Tag Archives: climate change

Can Christians Change the Climate on Climate Change?

This NASA graph provides evidence that atmospheric CO2 has increased since the Industrial Revolution.
https://climate.nasa.gov/evidence/

Christianity isn’t under attack. But some beliefs of Christians are deserving of attack. Christians who deny climate change in the face of all evidence to the contrary cannot be allowed to wave the flag of religious freedom and force the rest of us to accept the misguided notion that God will somehow rescue us no matter what we do to our planet.

According to NASA statistics, 97% of scientists, after analyzing the evidence, have come to the conclusion that human actions are responsible for global warming. Many of these scientists are Christians. But they are being shouted down by evangelicals, led by a small group of powerful men who believe they have God on their side. Continue reading Can Christians Change the Climate on Climate Change?

How Much is Enough?

Rainy Duck

Rain falling, wind blowing, I enjoy a morning of sitting in a condo at one of the highest points in Duck, North Carolina.  Almost eleven years ago, in the face of my aggressive cancer that forced my husband and me to reevaluate our plans for the future, we made one of the boldest decisions we’ve ever made:  We decided to freeze the amount of money we were saving for retirement and invest in something we could enjoy no matter what the future held.  It hasn’t proven to be the wisest of financial investments, but it has definitely been an investment in our souls.  We’ve learned to love May and October most of all, when the weather is warm, but the beach is peaceful and the sunsets are stunning.

This morning I looked out toward the ocean, a quarter of a mile from our second floor condo, and thought about a news article in the Washington Postthis week, titled, “Collapse of Antarctic ice sheet is underway and unstoppable but will take centuries.”  Continue reading How Much is Enough?

Politician or Leader?

Congressman Hechler

That’s me in the middle in the white dress I made for the occasion.

Al Gore was the keynote speaker at a conference I attended in 2006, and he spoke eloquently to a group of teachers and filmmakers about the importance of educating our young people to take better care of the planet.  Having launched Current TV a few months before the conference, Gore touted the importance of connecting our students to technology and film.

Hearing a preview for Gore’s interview with Matt Lauer on The Today Showyesterday morning, I rolled my eyes, picked up my bag of books and my car key, and left my husband to watch Gore hawk his new book.  This evening I learned that Lauer spent more time skewering Gore for his decision to sell Current to Al Jazeera than talking about the book that I won’t be buying.

I grinned, pleased that the interview didn’t go as well as Gore had planned.  He called himself a “recovering politician,” but I’m not entirely convinced he isn’t setting the stage for a presidential run in 2016.  If he does, I won’t be voting for him.

I met Gore at that 2006 conference.  I had practically danced when I got an invitation to a reception after the keynote.  He said in his address that he was eager to talk with educators and filmmakers about how they were teaching young people about issues facing our country.  I watched as he spoke for about a minute with each person—longer with those who had clout at the conference.  I listened politely as he talked with people aspiring to get his attention for their projects.

When it was finally my turn, I shook his hand and introduced myself, and I didn’t get a complete sentence out of my mouth about my students.  As I talked, he looked over my shoulder at a well-known media personality on the other side of the room.  Before I finished the sentence, he said, “Well, good for you,” his feet already in motion to move past me, his hand in the air in a wave to the person over my shoulder.

I had stuck with Al Gore when most of the country thought he was an alarmist about climate change. I stuck with him after the ridicule that followed a campaign comment he made about taking the initiative in “creating the Internet.”  I stuck with him after the debacle of the 2000 election.  By 2006 he had reinvented himself, and I stuck with him as he made fun of himself on late-night shows and found other ways to advocate for the issues that mattered to him.

My mom used to say, when I tried to encourage her to vote, “What’s the use in voting one dirty bunch out and another dirty bunch in?”  I lectured her for her cynicism and badgered her until she started voting again.

But in that moment when Al Gore debunked the myth he’d created about his belief in the importance of great teachers, I understood how my mother felt.  And while I was no fan of President George W. Bush, I was glad that if someone had to lose to him, that someone was the man who had brushed aside a teacher he had claimed to value as the key to the future.  In that moment, for me, Gore ceased to be a leader and became a politician.

I still disagree with my mother about the uselessness of voting, and I think there are leaders in both parties who try every day to live up to their ideals.  But I wish that all of us could have one minute with the candidates—one unfiltered minute.  For me, it took less than a minute for Gore to destroy everything I’d ever heard about him from the media, a few seconds that didn’t even register in his brain.

And I’m glad that as a teenager, I had the opportunity to meet leaders in West Virginia who taught me that some are leaders first and politicians second.  Congressman Ken Hechler sponsored a group of students from my high school for a weekend in Washington.  Though none of us could vote, he took the time to walk around the Capitol with us and to ask each of us questions about our lives and our dreams.  He ushered us into the office of Senator Robert Byrd, who, though he was legendary, invited us to sit down in his office and talked to us about the history that surrounded us.  And after the trip, Congressman Hechler sent us all a personally signed photograph of the group from his district.

I want to believe that we still have leaders like Congressman Hechler and Senator Byrd who believe it’s important to give attention to the least among us.  Do you have stories of such leaders?  I’d love to have you share your stories in a comment.

Worth Saving?

Summer Stream

15o.  Wind chill made it feel like 6o.  This was the day my supervisors chose, before they knew the forecast, for a retreat.  The team-building activity?  The same one our students from around the county do some time during their sixth grade year:  Go down to a stream on county park property and conduct tests on the health of the local ecosystem.

Some of my colleagues balked.  One refused to step outdoors and sat inside in front of a beautiful fire while the rest of us were outside for an hour, measuring the levels of acidity, the temperature of the water, the life of the stream.  So what does it say about me that I preferred this activity to sitting at my computer in my windowless office in the DC suburbs?

I wore my flannel-lined windbreaker pants, a knit cap, my down coat with a fur-lined hood, leather gloves with flannel lining, and a warm scarf that my mother lovingly crocheted for me after she saw me without one at my father’s February funeral almost 15 years ago.

I traipsed down to the stream with three of my more cheerful colleagues—one from Belgium who was used to the cold, one who told us with a smile, “I’m from a country near the equator, but I’ll do this if you will,” and one who has lived here most of her life who cheerfully took pictures of all the teams.  We looked for signs of erosion, considered the plant life around the stream, and reached into the freezing water to turn over rocks in search of what the park staff called critters.

Everyone but me got a kick out of saying critters.  And me?  I grew up in southern West Virginia with a father who called all animal life critters, so for me, the word evoked memories of an early childhood of wading in creeks in search of crawdads, of running down banks eroded only by the feet of children.

Born in a suburban hospital in 1986, my daughter never experienced the joy of fishing critters out of a creek.  Her only experience with crawdads was in this same park, where she spent three days and two nights with her sixth grade team.  It made me a little sad this week that I didn’t take her back to a creek in West Virginia while my father was still healthy enough to wade in a stream with her and put a crawdad into her tiny hands.

At our retreat one staff member—from a group of about 25—found a crawdad.  My own team found nothing except a little green wormy creature, whose name I can’t remember now but who was one of the creatures that could live in highly polluted streams.  The one crawdad actually showed that the stream was somewhat healthy.  I told the director of the park staff—one of those rare residents who has lived here all of his life—that finding crawdads was much easier when I was a child in West Virginia.  He smiled sadly and said that I should see how polluted the streams are as they get closer to the Potomac and the Chesapeake Bay. And I shared with him that many of the streams in West Virginia are no longer so healthy either—filled with the gray sludge that comes from coal processing plants.  I told him to check out the documentary On Coal River, which chronicles the lives of people who grew up in the shadow of a coal tipple.

So what do we do?  It’s getting harder and harder for those who don’t want to believe in global warming to deny the damage that human beings are doing to this wonderful planet entrusted to us by the Creator of a world too spectacular for human imagination.

Now tell me your stories of a world worth saving—of a world worth leaving to our children’s children’s children—of a world where our descendants can find critters under rocks in a cool, clear stream.  A world where we are only a legend they hear about in stories—stories of their ancestors who saved the planet just in the nick of time.