Evangelical Lutheran Bishop David Brauer-Rieke believes that leaving the world better for our progeny is not just a value of the church, but a human value.
He stressed this value at a forum Monday at the Roseburg Douglas County Library called “Climate Change: A Moral and Spiritual Action.” The Douglas County Global Warming Coalition sponsored this event.
A former member of the Oregon Global Warming Commission, Brauer-Rieke began his discussion with an explanation about the thin layer of atmospheric gases that envelops our planet and makes life possible. This atmosphere also screens out energy from the sun and keeps the planet at a temperature where life can flourish.
“When we talk about climate change, we talk about what’s happening to our atmosphere,” he said, referring to measurable, factual amounts.
The concentrations of greenhouse gases also stayed around the same since the year 500, until the last 150 years, when the concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide reached higher concentrations around the year 2000, then previously.
Nitrous oxide increased from hovering at 800 parts per billion since the year 500 to 1,200 ppb around the year 2000. Methane increased from hovering around 700 ppb to 1,900 ppb. Carbon dioxide went from around 900 ppb to 1,800 ppb.
“Computer projections about the future in the next century are dependent upon what we do with the use of fossil fuel,” Brauer-Rieke said.
He said a conservative estimate, if the world stops all its emissions today, would still produce a 2 degree Celsius increase in climate change within the next century according to computer projections. The three greenhouse gases pumped into the air by humans are the cause of this global climate change. Fluorocarbons also cause damage.
The conversation then shifted from global warming facts to personal responsibility about how we as humans respond to caring for each other and the world we live in, and what we leave behind for our children and grandchildren. In other words, how do we act in the face of climate change?
The case study Brauer-Rieke referred to was the current protest at the Dakota Access Pipeline Project that stretches from North Dakota to Illinois. Up to 7,000 people have been gathering and camping there in peaceful protest along the proposed pipeline for about a month and a half, according to the Christian Science Monitor.
The pipeline crosses the burial grounds near Standing Rock Reservation that spans the North and South Dakota borders. As a result, up to 200 nations, including native tribal nations, have set up camp in protest, according to Brauer-Rieke. Other groups have also set up camp in protest.
Addressing the moral and spiritual aspect of his discussion, Brauer-Rieke referred to a message written in August from Chief Arvol Looking Horse of the Lakota, Dakota and Nakota Nations. His message aimed to unite the global community spiritually.
“To us as caretakers of Mother Earth, falls the responsibility of turning back the powers of destruction,” Looking Horse said. “Each of us is put here in this time and this place to personally decide the future of humankind.”
Brauer-Rieke discussed inward and outward journeys, with disengagement between our spiritual lives and the problems with the world outside at the core. He asked that people find what makes a difference for them and what calls them. He said his grandchildren inspired him to turn hopes and fears into public action.