The Common Good

Climate Change Is Happening: 4 Things You Can Do About It

The reality of climate change can be tough information to absorb, and if you’ve known for a while, it can just plain get you down. Yes, rising carbon pollution is leading to global warming. The impacts are already happening now, especially in poor countries and on our coasts. So now what? In the face of a problem on a global scale, what are we to do? Here are four suggestions.

1. Pray.

The massive scale of global warming is a reminder that we are only human. It’s overwhelming to think about and difficult to know where to start. The good news is, God is waiting for us to hand over all our burdens. This is God’s world, not ours – a perspective that can inform not only our outrage over what humans have done to the creation, but also our response. We can be the hands and feet of Christ, doing the work God calls us to do, but we are not the saviors of the world. Knowing that can be both humbling and strengthening. Prayer is a great place to start if you’re trying to figure out what to do about climate change, and it’s an equally important place to return to if you’ve been fighting the good fight for years (exhaustion and burnout are a real thing in this line of work!).

2. Use your voice.

If you’re a human, then you have a voice. If you’re lucky enough to also have democratic representation, your voice has even more influence. If you’re a pastor, a lay leader, a parent, or if you have a big circle of friends, a blog, or a friendly neighbor, then guess what? You have a voice and you have an audience. Use it! Passion is contagious. You have something to teach people, whether it be that climate change is an important issue for people of faith, or that pizza boxes can’t be recycled. Don’t forget to tell your elected officials that you want to see them take action on climate change – they’re certainly hearing from the opposition. And if you’re looking for our nation’s best shot at major climate action, make sure to add your name to the Sojourners petition in favor of the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, which cuts carbon emissions at our biggest source, coal-fired power plants.

3. Change your habits.

Even if you’re helping build the political will for action on climate change – educating the people around you, and speaking out politically – you can probably do more in your daily life. Think of it not as a chore, but as an opportunity. Even if your career is focused on climate change, sometimes at the end of the day it might feel like you’ve accomplished nothing. Or maybe you care about the planet, but your calling or your focus lies elsewhere. You can still feel connected to creation by making small changes in your daily life. I’ve noticed that people who work in environmental politics sometimes get cynical about little things like recycling or taking the bus, but these things keep me grounded. So pick up a piece of litter on the sidewalk each day. Host a clothing swap. Bring your lunch instead of buying, and better yet, make it vegan. Give away some of your stuff. Throw a “seed bomb” of flowers over the fence at a vacant lot. Help people in your community connect to creation by organizing a local hike. These seemingly little things matter. Trust me, they truly do.

4. Support the movement.

I love the work we do here at Sojourners – we’re empowering unique Christian voices to speak out on behalf of creation, like Katharine Hayhoe and the 200 other evangelical scientists we work with, the Pray No KXL prayer band, and pastors on the front lines of climate change. We’re building the necessary connections between climate change and international development work – in fact, Sojourners’ President Jim Wallis is pausing his travels in South Africa to visit Zimbabwe with Tearfund later this month to meet villagers whose lives are changing because of global warming.

However, none of our work can continue unless we have the support of people like you.

Making the link between our faith and our planet is my calling. I’ve been at Sojourners for over a year now, and I have been truly blessed by the people I get to work with and the message I get to spread. You’ve probably been a part of our work too, whether you’ve signed a petition, shared a blog post with friends, led a small group discussion on the environment, attended The Summit, or made a donation to support this work.

More than ever, we need your help to keep our Creation Care campaign going. A gift of $25 would help us reach more people of faith who are looking for ways to respond to climate change. A gift of $50 helps us host interfaith prayer circles at important events like the EPA’s public hearing. A gift of $100 helps us develop educational resources for churches. Whatever you can contribute, you’ll be helping Sojourners continue the important work of witnessing to the suffering of God’s creation, and the Christian response to global warming. Thanks in advance for your support!

Liz Schmitt is Creation Care Campaign Associate for Sojourners.

Image: wk1003mike / Shutterstock.com

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