Article by Cam Phillips

“Climate change is affecting us all, and is especially impacting our Indigenous brothers and sisters here in North America and in most of the global south.”

These were just some of the challenging words spoke by Dr. Katharine Hayhoe spoke in her recent address at Tyndale University College and A Rocha Canada’s A Climate for Change event.

Keynote Presentation

Katharine Hayhoe, an award-winning evangelical Christian climate scientist, spoke with pure conviction on the science of climate change and the implications of her Christian faith. She argued that we need our faith to guide us in how we respond to the perils of climate change. “As Christians” she remarked, “we have the opportunity to speak and act in truth and love. We don’t have to live in fear and doubt. We have the duty to love our Lord’s earth and to love our neighbours as ourselves”.

Dr. Hayhoe also shared about her experiences at COP21 in Paris, France. A important theme of these climate meetings was that climate change is already a huge problem for so many nations around the world. It isn’t just a hypothetical, far-off threat. 195 nations were represented at COP21, and many of these countries are currently facing the effects of climate change. Loss of crop yields, increased floodings, the faster spread of disease; these are just some of the dangerous effects of climate change that the global south is facing. Our neighbours are losing their homes and their lives. Creation is suffering under climate change.

Yet, Hayhoe remained optimistic about the historic outcome of COP21. Among the goals agreed upon was a long-term temperature goal for the world and net zero greenhouse gas emissions by the end of the century. You can read more about the outcomes in this post from one the organizers of the Climate Witness Project, Kyle Meyaard-Schaap.

Panel Response

Her talk was followed by a response panel facilitated by Context’s Lorna Dueck featured Dr. Terry Leblanc, CEO and Director of My People International and the North American Institute for Indigenous Theological Studies (NAIITS); David Wells, General Superintendent of the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada; and Gord King, Resource Specialist for the Canadian Baptist Ministries.

One of the most notable responses came from Dr.Terry LeBlanc. LeBlanc, who specializes in connecting Indigenous thought and culture with Christianity, advised the audience to think differently about their place in God’s world:

“We need to stop being so anthropocentric. We are not outside of creation. We are actually part of it. If you’re not a part of God’s creation, well then what the heck are you?”

LeBlanc also went on to talk about how our Western thought does not see the spirit of God working in creation: “We tend to view creation without any part of God working in it, where in fact the scriptures refer to the earth literally crying out in birth pains (see Romans 8).”

All the earth is sacred, and it is the duty of every Christian to tend to the earth and to see to the flourishing of ALL creation.

So, how should Christians respond?

First, get to know your place and learn to love it. Conservation organizations like A Rocha offer incredible resources to help Christians care for creation in a tangible and practical way.

Second, listen. In order to understand the danger that our neighbours are facing from climate change, we must listen to their voices. One notable video and small group study resource from the Office of Social Justice and World Renew is Climate Conversation: Kenya.

Third, make change. Calculate your carbon footprint. Investigate alternative energy sources. Take public transit. Consume less, recycle more.

Fourth, contact your local MP or Member of Congress to support faithful action on climate change. Your voice matters in speaking up about global climate action.

Fifth, pray. Citizens for Public Justice has a large library of prayer material for faithful action on climate change. Use these resources on your own, in a small group, or in your congregation. Pray for faithful political leadership, and pray that we as the church may continue to grow in our duty to steward creation.

*Audio recordings of the evening can be found here