Creating the right environment…


Praying for courageous decisions by the world leaders at COP26. And for courage for each of us to do our part to help our planet be healthier and safer for everyone.

It seems that the future of our planet hangs in the balance. If we are in the cable car, so to speak, then the wire that holds us up and enables us to travel through life – the natural world – is close to breaking point. Should it do so, then the created order will plunge into a spiral that will lead ultimately to self-destruction.  


If that sounds rather emotive and over-stated, then perhaps we need to take time to do a bit of reading around the subjects that will pre-occupy the world leaders gathering at Glasgow next month for the COP26 gathering? Only last week, I was watching a programme about Mass Extinctions. It first looked back, to study the ‘Great Dying’ that ended the Permian period, and then to a more recent calamity that ended the age of the dinosaurs. The programme looked ahead, to ask whether another mass extinction was possible, or even underway. Scarily, the factors that have initiated previous mass extinctions are potentially there now, this time caused by us; rising temperatures, increasing green-house gases and so on. These are the almost unseen trends which start chain reactions that lead to a runaway condition where most living things perish.  


The decisions that are made in Glasgow will impact every person alive on our planet now, and especially those who have yet to be born. Which is why we need to pray! To pray for courage, for generosity, for responsibility and for a setting aside of selfish national wants and ambitions. We truly need to be in this together. Our Christian faith makes clear our common humanity and responsibility for one another: “Love your neighbour as yourself”! Equally, we are called to show a particular care for those who are less able to shape their future path – in this case the poorer nations of the world. It seems so unjust that those nations which have contributed least to the emerging global crisis are those who stand to be impacted the most by it.  


In the Cathedral, we have set aside a prayer area where you can reflect on these huge matters and to pray. Like many people, you can make an origami boat and set it ‘afloat’ on our imaginary ‘sea’ (aka a large piece of blue fabric!). You will be able to write your own prayer for COP26 and/or use the QR code to leave a prayer on our virtual ‘prayer wall’. 


As you do so, may I invite all of us to consider what we as individuals, families, communities and as a Cathedral and churches can do? Sacrifice will be asked of all of us, especially those of us who can afford to do more. It should impact our dependence on private cars, our use of single-use plastics, how we light and heat our homes, how carefully we re-cycle and so on. It should also make demands on our shopping and gardening habits, consuming fewer of those foodstuffs which impact the environment the most, and using peat-free compost in our gardens. It ought to stimulate our generosity to give to those charities that are trying to make a positive difference to the environment in this country and around the world. 


As a starter-for-ten, why not have a look at the website of our Local Wildlife Trust, which explains why COP26 is so vital for our future, and practical ways that we can do some things ourselves.


Christian Aid has a great deal of information on its website to help us think around COP26 and how we can be more active in campaigning for courageous decisions in Glasgow.


The Association of English Cathedrals is also encouraging us to look into this whole area, and to be active.


Whatever we do this November, and beyond, let’s take this matter seriously. The last thing any of us need or want is for the wire to break and for our cable cars to be sent plunging into oblivion! 


With good wishes 

Canon Neal