29 November 2020
Of Winter fuel and things
Today is cold. Lightning has flashed across the sky, the rain is really hail and the wind is cold, but then the sun comes out and for a moment there is warmth. Winter is here, with cold blue skies, dampness and the threat of electricity cuts if it doesn't rain in the proper places. At least that is what the TV 1 newsreader said the other day, accusing the weather reader of being personally responsible for the distribution of the elements. It is obviously necessary to have someone to blame for the weather. God used to get the blame, but on TV news it’s the Met service and I suppose then indirectly its the government, which runs the met service, that is to blame - specially in election year!.
Just in case you were wondering [doesn't everyone?] the word Meteorology is from the Greek: μετέωρον, metéōron, "high in the sky"; and λόγος, lógos, "knowledge, word, [ the same word as used in John's Gospel -" in the beginning was the Word, lógos "]. and is described as "the interdisciplinary scientific study of the atmosphere that focuses on weather processes and forecasting (in contrast with climatology)".
The Greeks would have blamed that lightning on Zeus [Jupiter to the Romans] and the thunder and lightning occurred when he was throwing his weight about. Much easier to blame than the faceless Met service trying to make sense of its observations in our changeable climate.
The problem is that we always try to blame someone else, and with the weather and climate there is a real battle going on about different theories of are the weather patterns changing and if this is indicative of climate change occurring. The scientific arguments vary about how much change is natural long term changes [this is the scary stuff which the movies are promoting] and look to past evidence, which is considerable, of climate changes from huge ice ages and other geologically observed evidence. There are also shorter term changes recorded over a few hundred years. For example if you read Roman documents about the time of the conquest of Britain - just before the birth of Christ - they have stories of grapes and temperate climate fruits growing the North of Scotland - which as some of you will know is anything but temperate now. Some of these small changes can be blamed on microclimates where trees have been cut down and not replaced but there is good evidence of swings in the temperatures over the centuries.
However when the politicians get hold of a scientific debate and think they can see a SOLUTION life gets dangerous. The obvious things, which anyone can see, are that if we keep putting bad things into the air we won't be able to breathe it, if we do not care for the earth, lakes, rivers and oceans we will turn it into a big poisonous rubbish heap and we will not be able to produce food, clean water and clean air. Lets get it clear, pollution we are responsible for, but how much this is affecting climate change is a debatable issue.
We can't blame Zeus anymore for our weather, but we also can't take on playing God ourselves. We need to have humility in how we approach the problem. Fixing what we do to our planet does require our taking responsibility, but it is alarming how some of the solutions are at the expense of those who are among the poorest of the world. They don't have power, or clout where the decisions are made.
In the Bible there is a continuing stress on stewardship of the earth, for it is a gift from God for all of us to use, to share with other humans and all living things. In the Hebrew scriptures there is a lot of space given to how land should be shared around, how wells - which in the desert were a matter of life and death for those traveling through - were to be looked after, and how even in a war the olive trees [which took a long time to mature] were to be preserved. There was a promise to pass on a good place to the next generation, which was not necessarily your own family but the next generation of humanity..
So what are we doing at the moment? Somehow someone got the idea that growing crops to produce fuel for cars would be great and save the oil crisis. Fine where there is plenty of a crop left over, but already it is the farmers in the least developed countries which are growing the rape seed for oil for fuel. Acres of food-producing land is being turned into fuel-growing land and the world food prices rise higher and food shortages intensify. What seemed a good idea and a political solution of having cars running on crops forgets one thing, people will starve. The earth is here to share, solutions which give short term benefits for a few at the expense of life for many have to be questioned.
God is not blamed for the weather anymore, but Christians need to realise that God gives us responsibility for the earth and each other. Stewardship means caring about everyone involved, not just about an expedient "green" solution which makes people feel good about driving hybrids, using biofuel and doing nothing about how we relate to one another. Jesus teaches us that loving one another means being aware of how we affect each other? We need the wisdom to learn about what we can change and what we cannot change.
But do not be anxious, for it is our loving God who made the earth so lightning flashes and fixes nitrogen in the soil, the snow falls and gives water to distant rivers and changes the seasons and it is a gift for all of us to share so lets care for it wisely.
Rev. Margaret Anne Low
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