Evangelical Scientists Urge Climate Action, Warn of Harm to the “Least of These”

I’ve long hoped for Christian scientists and scholars to take a public stand on climate change. Maybe that would debunk the climate-denial smoke-screens: that the science isn’t settled; or if it is, you can’t believe those godless scientists anyway.

That’s why I was so excited to see more than 200 evangelical scientists and scholars joining their voices on Wednesday to urge — to plead with — Congress to take action to meaningfully reduce carbon emissions. Their message is so simple:

  • The creation is groaning under the weight of our over-use of fossil fuels;
  • The burden will fall most heavily on the poor and the vulnerable;
  • The Earth is already suffering and bearing enormous costs from human-induced climate change;
  • We are commanded to do no harm to our neighbors, but our national policies are harming the whole world;
  • The time for debate is over, and you must act now to protect God’s creation.
Dr. Calvin DeWitt, letter signatory, surveying climate change impacts in Kenya

Dr. Calvin DeWitt, letter signatory, surveying climate change impacts in Kenya

The complete text of the letter is reprinted below. Have a read; it’s short. And then ask yourself: If Christian scientists have spoken up, then how about Christian pastors, teachers, business professionals, students or [fill in your calling here]? Please, don’t let yourself be among the last Christians to get serious about the global assault on God’s good creation.

The creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God (Romans 8:19). Are you maybe what it’s been waiting for? Your scientist-brothers-and-sisters have spoken. Now it’s your turn.

Complete letter text and signatories

July 10, 2013

Dear Speaker Boehner, Senate Majority Leader Reid, and Members of the United States Congress:

As evangelical scientists and academics, we understand climate change is real and action is urgently needed. All of God’s Creation – humans and our environment – is groaning under the weight of our uncontrolled use of fossil fuels, bringing on a warming planet, melting ice, and rising seas. The negative consequences and burdens of a changing climate will fall disproportionately on those whom Jesus called “the least of these”: the poor, vulnerable, and oppressed. Our nation has entrusted you with political power; we plead with you to lead on this issue and enact policies this year that will protect our climate and help us all to be better stewards of Creation.

Average global temperatures are at their highest level within the measurement record, and we are beginning to see indications of increasingly disturbed weather. For example, 2012 was the hottest year ever recorded for the contiguous United States, and it will go down as one of the most destructive and disruptive years in U.S. history: wildfires, drought, superstorms, and public health outbreaks. This past year is only one example of the patterns of change we expect to see as the climate warms globally. We’re already spending billions in emergency aid for the victims of hurricanes and weather disasters, and these expenses will only increase as the “once in a lifetime” storms become the new normal.

The Bible tells us that “love does no harm to its neighbor” (Romans 13:10), yet the way we live now harms our neighbors, both locally and globally. For the world’s poorest people, climate change means dried-up wells in Africa, floods in Asia that wash away crops and homes, wildfires in the U.S. and Russia, loss of villages and food species in the Arctic, environmental refugees, and disease. Our changing climate threatens the health, security, and well-being of millions of people who are made in God’s image. The threat to future generations and global prosperity means we can no longer afford complacency and endless debate. We as a society risk being counted among “those who destroy the earth” (Revelation 11:18).

We call on you to pass meaningful legislation during this Congress to reduce carbon emissions and protect our environment, thereby strengthening the long-term outlook for our economy and our children. As Christian scientists and educators, we offer our knowledge, experience, and prayerful witness to assist you and all of our nation’s leaders who are willing to address this urgent challenge.

Sincerely, [Names of 200 evangelical scientists and university educators follow]

Dr. Tom Ackerman

University of Washington

Seattle, Washington

 

Dr. Carolyn Anderson

Calvin College

Grand Rapids, Michigan

 

Dr. Stanley Anderson

University of California, Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara, California

 

Dr. Brian Aukema

University of Minnesota

Minneapolis, Minnesota

 

Prof. Michael Bailey

Anderson University

Anderson, Indiana

 

Dr. Jonathan Bakker

University of Washington

Seattle, Washington

 

Dr. Marvin Bauer

University of Minnesota

Minneapolis, Minnesota

 

Dr. Philip Bays

Saint Mary’s College

Notre Dame, Indiana

 

Dr. Caroline Bentley

Southern Nazarene University

Bethany, Oklahoma

 

Dr. Abram Bicksler

International Sustainable Development Studies Institute

Chiang Mai, Thailand

 

Prof. Russell Bjork

Gordon College

Wenham, Massachusetts

 

Dr. Curtis Blankespoor

Calvin College

Grand Rapids, Michigan

 

Dr. Harvey Blankespoor

Hope College

Holland, Michigan

 

Dr. Mark Bloom

Dallas Baptist University

Dallas, Texas

 

Dr. Robert Boomsma

Trinity Christian College

Palos Heights, Illinois

 

Dr. Dorothy Boorse

Gordon College

Wenham, Massachusetts

 

Prof. Michael Bosscher

Trinity Christian College

Palos Heights, Illinois

 

Dr. Sheri Boyce

Messiah College

Grantham, Pennsylvania

Prof. Lynn Braband

Cornell University

Ithaca, New York

 

Dr. James Bradley

Calvin College

Grand Rapids, Michigan

 

Dr. Robert Bringolf

University of Georgia

Athens, Georgia

 

Dr. Joshua Brokaw

Abilene Christian University

Abilene, Texas

 

Dr. Jeff Brown

Hope College

Holland, Michigan

 

Dr. Douglas Bulthuis

Washington State University

Pullman, Washington

 

Dr. Russell Camp

Gordon College

Wenham, Massachusetts

 

Dr. David Campbell

Gardner-Webb University

Boiling Springs, North Carolina

 

Dr. Clayton Carlson

Trinity Christian College

Palos Heights, Illinois

 

Dr. Chris Carmichael

Bob Jones University

Greenville, South Carolina

 

Dr. Walter Cho

Point Loma Nazarene University

San Diego, California

 

Dr. Hyun Joong Cho

University of California, San Francisco

San Francisco, California

 

Dr. James Clark

Wheaton College

Wheaton, Illinois

 

Dr. Stephen Cole

MidAmerica Nazarene University

Olathe, Kansas

 

Dr. Bruce Congdon

Seattle Pacific University

Seattle, Washington

 

Dr. John Cossel, Jr.

Northwest Nazarene University

Nampa, Idaho

 

Dr. Lisa Crow

Southern Nazarene University

Bethany, Oklahoma

 

Dr. Thomas F. Cummings

Bradley University

Peoria, Illinois

 

Dr. Robert De Haan

Dordt College

Sioux Center, Iowa

 

Dr. William Deutsch

Auburn University

Auburn, Alabama

 

Dr. Calvin DeWitt

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Madison, Wisconsin

 

Prof. Jeffrey Divino

University of Connecticut

Storrs, Connecticut

 

Dr. David Dornbos Jr.

Calvin College

Grand Rapids, Michigan

 

Dr. Mike Dorrell

Point Loma Nazarene University

San Diego, California

 

Dr. Ruth Douglas Miller

Kansas State University

Manhattan, Kansas

 

Dr. Job Ebenezer

Technology for the Poor

Westerville, Ohio

 

Dr. Gary Emberger

Messiah College

Grantham, Pennsylvania

 

Dr. Darrel Falk

Point Loma Nazarene University

San Diego, California

 

Dr. Chris Farrell

Trevecca Nazarene University

Nashville, Tennessee

 

Dr. Leo Finkenbinder

Olivet Nazarene University

Bourbonnais, Illinois

 

Dr. Lloyd Fisher

University of Washington

Seattle, Washington

 

Dr. Vanessa Fitsanakis

King University

Bristol, Tennessee

 

Dr. Aaron Fletcher

Dallas Baptist University

Dallas, Texas

 

Dr. David K. Foster

Messiah College

Grantham, Pennsylvania

 

Dr. Michael Freake

Lee University

Cleveland, Tennessee

 

Dr. Laura Furlong

Northwestern College

Orange City, Iowa

 

Dr. Herb Fynewever

Calvin College

Grand Rapids, Michigan

 

Dr. Robert Gammon

University of Maryland

College Park, Maryland

 

Dr. Jason Ganley

Colorado School of Mines

Golden, Colorado

 

Dr. Luke Gascho

Goshen College

Goshen, Indiana

 

Prof. Raymond Gates

Cornerstone University

Grand Rapids, Michigan

 

Dr. Mark Gathany

Cedarville University

Cedarville, Ohio

 

Dr. Dale Gentry

Northwestern College

St. Paul, Minnesota

 

Dr. Dwight Ginn

Olivet Nazarene University

Bourbonnais, Illinois

 

Dr. Micah Green

Texas Tech University

Lubbock, Texas

 

Dr. Jeffrey Greenberg

Wheaton College

Wheaton, Illinois

 

Dr. Brian T. Greuel

John Brown University

Siloam Springs, Arkansas

 

Dr. Roger Griffioen

Calvin College

Grand Rapids, Michigan

 

Dr. Jeff Griffitts

Southern Nazarene University

Bethany, Oklahoma

 

Dr. Herb Grover

Wayland Baptist University

Plainview, Texas

 

Dr. Terry Gustafson

The Ohio State University

Columbus, Ohio

 

Dr. Loren Haarsma

Calvin College

Grand Rapids, Michigan

 

Dr. Steven Hall

Louisiana State University and LSU AgCenter

Baton Rouge, Louisiana

 

Dr. Rick Hammer

Hardin-Simmons University

Abilene, Texas

 

Dr. Wesley H. Hanson

Southern Nazarene University

Bethany, Oklahoma

 

Dr. David Hartnett

Kansas State University

Manhattan, Kansas

 

Prof. Elizabeth Hasenmyer

Taylor University

Upland, Indiana

 

Dr. Katharine Hayhoe

Texas Tech University

Lubbock, Texas

 

Dr. Kevin Heaney

Ocean Acoustical Services and Instrumentation Systems

Lexington, Massachusetts

 

Dr. Matthew Heun

Calvin College

Grand Rapids, Michigan

 

Dr. Gregory Hitzhusen

The Ohio State University

Columbus, Ohio

 

Dr. David Hoferer

Judson University

Elgin, Illinois

 

Dr. Thomas Hooyer

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

 

Prof. Elizabeth Horvath

Westmont College

Santa Barbara, California

 

Dr. Michael Huster

Nyack College

Nyack, New York

 

Dr. Dan Ippolito

Anderson University

Anderson, Indiana

 

Dr. Randy Isaac

IBM

Armonk, New York

 

Dr. Forest Isbell

University of Minnesota

Minneapolis, Minnesota

 

Dr. Delano Janutolo

Anderson University

Anderson, Indiana

 

Dr. Randal Johnson

Olivet Nazarene University

Bourbonnais, Illinois

 

Dr. Carey Johnson

University of Kansas

Lawrence, Kansas

 

Dr. Ian Johnston

Bethel University

St. Paul, Minnesota

 

Dr. Chris Keil

Wheaton College

Wheaton, Illinois

 

Dr. Wayne Keith

McMurry University

Abilene, Texas

 

Dr. Robert Keys

Cornerstone University

Grand Rapids, Michigan

 

Dr. John Korstad

Oral Roberts University

Tulsa, Oklahoma

 

Dr. Kirk Larsen

Luther College

Decorah, Iowa

 

Dr. Tom Lee

Abilene Christian University

Abilene, Texas

 

Dr. Curtis Lee

Dallas Baptist University

Dallas, Texas

 

Prof. Irvin Levy

Gordon College

Wenham, Massachusetts

 

Dr. Raymond Lewis

Wheaton College

Wheaton, Illinois

 

Dr. Erik Lindquist

Messiah College

Grantham, Pennsylvania

 

Dr. Richard Lindroth

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Madison, Wisconsin

 

Dr. Greg Long

Olivet Nazarene University

Bourbonnais, Illinois

 

Dr. Eric Long

Seattle Pacific University

Seattle, Washington

 

Dr. Larry Louters

Calvin College

Grand Rapids, Michigan

 

Dr. William Lynch

University of Evansville

Evansville, Indiana

 

Dr. Thomas Mangum

Northwest Nazarene University

Nampa, Idaho

 

Dr. Bryan Mark

The Ohio State University

Columbus, Ohio

 

Dr. April Maskiewicz

Point Loma Nazarene University

San Diego, California

 

Dr. Jon Masso

Daystar University

Athi River, Kenya

 

Dr. Ann Mayo

Tarrant County College

Fort Worth, Texas

 

Dr. Michelle McCully

University of California, San Francisco

San Francisco, California

 

Prof. Karen McReynolds

Hope International University

Fullerton, California

 

Dr. Laura Meitzner Yoder

Wheaton College

Wheaton, Illinois

 

Dr. Clarence Menninga

Calvin College

Grand Rapids, Michigan

 

Dr. Wendy L. Mercier

Eastern University

St. Davids, Pennsylvania

 

Dr. Grace Ju Miller

Indiana Wesleyan University

Marion, Indiana

 

Dr. Keith Miller

Kansas State University

Manhattan, Kansas

 

Dr. Kristy Miller

University of Evansville

Evansville, Indiana

 

Dr. Mike Mooring

Point Loma Nazarene University

San Diego, California

 

Dr. Stephen Moshier

Wheaton College

Wheaton, Illinois

 

Dr. Lytton Musselman

Old Dominion University

Norfolk, Virginia

 

Dr. Timothy Nelson

Seattle Pacific University

Seattle, Washington

 

Dr. Chris Newhouse

Spring Arbor University

Township, Michigan

 

Prof. Andrew Newhouse

SUNY College of Environmental Science & Forestry

Syracuse, New York

 

Dr. Karen Nordell Pearson

Hope College

Holland, Michigan

 

Dr. Jennifer Noseworthy

Gordon College

Wenham, Massachusetts

 

Dr. Han Chuan Ong

King University

Bristol, Tennessee

 

Dr. Laura Ong

King University

Bristol, Tennessee

 

Dr. Dawne Page

Point Loma Nazarene University

San Diego, California

 

Dr. Rafe Payne

Biola University

La Mirada, California

 

Dr. Wesley Pearson

St. Olaf College

Northfield, Minnesota

 

Dr. Kenneth Petersen

Bethel University

St. Paul, Minnesota

 

Dr. Kenneth Piers

Calvin College

Grand Rapids, Michigan

 

Dr. Jeffrey Ploegstra

Dordt College

Sioux Center, Iowa

 

Dr. Derek Posselt

University of Michigan

Ann Arbor, Michigan

 

Dr. Marla Potess

Hardin-Simmons University

Abilene, Texas

 

Dr. Darren Proppe

Calvin College

Grand Rapids, Michigan

 

Dr. Kathleen Purvis-Roberts

Claremont McKenna, Pitzer, and Scripps Colleges

Claremont, California

 

Dr. Michael Pyle

Olivet Nazarene University

Bourbonnais, Illinois

 

Dr. Max Reams

Olivet Nazarene University

Bourbonnais, Illinois

 

Dr. Jan Reber

Taylor University

Upland, Indiana

 

Prof. Stanley Reczek

Gordon College

Wenham, Massachusetts

 

Dr. Hal Reed

Oral Roberts University

Tulsa, Oklahoma

 

Dr. Jeffrey Regier

Taylor University

Upland, Indiana

 

Dr. Timothy Richmond

Southwest Baptist University

Bolivar, Missouri

 

Dr. Jon Roberts

Cadmus Group

Arlington, Virginia

 

Dr. David Robinson

Utah State University

Logan, Utah

 

Dr. John Roe

The Pennsylvania State University

University Park, Pennsylvania

 

Dr. Thomas Roose

Trinity Christian College

Palos Heights, Illinois

 

Dr. Paul Rothrock

Taylor University

Upland, Indiana

 

Dr. John Rowley

Houghton College

Houghton, New York

 

Dr. John Sanderson

Cornell University

Ithaca, New York

 

Dr. Jeffrey Schloss

Westmont College

Santa Barbara, California

 

Dr. Jonathon Schramm

Goshen College

Goshen, Indiana

 

Dr. Abbie Schrotenboer

Trinity Christian College

Palos Heights, Illinois

 

Dr. John Schutt

James A. Rhodes State College

Lima, Ohio

 

Dr. Arthur Schwarz

Southwestern Adventist University

Keene, Texas

 

Dr. Ryan Sensenig

Goshen College

Goshen, Indiana

 

Dr. Andrew Sensenig

Tabor College

Hillsboro, Kansas

 

Dr. Daniel Sharda

Olivet Nazarene University

Bourbonnais, Illinois

 

Dr. Joseph Sheldon

Messiah College

Grantham, Pennsylvania

 

Dr. Walt Sinnamon

Southern Wesleyan University

Central, South Carolina

 

Dr. Kumar Sinniah

Calvin College

Grand Rapids, Michigan

 

Dr. R. Darrell Smith

Global Environmental Relief

Conyers, Georgia

 

Dr. Ralph Stearley

Calvin College

Grand Rapids, Michigan

 

Dr. Eric Steinkamp

Northwest University

Kirkland, Washington

 

Dr. Craig Story

Gordon College

Wenham, Massachusetts

 

Dr. Darren Stoub

Dordt College

Sioux Center, Iowa

 

Dr. Aaron Sullivan

Houghton College

Houghton, New York

 

Dr. Michael Summers

George Mason University

George Mason University

 

Dr. Jack Swearengen

Washington State University, Vancouver

Vancouver, Washington

 

Dr. Sara Sybesma-Tolsma

Northwestern College

Orange City, Iowa

 

Dr. Lou Sytsma

Trinity Christian College

Palos Heights, Illinois

 

Dr. Kenneth Sytsma

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Madison, Wisconsin

 

Dr. David Terrell

Warner Pacific College

Portland, Oregon

 

Dr. Perry Tompkins

Southwest Baptist University

Bolivar, Missouri

 

Dr. Todd Tracy

Northwestern College

Orange City, Iowa

 

Dr. Donna Tucker

University of Kansas

Lawrence, Kansas

 

Dr. Daniel Tucker

University of Louisiana at Lafayette

Lafayette, Louisiana

 

Prof. Jonathan Twining

Eastern Nazarene College

Quincy, Massachusetts

 

Dr. Dave Unander

Eastern University

St. Davids, Pennsylvania

 

Dr. Gerald van Belle

University of Washington

Seattle, Washington

 

Dr. Randall Van Dragt

Calvin College

Grand Rapids, Michigan

 

Dr. Fred Van Dyke

Au Sable Institute of Environmental Studies

Mancelona, Michigan

 

Dr. Douglas Vander Griend

Calvin College

Grand Rapids, Michigan

 

Dr. Steven VanderLeest

Calvin College

Grand Rapids, Michigan

 

Dr. Aggie Veld

Olivet Nazarene University

Bourbonnais, Illinois

 

Dr. Pamela Veltkamp

McMurry University

Abilene, Texas

 

Dr. Hans Verlinde

The Pennsylvania State University

University Park, Pennsylvania

 

Dr. David Vosburg

Harvey Mudd College

Claremont, California

 

Dr. Peter Walhout

Wheaton College

Wheaton, Illinois

 

Dr. David Warners

Calvin College

Grand Rapids, Michigan

 

Dr. Matthew Waterman

Eastern Nazarene College

Quincy, Massachusetts

 

Dr. Leslie Wickman

Azusa Pacific University

Azusa, California

 

Dr. Douglas Wiens

Washington University in Saint Louis

St. Louis, Missouri

 

Dr. Alex Williams

York College of Nebraska

York, Nebraska

 

Dr. Mark Winslow

Southern Nazarene University

Bethany, Oklahoma

 

Dr. Ken Wolgemuth

University of Tulsa

Tulsa, Oklahoma

 

Dr. Richard Wright

Gordon College

Wenham, Massachusetts

 

Dr. Davis Young

Calvin College

Grand Rapids, Michigan

 

Dr. Sharon Young

Southern Nazarene University

Bethany, Oklahoma

 

Dr. Uko Zylstra

Calvin College

Grand Rapids, Michigan

5 thoughts on “Evangelical Scientists Urge Climate Action, Warn of Harm to the “Least of These”

  1. Davis Hillmar

    Many conservative Republicans automatically apply the label of “RINO” (Republican In Name Only) to Republican politicians who work towards reasonable, often bipartisan, policy goals. They are considered anathema to the base of the Republican party.

    I wonder what label fundamentalist Christians will apply to these two-hundred and two Christians who have dared to take this public position?

    Reply
    1. John Elwood Post author

      Thank you Davis. I try (I really do) to avoid broad brush statements about either political party. But it simply can’t be avoided: that virtually every Republican opposes serious efforts to care for God’s creation. I reluctantly provided the stats on this in 2011: http://belovedplanet.com/2011/11/13/the-900-pound-gorilla-party-politics/
      And in 2012, I reported on GOP efforts to suggest that earth-keeping Christians weren’t true Christians at all:
      http://belovedplanet.com/2012/02/22/excommunicating-the-creation-stewards/
      One small point: I try to avoid the use of “fundamentalist.” It almost never is used other than in pejorative terms. Sadly, unless we awaken to the idolatry of alliance to particular political parties, “evangelical” may soon carry the same sorry connotations, bringing disrepute on the name of Christ.
      God is not a Republican, or a Democrat.

      Reply
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