Christian Faith Towards Global Warming

by Taylor Echolls
Human-emitted greenhouse gases are a leading cause of global warming.

Human-emitted greenhouse gases are a leading cause of global warming.

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Global warming, in the view of the vast majority of scientists, is the phenomenon of changing climates on Earth due to human industrialization and pollution with carbon dioxide and other gases, and it has emerged as the 21st Century's leading environmental issue. The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has published extensive peer-reviewed studies demonstrating global warming's disastrous effects in years to come. Yet in the United States, many evangelical Christians still report a disbelief in climate change, campaigning against global warming as an "unfounded and undue concern."

Christian Doubt

In a 2009 poll from the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, 31 percent of white evangelical Protestants said they did not believe climate change could be proven. The Cornwall Alliance, an evangelical organization devoted to service in the developing world, is vocal in its skepticism that human-caused climate change is scientifically valid and worthy of copious amounts of federal funding. Cal Beisner, the Alliance's executive director, cautions that energy and money is better spent fighting poverty and other human concerns in poor nations.

Questioning Science

The "We Get It!" campaign -- sponsored by Focus on the Family and the Cornwall Alliance -- says "we face important environmental challenges, but must be cautious of claims that our planet is in peril from speculative dangers like man-made global warming." Estimates of how much the Earth will warm over the next century have been greatly exaggerated, writes The Wall Street Journal's Matt Ridley. Citing some of the IPCC's own data, Ridley says the climate will not warm more than 1.2 degrees Celsius this century, and that the "evidence now points toward lukewarm temperature change with no net harm."

Creation Care

Within evangelical spheres, "creation care" has been coined to call Christians to action in protecting God's creation of the environment and man. Evangelical author and columnist Jonathan Merritt writes in a Christianity Today op-ed that Christians should take climate change seriously, citing the duty to care for God's creation and the fact that "Christ's death began a process of cosmic redemption in which we are called to participate."

Mixed Views

Not all Christians are skeptical of global warming. The same Pew poll showed that almost half of white "mainline Protestants" believe in human-caused climate change -- the same percentage as total Americans. Some evangelical Christians have shifted their views on climate change, like pastor Rick Warren. Warren signed onto the Evangelical Climate Initiative as part of a group of evangelical leaders intent on the "integration of science, Christian faith, and care for creation." The initiative believes that "millions of people could die in this century because of climate change, most of them our poorest global neighbors."

About the Author

Taylor Echolls is an award-winning writer whose expertise includes health, environmental and LGBT journalism. He has written for the "Valley Citizen" newspaper, where his work won first- and second-place awards in sports and outdoor features from the Idaho Press Club. Echolls holds a B.A. from Mount Holyoke College.

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