Hot as Hell

Well, it’s official. 2012 was the warmest year in United States on record, a full degree warmer than the last record in 1998. In Australia, 113 degree temps are helping fuel raging fires in the southern part of the country, giving new definition to what it means to be “down under.” From NOAA:

The year consisted of the fourth warmest winter, a record warm spring, the second warmest summer, and a warmer-than-average autumn. Although the last four months of 2012 did not bring the same unusual warmth as the first 8 months of the year, the September through December temperatures were warm enough for 2012 to remain the record warmest year, by a wide margin. The average precipitation total for the contiguous U.S. for 2012 was 26.57 inches, 2.57 inches below average, and the 15th driest year on record for the nation…”

As for the weather extremes themselves, check out this graphic:

The warmth and extremes are the results of natural weather patterns which not operate against the backdrop of human-generated global warming. I think of the cultural mandate taught in Genesis 1:26. God bestows upon people made in his image some of his own authority to use for the good of the world. The Bible uses the word “dominion,” but historically we’ve treated this more as domination. The idea was that a good God made good people to take care of the world. Our dignity and worth as people derives from our identity as God’s creatures made to be like him. It’s what makes us human.

But it’s also what makes us foolish. As a good God with free will, God gave his people free will to use for good. But we all know how that worked out. Our freedom was what led to our downfall and, by extension (since everything is related), we brought the rest of creation down with us. It is our fault that the world’s in the mess that it’s in.

I know the topic can be something of a political football, but gloomy forecasts of global warming keep me up at night. Not that I’m ungrateful for a 60 degree November day in Minnesota, but I can’t help but worry when so many scientists and sources portend the same grim outlook. During our summertime heat waves and current drought, rising earth surface temperatures and ever-warmer oceans, less artic ice and higher sea levels will lead to more Sandy-grade hurricanes, deeper droughts, hotter heat waves and water shortages, all resulting in a host of doomsday scenarios. Life on earth will become increasingly untenable as soil viability lessens. Disease, especially malaria, looms over areas where resistance is weak, and the threat of war will increase as nations fight over basic survival.

The culprit, they say, is carbon dioxide. Harmless CO2. The natural byproduct of normal human life. The problem is that there are too many of us living normal human lives. And it’s only going to get worse. A New York City is added to the earth every month, a Mexico every year, an India every decade. The earth’s population is destined to nearly double at least one more time in the next 50 years. I’m worried.

Worry and faith are a lot alike. They both relate to the future, to the unseen and the unknown. The difference between worry and faith is where each is aimed. Worry aims inward and feeds of fear, pressing on your soul so tightly that you can find it hard to breathe. Faith, on the other hand, aims outward and feeds off the promises of God, opening you up to a hope and a future described as new creation itself, a future Scripture declares as having already started with the resurrection of Jesus.

Faith is the way to this future, and it doesn’t even take that much.Throughout the Bible, it’s the littlest things that matter most. A widow’s two cents that trump the riches of the rich, a small boy’s lunch of five loaves and two fish that ends up feeding 5000, a despised Samaritan stopping to help a needy man on the side of the road and thus fulfilling all he law and the prophets. Jesus later goes so far as to describe the kingdom of God itself as a mustard seed: though among the smallest of seeds, it grows into a tree in which the birds of the air come to make their nests.

According to the climate people, turning off one light, adjusting your thermostat by two degrees, driving less and recycling more reduces your own carbon dioxide output by thousands of pounds a year. If just every Christian did that, global warming would virtually stop and I could sleep at night.

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