The Lenten period affords Christians the opportunity to connect with the period when
Jesus withdrew into the desert and fasted for 40 days and nights, and then resisted three
temptations of the devil (Matt. 4: 1-11). It is a period of reflection, ideally at times in
solitude, that might now include considering whether the devil is again testing people
The God-created world we inherited, including all life on earth, is being damaged by
the effects of climate change. If we strive to live in harmony with biblical teachings, then
we face a test: do we use our God-given intelligence to mitigate this crisis, or do we,
individually, respond to the temptations available and take no ameliorating actions?
One perspective on how creation care/climate change is a religious, as well as scientific,
issue stems from recalling that the earth’s atmosphere profoundly affects the planet’s
climate. The carbon dioxide (CO2) in that atmosphere plays a particularly crucial role: it
reflects back to earth some of the heat that would normally vent into space. For
centuries prior to the industrial revolution, the atmosphere contained about 275
molecules of CO2per million parts of dry air—abbreviated as 275 ppm (parts per
Since the industrial revolution, people have been adding CO2 to the naturally occurring
amount through the burning of fossil fuels, and the CO2 now exceeds 400 ppm. That
results in additional heat being reflected back to earth, which results in a change in the
That change in the climate produces numerous effects, which we read about almost
daily, including tropical diseases now showing up in the Temperate Zone, a warming of
the oceans, and an accelerating loss of species. Some of these effects are contrary to
biblical teachings, and that is why creation care/climate change is a religious issue for
Christians and Jews, as well as a scientific one.
A subsequent Lenten teaching will identify some of those effects and demonstrate how
they violate biblical instructions.
Action: A religious practice offers us one way to live an examined life. Imagine that you
will soon depart on a 40-day retreat and will be provided with ample food and water
and pleasant accommodations. You may bring books and papers of your choosing, but
no electronics (TV, cell phone, computers, etc.). How might you spend your time? What
spiritual and secular issues might you reflect upon? What self-evaluation might you
engage in? Consider this question at least twice during the Lenten season.