A Christian view on eco-social justice: Living
Carbon Neutral Lives
” 4 P´s ACTION”
Acting on social and
Planting and Producing to
Protect the Planet =
planting producing protect planet
and to the
“FOR PEACE – 4P´S”
CREATING A SHARED MORAL VISION
It is difficult for people to grasp just how extreme our ecological
crises really are. Problems such as climate change, loss of species,
water shortages--are a type of problem that human beings have
never faced before, because the problems are global. Personal
behavior has never before had global weather consequences.
Therefore, there is no historical precedence in this type of problem
solving to help us form useful responses. In understanding these
problems there are three realities that need to be understood:
1. Our ecological crises are enormous and quickly getting worse.
2. These problems are urgent and time is running out.
3. There are alternatives, and a better future is possible.
Our Ecological Crises are Enormous
Scientific research now demonstrates that global warming is real,
catastrophic, and created by humans. Yet, even though scientists
know global warming is happening, they cannot say exactly how
much it will warm, or how fast it will warm, or what the local
effects will be. These issues will depend on how soon we convert to
renewable energy, as well as what chain reactions are set off by the
The 2001 report from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel
on Climate Change, (IPCC) presented models that could establish
statistically that global warming is happening and humans are
largely responsible for it
Our Ecological Crises are Enormous
Dr Pachauri, head of the IPCC, concluded his findings in January 2005: quot;Climate
change is for real. We have just a small window of opportunity and it is closing
rather rapidly. There is not a moment to lose. We are risking the ability of the
human race to survive.“
In addition to global warming, species extinctions have reached catastrophic
proportions. In the history of the Earth, there have been five mass extinctions; the
last one was the dinosaurs. Biologists are calling what is happening now, the sixth
mass extinction, and they are warning that we could lose more than 25 percent of
the species on Earth by the end of this century, creating unknown cascading
effects throughout entire ecosystems.
Worldwide, there are severe shortages of water. The world now drains more
from rivers and aquifers than is returned by the Earth’s annual rain and snow fall.
We are drawing down underground aquifers faster than they can be replenished,
and many major rivers are so over-tapped that for part of the year, they run dry
before they get to the sea.Therefore, these water shortages will cause food
shortages. Water shortages also threaten the lives of all the Earth’s plants and
Our Ecological Crises are Enormous
No matter how fast we respond, the world will soon be radically
different, perhaps in as little as one decade.
If we commit to a worldwide crash program to convert to
renewable energy and planting trees to capture the CO2, the
change could be less disruptive. If we cannot create the political
will for radical change, then at some point, the world will hit a
brick wall as the global weather system spirals out of control.
We need to begin by accepting that the Earth is finite. The Earth’s
carbon cycle and hydrological cycle have limits. We must learn to
live within the Earth’s limits or we will overrun our environment,
and cause massive ecological collapse.
Our Ecological Crises are Urgent
Many of those who realize how serious our ecological crises are, do not realize
how urgent they are. Our response needs to be total and immediate.
On January 25, 2005, the International Panel Climate Change (IPCC) Taskforce
issued a new report called Meeting The Climate Challenge. The report says,
“With climate change, there is an ecological time bomb ticking away. . .” They
say that the point of no return with global warming may be reached in as little
as 10 years (or less) with widespread drought, crop failure and water shortages.
The debate over global warming is no longer over whether or not it is
happening; it is now over the degree of urgency and the scale of the problem.
The National Academy of Sciences concluded recently that global warming
could cause environmental collapse suddenly and without warning. The longer
we wait, the fewer options we will have and the more we risk creating
Environmental Advocacy Is
An Adequate Scale of
In every community, concerned
This urgency means that the needed
individuals and organizations are
response must be on an adequate
working to contribute solutions to
this crisis. Their work helps to raise
awareness and create a political
“... mobilization of resources within base.
a matter of months demonstrates
that a country and, indeed, the
We cannot measure progress in
world can restructure its economy
small, incremental victories as a
quickly if it is convinced of the need
result of our intense individualism.
to do so.” (Plan B: Rescuing a Planet
Gelbspan says this enormous
under Stress & a Civilization in
disconnect between the severity of
Trouble, Lester Brown )
problem and the minimalist
responses result from the
“seductiveness of easy—and
Alternatives are Possible
Creating solutions requires a total system response.
Ecology now is also a system of social, economic, and political thought that
sees environmental destruction as only one more symptom (along with
poverty and the unequal distribution of wealth and power) of our entire
unhealthy modern world-view and belief system.
None of our current theories are adequate to deal with the enormity of our
“… the environmental establishment is inherently incapable of truly
addressing the climate challenge in all its magnitude because we cannot
achieve a rapid, world-wide transition to clean energy within our current
market-based economic structure. If one honestly acknowledges the scale and
urgency of the problem, it becomes clear that it cannot be effectively
addressed without major structural changes to global economic dynamics.”
Creating a new Worldview or “frame”
Sustainable economics does not include free trade and globalization. The
politics is not focused on the rights of autonomous individuals, but rather the
needs of sustainable communities. It also is not afraid of religious language--not
in the sense of requiring obedience to a set of rules--but in terms of naming the
Earth as sacred and pursuing the values of care, mutuality, and equity (both
nationally and globally).
This ecological worldview is a moral vision based on a nurturant morality and
an ethics of care, centering on empathy and responsibility. This includes creating
a moral politics and a moral economy, with the requirements of the Earth, and
democratic, equality at the center.
These moral values are inherent in our approaches to our ecological problems.
These values include our mutual responsibility for how we live in the world,
our commitment to each other, the right of everyone to an adequate minimum,
and the sanctity of the Earth. It also includes the practical realization that we
are destroying the Earth’s ability to support life (our own and that of other
Social Systems Can Change Just as climate systems can change
abruptly, social systems can also
Quickly change suddenly—either for the
better, or for the worse. Any system
We already have the technical can hit a threshold, causing the
solutions we need; we just have to system to suddenly reorganize and
agree to use them. However, the jump to an entirely new level--one
problems are fundamentally not that cannot revert to the previous
technical, but are conceptual. level.
Creating the needed changes can We may not be able to avoid all
bring a message of hope. We really the destructive impacts. Yet, if we
are capable of making a profound act now, the solutions available will
positive shift in our thinking over the reduce these negative impacts, and
next few years. in the process, we will create a
more humane, equitable world.
This involves redefining our concepts of success, and increasing the growing
commitment to breaking free of consumerism. It also means learning new skills such
as the skills of dialogue, and renewing our commitment to each other and to the
The Ecological Crisis is a Spiritual Crisis
The primary issue in our ecological crises is a re-definition and clarification of our
values, beliefs and behaviors--which is inherently a religious process.
However, if religious communities are to lead in this social transformation, the
God proclaimed in a political argument must be democratic in method (non-
authoritarian) as well as pluralistic in content (capable of working with all
The religious message should affirm the reality of the sacred or the language of
the Spirit, which can inspire compassion and cooperation.
This requires rethinking everything—including the very nature of faith. This effort
focuses on a sense of the Earth as sacred, an idea that can both include and
transcend all religions. This allows the needs of the Earth to create a natural
shared value system, and become the new measure of our values. By advocating
ecological issues jointly, all religions become more effective in creating change
The Ecological Crisis is a Spiritual Crisis
Now, to address our ecological crises, we need to measure morality by our collective
behavior and the frequent unintended, yet immoral, consequences. Economic growth
has reached a dead-end and we can no longer achieve salvation through material
progress, and being enslaved to a materialistic definition of the world has left us
To pull away from materialism and consumerism, we need to find non-material forms
of fulfillment, and shift our spiritual focus from individual salvation to planetary
salvation This will require us to see the planet as one global interrelated community of
people, animals, and plants.
Choosing the values of life and care, and overcoming materialism, requires that we
respect the mystery in human life and resist the secularization of experience. Even
though our culture is completely secularized—the sacred has not disappeared. We
need to recognize and name concepts of the sacred so that they can again determine
Our future depends on how creative we can be together, and how quickly we can
Consequences of global warming
Global Warming will alter
Global Warming will
Change Weather Patterns.
The entire ecosystem of the
The warming should create an
North Sea is in a state of
overall trend toward both
increased and increased collapse, “record sea
evaporation. Where temperatures are killing off
precipitation is greater than
the plankton on which all
evaporation, there will be
life in the sea depends,
floods. Where evaporation is
because they underpin the
greater than precipitation, there
entire marine food chain.
will be droughts. The increased
warming and the unpredictable Fish stocks and sea bird
changes will greatly impact
Consequences of global warming
Global Warming Will Cause Ice
Global Warming will
to Melt and Seas to Rise
Change Ecosystems and
In addition to habitat loss from The ice sheets in the two poles and
urban sprawl and pollution, Greenland, and in mountain glaciers
warming will also be a major around the world, are melting. If the
factor. “A quarter of all species of sea level rises in the range expected
plants and land animals, or more by the IPCC, many island nations, as
than a million in all, could be well as all low-lying coastal areas, will
driven to extinction.” Massive be under water. The affects of sea-
extinctions have occurred five level along the coast will cause
times during the earth's history. flooding, erosion, and saltwater
The last one was the extinction of intrusion into aquifers and freshwater
the dinosaurs, 65 million years habitats.
ago. Scientists are calling what is
occurring now, the sixth mass
Consequences of global warming
Global Warming will Change
Weather, Creating more Extreme
Storms. Global Warming will be at
public health issue .
As the atmosphere warms, the climate
not only becomes hotter but more Warming will increase the
unstable, creating more extreme spread of infectious diseases,
precipitation events. and heat stress, and also
malnutrition because of its
impact on agriculture.
Global Warming could Create
A recent report by the National Academy of
Sciences, Abrupt Climate Change: Inevitable
Surprises, said “Large, abrupt climate
Global Warming may
changes have repeatedly affected much or
Create Abrupt Cooling.
all of the earth, … Available evidence
suggests that abrupt climate changes are not
Global warming could, in as
only possible but likely in the future,
little as a few years, trigger
potentially with large impacts on ecosystems
abrupt cooling in Europe.
A Christian view on eco-social justice
Presbyterians to Live Carbon Neutral Lives
217th General Assembly of the
Presbyterian Church, USA, held
June 15 – 22, 2006 in
Birmingham, Alabama adopted
the following recommendation
for Presbyterians to Live Carbon
Direct the Advisory
Committee on Social
Witness Policy to
make a study of Finds that
Finds that the
personal responsibility the urgency,
and carbon-neutrality injustice, and
to care for creation
available as a seriousness of
and the biblical
Working Paper on the this issue calls
promise of the
website of the us as
restoration of right
Presbyterian Church Christians to
(U.S.A.) as soon as act NOW and
possible, in order to to act boldly
human beings, and
share its concrete, to lead the
the rest of creation
effective action steps way in
impels and inspires
for Presbyterians to reducing our
us to act to reduce
take to reduce their energy usage.
our energy usage.
Strongly urges all
Directs the General Calls upon all
Assembly Council to Presbyterians to
immediately make a
assign the take this seriously,
bold witness by
appropriate staff to to pray asking for
aspiring to live carbon
neutral lives. (Carbon inform all God’s forgiveness
neutrality requires our Presbyterians, and guidance, to
governing bodies, study this issue, to
that releases carbon
and churches of the calculate your
dioxide into the
urgent need for them carbon emissions,
reduced and carbon to reduce their to educate others,
offsets purchased to energy consumption and to use less
compensate for those
and the injustice of energy, striving to
carbon emissions that
our current energy make your life
could not be
practices while carbon neutral.
ACSWP completes its
It is the consensus of the A growing number of
scientific community that scientists now suggest that we
human activity is rapidly have perhaps only a decade’s
changing the natural grace period to reduce our
environment in measurable energy usage before these
ways through the destructive devastating effects start to
effects of climate change become irreversible.
(commonly called global
We Americans are champion
Global climate change is
energy consumers, using 40
predominantly caused by our
percent of the world’s oil and
burning of fossil fuels, like coal,
emitting 25 percent of the
oil, and natural gas, which emit
world’s greenhouse gases,
greenhouse gases, and
even though we are less then
accelerating faster then
5 percent of the world’s
predicted just a few years ago population.
Prompt action and leadership by
We have the knowledge,
skills, and resources to
communities, states, and
reduce our energy countries can keep global climate
consumption and switch to change from becoming much
alternative energy sources worse.
that are less harmful to the
Previous General Assemblies
passed overtures, resolutions,
and policies addressing our
unjust energy practices, calling
us to develop frugal lifestyles
reducing our energy
consumption; and urging the
The president of the United
United States to sign the Kyoto
States has called upon the Treaty and to lead in reducing
nation to reduce its carbon emissions to combat
dependence on fossil fuels. global warming
Results so far
A recent Presbyterian Panel survey indicates that
majorities of us believe our energy consumption
contributes to global climate change; most agree
that energy conservation reflects values of the
Christian Reformed faith. Yet less than 50 percent
of us have taken even the simplest steps to reduce
our energy consumption.
“The fight for justice must be integrated with the fight for life in all its forms.”
This very dynamic is why the environmental movement often refers to itself as an
“ecological justice” (eco-justice) movement—so that it becomes clear that
environmental issues are inextricably tied up with issues of human justice. The
reverse is also true. Issues of human justice invariably have a connection with our
human degradation of the Earth. For example, in our economic system we treat
both people and natural resources as commodities to be exploited for economic
The Bible knows well this connection between human justice and the state of the
land. When there was economic exploitation of the rich by the poor, Isaiah wrote,
“The earth dries up and withers. The world languishes and withers. The earth lies
polluted under its inhabitants, for they have transgressed laws, violated the
statutes, broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore a curse devours the land” (Is
24:4-7; see also Joel 2:2-20).
Making eco-justice decisions
Norms for decisions that address eco-justice issues:
Sustainability :provide for long-range needs of humans and long-
range preservation of nature
Sufficiency :grant all forms of life the right to share in the goods of
Participation :involve all people and represent all life forms in
decisions that affect their well-being
Solidarity :recognize the kinship of all life forms and assist those
who suffer most from environmental degradation
An Evangelical Declaration
on the Care of Creation
The Earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof Psalm
As followers of Jesus Christ, committed to the full
authority of the Scriptures, and aware of the ways
we have degraded creation, we believe that biblical
faith is essential to the solution of our ecological
Because we worship and honor the Creator, we seek to cherish and care for
Because we have sinned, we have failed in our stewardship of creation.
Therefore we repent of the way we have polluted, distorted, or destroyed so
much of the Creator's work.
Because in Christ God has healed our alienation from God and extended to us
the first fruits of the reconciliation of all things, we commit ourselves to
working in the power of the Holy Spirit to share the Good News of Christ in
word and deed, to work for the reconciliation of all people in Christ, and to
extend Christ's healing to suffering creation.
Because we await the time when even the groaning creation will be restored
to wholeness, we commit ourselves to work vigorously to protect and heal
that creation for the honor and glory of the Creator---whom we know dimly
through creation. We and our children face a growing crisis in the health of
the creation in which we are embedded, and through which, by God's grace,
we are sustained. Yet we continue to degrade that creation
These degradations of creation can be summed up as 1)
land degradation; 2) deforestation; 3) species extinction; 4)
water degradation; 5) global toxification; 6) the alteration of
atmosphere; 7) human and cultural degradation.
Many of these degradations are signs that we are pressing
against the finite limits God has set for creation. With continued
population growth, these degradations will become more
severe. Our responsibility is not only to bear and nurture
children, but to nurture their home on earth
We recognize that human poverty is both a cause and a
consequence of environmental degradation.
Many concerned people, convinced that environmental problems are more spiritual than
technological, are exploring the world's ideologies and religions in search of non-Christian
spiritual resources for the healing of the earth. As followers of Jesus Christ, we believe that
the Bible calls us to respond in four ways:
First, God calls us to confess and repent of attitudes which devalue creation, and which
twist or ignore biblical revelation to support our misuse of it. Forgetting that quot;the earth is
the Lord's,quot; we have often simply used creation and forgotten our responsibility to care
Second, our actions and attitudes toward the earth need to proceed from the center of
our faith, and be rooted in the fullness of God's revelation in Christ and the Scriptures. We
resist both ideologies which would presume the Gospel has nothing to do with the care of
non-human creation and also ideologies which would reduce the Gospel to nothing more
than the care of that creation.
Third, we seek carefully to learn all that the Bible tells us about the Creator, creation, and
the human task. In our life and words we declare that full good news for all creation
which is still waiting quot;with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God,quot; (Rom.
Fourth, we seek to understand what creation reveals about God's divinity, sustaining
presence, and everlasting power, and what creation teaches us of its God-given order and
the principles by which it works.
Thus we call on all those who are committed
to the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to
affirm the following principles of biblical
faith, and to seek ways of living out these
principles in our personal lives, our
churches, and society.
The cosmos, in all its beauty, wildness, and life-giving bounty, is the
work of our personal and loving Creator.
Our creating God is prior to and other than creation, yet intimately
involved with it, upholding each thing in its freedom, and all things in
relationships of intricate complexity. God is transcendent, while
lovingly sustaining each creature; and immanent, while wholly other
than creation and not to be confused with it.
God the Creator is relational in very nature, revealed as three persons
in One. Likewise, the creation which God intended is a symphony of
individual creatures in harmonious relationship.
The Creator's concern is for all creatures. God declares all creation
quot;goodquot; (Gen. 1:31); promises care in a covenant with all creatures
(Gen. 9:9-17); delights in creatures which have no human apparent
usefulness (Job 39-41); and wills, in Christ, quot;to reconcile all things to
Men, women, and children, have a unique responsibility to the Creator; at the
same time we are creatures, shaped by the same processes and embedded in the
same systems of physical, chemical, and biological interconnections which sustain
Men, women, and children, created in God's image, also have a unique
responsibility for creation. Our actions should both sustain creation's fruitfulness
and preserve creation's powerful testimony to its Creator.
Our God-given , stewardly talents have often been warped from their intended
purpose: that we know, name, keep and delight in God's creatures; that we
nourish civilization in love, creativity and obedience to God; and that we offer
creation and civilization back in praise to the Creator. We have ignored our
creaturely limits and have used the earth with greed, rather than care.
The earthly result of human sin has been a perverted stewardship, a patchwork of
garden and wasteland in which the waste is increasing. quot;There is no faithfulness, no
love, no acknowledgment of God in the land...Because of this the land mourns,
and all who live in it waste awayquot; (Hosea 4:1,3). Thus, one consequence of our
misuse of the earth is an unjust denial of God's created bounty to other human
beings, both now and in the future.
God's purpose in Christ is to heal and bring to wholeness not only persons
but the entire created order. quot;For God was pleased to have all his fullness
dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether
things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood shed
on the crossquot; (Col. 1:19-20).
In Jesus Christ, believers are forgiven, transformed and brought into God's
kingdom. quot;If anyone is in Christ, there is a new creationquot; (II Cor. 5:17). The
presence of the kingdom of God is marked not only by renewed fellowship
with God, but also by renewed harmony and justice between people, and by
renewed harmony and justice between people and the rest of the created
world. quot;You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and
the hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap
their handsquot; (Isa. 55:12).
We believe that in Christ there is hope, not only for men, women and
children, but also for the rest of creation which is suffering from
the consequences of human sin.
Therefore we call upon all Christians to reaffirm that all creation
is God's; that God created it good; and that God is renewing it
We encourage deeper reflection on the substantial biblical and
theological teaching which speaks of God's work of redemption
in terms of the renewal and completion of God's purpose in
We seek a deeper reflection on the wonders of God's creation
and the principles by which creation works. We also urge a
careful consideration of how our corporate and individual
actions respect and comply with God's ordinances for creation.
We encourage Christians to incorporate the extravagant
creativity of God into their lives by increasing the nurturing role
of beauty and the arts in their personal, ecclesiastical, and social
We urge individual Christians and churches to be centers of creation's care and
renewal, both delighting in creation as God's gift, and enjoying it as God's provision,
in ways which sustain and heal the damaged fabric of the creation which God has
entrusted to us.
We recall Jesus' words that our lives do not consist in the abundance of our
possessions, and therefore we urge followers of Jesus to resist the allure of
wastefulness and overconsumption by making personal lifestyle choices that express
humility, forbearance, self restraint and frugality.
We call on all Christians to work for godly, just, and sustainable economies which
reflect God's sovereign economy and enable men, women and children to flourish
along with all the diversity of creation. We recognize that poverty forces people to
degrade creation in order to survive; therefore we support the development of just,
free economies which empower the poor and create abundance without diminishing
We commit ourselves to work for responsible public policies which embody the
principles of biblical stewardship of creation.
We invite Christians--individuals, congregations and organizations--to join
with us in this evangelical declaration on the environment, becoming
a covenant people in an ever-widening circle of biblical care for creation.
We call upon Christians to listen to and work with all those who
are concerned about the healing of creation, with an eagerness both to learn
from them and also to share with them our conviction that the God whom all
people sense in creation (Acts 17:27) is known fully only in the Word made
flesh in Christ the living God who made and sustains all things.
We make this declaration knowing that until Christ returns to reconcile all
things, we are called to be faithful stewards of God's good garden, our earthly
Policy: We seek to change the systems that foster the degradation of creation
and to rectify the injustices that result from it. And we seek to alert our
members to environmental legislation that protects creation and to encourage
their active participation in the development of public policy. We encourage
members to participate in civic activities that foster environmental health. We
seek to let our care for creation be known to others.
Goals: To promote eco-justice and care for creation beyond the walls of the
church through hands-on involvement, political advocacy, publicity,
conferences, websites, and publications.
Actions: suggested actions to take to fulfill these commitments:
Ecological justice in local, regional, national, and global issues
Invest in the future of Earth community. Urge the endowment committee to invest
your congregational endowment and other funds in social justice
SOCIAL CARBON NEUTRAL: AN OPTION IN BRAZIL
SOS SEMI-ARID –Social CarbonNeutral
Planting & Producing
to Protect the