A faithful response to the Climate Change Action Statement is possible
I appreciate the sincerity with which Dr. Fernhout considered the significance of signing on to the Climate Change Petition. My initial reaction is that this petition reflects much of what we at Kingâ€™s already do, in so many tangible ways across most â€śsectorsâ€ť, that signing it could be done in good conscience. However I am grateful to be able to vocalize my support in advance, and highlight why I hope my colleagues will too. I am continually struck at Kingâ€™s how the stewardship mandate towards all of creation is a rich topic of which no department or sector here could lay claim to being the principle advocate. As an ecologist dedicated to the stewardship of all of Godâ€™s creation (and who formerly thought â€śecologistsâ€ť were the â€śdefinitive stewardsâ€ť!), Iâ€™m amazed at how our theologians, psychologists, sociologists, natural scientists, economists, and administration (to name a few!), have rich insights on how we are to live in order to effectively serve creation. Consequently, I see Kingâ€™s as â€śthinktank on stewardship of creationâ€ť, and well poised to address climate change in a holistic manner. If this assessment is true, we should already have significant buy-in across Kingâ€™s, which I believe is Dr. Fernhoutâ€™s principle concern.
“I see Kingâ€™s as â€śthinktank on stewardship of creationâ€ť, and well poised to address climate change in a holistic manner.”
The statement of Action requires a significant response, but I think this is a manageable concern, since we at Kingâ€™s are already doing many of the things required. If we formally compiled and wrote up our existing actions and programs, this would serve as an excellent draft that might well meet most of the expectations of the Statement of Action. If we all took a moment to list a few of the ways Kingâ€™s is meeting the requirements of this statement, we may be surprised how achievable it is to meet the time lines of this statement.
More significantly, signing and responding to the climate change statement is a call to justice for all of creation, and a loving response to our neighbors in the developing world who are most impacted by climate change (Micah 6:8 would apply). It is a call to community, a global community, in which we acknowledge: 1) our contributions to global warming by not carefully assessing the impact of each of our lifestyle choices, 2) our neglect of the limits of creationâ€™s ability to support us, 3) our union with the churches affirmation of the urgency of responding to climate change (e.g. the Evangelical Declaration on the Care of Creation, among others), 4) our intention to teach stewardship of creation through our existing interdisciplinary approaches. Ultimately, this statement is a call to Shalom with creation, and our creator; an educational vision our institution upholds. Signing on to such a call should not be taken lightly.
Students would like to see us to show leadership on the climate change issue, but particularly take action as an institution, and as individuals. One way of doing this, and accelerating our response to this signed statement is to hold an IS conference addressing our response to climate change. Informing students of our existing engagement in this issue across the disciplines would build unity in our community, and help us make meaningful responses. Workshops could address specific tangible actions that students and departments could address, discuss the assessment plans necessary to meet the signed statement, and get â€śbuy-inâ€ť from interested students to participate in this process over the statement period. Perhaps a collective confession on behalf of our respective communities, and prayer for Godâ€™s faithful promise to heal our land when we do so, would be a good closer for the conference, and step towards faithfulness as an educational institution.
Signing this statement highlights the tension of truly living in shalom with creation, rather than simply showing solidarity in word with other educational institutions, and society. Hence, I appreciate Harryâ€™s concern in signing, simply because humans have always found it difficult to live this way with creation. Praise be to God, Christ has reconciled all of creation to God through His resurrection â€“ thus, a faithful response is possible.
Vern Peters is an Assistant professor of Ecology at the King’s University College in Edmonton, AB.