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October 23, 2018

Urgency of Action – Ruth Ivory-Moore

The earth is the LORD’s and all that is in it,
the world, and those who live in it; (Psalm 24:1)

“The world in which we live is a rich tapestry of intersecting, linking elements. The ecosystems, the flora and the fauna, the people and creatures of the earth are all woven together to create God’s beautiful web that we know as creation. When one part of the web is disturbed, moved, modified, or changed, other elements are affected, too.” (ELCA World Hunger Toolkit) The world we live in urgently needs our attention and action. We must curb and stop the effects of global warming resulting from the accumulation of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere. As a people and as stewards of all of creation, humanity has neglected the impact that our quest for prosperity has had on all that exists in our environment on this planet earth.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued its report on climate change earlier this month. It sounded an alarm on the urgency and impact of environmental degradation caused by climate change. The IPCC states, “In order to limit warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, the world would need to transform in a number of complex and connected ways. While transitions towards lower greenhouse gas emissions are underway in some cities, regions, countries, businesses and communities, there are few that are currently consistent with limiting warming to 1.5°C. Meeting this challenge would require a rapid escalation in the current scale and pace of change, particularly in the coming decades.”

The research behind the IPCC report confirms what the global community is experiencing. The world is experiencing increased frequency and intensity of severe weather patterns, droughts, floods wildfires; and sea level rise that lead to lingering heart-wrenching situations. For example, Ruth Spencer (National Coordinator – Antigua) wrote to me describing the plight of her country. Ruth writes:

“Sept 5th marked one year since hurricane Irma and even though the children returned to Barbuda to go to school, the primary school children are still at home for, their school building not yet repaired…The livestock farmers have appealed to me for help, the sea level rise has brought salt on the land and it cannot grow fodder and crops for the animals, so they are left to roam in the village. No bank is operational on the island… The women have no food or nutritional security…The issues of land degradation and biodiversity loss is so high, impacting pollinators and our native species with alien invasive species rampant in the highland…”

Her email goes on further with each word becoming more and more painful to read and comprehend.

Unfortunately, we are approaching a time in history where this Antigua narrative is no longer atypical. We are in a desperate fight for the survival of our planet and all its inhabitants. Earth is our home, but we are inadvertently  destroying it.

It is crucial that we eliminate and go beyond any factors that deter humanity from reaching out and welcoming all to the table to discuss, devise and implement solutions that will stem and curtail global warming. We can take a lesson from Nehemiah 4. When those repairing the walls in Jerusalem became aware of the anger of their enemies and the plot to destroy their work; they first prayed. Then Nehemiah expressed confidence in God and then put a plan into action.  “From that day on, half of my servants worked on construction, and half held the spears, shields, bows, and body-armor; and the leaders posted themselves behind the whole house of Judah…” (Nehemiah 4:16). The people worked together to complete the wall: some as builders, the others as protectors—guards.

It is incumbent upon us to value prayer for guidance and for wisdom. We must find ways to work together with all our global neighbors. We must reach across political, sectoral, and functional lines. There is no place for ethnicity biases.  We are compelled to  comprehend our commonalities in addition to valuing the worth and dignity of all life – for all of creation is interlinked.

Ruth Ivory-Moore is the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s Program Director for Environment and Energy. She has had careers in chemical engineering as a corporate legal counsel, and brings legal specialties including environmental law and climate change.

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