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A New Role

July 7, 2024

I’m delighted to say, next month I’ll be taking up a new role as Programmes, Partnerships and Advocacy Director for Embrace the Middle East – an excellent organisation that works with marginalised and vulnerable communities, supporting ME Christians in tackling poverty and injustice in the Middle East.

The Middle East is such a key region: politically of course, and also from faith, poverty and climate perspectives (the World Bank describes the ME as one of the most climate vulnerable regions in the world) so I’m really excited about joining the team and am looking forward to the challenge of being involved in that area!

Environment, Green living

Survey Results: How People Stay Resilient and Committed to Climate Action

February 15, 2024

In the year that saw global temperatures exceed 1.5℃ across an entire year for the first time, I conducted a survey to find out how people sustained their climate action and stayed resilient. Over 400 people responded, most of whom considered themselves to be climate activists at least some of the time (there were a few dissenting respondents, such as the person who claimed, ‘I am a strong climate sceptic with over 7,000 hours in the study of climate science’.). 

I thought it would be helpful to share the survey results with you and the strategies people use to support themselves and others in sustaining action:

1. How do you feel in response to the climate crisis?

The highest emotion people felt was ‘saddened’ (59%), followed by ‘angry’ (47%) and anxious (47%). Whilst ‘hopeful’ did come fourth (44%), it was striking that the top three emotions were negative. 

  • Can you identify with those feelings? Climate grief and anxiety are very real emotions and it’s important we acknowledge them and don’t push them away too quickly.

2. What is your first response when you hear something about the ‘climate crisis’?

Whilst there were a mixture of responses to this question, it seems that people respond proactively when they hear something about the climate crisis. The top answer selected was ‘educate myself’ (32%), followed by ‘share about the issue’ (23%). By contrast only 4% of people chose ‘carry on and don’t think too much about it’, and only 7% selected ‘acknowledge the issue but do nothing more’. 

  • Taking action when you hear about the problem is one of the very things that helps people continue to face the issues head on.

3. What do you do if you feel overwhelmed in your activism?

Interestingly, the highest response to what people do if they feel overwhelmed was to ‘focus on stories of hope’ (31%); with people then saying they ‘take regular breaks’ (26%) and connect with others who are taking action (21%). Only 11% said they don’t feel overwhelmed and only 13% said they do nothing. In respondents’ own comments, a lot was said about getting out and connecting with nature.

  • Identifying what helps our feelings of overwhelm can encourage us proactively to take those steps when we need to.

4. Are you part of any activist communities that support you?

Not surprisingly, given my personal location within the Christian sphere and therefore the people the survey was likely to reach, the community that had the highest response was ‘Church’ (44%), followed by ‘activist/campaign group’ (38%) and Eco Church (34%). Respondents also cited family and friends, and specific groups and communities that they were part of as sources of encouragement. 

  • Just 2% of people said they were not part of this kind of community, highlighting the importance of taking action alongside others, and not feeling alone in our efforts.

5. How do you stay hopeful with the ‘climate crisis’?

This was a ‘free-form’ question with no set options so it got nearly 400 different responses! Many referred to their faith and spiritual practices, such as reading the Bible and worship, and others referred to stories of hope and taking action themselves, as well as getting out into nature, as means of encouragement. There were some who felt that they had no hope left, but the majority of respondents said that these practices allowed them to maintain some hope and persevere despite the challenges.

Wherever we stand when it comes to hope, we know we must keep taking climate action because, even at this late stage, every fraction of a degree still matters. For many years my motto has been ‘many little steps in the right direction’ – and the more of us that are able to keep going, the bigger the difference we can make. I hope these survey results will stimulate your own thinking on how you too can keep persevering.

Environment

Why I’ll be joining Christian Climate Action at Extinction Rebellion’s ‘The Big One’ in April…

March 23, 2023
Ruth Valerio at Christian Climate Action EX protest

It can be overwhelming to think of the scale of the climate crisis, let alone how we should respond to it. What can we do to help? Will our actions make a difference?

In 2019 I gave a speech on the ‘Faith Bridge’ at Lambeth Bridge. This was the coming together of multi-faith groups from across the UK, joining in peaceful protest and non-violent disobedience to call for urgent, meaningful action on the climate crisis. It was a powerful experience to join a crowd of people praying and speaking out for climate justice for those living in poverty and for God’s creation.

Now, as I prepare to join Christian Climate Action at The Big One from Friday 21 April, I’ve been reminded of how important it is for us as Christians to come together and use our voice.

The Big One is different from other actions – it is not a rebellion, has been organised with police permission, and is designed to include everyone. I will be helping to lead the ‘No faith in fossil fuels’ church service with other Christians at St John’s Waterloo, and then we will walk to join 100,000 people on the streets of Westminster. Events like this are a wonderful opportunity for us to get to know and encourage one another and add our voices and prayers to the call that’s going out.

Creation groans

The climate crisis is devastating the lives of those living in poverty. A colleague who recently returned from northern Kenya was telling me how people are surviving on emergency porridge because their crops have failed; how elephants and wild animals are storming water catchments and food gardens near tanks because they are desperate for water, and how the five years of drought has become a crisis of survival for both people and animals.

Our world leaders need to take urgent action to reduce carbon emissions and stop the crisis from getting worse. And as the church, we have a huge part to play in speaking out to governments, politicians and businesses, to call on them to put policies and practices in place that don’t harm creation and people living in poverty.

Psalm 146 declares that God is ‘the Maker of heaven and earth’. It says he upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. Engaging with God’s heart for his creation and for his people is part of our Christian discipleship. And in the 30 years I’ve been working with the church on the issue of environment care, I’ve been encouraged to see more and more Christians rightly respond to the climate crisis, both in making changes in their own lives and in speaking out. But there is so much more we need to do.

Group protesting with sign saying 
'No More Fossil Fuels Amen'
Including Yellow Tearfund heart signs saying 'show them mercy', 'honour'
Image Credit: Shanon Shah

No time for silence

Dietrich Bonhoeffer said that sometimes the role of the church is ‘not just to bandage the victims under the wheel, but to put a spoke in the wheel itself’. Events like The Big One aim to do that, to make a statement so bold that those in the seat of power are moved to make change happen and stop the wheel in its tracks.

For me, events like these are an avenue to express the urgency of the situation and do something to take action. It can feel overwhelming and hopeless, and I want to be part of a movement pushing for change, not just throwing up my hands in desperation.

Responding to the call

I sometimes think of the church as a sleeping giant: we’re starting to stir from our slumber, but if we could really wake up, we would be a massive force for good. I wonder if even more of us gathered in solidarity and raised our voices at demonstrations like the Faith Bridge and The Big One, what change from our governments and justice for those in poverty we might yet see.

I’ll be passing the word on about this event to others. There is something very powerful about praying and singing together outside Westminster! Let’s add our voices to those of 100,000 others, and pray that we don’t leave a world behind that is decimated and impoverished.

Proverbs 31:8–9 tells us: ‘Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.’ I believe we can be bold in our response to that command, as we take action on the climate crisis to secure a liveable future for all.

Christain Climate Action

Join Tearfund at ‘The Big One’

Header Image Credit: Tearfund

Environment

Sustaining Climate Action Survey

February 24, 2023

Hi All, please could you help me?! I’m thinking a lot at the moment about how we keep going with climate action and want to hear your thoughts. I thought the simplest thing was for me to do a very quick survey. Please would you have a look – it will literally only take you a few minutes. THANK YOU!

– Survey now closed –

Please click here to go to the survey.

Bible/Theology

Simple Living

September 13, 2022

Simple living sounds a strange term today, with high consumerism and a cost-of-living crisis. But I think there’s something important in that term for how we live well as Christians in our contemporary society. In this video I draw on research from my theological work exploring how Aquinas states that we can find fulfilment and happiness through leading a virtuous life. I look at how the path of simple living is walking a middle line, holding in tension the virtues of justice and temperance, to find what Aristotle termed, the golden mean, that can be applied to how we respond to consumerism.

I hope you find it interesting and helpful.

This interview is part of the @ExtraECC ​Conversations Beyond Borders #ExtraEcclesiam Separate Star CIC

Link to full interview

For all things ExtraECC, go to: https://ExtraECC.com

Audio versions of these interviews are at: https://soundcloud.com/extraecc

Bible/Theology, Covid-19, Environment, Videos

Religion, Worldviews and Animals

May 20, 2022

For my whole adult life I have been considering how my Christian faith informs what I think about and how I interact with the wider natural world. What does being a follower of Jesus mean for the way I treat the rest of his creation? What are the implications for our relationships with animals? Should we eat meat? What does a sustainable future for the world look like? Where does the Covid-19 pandemic come into all this?

In the video below I discuss these and other questions with Prof Dr Pim Martens of Maastricht University in the Netherlands, so do take a look.