From Scientific American, April 21st.
“The combined influence of climate change and expanding agriculture are causing insect populations to plummet in some parts of the world, according to a new study that determined the abundance of bugs has dropped by half in the hardest-hit places.
“That’s a big concern for both people and nature. Insects often help form the bedrock of natural ecosystems—they pollinate plants, including agricultural crops, and also provide an important food source for other animals. . . .
“It’s the latest in a number of recent studies that warn insects are declining at alarming rates around the world. Deforestation and expanding agricultural land use are degrading insect habitats, while global warming is altering the climate conditions that many species require to survive. That’s on top of other threats, such as pollution and the spread of invasive species.”
From NPR, April 19th
“Human-induced climate change fueled one of the most active North Atlantic hurricane seasons on record in 2020, according to a study published in the journal Nature. The study analyzed the 2020 season and the impact of human activity on climate change. It found that hourly hurricane rainfall totals were up to 10% higher when compared to hurricanes that took place in the pre-industrial era in 1850, according to a news release from Stony Brook University.
“’The impacts of climate change are actually already here,’ said Stony Brook’s Kevin Reed, who led the study. ‘They’re actually changing not only our day-to-day weather, but they’re changing the extreme weather events.’
“There were a record-breaking 30 named storms during the 2020 hurricane season. Twelve of them made landfall in the continental U.S. These powerful storms are damaging and the economic costs are staggering. Hurricanes are fueled in part by moisture linked to warm ocean temperatures. Over the last century, higher amounts of greenhouse gases due to human emissions have raised both land and ocean temperatures.”
From ReliefWeb, April 21st
“2020 was the hottest year on record. Atmospheric carbon dioxide levels are the highest they have been in at least 3.5 million years. In many parts of the world, people are facing multiple climate-related impacts, including severe drought and flooding, air pollution and water scarcity. This leaves children vulnerable to malnutrition and disease. Approximately 1 billion children are at an extremely high risk of the impacts of the climate crisis. According to UNICEF, children in fragile contexts are among the most at risk of climate change. It’s affecting their access to food, clean air and water, healthcare and education. Almost every child on earth is exposed to at least one of these climate and environmental hazards. Without urgent action, this number will go up.
From The Keene Sentinel, April 21st
“In recent years, Dr. Patricia Edwards’ office has been inundated with tick-related calls. Warmer temperatures brought on by climate change has allowed ticks, and the diseases they carry, to prosper in New Hampshire. The Concord pediatrician said she has seen an unprecedented number of children with Lyme disease and even more severe tick-borne illnesses.
“’My nurses are fielding tick calls constantly — we can get a dozen a day,’ she said. ‘I have pulled ticks off of newborn babies. We never had this before.’
“Tick-borne illnesses are just one of a host of climate change-related health problems Granite Staters will have to worry about if urgent and immediate action is not taken, Healthcare Workers for Climate Action argued at a press conference Wednesday morning.
“Doctors in New Hampshire are already seeing the fallout from a rapidly changing environment. There are more cases of asthma, brought on by air pollutants. People are developing allergies to non-native flowering plants that have grown because of warmer temperatures. The N.H. Department of Health and Human Services recently warned that tick-related emergency room visits have been on the rise since March.”
From WebMD, April 20th
“When Rachel Lendner, a 52-year-old health educator based in Teaneck, NJ, heard that this February was the warmest in history, her heart skipped a beat. ‘I have a physical reaction of anxiety to hearing about climate change,’ she says, in part because she is a parent. ‘What are we doing to this planet?’
“A new poll from the American Psychiatric Association (APA) finds Lendner is not alone in her worries. The nationally representative poll done between March 19 and March 21 of this year shows that 51% of the 2,210 Americans surveyed are anxious about climate change and its impact on future generations.
“’When you read about an ice shelf the size of the island of Manhattan breaking off Antarctica, it’s a very tangible, dramatic representation of climate change’s impact,’ APA President Vivian Pender, MD, said in a news release. ‘But there are so many unseen mental health impacts as well, whether it’s in the anxiety over our children and grandchildren’s future, or the trauma to those who are physically displaced by fires or violent storms.’”
+ + + + +
Granted, it’s Earth Day week, so it’s not surprising, I suppose, to see more news articles about climate change than usual. But still. It can be frightening to think about the future: the future of our natural world, our civilization, our children, our health, our mental health. It’s enough to make you want to crawl into bed and pull the covers up over your head. Or lock yourself into an upper room out of fear. It’s a natural response to an unknown and perilous future.
And what peril the disciples faced on that Easter evening. They had watched as their peaceful, compassionate teacher and friend had been handed over to the authorities for a sham of a trial and a torturous execution. What guilt they must have felt for their part in Jesus’ suffering – the betrayal, the denials, the inability to stand with him in his hour of need. What fear they must have felt for the future, a future without Jesus to guide them, a future where, for all they knew, they, too, were marked men who would be hunted down and executed. It’s no wonder they locked the doors. They were paralyzed by guilt and fear.
But a locked door was no deterrent for the risen Christ, who simply passed through the door to stand among them bidding them peace. Jesus entered the room to reassure them with his bodily presence. He breathed the Spirit on them to commission them in ministry, to call them out of their guilt and fear, to nudge them back into the world to carry on his work.
Friends, on Earth Day Sunday, the news reports about the climate crisis are grim. It would be easy to let guilt about our own consumption and wastefulness paralyze us. We could certainly let our fears about the future overwhelm us so that we feel that it is not within our power to effect change. But it’s also the Second Sunday of Easter, and our scriptures remind us that our risen Lord calls us out of our guilt and fear. We are not prisoners. It’s Easter, and the Spirit of the living Christ empowers us to make a difference in the world. We are not powerless. It’s the season of resurrection and rebirth and refreshed life, not just for us who were made in God’s image, but also for God’s created world. For in this season we are reminded, and we will sing in just a moment, that: “In this great and strange creation, with a breath God gives us birth: born of soil to live as stewards, [we are] called to love and serve the earth.”