Change is ev­ery­where

The Covington News - - Opinion -

Chang­ing Amer­i­can cul­ture is not an easy task— nor­mally we only change out of pure ne­ces­sity. If his­tory has taught us any­thing, it is that we are not crea­tures of change.

We have to see to be­lieve and even then we’re skep­ti­cal of what we’re told.

The thought of cli­mate change or global warm­ing hav­ing a neg­a­tive im­pact on the world is as for­eign to some as the science that proves it. So how do we change the per­cep­tion of cli­mate change, and, more im­por­tantly, how do we change our life­styles to work to­ward re­vers­ing cli­mate change and liv­ing with the con­se­quences of decades of con­sump­tion and abuse of the en­vi­ron­ment?

As far back as el­e­men­tary school, I can re­mem­ber talks of a hole in the ozone layer caused by the re­lease of CFCs (chlo­roflu­o­ro­car­bons) from aerosols and other house­hold and in­dus­trial items.

If we knew then that there was an al­most cer­tain like­li­hood that hu­mans were ad­versely af­fect­ing the en­vi­ron­ment, why were pol­i­cy­mak­ers not work­ing to­ward so­lu­tions as early as 20 years ago?

Prob­a­bly be­cause we as a so­ci­ety liked to look at con­ser­va­tion­ist and other en­vi­ron­men­tal­ist as ex­trem­ist, giv­ing them cute lit­tle nick­names like tree hug­gers. Who’s laugh­ing now?

The sad story is now— be­cause for so long we as a peo­ple have ig­nored signs and re­lied too heav­ily on our gov­ern­men­tal of­fi­cials to tell us what to do, we’ll all have to make sac­ri­fices be­cause of the ex­ces­sive liv­ing that has es­ca­lated in our coun­try.

We’re a na­tion that likes to buy things— lots of things— and the big­ger the bet­ter. The more we have the bet­ter we are and the higher up the totem pole we are. It’s like the el­e­men­tary school play­ground — the kid with the coolest toys is king of the hill. Where does it end? Prob­a­bly with a world in dis­tress and cat­a­strophic cli­mate re­lated events— most likely to in­clude mass mi­gra­tion of peo­ples in var­i­ous low-ly­ing ter­rains.

An awak­en­ing, how­ever, is hap­pen­ing all over the world it seems, and, at long last, we’re tak­ing no­tice and talk­ing about cli­mate change as real prob­lem not a plot cooked up in a fu­tur­is­tic science fiction novel. Re­li­gious or­ga­ni­za­tions along with sci­en­tist are form­ing groups to re­duce hu­man green­house emis­sions and ef­fect change in pol­icy mak­ing on the gov­ern­men­tal level. And, yes, it seems the sci­en­tific and re­li­gious com­mu­nity might fi­nally have found some com­mon ground.

Even some of the most con­ser­va­tive re­li­gious groups in the coun­try are shift­ing their stance on cli­mate change and hu­man im­pact on the en­vi­ron­ment in light of cur­rent sci­en­tific data in­volv­ing not only global warm­ing, but the melt­ing of the ice shelf and the higher oc­cur­rence of ex­treme weather events.

The South­ern Bap­tist Con­ven­tion, in June 2007, is­sued a res­o­lu­tion on global warm­ing say­ing, “[we] urge South­ern Bap­tists to pro­ceed cau­tiously in the hu­manin­duced global warm­ing de­bate in light of con­flict­ing sci­en­tific re­search; and be it fur­ther re­solved that we con­sider pro­pos­als to reg­u­late CO2 and other green­house gas emis­sions based on a max­i­mum ac­cept­able global tem­per­a­ture goal to be very dan­ger­ous, since at­tempts to meet the goal could lead to a suc­ces­sion of man­dates of deeper cuts in emis­sions, which may have no ap­pre­cia­ble ef­fect if hu­mans are not the prin­ci­pal cause of global warm­ing, and could lead to ma­jor eco­nomic hard­ships on a world­wide scale.”

In March of this year, the SBC re­leased a new stance on global warm­ing, call­ing for more ac­tion from its mil­lions of con­gre­gants and from its thou­sands of pas­tors.

Ac­cord­ing to a New York Times story pub­lished March 10, 44 SBC lead­ers backed the dec­la­ra­tion in­clud­ing the cur­rent SBC Pres­i­dent the Rev. Frank Page and two for­mer pres­i­dents, the Rev. Jack Gra­ham and the Rev. James Mer­ritt.

The new dec­la­ra­tion states in part, “We be­lieve our cur­rent de­nom­i­na­tional en­gage­ment with this is­sues has of­ten been too timid, fail­ing to pro­duce a uni­fied moral voice… Our cau­tious re­sponse to th­ese is­sues in the face of mount­ing ev­i­dence may be seen by the world as un­car­ing, reck­less and illinformed.”

More and more re­li­gious groups have got­ten in­volved in a green move­ment around the world cit­ing a man­date from God to be bet­ter stew­ards of the en­vi­ron­ment. Though many tie no par­tic­u­lar scrip­ture to an al­lu­sion of global warm­ing, Bib­li­cal ver­sus per­tain­ing to stew­ard­ship ring true for those search­ing for an­swers in the Bi­ble.

Whether through science or re­li­gion, the United States has to find a new way of liv­ing— one with a greater sense of com­mu­nity (in that we live life with re­gard to how our ac­tions will af­fect our neigh­bor).

Acul­tural shift from suc­cess tied to con­sump­tion to suc­cess tied to the legacy we leave be­hind needs to hap­pen, not a legacy of an ail­ing en­vi­ron­ment and a de­pleted store of nat­u­ral re­sources but a legacy of en­vi­ron­men­tal stew­ard­ship and a com­mit­ment to the bet­ter­ment of the hu­man state.

At this point, we as a so­ci­ety have no choice but to take the lead in ef­fect­ing change. It is up to us as a com­mu­nity to chal­lenge our pub­lic of­fi­cials to, once and for all, take a stand and be­gin to en­act rule in the way of cli­mate change.

Aproac­tive elec­torate is needed be­cause, if we’ve learned any­thing from the past, gov­ern­men­tal knee­jerk re­ac­tions gen­er­ally are more painful and less ef­fec­tive than real plan­ning and leg­is­la­tion.

Robby Byrd

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