By Nicholas Holtam, Bishop of Salisbury
In each Deanery I am asking, ‘What has renewed your hope in recent weeks?’ Full churches at Christmas, more children and young families, and good community care are often mentioned, and everywhere, a difficult issue faced honestly and well has renewed people’s hope.
Climate Change is a problem we find difficult to face well. Scientists are 95% certain that human activity, especially fossil fuels, is the main cause of current global warming. As CO2 increases, temperature rises. The rate of increase has slowed, but the century began with fourteen of the fifteen hottest years ever. Over the last 50 years, warmer oceans have led humidity to increase by 4%, and so to more intense floods and storms. This matters to us, but still more to the world’s poorest, such as the Pacific islanders and Bangladeshis most affected by rising sea level.
We are making more progress on renewable energy and energy efficiency than was thought possible. My Skoda Greenline does an impressive 60 mpg. The new hybrid BMW claims 124 mpg. At the same time, 1,200 coal fired power stations are planned in our world, mostly in China and India, chasing the dream of growth through consumption.
It makes no sense. Science, economics and politics all point the same way, but we lack global agreement on the way forward. This is a spiritual problem as much as a political one. What sort of world do we live in and what sort of people would God have us be?
One way to renew hope this Lent is a Carbon Fast. The Bishop of Ramsbury is giving up his car for Lent. Some Christians fast and pray about climate change on the first day of every month. We can all do something to shrink our personal carbon footprint at home, work and church. Facing climate change well in Lent will renew hope.