I got so excited the first time I saw a climate stripe graph. These graphs, developed by climatologist Ed Hawkins, show the long-term increase in average global temperature(usually from 1850 – 2018) using a progression from blue (cool) to red (warmer) colours. I loved this approach because you can so clearly see, in a single glance, the warming of our planet. I think it’s an incredibly powerful piece of communication and helps to cut through the detail and show people the science in a way that is easy to understand.
Soon after, I learned that people were turning these graphs into scarves and tapestries, to help get the message out. Having worked with eco churches for over a decade (check out fiveleafecoawards.org), I immediately wondered about using the pattern as a stole (a symbol of ministry), and asking clergy to wear them while preaching as a subtle expression of support for climate action in the church, and Australia.
I really wanted a scarf to wear when preaching on climate myself as well. I am deeply passionate about the church’s call to care for God’s creation, and to protect God's Creatures. This means we need to be talking about, preaching about, and acting on climate all the time. This has been my vocation for many years, but it is also part of the deep and faithful discipleship of all Christians. It comes with many opportunities for the church as well, as we can show people how to use community and Christian values around the image of God in all people and in creation, concepts of sabbath and ‘enough’ and serving God rather than money, to lead our society away from some of the factors that have contributed to climate change. Taking up this role would give us a deeply relevant and vibrant place in forming our future and connecting with our communities.
I searched online for patterns, and found a free one for UK temps, which became my first scarf. With that finished, I asked a climate scientist friend to do the maths for me on the world data, and started knitting one of those as well.
What I really love about knitting these scarves is the way they bring the science to life.
I’m not much of a knitter, I really just do it as anxiety relief, but it’s amazing to watch the warming pattern build between your fingers. I feel like it has given me a better understanding of the weather too. Sometimes the colours seem really random, jumping back and forth between hot and cold, with seemingly no rhyme or reason. They rarely just go from cool to hot in a neat, predictable way. Particularly when you knit one of the patterns for particular places (the pattern is a bit clearer in the global data). This really helps you to appreciate the difference between weather variations and other influencing factors, and the long-term trend of global warming. Despite the jumping around, you can always see the general trend and pattern in the end. I feel like next time someone tries to tell me that global warming is not a thing because it’s cold today, I might just rip out my scarf and give them a quick visual lesson in weather vs climate.
When I mentioned the scarves to my friends at Common Grace, they also got super excited about the idea. They even had a bigger vision than I had – what if instead of just church leaders, we also got politicians to wear the scarves! And so this project was born.
Find out more about the Knit for Climate Action campaign and how you can join in sending a gracious message to our Federal Parliamentarians that Christians care deeply for God’s beautiful creation and want to see urgent action on climate change.
Join Common Grace on June 21, #ShowYourStripes Day and add your voice to this creative movement calling for urgent climate action.
Jessica Morthorpe is a Christian environmentalist with a passion for endangered species, eco-theology and helping the Australian church to care for creation.