Exploring the gospel principles of earth stewardship

Addressing Climate Change Requires Personal and Collective Action

Farmington Bay Shorelands of the Great Salt Lake

Farmington Bay Shorelands of the Great Salt Lake

“Traveling to the four corners of the world we encounter all too often a spirit of gloom among the people. Their concerns range from wars, rumors of wars, famine, and inflation to drug addiction, climate changes, pollution, bigness of government, etc. I can understand why those who are without faith in our Lord and Savior would become prophets of gloom. Times can be difficult. However, a look at the causes of the difficulties proves that they are man-made and that solutions are within man’s ability to accomplish.”  Elder L. Tom Perry, When Ye Are Prepared, Ye Shall Not Fear, General Conference, October 1981, https://www.lds.org/general-conference/1981/10/when-ye-are-prepared-ye-shall-not-fear).

This past October, some 10,000 religious leaders and followers from around the world convened in Salt Lake City for the Parliament of World Religions to explore climate change action through the lens of faith and moral responsibility. Over the next two weeks, leaders of 190 nations across the globe are meeting to address climate change, and are working to find solutions through shared values and strategic actions. These gatherings do not mince words—climate change is a real, present and growing threat to humanity and to all life.

I applaud both religious and civic leaders for recognizing the pressing need to do something. Like Elder Perry, I too believe that climate change is a consequence of man’s behavior, but more importantly within man’s ability to solve. I am impressed with the overarching message that our collective action can make a difference.

I recently came across an article in the Ensign (see https://www.lds.org/ensign/1991/07/earth-a-gift-of-gladness), where Bishop Michael Alder rightfully reminds us of our responsibility and stewardship to care for the earth—including its remarkable and life-sustaining systems. He acknowledges that while some issues like climate change and pollution will require the collective action of governments, there is much we can do as individuals, families and communities to take greater care of the earth. Here are some ideas he shares:

  • Find ways to reduce unnecessary personal consumption of energy, water, wood products, and other products that come from scarce resources.
  • Stop using products that damage the environment.
  • Recycle metal, glass, plastic, and paper products.
  • Be conscientious in disposing of chemical wastes properly.
  • Learn more about natural processes and earth science.
  • Cultivate a garden where possible; learn the art and science of composting.
  • Adopt a conservation rather than a consumption attitude.
  • Be grateful.

To Bishop Alder’s fantastic list, I would add: Walk more. Drive less. Buy less stuff. Eat less meat. Eat more vegetables. Live smaller. Think bigger. Act bolder. These are certainly all sound LDS values and beliefs.

Caring for our climate is every bit as important to our personal and family preparedness as food storage, gardening, and financial prudence. Being good stewards of the earth on issues that affect our climate will require much greater and more deliberate personal and collective efforts. Having the conviction to change our individual and household activities and setting a good example for others are small steps we can take that collectively will have a large impact. In addition, supporting our leaders in collective action can also help us with the big and bold steps as nations that are also necessary.

If you’re so inclined, please consider signing a petition recently published by a group of BYU student climate stewards, which can be found on the LDS Earth Stewardship blog: https://ldsearthstewardship.org/2015/11/a-petition-to-the-worlds-leaders.

It warms my heart to see so many faithful Latter-day Saints engaged in personal and collective action on climate change. I take hope from Elder Perry’s words. I don’t lose sleep at night worrying about the future, because I wake up every morning knowing that today I can make a difference.

  • Paul Curtis says:

    Your direct uncompromising words on Climate Change in the context of our gospel beliefs warmed my heart and lifted my spirit.
    From the other side of the planet, the Blue Mountains of Australia, I value the association with LDS Earth Stewards and faithful Latter-day Saints who have a similar commitment to action on climate change and earth care. One day I hope we can meet in person.
    Thank you.