Skip to comments.Evangelical Leaders Swing Influence Behind Effort to Combat Global Warming
Posted on 03/10/2005 12:13:30 AM PST by neverdem
A core group of influential evangelical leaders has put its considerable political power behind a cause that has barely registered on the evangelical agenda, fighting global warming.
These church leaders, scientists, writers and heads of international aid agencies argue that global warming is an urgent threat, a cause of poverty and a Christian issue because the Bible mandates stewardship of God's creation.
The Rev. Rich Cizik, vice president of governmental affairs for the National Association of Evangelicals and a significant voice in the debate, said, "I don't think God is going to ask us how he created the earth, but he will ask us what we did with what he created."
The association has scheduled two meetings on Capitol Hill and in the Washington suburbs on Thursday and Friday, where more than 100 leaders will discuss issuing a statement on global warming. The meetings are considered so pivotal that Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, Democrat of Connecticut, and officials of the Bush administration, who are on opposite sides on how to address global warming, will speak.
People on all sides of the debate say that if evangelical leaders take a stand, they could change the political dynamics on global warming.
The administration has refused to join the international Kyoto treaty and opposes mandatory emission controls.
The issue has failed to gain much traction in the Republican-controlled Congress. An overwhelming majority of evangelicals are Republicans, and about four out of five evangelicals voted for President Bush last year, according to the Pew Research Center.
The Rev. Ted Haggard, president of the National Association of Evangelicals, an umbrella group of 51 church denominations, said he had become passionate about global warming because of his experience scuba diving and observing the effects of rising ocean temperatures and pollution on coral reefs.
"The question is, Will evangelicals make a difference, and the answer is, The Senate thinks so," Mr. Haggard said. "We do represent 30 million people, and we can mobilize them if we have to."
In October the association paved the way for broad-based advocacy on the environment when it adopted "For the Health of the Nation: An Evangelical Call to Civic Responsibility," a platform that included a plank on "creation care" that many evangelical leaders say was unprecedented.
"Because clean air, pure water and adequate resources are crucial to public health and civic order," the statement said, "government has an obligation to protect its citizens from the effects of environmental degradation."
Nearly 100 evangelical leaders have signed the statement.
But it is far from certain that a more focused statement on climate change would elicit a similar response.
In recent years, however, whenever the association latched onto a new issue, Washington paid attention, on questions like religious persecution, violence in Sudan, AIDS in Africa and sex trafficking of young girls.
Environmentalists said they would welcome the evangelicals as allies.
"They have good friendships in places where the rest of the environmental community doesn't," Larry J. Schweiger, president and chief executive of the National Wildlife Federation, said. "For instance, in legislative districts where there's a very conservative lawmaker who might not be predisposed to pay attention to what environmental groups might say, but may pay attention to what the local faith community is saying."
It is not as if the evangelical and environmental groups are collaborating, because the wedge between them remains deep, Mr. Cizik said. He added that evangelicals had long been uncomfortable with what they perceived to be the environmentalists' support for government regulation, population control and, if they are not entirely secular, new-age approaches to religion.
Over the last three years, evangelical leaders like Mr. Cizik have begun to reconsider their silence on environmental questions. Some evangelicals have spoken out, but not many. Among them is the Rev. Jim Ball of the Evangelical Environmental Network, who in 2002 began a "What Would Jesus Drive?" campaign and drove a hybrid vehicle across the country.
Mr. Cizik said that Mr. Ball "dragged" him to a conference on climate change in 2002 in Oxford, England. Among the speakers were evangelical scientists, including Sir John Houghton, a retired Oxford professor of atmospheric physics who was on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a committee that issued international reports.
Sir John said in an interview that he had told the group that science and faith together provided proof that climate change should be a Christian concern.
Mr. Cizik said he had a "conversion" on climate change so profound in Oxford that he likened it to an "altar call," when nonbelievers accept Jesus as their savior. Mr. Cizik recently bought a Toyota Prius, a hybrid vehicle.
Mr. Cizik and Mr. Ball then asked Sir John to speak at a small meeting of evangelical leaders in June in Maryland called by the Evangelical Environmental Network, the National Association of Evangelicals and Christianity Today, the magazine. The leaders read Scripture and said they were moved by three watermen who caught crabs in Chesapeake Bay and said their faith had made them into environmentalists.
Those leaders produced a "covenant" in which 29 committed to "engage the evangelical community" on climate change and to produce a "consensus statement" within a year.
Soon, Christianity Today ran an editorial endorsing a bill sponsored by Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, along with Mr. Lieberman, that would include binding curbs on heat-trapping gases. Mr. Ball said the strongest moral argument he made to fellow evangelicals was that climate change would have disproportionate effects on the poorest regions in the world. Hurricanes, droughts and floods are widely expected to intensify as a result of climate change.
Evangelical leaders of relief and development organizations had been very receptive, he said.
"Christ said, 'What you do to the least of these you do to me,' " Mr. Ball said. "And so caring for the poor by reducing the threat of global warming is caring for Jesus Christ."
Among those speaking at the two meetings this week are Sir John and Dr. Mack McFarland, environmental manager for DuPont, who is to describe how his company has greatly reduced emissions of heat-trapping gases.
Such an approach appeals to evangelicals, Mr. Haggard said, adding, "We want to be pro-business environmentalists."
Mr. Cizik said he was among many evangelicals who would support some regulation on heat-trapping gases.
"We're not adverse to government-mandated prohibitions on behavioral sin such as abortion," he said. "We try to restrict it. So why, if we're social tinkering to protect the sanctity of human life, ought we not be for a little tinkering to protect the environment?"
Mr. Lieberman added: "Support from the evangelical and broader religious community can really move some people in Congress who feel some sense of moral responsibility but haven't quite settled on an exact policy response yet. This could be pivotal."
Steve Ruark for The New York Times
The Rev. Rich Cizik is a significant voice on the environment.
Duct tape and corks for these 'ministers' should do the trick on global warming by decreasing hot air and gas emissions.
FReepmail me if you want on or off my health and science ping list.
... The Rev. Ted Haggard ...Who?
Might as well worship the sun then.
It's the likely cause...
Will wonders never cease!!!!
The New York Times recognises Global Warming hype as religion, better late than never:
"We have wished, we ecofreaks, for a disaster or for a social change to come and bomb us into Stone Age, where we might live like Indians in our valley, with our localism, our appropriate technology, our gardens, our homemade religion -- guilt-free at last!"
-- Stewart Brand (writing in the Whole Earth Catalogue)
Bet their scam for harnessing volcanos is a hoot.
If anyone believes that the NY Times in this story, at any other time, accurately represents evangelicals, I have a bridge to sell.
It's the likely cause...
I'm inclined to agree. Just how much so called "green house gases" are responsible is a matter of speculation. However, that's the only way people can have any effect, regardless of miniscule, actual effect.
Mars has been warming recently. Only one explanation. The sun is putting out slightly more energy.
I'd love to see where these 30,000,000 parishioners this bozo claims to control live. Canada? France? Britian? Maine?
Global warming good news for coral reefs: research
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA: Coral reefs around the world could expand in size by up to a third in response to increased ocean warming and the greenhouse effect, according to Australian scientists.
"Our analysis suggests that ocean warming will foster considerably faster future rates of coral reef growth that will eventually exceed pre-industrial rates by as much as 35 per cent by 2100," says Dr Ben McNeil, an oceanographer from the University of News South Wales.
"Our finding stands in stark contrast to previous predictions that coral reef growth will suffer large, potentially catastrophic, decreases in the future," says McNeil, who led and published the research in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, with colleagues Dr Richard Matear of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) and Dr David Barnes from the Australian Institute of Marine Science, Townsville.
Previous research has predicted a decline of between 20 and 60 percent in the size of coral reefs by 2100 relative to pre-industrial levels due to increasing CO2 levels in ocean surface waters. The new research suggests that present coral reef calcification rates are not in decline and are equivalent to late 19th century levels.
Coral reefs are built from calcium carbonate when red algae cement together a framework of coral skeletons and sediments. Seawater surface temperatures and the quantity of carbonate in seawater dictate their growth rate.
The Australian scientists have observed the calcification-temperature relationship at significant reef-building colonies around the world in the Indo-Pacific and at massive Porites reef colonies in Australia, Hawaii, Thailand, the Persian Gulf and New Ireland.
The predicted increase in the rate of coral reef calcification is most likely due to an enhancement in coral metabolism and/or increases in photosynthetic rates of red algae, according to the scientists. They used projections of ocean warming and CO2 concentration from a CSIRO climate model that accounts for atmosphere-ice and ocean carbon cycles.
"Our results show that increases in coral reef calcification associated with ocean warming outweigh decreases associated with increased atmospheric CO2", says CSIRO's Dr Richard Matear. "While initially showing a decrease in calcification up to 1964, ocean warming outweighs the CO2 effect and stimulates recovery of coral reef calcification. Our results represent an average over the entire coral reef community and it will be important to undertake more specific regional analysis of models to better understand future changes in regions such as Australia's Great Barrier Reef."
Dr David Barnes from the Australian Institute of Marine Science in Townsville says: "Coral reef calcification and the changes suggested in our research are separate to the adverse future effects of coral bleaching which is associated with the corals symbiotic micro-algae, and the significant impacts of human activities such as poor water quality, and unsustainable fishing on many of the worlds coral reefs."
The Australian Research Council and the Australian Greenhouse Office Climate Change Program funded the research.
It's not that I doubt you're assertion, but proof is required for those doubting Thomas's amongst us.
High fuel bills is a greater cause. Over two bucks a gallon for propane is not only absurd, it's a sin. Let these 'men of faith' pray for less greed in the marketplace and stay the hell out of politics. Thank you very much.
There are many other references if you look.
Actually a quick Google or even search of FR will show valid studies on warming of several planets, not just Mars.
The sun is in a warming cycle. We have no idea why and we still are mostly in the dark when it comes to the sun and its longer cycles, much less the shorter ones. Think harmonics and how different frequencies will dampen or increase the amplitude of the frequency. Same with the sun and its cycles.
Even more interesting is that every ice age was preceded by warming and an increase in CO2. At the time the temp dropped, so did CO2 concentrations. There is a self regulating mechanism in the earth's makeup, probably ocean currents.
That would explain why Alan Alda was on Public TV last week talking about salinity changes (due to melting ice) causing a possible shutdown of the gulf stream.
Of course, Alan was not talking about self-regulation.