Our climate kairos moment

April 22nd, 2015

Recently, Episcopal Presiding Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori labeled climate change denial "sinful."  

This summer, Pope Francis will release an encyclical—an authoritative Catholic teaching—on the environment.  

In the past year, 140 rabbis from five countries have created “Shomrei Breishit,” a Rabbis’ network for the Earth.  

A new Muslim Climate Action Network is mobilizing Muslims internationally on climate change.

During the recent Hindu Environment Week, thousands of Hindus demonstrated concern about Mother Bhumi (the earth).

It’s important that all these faith leaders and groups are stepping forward. When it comes to our response to the climate crisis, this year matters more than any other in history.  

All of history.

World leaders will meet three times this year to address climate issues. In July, they will discuss financing for the world’s future development. In September, they will adopt the UN Sustainable Development Goals. In December, they will try to create an agreement that locks in sizable emissions reduction commitments from all the world’s major carbon emitters.  

The context for these meetings is morally urgent. Their outcome will pre-determine whether we pass a livable planet to our children and grandchildren.

Scientists have warned for two decades about the dangers of a warming climate: intense and powerful storms and rising sea levels in some areas, extreme droughts and wildfires in others. Reduced crop yields, increased insect outbreaks, and dying oceans. All of these impacts are increasingly visible. All of them hit people who are poor hardest. All of them are getting worse.

But there is reason for hope. In the face of some unavoidable suffering, bold commitments now will help prevent climate catastrophe. We need our leaders to commit to transforming the world’s energy systems. It’s as galvanizing a challenge as we’ve ever faced.  

The commitments needed are epic. Three quarters of all fossil fuel reserves must stay in the ground.  The world’s energy systems must become carbon-free by 2050. We must stop in its tracks the degradation of forests, grasslands, and ocean eco-systems. We need to invest over $1 trillion per year for the next 36 years to create a new clean energy infrastructure.  

These massive commitments have widespread scientific support. They are as real as life itself. We need them this year. Not in 2020 or 2025. Now. Time matters—a lot.

The Ancient Greeks used two words to talk about time. One of these words, chronos, referred to normal, everyday time, the kind of time we experience from one moment to the next.  Kairos, the second word, described those particular times that arise only several times in a person’s lifetime, times of great significance in which the decision that is made influences everything that follows. Originally used as a term from archery, kairos describes a fleeting moment during which an arrow must be fired precisely in order to hit a moving target, "a passing instant when an opening appears which must be driven through with force if success is to be achieved."  

In regards to climate change, we have arrived at our kairos moment.  

To protect and preserve life, we need forceful, decisive action. To create a healthy, prosperous future, we need large scale change. If we do not act decisively, the natural systems which support our lives will disintegrate, causing great harm and painful suffering for billions of people.  

Will you join in efforts, this year, to call for change? It is an unavoidable question. It is a question of faith.

In Deuteronomy, God says, “I have set before you today life and prosperity, death and adversity … Choose life so that you and your descendants may live.”

Around the world, people of faith are choosing life.  

They are cutting their own carbon footprints.  

They are taking to the streets to demonstrate. Witness the 400,000 participants in last September’s People’s Climate March.  

They are telling their elected officials that they want action.  

Will you join them?

OurVoices.net offers us all an opportunity to lift our voices in support of these actions. A multi-faith, international climate campaign, it is a new face of religious leadership where traditional faith communities use digital organizing tools to press for change. Sign the OurVoices.net pledge. Show our leaders your support for change.

We have all been blessed by the incredible gift of life and a precious planet that sustains it. This year, take action to protect it.  

Because this is our kairos moment.

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