Is it already too late?

For someone living on the banks of the River Severn, who has been flooded several times and can no longer get insurance; for an Australian whose home has been burned down and for the 80 million animals who died in the fires; for the farmers of Kenya or the Sudan whose crops have failed and whose cattle have died…. it is already too late.


Maybe when people ask that question, they are asking from a perspective in which relative wealth, privilege and education will provide some sort of buffer against the crisis. The climate emergency will affect the poorest nations most profoundly first. That’s what made the Australian fires so shocking: a wealthy, developed nation was suffering the impact of climate change and was powerless to stop it.

The Climate Emergency is not a hypothetical future; it is here now. These are the effects of just 1 degree of warming. Imagine how much worse 1.5 or 2 degrees of warming will be, which are the best scenarios. 

Is there a moment, though, that might really constitute ‘too late’ for the bulk of humanity?

The thing to watch is sea level. We know that glaciers and ice shelves are melting fast. The Thwaites glacier alone, now melting at an alarming rate, would raise sea levels by 0.5 metres, but is holding back other glaciers of the western Antarctic ice sheet that could raise sea levels by 3 meters.

Vast cities such as Mumbai, Kolkata (Calcutta), Shenzen, Shanghai, Osaka, Bankok Alexandria and Rio de Janiero are some of the most vulnerable to sea level rise, which will result in massive migration movements and political destabilization. I think that is when the real ‘too late’ scenario kicks in…

As I write, though, the news has just flashed on my screen that the third runway at Heathrow has been deemed illegal because the Climate Emergency and Paris Agreement were not considered. This may be the precedent that means that the climate, public health and our survival on this planet are beginning to take precedence over business interests. 

And we can be proud of our UDC councilors who did it first! 

We can also be proud that the Church of England has brought forward its target for carbon neutralty from 2045 to 2030.  Proposing the amendment, Canon Professor Martin Gainsborough, said, ‘The seriousness of the situation facing the earth cannot be overstated, especially across the world, away from the UK. There are theological reasons for the move as well. Christianity is about sacrificial life: Faith is risky.’

So, yes, we are already suffering the effects, but it is surely our duty not to give up hope and not to be inactive. We have still time to limit the worst effects. As Christians, parents, voters, consumers and caring human beings, we must add our weight and influence in confronting the greatest challenge of our age.

Do visit the Eco church pages on the Parish website to find out more about what you can do.


You can read the Church Times report on the decision to go carbon neutral by 2030 here: