Tag Archives: Thomas Ackerman

Climate: Neutralizing Christians with a Veneer of Controversy

“Don’t believe those climate change alarmists! Because three percent of climate scientists think they’re wrong!”

Hmm. That wouldn’t make a very effective PR campaign, now would it? That’s why you never hear those words from Fox News, the WSJ, or the radio talk shows. It’s always “a growing number of scientists” or “thousands of scientists and doctors….”

About a week ago, we ran an article written by two evangelical climate scientists urging Christians to confront the threat of manmade climate change as a core faith issue. Days earlier, Thomas Ackerman and Katharine Hayhoe had published their article in the online evangelical journal, Christian Post. They wrote:

“We know climate change is real, that most of it is human-caused, and that it is a threat to future generations that must be addressed by the global community. We are also evangelical Christians who believe that God created the world in which we live.”

I felt relieved: real, leading Christian climate scientists telling their faith community the widely-understood facts about climate change. Maybe this would clear up the confusion that so many American evangelicals feel about climate science – confusion that seems to prevent us from acting to protect the creation.

But my relief was short-lived. Just days later, the Christian Post followed up with a rebuttal article, written by two other climate scientists, denying much of what Ackerman and Hayhoe had just told us. Not only that, they challenged them to a formal college campus debate, something that politicians do; scientists usually just produce research refuting the errors of their colleagues.

But to laymen like us, the tit-for-tat left many wondering whom to believe. Some credible scientists tell us that we must act to reduce greenhouse gases driving climate change. But then some other credible-sounding scientists come along and tell us just the opposite. Not exactly what we need to motivate a call to arms, is it? Maybe we should just do nothing, till this “controversy” is resolved.

And that’s a pity, because that’s just what most of climate denial is all about. You create the sense that this issue isn’t yet resolved, and so laymen like us will remain frozen in our tracks – worried, but not willing to act, especially if it might involve sacrifice. It worked for the tobacco industry for decades. Now it’s working for fossil fuels.  Continue reading

Why Do American Religious Bloggers Deny Climate Science?


I’m sitting next to a madman.

No, really. From his perch at the next coffee shop table, he rails aloud at an unseen adversary: “I’m speaking to you in the language of reason, logic and common sense! But to you, it might as well be Swahili!”

His long grey beard and shoulder-length hair fit well with the nonstop Jeremiad. You’d think he’d eventually tire, but the filibuster goes on and on. I relax for a moment while he visits the restroom. But then he’s back, and the tirade resumes. “If it weren’t for premarital relations, we wouldn’t even be here!! … Martin Luther King should have kept his mouth shut!!” Or whatever.

I don’t hear much logic, or much reason. But he does.

Funny, but at the same time, I’m reading comments in the Christian Post in response to the excellent article written by evangelical climate scientists Katharine Hayhoe and Thomas Ackerman. The scientists wrote to rebut the bizarre assertion by radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh: that you can’t both believe in God and believe the findings of climate science.

The article is great, as was an earlier rebuttal by Christian pastor Mitch Hescox. But the comments are – for the most part – simply unbelievable. To me, they might as well be Swahili. Maybe my friend at the next table could help me understand. Here’s a sampling:

Comment A: 98% of people who hold to the view of manmade global warming voted at least one time for Barack Obama. I would be surprised if the contributors of this article are not in [that] category. Which makes me wonder why they are even allowed to contribute. Perhaps, they feel the need to just to stir up controversy, instead of Godly edification.

Translation: Even though I don’t know anything about other people’s votes, you don’t have to take evangelicals seriously if I can drop the hint that they might have voted for a presidential candidate that I don’t like – even if he claims faith in Christ, belongs to a Christian church and ran first against a non-church-member and then against a committed Mormon. And the Christian Post shouldn’t even allow scientists to speak up if they agree with the 97 percent of their colleagues who accept mainstream views of manmade climate change.

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Evangelical Scientists Answer Rush Limbaugh on Climate Change and Christian Faith


Rush Limbaugh doesn’t think we exist. In other words, that evangelical scientists cannot subscribe to the evidence of global warming.

Specifically, during a recent segment on his radio show Limbaugh stated, “If you believe in God, then intellectually you cannot believe in manmade global warming.”

Talk radio personalities often make hyperbolic statements. It is what their listeners expect and want to hear. But in this instance, Rush’s uninformed rhetoric is demeaning to Christians who care deeply about what humans are doing to God’s Creation and ignorant of the consequences that future generations will face if we don’t respond quickly to the challenge of climate change.

We are both atmospheric scientists who study climate change, having earned advanced degrees in our respective fields and having devoted our lives to increasing knowledge through scientific research. We know climate change is real, that most of it is human-caused, and that it is a threat to future generations that must be addressed by the global community. We are also evangelical Christians who believe that God created the world in which we live.

Picture3From the very beginning of the Bible, the goodness of God’s Creation and God’s love for people is front and center. In Genesis, humans are tasked with stewardship of the earth and its creatures. The Psalms praise the beauty of the earth. The gospels exhort us to love our neighbors as ourselves. The epistles emphasize the importance of caring for those in need. It is hard to read through Scripture and not be convinced that caring for people and for the environment in which we live is part of our vocation as humans. It is something we are called to do in order to live faithfully in the world.  Continue reading