Weather and the challenge of climate change are on our minds and in the news these days. We watch floods and extreme heat challenge communities in our country. We watch the plight of refugees fleeing drought, famine, and economic collapse. We feel it in our hearts as well. What can we do, as people of faith, to make a difference?
Earth has warmed 1.80F (10C) since 1880. If trends in worldwide greenhouse gas emissions and global warming are not reversed, the resiliency and sustainability of all life on Earth is threatened. Presiding Bishop Michael Curry describes the crisis in these words: “The work of saving this creation, on one level, it is saving our own lives, and on another level, it is saving the world that God has made and God has created, and we dare not deface what God has made.” Our actions to reduce our own contribution to global warming can seem insignificant in light of the climate crisis. Switching to LED lighting? It may save money, but what difference can it really make?
Actions taken by households can have a significant impact on global warming. Each household can be part of reversing the trend towards environmental disaster. Together, our choices matter! In the United States alone, 40% of greenhouse gas emissions detrimental to the climate are the choices made by households – not those by industry, agriculture, or land management. We make decisions about how we power our homes, use transportation, nourish our bodies, and recycle our waste.
The Episcopal Church is providing a carbon tracker – Sustaining Earth, Our Island Home – for Episcopal households. The Diocese of Olympia was among the first Episcopal dioceses to follow the lead of the Diocese of California in using the tracker; it is now being introduced in all Episcopal dioceses in the United States. This on-line carbon tracker lets Episcopal households take actions – some easy, some more difficult – to reduce their carbon footprints. Household actions are aggregated church wide – your church, your region, your diocese, the Episcopal Church. Yes, switching light bulbs for your household may seem insignificant, but if 10 households in your church or 100 households in your diocese switch, the impact becomes clear.
The on-line tracker takes you through 4 steps as you set up your household:
- Measure Your Carbon Footprint
- Take Individual Action
- Aggregate Impacts Church-Wide
- Advocate for Climate Protection
Setting up your energy profile takes about 20 minutes. Choosing actions takes longer; some actions are easily accomplished while others are more challenging. Actions you have already taken are included in your energy profile. Once you have completed your profile and selected your actions, a dashboard will be created for your household. The impact of your actions will be tracked on your dashboard. You can also see the progress of your church and of your region in Western Washington.
Information you enter into your profile and action choices are secure and encrypted. Your privacy is protected. You can choose, if you wish, to share your actions with your church community.
As of the beginning of this week, 97 households in the Diocese of Olympia have joined the challenge of respond to the effects of climate. Together the households have made these savings:
- 44 metric tons of C02
- 12,250 kilowatt hours of electricity
- 1,345 gallons of gasoline
Your household can add to these savings and help us care for earth. Please go to the Sustaining Earth, Our Island Home website below and consider joining the challenge. Also below is a survey asking how the Bishop’s Committee for the Environment (BCE) can support your church as it encourages households to join. How can the church get people interested? How can the church make the process easy? How can the church celebrate the progress of its households? The BCE will collate this data by September 6, 2019 and use it to plan how to support churches interested in creation care and the Sustain Island Home carbon tracker for Episcopal households. Survey results will be shared across diocesan communications channels by the end of September.
As we pray in Eucharistic Prayer C:
“At your command all things came to be: the vast expanse of interstellar space, galaxies, suns, the planets in their courses, and this fragile earth, our island home. By your will they were created and have their being.”
Participating in the challenge to reduce our carbon emissions is one thing we can do, as people of faith to care for God’s creation.