When did you know? And what did you do?

A Christian response to climate change begins with reclaiming the intimate connection humans once had with creation through simple practices such as gardening, animal husbandry, composting, harvesting rainwater, birdwatching, spending more time in nature, and learning more about the indigenous peoples who came before us. These are just a few of the countless ways that we can delight in the natural resources of the earth and reclaim our kinship with creation. But it also requires a commitment to kenosis, or self-giving, through personal lifestyle changes that will benefit creation.  If you feel called to make personal lifestyle changes in response to the issue of climate change, these four simple recommendations can have the greatest impact:

  • Replace the regular incandescent light bulbs in your home with compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs). CFL’s use 60 percent less energy than a regular bulb. This simple switch will save about 300 pounds of carbon dioxide a year, per bulb – that’s like your weight and my weight together. 
  • Plant a tree. A single tree will absorb one ton of carbon dioxide over its lifetime. Assuming its lifetime will exceed your own, that tree will also be a gift to the generation that follows you.
  • Moderate your red meat consumption. Methane is the second most significant greenhouse gas, and cows are one of the greatest methane emitters. Their grassy diet and multiple stomachs cause them to produce methane, which they exhale with every breath.
  • Reduce the number of miles you drive by walking, biking, carpooling, or taking mass transit whenever possible. Reducing your weekly driving by just 10 miles would eliminate about five hundred pounds of carbon dioxide emissions a year.

We stand at the edge of two worlds – the world that God created, and the world that is imperiled by our abuse of it. If you look at the science and still do not know what or whom to believe; or if the problem seems so big that you do not know where to begin, perhaps you can start my imagining some future conversations with your children, or your grandchildren, in which they ask you two simple questions:
When did you know? And what did you do?

– From “A House Divided: Engaging the Issues through the Politics of Compassion” by Mark Feldmeir – Chalice Press