Jul 13, 2014

The Risk on "Climate"

Regardless of where you fit into the spectrum of concern about climate change, this might be a good time to clarify the risk of doing nothing. Consider:

  • "Global Warming is to blame" for the string of unprecedented extreme weather events worldwide since 2010 (United Nations, March 2014)
  • "Climate Change is here and getting worse" (Obama Administration, May 2014)
  • First Baptist Church Austin's article and display on the alarming uptick in wildlife extinction, since Industrialization (April 2014)

Shifting Religious Views
It's not just the UCCs and the Unitarians making big changes because of climate change. Central Texas Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Muslim, and Unitarian faith leaders joined together to preach their concerns last February. In Austin, First Baptist's pastor had strong words about the need to heed climate science last Fall. Suzii Paynter, now Executive Coordinator at the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship in Atlanta, has been clear about her Evangelical views since 2007

The number of climate-concerned faith leaders and faith followers is growing too fast to keep up with. The intensity of concern is growing too. On May 29 of this year The US Conference of Catholic Bishops sent a letter to the EPA urging the Obama Administration to "protect the health and welfare of all people... from the impacts of climate change."

What's The Risk
It's simple: climate change and unsustainable economic development threaten ALL LIFE. Climate Change and Unsustainable Economic Development threaten all life. Today's Climate Change and Unsustainable Economic Development threaten ALL LIFE on earth. The "risk" religious stewards are talking about is whether or not we Earthlings will lose 50% of the Earth's biodiversity before the end of this century. This reckoning is driven by scientific observation.

Will 50% of the Earth's biodiversity become extinct within the next 85 years as climate changes? We're talking about extinctions of polar bears, wildflowers, wild birds... Extinction of: 
"mammalsbirdsamphibiansreptiles and arthropods. Although 875 extinctions occurring between 1500 and 2009 have been documented[1] ... the present rate of extinction may be up to 140,000 species per year.[2]
Numerous scientists have projected that the integrated biological systems we ALL rely on to live (think Food Chain) will be completely disrupted before the end of this century. Most likely -- You'll be affected. I'll be affected. Your parents. Your kids. Your friends. "The least of these." We'll all be affected in the coming decade. Yes, this apocalypse sounds too bad to be true, but that's the science folks. This extinction rate driven by our too-rapidly-changing climate doesn't bode well for our own survival. At risk of stating the obvious, the only way to slow this trend is to reverse the impacts of climate change and unsustainable economic development

an example of observed changes, via the
International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)

Here's one more thing to consider, the big picture from First Baptist Austin green education captain Linda Thompson's outstanding essay on extinction science (link): 
"Five previous mass extinctions have occurred in life's history... It is thought that glaciation ended the Ordovich epoch, catastrophic global warming (volcanoes) and ocean acidification ended the Permian epoch; the impact of a massive asteroid off the Yucatan Peninsula precipitated the end-Cretaceous extinction; possibly ocean acidification also played a major role in the Devonian and Triassic extinctions... The sixth or Anthropocene extinction (called Holocene by some) is not the consequence of some poorly understood external geological event, however. The Anthropocene is the consequence of a single earthly species: US."

Stranded cow at the bottom of an empty stock tank near Austin, TX, July 2011. 

Lead story from Treehugger.com, July 14, 2014


To my Christian friends: 

"The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it." -- Genesis 2:15


1. "Extinction Continues Apace" International Union for Conservation of Nature. 3 November 2009. Retrieved 18 October 2012.
2. S.L. Pimm, G.J. Russell, J.L. Gittleman and T.M. Brooks, The Future of BiodiversityScience 269: 347–350 (1995)

May 22, 2014

The Good News about Climate Change

“The Good News About Climate Change”

Two weeks ago the US federal government released its 3rd report on climate change, it was frightening to say the least — so I thought i’d take a few moments to share some “good news” about climate change. Here's what i found: 

Nov 1, 2013

"Curiosity is a Gift from the Creator"

Don Searles caught my attention, Did you hear Roger’s statement on climate change?

Not just because he’s my dad the Reverend, or because I was late to church services (again) and had gotten caught, but because I’d never heard the right Rev. Dr. Roger Paynter speak about global warming before. Ever;  especially during a sermon. Who does that? What’d he say? Dad heard – Climate change is real and it’s being caused by us. It’s our responsibility to respond to it, and even if we’re not causing it – it’s our responsibility.

Big and bold, for sure. The funny thing about growing up in First Baptist Church is everything I learned about environmental care I learned from the people of FBC. When I was a kid it wasn’t the Sunday School or the parables that molded my worldview, it was the examples I saw lived by the adults in that church community. By example I learned to be curious about doing the right thing, always. Ask questions, find solutions, share.

Christian eco author, family man and full time Kentucky farmer, Wendell Berry recently told Bill Moyers, “We have to ask what’s the right thing to do and go ahead and do it.” Probably the greatest thing about First Baptist Austin, to me, is the embodiment of that value. In that light my father’s recounting of how Rev. Roger Paynter sees climate change just makes sense.

So here’s what Roger actually said on Sunday, Sept. 29, 2013.** A declaration I can share pride in:

“Science and faith are not enemies. Curiosity is a gift from the creator, not something to be afraid of…

“What speaks to me most is a theology that we all need more of; a theology that all of life is sacred and holy. All the earth is holy ground, though we’ve done our part to make it unholy enough.

“Just this week the most comprehensive study yet was released – demonstrating, from a consortium of the strongest scientists we have in this world, that there is climate change and despite what the head in the sand crowd wants to believe, it is mostly our responsibility.

“God gave us this extraordinary, amazing gift of Creation which is HOLY indeed, and we have consistently misused it, not only with environmental abuse, but fouling it daily with hate and bigotry and greed…”

-- Rev. Dr. Roger Paynter, 9/29/13

Right Reverend Dr. Roger Paynter 

The FBC Green Team is moving forward with some great initiatives to reduce their facility’s carbon footprint this Fall. 

**Visit http://fbcaustin.org/audio to hear Roger’s whole sermon.
** Visit http://vimeo.com/76122933 for Bill Moyers’ interview with Wendell Berry.