Oh! We’re having a heatwave, a tropical heatwave
The temperature’s rising, it isn’t surprising…
Climate change is not only a challenge of the future. We are already observing changes in the UK climate, with average temperatures having risen by around 1ºC over the last century.
Irving Berlin’s lyrics sum up this week better than I can: we most certainly are having a heat wave. In classic British style, most of us are fed up with the heat and are ready for the temperature to cool. As a budding gardener I’m concerned about my plants… but I’m also concerned about what is missing from our conversations and the news coverage around this heatwave. As we complain about our sweaty upper lips and our parched grass, could we spare a moment to talk about climate change?
Of course a hot summer is not unusual in itself, although it might feel that way. But Climate Scientists are warning that this summer represents a trend towards hotter summers. As the UK Climate Change Risk Assessment warned in 2017, “climate change is not only a challenge of the future”, it is a reality of the present. It is not something happening ‘over there’; it is happening here. For a great but concerning visual example watch this video about the upward trend in extreme weather conditions over the last century.
Although we might celebrate the sun, our changing climates represent a real danger. In Greece this week we are witnessing tragic deaths as a result of wildfires, which have also been raging in the UK, US and Sweden this month. Water shortage poses a real health threat and crisis meetings have been held by the Welsh Government for farmers whose livelihood is suffering due to the long period of extremely warm weather. Climate change is something we all need to be concerned about.
When I speak to youth groups about issues of social justice, I always introduce the concept of the ‘tripod’ of justice. This theory is that three things need to happen to make real change – the personal, the practical and the political. The personal is about our hearts and our personal actions, the practical is about what we do with our resources, in our communities and serving our neighbour. The political is about calling for our systems and structures to be made more just.
Climate change fits well into the tripod of justice. We can work for change on a personal, practical and political level. So in between reapplying your sun cream and wiping the sweat from your brow, here are some pointers:
- Pray for our world. Creation Time begins in September and is a period of time where people across the globe pray for our shared world. Prayer and worship resources can be found here.
- It is vital that we work as individuals to treat God’s creation with care. Research suggests that income is a better predictor of an individual’s carbon footprint that whether they are environmentally conscious or not – do our lifestyles reflect our values? Calculate your carbon footprint here and make changes to reduce it.
- Make a donation to a charity supporting displaced people who have been forced to leave their homes due to climate change.
- Encourage your church to become an Eco Church or an Eco Congregation in Scotland.
- Tell your MP that you care. Use our Meet Your MP resources launching in September to meet with your local elected representative, tell them what you’re doing to stop climate change and ask them what they’re doing.