Church and Environment: Why Christians’ Voices on Climate Change Matter

The Christian church has always been a source of hope. Loving our neighbors is one of the two Great Commandments (Mark 12:31).

Immense changes in technology and social arrangements can make loving our neighbors more complex today than in the past. Our primary calling remains preaching the gospel. But we should also make our world a better place to live.

Many evils plague our world. The church has played a key role in addressing them.

Today, environmental crises demand attention. We need to learn about them. The good of our neighbors depends on it.

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Some environmental problems are pretty straightforward. Others are more complex. One of those is global warming.

Many fear that carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from fossil fuels cause catastrophic, anthropogenic (manmade) global warming (CAGW). We can call advocacy of this view climate alarmism.

Climate alarmists demand that we change energy policy. They insist that countries that relied on coal and gas use wind and solar instead. But we use fossil fuels every day. The electricity that runs our homes, offices, and factories, and the gas that powers our cars, come from them.

Climate alarmists say we must stop this to save our environment. But there are two major reasons why the church should reject climate alarmism.

Inconclusive and False Science

The claim that using fossil fuels causes CAGW is false. For more than 18 years, global temperature has failed to increase in tandem with CO2 levels. Computer climate models gave false predictions for the past two decades. They have no credibility for predicting the future.

Leading climate alarmists like Michael Mann admit this. Award-winning climate scientists have testified of it before the U.S. Congress. Hundreds of peer-reviewed scientific papers over the past decade reject CAGW.

Global temperature has increased by about 1˚C over the last 150 years. But that isn’t dangerous. It’s mainly—maybe even entirely—the planet’s recovery from the Little Ice Age.

Earth has experienced similar warmth in recent times. Both the Roman Warm Period and the Medieval Warm Period were as warm as today. Nothing unprecedented or abnormal is happening.

Unreliable and Anti-Development Energy Policies

Coal and other fossil fuels have been directly responsible for eliminating poverty in the western world. Today, countries like India and China depend on coal for most of their electricity, and on oil for most of their transportation fuel.

Alternatives like wind and solar are unreliable and expensive. They cannot produce abundant, affordable, constant energy. Fossil fuels, nuclear, and hydro can. Wind and solar need backup from energy sources like coal. That makes them inadequate for industries and households.

Strangely, many advocates of wind and solar reject nuclear and hydro. Their commitment to unreliable renewable sources threatens economic development.

But conquering poverty in developing countries depends on economic growth. And that depends on fossil fuel-derived energy. Depriving the poor of that means prolonging their poverty.

Christians are bound to encounter environmental challenges. We may espouse different viewpoints. But our conclusions affect our neighbors’ wellbeing. We need to reach them wisely.

Just like others, we are targets of misleading CAGW propaganda. It jeopardizes our hopes to reduce poverty.

Climate alarmists say American Christians don’t care about the environment. They caricaturize us as denying climate change.

But this is false. Many honest, God-loving climate scientists, like me, reject CAGW. Yet we acknowledge moderate, benign or beneficial warming from CO2 emissions. Still, climate alarmists demonize us and seek to silence us.

Christians recognize real environmental problems. But we must beware of the media’s polarized reporting. We must not fall prey to it or policies that mean more harm than good.

We should reach our positions on climate change after careful study. We must apply 1 Thessalonians 5:21’s instruction to “Test all things, hold fast what is good” so we don’t harm our poorer neighbors.

A good place to start is the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation’s A Call to Truth, Prudence, and Protection of the Poor 2014: The Case against Harmful Climate Policies Gets Stronger.

Vijay Jayaraj (M.Sc., Environmental Science, University of East Anglia, England), Research Associate for Developing Countries for the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation, lives in Chennai, India.

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.

Vijay Jayaraj
Vijay Jayaraj (M.Sc., Environmental Science, University of East Anglia, England) is Research Associate for Developing Countries for the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation ( https://cornwallalliance.org ). He lives in Chennai, India.

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