Why I’m Striking for Climate Change

I am Kayla. I’m 14 years old and on the School Strike for Climate Sydney team. I am also a Seventh-day Adventist.

As well as having several non-religious motivations for being passionate about the environment, Christianity has a heavy emphasis on looking after the earth that we have been given and to care for the creatures that live on it — which we are very clearly not doing. The earth is not an endless pool of resources for us to exploit for personal gain. It is dying in our very hands, and we are not doing enough about it.

Stewardship is caring for what belongs to God. It acknowledges that everything we have is from God and everything we have is God’s. I feel that this year I have been called to be an environmental steward, which has inspired me to do a lot. Psalm 24:1 says, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.”

My grandpa was a famous scientist. He was an ecohydrologist and a strong Christian. He was an idealistic man, passionate about creating clean water. Much of his motivation came from his Christian beliefs for caring for the environment, which led to caring for others. He was a very humble and kind man, and I know that if he were here today, he would be striking along with me.

As I have learnt more and become more involved in the climate movement, there have been many ups and downs. At first, I felt a bit shy, because I had only just started high school and had few friends to support me in my passions. As time went on, I made more friends and was more involved with the strikes.

My perspective on environmental stewardship is rooted in kindness. The School Strike for Climate is a network of inclusive, non-violent, ambitious people. As I am trying to bring climate action and reduce single-use plastic in my church, it has been hard. There are Christians who avoid the movement for political reasons, spiritual ideas, being scared or maybe even a dislike towards youth. Despite this, kindness has helped me get through the challenging people — which I believe is rooted in my faith.

I have noticed that many Christian churches are coming out to show their support for the climate strike on September 20 and in encouraging high schools to let students attend. This is a huge step forward, but this is beyond us high school students. We need more than just your support. We need your action. Christian or not, the climate crisis is happening.

The current Australian prime minister, Scott Morrison, has been very clear of his disapproval of the strike. “More learning and less activism,” he said.

It just so happens that Australia’s last four prime ministers are Christian. Christianity indicates principles of environmental stewardship in that God calls for us to be caretakers of His creation, however in my opinion there has been an obvious lack of climate action within our Australian government.

Many Christians are very well meaning when they provide “thoughts and prayers” in many issues, however prayers won’t solve the climate crisis. There are no jobs on a dead planet, and neither will there be churches.

This article was originally published by Adventist Record, the official news and lifestyle magazine for the South Pacific Division of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. It is reprinted here with permission.

Image credit: Unsplash

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/9896
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Thank you for your Christian witness, Kayla. I know it takes special courage to stand up in a country like Australia, where your leaders (much like our leaders in the US) are so invested in debunking climate science. Unfortunately, it also seems like so many Christians have also lost sight of God’s clear charge to care for the earth. In one of God’s first interactions with humans “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” It is clear from other references in the OT that God did not intend mankind to stop caring for things just because they were no longer in the garden. God expects humans to cherish and care for the earth today as well.

I also want to encourage you in your understanding of climate change. Climate change is real, and don’t let some of those who call it a hoax to tell you it isn’t. The science behind climate change is well understood and many of the predictions made 20 years ago are coming to pass now. As a scientist myself I have been following the research of climate scientists with great interest for 30+ years, and am impressed with how careful and accurate their work has been. Humans ARE largely responsible for what is happening.

I am not a proof-text kind of person, but since it is clear that humans are largely responsible for climate change, this verse should give us all pause:

The nations were angry,
and your wrath has come.
The time has come for judging the dead,
and for rewarding your servants the prophets
and your people who revere your name,
both great and small—
and for destroying those who destroy the earth.” Rev. 11:18 NIV

It seems that God expects us to be found taking care of the earth when He returns, not destroying it. Pushing for societal changes that can slow down or stop climate change represents a very clear way to help care for the earth. Keep up the good work, Kayla!

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From what I read in Bible Texts it is GOD, and not man, who is in charge of
the weather patterns here on planet Earth.
If so then what we do have little influence on Weather Patterns.
Humans DO KNOW that since the beginning of Time there have been
changes in the crust of the earth.
Ice Ages, Droughts, rise and fall of the oceans. North America, Europe,
Russia and Siberia were one time covered in layers of Ice and Snow.
Creating Glaciers that moved and carved out the earth.
One time the Sahara supported lots of people and trading lanes. Now is
desert and the rain patterns off the Atlantic bypass that whole area.
One time Central Georgia, USA was beach front property, and at one time
off the coast of Belize, Central America the ocean was 400 feet lower than it
is now.
Where was Man and What was Man doing to create all those Weather Pattern
changes over time???

But what Humans CAN do is take charge of their Polluting the Earth with
Human Trash.
Pollution needs to be the Focus of caring for the Earth.
It is Pollution that is destroying the Earth.

All this FEAR produced by Adults in Children is ABUSE. Some of them are
Scared to Death that they are going to die in 10 years. This is shameful.
What the parents of the Autistic young lady that spoke at the UN is
abuse of the handicapped. TRAGIC!!.
Same with the March for Climate Change that Adults encouraged
immature minds to participate in. TRAGIC!! and ABUSIVE!!

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There is a need for stewardship of the environment. But we have come a long way over the Middle Ages. Now we are facing new problems with a very reluctant leadership to manage our resources with an eye for future generations. Cash flow dominates. I must say that the air and water are much better in Middle Georgia than when Our family arrived over 45 years ago.

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I marched in one of the climate strike marches last Friday with a couple thousand young people. The one thing I did not see was fear. What I saw more of was a sense of betrayal that the adults in the room have lied about the reality of climate change, and that as children, they are powerless to force the issue any other way than to make a lot of noise. What I saw was great enthusiasm and a deep commitment to push the powers that be to change.

As for Greta Thunberg, I see no abuse there at all. She has done her own research, something that a person with Asperger’s Syndrome (now simply called autism spectrum disorder) is quite capable of. I have a grandson with the same condition, and intellectually he is capable of studying and understanding things more like an adult than his peers. What would you have her parents do, lie to her?

Why so many Americans persist in seeing climate change as either a hoax or simply not true baffles me. Many more Europeans recognize the grave risks and challenges posed by climate change, why can’t Americans? I have studied this for 30+ years and I, along with the vast majority of other scientists, have come to the obvious conclusion it is real. Lying to our kids about it is immoral. As for kids afraid they will die in ten years, yes, if some adults convinced them of this, that is also wrong, since that represents extreme hyperbole, if not outright lying. (I sometimes wonder, though, whether such fear mongering is any worse than telling children that if they leave the SDA church they will never be able to go to heaven?) I have not met any children who believed that, and if I did I would help set them straight on the subject, if I could, assuring them that although the future of climate change will result in lots of losses, we are not all going to die in 10 years, or even 50 years.

I will be frank, climate change is real, and the models and theories developed to explain it are theoretically sound and all the main predictions made by the primary climate researchers have come to pass. There is no reason to expect that future predictions won’t also be accurate. The concept of atmospheric heating due to the presence of CO2 and other greenhouse gases is fairly simple and well-established physics that has been known for more than 100 years. The only question, until recently, hasn’t been whether heating will occur, but how much and how fast will it ramp up.

I totally agree we also need to tackle the other issues you mention, and shame on us that we haven’t, since those problems are even more obviously problematic. Climate change is equally as critical however, in spite of the many Americans who have somehow been duped to believe otherwise.

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It can be difficult to understand just how much impact over 7,000,000,000 people can have on the environment. It isn’t like seeing a mine tailings pond or a garbage dump. This makes it hard for some people to grasp. Those who make money off of polluting don’t want to stop and use the very scale of the problem to deny it exist. Changing is hard. Many would rather believe lies rather than change.

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All the protesters need to take a slow boat to China with their placards - that is where the real pollution originates. It wouldn’t hurt to clean up the streets of California either before we attack plastic straws. Think BIG.

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I think we will be found dodging earth quakes and volcanoes - not of our own making.

Am I reading the wrong Bible? It seems I heard somewhere that in the end, this earth will be found falling apart; and if it weren’t for Christ’s return, “there would be no flesh left alive to meet Him.”
How we do compartmentalize…

That’s not to say we should let it all go to pot, literally. Speaking of pots - let’s get more of them on the streets of San Fran and LA; and stop building high-rise buildings right on the fault lines.

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Man made climate change is PURE HOGWASH !
"Climate change " has become a false God !

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I fully respect your opinion.
If you have grandchildren, I hope they fully enjoy the CO2 loaded breathing air that they may to breathe a few years from now.
Trump reversed Obama’s regulation of this, which is bad news. The good news, though, is that Biden will reinstate it again soon. :wink:

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Breaking News

Scientists just informed Donald Trump that whistles are really bad for the environment. Therefore, Trump’s latest executive order was signed today:

“It’s illegal to buy, sell, manufacture or possess a whistle! All whistles are being bought back!”

They will be bought back with taxpayer money, and donated to the Trump Organization, for proper disposal in Ucrania! :roll_eyes:

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I would beg to differ with you on this.
The Bible was written during a period of history that pre-dated the study of science which give modern humans a clearer understanding as to how the physics of the world, including weather, works.
In the cultural setting of Bible times, the people of God had no such science knowledge at their disposal, and God chose not to uplift their understanding presumably because it would add nothing to the important theological messages He was trying to impart in the written Word.
It is perfectly understandable therefore that the written Word reflects the various writers cultural belief that all physical occurences in the world are either caused by the actions of man, or the actions of God. And if they could not directly visualize how the actions of man could cause something (E.g. weather), then the only alternative was to believe it was caused by the actions of God.

As modern people of God we now know via our study of science that God does not in general directly control the weather on a daily basis. Instead God has put in place universal physical laws that control the weather, and unfortunately those physical laws make it quite possible for the actions of man to have an effect on the weather on a global scale.

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The issue in these narratives is not with science. Emotional investment in implications of certain science can overshadow any viable criticism and nuance. And a child who overcame mental issues to be a world leader for the environmental movement at 14… is a political and emotional narrative. It’s not a scientific one. If it was a scientific issue, then UN would put a climatologist to do a nuanced presentation, but you can’t build up a global movement of children by means of appealing to scientific narrative with clearly outlined goals. Do you really think that children around the world self-organize into climate change issues parades? Anyone who worked in PR world will see through this and emit a slight chuckle, since this broader level initiatives require enormous amount of coordination and resources.

So, it’s not really about the science, but about the broader fit of that narrative into an ongoing efforts to bring about consolidated governing bureaucracies that have little to do with science, and more to do with dishing out comparative advantage to those with bribe money to spent. And it’s not even a secret. It’s basically the last frontier of commodification of the pollution, and handing over competitive advantage to the large corporate entities who can afford to keep polluting, while shutting down those which can’t… in which case there are more mergers and more consolidation of power. Hence, your scientific views of these issues tend to be nearsighted… because that’s what you end up marching for.

But, all of the above aside. Let’s say that the science of global warming is as solid as it can be (which is very difficult, given the amount of variables that go into the models). What policies would you think are viable-enough to substantially and sustainably curb the global CO2 emission in a competitive climate of global economies?

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Some Seventh-day Adventists are urging a conspiracy theory that is wrapped around other conspiracy theories–(that there can be multiple conspiracy theories that comprise a viewpoint is quite impressive)–that climate change is a hoax that is being perpetrated by the Catholic Church, with assistance of compliant governments, so that the Pope can control the world. These are the elements of this deranged cluster of conspiracy theories:

  1. Science denial–Some Seventh-day Adventists have been conditioned by the evolution/creation debate to become science deniers. Consequently, they very naturally oppose the factual validity of evolution science, climate change, and the efficacy of vaccines, declaring all of these to be hoaxes.
  2. Conspiracy theory about scientists–Consistent with science denial is the belief that scientists are engaged in a worldwide conspiracy to promote a leftist, atheistic, and liberal society.
  3. Anti-Catholic bigotry–This shapes perceptions about the motives of the Catholic Church. The feeling is that the Catholic Church is not acting in a laudable effort to save Earth but to seize control and be the leader of a worldwide government.
  4. Anti-government bigotry. This shapes perceptions about the motives of governments during this era of Donald Trump. The feeling is that food protection laws, clean air and water laws, and other government regulations are inherently bad and dangerous, because if government can tell you what to eat and drink, government can also tell you who to worship. Government is regarded as more dangerous than fossil fuel companies, tobacco companies, etc. Seventh-day Adventists opposed to climate change reforms invariably are right-wing disciples of Donald Trump and the Republican Party.

These are three conspiracy theories wrapped into one–climate change is a hoax (1) devised by scientists, (2) urged by the Catholic Church, (3) and exploited by governments, all for the purpose not of saving Earth but of denying us our rights and liberties.

The most prominent expression of these conspiracy theories in our faith community is fulcrum7, lead by two men, Gerry Wagoner and David Read, who are science deniers, anti-Catholic bigots, and right-wing ideologues. We can be thankful that they and their small audience are beyond the fringes of respectable Seventh-day Adventism. But we need to continue to pray for Doug Batchelor, who is perceived to be in their group and who seems to be perpetually teetering on the fringe, like someone who teeters on a tightrope. I don’t think he has fallen off the tightrope, but I am wildly optimistic and charitable at heart. There are others similar to him who we need to pray for, because conspiracy theorizing has always been a temptation for Seventh-day Adventists.

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Whataboutism is a great way to show support for our young people. We could all go naked too, to reduce the amount of carbon required to make clothing.

First of all, earthquake activity has shown no increase, so maybe you are expecting this much closer to Christ’s return? I have heard preachers since my childhood days preaching about how earthquakes have increased, but it simply isn’t true. They have no, at least not since such records have been kept. Here are two sets of data that cover from 1990-2018. Frequency of quakes fluctuates up and down year to year with no discernable pattern.


Source: https://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/browse/stats.php

The same is true about volcanoes. No discernable increasing trend in terms of eruptions. We have seen an upward trend in active volcanoes, but only because our data gathering abilities have improved. Here is a graph showing these data:

Source: https://volcano.si.edu/faq/index.cfm?question=historicalactivity

On the other hand, climate change might cause an increase in volcanic eruptions, and this is just a theory at the moment that some scientists have proposed, because of the loss of glaciers. Large glacier coverage seems to suppress volcanic activity, soe some as yet unexplained reason. As our glaciers continue to melt this could eventually lead to more widespread eruptions in mountains that otherwise were less active or dormant. One outline of this idea can be read here: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/get-ready-for-more-volcanic-eruptions-as-the-planet-warms/

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And this is a problem because society responds best to cold, hard reason and nuanced presentation? That is exactly the approach that has been taken by the IPCC and other entities to try and get the message out. People like James Hansen were optimistic back in the 70s and 80s when they first started presenting the data that showed global warming was happening, and thought that surely when presented with the data, governments and corporations would surely change their ways and address the problem. At first, that seemed to be the direction things were going to take, and then the climate skeptic PR industry, funded primarily by the fossil fuel industry and Libertarian political groups (who never saw a regulation they could stomach), started blasting all kinds of unscientific criticism of the science.

Protesting like the young people and other environmental activists are doing may not be the most scientifically based approach to get the message out there, and it is certainly an emotional appeal, but since the cold, rational approach has bogged down, you can hardly blame the kids. This is all they have, and if they can shame the adults into taking action so much the better. The adults in the room have failed miserably, surrendering to the corporate and political powers that seem to care less about the science. Short term gains are more important to today’s corporations and governments than protecting the environment for future generations. This should make our young people mad, and i applaud them for being perceptive enough to cut through the lying rhetoric of the current climate change denying trend.

It is solid, and we need to stop acting as if it isn’t. Stop listening to the propaganda from big oil and other entities that cast pseudoscientific doubt on climate change.

As for policy changes, I think you know as many of the things that need to happen as I do. Let’s just list a couple that are no brainers, that make sense even if climate change is not happening. Reduce fossil fuel use by 1) cutting the subsidies propping up the fossil fuel industry, 2) moving those subsidies to alternative energy production such as wind, solar, etc., 3) designing more incentives for power companies and consumers to use alternative energy sources. Plant more trees.

Those are just two obvious things, and the first of those could make a huge difference, since, even with subsidies for the fossil fuel industry, solar and wind are already competitive. The bigger problem at the moment is not the availability of good policy objectives, it is the political will to enact them. Big oil is not going to go down easy, even though they are one of the most obvious and primary causes of climate change. They have a lot of money and political clout to fight any significant proposal that will affect their bottom line.

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Rev. 11:18 says it all. I know someone already quoted it, and they were correct to do so. “….I will destroy those who destroy the earth” says it all. This is written in a chapter of Revelations that speaks about the end times on earth. There really doesn’t need to be any more said. But I will anyway.
It is as much about selfishness and greed at the end of time as anything else. The people who want to ignore the destruction being caused are the ones who what to keep driving their polluting cars. They don’t want do give up their plastic containers. They want to keep eating their planet polluting meats. But mostly, it is because they want to march in lock step with the moronic leader we elected 3 years ago. This president could have said puppies are the cause of all of earth’s problems, and these people would rush out and kill every puppy in site. This is what you get when you elect someone who gets their news from the National Enquirer.
I have read that we have been pumping pollutants into the air equivalent to two full size aircraft carriers every day of our lives for the last century and yet the deniers want to believe that this doesn’t cause any harm. I can’t believe that people could have their heads buried in this much sand.
The Koch brothers spent over $50 million dollars simply to create doubt that climate change is real. They certainly got their money’s worth. Thank goodness that the family has said they will be pulling back from their political involvement now that the principal Koch is dead. But the damage has already been done.
Now the Evangelicals are on board. They are 100% behind Trump’s denial of climate change. They are saying that all of the catastrophic climactic events we have been experiencing are being caused by God being angry at humans for not going to church. This comment was just released by one of the Evangelical leaders a week ago. Guess what’s coming next? Could it be that this will be what causes this president to demand a law forcing everyone to go to church? Have any of you pieced this together yet? How much does it take for you to fit the pieces together? Your denial will be at your own peril.

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…so what’s your point?

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Sirje –
Perhaps the Naturists have it correct after all!!!

Do you have a source for this comment. Not that I doubt someone would say this…I’ve heard a lot of goofy comments from Christians.

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