harming people and the planet. She made an important point that radiation and chemicals were not new. What was new was the rapidity with which mankind was introducing them into the atmosphere. Mankind was moving faster than nature, and nature didn’t have time to adjust.

It took hundreds of millions of years to produce the life that now inhabits the earth—eons of time in which that developing and evolving and diversifying life reached a state of adjustment and balance with its surroundings. …Given time—time not in years but in millennia—life adjusts, and a balance has been reached. Time is the essential ingredient, but in the modern world, there is no time. The rapidity of change and the speed with which new situations are created follow the impetuous and heedless pace of man rather than the deliberate pace of nature.

She cites it as a detriment, but moving faster than nature can be our strength. We can marshal this ability to outpace nature, and apply it to eliminating carbon pollution and getting more people from all walks of life – especially people of faith – engaged in solving the biggest threat of our time: climate change.

We’ve already achieved faster progress on climate solutions this year than many expected:

Despite our progress, keeping the world below the 1.5 degree Celsius goal is not yet assured, so we need many more people committed to accelerating climate solutions. Faith leadership has been an important part of every successful social movement in America. More and more Americans are receptive to a moral argument for climate solutions, so as some of our most trusted moral messengers, we especially need more faith leaders to join the thousands of faithful who are already leading.

At the American Climate Leadership Summit in September, faith leaders met to strategize on the best opportunities for expanding, accelerating, and increasing the impact of faith leadership on climate. Read their top recommendations here

Let’s embrace our ability to move things faster, and marshal it for the good to solve climate change. I think Rachel Carson would be pleased.

 Kara Ball is the Program Director of Blessed Tomorrow.

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