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I Am Only One...

by Jim Segaar, Director of Communications, Seattle First Baptist Church, Seattle, WA

What can one person do in the face of an issue as complex and enormous as climate change? When faced with something so daunting, where does one even begin? It is easy to feel confused and powerless.

Two thousand years ago, one might just as well have asked, “What can one person do in the face of the Roman Empire?” If Mary or Jesus or Paul had given into a sense of powerlessness, which would have seemed perfectly reasonable at the time, we would not have a Christian faith and tradition today. But they didn’t despair. As Bill Malcomson wrote recently, they found strength in weakness.

I remain hopeful about climate change, or more precisely about improving and preserving our environment, and much of that hope stems from the belief that I can have an impact. Every day each of us makes countless choices that impact our environment. In some cases we directly generate carbon dioxide and other pollutants when we consume resources, such as driving a car that burns gasoline or diesel. In other cases we indirectly generate carbon dioxide when we purchase products or services.

Consumption is a significant contributor to climate change, and we Americans consume more than any other group of people on Earth. Recent studies found that an average American consumes 25 times more than the average person in India, and up to 35 times more than someone in China. That gives us both the opportunity and the responsibility to make changes in our behavior for the sake of our planet and our future.

So where to begin? Almost anywhere. Driving. Laundry. Use of “disposables.” Over the coming weeks we will publish ideas and hints for reducing our consumption and generation of carbon dioxide and other pollutants on our website, on Facebook, and in our weekly emails. We are also soliciting ideas – if you have one please send it to me at [[email protected]].

On Earth Sunday our Sanctuary Choir sang the words of Edward Everett Hale, an American author and Unitarian clergyman in the 19th and early 20th Centuries: “I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything; but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.”

It is time for us to practice what we sing. The future of our planet depends on it.

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