Tag Archives: climate change denial

Why We Doubt the Bad News About Climate Change

It was the spring of 1973, on the day that this college freshman found his way to the rear of the lecture hall for a first session with the famous Georgetown professor, Jan Karski. GOV-105 – The Theory of Communism – was a reasonable choice for a Foreign Service student in the 1970s, with the Cold War still raging, and Vietnam looking like the next of many more “dominos” to fall.

It took only a couple of minutes for Professor Karski to win me over. Bolt upright in posture, head held high, devoutly Catholic, and speaking with the heaviest of accents – everyone knew that Karski had fought the Nazis with the Polish Underground. But I didn’t know half the story on that spring morning.

Professor Jan Karski at Georgetown University

Polish Underground veteran Jan Karski at Georgetown University

As Karski warmed to his topic, a sweeping gesture with his arm pulled back the crisp cuff of his white shirt sleeve, revealing disfiguring scars on his wrist. Soon enough, the same would happen with his other wrist, revealing matching horrors. Whatever could have happened to this man, I wondered, for both of his wrists to be slashed repeatedly? And how was he still alive?

Soon enough, I found a copy of his autobiography, and learned the awful truth. Blessed with a photographic memory, Karski served as a courier for the Underground, committing lengthy communiques to memory and delivering them verbally upon arrival. But he was captured three times by the Germans, and tortured beyond describing, in an effort to pry loose his precious secrets. Karski knew that there was only one way to destroy the files in his memory, and a razor blade hidden in his shoe would have to do the trick. But weakened by days and nights of torture, Karski’s blood-flow failed him, and guards discovered his attempted suicide before his life could fully ebb away.

An audacious hospital rescue by the Underground saved Karski, and sent him on his most important mission, slipping through the back channels of Nazi Europe on a mission to President Roosevelt, armed with the first eyewitness accounts of the Jewish Holocaust in the death camps. But to Karski’s dismay, few Americans in Washington believed his account.

Karski’s story was, quite simply, unbelievable. Roosevelt brushed him off. Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter, who could not believe what he was hearing, would later say: “”I did not say this young man is lying. I said that I could not believe him. There is a difference.”

Karski’s story tells us something about ourselves as humans. There are dark secrets that our species is simply ill-equipped to deal with, often until it’s too late. This reality is all too familiar to climate scientists in our day. They speak of a world two degrees Celsius hotter than normal as an elusive goal that will require massive effort and some really good luck to boot. But four degrees?

That’s the course the world is on right now. And four degrees is shorthand for environmental, social and economic collapse. Absent determined worldwide efforts, four degrees is what we will reach in a mere sixty years, when my grandkids are my age.

Justice Felix Frankfurter: "I did not say this young man is lying. I said I am unable to believe him."

Justice Felix Frankfurter: “I did not say this young man is lying. I said I am unable to believe him. There is a difference.”

The British climate researcher George Marshall has examined how climate scientists deal with the fact that they carry an almost unmentionably dark outlook for the world in their research. His words are worth repeating here:

“One scientist told me that he was so disturbed by the latest findings that he wrote to a few close friends – he named some of the world’s most senior scientists – and asked them: the future of humanity depends on this, is there any chance – please, any chance – that we could be wrong? They replied immediately, saying that they too constantly worried about this and (contrary to what the skeptics claim) were always open to the possibility of being wrong. However, whenever they went back over the evidence, they could not avoid the uncomfortable conclusion that they had indeed gotten this right.”

You’ve noticed, however, that with few exceptions, scientists seldom speak this way openly. Their findings indicate that business as usual means something impossibly dark for their children to bear, and for billions around the world. But they continue to speak in the bland language of science – confidence factors, uncertainties and arcane measurements. And like Felix Frankfurter generations earlier, wide segments of the public refuse to process even the simple data they serve us.

This reality was driven home with force the other day, when my church received an invitation to listen in on a webinar titled “The Gospel Truth About Climate Change.” The invitation asked a question that the Polish Underground would understand all too clearly:

“Are scientists, economists and politicians purposely creating a culture of ‘climate alarmism?’ Join us as E. Calvin Beisner challenges the myths of climate change and exposes its threat to humanity, liberty and prosperity. Every ambassador of Christ and missionary of the Good News will want to see this eye-opening message.”

[Sigh.] Oh “climate alarmism” again.

And no, every ambassador of Christ will not want to listen to the willful blindness that so often greets deeply disturbing discoveries. Professor Karski would recognize what’s going on in an instant. Even the most distinguished Supreme Court justice – like the President himself – could not bring himself to believe the dark accounts that Karski knew to be true.

How long will it be till love for our children – and for the God of creation – eventually overcomes our instinctive rejection of sobering global-scale news? Can it happen in time to avoid some of the darkest consequences of our fossil-fuel binge? If so, we’ll need to experience a conversion that runs against the very grain of an instinctive human reaction.

God give us the grace to act with open-eyed love, while we still can.

So, What’s Causing Global Warming, Congressman?

After months of writing and waiting, my congressman’s office finally called back.

This isn’t just any congressman: This is Scott Garrett, the long-time Republican congressman representing New Jersey’s 5th District. The map of the 5th District tells you immediately that something fishy has been going on. It’s an irregular strip of upper- and middle-class suburban and ex-urban communities stretching from wealthy Wall Street bedroom communities to rural horse farms. Rep. Garrett’s stock in trade is his powerful voice on the House Financial Services Committee, the source of a trove of cash he receives from the banks he is charged with overseeing.

But that doesn’t keep Garrett from wandering into the general vicinity of climate science. Not surprisingly, Garrett is one of the many in Congress who swell the ranks of climate denial. In fact, the League of Conservation Voters gives him only a 3% rating, one of their very lowest. In 2010, Garrett told the New Jersey Herald that he had no idea if global warming was even happening.

Superstorm Sandy convinced many New Jerseyans that climate change was a serious risk

Superstorm Sandy convinced many New Jerseyans that climate change is  a serious risk — but not Rep. Scott Garrett.

“The real question that still exists in a lot of people’s minds, experts and non-experts alike,” said Garrett, “on the area of global warming and what role the government should have in this realm … I’ve heard a number of experts on both sides of the equation on this issue and to me the evidence, the question is still out there.”

Well, since then, more than five years had passed, several global heat records have been broken and super-storm Sandy has ravaged Garrett’s home state. So I figured that the congressman might have noticed that there simply isn’t any more scientific debate over the reality and the cause of climate change, and its costs to the folks back home. So I began writing and calling. I wasn’t going to be put off by the standard form letters touting how much he loved “landscape” and “beauty,” and all the “job-killing” EPA action he was opposed to.

I asked what he actually supported in dealing with climate change.

I asked again. And again. Until I finally got a call back, after months of trying. It wasn’t Rep. Garrett himself, mind you. It was a fellow named Stephen, one of Garrett’s staffers. Stephen had an upper-crust British accent and the refined manners that would go with it. I couldn’t believe that I was hearing from a Tea Party politician’s office; it sounded like Buckingham Palace on the line.

I’m afraid that Stephen’s British manners outshone mine by a longshot. I kept interrupting his canned talking points about “energy independence” and “all-of-the-above energy” and “job-killing regulation” with one repeated question: “What will the congressman do about the climate crisis?”

Well, of course, the actual answer was – Nothing. But you can’t acknowledge that we face a crisis, and still insist on doing nothing. So Stephen began asking me how I was so sure that climate change is happening. And particularly, didn’t I think that El Niño might have something to do with it?

“El Niño?” I asked, flabbergasted. I thought I should explain some basic facts to this mannerly Brit: El Niño patterns occur every decade or so in the Pacific, and seem to accompany spikes in global temperatures. Yes, the last strong El Niño event occurred in 1997, ushering in the then-record-hot year of 1998 (since then, a record broken four times). And yes, 2015 – the world’s hottest year ever – was also an El Niño year.

But, I asked, didn’t the congressman understand that El Niño effects last only a year or two, while global heat is growing year after year in an alarming pattern? Doesn’t he read about the decline in Arctic sea ice, and the melting of the polar ice sheets? Doesn’t he know what’s happening with rising sea levels? Doesn’t he understand the nature of greenhouse gases that are rising year after year as we burn more and more fossil fuels?

Picture2

Thermal imagery of effects of 2015 El Niño in the eastern Pacific. NASA image.

The staffer’s response took me off guard: “I suppose,” he said in his most dignified British manner, “we’ll just have to agree to disagree.”

What? Wait a minute! You’re not disagreeing with me. You’re disagreeing with every university in New Jersey – Princeton, Rutgers, Drew, Fairleigh Dickenson and more. And you’re disagreeing with NASA, and NOAA, and the US Armed Services. And you’re disagreeing with 195 other countries that just signed the Paris Agreement to fight global warming.

“So, what’s your alternative theory for rising global heat?” I asked. El Niño is probably to blame, Stephen implied in an artfully cautious response. El Niño, the periodic one-year phenomenon that the whole world has failed to understand as the cause of a century-long heating of the earth.

“And how do you know about El Niño?” I asked. Of course, he admitted what everyone knows: from climate science. You know, the same scientists whose conclusions Stephen dismisses as alarmist propaganda. Or at least, when those conclusions suggest that we need to move away from fossil-fuels produced by powerful campaign contributors like the Koch Bothers.

Well, Rep. Garrett, this is simply ludicrous. Any of the thousands of young people enrolled in New Jersey’s fine colleges and universities can tell you that the basic science of climate change is well settled, and highly unlikely to be undermined by the sources you rely on, like the US Chamber of Commerce and the American Petroleum Institute.

Maybe it’s too late, but let me just hope one last time: There are Republicans in Congress who have recognized the danger to our country, our children and our world, and are calling for climate action. In theory, at least, you could join them, and restore our confidence to some degree. The Climate Solutions Caucus is one option; the Gibson Amendment is another. And if you were to add your name to either one, you’d likely hear cheers from the 56% of Republican voters who actually support regulating carbon emissions from power plants.

And then maybe we’d manage to forget that you tried to blame long-term global warming on this year’s El Niño.

I haven’t given up hope just yet. You can still do something really good for us and our children.

Monster Storms: Deniable Culpability

No one knows for sure who killed Ronnie Lee Gardner.

Shortly after midnight on June 18th, 2010, Gardner was strapped into a massive chair in a Utah state prison block, and a bull’s-eye was pinned over his heart. Twenty feet away in the shadows stood five marksmen with rifles issued by the State of Utah. On command, they fired in one deafening volley. Five rifles recoiled together. But only four lead bullets slammed into Gardner’s chest.

No one on the firing squad will ever know for sure if he fired a lethal shot. One gun was loaded with a dummy – probably wax – bullet, which is said to deliver the same recoil as a live round.

The dummy bullet – or blank cartridge – is a time-honored device to assuage the conscience of those pressed into duty as executioners by the archaic means of a firing squad. There’s always the possibility, anyone can tell himself, that I only fired a harmless ball of wax. Call me a killer? Who knows? You can’t blame me with any certainty.

And that’s the comfort that a country in denial can take as we watch reports of utter devastation coming out of the island nation of Vanuatu in the wake of Cyclone Pam, one of the strongest tropical storms to visit the world since record-keeping began. Pam, a Category 5 cyclone, slammed into this Pacific nation of 252,000 souls spread across 80 islands last Friday, destroying virtually everything in its path.

Boy on Vanuatu salvages a deflated football from his home's wreckage

Boy on Vanuatu salvages a deflated football from his home’s wreckage

According to an estimate by the University of Wisconsin, the central atmospheric pressure of Cyclone Pam was a near-record-low 879 millibars. That would make Pam stronger than any Atlantic hurricane in recorded history, except the two most powerful. Early reports indicate that 80-90 percent of structures in Vanuatu have been destroyed or damaged. How do you rebuild a nation after almost all the human structures are in ruins?  For this archipelago, a direct hit by a world-record mega-storm likely spells the beginning of irreversible decline.

Climate science uniformly links increased tropical storm intensity to manmade climate change. Last year, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences summed it up like this: “Basic physical understanding and model results suggest that the strongest hurricanes (when they occur) are likely to become more intense and possibly larger in a warmer, moister atmosphere over the oceans.”

But responsible scientists almost never blame any particular event on global warming trends. Does manmade global warming lead to stronger storms and floods? Sure. Did climate change turn Cyclone Pam into a monster? Well, that’s complicated. How long do you have?

And so, to the climate-change deniers, who currently control the legislative agenda in the US Congress, you can breathe easy for a bit. Cyclone Pam may have rendered the homeland of a quarter-million Pacific islanders functionally uninhabitable, but who can say for certain whether you bear any blame? This should bring immense relief to politicians like Boehner, McConnell and Inhofe (the Oklahoma senator who invented the “greatest hoax” narrative).

With scores of outlying islands, Cyclone Pam's damage will take

Early reports: 80-90% of Vanuatu structures destroyed or damaged.

And why pick on these poor guys? In fact, 49 of 54 GOP Senators just voted against a non-binding Senate resolution simply affirming the global consensus that “human activity significantly contributes to climate change.” Ever since the Supreme Court tilted the electoral playing field in favor of unlimited moneyed interests, Republican politicians who admit that we need an alternative to oil, gas and coal have been tossed out one by one, or have “evolved” in their views.

So, American politicians, maybe you look silly to most voters today. Maybe the average European, African or Asian is aghast that you’re still professing climate ignorance in the face of overwhelming evidence. Maybe future generations will beg to know how you could possibly have ignored their chances of survival with your last-ditch stand on behalf of polluters. But you can take comfort in this: No scientist will ever blame you specifically for Cyclone Pam, and the destruction of a Pacific nation.

Thousands on Vanuatu – and millions more around the world – may be permanently homeless. But who can say that you’re to blame?

Maybe, after all, you only fired the dummy bullet.

99-to-1: Senate Admits Climate Change is Real

The United States Senate voted yesterday to make it official: Our government has now joined every other country in the world – sort of – in affirming that climate change is real. The Senate voted by the lopsided margin of 98-1 to adopt the truism that “climate change is real and not a hoax.”

98-1? What about 99-1? Well, Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) was undergoing eye surgery at the time of the vote. While he couldn’t cast a ballot, he’s on record. It’s 99 senators admitting what the rest of the world has long known.

My favorite tweet of the day came from the well-known Christian climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe: “Today the US Senate voted on whether climate change is real and human-caused. Tomorrow, they’ll vote on gravity. I’ve always wanted to fly!”

Sad to say, the Senate’s action is almost totally meaningless, other than giving some climate-denial politicians a fig leaf to hide behind in the next election. That’s because they also REJECTED, by a vote of 50-49 , a more meaningful amendment declaring that “humans significantly contribute to climate change.” (60 votes were needed for passage.)

For 48 Republican Senators (the 49th voted NO to both amendments), they got everything a politician could want: YES, they can tell the world that they’re on record as believing what climate scientists tell us about global warming trends; but NO, they can also tell their oil company donors that they refuse to believe those same scientists when they tell us that we’re the culprit, and must do something to change course.

The political messaging is pitch-perfect: “Of course the climate is warming! But, sorry, since we don’t contribute to it, why on earth would I vote for futile efforts to do something about it?”

It’s worth noting that five GOP senators broke ranks and joined all 45 Democrats in voting for the “humans contribute to climate change” amendment. They are:  Lindsey Graham (SC), Lamar Alexander (TN), Kelly Ayotte (NH), Susan Collins (ME) and Mark Kirk (IL).

So it was a notable day on Capitol Hill. For starters, we can now be a little less mortified when foreigners ask us about fatuous congressional climate denial. On the other hand, too many politicians still won’t jeopardize their political funding by admitting that it’s our problem to fix. But there are a few Republicans, at least, who have sent a signal that they might be willing to help with efforts to responsibly address a huge problem of our own making.

God answers prayer, and he directs us to pray for those in authority — all of them. It’s not hopeless. Hang in there!

Why Good Dads Need to Hear About Climate from Their Kids

I was always puzzled at the historical acclaim given among Jews and Christians to Hezekiah, King of Judah in the time of the prophet Isaiah. The Bible tells us that “he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord” and that “he was highly regarded by all nations.” I doubt my dad could have claimed as much. How about yours?

But even such a good man was willing, as hard as this may be to believe, to subject his children to misery, so long as it happened after his lifetime. When Isaiah foretold the coming ruin of his nation, and the slavery of his children in Babylon, Hezekiah accepted it without a whimper. “Why not,” he said, “if there will be peace and security in my days?”

Genocide, ethnic cleansing, slavery and exile are nasty things. But if they happen after I’m gone, maybe I can somehow make my peace with that.

Now, if you ask me whether such a thought could possibly lurk in some corner of my heart, I would take great offense. So would every parent I know. But, in fact, we older people seem to have some difficulty mustering up concern about future generations. Note for example, how older people view climate change: 49% of all Americans below the age of 50 agree that humans are changing the global climate, according to the Pew Research Center. But if you ask the 50-plus crowd, that percentage takes a 9-point drop to only 40%.

Now age alone can’t explain such a huge shift in views of science. Could it be that we older folks just have less of a future to worry about? Good King Hezekiah wasn’t immune to this temptation. Are we?

One person who’s willing to ask the question is Evangelical climate activist Anna Jane Joyner. Her father is a leading Christian pastor, and highly respected in many countries. But Ms. Joyner took the risk of taking their inter-generational conversation into the public sphere, in an open letter published last week in the Huffington Post. Maybe this will trigger some useful discussions with your parents, or anyone who is older than you. I pray that it will.

An Open Letter to My Daddy Who Doesn’t Accept Climate Change

This poignant letter is to my father, who is among the most powerful evangelical ministers in the world. Pastor Rick Joyner heads MorningStar Ministries, a global group with over 100 churches and partners in dozens of countries. My father won’t accept that climate change is human-caused. In this Sunday night’s episode of Years of Living Dangerously, Showtime at 10 p.m., I take him to meet scientists and see the situation on the ground. I wrote this open appeal to him. Anna Jane Joyner

Dear Daddy,

As you know, combating climate change is my life’s work. I believe it is the greatest challenge of our time. I feel a deep duty, to both my faith and my generation, to spread this message. We are the first generation that knows how serious the stakes are, as well as the last to be able to do something about it in time.

Anna Jane Joyner and father at recent film opening

Anna Jane Joyner and father, Rev. Rick Joyner, at recent film opening

I learned from you that we are called on to protect God’s creation and to love our neighbors. I write you today because we need your leadership to achieve a bright future for all of us – and our children.

Fossil fuels have brought the world many wonderful things, but now we know they come with a high price – an unimaginably high price if we don’t act soon to start transitioning off of them. We need to create a world where our energy needs are met without depending on fossil fuels that make us sick and heat up our planet. We can only do this together.

Daddy, I know you are someone who takes stewardship of creation as a moral mandate. I believe ignoring climate change is inconsistent with our faith. The risks are massive, and the science is clear. If we do nothing, our planet will face severe impacts, and billions of people will be hurt, most of whom contributed little or nothing to the problem. How is that just? How is that loving our neighbors?

Many people are already being negatively impacted, such as our friends, the oystermen, in Apalachicola, along with people from Texas to Bangladesh, from Syria to Staten Island — whose powerful stories are told in the Showtime series you and I appear in, “Years of Living Dangerously.”

It’s not just livelihoods at stake; it is our lives, God’s greatest gift to us. Daddy, will you use your voice to be a part of the solution? Christians are believers in resurrection, renewal, and salvation – even against all odds. We can help bring much needed light and healing to this situation, or we can allow misinformation and myopia to continue to be a hurdle to hope.

You are right, we do need truth. And now, more than ever, we also need action. I hope you’ll join me in working to overcome this great challenge, maybe the greatest our planet has ever faced. You and I both know our faith has risen to the occasion before and overcome great injustice and incredible obstacles. I hope we can come together, and do it now. For our planet and for each other.

Love you,

Anna Jane

Reprinted by permission of the author.

Climate Denial: Have Christians Become Irrelevant?

I’ve just gotten back from a beautiful spring day in Boston, where I took in a brilliant theatre performance of “The Whale,” Samuel Hunter’s moving story of the perpetual struggle between the sanctity and beauty of people, and the standards and rules by which we make sense of the world. The characters in the play were all deeply flawed. But notable among them was an archetypical religious person – a Mormon teenager on “mission.”

Of course, the teen is the perfect religious foil for people wrestling with profound human concerns: He exudes blind certainty with respect to irrelevant and implausible doctrines, and relentless sincerity in “saving” others from being different from himself. For me, as a public adherent to the Christian faith, I sat in the audience torn between relief that the playwright had plucked the low-hanging fruit of a Mormon door-knocker, and the discomfort of knowing that the role could have been filled almost as easily by many of my co-religionists – or perhaps even by me.

At home again this morning, the news served up a fresh reminder of why our culture sees religion the way it so often does. As we all know, the world’s climate scientists meeting in Yokohama had just released their most dire warnings ever about the impact of manmade climate change. Last September, their science report had finally put to rest any serious scientific debate over the basic facts of global climate change and its principal causes. Today, they’re telling us that the crisis is not one we’re leaving for the grandkids: it’s landed already, and it’s threatening to starve the poorest and most vulnerable humans right now, with worse to come. And while some Christians leapt to the defense of the world’s climate victims, others again dusted off their nearly incomprehensible claims that they know more than the scientists, and that it’s all an alarmist conspiracy.

September’s IPCC science report was the fifth in a three-decade series of global assessments of the state of climate science – each one more certain than its predecessor. The science is now 95% sure that the planet is dangerously warming due to human greenhouse gas emissions and human changes in land use. We’re using way too much coal (for electricity), oil and gas; and we’re destroying way too many forests and wetlands. We’re as sure of this as we are that smoking causes cancer. Never 100% sure, of course. That would be doctrine, not science. But 95%. Denying this is like betting the kids’ college fund on a 20-to-1 hunch.

This week’s impact report tells us more about what the climate science conclusions actually mean to people, other creatures and their habitats. And it’s not pretty. With high or very-high confidence, the world’s climate researchers now agree that during the current century, our disruption of the climate will mean:

  • Lower crop yields, increasing hunger, and higher food costs, all of which will land hardest on the poor and on poor countries.
  • Failure of rural communities due the drying up of fresh water systems on farms.
  • Collapse of fishing communities due to the failure of marine ecosystems in warmer and more acidic oceans.
  • Flooding or inundation of coastal communities as melting ice sheets and thermal expansion accelerate sea-level rise.
  • Increase in human migration as climate-change refugees look for new places to support themselves and their families.
  • Acceleration in the extinction of species of plants and animals, which is already at historic highs.

Among Christians, the Evangelical Environmental Network was first out of the blocks. More hunger? More thirst? More destroyed communities? Harm to the poor? This isn’t all that hard for Christians, as you would assume. EEN released the following statement:

“The current Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report provides even more evidence for what we have known for some time: climate impacts have and will continue to hit the poor the hardest, those least able to cope with the consequences, especially children and the elderly.”

Ben Lowe, Young Evangelicals for Climate Action

Ben Lowe, Young Evangelicals for Climate Action

And then came Young Evangelicals for Climate Action: “We can now see the impacts of climate disruption growing in our country and all over the world,” said Ben Lowe, the group’s spokesperson. “This is a moral issue that requires our church and political leaders to wake up and step up. The decisions they make today affect not just the present, but also the rest of my generation’s future.”

Of course. This is what you would expect from people whose Bible sets forth explicit commands for feeding the hungry and thirsty, and caring for the poor and the sojourner. Indeed, the consensus of evangelical Christians declarations calling for urgent moral action on climate change is consistent and overwhelming.

But it wouldn’t be long before a much more sinister voice would speak up. The Cornwall Alliance, a group that claims to be both scientific and evangelical, managed to convince The Christian Post that it had produced a “scientific report” that found key evidence that the world’s scientists had ignored.

“The human impact on global climate is small,” they claimed, “and any warming that may occur as a result of human carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gas emissions is likely to have little effect on global temperatures, the cryosphere (ice-covered areas), hydrosphere (oceans, lakes, and rivers), or weather.”

In effect, they say, you can believe the world’s climate scientists, and the broad consensus of research that they have conducted, or you can believe us – us Christians (maybe?) who know better. Never mind that we don’t conduct any of the climate research ourselves. Never mind that we don’t represent a single Christian denomination. Never mind that the world’s actual climate researchers warn of profound injustices perpetrated upon the poor of the earth – starvation, inundation, displacement and the wars and atrocities that generally accompany such traumas – even though they’ve contributed little to the problem.

In 2012, the Christian Reformed Church and its 1,300 congregations in North America specifically analyzed the Cornwall group’s claims and publications. “Considering the limited number of authors and their lack of religious credentials,” they wrote in a 130-page report, “it is somewhat disingenuous to label these as evangelical documents.” They continued: “Because of the absence of biblical references, presence of other ideologies commingled in its theological background, and outright denial of science on the issue of climate change, we do not discuss further the Cornwall Declaration on Environmental Stewardship or recommend it for study.”

And finally, said the Christian Reformed Church, “The positions expressed in the Cornwall Declaration are in general inconsistent with our perception of biblical stewardship and with our observations of what is occurring in our world today.”

But … somehow, they persuaded The Christian Post to give them equal time, and to buy their flimsy claims to legitimacy – long since debunked by both scientists and churchmen.

And so the secular culture has yet another reason to dismiss and to revile those who cling to faith in the Creator of Heaven and Earth. The global community is struggling with existential threats, among them the collapse of ecosystems under the weight of climate change. Do Christians have something real to offer? Or are we no more relevant than that Mormon teenager on Mission?

 

Climate Denial in Storm-Battered New Jersey?

Almost everybody hates Congress these days. Its job approval rating has sunk to a paltry 17 percent. It only passed 23 laws this year – including one to name a bridge, and another to promote fishing in some river. But strangely, politicians don’t seem to be all that worried. And that’s because of a curious disconnect among voters: We hate Congress, but fully half of us are okay with our own representatives.

They’re a total disaster, we say. But don’t blame my guy (or gal).

Here in New Jersey, I keep wondering how long this disconnect can survive. Of all states, we’ve suffered among the most from environmental chaos. We absorbed the direct hit from super-storm Sandy. We’ve suffered three straight years of major power outages due to severe weather. We’ve dealt with 100-year storms on a nearly routine basis. We’ve experienced increases in both extreme rainfall and drought, and broken virtually all records for hot weather.

Congress, however, has shot down all legislative attempts to deal with the changing climate, and forced the President Obama to rely solely on executive measures. What a mess! But – perhaps we reassure ourselves – my congressman is probably okay.

And then again, maybe not. Take my congressman, Scott Garrett. Reelected for a sixth term in Congress, he most recently captured 55 percent of the vote here in New Jersey’s 5th District. Despite what we’re suffering here in the Garden State, Garrett still openly doubts the findings of climate science. Continue reading