Many years ago, in a land far away, the patriarch Jacob and his large family became climate refugees, fleeing a years-long drought in their native Canaan. They journeyed to Egypt, where Jacob’s son Joseph, as the pharaoh’s administrator, had stockpiled grains in anticipation of the drought.
Today, huge numbers of Syrians have fled the brutal warfare that followed the Middle East’s most recent drought. Just as Joseph dreamed of seven years of crop failures, so are atmospheric scientists -- today’s Josephs -- warning us of droughts that will last for decades or centuries rather than years.
In Seattle First Baptist’s current adult-education series on climate change, University of Washington Professor Emeritus Richard Gammon explained a paradox about the human-induced climate that is already happening: The wet places will get wetter, the dry places will get drier.
If we keep releasing heat-trapping gases at today’s pace, we can count on droughts and famine, melting polar caps, cataclysmic rising seas, forest fires, loss of coral reefs, severe storms, and life-threatening heat waves.
There hasn’t been so much carbon dioxide in our atmosphere since long before the God of evolution created the human race.
It’s not too late to act. Decisions we make today will determine what kind of planet we hand down to our children, grandchildren and their descendants. As part of the problem, we must all become part of the solution.
A good starting place is to attend the current adult-education series, “The Climate Crisis: Science, Faith and Action.”
On January 24, Jessie Dye of Earth Ministry will speak on working the system to save the planet (hint: It’s do-able.) On January 31, Stephanie Buffum of Friends of the San Juans and Shirley Williams of the Lummi Nation will explain why and how we can protect our own Salish Sea. Classes begin at 9:30 a.m. in the church parlor.
The series is organized by Interfaith Climate Action, a joint project of Seattle First Baptist and Bet Alef Meditative Synagogue. Members of the two congregations first met last spring to explore what we could do to address the climate challenge.
Since then, members of the group have:
- Organized the adult-ed series (thanks to Megan Walker for designing the poster);
- Attended hearings and demonstrations to fight proposals for accelerated coal and oil production (special thanks to Imogene Williams, Donna Ward and Bet Alef’s Richard and Jeri Hodgin);
- Participated in the successful campaign to put a revenue-neutral carbon tax on the state ballot in November 2016 (hats off to Bet Alef’s Alan Ness, who collected a phenomenal 1,000 signatures);
- Studied Seattle First Baptist’s carbon footprint and, through Social Justice Ministries, offset its emissions with carbon credits that are helping to build a solar-power plant in China (thanks to Bob Sittig and Evergreen Carbon); and
- Worked with the Investment Committee toward completing the church’s shift to clean-energy investments and away from the coal and oil companies whose products are hastening climate disaster (thank you, George Lawson and other committee members).
Bet Alef Rabbi Olivier BenChaim and SFBC Pastor Ned Parker reflected on climate change and our spiritual traditions on January 17. Rabbi Olivier recalled how the Israelites initially were liberated from famine by moving to Egypt -- but over generations, their sojourn in Egypt turned into slavery.
In the same way, the coal, oil and gas that brought us unimaginable prosperity have come to enslave us, Olivier noted. Unless we slash our reliance on fossil fuels, we will transform our world into a place unfit to support healthy, peaceful civilizations.
Fortunately, we have begun our exodus from the bondage of dirty energy sources to the promised land of clean solar and wind power. If we are to complete this journey in time, we must make changes quickly in our personal lifestyles and in public policy.
Interfaith Climate Action invites you to explore with us how we are called to respond to this challenge.
Join us at our next meeting at 7 p.m. Sunday, November 31, in the Bet Alef office (through the door on Harvard Avenue just south of the SFBC office entrance). If you have questions, ask any member of the group or contact me at email@example.com or 206-527-3310.