Guest contribution by Eric Worrall
Rev. Dr. Peter Walker, Rector of the United Theological College, considers the emission of industrial CO2 to be sinful. But Jesus told us that we must take care of the poor – and there is no better tool for poverty alleviation than industrialization and economic development.
RECURRING SIN TO ACHIEVE CLIMATE CHANGE
July 21, 2021
The recent infernos in California and floods in Germany remind us that climate change is a global drama that if we do not act can lead to total tragedy for all of creation. Just as a finger knocks a top out of its perfect rhythm and the rotating toy is unbalanced before it finds a new balance or collapses, the earth system is unbalanced. And not by chance, but from a willing, decisive species. This is us. Earth systems science tells us that this planet is fine-tuned, but one species has met its own needs so much that the cost of everything else has become unbearable. And it shows.
As strange as the language of Christian theology may seem in public space today, the man-made climate emergency caused by our selfish abuse of the planet certainly requires a revival of the language of sin. In early 2020, there was speculation that Pope Francis, in his declaration on the plight of the Amazon, might label humanity’s abuse of the earth as sinful. He did not. In Querida Amazonia (Beloved Amazon), Pope Francis condemned the unchecked industrial destruction and said: “The companies, national or international, that harm the Amazon and do not respect the right of the original peoples to the land and its borders and to themselves – decision and prior consent should be required for what they are: injustice and crime. ”This language of“ injustice and crime ”is powerful, but it is not the inherently most powerful language available to Christian leaders.
Abusing the earth is a sin. The climate emergency arose because of our sinfulness. It is a sign, and it can prove to be the most illuminating of all signs, of our universal wrongdoing and the fact that humanity has fought on itself. Calling people to prayer for the planet without naming the sin that makes these prayers and global action necessary to save the planet is a profound moral and theological failure.
Rev. Dr. Peter Walker, Rector of the United Theological College
Read more: https://www.insights.uca.org.au/resurrecting-sin-to-address-climate-change/
What about the sin of denying food and clothing to the poor?
Matthew 25: 34-36 tells us: “Then the king will say to those on his right hand: ‘Come, you blessed ones of my Father, inherit the kingdom which was prepared for you from the foundation of the world; because I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you took me in, I was naked and you gave me clothes, I was sick and you did took care of me, I was in jail and you visited me. ‘”
What will the King say to those who, however well mean, tear away from today’s abundance of food, clothing and medicine?
Dr. Walker, I’m sure you mean well. But the attempt to tear down the foundation stone of our age of plenty is a direct attack on the reliable supply of food, clothing and clean water to the poor. How do you reconcile your attack on our age of industrial abundance with the Gospel of Matthew?
Only cheap energy and industrial civilization can provide the abundance that we all too often take for granted, the abundance that has fed and clothed more poor people and cured more sick than humanity has ever tried before.