I live in Cape Town and this city of 3.7 million people is about to run out of water. Due to a devastating drought we have less than 200 days of water remaining. In the past few days we have been moved by images of the devastating storm and flooding in Texas, USA. Even more devastating, though less publicised, has been the extensive flooding in India and the surrounding region, with millions being displaced and hundreds losing their lives. At the same time wildfires continue to rage in British Columbia, Canada. These current situations, sadly, are terrible examples of why we as Christians need to care about climate change.
As well as drying out the land and leading to drought, climate change means, on average, warmer ocean water. This is what intensifies storms like Harvey. It is true that wildfires and floods have always happened but it is the heavy human ‘thumb on the scale’ that is making them more frequent and more devastating.
When disasters like this confront us, as Christians we are called to love. We can dedicate ourselves not just to protecting the victims of floods, drought and wildfires, but also to acting for all those who are potential victims of all the disasters to come.
This coming month, during the Season of Creation, Christians around the globe will be praying, gathering in worship services, and taking concrete action to tackle climate change. The Season of Creation lasts from the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation on 1 September to 4 October, which is the Feast of St Francis of Assisi. The events have special resonance in 2017. This year marks the 500th anniversary of the Reformation that brought about the Protestant schism from the Roman Catholic Church. It is highly significant that Christians from both traditions are coming together now to pray and act for God’s creation.
The World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation on 1 September was first introduced by the Orthodox Church in 1989 and has been embraced by other Christian churches since, with the Anglican Consultative Council endorsing it in 2012. The Roman Catholic Church joined the movement after a statement by Pope Francis in 2015. This means the Season is now celebrated by the vast majority of major Christian churches. Together, Catholics, Protestants, Anglicans and Orthodox are responding to an urgent moral call to reduce greenhouse gases and help our neighbours adapt to a warmer world.
A range of events will be taking place during the Season, including outdoor prayer services to celebrate God’s wonderful creation. Some of these will be at sites of environmental degradation. More Christian groups are expected to announce their plans to remove stocks in fossil fuel companies from their investment portfolios.
Christians of diverse backgrounds are united on climate change because caring for creation, and caring for vulnerable people who are already suffering the consequences of a warmer world, are essential to our faith.
It should give us hope that, globally, ever more Christians feel the same. This month’s Season of Creation is an opportunity to turn this recognition into action and to hear the cry of the Earth and the cry of the Poor.
Revd Dr Rachel Mash, Environmental Coordinator, Anglican Church of Southern Africa
 Pope Francis in Laudato Sí