In Malawi when you get to the month of October you prepare yourself for a few weeks of baking hot weather. Not this year. October began with cloudy skies, low temperatures and some heavy rain. In Scotland this would not surprise you on any day of the year. In Malawi in October it causes bafflement. Instead of switching on the fan I am hunting in the drawer for my cold-season jersey. Normally the coming of the “rains” is a happy time, a signal for the planting season to begin. But rain coming so early raises questions – will it be a false start to the growing season with many dry, hot weeks still to come? “Climate change” is on everyone’s lips.
The stakes are high here. Malawi’s economy is heavily dependent on rain-fed agriculture. The climate question is a matter of life and death for the subsistence farmers who make up the great majority of the population. Disturbance of traditional weather patterns, including more frequent floods and droughts, poses very serious questions about Malawi’s future.
For Malawians, it is good that Greta Thunberg was at the UN General Assembly and not pulling her punches:
“Declaring a climate emergency is good. But only setting up these vague, distant dates and saying things which give the impression of that things are being done and that action is on the way, will most likely do more harm than good. Because of the changes required are still nowhere in sight. Not in France, not in the EU, nowhere. And I believe that the biggest danger is not our inaction. The real danger is when companies and politicians are making it look like real action is happening, when in fact almost nothing is being done, apart from clever accounting and creative PR.”Greta Thunberg, United Nations General Assembly, 2019
“Almost nothing is being done” – I find myself haunted by these words. As I am by the question asked by the World Council of Churches Together Towards Life document:
“Consumerism triggers not limitless growth but rather endless exploitation of the earth’s resources. Human greed is contributing to global warming and other forms of climate change. If this trend continues and earth is fatally damaged, what can we imagine salvation to be?”Together Towards Life §23