The Chronicle with Canon Rev Dr Rod Garner: A time to get real

By Canon Rev Dr Rod Garner

A global gathering of over 20,000 delegates is both unprecedented and something to take note of, especially when the future of the next generation and those to follow hangs in the balance.

You know what I’m referring to – the United Nations climate summit in Glasgow from November 1-12, 2021. The big and the good, and the less good politically, will be there, along with thousands of activists. and demonstrators with the singular goal of preventing the planet from overheating and making life on earth uninhabitable.

Unless urgent action is taken, we are now a few minutes from midnight. Reliable science confirms that climate change caused by human activity “is real, present and lasting”. Add to that the evidence before our eyes – forest fires, heat waves, rising oceans and devastating drought – and we all know something sinister is looming on the horizon.

This has been evident for some time: Sir David Attenborough and others have been urging us to wake up for years, but disagreement and an understandable wish on our part that it all go away has kept most of us in blissful ignorance. until now. .

The COP 26 Climate Change Conference will determine whether we collectively embrace the disaster or seek solutions in relation to a global disaster. In less than a human lifetime, we have come to a crossroads that makes young people fearful or resentful and wonder what kind of world they will inherit in a generation.

The next Glasgow assembly is not just one more environmental conference that is casually winked at before opening a calming box. It’s the deal we can’t afford not to close, the jail release card we’re dumb to ignore, and currently the only show in town that can avoid the worst consequences of the climate mess in which we already find ourselves.

The Pope gets it, as does the Archbishop of Canterbury and other religious leaders. They write and say sensible things. They know the Bible begins with the story of creating a good earth and our duty to care for and preserve it.

But after COP 26, it will be primarily governments and businesses that will determine the chances of a secure and sustainable future for a world full of amazing diversity.

We are not helpless in this matter. Whether we are religious or not, giving up is an act of bad faith on our part. We can all do something. We need to pay attention to what is happening in Glasgow in November and the commitments there to reduce carbon emissions in the crucial decades that remain.

Second, we must hold those who make such commitments to account and take whatever action is necessary if they do not.

Third, and even reluctantly, we will have to grasp the nettle of personal sacrifice – that we are all going to have to make changes in the way we live and travel, and what we consume. It is an illusion to think that we can adopt a greener lifestyle and have more of everything.

While our own remaining years are relatively few, this in no way relieves us of the moral duty to change course for the good of those who will follow us.

In fifty years, what will they think of the generations who left them a miserable and polluted land?

COP 26 offers each of us the opportunity to ask ourselves two fundamental and deeply personal questions: do we still see this world as beautiful and is it worth saving?

Our responses can reveal what really matters to us. They will also shape the story of our common future which, even at this late hour, may still unfold well.

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