Excerpts from the Sermon by Lee Bluemel, Sunday, April 10, 2016
Nothing calls us forth to our best more than our love for our children. No matter what our beliefs about how we define a better world, people the world over desire a better world for their children and their children’s children.
Until now, the threats of global warming and rising seas have been somewhat theoretical: even those who were absolutely convinced that it was marching forward could only see it as impacting future generations. However, according to a report published by Rob DeConto of UMass Amherst and David Pollard of Penn State. (http://www.nature.com/news/antarctic-model-raises-prospect-of-unstoppable-ice-collapse-1.19638), the generation who will feel the full impact of global warming is here. Now, as we celebrate the arrival of the babies who are the next generation, we have the shadow of knowing they will feel the brunt of global climate change in a manner that is completely unprecedented in human history.
“[T]he century beginning in 2100 could see truly catastrophic shifts, unless societies make sharp cuts in greenhouse gas emissions,” said Ben Strauss, director of the program on sea level rise at Climate Central in New Jersey and colleague of DeConto and Pollard. “Under the high emission scenario, the 22nd century would be the century of hell. There would be an unthinkable level of sea rise…That century would become the century of exodus from the coast.”
UU History in Climate Justice
It is gloomy news that prompts scientists to speak in religious terms like exodus and hell. Yet there is one key determining factor of the ultimate outcome: human behavior.
In Unitarian Universalist tradition, we uphold the freedom of the pulpit and the pew, so there may certainly be those among us who are not yet convinced that global warming is happening or that it is progressing at such a rapid rate.
There are those among us, however, who are both convinced and taking action to make a change.
Take Tim DeChristopher, for example, who was given a two-year jail sentence and a $10,000 fine for disrupting an auction of oil and gas drilling leases. In a spontaneous gesture, he bid $1.8 million dollars on rights to 22,000 acres of public land near Canyonlands National Park – even though he didn’t have any money!
Or Elizabeth Mount, one of 13 people and two UUs who dangled for 40 hours from a bridge in Portland, Oregon to block a Shell Oil ship from exploratory drilling in the Arctic Ocean.
Both are studying to become UU ministers.
If we don’t sharply reduce carbon emissions, the new research shows that the rate of melting Antarctic ice will increase dramatically around 2060, when my 8-year-old will be 52. And in 2100, the beginning of the potential century of “hell,” today’s infants will be 84. This message is no longer a distant threatening rumble but rather an imminent call to action.
The Earth as Sacred Text of Hope
I love the earth like some people love Jesus. The earth is sacred the sacred text that promises hope, even in the face of possible devastation.
One of our congregants, Connie, writes,
I have always known the earth is Sacred. Its beating heart is the same as the one in my own chest. We are breathing the same breath. There is no place that the Divine is not. When we know this, we know without a doubt that all that exists does so in a state of connection with all. There is no split between what we do and what happens to us. Regarding the environment, how we act is what happens to us. Human action created climate change. It is scary to face this truth, but there is a strength in numbers. We need to realize that what we do about climate change matters, not just to ourselves but to others just as much.
Can I get an “amen” for Connie?
There is a tiny animal called a tardigrade that can survive just about anything: extreme radiation, freezing, drying out, even the vacuum of outer space. It enters into a sort of suspended animation, or reversible death, and then pops back to life. So even in the very worst-case scenario, I am hopeful that life on earth, in one form or another, will still carry on.
But I have to say I love the kinds of life we have around us, here and now. I love the kinds of life sharing earth with us, the kinds of life walking and sitting next to us. I love my kids and your kids too, and I hold out my love to the babies on the way. And I know I am not alone.
It lies to us – to our generation – to take action now out of a love for our children and for all children and out of love for the Earth that nurtures us all.
(For the full version of this sermon click here: Earth Theology Earth Justice)