Global warming report: a call for all to care for God's creation
The earth is not heating up nearly as fast as the debate about its climate. We can blow up so irresponsibly that we lose the steam we need to act constructively. Or we can respond to this environmental challenge in a way that increases respect and effectiveness, while decreasing the hot error.Skip to next paragraph
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Every major religion has a moral mandate to take care of the Earth. For those who look to the Bible for instruction, it is the first responsibility given to man: "The Lord God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep [protect] it" (Gen: 2:15, NASB). Our moral obligation, then, does not depend on the rate our planet is warming, or even whether the main cause is human activity. We are to refrain from harming God's creation – period. Few Christians or persons of other faiths (or no faith) would disagree with that statement.
But the latest reports indicate the need to move the care of creation up the priority scale. The great news is that individually we can help as much as we have harmed the physical environment, but we must watch out that we don't poison the environment of relationships in the process.
We need the skeptics; they are a valuable part of the conversation. Skeptics see a speck of truth we need to consider. I have found that if I ignore them, all those specks can accumulate into a log in my own eye. Skeptics can keep us honest and steer our remedies away from some negative consequences with their warnings: "You're going to destroy the economy!" "You are trying to create a panic!" "This is more politics than science!" Truthfully, we do need to calmly and reasonably create market-based solutions that don't depend more on government policy than on grass- roots participation. What we don't need to do is yell back.
Jesus was really great at not being preoccupied with retaliation. Even when the attack was personally hurtful, his response was, "Forgive them, for they know not what they do." Some think global warming is a hoax. But if we reduce pollution in a way that won't cause more harm than good, what's the problem? On the wild chance that the growing evidence has been misread, we still end up with a better world. On the other hand, some of us think that the climate change skeptics are missing the overwhelming evidence and that their disbelief may delay much-needed reform. Forgiving those not ready to act while equipping those who are ready to act improves both the spiritual and physical environment.
We don't need to try to personally argue people to our side. Few of us are scientists. Fewer of us are world-class climatologists whose research must be reviewed by peers hundreds of times over. Even fewer of us realize how quickly the tools for measuring climate change and atmospheric conditions have advanced in the past few years. Indeed, the earlier reports have passed their expiration date.
The most credible authority on climate change is the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a panel of hundreds of the world's best scientists, evaluated by hundreds of other scientists, further evaluated by government officials of 154 countries and the major national academies of science around the world. Scientists, like cats, are difficult to coordinate. Therefore, this continually updated consensus report is a very conservative document. This year's report, released last Friday, says that there is more than a 90 percent likelihood that human activity is a significant contributor to climate change. I believe it because they are the experts (not politicians or some retired engineer who has "done his own research"). All the disagreements I have read have either been founded on old information or have very limited perspectives.