“The Outlook is Not Good”. Climate Change in Malawi, and the Language of Faith
June 8, 2012
Regular readers will remember that I have featured interviews here with Katharine Hayhoe, and Richard Cizik, both evangelical Christians who have been successful communicating the science of climate to their communities.
I know that for many scientists, and many readers of this blog, the language and assumptions of faith are a stumbling block. Nevertheless, they are an essential part of life, and a key to understanding the world, for most of humanity. Ignoring this reality is not a promising strategy when the need for change is so urgent.
Victor Mughogho is a Christian activist in Malawi, who describes conditions on the ground in this video, and who has a way of describing the urgency of the moment in language that is vivid and scripturally based. If we are going to close the gap between the faith and science communities, there is a great need for more bridge builders like this.
Mughogho says about 85 percent of his country lives and farms the land in rural areas.
“For them, rainfall is everything,” he said. “WIthout rain, there’s no agriculture, no livelihood.”
In the 70s and 80s, rural Malawians could count on consistent rainfall in October. They could plant maize on the same day each year and have a guaranteed return. Now, the unpredictable weather means they plant multiple times a year, hoping and praying for rain — and end up with a fraction of what they used to reap.
“We had a severe famine in Malawi — a food crisis that was threatening the lives of of close to 5 million people,” Mughogho said. “People weren’t just starving; people were dying. People were resorting to eating poisonous stuff from the forest.”
Mughogho’s ministry, Eagles Relief and Development Program, helps Malawians grow drought-tolerant crops, set up community gardens, and provide childcare and education for orphaned children.
Mughogho says it’s a community responsibility to work together to address the problem.
“We are trying to [educate] churches to understand their biblical mandate for social action,” he said. “… We ask the question, ‘What do you have in this community that can help address the challenges you are facing?’”
And, he emphasized, climate change is a global issue.
“It needs global minds put together,” he said. “Who is better suited for that task than the Christians?”
Below: Faith based groups deploy solar energy in Malawi