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Putin implies teen climate activist is being manipulated

A man sells Greta Thunberg masks during a climate protest rally Sept. 27 in Santiago, Chile. Across the globe, hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets to demand that leaders tackle climate change. 

There is no monopoly on common sense On either side of the political fence We share the same biology, regardless of ideology Believe me when I say to you I hope the Russians love their children too.

— Sting, from his album “The Dream of the Blue Turtles,” 1985

For those old enough to remember when his song came out, Sting captured the genuine fear of global nuclear destruction. The rhetoric between Russia and the U.S. heated up the cold war to the degree that launching intercontinental ballistic missiles was a real possibility.

The thin hope was that before the powers pushed the buttons, they’d hesitate long enough to see a bigger picture. What are we doing to our children? What kind of world, if any, are we leaving them? Are ideologies really more important than their lives?

Sting’s song is again relevant today, but in a sadly different way.

After teen activist Greta Thunberg made an impassioned plea to save our planet from the consequences of climate change, her speech elicited responses from some leaders that made it obvious they’d never heard Sting’s song. President Donald Trump made a sarcastic comment about her. Russian president Vladimir Putin dismissed her as naïve.

It was as if the Cold War was happening again, but this time America and Russia were on the same side, and advocates for addressing the climate crisis, on the other.

The picture of Mutually Assured Destruction from climate deterioration is less graphic than that of a mushroom cloud. There’s only gradual warming. Like the frog in the water on the stove as the burner slowly inches higher, we’re not aware of our impending boiling point.

Maybe that’s why some people, including world leaders, find it easier to ignore it or cast about for conspiracy theories. There are more profits to be made from loosening emissions and gas mileage standards and from withdrawing from climate accords.

If the effects of climate change were as pronounced as nuclear fallout, we would never be so near-sighted.

Biblically, whatever was done to the land today was done so with an eye for the people living on it tomorrow. The covenant with God was tending the land so that it would be bountiful for future generations. It was never about using resources selfishly only for the present population.

We need to see the faces of children and ponder what world we’re leaving to them. How can we look into their eyes and not sense the consequences of neglectful actions? We provide a home for them but are we really providing a future as well?

If I love my children, I must do little things to at least show them that I’m concerned about their quality of life tomorrow.

I Googled “actions to combat climate change,” and the resources that came back were impressive. One was the David Suzuki Foundation, which offered 10 Ways You Can Fight Climate Change. Another, on the website activesustainability.com, offered Six Actions to Fight Climate Change.

Their suggestions are practical ways to show our children that, in some small manner, we don’t want to leave a wasteland to them. We do know the temperature is rising, like that pan of water on the stove. And we want to reduce the heat.

If we do love our children, and their children, we need to show it before it’s too late.

Greg Weeks is a retired pastor in the United Methodist Church. He is a regular Faith Perspectives contributor to STLtoday.com/religion. Read his blog at www.revgregweeks.com.