Global Warming and the Christian

INTRODUCTION

Recently, politicians have come out trying to get the world and Americans specifically, to buy into the idea of Global warming. President Barack Obama recently announced executive actions to limit the effects of Global Warming and was applauded by those in his own party while being criticized by many Republicans. There are two complaints brought up, first is that these actions bypassed congress and second there is the argument whereby republicans find these actions unnecessary and burdensome to the economy. There is huge business in the global warming for both its proponents and opponents. Ultimately, the business of Global warming is used for power and has become nothing more than a pawn in the political realm. This can be seen in the bills that are passed such as when “Senator John Kerry (DMA) defended climate legislation in similar terms: “Its primarily a jobs bill. And an energy independence bill and a pollution reduction- health-clean air bill. Climate sort of follows. Its on for the ride.”[1] And this is a bill that was advocated by many as a climate change bill. However, Kerry exposes the reality, climate is not as big a concern but a better tool for politicians.

This shows how the concept of Global Warming is a political tool used to motivate the masses to vote a certain way. With the votes comes money and power for a select group. They can have more power, more influence, and more jobs. This way they continue to be in power for years to come. This group uses fear of losing the world to convince people they have the solution necessary to stop the earth from warming up to the point it destroys living conditions for humans while their opponents don’t care about the environment when the reality is the difference tends to not be in whether or not the government should do something about the environment, but rather what specifically should be done.

However, for a Christian, the earth is not a tool for political gain, it is not here for our amusement, it isn’t here just for us to deplete the resources. Christians believe God has created the Earth and the whole universe and called it good. God then tasked man with being the steward of all of his creation. The concept of stewardship is the best way we can Biblically understand our obligations. It is necessary to be a steward of the earth and all animals, which includes both using the resources it provides us as well as making sure the earth flourishes and is sustained and continues to be a place that reflects the Glory of God.

DEFINING GLOBAL WARMING

Global Warming is based upon the belief the earth is gradually warming up to the point where it will not be inhabitable because of the consequences of mans actions. Specifically industries, which produce carbon dioxide as a result of burning coal, fuel, and aerosol sprays. Most people are familiar with Global Warming, but the term ‘climate change’ can be used interchangeably. Due to political terminology, climate change has become the more common term, but means the same thing. For the purposes of this paper, either term can be used interchangeably.

 

 

 

            Origins of Global Warming

Very few people in the general populous know the basis from which the global warming crisis developed. Most think it has always been this way, or that the earth has shifted from a global cooling to the current crisis due to our actions.

By the mid-1970s, scientists understood that various forcing mechanisms—the ice age cycle; CO2 warming; aerosol cooling—affected climate in crucial ways, but they were uncertain how any single factor might affect the atmospheric future. This conclusion was supported by a 1975 report from the National Academy of Sciences that summarized the lack of an existing scientific consensus on global climate change.[2]

This lack of certainty has since seemingly shifted to where a majority of scientists say the earth is warming up due to human actions. There is some debate about this majority, but that is for later in this paper.

Potential causes of Global Warming

Almost exclusively, climate changes have been blamed on the industrial revolution and the results thereof. “By the mid-1980s an international consensus began to emerge that increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide levels would likely produce increases in global mean temperatures.”[3] These carbon dioxide levels are generally attributed to factories burning coal, vehicles being driven that burn gasoline, aerosol sprays, burning trash and anything else that creates carbon dioxide. Some even attribute the rising population and the deforestation of places like the Amazon rain forest due to the increased CO2 and decreased ability for the forests to convert it back to oxygen.

Consequences of Global Warming

The biggest threat most global warming advocates claim are the rising levels of the ocean which will increase the levels of the ocean and decrease humans living spaces. Some even link an increases of natural disasters, threats of viruses spreading to previously unbearable regions, and even economic damage to developing nations.[4] However some of these claims may be overstated. “Even the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the U.N. body that puts out huge periodic reports warning of climate disaster, has backed down from its earlier estimates of sea rise, from three feet for the next century to seventeen inches-and many scientists think even that is too high.”[5] Many of the other consequences also see other simpler explanations or claim the conclusions drawn are inaccurate.

The Political Aspect of Global Warming

This is where the issue of global warming has the biggest impact. The programs necessary to fight global warming tend to cost large sums of money, much manpower, and political clout to gain the cooperation of the corporations, which are the biggest contributors to the threat of global warming. Due to this cost, there is a need for public opinion to be swayed to accomplish the task of saving the world.

Everywhere you go, you hear the news that we have only a few years to save the planet before we reach the point of no return, the tipping point, irreversible catastrophic climate change, and the end of civilization. Hyperbolic statements like these are meant mainly to scare people into acting and accepting the enormous sums required for the proposed reduction program. Sir John Houghton, the first chair of the IPCC, wrote in a 1994 book, “Unless we announce disasters, no one will listen.[6]

We see a bit of the motivation to announce these disasters even though it doesn’t always follow the script the proponents of Global warming need. They do this by getting high profile names to lobby on their behalf and help convince the general populous of the necessity to act on global warming. The biggest name behind the global warming movement is Al Gore, former Vice President of the United States. While in office and since leaving office, has argued and worked hard to promote awareness of global warming including releasing a movie called “An Inconvenient Truth.”

On the other side of the issue, there are skeptics who doubt some of the claims of those who promote global warming. Even those who promote global warming acknowledge, “global warming ‘skeptics’ assert that central tenants of the science of global warming are unsettled. Their strategy of claiming that climate science is inconclusive and thus more research rather than mitigating policy is the prudent response to the accumulated data has worked very well.”[7] This does tend to be one of the main arguments of those who push against global warming. This proves effective at keeping those in power who would rather not make changes to industry based on the science they aren’t entirely sure of.

Proponents of Global Warming

Those proponents of global warming do claim to have a majority of scientists, lots of research, and of course the Democratic party to help push the objectives of helping save the earth. They tend to blame others for the disaster, and

The classic, and much-reprinted, essay that became famous for laying the blame for the ecological crisis in our day at the feet of Christians because of their biblical teaching about ‘dominion’ in Genesis 1:28 was written by Lynn White Jr. …He depicted Christianity as a destroyer of pagan animism, which in turn made it possible for Christians to exploit nature with an air of indifference to the feelings of natural objects.[8]

This blame on Christendom does have some validity with the industrial revolution being tied to Christendom as well. So if the global warming proponents are correct, Christendom, but not Christianity does bare some responsibility. This is easy to do because Christianity was the dominant religion in areas that experienced the industrial revolution. However, it should be important for Christians to know there is a slant against them despite their acceptance of the global warming scheme. This is also a partial explanation of why the Democratic party is seen as less welcoming to Christianity while the Republican party is more welcoming to Christians and but seen as the enemy of global warming.

Also important is the understanding of the time at which these events occurred. “To understand the interplay of power politics and the science of global warming in the United States, one must note that concerns over climate change emerged at the same time as a fierce right-wing backlash against environmentalism.”[9] This is backlash has been part of the effort against global warming and its proponents and plays out more in politics than in other areas. And it should be noted that most of the critics of global warming would actually agree with other environmental concerns including wildlife management, controlled use of lands, and general preservation while also attempting to utilize the resources available.

There is one assumption many of the proponents often make which needs further engagement. An oft-cited claim is that 97% of scientists agree that man-made global warming is a problem for the world. However, this claim may be at least a little off. In a recent article by Joseph Bast and Dr. Roy Spencer, they explore this 97% claim to see the reality of which it comes from. One of the most common sources of this 97% number is from Naomi Oreskes work where “She claimed to have examined abstracts of 928 articles published in scientific journals between 1993 and 2003, and found that 75% supported the view that human activities are responsible for most of the observed warming over the previous 50 years while none directly dissented.”[10] However, these two noted that “Ms. Oreskes’s definition of consensus covered “man-made” but left out “dangerous”—and scores of articles by prominent scientists such as Richard Lindzen, John Christy, Sherwood Idso and Patrick Michaels, who question the consensus, were excluded. The methodology is also flawed.”[11] They also examined the Zimmerman/Doran survey where 97% of climate scientists agree that Global temperatures have risen and that humans are the cause, but note the survey left out numerous groups of scientists, specifically those with a focus on the solar system and even meteorologists. It turns out that with the survey, seventy-nine scientists of the 3,146 who compose the 97% number, are the ones who answered the survey and listed climate science as an area of expertise. While this is just the start of the discussion, it does at least bring some understanding not only to the political nature of the global warming crisis at hand, but also gives some validity to what critics of Global warming are claiming.[12]

Critics of Global Warming

One of the things we see in the realm of global warming is that the critics have a hard time being heard. “When dissenters do speak and publish, the majority who embrace the prevailing theory that humans are causing global warming try to silence them on the grounds that, because they are in error, they must not be allowed to be heard.”[13] While this may just seem like people grasping for straws if the majority is to be believed, there was a scandal that gave credence to their position.

In an informative chapter centering on “Climategate,” the leaking of e-mails from the Climate Research Unit of East Anglia University, Pielke castigates the scientists involved for trying to manipulate the peer-review process of scientific publication “by managing and coordinating reviews of individual papers, by putting pressure on journal editors and editorial boards, by seeking to stack editorial boards with like-minded colleagues,” and so on.[14]

This selective acceptance of peer what they will accept as peer review has some drawbacks and may show why what is happening may not be nearly as much of an issue as many of the alarmists claims. It definitely should cause Christians to raise a flag of caution before accepting all the claims regarding global warming.

Why it’s a political issue

Part of the reason global warming has been launched into the political realm instead of just the scientific community is the thought where global warming puts the earth at risk. This has caused them to work to get many in the Democratic party to join their cause. As mentioned earlier, Al Gore has become the champion of global warming in the political realm and due in part to the divisive nature in Washington D.C. Further complicating matters, was the timing of the rise of global warming in politics. “To understand the interplay of power politics and the science of global warming in the United States, one must note that concerns over climate change emerged at the same time as a fierce right-wing backlash against environmentalism.”[15] For example, the movement to save trees by chaining oneself to a try and stop the development of corporations that had done everything necessary within the law to do what they were attempting to do.

Christians Response

While it would be easy to say Christians should choose one side to this issue, like the rest of life, its not that simple. In fact, there are many areas we must examine to come up with what God would have us do. To start with, “Christianity neither believes in technological exploitation nor in mythical worship. It holds that God is the Creator and humankind is the keeper of this magnificent and glorious world, which it is our duty to keep and not corrupt, to preserve and not pollute.”[16] This does correlate with the claim that Christianity destroyed the pagan religions, and while some liberals would call this a bad thing, Christians should say it is good since it turns the worship from the creation to the creator.

On the other hand, the Bible is clear about the role of mankind in relation to the earth. We are to be stewards or what the Bible would also call, servants of the world. We are also supposed to be in charge or the world, and working it. “How can humankind be king over creation and yet servant of creation? The answer is exemplified in the head of the new creation, Jesus Christ. He was a servant in the world, yet sovereign over it. He ruled by serving.”[17] This will be explored in more detail a bit later as we look at the role the earth plays in Christian theology.

Also in conjunction with the doctrine of the earth, it is important to realize the challenges Christians face. Specifically in relation to the liberal idea where Christians are the cause of evil needs to be challenged. “Our unwillingness to challenge the assumptions and ideologies of liberal democracy may erode the conception of the church as a community that embodies the story of Christ.”[18] On top of challenging these ideologies, we are need to realize this earth is finite. In the plan of God, it will end, and that flies in the face of most people who are worried about global warming destroying the world. We do know the world will be destroyed one day as a result of our sin.

The Role of Sin

Sin is a topic many, especially those who don’t believe in the Bible is a topic that shall not be broached. There is a common line of thought whereby humans are generally good. This flies in the face of what the Bible and reality teaches. While we are capable of making good decisions from time to time, even our good works are tainted. Isaiah 64:6 is a prime example of how even our good works are filthy rags before God. The standard we have is far below what God’s standard for us is.

But more important in this process is how our sins have effected not only us, but also the whole world. In Genesis, we see the effects of sin cause problems for the whole world. Paul describes this by saying, “For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now” (Romans 8:22). God has promised to redeem the world and not just those who believe in Christ, but also the world itself. We see creation “is personified as longing for the time when the children of God will enjoy the consummation until that time.”[19] But it is important to know what God will do in the future.

The Future

To fully understand the role of what is to come, it is necessary to know the future. Especially with relation to the world, the idea is to prevent the world from being destroyed and we must serve as the protectors of the world. We are constantly being reminded of the future destruction of the world to come, but while the Bible does talk of the earth being destroyed, there are multiple places that show more of what is to come. In Revelation, “John’s picture of the final age to come focuses not on a platonic ideal heave or distant paradise but on the reality of a new earth and heaven. God originally created the earth and heaven to be our permanent home. But sin and death entered the world and transformed the earth into a place of rebellion and alienation.”[20] It is in this rebellion and alienation in which we now work. But it is just a temporary place. This world is where we are right now, but there will be a new heaven and a new earth. We don’t know exactly when this will happen, but we know it will be without the death and destruction and without the sin that currently taints our earth.

Earth

In Genesis, we are given the command from God to take care of the earth. In fact, it is the first task given to mankind. When we look into what God commanded Adam, it is clear “they are to work in the world and care for it. The word ‘work’ or ‘till’ (‘ābad) means ‘to serve’. Sometimes it even means to be a slave to.”[21] This is what Christ did as the servant of the church. While Jesus is the King of the universe, He came to earth in the lowliest form, as a newborn child, and would even enter Jerusalem riding a donkey, not in a triumphant manner, but as the servant of all. Throughout the Bible, and very clearly in the New Testament, the idea of servant leadership is highlighted and gives us an idea that those in charge should be servants of all. This is true with the earth as well, and when we go back to the Genesis account, there is more evidence to show the way in which we ought to behave.

The picture of the Garden of Eden is one of paradise, and while many more pictures can be taken from this, one are of significance is the terminology to describe the garden. The words used to describe the garden are also used in reference to other sacred places, and “since there are other indications that the garden is being portrayed as a sacred space, it is likely that the tasks given to Adam are of a priestly nature—that is, caring for sacred space. In ancient thinking, caring for sacred space was a way of upholding creation.”[22] Also, before the fall, God commanded Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply, where might these people go? “Perhaps, then, we should surmise that people were gradually supposed to extend the garden as they went about subduing and ruling. Extending the garden would extend the food supply as well as the sacred space (since that is what the garden represented).”[23] This does take some speculation about what would have happened had sin not entered the world, but it is important to note that our responsibilities did not change.

While we won’t get non-Christians to agree on this issue, “Many environmentalists, who still see working the ground as the issue, would readily agree and suggest that if it is not done for the sake of humanity, it must be for creation’s sake.”[24] So while the exact reasons may be different, it is worth discussing if for no other reason than to find some ground in which we can work together, perform the duties God tasked us with at the beginning, and ultimately share Christ with the lost world.

Animals

While animals are not specifically part of global warming, they are drawn into the argument on the basis that global warming is seen as destroying their habitats. While many arguments can be made regarding the validity of those claims, that is not the issue as far as the Christians are concerned. Christians should be concerned with life, and with regards to animals, they are part of creation we are tasked with taking care of. In Genesis, we do see “the assignment of names was an act of dominion and authority.”[25] God gave mankind charge over the animals, and while sin has tainted all of the earth, it does not give Christians the license to recklessly hunt animals to extinction, but rather “since God owns all life, we have a duty to use it, not misuse it; to consume some of it, but also to preserve it. In short, there are no animal rights, but there are wrongs that can be done to animals (like cruelty and starvation). Our more obligation with regard to animals is not to them but to the God who made them and told us to use them properly.”[26] Using them properly is part of wildlife management. Here we need to listen to specialists who can track population growth and trends, and not raise one creature over another. An example of this has recently happened in Oregon where laws were enacted by environmentalists to protect a specific bread of owl, and while it worked for a time, eventually that owl population outgrew its area, and then drove out other owls from the only habitat they could live in and they are now having to help protect the owls from extinction due to the specific nature of the habitat while the other owl that had the laws passed can live in other areas still.

Conclusion

The issue of global warming is something special interest groups and politicians have used to generate fear, and manipulate into votes and therefore more money. While proponents would like the public to think the scientific community is in agreement, those assertions aren’t always what they seem at first glance. Beyond this, since the movement to protect the environment, at its roots, seeks to blame Christians we need to be incredibly careful with who we align ourselves with. With all of this being said, Christians have a major responsibility to protect the world we live in. The first thing God tasked humanity with was to protect and care for His creation. We must recognize that first of all, it is God’s creation, and second, while we need to be responsible for what we have, the earth will one day be taken away from us and replaced with something of so much more magnitude we can’t even imagine it. A world free from sin awaits and we know the Earth will be here at Christ’s return, our aim should not be to keep the world from perishing, but rather to care for the world and all that are in it for the purpose of glorifying and worship God by faithfully carrying out the tasks we are given.

 

 

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Anders, Max. Holman Old Testament Commentary: Genesis. Nashville: B&H Publishing Group, 2002.

Armitage, Kevin C. “State of Denial: The United States and the politics of global warming.” Globalizations 2, no. 3 (December 2005): 417-427. Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost (accessed September 28, 2014).

Bast, Joseph and Roy Spencer. “The Myth of the Climate Change ‘97%’” Wall Street Journal, May 26, 2014. Accessed October 11th, 2014, http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303480304579578462813553136.

Barker, Kennth L & John R. Kohlenberger III. The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: New Testament. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994.

________. The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: New Testament. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994.

Beisner, E. Calvin. “Managing the Resources of the Earth.” In Prospects for Growth: A Bibical View of Population, Resources, and the Future, 155-68. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 1990.

________. Where Garden Meets Wilderness: Evangelical Entry into the Environmental Debate   Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1997.

Bouma-Prediger, Steven. For the Beauty of the Earth: A Christian View of Creation Care Engaging Culture. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2001.

Corbin-Reuschling, Reviving Evangelical Ethics: The Promises and Pitfalls of Classic Modelsof Morality, Grand Rapids: Brazos Press, 2008.

Derr, T. S. (2007). The politics of global warming. First Things, (175), 17-19. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/209936760?accountid=12085

Gangel,Kenneth O. and Stephen J. Bramer, ed. Anders, Max, Holman Old Testament Commentary: Genesis, Nashville: B&H Publishing Group, 2002.

Geisler, Normal L., Christian Ethics, Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2010.

Jenkins, J. C. (2011), DEMOCRATIC POLITICS AND THE LONG MARCH ON GLOBAL WARMING: Comments on McCright and Dunlap. The Sociological Quarterly, 52: 211–219. doi: 10.1111/j.1533-8525.2011.01201.x

Kaiser, Walter C. What Does the Lord Require: A Guide for Preaching and Teaching Biblical Ethics. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2009.

Top of Form

Linzey, Andrew. Christianity and the Rights of Animals. New York: Crossroad, 1987.

MacArthur, John. The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: Romans 1-8, Chicago: Moody Publishers, 1991.

Sagoff, Mark. “Climate politics: The Climate Fix: What Scientists and Politicians Won’t Tell You About Global Warming.” Issues in Science and Technology 27.3 (2011): 87+. Academic OneFile. Web. 29 Sept. 2014. Document URL
http://go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?id=GALE%7CA255841750&v=2.1&u=vic_liberty&it=r&p=AONE&sw=w&asid=416c7aaa95877db01c297da970e9586f

Schaeffer, Francis A. Pollution and the Death of Man: The Christian View of Ecology. Wheaton, IL: Tyndale, 1970.

Walton, John. The NIV Application Commentary: Genesis. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2001.

Ward, Hugh. “Game theory and the politics of global warming: The state of play and beyond.” Political Studies 44, no. 5 (December 1996): 850-871. Political Science Complete, EBSCOhost (accessed September 28, 2014).

Wood, Dan B. and Arnold Vedlitz. Issue Definition, Information Processing, and the Politics of Global Warming. American Journal of Political Science, Vol. 51, No. 3 (Jul., 2007), pp. 552-568. Accessed September 28th, 2014. http://www.jstor.org/stable/4620084

[1] Sagoff, Mark. “Climate politics: The Climate Fix: What Scientists and Politicians Won’t Tell You About Global Warming.” Issues in Science and Technology 27.3 (2011): 87+. Academic OneFile. Web. 29 Sept. 2014.

[2] Armitage, Kevin C. “State of Denial: The United States and the politics of global warming.” Globalizations 2, no. 3 (December 2005): 417-427. Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost (accessed September 28, 2014).

[3] Armitage, Kevin C. “State of Denial: The United States and the politics of global warming.” Globalizations 2, no. 3 (December 2005): 417-427

[4] Derr, T. S. (2007). The politics of global warming. First Things, (175), 17-19. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/209936760?accountid=12085

[5] Derr, T. S. (2007). The politics of global warming. First Things, (175), 17-19.

[6] Derr, T. S. (2007). The politics of global warming. First Things, (175), 17-19.

[7] Armitage, Kevin C. “State of Denial: The United States and the politics of global warming.” Globalizations 2, no. 3 (December 2005): 417-427

[8] Kaiser, Walter C. What Does the Lord Require: A Guide for Preaching and Teaching Biblical Ethics. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2009, 221.

[9] Armitage, Kevin C. “State of Denial: The United States and the politics of global warming.” Globalizations 2, no. 3 (December 2005): 417-427

[10] Bast, Joseph and Roy Spencer. “The Myth of the Climate Change ‘97%’” Wall Street Journal, May 26, 2014. Accessed October 11th, 2014, http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303480304579578462813553136.

[11] Bast, Joseph and Roy Spencer. “The Myth of the Climate Change ‘97%.’”

[12] Bast, Joseph and Roy Spencer. “The Myth of the Climate Change ‘97%.’”

[13] Derr, T. S. (2007). The politics of global warming. First Things, (175), 17-19.

[14] Sagoff, Mark. “Climate politics: The Climate Fix: What Scientists and Politicians Won’t Tell You About Global Warming.” Issues in Science and Technology 27.3 (2011): 87+.

[15] Armitage, Kevin C. “State of Denial: The United States and the politics of global warming.” Globalizations 2, no. 3 (December 2005): 417-427

[16] Geisler, Normal L., Christian Ethics, Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2010, 333.

[17] Geisler, Normal L., Christian Ethics, 325.

[18] Corbin-Reuschling, Reviving Evangelical Ethics: The Promises and Pitfalls of Classic Modelsof Morality, Grand Rapids: Brazos Press, 2008, 159.

[19] Barker, Kenneth and John R Kohlenberger III. New Testament. 563

[20] Barker, Kenneth and John R Kohlenberger III. The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: NewTestament, Grand Rapids: Zondervan,1994, 1224.

[21] Geisler, Normal L., Christian Ethics, 324.

[22] Walton, John, The NIV Application Commentary: Gensis, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2001, 173.

[23] Ibid, 186.

[24] Ibid, 185.

[25] Gangel,Kenneth O. and Stephen J. Bramer, ed. Anders, Max Holman Old Testament Commentary: Genesis, Nashville: B&H Publishing Group, 2002, 29.

[26] Geisler, Normal L., Christian Ethics, 357.


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