Article by Kip Coerper, organist and choirmaster for St. James’ Episcopal Church in Skaneateles and a GreenFaith Fellow. He offers reflections on climate justice and caring in the monthly “Green Corner.”
The November 2021 UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, COP26, was an important reminder of the imperative that exists in our lives to address climate change. For example, Arctic ice is being lost at alarming rates. But what does that have to do with me? If you live next to the ocean, it has a lot to do with you, because the sea level is rising from all that melting ice, and at some point your home may be under water! And for the rest of us, the melting ice is revealing a frozen tundra underneath that was preventing methane from being released into the the atmosphere. Now the new bare earth is releasing methane which increases global warming.
So we must pay attention to our fossil fuel load. God created our abundant earth and natural resources for us to use wisely, not to exploit recklessly. Alas, for too long the fossil fuel industry has promoted only the perceived benefit of fossil fuel production, while ignoring and even whitewashing over the reality of the side effects of burning fossil fuel. Unfortunately, after WW II, even our government bought into the false narrative that fossil fuel production is only good for us, because of all it allows us to do. Since we know better now, it is time to act and encourage fossil fuel extraction to be responsible and to reduce the number of items fossil fuel is allowed to create. We, the consumer, can make lots of choices to have a direct impact on the corporate bottom line of fossil fuel production.
Plastic products are made from fossil fuel, thus we can:
- Choose products in stores by how they are packaged, for instance, select loose fruits and vegetables rather than those in plastic boxes or bags.
- Purchase and use reusable shopping bags.
- Reuse plastic containers and bags.
- Encourage our legislators to end fossil fuel subsidies: check out the Sierra Club’s “Beyond Coal” campaign at coal.sierraclub.org.
- Send our unusual plastic products to Terracycle (terracycle.com), an organization that will provide a box to ship them your excess plastic products.
- Divest our money from banks and institutions who are still supporting the fossil fuel industry. Instead, invest in green businesses which are showing a greater return on investment. To learn more, visit gofossilfree.org/divestment/what-is-fossil-fuel-divestment.
- Consider purchasing an electric car or truck. By not burning gas while we are driving, we remove a significant amount of pollution and greenhouse gases from our highways. Learn more at forbes.com/wheels/news/ev-reliability-varied-as-gasoline-cars-consumer-reports.
Climate change is happening all around us. It is a challenge for us in the Northeast U.S. to see the severity of it, because we will not experience the extremes of heat and tropical storms that are evident other places. But our lakes are becoming imperiled largely due to fertilizer run off from neighboring farms which is increased by the climate change reality of more severe rain events. And with our rising temperatures, more and more buildings here expect to have air conditioning, which is increases global warming.
So let us try to pay more attention to what we use: how it is packaged, how it will be shipped, can we find a used one, and what will we do with the waste that purchase creates. And we must be encouraged to make our voices be heard to corporations and government officials who have power to affect big and bold change in our environment. The abundant plentifulness of God’s creation is a gift for us to enjoy, not exploit.