Churches come to the fore in combating global warming

Churches come to the fore in combating global warming

THE involvement of even churches in Kerala in chalking out strategies to combat global warming and creating awareness among their congregations in environmental protection stands testimony to the gravity of the situation.

As the Great Lent commences, the Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian Church has urged its congregations to partake in a unique initiative – a carbon fast.

The initiative encourages practical energy-saving measures to reduce individual carbon footprints. It also aims to raise awareness about the broader impacts of individual actions and dedicates each of the seven weeks of the Lent period to a specific theme.

“No matter what the individual carbon emissions are, the consequences are shared collectively. Those who contribute least to its generation also bear the burden,’’ The Hindu quoted Fr V. M. Mathew, Convenor of the church’s Ecological Commission, as saying.

The first week of the Lent season, titled ‘Fast on Ignorance,’ is envisioned as a week of learning to avoid ignorance of future impacts of climate change. Subsequent weeks will focus on power conservation, reduced food consumption, curbing excessive spending, fasting from plastics and minimising private vehicle usage.

The final week that culminates with Easter aims at reducing social media usage and promoting direct interpersonal conversations.

The weekly calendar also suggests Bible studies to be followed each week.

The Church of South India made a similar initiative in 2008 itself.

Coincidentally, World Malayalee Voice this week published two studies on the perils of global warming.

According to the EU's climate service, for the first time, global warming has exceeded 1.5C across an entire year, WMV quoted the BBC as reporting, headlined “World’s first year-long breach of key 1.5C warming limit” 

Temperatures have kept rising at a concerning pace, data from the EU's Copernicus Climate Change Service from the past year shows. The period from February 2023 to January 2024 reached 1.52C of warming.

This year-long breach is no major surprise. January was the eighth record warm month in a row.

One science group, Berkeley Earth, says that the calendar year 2023 was more than 1.5C above pre-industrial levels. Other science bodies, such as Nasa, put the past 12 months slightly below 1.5C of warming.

These small differences are mainly due to the way global temperatures are estimated for the late 1800s when measurements were more sparse.

But all the major datasets agree on the recent warming trajectory and that the world is in by far its warmest period since modern records began - and likely for much longer.

Urgent action is to be taken lest human activities will boost temperatures in the decades ahead. 

In another study published by WMV - “ Sea sponges keep climate records and the accounting is grim”, a new study suggests if temperature-tracking sea sponges are to be trusted, climate change has progressed much further than scientists have estimated. 

The study that uses ocean organisms called sclerosponges to measure average global temperature suggests the world has already warmed by about 1.7 degrees C over the past 300 years — at least a half degree Celsius more than the scientific consensus as laid out in United Nations reports. 

The finding, published recently in the journal Nature Climate Change, is startling.

It's still thought that the world will more or less stop warming once net zero carbon emissions are reached. Effectively halving emissions this decade is seen as particularly crucial.

"That means we can ultimately control how much warming the world experiences, based on our choices as a society, and as a planet," says Zeke Hausfather, a climate scientist at US group Berkeley Earth.

"Doom is not inevitable."