Articles

The Recent Climate Report—Elevate the Conversation!

Aug 30, 2021

Be anxiously concerned with the needs of the age ye live in, and center your deliberations on its exigencies and requirements.

–Bahá’u’lláh

by Christine Muller

The recent AR6 WG1 Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) documents the extreme threat of climate change. “Current concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere are higher than they have been for at least the past two million years.” That was the time before glaciation—and there were no humans on the planet. Human activities have already warmed the Earth on average by 1.1°C. Global warming is expected to hit 1.5°C “in the early 2030s.” And without reaching “net-zero” CO2 emissions—along with “strong reductions” in other greenhouse gases—the climate system will continue to warm. Every bit of warming will worsen the climate change impacts we are already experiencing such as more extreme heat waves, droughts, wildfires, floods, and storms. Some climate impacts such as ocean acidification and sea level rise will even worsen “for millennia after global surface temperatures initially stabilise and are irreversible on human time scales.” “However, strong and sustained reductions in emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases would limit climate change. While benefits for air quality would come quickly, it could take 20-30 years to see global temperatures stabilize.”

What can we do? We can elevate our conversations by spreading knowledge about climate change and the need for climate action, and we can infuse these conversations with spiritual principles. The Bahá’í teachings provide us with spiritual guidance how to approach climate change and with a vision of a civilization that is spiritual, just, and in harmony with nature. We have a goal to work for – and we can give hope for the future to others who may be in despair because of the scientific projections in the IPCC report.

The first step toward such meaningful conversations may be to learn more ourselves. This press release by the IPCC announcing its AR6 WG1 Report presents more information about the report and the current scientific knowledge about climate change:
Climate change widespread, rapid, and intensifying – IPCC.

For exploring how to apply the Bahá’í teachings to climate change, here are some ideas:

1. The Wilmette Institute webinar about “How can Spiritual Principles Save the Climate”.

2. The website of the Bahá’í-inspired International Environment Forum provides numerous resources on climate change including a compilation of relevant Bahá’í quotations.

3. Two chapters of the online interfaith study course “Scientific and Spiritual Dimensions of Climate Change” specifically highlight the connections of specific spiritual principles to climate change: Spiritual and Practical Dimensions – The Individual and Spiritual and Practical Dimensions – The Role of Society.

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Christine Muller, Piano Teacher

Board Secretary, International Environment Forum

I was interested in environmental issues already at a young age and became a Bahá’í when I was 17, which was the beginning of a life-long study of the Bahá’í Faith. As the environmental crisis was worsening, I began to systematically study climate change at a time when not much information was easily available. I also searched the Bahá’í teachings for a spiritual solution to the climate crisis. At that time, climate change was not known to most people and there were no educational materials available. That’s why I wrote Scientific and Spiritual Dimensions of Climate Change – an Interfaith Study Course, which the International Environment Forum posted in 2009. I joined the Wilmette Institute as support faculty for its Sustainable Development course in 2011 and created its Climate Change course the following year. I served on the board of RI Interfaith Power&Light for nine years and currently serve on the board of the Bahá’í-inspired International Environment Forum (iefworld.org). My academic background is in music and I enjoy part-time piano teaching and playing music. I would have done more in the area of music were it not for the urgency of climate action, but my musical training has helped me to better understand the complexity of the climate crisis. Christine’s articles on BahaiTeachings.orgSee Faculty Bio

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