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19.02.2021

Covid, Consumerism, and Climate

‘This year has really kicked my awareness into overdrive.’

This is a quote from a recent BBC article asking the question ‘Has Coronavirus made us more ethical consumers?’ The resounding answer according to this article is – yes!

COVID-19 has brought into sharp focus the reality of our interconnected world. For many of us, this is the first time our lives have been dramatically and so negatively altered because something happened on the other side of the world.

The climate crisis is another example of such global connectedness, and potentially created the environment in which the virus could flourish. The injustice is that what is largely caused by a few rich countries is lived out in the poorest. Awareness of this, and care for creation, is rising.

A recent survey of Christian young adults and teenagers in the UK showed that 9 out of 10 care about climate change. It is no longer an issue exclusively for scientists to wrestle with, or ‘keen beans’ to act on. It is real, it is urgent, and many of us want to see change.

As followers of Jesus, we celebrate when creation is cared for because we know that ‘the earth is the Lord’s and everything in it’ (Psalm 24). We take the climate crisis seriously because we know it affects people living in poverty first, and worst. We read Mark 12’s invitation to love God and love others, and we know that this includes women like Jessy, a grandma in Malawi who struggles to feed her family because of the climate crisis.

But how can the church lead in this area?

There are simple steps to making small changes: make your next purchase a careful one; commit to praying for those impacted most. The crisis can feel overwhelming and complicated, but you can pick one thing and do it. And, when you’re able, pick the next thing.

Could you inspire your church to act? The research found that only 1 in 10 respondents believe their church is doing enough. Will our churches step up and do what we can?

Coronavirus is a very difficult time. A season we’re in no hurry to repeat. But global connectedness and impact awareness can help us meaningfully and courageously follow Jesus. Jesus purposefully aligned himself with those living in poverty, actively spent his time with those on the margins of society, and cares deeply for creation. Will you?

Dot Tyler
Co-Director of The Justice Conference UK and Head of Youth and Emerging Generation Team, Tearfund

 

Comments

  1. Thank you Dot for your article. When I first read the title of your article it crossed my mind that, although the world (eg. citizens of the UK) has become so much more aware of climate-related issues, there seems to be an incredible disconnect between the reality of global warming and all those keen travellers who are desperate to get their flights booked to get away to their holiday abroad. This is one area that many people, who have the money, will find a real challenge to give up even when they are fully aware of the impact of air travel on climate. The choices can be costly, possibly even painful, whether that is for ourselves or others.

    By Meg - 19 Feb 2021
  2. The line about taking simply picking ‘one thing at a time’ is so helpful in giving agency to each of us. The issues can seem overwhelming to the point of my feeling disempowered but breaking it down like this is more of an ongoing conversational process with God and one another, as to how we can live more proactively and holistically.

    By Tim Yearsley - 19 Feb 2021
  3. Amen – and I totally agree with Meg too. https://flightfree.co.uk/ here’s a pledge you can sign if you’d like to commit to going flight free in 2021, and if you like, beyond…

    By Bruce Gulland - 19 Feb 2021
  4. A helpful article, with much to commend it, and a powerful challenge at the end. But something is lacking for me. For example, the reference to a “few rich countries” – does that include the likes of China, Russia, India and other emerging nations who are amongst the biggest polluters now? And if the event which had happened “on the other side of the world” had occurred in the West, rather than in China, would the lesson learned simply be our inter-connectedness (a neutral word)? The question is asked, how can the church lead in this area. As noted, we should give priority to the poor, and Tearfund is a wonderful exemplar of that. Yet we struggle to find a prophetic voice which cuts through and sounds distinct.

    By Mark Womersley - 19 Feb 2021
  5. Meg raises an important point about flying. Foreign travel is, of itself, a good thing, but it needs to be done in the right way, respecting the people and places we visit. There is certainly far too much flying at the moment!
    Another blind spot is car travel. How many Christians are actively trying to avoid it – even if that takes a little more effort? Active travel is better for us mentally and physically, and the use of public transport is better for us socially and societally.

    By Martin Tiller - 21 Feb 2021

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