Whatever can I do?

Guest post by Green Christian member, Edward Gildea

We can no longer be unaware of the facts of the climate crisis: the never-ending news stories of fires, floods and disasters; the constant breaking of temperature records; the sequence of rain and storms that make roads impassable and scupper enjoyment of our gardens.

In the face of all this, many of us feel powerless. Far bigger forces are at work: powerful multi-national companies that hold the purse strings of political action; countries with populations and economies that dwarf our own. “Whatever I do, it will make no difference,” is a common refrain. But is it a Christian one?

China is indeed a massive economy, but the average Chinese citizen does not have the carbon footprint that most of us do. They are manufacturing the vast majority of our clothing, phones, car components and white goods for us.  However, they are far ahead of us in the manufacture of renewable technologies.

India is also a growing economy, keen to bring its people out of poverty and into some of the affluence that we enjoy. Of course they want to take the cheapest route to do that. Our moral duty must surely be to help them leap-frog fossil fuels to address poverty using clean energy.

Let’s be honest. Aren’t we just trying to continue life as normal when we claim to be a small and insignificant economy? We would all like to be exceptional. Some feel exceptional because they are so rich and powerful; others because they are so small and modest that “whatever we do will make no difference.”

In the end it has to be about integrity. Firstly, national integrity. We led the world into the Industrial Revolution, so surely we should be leading the transition to a new, healthy and harmonious world? We are already far behind many other nations in getting new technological concepts to market. If we actually took the lead in making the transition, we would be better placed when fossil fuels become part of our history.

And then personal integrity. Perhaps Gandhi’s greatest saying was, “be the change you want to see in the world,” or more accurately: “We but mirror the world. If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him.”

The challenge is to avoid being selfishly selective about the changes we make. I’m afraid I know quite a few people who can’t resist flying regularly to exotic locations but explain how assiduous they are in their recycling habits. I’m afraid that just won’t cut the mustard!

In the end our duty is quite simple:  for each of us to acknowledge our carbon footprint and then to take responsibility for it.

See our Nine ways to live gently on the earth

Edward Gildea writes magazine articles for his local church, St Mary’s, Saffron Walden in north west Essex, each month. He has kindly given permission to anyone to re-edit for your own parish newsletters. Please credit him and his church website.



Author: Ruth Jarman | Date: 25 February, 2024 | Category: Climate Emergency Opinion | Comments: 0

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