Conservative Evangelicals embrace God and green
Why some right-leaning evangelical Christians have become true believers in climate change. God and green go together, these conservatives say.
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Dr. Hayhoe, a research professor in the geosciences department, contributed to the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report released in 2007, as well as a US government report on climate change requested by the Bush administration and released last summer. Dr. Farley teaches linguistics and a New Testament course, while also serving as a pastor at a local nondenominational evangelical church.Skip to next paragraph
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Answering skeptical questions
Farley, who's a conservative Republican, says he was "a very hard-nosed skeptic" about climate change until he began discussing the subject with Hayhoe, a supporter of action. "She would show me the data," he recalls. "And after being presented with the data, I would lose the argument." After a while, "I became increasingly convinced [and said to myself] 'I see it now.' "
Farley began referring people at his church to Hayhoe when they had questions about climate change.
Hayhoe, who speaks to many school and church groups, says she's realized that "people have a common set of questions. And they're very good questions, and questions that should be asked."
They include theories they've heard, such as that climate change is caused by sun cycles, that the Earth is cooling rather than warming, and that even if the Earth is warming, humans have nothing to do with it. "Once you provide people with answers, that's the information that they need to make up their own minds," she says.
"The more [scientists] look at climate change, the more we realize it's accelerating," she says. Spring arrives one to two weeks earlier in the US Northeast than it did 30 years ago. "The center for blueberry production has actually shifted out of Maine into Canada because the winters are warmer now." And just this year, kudzu – the invasive vine once confined to the US South – has been reported in Canada for the first time, she says.
Together, Hayhoe and Farley wrote a book, "A Climate for Change: Global Warming Facts for Faith-Based Decisions." Reactions to it have come from those who remain skeptics as well as from those who felt the couple didn't sound a loud enough alarm about the need to take action.
"I think we're right where we want to be – in the middle," Hayhoe says.
Their goal is to "present the scientific facts to Christians with the data and let them sit down and make up their own minds," Farley says. He doesn't preach about climate change from his pulpit, though – or about politics or social issues, for that matter. "I'm not going to pull out temperature charts and graphs at church," he says. "We become a social group and not a church at that point."
The often-cited passage in Genesis about humans having "dominion" over the earth doesn't mean "let's destroy it," he says. "That's silly. That's absurd."