Thursday, February 09, 2006

Evangelicals against global warming

Kudos to the 86 evangelical Christian leaders who are backing legislation that would require reductions in carbon dioxide emissions.

Despite opposition from some of their colleagues, 86 evangelical Christian leaders have decided to back a major initiative to fight global warming, saying "millions of people could die in this century because of climate change, most of them our poorest global neighbors."

Among signers of the statement, which will be released in Washington on Wednesday, are the presidents of 39 evangelical colleges, leaders of aid groups and churches, like the Salvation Army, and pastors of megachurches, including Rick Warren, author of the best seller "The Purpose-Driven Life."

"For most of us, until recently this has not been treated as a pressing issue or major priority," the statement said. "Indeed, many of us have required considerable convincing before becoming persuaded that climate change is a real problem and that it ought to matter to us as Christians. But now we have seen and heard enough."

The statement calls for federal legislation that would require reductions in carbon dioxide emissions through "cost-effective, market-based mechanisms" -- a phrase lifted from a Senate resolution last year and one that could appeal to evangelicals, who tend to be pro-business. The statement, to be announced in Washington, is only the first stage of an "Evangelical Climate Initiative" including television and radio spots in states with influential legislators, informational campaigns in churches, and educational events at Christian colleges.

And a big raspberry to "some of the nation's most high-profile evangelical leaders" who are trying to derail such statements.

Twenty-two of them signed a letter in January declaring, "Global warming is not a consensus issue." Among the signers were Charles W. Colson, the founder of Prison Fellowship Ministries; James C. Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family; and Richard Land, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Their letter was addressed to the National Association of Evangelicals, an umbrella group of churches and ministries, which last year had started to move in the direction of taking a stand on global warming. The letter from the 22 leaders asked the National Association of Evangelicals not to issue any statement on global warming or to allow its officers or staff members to take a position.

E. Calvin Beisner, associate professor of historical theology at Knox Theological Seminary in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., helped organize the opposition into a group called the Interfaith Stewardship Alliance. He said Tuesday that "the science is not settled" on whether global warming was actually a problem or even that human beings were causing it. And he said that the solutions advocated by global warming opponents would only cause the cost of energy to rise, with the burden falling most heavily on the poor.

I don't buy this reasoning that "do nothing about global warming" evangelicals are motivated by their concern for the poor. Basically everything falls "most heavily on the poor" (including the effects of global warming). They might as well advocate removal of safety standards in automobiles such as air bags because they increase the cost, "with the burden falling most heavily on the poor."

PS: Blithering Idiot says:

First, I am not sure that "global warming" exists; second, I'm not sure, if it does, that it is human-created; third, I'm not sure it would be a bad thing if it did exist.

I think it's pretty well established that the Earth is getting warmer. It's harder to determine how much of it is due to human activity. We've gotten warmer pretty fast in the last 40 years, which might make us think our pollution is having a great affect, but it's been warmer than this even before the industrial revolution. As to whether global warming might be a good thing, BI cites how between 750 and 800 there was global warming and great abundance. In northern Europe. No word yet on how the rest of the world fared!

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