Increased droughts, floods, and blizzards are just some of the phenomena making news around the world. It seems like these drastic weather changes are occurring more frequently in areas they previously did not. The cause of these changes in weather patterns is the subject of great debate.
Scientists have shown that carbon emissions have a negative impact on the earth’s atmosphere and environment, an effect known as global warming. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports that “increased greenhouse gas concentrations are very likely to raise the Earth’s average temperature, influence precipitation and some storm patterns as well as raise sea levels.”
Complicating the situation, scientists have also confirmed that the earth does change climate on its own, leading some to conclude that the incidents of extreme weather are caused not by humans, but the earth’s natural tendency to shift climates. Again, the EPA cites research that the earth has gone “from glacial periods (or ‘ice ages’), where ice covered significant portions of the Earth, to interglacial periods where ice retreated to the poles or melted entirely; the climate has continuously changed.”
The debate over global warming has gone from the dining room table, to scientific journals, through the halls of Congress, and has now spilled into the beliefs of those living lives of faith. Within the Christian community, groups have formed in support of both sides. Those who believe that global warming is real argue that God created the earth; and as humans, we have the responsibility to care for God’s creation. On the other hand, those that argue against global warming believe that God created the earth for humanity to grow to its fullest capacity, and climate change is simply a result of that growth.
The debate over global warming has gone from the dining room table, to scientific journals, through the halls of Congress, and has now spilled into the beliefs of those living lives of faith.
One group opposed to the idea of global warming is the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation. Their agenda, available in its entirety at www.cornwallalliance.org, states that “environmental policies should harness human creative potential by expanding political and economic freedom, instead of imposing draconian restrictions or seeking to reduce the ‘human burden’ on the natural world.”
The agenda also states that rather than trying to impose restrictions on speculative problems, there should instead be a focus “on well-understood and well-argued evidence.” The Cornwall Alliance is not opposed to protecting the earth’s resources. Rather, their aim is to help people understand that the earth’s resources were created to aid creation, and restrictions should be applied only where there is clear evidence of harm.
A different organization is the Evangelical Climate Initiative (ECI), an online organization dedicated to educating both believers and non-believers about the impact humans have made on the earth’s climate and what can be done to minimize future impact. The ECI’s website, www.christiansandclimate.org, asserts that “pollution from vehicles, power plants, and industry is already having a dramatic effect on the earth’s climate…[and if] left unchecked, global warming will lead to more severe droughts, more intense storms, and more devastating floods, resulting in millions of deaths in this century. Prudence and compassion require us to act.”
The Cornwall Alliance and the ECI both agree that people should make personal choices as to how they use the resources God has made available to them on Earth. However, the ECI firmly believes that Christians need to make better personal choices in order to bring about change. The organization seeks to influence policymakers to make “moral and wise choices to protect God’s world and its people.”
Neither side denies that the earth changes climates on its own, and both sides agree that human activity does have an impact on the environment. Both sides also agree that human activity has an impact on the environment. The debate begins over the root cause of these changes and whether anything can or should be done to mitigate them. As Christians, we have scientific and scriptural support for both sides of the debate. Through prayer and a closer study of God’s Word, we can determine which side to take a stand for.