Before the Glaciers are Gone

A homily for children and adults by Rev. J. Mark Worth

Earth Day is this coming Friday, April 22. On Earth Day we celebrate the Earth – our home – and vow to protect it.

Glaciers ~

Thinking about our planet, Earth, I wonder, who here has seen a glacier, not just in a picture, but up close? Have you ever walked on a glacier? Can you describe a glacier?

A glacier is a large mass of ice and snow. Glaciers don’t melt in the summer – there is snow and ice there all summer long. Every winter, when snow falls, the falling snow becomes part of the glacier. Snow can be heavy, and so that puts pressure on the snow on the bottom. The snow on the bottom becomes ice. The ice can become so heavy that gravity will slowly pull it down hill, and it will grind the earth and the rocks beneath it.

In the spring and summer, part of the glacier will melt. The water from the glacier flows in streams and rivers, and are an important source of fresh drinking water.

A long time ago, back in 1972, I once saw a glacier up close. It’s called the Athabasca Glacier, and it’s in the Rocky Mountains in Canada. But that glacier is disappearing. It’s melting. In the past 125 years it has lost half of its volume. And if you stand where the glacier began when I went there in 1972, you can’t even see the glacier from there. You can’t even see it from were it was in 1982.

I have some pictures I’m going to pass around.

Global Climate Change ~

Now, is that a problem, that the glaciers are melting? Well, the glaciers are melting because of something called Global Climate Change. Global Climate Change means that the average temperature of our planet Earth has been rising a little bit every year for many years, and also that storms have been getting bigger, droughts (places where there isn’t enough water) have been getting worse, Ice in the glaciers, especially near the North Pole and South Pole, have been melting, and the oceans have been rising a little bit every year. If those things happen one year, that’s not so bad. But if they happen year after year for a long time, it becomes a bigger problem.

Think of it this way. We only have this one planet that we can live on, Earth. It’s our home, and we don’t want to wreck our only home, because we can’t just go to the store and buy a new planet. So we have to take care of the one we have.

So there is good news and bad news. The bad news is that it’s almost certain that things we human beings do, like driving cars that send exhaust into the air, and having factories and power plants that send smoke into the air, are causing global climate change. But that bad news, that we are causing the problem, is also good news, because it means that if we change our behavior, we can stop causing the problem.

What can we do?

  • We can use reusable grocery bags, so that plastic bags stop going into our town landfills and rivers and oceans.
  • We can use energy efficient light bulbs and appliances like refrigerators.
  • We can drive more fuel efficient cars, car-pool, or ride a bicycle.
  • Eat less meat. The farms that grow the chickens, cows, and pigs for our meat produce a lot of the greenhouse gasses that are causing climate change. So if we all go meat-free one day a week that will help produces fewer greenhouse gasses.
  • Waste less food.
  • Eat organic foods that were grown without pesticides.
  • Drink “Fair Trade” coffee.
  • Compost food scraps. Composting is nature’s way of recycling.
  • Plant a tree. Trees put oxygen back into the atmosphere.
  • Contact members of Congress and ask them to vote for legislation to clean up the air and water.

So there are some things we can all do to help protect our Mother Earth. Some people complain, and say, “Won’t that cost more?” And I say, “Let’s see. What do we want? To spend less money, but not have a planet to live on? Or to keep this planet, and maybe spend a little bit more? Is that a hard decision?”

The Bible, in the Book of Job (12:7-8) says this, “Ask the animals, and they will teach you,

or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you; or speak to the Earth, and it will teach you,

or let the fish in the sea inform you.”

In other words, let’s pay attention to the plants and animals, to the birds and fish, and to the planet Earth that is our home. Let’s pay attention, and take good care of our planet Earth, because we only have one planet, and it is our home.