Green Corner: Paying the Bill

Article by Kip Coerper, organist and choirmaster for St. James’ Episcopal Church in Skaneateles and 2021 GreenFaith Fellow. He will offer reflections on climate justice and caring for God’s creation in this space in the months ahead. 

You care for the land and water it;
you enrich it abundantly.

The streams of God are filled with water
to provide the people with grain,
for so you have ordained it.

The meadows are covered with flocks
and the valleys are matted with grain;
they shout for joy and sing. —Psalm 65:9,13

God cares for us—for our wellbeing, for our relationships, for our environment. What a wonderful call to simply respond in thanksgiving and appreciation for all that He has done for us. The little things each of us do to care for God’s earth do make a difference. Noticeable differences are using energy efficient appliances, light bulbs, cars, and not using single-use plastic. 

Why is our Diocese starting a Creation Care group? Why are we as a collective people slow to recognize the affects of climate change? Alas, I believe the thoughtless rise and expanse of capitalism may be a factor. In a July 2020 article in Time magazine, artist Oliver Jeffers wrote,

Western society saw change occur at breakneck speed in the 1950s, when we went from the rationing of World War II to such disposable affluence that planned obsolescence was openly celebrated: buy it cheap, buy it new, keep up with the Joneses. It was the decade that plastic really entered the cycle of humanity. And though we now know it permeates everything on our planet as a poison, it is still being produced at alarming rates.

But the biggest change of the 1950s was that collective selfishness fell upon us. People spent money, and votes, on whatever ticked the “What’s in it for me?” box. Since then, we have lived an accelerated life of excess, and now we are realizing the party is over…and we have been handed the bill.”

“The bill” is the degradation of our earth. It is time to realize that our actions and our purchases have consequences on our environment. Everything we pay for should include that consequence in its price. For instance, a price on carbon is a good business way for the gas industry to be held accountable for the pollution that is a result of their product. If you agree, you can encourage our Congress to pass the bipartisan Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act: https://energyinnovationact.org, and/or join the Citizens’ Climate Lobby (citizensclimatelobby.org), who have a local chapter here in Syracuse. This organization is just one path to sustainability. You can find other ways to impact corporate America with your life choices and purchases at greenamerica.org. Their website helps to evaluate companies according to “green” criteria. They are an organization that not only helps you to understand the issues, but they also have been successful at encouraging companies to alter their business practices to be more environmentally friendly.

Keep recycling. Pay attention to your waste, how items are packaged, and where they come from. Think “efficiency” as an important consideration of purchasing items. Become an educated consumer. The internet has thousands of websites on environmental awareness. God’s green earth will thank you.

If you are interested in learning more, please join the diocesan Creation Care Initiative for a three-part Tuesday evening series on Zoom beginning September 28th: Caring for God’s Creation: What, Why, and How?

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