There are a lot of things about my environment I can’t afford to change right now. There isn’t room or money for me to add more insulation to my house. Even though we have a geothermal heatpump, I don’t have the money to generate the electricity needed with renewable/non-polluting resources. We are exploring different options for hot water that would pollute less, but if we do that, it will stretch the budget. We will have to go without something else, so we can afford it. And right now there are not a lot of extras in our lives to cut back on.
We live a fairly frugal and environmentally conscious life. I hang my clothes to dry –in the basement if I have to. I eat nearly vegetarian. I pick most of my fruits and vegetables off the quick sale rack. I grow some of our food. I compost our food waste. I recycle anything I can. I wear second hand clothing. I don’t iron unless it’s absolutely necessary. And I use environmentally friendly cleaning products, and recycled paper products.
Even so, I have found there are other ways I can reduce my impact on global warming. But it requires sacrifice. I have been adjusting my life in order to wake up with the sun so that I use less electricity at night. I am taking bucket baths instead of showers, because I have very little self-control about time spent under the water. And I am choosing to restrict my travel to places I can get to with walking or by bike.
Restricting my travel is a big sacrifice. It limits my choices of entertainment, friend/family connecting time, groceries, and other purchases. Because of how restrictive it is, I have chosen some exceptions to my anti-drive policy, but I would really like to get to a place where I didn’t drive any more, at least any more fossil fuel propelled vehicles. And my commitment will be challenged even more as the weather becomes more inclement.
I’m hoping that maybe I can get a wind up/solar powered lamp for Christmas and then I can use even fewer lights at night. It would be nice to get a solar battery charger that would work for my computer, but I think that would be too rich for Santa. I think I could also improve in the area of entertainment –choosing things to do that don’t require electricity or driving long distances. That will require quite a bit of research and creativity to find things that my husband would like to do too.
Making changes to my life is challenging. It requires a new way of thinking. It requires breaking old habits and making new ones. It requires persistence to continue to go against the grain of society. It requires putting up with family members that think I’m going too extreme and aren’t afraid to let me know in a variety of ways.
But the issue of global warming can’t be solved by me alone. It requires everyone. And no matter how small my carbon footprint is, if other people don’t reduce theirs, it won’t really change the situation. If I want to reduce global warming, I really need to convince others to reduce their carbon footprints too. I need to speak not only with actions, but words as well.
Speaking out against global warming in this country is not a popular thing to do. I have been criticized by family and friends, some close, others not so close. I have been described as fanatical, deluded, divisive, and arrogant. Even my faith has been questioned because of my stance. And I have been accused of having some particular political agenda.
I am not particularly in favor of big government. I would rather see people care about each other and there not be a need for government. I believe that global warming is one of the gravest injustices of the world. It is the means by which the poor lose their homes, their livelihoods, and possibly their lives all for the sake of the convenience of the wealthy. The poor cannot escape the consequences of global warming; the wealthy can. But I recognize that if people, out of the goodness of their hearts, can’t rectify such an injustice, then there will come a day when the government will or risk anarchy.
I am a Christian and I believe that my faith has noble values that care about the poor. It hurts and angers me that there is such reticence to change with respect to global warming in the Christian community. It hurts that even in my own local church community (which I consider more progressive than most) that global warming is only a concern of a few, and is not considered as important as consumerism. It hurts that issues of global warming are sidelined or ignored for issues of being missional or communal.
I don’t want to suggest that being missional, communal, or preaching about the forgiveness of sins isn’t important. But I do want to suggest that NOT being concerned about global warming is hypocritical with respect to everything else that is taught. It does not work to give a token of relief to the poor, if by the way we are living we are taking away the poor’s life, livelihood, and living quarters. It does not work to speak of God’s grace, but ignore how we treat the least of these through our use of fossil fuels. It does not work to say that we care about God’s creation when we drive long miles to sit in an air-conditioned room with the lights on when sun is pouring through the windows.
When I make such intimations, then I am criticized for being judgmental, or shaming others. I am accused of having an arrogant attitude that communicates that others are ignorant or disobedient. Or that I am not trusting that God will move people’s hearts and trying to take more responsibility than I should. It could be that I could be more gracious about how I witness about global warming. But I get the feeling that people would rather I not say anything at all. They would rather I live my own quiet low carbon emitting life myself and not bother others about an issue, that in their minds is controversial, unproven, political, and not as important as saving souls.
I believe that if we don’t address global warming, we will lose a lot more souls than we will save otherwise.