As my family ran full pelt from the rain into the church entrance we almost tripped on a small mountain of streaming umbrellas on the floor.
A greeter handed us a bulging welcome pack – we were summer visitors. ‘Nasty outside but we can’t complain!’ she said cheerily. ‘Haven’t we had the loveliest hot weather this year?’
Lovely hot weather indeed. Between 22nd June and 7th August, the British Isles experienced temperatures consistently and significantly above seasonal averages. This has enabled unusually confident planning of barbeques, picnics, and outdoor wedding receptions.
In addition to increased alfresco dining opportunities, however, the heat also gave rise to drought, crop failures, and wild-fires. The whole Northern Hemisphere roasted in the blazing sun this year and most of the consequences have been on the catastrophic rather than the pleasant end of the spectrum.
The scientific community has reached a consensus that our profligate use of fossil fuels has led to a change in global climate patterns. The many implications include more frequent flooding and drought, melting icecaps and rising sea-levels, and the loss of bio-diversity and viable wildlife habitat.
Heat lovers like me may have derived guilty pleasure from the UK’s latest extreme weather event, but the outlook is bleak overall and in quiet moments we can wonder if there is any hope for our planet. What can I do? I am just one person.
The ultimate hope of the Canadian climate scientist, Katherine Hayhoe, rests on a loving creator God. But she is not sitting back waiting for the Second Coming; she’s working to turn around a disaster of our own making. And the first thing she says we can all do is to talk:
‘Talk about why it matters. What do I care about passionately that is being affected by a changing climate? Does it relate to my kids?… Does it relate to the economy or national security or the place that I live? Let’s talk about what it means to us and then let’s also talk about solutions.’
Climate change is already hurting the world and particularly the world’s poor, and it’s scary. Let’s talk and grieve and pray, and let’s find ways to mitigate its impact. For Christians, a great place for ideas is climatestewards.org.
Jo is an author, speaker, and Director of Church Communications at CPO. She lives in Bath with her vicar husband and two daughters, and blogs at joswinney.com.