Sunday, 17 February 2008

Carbon Fast: So What?

Since I started the Carbon Fast, I've had a number of comments on it, which have ranged from 'good plan, can I play?' to 'why are you doing that, global warming is all a big con?'.

Now, I cannot claim to have studied first hand the evidence for global warming, and therefore I have to rely on reports from reliable sources, and I have to say, it all seems pretty convincing to me. There is certainly an abundance of evidence that the climate is changing, and that is most clearly seen in poorer countries where people are much more vulnerable to even the smallest variation in the environment. As with many things, it is the poor who are hit hardest, although they live the least damaging lifestyles.

The question is not so much whether global warming is happening, but why. It has been suggested that the current increase in temperatures may not be due to the increase in global emissions since the industrial age, but rather part of a natural pattern which would have happened anyway; we know that in the fairly recent past there have been 'cold snaps' and 'warm snaps', and this could just be one of those.

I have yet to be convinced that this is simply a 'warm spell'... apart from anything else, I find it hard to believe that we could pump millions of tonnes of chemicals and pollutants into the atmosphere for a few hundred years and not expect to see some ill-effects. I'm also aware that science is not immune from bias and 'spin'; I have no first-hand access to the details of most of these studies, but I am naturally skeptical when, for instance, petrol companies 'show' that emissions from petrol cars are not harmful (this repeatedly happened for quite a while in the last century).

At the end of the day though, the reason I choose to live a 'greener' lifestyle is not because I've read about global warming and got the heebie-jeebies. It's not because I think I can save the planet by recycling my unwanted newspaper wallcharts. It's not because Tesco will reward me with Clubcard points for being a good girl and reusing my plastic bags.

It's because I believe that waste and wastefulness are not good things. God has given us all that we have, and all that we have is precious. It's not ours to just chuck out when we're fed up with it. Stewardship is a spiritual discipline which requires us to take note of all that we have, be thankful for it, enjoy it, and use it wisely. Even if there was no possibility that excessive consumption and careless waste were causing any harm to anyone, I still wouldn't think it was OK. I hate that aspect of our culture that always has to have the latest gadget and the most up-to-date fashion; not that I dislike modern technology or nice clothes, but when I buy them, I want to keep on enjoying them, and not change them for something better in a few months.

It's also because I believe that God's justice and mercy require me, as a Christian, to stand up for the materially poor, and to do all that is in my power to fight for them, as my brothers and sisters. I don't know whether recycling a baked bean tin is going to help someone in Africa, but I do know that it's not going to harm them, and therefore if there is any possibility that it will help, I can't not do it. It's not enough, of course, and there are bigger issues to look at, and more significant things to fight for, and I will do what I can there too, but since it costs me nothing to do this small thing, I don't see how I couldn't.

So that's why I am, and likely always will be, a tree-hugging, recycling, walking-everywhere-I-can greenie.

Sorry for the lecture, but I get passionate about this.


QMonkey said...

Keep it up. It's worth while on many levels i think. not least on a personal level... as long as it doesnt turn into an OCD.

whynotsmile said...

Thanks Qmonkey! Not in much danger of it turning into an OCD, don't worry. Still, there are worse things to obsess over, I suppose.