BEING PROPHETIC — SOMEDAY
I noted in the previous thread some doubts about whether my denomination’s response to its perceived calling was quite serious yet. Several environmental items this past week caught my attention in this regard. Let me set them up by quoting some recent Community of Christ Scriptures relative to the environment and note the dates they were canonized:
“Stewardship is the response of my people to the ministry of my Son and is required alike of all those who seek to build the kingdom. The spiritual authorities are urged to so teach with renewed vigor in recognition of the great need, and let nothing separate them from those who have more specific responsibilities in the temporal affairs of the church. In this regard you are reminded of the instructions given to you through one of my servants at an earlier time. Repression of unnecessary wants is in harmony with the law of stewardship and becomes my people.” Community of Christ, Doctrine and Covenants, Section 147:5. Given March, 1964.
“These are portentous times. The lives of many are being sacrificed unnecessarily to the gods of war, greed, and avarice. The land is being desecrated by the thoughtless waste of vital resources. You must obey my commandments and be in the forefront of those who would mediate this needless destruction while there is yet day.” Community of Christ Doctrine and Covenants, Section 150:7. Adopted April, 1972.
“God, the Eternal Creator, weeps for the poor, displaced, mistreated, and diseased of the world because of their unnecessary suffering. Such conditions are not God’s will. Open your ears to hear the pleading of mothers and fathers in all nations who desperately seek a future of hope for their children. Do not turn away from them. For in their welfare resides your welfare.
The earth, lovingly created as an environment for life to flourish, shudders in distress because creation’s natural and living systems are becoming exhausted from carrying the burden of human greed and conflict. Humankind must awaken from its illusion of independence and unrestrained consumption without lasting consequences.” Community of Christ Doctrine and Covenants, Section 163:4. Adopted April, 2007.
So, at minimum, the first teachings about cutting consumption and moving toward a notion of environmental stewardship appeared in the Community of Christ canon 45 years ago — a not-insignificant fraction of our entire history. Yes, we all fall short of fulfilling most of Christ’s teaching, but sometimes we don’t grasp how short the fuze is becoming.
From the September 20, 2009 New Scientist:
FAIR CARBON MEANS NO CARBON FOR RICH COUNTRIES
WHAT might a truly fair and effective solution to climate change look like? One answer to that question has just been released and it makes for disturbing reading. For one thing, the scale and speed of emissions cuts required by developed nations is far greater than the commitments governments are currently willing to make. The new analysis is based on the idea that each person on the planet has the right to the same carbon footprint.”
The analysis actually computes this “per capita footprint” by nation-state, which introduces a number of issues (intra-state equality, global economic welfare, etc.) in itself, but it is a useful starting point in seeing how short the fuze actually is before opportunities to fulfill the commandments of CofChrist scriptures start to vanish.
“Researchers … looked at the impact of this fairness principle on attempts to limit the average global temperature rise to a level that is widely regarded as necessary to avoid disaster, such as high rises in sea level. Calculations published earlier this year (Nature, DOI: 10.1038/nature08017) suggested that no more than 750 billion tonnes of carbon can be released between now and 2050 if the world is to have a 2-in-3 chance of staying within the [applicable] 2 °C rise.”
“… many developed nations would face almost immediate carbon bankruptcy. With 4.6 per cent of global population, the US would receive a 35 billion tonne allowance between now and 2050, which it would use up in around six years at current rates. The European Union’s budget would run out in 12 years and China’s in 24.
Please understand what “bankruptcy” means in this case. It means no burning of fossil fuel for any purpose: not growing food, not generating power, not building or replacing any material thing. No travelling to our jobs, but, of course, no jobs would exist anyway. The only way to avoid world wide economic collapse would be to start encroaching on other nations’ carbon budgets.
So we really have to get serious about regulating our lifestyles and compensating the poor fairly for using up their carbon budgets. Right?
Not really. Talk about your double bind. Consider the following from the September 25 Washington Post:
“Climate researchers now predict the planet will warm by 6.3 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century even if the world’s leaders fulfill their most ambitious climate pledges, a much faster and broader scale of change than forecast just two years ago, according to a report released Thursday by the United Nations Environment Program.”
Although the 2100 temperature rise is the focus of the story, the more relevant number in light of the 3.6 degree “highest safe limit” noted in the earlier quote from New Scientist is “How soon do we cross the level?” An accompanying chart to the article shows the crossing is well before 2050 under the most stringent regime even being discussed, and occurs only a couple of years later than if we do nothing.
Other discussions of the “cap-and-trade” legislation now dying behind a health care reform bottleneck in the Senate point out that the legislation, if passed, would require the US to achieve per capita carbon emissions last seen in 1875, and that may have been exceeded, due to wood burning, even during colonial times. Does that seem economically or politically realistic? Or are we just picking our poison?
If our political leaders are to be believed, the world economic system may have only narrowly avoided the abyss in the past few months, and may be far more fragile than the environmental system to which it is coupled. And the international political system hasn’t been looking all that sane this week either, given the speeches at the UN General Assembly, and the G-20 announcements concerning Iran.
So planning to be prophetic —but not yet — may just not meet God and/or history’s timetable. The times have been “portentious” for at least a generation. The fuze burns.
In a thread — sorry, I’ve forgotten which one — on one of the LDS blogs, someone spoke of his son giving the “wrong” answer in Sunday School to the question: “How many Mormon prophets are there?” The boy’s answer was: “All of them.”
Regardless of which religious or secularist culture one comes from, the little guy’s answer had better start being the right one. We must start thinking about how to help each other through an era of consequences we may no longer be able to avoid.