Re-engaging with nature and climate change

Re-engaging with nature and climate change

A guest blog from our Associate USPG

Climate change is not an easy topic to talk about, and when we do talk about it, it tends to provoke passionate reactions. However, we need to engage in these conversations – because climate change is the most crucial issue facing our generation. But how do we engage and what can ‘the Church’ bring to these discussions?

This month at the Church of England’s General Synod in York, Claire Foster-Gilbert explained that in conversations about climate change, it doesn’t matter how much science you throw at someone, people’s hearts have to be touched – and that is where the global church comes in. The Church has this voice of the heart and the power of that voice should never be underestimated.

As reported in the Guardian this week, a recent survey in Britain has suggested that 7 out of 10 British people surveyed felt like they were losing touch with the natural world, while a third said that they did not know enough about the subject to teach their children. As a nation we are losing a lot of our traditional language to describe nature and with it we are losing our sense of belonging and connection to place. Here in Britain, when we talk about the environment and climate change we are often talking into a space of detachment and distance.

The same cannot be said for our Christian brothers and sisters around the world. Bishop Apimeleki from Fiji says: “I am indigenous to the village of Rukurukulevi … like every indigenous Fijian, I derive my identity and sense of belonging from the vanua (land); I am defined by my attachment to my vanua. Today, the land to which I belong is in crisis. The source of my identity and belonging is threatened by the immense changes being brought about by climate change”.

The echoes of this sentiment can be heard from churches all over the world. These are voices that we need to listen to. They reduce this distance to nature that we have here in Britain and bring us back to the heart of the matter.

At USPG we believe that relationships are at the core of God’s mission. They enable us to encounter this world and our mutual existence with a renewed and incarnational approach.

This year we invite you to join us at Greenbelt, to hear from Archbishop Dr Winston Halapua from the Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia as he shares his theology and experience of climate change from the ‘sinking’ Pacific Islands. Sea level rise is an urgent and present-day reality. The New York Times recently noted: “Remote as Antarctica may seem, every person in the world who gets into a car, eats a steak or boards an airplane is contributing to the emissions that put the frozen continent at risk. If those emissions continue unchecked and the world is allowed to heat up enough, scientists have no doubt that large parts of Antarctica will melt into the sea.”

We invite you to listen with us to the prophetic voices of the global church – to be inspired and to be challenged at the way they are leading the way in taking action on climate change. But most of all we ask you to join us to bring the voice of the heart back into our conversations about climate change.

Pictured: Dr Winston Halapua. 

You can see what USPG’s Bishop Winston Halapua will be doing at the festival on our listings pages here.