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  • Writer's pictureIan Wells

People of faith - no need for us to sleep walk into a climate crisis

Updated: Mar 18, 2020

Here are some ideas for discussion groups in your church about climate change.

Addressing the climate crisis is provably the biggest challenge in human history, because the effect is global, irreversible, on a timeline, and really really hard. Any "solution" is so different than any other problem our species has overcome. Solving this crisis requires more than science, more than politics, more than faith alone.

But our faith does provide ways of getting started and contributing. Living a life of faith is a way many of us aspire us to live better. Live better means contributing everything we have to future generations and disadvantaged people everywhere, who will be impacted by the climate crisis. Science and faith coexist.

So here is a list of discussion points. I am a Christian so this list is based on my experience but I would hope could be applied to any religion.

These are topics that people of faith could use to seed discussions about climate crisis.

  1. Look for lessons from history and start creating new narratives. Although humans have never encountered such a massive problem as climate crisis, there are lessons from history how Christians and others approached similar issues ( abolution of slavery, peaceful end to cold war) that can help us create a much needed narrative for today.

  2. Jesus told parables to help see the new way forward. Write down new parables and narratives for today's situation.

  3. Jesus was born into a world with completely different values than he brought. Today we are in a world that requires different environmental values than our current economic and energy system relies on. Discuss how Jesus approached arriving in a world with different values, and what we can learn from his approach as we come to grips with the reality of the values of the climate/environmental crises.

  4. Christian faith aspires us to be better people and we aspire to apply Christian values such as forgiveness and do onto others as you would have them do unto you. How can we as Christians apply our understanding and experience to others addressing climate problems? I recommend A good reference is christian ( and canadian! Katherine Hayhoe

  5. The climate crisis can be depressing to hold onto, once you understand from science what is happening to the planet. Depression can lead to non-action which is one way to guarantee that the problems will not be solve. Start learning how our human brains work and why our feelings for this particular problem are influenced by the biology of our brains. Two good references, Thinking fast and thinking slow and Why our brains are wired to ignore climate change Both references are helpful in gaining perspective on our current situation.

  6. Discuss how to transition to a sustainable economy and world. Create models for a sustainable and JUST world. This podcast is a great starting point for a discussion How as Christians can we support a JUST transition? What do we do now so the people hit hardest are included (for example, our miners, our farmers)

  7. Hope - how do provide hope for us all as we confront the reality of the data from our scientists and computers? How do we support each other so we do not give up in despair or just ignore this, when it is so essential to act?  How have others done this? What does Jesus teach us in such a situation? 

  8. Faith and tech and science and caring and power. What is the role, opportunities and dangers of each as we build this sustainable future?

  9. Big History.  What has been helpful to me understanding where we are is learning the big history of humans. Reeducating myself on the big history, instead of my High School, history was critical to me understanding where we stand in history at this point of time and what needs to be done. References: Big history project.  End of the world with Josh Clark Food for thought. 

  10. Climate crisis and the arts and faith. What hymns, songs, art work, help us transcend the words of climate change? Here are some examples.

  11. Practical first steps anyone can take to start our personal transitional to a sustainable future. Easiest and cheapest for those living in a democracy is to vote - vote for politicians who understand and are willing to act on climate issues now. another obvious and practical step is to replace as many car trips as possible with bicycling. Cycling has many follow on and substantial Christian Related effects such as improved health, decreased obesity, decreased congestion and less  tax spending on roads, increased chances to connect with strangers, more chances to notice environment, more contemplative time to yourself, saving money, reduced carbon emissions, reduced pollution p, etc

  12. With such an uncertain future, how do parents direct our kids education and christian skills to prepare for a sustainable, changing future?  Suggestions are peace making, non-violent conflict resolution, systems thinking, information processing, critical thinking, ethical living, caring for others.

  13. Many religions in the world have the concept of caring for our  planet. What can we learn From other faiths and how can e we cooperate with people of other faiths on environment? 

  14. Study the Popes encyclical caring for God's creation. We studied this in our home group several years ago and it opened our eyes to how caring for our planetary home is a Christian ideal.

  15. Whereas number 11 deals with personal actions, personal actions alone are not sufficient for the changes required to stop carbon buildup. Discuss actions your wider church can take to impact systematic changes, such as economy, consumerism, capitalism, and jobs 

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