Thought of the week, 12th November; Beyond the road to Hell

The secretary-general of the UN has recently spoken bluntly about our progress to limit the effects of climate change to an increase of “just” 1.5C. We are not remotely on track for that; realistically the climate is likely to increase by twice that amount; as he put it, we are firmly on a road to hell. Many years ago, when global warming was just appearing on the agenda, an acquaintance of mine, a professional geologist, wrote about how this could turn into another “geological” event like the ice ages or the events that led to the extinction of the dinosaurs; the planet would survive, but it would become a different place which would just have to adjust to. A number of individuals and groups are now thinking about just what that could mean. Perhaps it will not happen; I certainly do not think the worse-case scenario is certain, but I would agree it is a scenario we now need to think about.

Religious faith helps us to think about the unthinkable; we are called to consider hard questions of life and death, hope and despair. Thus religious leaders should be able to contribute to this debate. The story of the Bible is, at least in part, about finding hope and life in the face of setbacks and disasters. It is not that God will magically remove all difficulties; in the current case that there will be a miraculous reset of global carbon dioxide levels. God gives us freedom to make our own choices, for good or ill. Instead, our faith is based on “God with us”, that whatever problems we may cause for ourselves, through accident of nature or our own stupidity, God will always be with us (yes, I know I said this last week as well, but some truths bear repeating…). If we do end up at the far end of the road to climate hell, in the worse-case scenario, God will still be with us. That is the ground for our hope.