I continue to run into people who are ardently committed to climate change doubt or denial. The emotions I mostly feel when I hear their far-fetched claims are sadness and despair for the youth of the world and future generations. The unfounded perspective of climate change denial is dangerous for the health of the earth and its occupants and unnecessarily stalls the progress that humans need to make today and every day forward. Societies, via individuals, organizations and governmental bodies, need to make the conversion to alternative energy sources, those that do not generate greenhouse gases, namely carbon dioxide, to slow climate change. Similarly, natural systems (rain forests, grasslands, glaciers, etc.) and their critical roles in the health/balance of the earth must be understood and valued. The benefits of addressing climate change are enormously positive on so many levels for both public and environmental health (ie., cleaner air and water, agriculture stability, etc.), not to mention the tremendous economic advantages.
Lately, I feel great relief that climate change is finally making news on a regular basis. I am thankful for the many reporters and news outlets who are highlighting diverse aspects of climate change, the forces, the consequences, the facts. While I have been reading and studying information on climate change for the past few decades, a recent article that described the warming taking place in Siberia shocked me. Here is a small portion of the description by reporters Anton Troianovski and Chris Mooney. “The permafrost that once sustained farming — and upon which villages and cities are built — is in the midst of a great thaw, blanketing the region with swamps, lakes and odd bubbles of the earth that render the land virtually useless.” (https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2019/national/climate-environment/climate-change-siberia/)
“As the permafrost thaws, animals and plants frozen for thousands of years begin to decompose and send a steady flow of carbon dioxide and other gases into the atmosphere — accelerating climate change.” The entire article provides a critically important understanding of what is happening in certain areas of the world.
These unprecedented changes in nature, for which there are MANY, are consequences of a warming planet, mostly driven by human activities (massive burning of fossil fuels) of the past century. Melting of glaciers, increased numbers of severe weather events from the additional energy in the atmosphere, acidification of the oceans, extended droughts and more – are massive global changes that need worldwide attention and action now. These changes cannot be explained by normal weather or climate cycles. For decades, a large body of scientists has been studying and documenting many aspects of the changing climate. To contest their work is simply foolish. We read in Second Timothy 3:14, “Refute falsehood, correct error, give encouragement — but do all with patience and with care to instruct.” Let us all accept the science, the observations, the unprecedented changes and move forward now with goodwill.
Julie Peller Ph.D. is an environmental chemist (Professor of Chemistry at Valparaiso University ) and she leads the Environmental Ministry at Nativity of Our Savior in Portage IN. Julie has been writing a weekly column for church bulletins for the past ~5 years called the Green Junction and is helping to move the call of Laudato Si to action forward. Her Research Interests are in Advanced oxidation for aqueous solutions, water quality analyses, emerging contaminants, air quality analyses, Lake Michigan shoreline challenges (Cladophora, water, and sediment contaminants), student and citizen participation in environmental work.