Martin Luther, the 16th-century Reformer, is alleged to have said: “If I knew the world would end tomorrow, I would still plant my apple tree.”

            There are different ways of interpreting this, but one possibility is to suggest that whatever the future holds, we should continue to do what we know is right.

            By the time you read this, the General Election will seem a while ago, but as I write these thoughts it is still to come. Manifesto pledges often never make it into reality, but it is interesting to see what each political Party is offering in terms of planting trees. Of the main Parties, the highest promise would mean planting 170 trees per minute every minute until the end of 2040 (Labour); the lowest commitment 57 trees every minute until the end of 2024 (Conservative). Planting trees is a good thing for our creation, and deforestation over the years is one contributor to the climate change we are currently experiencing. However, on average one tree takes 100 years to absorb one tonne of carbon; a human being’s activities give out ten tonnes a year. It’s going to take an awful of trees to counteract that.[1]

            Most people believe that climate change is now a serious threat to the wellbeing of our world. Many say they want to do something about it. Extinction Rebellion has raised consciousness of climate-change activism. But protests and marches only go so far. Unless we all act in a way to preserve the wonders and beauties of God’s creation, the damage will increase.

            We say we want a better world, but how many of us are truly willing to make the sacrifices that will entail? How many people are willing to forego our foreign holidays? How many of us will walk a bit further in the rain when we can get into our cars and drive? How many of us count the airmiles in our food and endeavour to buy more local produce? How many of us enjoy buying new clothes when we have plenty of older ones that we can still wear? The biggest rise in the type of cars people are currently buying at present is in the gas-guzzling SUV category.

            Most people are concerned about our world and its future, but for many that concern stops at the point it will mean a real change to our way of life. On the whole we have become very comfortable with our environmentally damaging lifestyles.

            Christians and those of others faiths believe that God’s hand is in Creation, and that we humans have a responsibility to care for our world and its amazing variety of life. Often it is those of no faith who speak loudest and act most gently towards our planet.

            Salisbury diocese has formally recognised that there is a climate emergency. Our churches and their members need to take the calls to action more seriously, but ultimately it will require the willingness of us all to take the future of our world more seriously in our actions and words.

            At the beginning of a new year, why not make a resolution to do whatever you can to help protect our world and its wonders?

Best wishes



[1] Figures from Radio Four’s More or Less, broadcast on 10th December 2019

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