| February 22, 2006
Advance for Feb. 25, 2006
Evangelical Call to Action on Climate Change
by Michael J. McManus
Two weeks ago 86 prominent Evangelical leaders issued an unprecedented
statement, "Climate Change: An Evangelical Call to Action." Among the signers:
Dr. Rick Warren, author of "The Purpose Driven Life;" David Neff, editor of
"Christianity Today;" and a score of denominational and university presidents.
They acknowledged that "Many of us have required considerable convincing before
becoming persuaded that climate change is a real problem and that it ought to
matter to us as Christians." They now support "four simple but urgent claims,"
and asserted that "evidence demands action:"
1. Human-Induced Climate Change is Real.
"Everything hinges on scientific data," they said, noting that the
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the world's most authoritative body
of scientists and experts on global warming, "has documented the steady rise in
global temperatures over the last fifty years, projects that the average global
temperatures will continue to rise in the coming decades and attributes `most of
the warming' to human activities" such as burning fossil fuels.
The U.S. National Academy of Sciences and similar scientific Academies in Great
Britain, France, Germany, Japan, Canada, Italy and Russia agree on climate
change - as does the Bush Administration, belatedly.
However, some of America's most prominent evangelicals, such as Chuck Colson,
James Dobson and Jerry Falwell disagree, saying: "Global Warming is not a
consensus issue." Fallwell alleged it is "an unproven phenomenon and may
actually be junk science."
How does he explain that over 30 years the total power released by storms in the
Atlantic has more than doubled, as has the number of Category 4 and 5 hurricanes
worldwide? Scientists say this is a result of a rise of sea surface temperatures
that spawn hurricanes of just one degree Fahrenheit. Only a week ago, we learned
Greenland's glaciers are melting twice as fast as they used to. We can expect
more Katrinas. (See christiansandclimate.org)
2. The Consequences of Climate Change Will be Significant and Hurt the Poor.
Signers of the "Evangelical Climate Initiative" argued, "Even small rises in
global temperatures will have such likely impacts as: sea level rise; more
frequent heat waves, droughts, and extreme weather events such as torrential
rains and floods, increased tropical diseases in now-temperate regions, and
hurricanes that are more intense."
If America was surprised by the devastation and evacuation of Katrina, though
widely predicted, poor countries are even less prepared. New Orleans residents
most impacted were the poor, hundreds of thousands of whom lost
homes. Similarly, Evangelicals predict, "The consequences of global warming will
hit the poor the hardest," such as residents of Bangladesh, much of which could
be flooded. The result? Perhaps 20-50 million refugees.
3. Christian Moral Convictions Demand Our Response
In Genesis Chapter 1, God gives man stewardship of the earth. Jesus urged, "Love
your neighbor as yourself." And, "Whatever you did for one of the least of these
brothers of mine, you did for me."
Evangelicals conclude: "Christians must care about climate change because we
love God the Creator and Jesus our Lord, through whom and for whom the creation
was made. This is God's world and any damage that we do to God's world is an
offense against God Himself."
4. The Need to Act Now Is Urgent.
"Governments, businesses, churches and individuals all have a role to play in
addressing climate change - starting now," Evangelicals asserted. "First, deadly
impacts are already being experienced," such as the mudslide in the Philippines
smothering a village of 1,000.
"Second, oceans only warm slowly, creating a lag in experiencing the
consequences. Much of the climate change to which we are already committed will
not be realized for several decades." The consequences of today's pollution will
hit our children and grandchildren.
"Third, as individuals and as a society we are making long-term decisions today
that will determine how much carbon dioxide we will emit in the future, such as
whether to purchase energy efficient vehicles and appliances that will last for
The statement urged Congress to pass and implement laws requiring economy-wide
reductions in carbon dioxide emissions "through cost-effective, market-based
mechanisms such as cap-and-trade program," of a Senate passed resolution, backed
by energy companies and environmentalists.
Dr. Richard Cizik, Vice President of National Association of Evangelicals, who
drives a hybrid Toyota Prius with 50 mpg, asserts, "Critics of Evangelicals see
us as anti-science, and will blame us for future climate change if we
categorically reject explanations for climate change that are indisputable in
the scientific community. If we oppose political action toredress this crisis,
the ramifications are enormous, such as discrediting the Gospel we profess."
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