“My country’s skies are bluer than the ocean, and sunlight beams on clover leaf and pine…”
sung to the tune of Finlandia. This was the finale to our magnificent Autumn concert at a packed-out St John’s church, arranged by Pam, our music director, and Graham, one of our organists. Under Pam’s gentle cajoling, our collection of amateur singers (such as me) did justice to Graham’s score. Jane accompanied splendidly on the piano, with the woodwind and a violin providing the introduction before adding panache to the final crescendo.
We’ve had a dream Autumn from Yorkshire Water’s perspective. But interspersed with the deluges have been mellow days and blue skies, in which the sunlight has beautifully highlighted the leaves on our forest walks.
Sometimes I wonder for how long we’ll be enjoying nature as we know it. Will our grandchildren, as adults, know the landscape and gardens that we love, or will they inhabit a hostile world characterised by unrelenting cycles of storms, heatwaves and droughts? Can we imagine a U.K population swollen to 150 million as climate change refugees pour onto our shores?
I’m afraid COP27 did not offer the bold new initiatives and pledges of climate action that we’d have wished for. Our target to limit the global temperature rise to 1.5 degC has all but slipped away. We’re currently on course to restrict it to 2.5 degC but only if the pledges made last year at COP26 are met in full. What went wrong? It didn’t help that the fossil fuel industry was out in force. Why was this allowed? As someone pointedly asked, “If you’re holding a conference to eradicate malaria, why invite the mosquitos?”
The lobbyists are seeking to open up Africa’s vast reserves of gas, billed as a ‘transition fuel’. The African nations, with their eyes on foreign exchange gained from European states deprived of Russian gas, are angrily resisting being ‘preached to’ by the climate lobby. Many of their citizens however, disagree, and are desperate for action rather than mere talk about change. As Collins Lungu, a climate activist from Zambia put it, ‘If your house is burning you don’t plan how to put the fire out, you just put the fire out.’ Instead of selling gas, Africa could generate huge amounts of solar energy, which could easily meet the continent’s own requirements with potential to export.
My sister Emily told me she admired, but didn’t share, the optimism of my previous post, ‘COP27 – the Eleventh Hour?’ I have to admit, I’d naively thought the many climate disasters of 2022 would have acted as a global wake-up call. Are we still asleep, or is it that our politicians are punch-drunk dealing with wars, cost-of-living crises, and – in our own case – our leadership pantomime show? No, optimism was not an output of COP27.
So, didn’t anything positive come out of COP27? Sarah Wiggins was Tearfund’s leader at the conference. She reported back that, amongst those in the ‘fringe’ area, there was an unprecedented sense of togetherness. Indigenous groups, young people, campaigning organisations, all found themselves forged into a common identity that was truly empowering.
Tearfund themselves had organised an ‘Overdue Bill’ demonstration, calling on rich nations to make good on their promise to deliver in full an annual fund of $100 billion to finance sustainable development. One wealthy country negotiator took a photo of their messages and said to Sarah, with real conviction in her eyes: ‘This is really important what you’re doing, really important.’ Sarah believes campaigners and their supporters create space for negotiators who care, to influence outcomes. And it was due to pressure such as this that the one real achievement of COP27 emerged. An agreement was reached to create the ‘Loss and Damage’ fund that will enable climate-ravaged nations to recover from catastrophes caused by climate change and to build back with resilience (see *).
The Mayor of Bristol, Marvin Rees, is truly a ‘man for our times’. He attended COP27 as a Tearfund Ambassador. In a conversation with Sarah Wiggins, he explained,
“I’ve always talked about hope rather than optimism… Hope grapples with suffering… We don’t despise our suffering. ‘Suffering produces perseverance, perseverance character and character hope, and hope doesn’t disappoint.’ (Romans 5 vs 3-5)”
The world my grandchildren stand to inherit as adults will be much more difficult to live in. So, why doesn’t hope disappoint us? To continue the verses quoted above, ‘… because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.’
God’s busy! The future world will have heroes to match the hour, and I pray that my grandchildren will be amongst them. People won’t stop living, loving, hoping, creating beauty, inventing to solve problems. God will continue building his kingdom through men and women finding faith in Jesus. By faith they will overcome despair and carry out remarkable deeds of courage and compassion, in anticipation of the day when heaven and earth are transformed into his New Creation.
(*) For Tearfund’s article, click this link.
3 thoughts on “Too late for Planet Earth?”
Thank you. There is certainly no room for. Any optimism about the future, I think our government knows that and is ignoring the issue hoping it will go away. Our only hope is in God and that will never be disappointed, but we have to listen to him.l
Well put, John
Thanks Sue and Shirley for your responses. How we need prophetic voices in parliament, in the church and in all walks of life, in this challenging time!