Climate change and the providence of God

A Christian Science perspective.

Now that the representatives of 192 nations have met in Copenhagen to try to negotiate a treaty on curbing greenhouse-gas emissions, there is a great deal of pessimism about the outcome. Developing nations like India and China joined with others to block mandatory requirements that they felt were unfair, while other countries seem prepared to accept a treaty.

One positive outcome of the meeting is that it has stirred thought and given the issue more focus. But it’s important not to let all this effort sink beneath the surface again. For some countries, the threat of global warming is no longer a matter of setting future goals. For the people of Kiribati, a remote nation of 33 islands located in the Pacific, their very survival is at stake.

The islands of Kiribati are disappearing as the ocean level rises inch by inch. The plants that people depend on for food are dying due to salt water inundation. The people of Kiribati may need to leave their island homes within the next decade. And theirs isn’t the only territory being affected. While my own country of Australia is unlikely to be overrun, it, too, is having to take this issue very seriously.

One thought that I find very helpful is that creation under the providence of God is not subject to global warming, either as a relatively sudden phenomenon or as the result of climatic cycles. It is securely maintained by spiritual laws whose harmonious operation is not subject to change or disruption. In my prayers, I recognize this spiritual creation as the only one, and that we can see evidence of God’s government here and now.

The Scriptures offer many examples of the way God’s power can change life-threatening situations. When Moses led the children of Israel through the wilderness, God provided them with food and water in unexpected ways.

When they faced certain destruction by Pharaoh’s army, Moses trusted his understanding of God’s creative power and courageously directed the children of Israel to step into the sea. The waters parted, providing an avenue of escape. His knowledge that nothing was impossible to God provided him with a certainty of safety and security.

Jesus’ ability to prove the power of God’s laws took this work even further. He had complete control of climatic conditions. He calmed a windstorm that threatened the boat in which he was sailing with his disciples. Jesus proved by his healing works that life is not subject to material laws or conditions but is dependent only on our divine Creator.

Jesus’ words to his disciples can encourage us in our prayers for a world facing the threats of climate change. He said, "If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove’ and nothing shall be impossible unto you" (Matt.17:20). With this statement Jesus is revealing not only to his disciples but to all people the power of thought.

Faith as a quality of thought, securely based on the understanding that creation is spiritual and good, can have a profound and lasting effect on the physical environment. It is this quality that energizes prayer, destroys fear and doubt, and reveals the infinite possibilities available to humanity.

Prayer, moreover, is a powerful force and the means by which we can play a part in bringing these spiritual laws of creation into the human experience. We need to have faith that our willingness to pray selflessly and humbly for progress in addressing conditions will indeed bring results.

Prayer, as an active mental force, counteracts the influence of pessimism, inactivity, and self-interest. It holds firmly to the truth of spiritual creation despite predictions of rising sea levels, droughts, and floods. The power of prayer can never run out, for it operates beyond the limits and restrictions of time.

Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of the Monitor, wrote in "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," "Mind is the grand creator, and there can be no power except that which is derived from Mind" (p. 143). God’s creative power is indestructible and is available to all. It operates only to bless and to bring harmony and goodness upon the earth. And by turning to it wholeheartedly, we can find ways to do whatever is needed to live in peace with our environment.

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