As I write this we are in the midst of the longest and most intensive heat wave I can remember since the mid-1970s. It’s a great joy for most – though tempers do tend to get a bit frayed now and then when people feel they are about to melt.
During the heat wave, the General Synod gathered at York University to consider a number of things, among them a motion encouraging the Church of England to take an ever greater interest in the absolute necessity to address climate change. The motion urged us to recognise the ‘escalating threat to God’s creation from global warming and climate change, and the suffering caused, particularly to the poor.’
Global warming has now been shown by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to be ‘unequivocal’. We see the effects of it in this country – for example, in the pattern of flash flooding increasing in frequency and severity in Cornwall, culminating in the ‘apocalyptic’ downpour and flash flooding in Coverack last year. The worst effects, however, are felt by the poorest countries and people who lack resources and resilience. In some areas – notably the Pacific Islands – it is devastating.
The work of creation care is an obligation on all Christians, firmly set within our understanding of mission. The fifth mark of mission of the Anglican Communion commits us to ‘strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustain and renew the life of the earth.’ This includes helping to tackle climate change. Our primary duty is to God, then to our fellow human beings in this and future generations.
I hope and pray that, as we prepare to celebrate harvest and give thanks for all the blessings that God showers upon us, we shall all renew our commitment to doing our bit to tackle climate change. That would be a suitable thanks offering.
Rt Revd Dr John Inge
The Bishop of Worcester