The effects of climate change engulfed the small town of Lytton, Canada in flames last Tuesday. The high temperature of 121 degrees Fahrenheit obliterated the previous record high by 8 degrees. It was 4 degrees higher than anything ever recorded in Las Vegas, Nevada and only 1 degree lower than the all-time high in Phoenix, Arizona. It’s hotter than any temperature ever recorded in Europe or South America and the highest temperature ever recorded above 45 degrees latitude. This small British Columbia village of about 250 residents is situated between the Fraser and Thompson rivers, an unlikely location for North America’s hotspot. For those hoping to escape the consequences of climate change by moving north, think again.
In a phone conversation with C3’s scientific consultant, Robert Davies, Professor of Physics at Utah State University, I said, “Robert, I have heard this is not a 500 or 1000 year event. It is a 10,000 year event.”
He responded, “That’s the old model. This is no longer a 10,000 year event. It’s a part of the new normal we will experience more frequently as a result of climate change.”
Following three days of record highs, Lytton burst into flames. The little town that is less than a mile in length was decimated in 15 minutes. Two residents died and all the rest evacuated as ninety percent of the town was consumed by fires. The cause of the fire is unknown, but some speculate it came from the sparks of a train passing through the village known for its fishing and canoeing activities.
These extreme events are occurring more frequently, accelerating the need for global adjustments to human behavior. All human beings, all nations, all businesses and all faith communities are needed to respond to this existential crisis. The Christian community, in particular, has an obligation to offer leadership to this change. We use the language of repentance in our faith and it is most appropriate here. We need to turn around and head a different direction for the sake of all creatures inhabiting the earth. God made us stewards over his creation and we are needed now, more than ever, to be responsible stewards and live in more sustainable ways.