The issue of climate change has made major headlines in recent months. Swedish activist Greta Thunberg’s school strike for climate movement inspired millions around the world, giving the 16-year-old a powerful platform from which to address the world’s top politicians.
At the beginning of May, the UK officially declared a “climate change emergency”, and it appears as though other nations may soon follow suit. The announcement followed the arrests of nearly 300 climate change activists in central London during the Extinction Rebellion protest. Campaigners caused as much disruption as possible in order to elicit a response from the government.
So what is climate change?
The average temperature of our planet has fluctuated over the years; however, geologists claim that the current period of warming is taking place at a much more rapid rate than ever before. The concern is that natural variability has been replaced with human-induced warming, which is causing irreversible damage to our planet.
According to the IUCN Red List, one in four species are now at risk of extinction due to habitat loss, climate change and pollution. Rainforests are being destroyed, resulting in a devastating loss of biodiversity. Research from IPBES suggests that 3.2 billion people are affected by land degradation caused by human activities, and that this is pushing the planet toward a “sixth mass extinction”.
What does the Bible say about this?
The Bible tells us that God created the earth and everything in it, and that he sustains and interacts with his amazing creation. He is deeply concerned with the welfare of the world and those who inhabit it.
Colossians 1:16-17 says: “For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible… all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”
Nehemiah 9:6 says: “…You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you.”
Job 12:7-10 says: “But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds of the air, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish of the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.”
Psalm 104:25-30 says: “There is the sea, vast and spacious, teeming with creatures beyond number—living things both large and small… When you open your hand, they are satisfied with good things… When you take away their breath, they die and return to the dust… When you send your Spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the earth.”
In Matthew 6:26, Jesus himself says: “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”
So if God protects the environment, why should we be concerned about climate change?
God is intimately involved with his creation, but humans – made in his image – were tasked with ruling over and protecting it right from the beginning. The earth was created to bring God glory, but instead we have defiled and abused it. The Bible says that there will be consequences – both physically and spiritually – for those who contribute to its destruction.
Jeremiah 2:7 says: “I brought you into a fertile land to eat its fruit and rich produce. But you came and defiled my land and made my inheritance detestable.”
Isaiah 24:4-6 says: “The earth dries up and withers, the world languishes and withers, the exalted of the earth languish. The earth is defiled by its people… Therefore a curse consumes the earth; its people must bear their guilt…”
Perhaps most worryingly of all, Revelation 11:18 speaks of destroying those who do not take care of God’s creation: “The nations were angry; and your wrath has come. The time has come for judging the dead… for destroying those who destroy the earth.”
In light of this, let’s do everything we can to preserve, celebrate and enjoy all that God has made!