What climate change can learn from religion
My grandpa was a pastor, my mother is a pastor, and my father is a pastor. People have asked me whether I would become one as well. Now I realise that I want to be a ‘pastor for sustainability’.
I believe we’re starving for positive stories of the future. Because right now we’re telling people they need to stop sinning to avoid the hell of climate change. Or as the George Marshall put it: “If climate change really were a religion, it would be a wretched one, offering guilt, blame and fear but with no recourse to salvation or forgiveness.”
The past nine months I’ve been reading about climate change to find a more positive story and realistic solution. This is the introduction of a short blog series about that journey. You could call it my sustainability theology 🙂
The sad reality is that our consumerist culture is not the answer to personal happiness while also destroying the environment we depend on.
The answer is not ‘fighting off climate change’ with technology but to transform the system. We have to re-imagine what ‘the good life’ looks like. Our economy is maximised for comfort, but we should be maximising happiness. Instead of trying to contain the damage of consumerism we can create a circular economy and live a more purposeful life. Sustainability can be a win-win situation.
But to get there you have to start small and that is the paradox. To change the world you have to change your smallest, daily habits.
We need to take the tiniest steps that carry the seeds for transformation and represent the new system. These steps can rewire our understanding of being a citizen instead of a consumer.
The effect of those habits might seem insignificant. But if they’re headed into the right direction they will slowly clear away the fog until a new reality emerges.
That means we need a solid scientific foundation and identify the most important areas for improvement. Then we need to translate those into an emotional response to move people towards it. After all, humans are storytellers and not computers.
As Eglantyne Jebb said nearly 100 years ago:
We have to devise means of making known the facts in such a way as to touch the imagination of the world. The world is not ungenerous, but unimaginative and very busy.
The next five articles will be about setting this framework for creating a better system. I’m very curious about your comments, thoughts, and questions.