“The unprecedented temperatures for the time of year observed in September–following a record summer–have broken records by an extraordinary amount”, according to Samantha Burgess, Deputy Director of the Copernicus Climate Change Service of the European Union. “This extreme month has pushed 2023 into the dubious honour of first place–on track to be the warmest year and around 1.4°C above preindustrial average temperatures. Two months out from COP28 (United Nations Climate Conference)–the sense of urgency for ambitious climate action has never been more critical.” Climate change is here. How do we faithfully say thanks for that which has been “gifted” to us?
While this news is concerning, there is reason for hope, and there are ways that we can “be the change we want to see happen” to reduce our carbon footprint over the next few months and into 2024. We can make choices and changes; we have agency. Climate leaders say the biggest concern is the need to radically reduce the developed world’s fossil fuel usage over the next 6 years (the US and Canada are the top two per capita consumers of fossil fuel). The ways to make that reduction happen have been developed and we have the needed tools and technology already.
Here are a few suggestions to consider as we engage the climate crisis. We can push legislators to enforce the Pennsylvania constitutional right to clean air, water, and land. We can lobby legislators to enact home energy conservation/efficiency legislation and the transition to renewable energy as a way to help their citizens save money and the environment. We can watch for and take advantage of the new federal rebates coming out next year from the Inflation Reduction Act for purchasing energy saving appliances when doing home improvements. We can take a carbon footprint test ourselves and decide what changes we may want to make. We can decide to consume less energy and “stuff” for ourselves (5 to 10%?) and give those unused funds to others in need. And in our gift giving, we could decide to not buy “stuff” for others; but, instead, give the gift of ourselves, our time, our skills, or maybe a ticket to a local event. “Our presence is their present.” Maybe reduce our trips around town, and around the world. Be a climate conscious lifestyle example, and learn more about what that means...and then talk about it, sharing about the changes we have made and why. Be a safe place for others to share their own concerns about the climate crisis that has arrived at our doorstep.
These are just a few of many ideas to engage our thinking; “to stir the pot.” In this season of Thanks and of Giving, consider these and other faithful ways in making a transition to “gift” our families, our communities and the world in new ways; toward a better, more livable world for all. Check out the church’s Climate Crisis bulletin board for more information and ideas.
Submitted by Damon Wagner Fields, Climate Crisis Action Committee