Welcome to the October 2016 edition of #UpForJustice – a monthly news and prayer letter from the International Social Justice Commission (ISJC) based in New York City, USA. We continue using the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a framework for prayer and reflection. There are 17 goals, which all 193 United Nations (UN) member states endorsed at the UN General Assembly in September 2015. The SDGs will shape the development agendas in all countries until 2030. Read more about the SDGs by visiting www.salvationarmy.org/isjc/SDGs.
This month, Kayla Calvo, a 19 year old USA Eastern Salvationist reflects on the thirteenth SDG. Kayla was a girl advocate at the United Nations representing The Salvation Army.
SDG 13: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
The current carbon dioxide level in the atmosphere shows an increase of 100 parts per million since 1950, when the previously maintained level began to rise (http://climate.nasa.gov/evidence/). The global temperature has increased tremendously in the past decade, 2015 having the highest temperature so far. The highest temperature recorded in India was in May of this year, reaching 123.8 F killing thousands of people and destroying crops. Since the 1980s hurricanes have increased, becoming stronger and much more dangerous, ranging between the 4 and 5 categories. This summer hundreds of fires have sprung on the coast of Spain and Portugal, killing and injuring hundreds of people. Since 1993, the sea height level has increased 88 mm. (http://climate.nasa.gov/vital-signs/sea-level/)
All of these facts demonstrate that the world we live in is in danger of falling apart. Droughts are making it impossible for farmers to grow crops in many areas of the world. Floods have destroyed the homes of families, leaving them vulnerable and homeless. Hurricanes have misplaced family members and have destroyed cities and villages. As the sea level rises, the Republic of Maldives, Atlantic City, and many other cities/islands are in danger of being flooded and disappearing into the depths of the seas. The clock is ticking and we need to do something to help our world.
SDG 13, which was endorsed by all the world leaders, commits to take urgent action to combat climate change and its impact. It is imperative that we do our part in combatting climate change and hopefully, reducing the unstable weather patterns. However, we must first come to the conclusion that there is a problem! The facts from reputable scientific bodies like NASA, state the problem of global warming is right on our heels, gaining speed. After we acknowledge it, then we must do our best to:
- Adapt to the climate change. Once we understand the weather patterns we are to prepare ourselves for the inclement weather and its affects.
- Aid countries that have a higher percentage of poverty. One of the main reasons why certain countries have a higher level of poverty is due to climate change.
- Inform climate change strategies to every country. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has assisted over 100 countries and 20 Small Island Developing States with information to identify any climate change. This gives them an advantage to prepare their country in these circumstances so that they are able to grow crops, use different safety tactics, educate their neighbors, and more importantly to be aware of their surroundings. This will assist local governments to make the necessary financial arrangements for their people. http://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/ourwork/climate-and-disaster-resilience/climate-change.html
As the weather changes, we must help educate our world about climate change and the effects it can cause to the earth and all its inhabitants. Climate change affects not only humans, as we see how many animals are affected as well. Acidification has increased within the ocean causing the sea life to die and thereby decreasing the food supply for humans. Snow caps, glaciers and ice sheets continue to shrink and melt, decreasing our fresh water source. Not only has the climate change affected us through our food and water supply, it also affects us through our health. Research states that with the increase of climate change, it has brought on the effects of pollen earlier, causing severe allergies to people which increases health and medical insurance costs leaving people even more vulnerable and financially distressed. It is important to tackle this problem, to educate people and make it our responsibility to help stop climate change from overcoming us and destroying our world.
As Christians, it is our duty to take care of God’s creation. He created the sea, the land, the sky, and everything in it to bless us. As his children, it is our responsibility to watch over the land, sea and animals, to take care of His creation and to help sustain it. We read in Psalm 104, the Scripture describes God’s handiwork, His love for His creation and His watchful eye over it all. He feeds the animals and His people, He replenishes the mountains with water, and provides the land with nutrients. God created all living creatures, and He created the Earth. According to Genesis 1-2 God extended this caretaking to humans. It is our responsibility to help watch over it, take care of it, and to love it as God does. As Salvationists, we need to take this responsibility seriously. When we declare that we love God and others, we need to show this through our actions. Showing our love to God includes being responsible for the earth that He created. How much do you love Him? Prove it.
As we reflect on the challenge of SDG 13, let us pray for:
- Those around the world who are suffering and facing hardship due to environmental changes
- A sense of responsibility in the hearts of people to care for this planet
- Governments to be responsible and make a stronger commitment for a cleaner environment
- Christians to understand that we are stewards of God’s creation and the example for others
Please remember the following ISJC prayer concerns:
- Joseph Halliday has joined the ISJC team as an intern.
- Lt. Colonel Dean and Eirwen as they travel to Haiti, London and Rome
- European Contact Persons Network’s meeting addressing the migration crisis
- Anti-trafficking task force meeting