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Climate change: What I could do

From the July 23, 2012 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel

As a professor of agricultural meteorology and climatology, I taught graduate students about how climate change could affect crops, and I did research as part of the national effort to understand how agricultural systems contribute to climate change. What brought the subject home to me in a very direct way was when I read about a record-setting heat wave in Pakistan and India that killed hundreds of people. I felt such compassion for their plight that my heart was deeply moved.

While researching other major heat waves, I learned from the World Health Organization that “climatic changes already are estimated to cause over 150,000 deaths annually.” This led me to pray regularly about climate change and the progressive nature of mankind. I also prayed for God to show me how to be benign in my actions and to be able to follow my conscience in supporting solutions to this global concern, while also respecting those with other points of view.

To me, conscience is one’s inner sense of what is right or wrong in one’s conduct or motives, impelling one toward right action. While my conscience might direct me to somewhat different conclusions about right behavior than another person’s, I recognized from Mary Baker Eddy’s writings that I needed to follow my highest sense of right to support healing. 

For example, Eddy said, “The author has not compromised conscience to suit the general drift of thought . . .” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. x) and “In conscience, we cannot hold to beliefs outgrown; . . .” (p. 28). She recognizes conscience, along with self-government and reason, as God-endowed, inalienable rights. I recalled a Christian Science lecturer speaking about political progress who used the metaphor that gliders in a thermal may move to either the right or the left, but both move upward. Similarly, if we are striving to lift our thoughts about climate change toward solutions, each individual may have different insights on the way, but our collective goal is healing.

The challenge of climate change seems to be especially difficult to address in the developed, industrial world because many believe making changes in lifestyle could undermine our current way of life. 

A material view of energy versus the allness of Spirit

On the one hand, modern inventions and energy resources have dramatically affected and expanded our lives and have reduced our physical labor. On the other hand, they have been accompanied by side effects such as pollution, carbon emissions, harmful impacts, imbalances, inequities, and increasing costs. When we look at the benefits and drawbacks of our use of energy to support our way of life, finding solutions may seem daunting because we are in essence accepting matter as the source of our good.

This has come about as mankind has relied more and more on a material sense of energy. Along with that view has come the feeling that we are the masters of matter and can solve our problems of daily living from a material basis. The difficulty is that because matter is the opposite of Spirit, and is also inherently self-destructive, it can’t provide universal and lasting solutions. 

Turning away from the material model and valuing God as the true and only source of energy and power opens the way to viable responses to human needs. Each of us can participate in this way, and bring healing to humanity and to the earth. 

From matter to Spirit

In my desire to support a shift back toward a more God-centered view of energy, I began to consider what a spiritual sense of the divine all-power means in my life. Through this prayer I saw a sharp contrast between material sources of power and the power each of us has as a spiritual idea of God.

Understanding God as the spiritual source of power reverses (1) reliance on matter and material sources and (2) the negative side effects. By turning away from matter and identifying ourselves as fully spiritual, we are aligning ourselves with the real nature of the universe, the creation of Spirit. 

Each one of us, as God’s idea, is spiritually powerful because we reflect divine omnipotence, which admits no materialistic beliefs. Science and Health explains, “Belief in a material basis, from which may be deduced all rationality, is slowly yielding to the idea of a metaphysical basis, looking away from matter to Mind as the cause of every effect” (p. 268). Under God’s government, the expression of divine power does not and cannot harm us or our brothers and sisters in other nations.

Christ reveals solutions

Divine omnipotence works with us through Christ, the divine healing influence. It empowers our prayers, opens people’s eyes to new solutions to problems, and it also gives us the willingness to follow through on them. In my own life, I have found some ways to apply these ideas. I had already been combining car trips and turning off unneeded lights in my home due to my general care for the environment. But my conscience told me I needed to act more consistently with my love for God’s creation in my use of energy resources and my sharing about this.

I considered transportation alternatives to my gas-powered car. While electric cars might be an improvement, our budget was committed to other needs. So what could I do, given that I live in a rural area without public transportation and where carpooling is usually not feasible? 

For me, additional bicycling, which I used to do regularly several decades ago, was a possibility. A bicycle as a material object isn’t more spiritual than a car, but I recognized it as expressing the spiritual concept of transportation without the belief of harming the environment. 

As I prayerfully considered expanded bicycling, I began addressing the concerns that were holding me back: my reluctance to leave the ease and comfort of my car and my concern about having sufficient bodily energy, time, and safety. I realized that I could treat these concerns as an opportunity to see and prove the presence of divine energy and governance in my life. I could experience this energy by proactive prayer: knowing the comfort of God’s omnipresence, reflecting undepleted divine energy and vigor, expressing courage, confidence, and wisdom to deal with traffic, and affirming a healthy willingness to act on my highest sense of right. 

By improving my limited concept of transportation and of myself, I was applying the inspirations concerning God’s omnipotence that had come to me. I substituted biking for some of my trips including some 12-mile round-trips. I also found some of my needs met closer to home. While biking hasn’t been the total solution, I’m grateful for this progress and expect new insights as I continue to pray. Progress is a divine law, and I’m looking forward to proving this law in my life. 

I’ve also been praying about ways to reduce energy use in the house without a prohibitive cost, knowing that God’s ideas are complete and include the necessary resources. 

During two recent summers, we planned for my husband, a carpenter, to complete an improvement project at our place on the weekends. He became unemployed, however, and the loss of his paycheck, which we had counted on to buy materials, threatened the project. I affirmed that God provides what is needed to follow His guidance. In each case, we had the resources to proceed (and extra time to get the work done) despite the loss of income. 

Around this time I took the county’s new energy steward training for volunteers. Speaking to my sometimes contentious community, I was joyous to observe their broad receptivity and eager sharing. I treasure the idea that God is the only influence and that God’s man is receptive to divine Mind, including thoughts of spiritual energy and power. After many years away from working outside the home, I was grateful to be accepted into and certified in a professional class in the new field of lowering home energy use.

I am exploring how this training can benefit my family and my community. I realize that I don’t want to merely move from one set of faulty material practices to a new set of slightly less faulty practices. Prayer-inspired change prevents this. Prayer results in our increased discernment of the Christ. Prayer anchors us to absolute Spirit and omnipotence. And it propels us through a progressive transition from thinking of ourselves and our lifestyle as material, and from having a personal sense of and attachment to our accomplishments, toward fully expressing our spiritual nature.

Recently, I was appointed to serve on my county’s Transportation System Plan committee. As its members have wide spectrums of thought on both climate change and urban/rural needs, I have been praying concerning harmony and productivity. God is directing a seamless, harmonious universe with all its ideas appreciated and unified, and I expect that we can have a mutually appreciated outcome with God governing our activity. 

I am continuing in my prayers until I know my daily actions are aligned with my highest sense of right and with the expectation that they are helping to uplift humanity’s whole concept of our earth. It is possible for everyone to express global love for our fellow humans along with the other life on the planet, and to have a loving desire that our actions only bless others. As we pray for spiritual understanding from this loving motive, we can be confident that God is with us all the way.

Elizabeth Graser-Lindsey has her Ph.D. in bioenvironmental engineering with a focus in agricultural meteorology and climatology. She lives on a small farm in Beavercreek, near Portland, Oregon. 

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