Posted by: mcgurker | October 2, 2008

Climate Change and Community: Our Responsibility

I would like to start this blog by extending my deepest thanks to all of you who signed on to our welcome and solidarity statement for the climate change delegation from Africa.  When the delegation arrived last week, we presented them with a huge poster containing the statement followed by 528 signatures.  It is amazing to think about how Christ brings us together as a community despite great distances and even greater social, economic and political divides. 

One of the reasons Christ calls us into community is so that we may share our stories with our neighbor’s. I had the privilege of listening to the story of Rosemary Mayiga, a bean farmer from Uganda and a member of the delegation.  I will attempt to recount her story for you, because I believe it needs to be heard.  As long as they had been farming, Rosemary and her neighbors could predict to the day exactly when the rains would come; August 15.  Knowing this, they would plant their beans so that the germination period would coincide with the rain, ensuring a bountiful harvest.  However of the past couple of years the rains have not arrived on schedule.  Without the rain, the crops die.  Farmers, most of whom purchase their seeds with credit, must then purchase additional seeds and plant again, hoping and praying for rain.  If it doesn’t come, not only do they have no beans to eat, they also have no beans to sell to repay their loans.  This year has been no different.  When Rosemary was here during the third week of September it had still not rained enough in Uganda to allow the beans to survive.  Now her second planting of the season has also failed.  I asked her what she would do now and she responded that the only thing she could do was wait and plant in March when the rains are due to come again.

The changes in the rain pattern experienced by Rosemary is just one of the effects of human induced climate change being experienced now by those living in poverty around the globe.  Recognizing this, Rosemary is already beginning to think about adaptation measures for her community, but implementing effective measures will require financial assistance.  Members of the delegation are hoping that the United States, the country with the largest carbon emissions in the world, will provide some of that assistance through civil service organizations working in local communities.  Rosemary understands what perhaps those of us in the United States need to learn, that she and other Ugandan farmers are paying for our sins.  Now, we must put our words in to action.  Standing in Solidarity means acknowledging that we are bound together as a global community and that we bear a responsibility for one another’s well being. In accepting this responsibility we must take steps to address our individual and national carbon footprints, by increasing the energy efficiency of our homes and churches and asking our national leaders to support climate legislation that includes adaptation measures for developing countries.       

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