Jessica Moerman | No Act Too Small - BioLogos

Studying paleoclimatology helped Jessica Moerman understand Earth’s climate in the past and call people to act for a healthy future.


I love the talk of ruling out the different possible culprits! I didn’t do it intentionally, but it turned out that in my various university classes we just came across possible sources of warming and in doing the math on how much these things could affect the atmosphere or oceans or whatever it became clear that no, this one doesn’t add enough heat or that one is actually cooling us and another goes back farther than people might have guessed. That last is one that really struck me; in one botany class we got to looking at atmospheric carbon dioxide over a half millennium and then asked what people were doing, and it popped out that Europe got seriously deforested because the various powers were building wooden ships to explore the rest of the world and then colonization and merchant vessels from home countries to colonies and then large navies to protect those colonies and that shipping and indeed rebuilding navies as wars sent ships to the bottom of the sea, and all those trees that got cut down changed the atmospheric carbon cycle so we humans were changing the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere upwards even before the industrial revolution.

The mention of climate anxiety hits home: my house is maybe fourteen feet above sea level, which puts it in the zone that will become ocean if any major chunks of ice sheets cut loose and slide into the sea – and even if that doesn’t happen, slowly rising sea levels mean that the entire system of dikes that turned this area from vast tidal marshes into farmland is going to have to be reinforced, yet I can’t find anyone who is talking about that! and it’s not something that can be done quickly; the central part of the county actually has more miles of dikes than of county roads. Thinking ahead would mean starting now, of nothing else than any time there is a slide and the dirt and rock has to be moved off roads it should be taken to the nearest dike to widen its base so eventually it can be raised more quickly.

I also occasionally stress over the conservation work I do. I’m already seeing the impact predicted by one model when I was taking those botany courses; we are getting cooler drier summers which has wreaked havoc with the survival rate of the trees we plant. Ten years ago I planted more than enough trees – ones that survived – to offset my carbon ‘debt’, but with 85% loss rate I’m not really capable of planting enough to continue that (unless we can get some serious funding and buy trees by the thousand so a hundred-fifty can survive).
Besides which my work is on a sandspit that forms the bay here, and where the coast is sand, one inch of sea level rise translates to the coastline retreating by a yard, so the whole endeavor is at risk as levels rise. We do some dune-building on the surf side of the spit working to push the beach line westward, but the sand supply doesn’t seem to be enough to make a real difference.

No act may be too small, but where I am, it takes a lot of individual acts to add up to one that survives to make a difference.


Thanks for the podcast. I found it interesting and encouraging.

I hope many young people listen and are encouraged in how Dr. Moerman, as a mature Christian young person, discerned the calling of God on her life.

I found Jessica’s comments in this podcast very interesting and I learned some things. I’ll have to listen to it again to understand the differences between the climate change in 500 million years ago versus our current climate change and how the scientists understand that one was cyclical driven and are current one is human driven. But I’ll trust Jessica knows what she’s talking about there.

I realize I realize this is a science program however it would seem to me that there would be some emphasis on fact that our real hope, the only real and ultimate hope is in Jesus Christ. And I don’t mean that we should pray that God automatically fixes the climate for us. I think it is accurate that God has given humans Dominion over this Earth as scripture tells us and we have that responsibility. We need to make changes we need to make decisions and we need to do it now. however, when Jim and Jessica talked about how do we have hope under the current conditions nothing was mentioned about our hope in Christ, our Eternal hope. It would seem that our dire climactic conditions should drive our urgency to share the gospel to a lost and dying world. If humans, with God’s help of course, aren’t able to turn the climate tide then what does this world have to look forward to? We talk about giving a healthy clean world to Future Generations but what good is that if they are lost and have no relationship with God. It seems to be that should be our priority without ignoring efforts toward climate Improvement.


There is a need for a renewed attitude and focus in evangelization. We have limited the gospel to something that only deals with our private or congregational relationship with God. Some have added practical aid to suffering people (social work) to that, which is basically good. What we have neglected is that the gospel and our faith should cover and become visible in all areas of human life, including our attitudes and acts towards the creation of God. How we respond to environmental problems is not just showing how we respect God or how we care of life on this globe, it shows in practice do we love those who suffer because of the greedy way humans have utilized the creation? Do we love wealth and easy life more than our suffering brothers and sisters?

The gospels tell about giving water to a thirsty servant/child of God, like it would be giving water to Christ himself. There are many thirsty children of God in places that suffer from the global environmental (climate) change. Acting in a selfish way that makes the situation worse is like denying Christ the cup of water He asks. This may sound harsh but is a realistic conclusion. Following Jesus is a hands-on, full-time way of life.

By the way, where is the center of Christianity today? It is not in the old ‘Christendom’, Europe or North America. The old ‘Christendom’ is past history. The current centres are closer to the places where people suffer because of global environmental changes. No wonder the new centres are rethinking and rewriting the old European-centered theological narratives towards a more global understanding. I do not support all new theological suggestions but I admit that the gospel needs to be understood in a wider context. The destruction and suffering caused by harmful global environmental changes are part of the context. It is not a choice between telling the gospel or acting to have a better world, it should be both at the same time.


I was thinking about that this afternoon as I talked with a friend about a mutual friend, her neighbor; their houses are on a bluff overlooking the ocean and the friend/neighbor lost six feet of her yard this last storm. It was predictable due to the rising sea level, in fact if sea level stopped rising right now she would eventually lose another twelve feet of yard due to the formula for landward erosion resulting from sea level rise. The house is right on the border between two different geological formations; the first friend’s house is on an ancient lava flow, the second sits mostly on that but partly on sedimentary rock between that ancient lava flow and the next one half a mile farther north. The houses beyond hers are at greater risk over time, and I found myself thinking of everything that has led to a rising sea level and how much was driven by ignorant greed.

That’s a hefty conclusion.