Global Warming – Being In Denial Is No Joke

Denial of Overwhelming Evidence

According to a recent report on NPR:

Academies of science around the world agree that climate change is real and caused largely by burning fossil fuels. So do many professional scientific organizations. Polls of scientists point to the same conclusion, and so now does a review of the scientific literature. It shows that 97 percent of the time, scientists who express a view say that human activity is warming the planet.

This agreement among scientists has not been embraced by the public, though.

Less than half of the public understands that there’s widespread scientific agreement about climate change. About 40 percent believe that there’s a lot of disagreement among the scientists.

Why do people not follow the scientists’ lead? There are a lot of reasons, perhaps, but Jeremiah 5:30-31 and 2 Timothy 4:1-5 hit the nail on the head when saying that people love to turn away from truth. Of course Paul was focused there on the truth of the gospel, but we need to keep in mind that all truth is God’s truth, because our God is himself the Truth. (John 14:6.)

Sadly, some of God’s own people want to deny the truth, and even make jokes about what’s happening to the world God has made. But as Jonathan Merritt pointed out, a prominent pastor who jokes that he doesn’t care about the environment and will drive a behemoth of a car because God’s going to burn up this world anyway is not only joking in poor taste, but preaching a lack of stewardship and a lack of concern for the people around us. And for those people around us, this is not joking matter; in fact, as Karen Swallow Prior reported from Malawi, it’s become worse than HIV-AIDS for some communities.

Here’s where we are, then. The survey of the scientific community shows scientists are convinced that human activity is warming the planet. And as Merritt explains, that human activity is devastating to African dirt farmers, communities neighboring Appalachian coal mines, and little children living in modern cities. Drought, polluted drinking water and asthma all result from the planet-wide impact of human activity.

Our Responsibility

Should we as Christians care? Even if it was told as a joke, isn’t that pastor correct that God will clean up the planet in the new creation? Why on earth are we supposed to care about any of this?

Why on earth? Because:

The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it. (Psalm 24:1.)

God cares for plants and animals, and Jesus said that because he does we can be assured that God cares for us too. (Matthew 6:25-34, Luke 12:22-31.) In fact, we are not separate from the rest of Creation; we are in the process of salvation with it.

 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. (Romans 8:18-21.)

People and Creation. People in Creation. People with Creation. However you look at it, we’re all in this together. And what we do with what God has given us matters a lot to God. (Matthew 25:14-30.)

Now there’s an idea we can warm up to.

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23 Responses to Global Warming – Being In Denial Is No Joke

  1. michellevl says:

    I think a lot of conservative Christians wrongly viewed this issue as one that “liberals” cherished; thus, they reacted by taking an opposite stance. I also believe that people’s theology shapes their views on the issue: If you are a pre-mil, pre-trib adherent and you’re waiting for an exit from this earth via rapture, global warming won’t matter much to your future plans.

    Thanks for making a wise plea for good stewardship!

  2. Adam Shields says:

    I saw a study recently that investigated marketing of highly efficient light bulbs. Saying they were ‘good for the eviroment’ actually reduced people buying them among a good sized group of people. (The study said marketing them as cost effective was the best way to get people to buy them.)

    • Tim says:

      Interesting, Adam. Consumers are driven by many things, but getting a good deal on a lightbulb seems to be a higher priority in purchase-decisions than good stewardship. One of my professors said that environmentalism is a full-stomach phenomenon; if you’re worried about your next meal, you’re not spending time worrying about the environment. I’d say it’s also a full-wallet phenomenon; if some one thinks they can save a buck, environmental concerns take a back seat.

  3. KSP says:

    Regardless of views on climate change, all Christians should be able to agree on good stewardship and conservation.

    I love the parallel you make with the abortion issue, Tim. Why not in both cases, if uncertainty exists, err on the side of life?

    • Tim says:

      You would think the spiritual practice of good stewardship would carry the day for the majority of christians, but recognizing our responsibility to care for the earth – the home God has put us in – seems to be more prevalent in some non-Christian faiths.

  4. janehinrichs says:

    I believe the problem is the term “Global warming.”

    Climate change is a much better term because we all do see that. The world’s weather has gotten a whole lot more violent and extreme. It is caused by our sin. The earth feels our sins and is reacting to it. And it will just get worse. I say Climate Change is a better term because where I’ve lived the weather has gotten colder so this is hard to reconcile with the term “global warming.”

    The sins have been piling up for centuries. We are dealing with the consequences now. And it will get worse and worse. That doesn’t mean we can’t do anything about it. We can. We can do what we can do. We can make where we live healthier. But we are on a downhill course to destruction.

    • Tim says:

      I know what you mean, jane. Global Warming is a technical term, I think. Here on the west coast, we get El Nino weather patterns, caused by overly warm water in the Pacific Ocean. The result is a nasty winter full of more rain than the coast can handle. It’s warming that causes it, but it is manifest in a harsh winter.

      You’re right that climate change is more understandable and acceptable. Even without human influence, everyone who has taken basic science in school knows that the earth has goen through ice ages and warm spells.

  5. I think the problem here is that, as michellevl pointed out, many reactions are mere backlash. On both sides extremists tend to have the loudest voices, and as such get heard the most. To a lot of people, global warming is synonymous with “humanity is a mistake” thinking, and other “out-there” viewpoints. As such, any overt concern for environmental issues is linked to this, and causes otherwise good ideas to be ignored.

    Of course, if we just took the extremists, put them in a room, and let them argue to their hearts’ content, the rest of us could have a productive discussion, preferably over tea. 😉

    • Tim says:

      Erica, I’d attend your tea soiree. If any extremists crashed the party, I’d keep stuffing cookies and cakes down their gullets so they couldn’t interrupt us. Eventually, they’d fall into a sugar coma and we’d all be left in peace to talk things through.

  6. Jeannie says:

    Thanks for highlighting this important issue. I read Merritt’s piece, and I appreciated his comment “The lesson here does not seem to be that every one needs to lighten up.” Climate change IS a serious issue. I was talking with a friend recently about Rob Bell’s Love Wins — neither of us had realized the other was reading this controversial book — and we agreed that one thing it does very positively is remind us not to let an overly “heavenly-minded” perspective make us disrespectful of the earth God’s given us. If we believe earth is a prison that some day God’s going to free us from, it kind of makes sense to trash it before we go. But that doesn’t show gratitude, wisdom, or kindness — and isn’t Biblical either.

    • Tim says:

      Great points, Jeannie. God has given us a planet that reflects, even in a fallen state, his wonders. He tells us as much in Job. So why would we feel free to trash it? It doesn’t seem like a very loving response. And it is also hurtful to our neighbors who need us to help them in taking care of this home, so they can put food on their tables.

  7. Nick says:

    It’s sad that folks point to our governing of the earth as an excuse to abuse it…no wonder our society has issues with biblical authority.

    • Tim says:

      Nice connection, Nick. Knowing that “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it” should be cause for celebration and wonder, not pillage and plunder.

  8. Robert Martin says:

    Okay… flame me up… but, there are a number of factors contributing to the doubt of anthropogenesis of climate change including a) political power agendas, b) corporate greed (it’s BIG BUCKS to sell alternative energy) and c) other scientists with dissenting opinions being black-balled from peer-reviewed journals…

    So… that said, is the climate changing? Yup. Do I believe that humans are the PRIMARY cause of it? Nope (we may be contributing, but global climactic change is not a “new” thing and dates back even prior to the industrial revolition). Do i believe humans need to be good stewards of the environment? DEFINITELY YES!!!!! for all the reasons you said above.

    See, I don’t need to “believe” in human-caused global warming to advocate for environmental stewardship… that’s just a “duh” thing that comes out of Genesis 1… we’re here to be God’s reps on the planet and take care of things the way he wants them taken care of (and you don’t need a literal 6-day Creation to believe that)…

    Anywho, yeah… let’s be good stewards, let’s make sure we take care of this planet we’re on… but for goodness sake, people, do we REALLY need to feed into the politicized frenzy about it? This Mennonite/Anabaptist says “Oy, vey” to that…

    • Tim says:

      “See, I don’t need to ‘believe’ in human-caused global warming to advocate for environmental stewardship”

      Exactly what I was getting at Robert! I’m not as concerned with how we got here as I am in figuring out what taking care of the world now entails. If modifying human habits can make things better – and I think it’s worth a try – we should give it a go.

    • Pam says:

      Going to have to push back on your reasons to dismiss anthropogenic global warming. The amount of power that scientists have, the amount of money in alternative energy, the amount of political interest in climate change, are all grossly overestimated by those who disagree with AGW. I’m working on my PhD in a climate-related field and believe me, the financial assistance and interest is very slim pickings. There’s much more financial investment and subsidies given to the coal and oil industries, and politicians aren’t very interested because it isn’t an easy vote-buyer – in fact addressing climate change will require some adjustments to how we live in the West that, while really not that difficult, aren’t going to be too popular (nobody likes being told they should make do with less). As to scientists black-balling dissenting opinions, if you have the evidence to support what you’re saying, you can get published. Sure, scientists, just like everyone else, can be very good at criticising those they disagree with, but there is not some global cabal controlling what gets published and what doesn’t.
      You are, of course, more than welcome to question AGW, but make sure your reasons for doing so stand up to scrutiny. The three you gave are fairly weak when put to the test.

      • Tim says:

        I just read a report yesterday that found northern hemisphere sulfate emissions, particularly European and North American, might have a causal connection to the Sahel drought in central Africa. Change is going to come whether we like it or not. Changing now seems a lot smarter than having it forced on us later. The people who experienced the Sahel drought sure faced big changes: hundreds of thousands of them died. Not much bigger change than that.

  9. Justin L. says:

    I majored in Biology in college and I noticed among Christians at least, a complete distrust of the scientific method for biology because: evolution and the manipulative liberal government. It’s easy to dismiss climate change as irrelevant if even Christian in other fields of science don’t trust anything biologists say.

    • Tim says:

      It’s that blind distrust that I tried to get at in talking about how even Christians can sometimes reject truth, Justin. Thanks for adding to that here in the comments!

  10. I don’t like to preach but to me it’s a no-brainer: the LORD said to subdue the earth. Surely that doesn’t only mean dig a garden and plant vegetables but to take care of the planet. God created the earth and put us in charge to take care of it. Creating pollution seems a sharp contrast to that instruction. It is heartening to read your post and comments as there are clearly many who do care.

    • Tim says:

      I’ve heard the passage about subduing the earth translated as holding stewardship over the earth as well, Sarah. Either way, it’s not like we’re told to go pillage the earth, damn the consequences!

  11. I think one of the worst diseases in our world is apathy.

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