Small changes

The parable of the Snowflake. I promise we will come back to the Mustard Seed but for now, The Snowflake. It goes like this:

‘Please tell me the weight of a snowflake’, the Fieldmouse asked the Dove. ‘Well’, said the Dove, ‘I would guess that it weighs about nothing more than nothing’. ‘Hmm. Then I have seen a miracle’, said the Fieldmouse. ‘I was sitting here yesterday when the snow was falling and I counted the flakes as they landed on the branch of the tree. There were exactly 1,374,921. And then one more snowflake fell – nothing more than nothing, you tell me – and the branch of the tree snapped off and fell to the ground.’

Small things really can make a big difference.

It is a real pleasure to be here with you this morning as you focus your Eucharist on how we might live out our lives as Christians in the midst of both Climate and Biodiversity Emergencies. This is, without doubt, the biggest challenge that humankind has ever faced. I don’t wish to diminish in any way the real difficulties and enormous sadness that Covid has thrown in our direction, BUT unless we collectively get our act together pretty soon Climate change will make Covid seem like a very small problem.

I’m sure you are well aware of the issues. They have, thankfully, been very much in the news recently as COP26 gets closer – that crucial Climate change Summit taking place in Glasgow in November. (By the way, thank you to those of you who provided refreshments for the Young Christian Climate Network walkers as they passed through Whitkirk last week.)

Here is just a quick reminder of some of the issues that COP 26 has to deal with:

  • As we have so far failed to control emission of global warming gases like Co2 and methane, the earth is continuing to heat up at an alarming rate. It is already 1.2 degrees hotter than in pre-industrial times, and present data suggests we are heading for an average rise of 3.5 to 4 degrees. That doesn’t sound too bad, until we remind ourselves that global warming leads to dramatic changes in climate. One climate scientist estimates that unless we act, a third of the world’s population – 3 billion people – could be living in desert by the end of this century.
  • As deserts expand there will be more famine AND as parts of the world become less and less habitable, there will be mass migration of people across the globe, seeking out the ever-shrinking environments that will support life.
  • Global warming means that ice is melting rapidly in polar regions and sea levels are rising. Our most vulnerable sisters and brothers are already suffering, in Bangladesh for example, with increased flooding of coastal areas and river basins. I read recently that one very well respected climate scientist has suggested we may need to relocate our capital city to somewhere other than London as that could disappear if rising sea levels are not  dealt with.
  • And then there are the rainforests – sometimes described as the lungs of planet earth. We continue to chop them down, mostly to graze cattle, or to grow crops to feed to intensively reared animals, or to grow palm oil. And as we chop those precious trees down, we displace indigenous people, we release more global warming gasses into the air, and we destroy the biodiversity on which we depend. WWF research suggests that about 10,000 species a year become extinct, and they are confident that this massive rate is not one of the natural extinctions that have happened from time to time in earth history, but that this is being driven by human activity – by our activity. 

I truly haven’t come here this morning to fill you with gloom and doom. BUT we do need to face the truth of climate change head on. Because only then will we stir ourselves to the action that is needed. And our Christian Faith gives us a million and one reasons to get stuck in to the task of caring for creation. (I won’t mention them all!)

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