Posts Tagged ‘Global Warming’

The Warmest Year On Record

Thursday, January 10th, 2013

2012 was the warmest year on record in the United States.  The record was not fractional but by a full degree.  That warming carries with it consequences.  In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, Mayor Michael Bloomberg established several commissions to create plans for dealing with future weather emergencies in the New York City area.  Several reports were issued this past week.  A recent New York Times article summarized it as follows:

The commission’s new report foresees a nasty future: more frequent floods, storm surges, heat waves and droughts. It outlines hazards all over the state, including oil storage tanks in the flood plain in Binghamton. It also calls for hardening the power system by generating electricity in diverse locations, in networks that would ordinarily be integrated into the power grid but that could stand alone as islands in the dark in case of widespread breakdowns. And it addresses the need for improving gasoline and diesel distribution in the absence of electricity.

“Climate change is dramatically increasing the frequency and the severity of these situations,” the governor said last week. “As time goes on, we’re more and more realizing that these crises are more frequent and worse than anyone had predicted.”

This is big.  Climate change is not an issue many, including myself, feel comfortable addressing.  That was no more apparent than in the Presidential debated in which not one question regarding the environment was posed to the candidates.  Combine facts and figures around environmental change with facts and figures around a Federal budget that in future years will have less and less money available for addressing climate change given the political realities of entitlement programs, and you have a pretty sobering situation.

I think these are the realities churches of the future like NewChurch LIVE will be born into.  We are entering/ have entered a time of great disruption.  While admittedly much of the disruption is frankly terrifying there also needs to be a quiet acknowledgment that such times may actually aid churches and other spiritual centers to reclaim their missions of service in a way not possible in a time of overwhelming affluence, an affluence that at times chokes out the entire concept of spiritual need as we  find ourselves awash in “stuff.”  As Walter Brueggemen frequently notes, the greatest danger to faith is satiation.

And that “looking” created by disruption is not all doom and gloom.  Some of it may actually be fun as paradigms shift and we rediscover simplicity.  Take a look … and smile!

Two Minute Sunday Sermon: Silences that are hard to break

Sunday, September 23rd, 2012

Ice Sheets Melting

Friday, September 21st, 2012

Data around the melting of Arctic ice is profoundly unsettling.  The summer’s low dipped to an ice coverage of the Arctic ocean of 24%.  In the 1970′s that number was around 50%.  This will have profound effects on the earth’s climate given, that as one scientist noted, “The Artic is the earth’s air  conditioner.”

As a pastor, there are areas where we are called to draw attention.  Taking care of the planet, sustainability, is a spiritual concept.  We are driven in our culture but an unquestioned bias toward “more”, at times driven, at least in my life,  by what New Church theology tags as self-centeredness and materialism.   It is much easier for all of us to indulge these more crass loves rather than fight them.  Important to note, the cultural systems within which we live will not call us to task.  Case in point – there appears to be great effort going towards exploiting now accessible resources in the Arctic as well as using now open sea channels.  A recent article in the New York times noted, “Some scientists think the Arctic Ocean could be largely free of summer ice as soon as 2020. But governments have not responded to the change with any greater urgency about limiting greenhouse emissions. To the contrary, their main response has been to plan of exploitation of newly accessible minerals in the Arctic, including drilling for more oil.”  I am frankly left unsure what to say.

As spiritual people, there is need to as best we can shake off the narcotizing effects of our own short term economic interests and speak with hope for a new world, for a change in systems in which the rush is towards things far different than exploitation.

What Matters, What Lasts, What Is

Tuesday, December 6th, 2011

I was stunned yesterday by reading an article in the New York Times that stated that the our emissions of global warming gasses increased at the greatest amount ever noted in 2010 – climbing by 5.9% over 2009.

Mentioning “Global Warming” in any context is problematic as it seems to instantly engender a debate.  And yet, to be frank, as a die hard moderate who sees both sides of most things, it appears, to my reading that the overwhelming evidence points to dramatic and dark consequences.  Simple logic, for me, follows thus – if I run my car in my garage I endanger my family.   Therefore it stands to reason dangerous gasses put into the atmosphere, are, well, dangerous.

What saddens me is how little attention the issue receives.  Joblessness, European Debt Crisis, Terrorism – those are the biggies.

I think faith gives us that consistent call to consider what matters, what lasts, and what is.  In the fervor to create jobs, to solve all manner of economic problems so economies can continue to grow and living standards expand we often miss a deeper conversation.   I really don’t know of another vehicle that will call us to that deeper conversation than faith.  My hope is that a more settled conversation at least starts soon.  Maybe we will even be part of it.

That conversation would hopefully look to how to bring God’s kingdom to earth, a kingdom of grace, care, and compassion.  And there are parts – costs if you will – to having that conversation.  The “costs” grow when we expand the conversation to the earth because that conversation will bring into question some long held sacred assumptions we have made about how society is organized.  It is a conversation demanding the best of the American entrepreneurial spirit but now applied not in the consumption of resources but the in the growth of deeper resources with which to address more lasting problems – problems that in the the long run matter.   The battle of Global Warming will need to be addressed by the best of science, the best of industry, the best of government, the best of faith … the best of us.  Of course we won’t “want” to do it … and maybe that is part of the point as well.