It is mid-August when I am writing this article and I feel excited to share what I have observed so far in this month. As every year, in mid-August there are clear signs that the summer season is coming to an end. But our attitude this year towards its ending is rather different, I observe. In previous years, by this time in August I would often hear sad comments such as, ‘our summer is over’, ‘Where did the summer go?’, ‘We hardly had any summer and it’s already coming to an end’, and other similar comments. But this year such comments are missing. At the time of writing this article I haven’t heard a single complaint that summer 2018 is nearly over. If anything, I meet people who show a sense of relief that at last the heatwave is over. Even this morning as rain was pouring down, someone commented, ‘I am waiting for ice and snow.’ This change of attitude is understandable; we have had an exceptionally hot summer this year. Even I, who enjoy hot weather, had many uncomfortable nights. In fact, this was the first summer in the last 34 years (the length of time I have lived in the UK) that I had to get up in the middle of the night to take a shower. It was just so hot and sweaty. And yet in the UK we could say we have been rather lucky. Thank goodness we didn’t face the kind of heat that people in Spain or Portugal faced this year. We thank God that we didn’t see the kind of destructive forest fires that were witnessed by people in Greece, Portugal and California. Please join with me to pray for those who have suffered and have lost so much in those fires. May the much-needed help reach the needy soon and their return to normal life be swift.
For me even more worrying are the warnings I have heard during the last few weeks. I guess most of you will be familiar with the warnings that ‘a summer like 2018 may be the new normal’. A few days ago, many of our national papers had some very worrying headlines too. The Independent, for instance, had, ‘Earth could enter uncontrollable “hothouse” state, Scientists warn’. The Guardian wrote, ‘Domino-effect of climate could move Earth into “hothouse state”.’ The New Scientist headlines read, ‘Global warming may become unstoppable even if we stick to Paris target.’ I spotted similar headlines in some other national papers and magazines too. You perhaps already know that the source of such headlines was a research report by Professor Johan Rockstrom, Executive Director of the Stockholm Resilience Centre, and his colleagues. The heart of their report – though not conclusive – is that under the Paris agreement humanity would try to maintain temperatures at 2°C higher compared to pre-industrial temperatures. But the above-mentioned report suspects that ‘it is possible the Earth’s climate would stabilise at around 4°C - 5°C higher’. If this happens it would mean the earth getting hotter than at any point during the last 1.2 million years. If the temperatures really go that high it would have devastating effects upon life on this beautiful planet we know as our home. To put it simply, many parts of our planet would become uninhabitable.
As I read and thought over such headlines I was reminded of a couple of verses found in St. Peter’s second epistle. Here we read, “They deliberately ignore this fact, that by the word of God heavens existed long ago and an earth was formed out of water and by means of water, through which the world of that time was deluged with water and perished. But by the same word the present heavens and earth have been reserved for fire...” (Chapter 2:5-7). Did St. Peter foresee the global warming and pen these prophetic words for us? I can’t say for sure. But I do believe such bible passages should make us stop, think and hopefully even take some action. Friends, I am not a ‘fearmonger’ and I don’t say with certainty that St. Peter definitely wrote those verses for our times. The point I want to make is this - it was the sin of the pre-flood humanity that led to destruction. And if we don’t change our habits we may push this wonderful world in the same destructive direction. If their sin had consequences, our greed and never-ending appetite for more have a price tag too! No doubt the bible assures us that for all those who put their trust in God’s grace revealed in His Son Jesus Christ ‘all is going to be well with them’. But should we be so heaven-bound that we forget that God created this wonderful world for us to benefit from it and not to abuse it? Today’s abuse certainly would leave a huge price for the coming generations to pay. Could it be possible God is trying to say something to us through such scientific reports?
May God of all mercy give wisdom to us to use and not abuse the means at our disposal. As we use the means provided to us may we remember that this world belongs to the coming generations too. Little changes to our habits can go a long way! Stay blessed!