Living with Reality

Christian Climate Action member Thalia Carr reflects on living with the reality of the climate crisis and the cost of telling the truth in a world determined to live in denial.

Can you imagine meeting up for coffee with someone in southern Turkey and not being aware that there had been a catastrophic earthquake in which thousands of people have died?

Or can you imagine meeting up in a café in Kiev and not being aware that your country is at war?

Of course not. This is the context within which life goes on in Ukraine and Turkey. Everyone knows about it; everyone takes it into consideration. No-one ignores the air raid warnings or disregards the earth tremors.

So, what is our context here in the UK? The cost-of-living crisis, rising energy prices, striking workers yes. But it’s more than that, our context is one of rapid decline in all our life systems.

Our climate is changing, and we can no longer depend on the seasons. That means our food supply cannot be guaranteed, our coastline cannot be protected from rising sea levels, there will be more and more refugees fleeing places where it has become impossible to live and as life becomes harder, societal collapse will become inevitable.

And yet, when I go to church people are planning for a future which doesn’t exist, people are planning holidays and home extensions and careers that make no sense given what we are living through.

It’s as if they don’t know what’s happening. Is it so difficult to see?

In Christian Climate Action we have dared to open our eyes. We have the courage not to ignore what we see happening all around us. It is a relief to be together and not have to explain ourselves. We follow Jesus. He absolutely knew what the risks were when he went to Jerusalem. He did not hide from them. He did not go underground. He did not dilute his message.

The worse the climate crisis gets, the more the government, the judiciary, the media and the public seem to want to shut down our unwelcome truth telling. In recent court cases, people (including some from CCA) have been banned from mentioning the climate or insulation. The government has also introduced the new policing bill which aims to restrict how, in this so-called democratic country, we can raise the alarm.

So, how do we respond as Christians? One brave man, David Nixon, has disobeyed and said in court exactly why he felt compelled to act to demand insulation for all in social housing and to wake people up to the climate crisis. He was charged and given an eight-week prison sentence of which he served four weeks.

Two women, Giovanna Lewis and Amy Pritchard, have also mentioned climate change and insulation and how their motivation to protect life and improve lives made them act. They were both given prison sentences of seven weeks. In response, Giovanna said: “There is no choice but to give voice to the truth and not be silenced. I had always believed our courts and judges would encourage truth and thus just and fair criminal trials. I now see how naive I have been”. Amy said: “When the situation is so dangerous, and so called leaders are neglecting their basic duty, to protect life, it’s more important for me to speak up than to follow your ruling. History has shown us that the law is not always in line with justice, and I will not blindly follow your rules.

None of these people is involved with CCA and I do not know what faith, if any, they have, but they are an example to us.

If we follow the one who said he is the Way, the Truth and the Life, there will be difficult times ahead. Step one along the road is to realise that we are living through the extinction of much of life on earth, to face up to it, and to be honest about it, to speak the truth, even if that makes us the odd one amongst our friends or even lands us in prison.