Ocean, climate change and Christianity talk
Professor Meric Srokosz recently came to Norwich to give a talk about the oceans, climate change and Christianity. The lecture was delivered in St Peter Mancroft Church underneath, Gaia, the large rotating globe depicting planet Earth. Patrick Richmond and Nick Brewin report.
Professor Srokosz was eminently qualified to give the talk because his research at the National Institute of Oceanography is concerned with monitoring ocean currents by the use of satellite imagery. Furthermore, with Dr Rebecca Watson, he has published a book entitled “Blue Planet, Blue God: the Bible and the Sea”. In his lecture and in his book, he used the image of“blue” to reflecton God’s creation of the world and its oceans. It also expressed God’s sadness at the way that we have damaged the Earth and consequently its inhabitants.
Since 2005, the world has experienced the ten hottest years since records began. Professor Srokosz explained how the burning of fossil fuels over the last few centuries has increased the concentration of atmospheric CO2to a level not seen in the past three million years. As a result of greenhouse gases, the average global temperature has already risen by one degree Celsius.
Because of the high thermal capacity of water, the oceans have absorbed over 90% of all the excess heat accumulated through global warming. This enormous reservoir of heat and moisture will modify our climate over a long period of time. The current state of the oceans provides insights into climate change over the next half-century, when the average global temperature will probably rise by 1.5 or 2degreesabove pre-industrial levels.
Talking about the average temperature conceals the fact that the impact of global warming will be felt differently in different parts of the world. This is because ocean currents (such as the Gulf Stream) serve to move heat over huge distances around the globe. A changing pattern of ocean currents will make some regions very much hotter, while other areas might not be affected so badly. In addition, the climate will become more unpredictable. Warmer ocean waters will provoke more intense hurricanes and other forms of “extreme” weather.
Over the next few decades, the sea level will rise because seawater expands as it warms, and because the ice caps are melting in polar regions. This will affect millions, possibly hundreds of millions, of people, in low-lying countries like Bangladesh and in many of the world’s major cities that are situated on the coast. It is obvious that global warming will have profound implications for social stability and food security around the world. It is an emergency!
From a Christian perspective, Meric based his argument on Christ’s two Great Commandments – that we should love God (and therefore that we should cherish God’s creation); and that we should love our neighbour as ourselves. As a global community, this means we must love and try to help those threatened by climate change, especially the poor, who are most vulnerable to its effects.
We can each make changes to our diet and life-style that will reduce our carbon footprint and our general impact on the environment, but Meric emphasised the need to lobby politicians and opinion-formers to persuade governments and multi-national companies to adjust to the new realities of the climate emergency that will unfold over the next few decades.
Further information is available on the websites
Contact: SFN Secretary, firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr Nick Brewin (07901 884114).