Wednesday, May 25, 2011

(un)Natural Disasters


Per person municipal waste in US per year: 1800 lbs.; with 4% of world's population, we use one-third of all materials consumed on earth. US consumers discard over 30 billion aluminum cans annually—enough to rebuild the world airline fleet one and a half times.
New Community Project

If worst ever did come to worst, it’s reassuring to remember what the U.S. Chamber of Commerce told the Environmental Protection Agency in a recent filing: that there’s no need to worry because “populations can acclimatize to warmer climates via a range of behavioral, physiological, and technological adaptations.” I’m pretty sure that’s what residents are telling themselves in Joplin today.
Bill McKibbon

the church ought to be leading the way rather than indulging in the middleclass fantasy that everything will somehow work out (to our continual advantage!) and that our faith meanwhile has nothing to do with economics.
Ched Myers

As yet more tornadoes rip through the Midwest today, we take pause to humbly reflect on why these horrific weather patterns continue to barrage us. Bill McKibbon's sarcastic piece in the Washington Post today brings the reality home nicely. And who can blame his sarcasm with just a little more than half of Americans acknowledging that climate change is for real.

While the US becomes mired in silly debates about the credibility of climate change and the fear-mongering of the business community about the job-killing nature of green investment, China is seriously blowing us out of the water. The Chinese are taking the lead as Americans either bury our head in the sand or actually believe in Fox News misinformation. And now, according the McKibbon, the United States is experiencing just a taste of the extreme weather patterns (from tornados to overflowing rivers to record-breaking snow falls) that have plagued developing countries like Bangladesh, Yemen and Myanmar (to name just a few) in the past few decades.

Our stance at EasyYolk comes straight out of the biblical witness. God calls humanity to care for the earth and to work tirelessly to change conditions that deeply affect poor and marginalized people...everywhere. Citizens of the Developed Nations of the world massively overuse resources and we have become addicted to cheap consumer products that overwhelmingly lead to more carbon production which leads to the overheating of the earth's atmosphere.

While many Christians make sense of the disturbing destruction of tornadoes and hurricanes and flooding by reasoning that God must be angry with certain scapegoats (from gays & lesbians to atheists), we call upon all people of faith to seriously consider that these events were (and continue to be) created by Western humanity's misuse of precious God-given resources. "The wrath of God" is instead an expression of love for a world captive to violence and greed. God always present to "the blood of the innocent crying out from the ground" (Gen 4:10), to the lament of the poor/oppressed (Ex 3:7; Dt 15:9) and to the groans of creation (Is 14:7f; Rom 8:19-23).

As always, spiritual solutions may start with prayer and philanthropic giving for our brothers and sisters in Joplin, Tuscaloosa and Bangladesh, but must include aggressively advocating for laws that creatively limit our consumption of fossil fuels, as well as mechanisms (like the carbon tax) that incentivize sustainability. These (un)natural disasters are in fact the spillover costs of a society who cannot say no. People of faith and spirituality should be the ones who set concrete boundaries on their own consumption as well as the profit-driven appetites of corporations.

*Check out Ched Myers' Sabbath Economics for the theology and praxis that undergirds this kind of subversive consumption.

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