Creation Time - We have to change and initiate change

The Week of Creation starts on the last Sunday of September in Hungary. During this period Churches are thinking together about energy and climate change. They focus on what kind of role and voice they can have in this conversation with regards to environmental efficiency and recycling. This year, our main topic is climate justice in the light of the parable of Nathan the prophet (1Sam 12). We have to change and initiate change in order to ensure a livable life for the following generations on this planet!

Combating climate change is the greatest challenge of our time. We are looking forward to this year’s upcoming conference in Paris by focusing on the topic of climate justice. At COP21 Paris, members of the United Nations are to achieve a legally binding agreement on climate with the aim of reducing global emissions in order to limit the increase in global temperature to below 2 degrees Celsius over the pre-industrial average. The atmosphere as a “common good” is getting overloaded due to the increase of greenhouse gases. 90% of this is caused by the burning of fossil fuels to generate more energy. Effects of climate change include warming global temperature, retreat of glaciers, permafrost and sea ice in the Arctic and rising sea levels, amongst others. COP21 will aim to achieve a universal agreement on climate to reduce greenhouse emissions, an agreement that is legally binding for all countries and will enter into force in 2020. Only few developed countries have binding targets under the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol that will end in 2020.
Unfortunately, climate change has already had dramatic consequences especially to food production of countries in dry climate zones. A tragic example of this is the unusual drought that stroke Syria between 2006 and 2011. Syria lost 85% of its livestock. The famed fields of Halaby peppers withered away and more than a million rural villagers lost their farms to the drought so they crowded into overcrowded cities. In the cities the water problem became even more dire and growing unemployment led to protests and sustained uprisings. Even if this climate-stressed country recovers politically, Syria is on its path to lose nearly 50% more of its agricultural capacity by 2050. So, the current refugee crisis is a warning of the devastation that can occur when tenuous political situations combine with the stresses of climate change.
It’s important for all Christians to take responsibility and say something on this topic. When it comes to climate change, we are all tempted to say that these events are of such magnitude that are way beyond us and we have nothing to do with them. We often underestimate the risk factors in climate change because of their slow nature. We are evolved to respond more vigorously to changes and threats that are immediate. This attitude should be reevaluated. In a similar fashion, King David was heading to his downfall by seducing Bathsheba and killing Urias. That is the reason why Nathan the prophet had to make him realize: you are the man! You are the one whom the parable of the rich and poor is about! You are the person who can be taken to task! You are responsible for others!
If we don’t realize soon, that we have to change and initiate change with regards to our activities that effect our climate in a negative way, the increase of global temperature can be four degrees Celsius by the end of the century. This temperature will have unpredictable and catastrophic consequences for the upcoming generations.
God sends people like Nathan to us who challenge our perspective, and turn our view from our selfish interests towards the suffering life and needs of our brothers, so that we can look at them with compassion. God’s saving hand does not allow us to be limited by our half-truths and self-justifications, because these would isolate us and are the signs of death. You don’t have to die – said Nathan, you can live, you can be HUMAN!

Dr. Barbara Botos
Environmental policy maker, teacher of religious education
Translated by Kristóf Szabó