Yes, another scientific society has once again issued another urgent call to act on climate change. But lest we glaze over from an overdose of expert – and sometimes conflicting – climate statements, let me review with you some excellent guidance from a leading evangelical Christian denomination.
Last year, the Christian Reformed Church adopted a sweeping declaration and call to action regarding the threat of manmade climate change and its impact on vulnerable communities. Recognizing that churches hear many voices both endorsing and disputing mainstream climate science, they addressed the core question: Whom do we believe?
Their answer was both measured and thoughtful. But at its core was the distinction between individual debaters on the one hand, and consensus reports from established scientific societies on the other: “When a broad community of experienced and reliable experts, utilizing the checks and balances implicit in scientific review, agrees on consistent conclusions over a period of several decades, it is reasonable to accept these broadly based conclusions and plan for the future” CRCNA Report, p. 39.
Earlier this week, the world heard one of its largest and most respected scientific societies issue an unequivocal warning about the danger of climate change, and mankind’s obligation to act to mitigate the harm. The American Geophysical Union (AGU) issued a statement titled “Human-induced Climate Change Requires Urgent Action,” declaring that “humanity is the major influence on the global climate change observed over the past 50 years” and that “rapid societal responses can significantly lessen negative outcomes.”
“Human activities are changing Earth’s climate,” they said in the clearest layman-ready language to date. “Human-caused increases in greenhouse gases are responsible for most of the observed global average surface warming of roughly 0.8°C (1.5°F) over the past 140 years. Because natural processes cannot quickly remove some of these gases (notably carbon dioxide) from the atmosphere, our past, present, and future emissions will influence the climate system for millennia.” Continue reading