Many of those who invented and fueled industrialism and capitalism were, or claimed to be, Christians.
Sure, some Muslim oil sheiks and Confucian factory workers have also played their role, but Christians are responsible to a very large extent to the inequality and environmental destruction which this economic system has brought. Now, followers of Jesus around the globe need to step up against the biggest beast that global mass consumption has birthed: climate change.
Climate change – isn’t it a weird term for a phenomena that may very well kill hundreds of thousands of people, ruin cuties and destroy whole countries? It’s like naming a genocide something like “population change” or, as the Guardian’s excellent podcast The biggest story in the world pointed out, calling a bomb an “unexpected delivery”. Human emissions of greenhouse gases is, according to 97% of scientists researching the matter, destroying the system and will eventually crush civilisation. What we’ve created is Creation Destruction.
The sad thing is that while this catastrophe is caused primarily by rich people, most of those that will get hurt from it are poor. This is often called “climate injustice”. What our hyper-consumption has caused harms not just polar bears, but human beings living in poverty. To stop this, we need to act quickly.
Thankfully, many churches around the world are acting – especially in the Global South. There’s an international campaign by Action by Churches Together (ACT) called Act now for Climate Justice. The campaign calls on Christians around the globe to collect signatures from people demanding a strong treaty at the climate summit in Paris this December, where the rich countries pay the most and help poor countries cope with climate destruction.
There is also a growing awareness around the globe of the need to divest from fossil fuels. “Divest” is the opposite of “invest” and it simply means that organisations and individuals make sure that their savings aren’t invested in dirty industries that ruin the climate. Put your money in an eco-friendly fund or give them away to the poor.
And most importantly, follow Jesus’ commandments about a simple lifestyle. Do not store up treasures on earth (Mt 6:19), do not desire possessions (Lk 12:15), don’t be rich (Mk 10:23). If Christians really had followed Jesus we would not have caused climate change in the first place. Now we have the chance to stop this disaster through simplicity, generosity and activism.