by Rev. Mitch Hescox
It's rare to have the opportunity to shake the hand of the President of the United States and share a few words. In all honesty, it's something I never, ever expected to do. But it happened this week at the annual White House Easter Prayer Breakfast.
After worship ended, the President walked to each table, greeted us all, and stopped for a photo opp. In my normal unreserved fashion, I told the President, "I'm your friendly evangelical Republican environmentalist." The President smiled. Then, referring to the head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Administrator Gina McCarthy, I said "Thanks for supporting Gina and her work!" The President gave one of his classic gigantic grins along with a big thumbs up.
Many know that I have strongly supported Gina McCarthy. While there are things in which we profoundly disagree, together we work to defend our kids from environmental threats.
At the Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN) we believe that Creation Care Is A Matter of Life. We worked long and hard to defend our unborn babies from the hazards of mercury pollution, and now we support Administrator McCarthy's leadership in overcoming the greatest environmental threat to all God's children, climate change.
Some of my brothers and sisters in the evangelical community and a good number of my fellow Republicans are aghast at my support. However, God is calling us to find common ground. We are not to settle for lowest common denominator, but reach for the summit of the highest peak in protecting the most vulnerable. If the Church won't act as a bridge for political and cultural divides, who will?
This week at the White House Easter Prayer Breakfast, the Holy Spirit brought us together. When the choir sang, I felt I heard angels, and The Rev. Dr. Otis Moss, who some consider the best preacher in the country, delivered a truly inspired message.
The spirit of unity at the Easter Prayer Breakfast reminded me of one aspect of American church life in the first half of the 19th Century. Baptist and Methodist traditions grew at an amazing pace. One reason for their tremendous popularity was the altar call. At the altar, there were no black or white, slaves or free, rich or poor, or even political parties. There were simply children of God in need of redemption and restoration.
Like the alter call of old, it's time for our country to experience a new spirit of unity, a new day in our public discourse. It's time to bridge differences like our partisan divide and unite our nation under God to turn our challenges into opportunities. In this most Holy Week as we Christians remember Jesus' suffering on the cross, let us continue our journey from Good Friday to Easter Sunday and encounter our Risen Lord and His Love. Even today too many Christian see Easter as an empty tomb instead of an encounter with our living Savior.
This week I experienced hope that we might come together not because of our differences, but because of God. Miracles happen. Who would have believed a coal miner's kid from a little town in western Pennsylvania would ever shake the hand of the President of the United States in the White House. May God work in all of us to follow our Risen Lord. May our encounter with the risen Jesus transform our lives, overcome the divide, and guide us over the mountain to work together.
The Rev. Mitchell C. Hescox is President/C.E.O. of the Evangelical Environmental Network and lives in New Freedom, PA.
Here's the latest episode:
Listen in as the entire EEN team (Rev. Mitch Hescox, Rev. Jim Ball, Ben Lowe, and Alexei Laushkin) weighs in for this special Easter podcast.They talk about climate change and pollution, their recent successes, and hope for the future.
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by The Rev. Mitchell C. Hescox
From the formation of a child's first tiny cell to life's final breath, all life has dignity and value because each and every one of us is made in the image of God. And that is why when we talk about being "pro-life," it's not just about a political issue. It's a world view...it's a life-view. It's a way of looking at each human life that transcends culture, class, race, age and opinion.
--- The Dignity of Life by Focus on The Family
My organization, the Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN), has long believed "creation-care is a matter of life." For us this means protecting human life from conception until natural death. As the recent video, The Dignity of Life, by Focus on the Family puts it: "From the formation of a child's first tiny cell to life's final breath, all life has dignity and value because each and every one of us is made in the image of God."
For us, being pro-life includes not only defending our unborn children, but also the biblical mandate to care for all life. Toxins and other pollutants foul our water, air, and soil, impacting the purity of life God intends for His creation. Every concern mentioned in the video by Focus on the Family is impacted by our poor stewardship of God's creation; creation-care is foundational to our quest to overcome poverty, human trafficking, racism, women's rights, and Jesus' call for abundant life. That's why creation-care remains integral to being pro-life. As the Focus video states, being pro-life is "not just about a political issue. It's a world view " it's a life view."
Last week, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued its latest study on the human impacts of climate change already occurring, and the more serious threats yet to come. On a recent EEN trip to Malawi, one of the world's poorest countries, we saw the consequences ourselves and listened to those whose lives have been made worse. Listen to this firsthand account from Lifnette James, mother of six. Recently the Assembly of God's relief agency in Malawi sent a letter asking the American Church to awaken to their plight. Will pro-life Christians answer this call? Will we answer the call of the one who is leading the way in overcoming climate change, our Risen Lord?
As we approach Easter, our current inability to seek the opportunities for overcoming climate change reminds me of my favorite Bible passage describing Jesus' resurrection. In John's gospel, there is a unique and often overlooked story:
14 At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.15 He asked her, "Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?" Thinking he was the gardener, she said, "Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him."16 Jesus said to her, "Mary."She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, "Rabboni!" (which means "Teacher"). 17 Jesus said, "Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, 'I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'" 18 Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: "I have seen the Lord!" And she told them that he had said these things to her." (Jn. 20:14-18, NIV).
This text has caused lots of thoughts and opinions throughout the Church's life. To me the text is quite simple. Mary, so overcome with joy in finding Jesus alive, wanted to hold on to him. Mary clings to what she knew. She desires holding on to the past and is completely blind to a new future.
Most of us can identify with Mary. We don't like change and are apt to live in the past. Mary couldn't understand that Easter was a transforming moment. The past, wiped clean at the cross, became a new hope and new opportunity in the resurrection. Beginning with Mary on that Easter morning, the Risen Lord offers us the choice to follow Him into a new future, a new reality.
Today part of following our Risen Lord means letting go of our outdated dependence on fossil fuels and seeking new opportunities. Coal, oil, and natural gas provided some great benefits, but with a cost long unknown and a price unrealized. Now we know that part of the price we have paid and will pay is the health of our children. Dirty air, fouled water, and contaminated soil have left a legacy of brain damage, malfunctioning lungs, and a host of other health concerns.
It's hard to let go. Our history remains filled with examples of people and industries failing to grasp new ideas. In the 1800's Western Union turned down the opportunity to buy the telephone; in the early 20th century the equine industry believed automobiles to be a fad, and the list of foolish decisions could go on and on. Let's not make the same mistakes again.
Climate change already impacts food production, water resources, increases disease, and forces more and more of God's children to flee their homes. Addressing these pro-life concerns will require us to let go of the past, dream big, and together follow our Risen Lord toward a new day.
Here's what I see: I see cleaner skies and purer water; healthy children free to enjoy the beauty of God's creation, their bodies not hindered by pollution, their brains not diminished by toxics. I see an economy that is the envy of the world, producing the technologies that help us achieve life, liberty and happiness, ones that lead to a cleaner environment, plentiful, affordable energy to power our homes and vehicles and businesses, freeing up time to spend with family and loved ones, to rebuild community life, and to be creative with the gifts God has given each of us. I see such a life being made possible in the Majority World, where American technology creates clean energy that empowers sustainable economic progress, lifting billions out of poverty and into prosperity.
It's time to see visions of a new day, a new beginning. Let's move beyond our fear in holding on to the past and see what Risen Lord is doing. Being pro-life is caring for life and following our Risen Lord. This Easter let's move beyond our past and rise to a better future; Jesus did.
In our current political moment many have given up on achieving anything big, like a "grand bargain" on the budget and deficit reduction (e.g. The New York Times recent editorial, "An End to the Grand-Bargain Charades"). The realism of incrementalism is back. A fatigue factor has set in after 3 years of political brinkmanship and paralysis. In this political climate, forget trying to find common ground with one's political adversaries to solve the big issues of the day.
Thing is, most of the big problems got big precisely because we've ignored them or given up trying to find common ground. And these issues are not going away. Thinking small isn't helpful, either. That's certainly true with one of the most divisive issues of our day, climate change.
As an evangelical Republican working on climate change, I know how hard it is to find common ground. Yet my own experience within the evangelical community is that shared values overcome polarization and working together is possible on big issues that matter to people's lives.
Recently I spoke at an event of religious leaders with senior White House and Administration officials to talk about overcoming climate change. I'll be searching for a way forward together, despite our differences, and I'm hopeful -- confident, even -- that such a way can be found.
My confidence rests on our shared values as expressed in our Declaration of Independence: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. From these American values can we create a vision of the future worthy of our past bequeathed to us by our forbearers, worthy of the love we have for our children, a vision big enough to inspire us once again to greatness?
Our Founding Fathers issued the Declaration of Independence and fought the American Revolution because tyranny threatened our values.
President Obama and I have found common ground in believing that we must declare our independence from another form of tyranny, global warming, and its threat to life, liberty, and happiness:
Life: While global warming's tyranny has and will threaten the lives of millions, the solutions we create will enhance the lives of billions.
Liberty: While global warming's cruelty has and will threaten the political and economic liberty of around the world, American ingenuity and can-do spirit will foster freedom through clean energy growth and the creation of new industries both here and abroad.
Happiness: While global warming tries to steal happiness from us in the misery it portends, a richer, deeper quality of life awaits us, one of deep fulfillment that comes from creating a better future for our children.
President Obama said recently, in announcing the start of creating new fuel economy standards for big trucks, that we should learn from past fuel economy efforts. The lesson? Don't make small plans, make big plans.
The President is exactly right. Global warming is a big challenge that creates an even bigger opportunity to overcome this tyranny and build a brighter future for our children.
We need to envision this future together. To get the conversation started, let me share what I believe our future can look like.
I see cleaner skies and purer water, healthy children free to enjoy the beauty of God's creation, their bodies not hindered by pollution, their brains not diminished by toxics. I see an economy that is the envy of the world producing the technologies that help us achieve life, liberty and happiness; plentiful, affordable energy to power our homes and vehicles and businesses, freeing up time to spend with family and loved ones, to rebuild community life, and to be creative with the gifts God has given each of us. I see such a life being made possible in the Majority World, where American technology creates clean energy and new industries that lift billions out of poverty and into prosperity.
Leaders of our past dared to think big -- Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Edison, Martin Luther King, Steve Jobs -- and achieved great things that make our lives better today. Let's be inspired by their example and not make the mistake of thinking small and achieving even less.
And so, strange as it may seem in our current moment of polarization and disillusionment, now is precisely the time to think big. Although it may seem that the big issues divide us, it's just as true that an issue like global warming has the potential to unite us and bring us together as we envision a brighter future based on our shared values of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
The Rev. Mitchell C. Hescox is president of the Evangelical Environmental Network and lives in New Freedom, PA. Before leading EEN, Rev. Hescox pastored a local church for 18 years and previous to ministry worked in the coal and coal utility industries.
Listen in as host Alexei Laushkin talks to Dr. Katharine Hayhoe about the latest IPCC Climate Report. Dr. Katharine Hayhoe is an atmospheric scientist who studies climate change and is an expert reviewer for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, her life's work has been dedicated to discovering and communicating the realities of a changing climate to those who will be affected most by it. As an associate professor in the Department of Political Science and director of the Climate Science Center at Texas Tech University, part of the Department of Interior's South-Central Climate Science Center, Katharine develops new ways to quantify the potential impacts of human activities at the regional scale. As founder and CEO of ATMOS Research, she also bridges the gap between scientists and stakeholders to provide relevant, state-of-the-art information on how climate change will affect our lives to a broad range of non-profit, industry and government clients.
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By Katharine Hayhoe
The IPCC reports represent a stunningly comprehensive and carefully balanced summary of everything scientists know about climate change.
Every six years or so, hundreds of scientists volunteer weeks and even years of their time to help with this process in authoring, reviewing, and communicating the findings. Because all these hundreds of scientists have to agree on the report's key conclusions, these reports tend to be quite conservative and understated in their conclusions.
This tendency towards understatement underscores the urgency of scientists message today. Around the world, many of the impacts of climate change are occurring faster and/or to a greater degree than were predicted 20 or even 10 years ago. While the science has grown more certain with every year, however, public opinion in the United States has moved in exactly the opposite direction. From a scientist's perspective, our viewpoint is perhaps best captured by this poignant cartoon:
This new Working Group 2 report addresses the impacts of climate change: in other words, how will climate change affect people, places, and the natural environment? The findings of this report emphasize once again how climate change is not just a concern for polar bears in the Arctic, or for South Pacific islanders living in low-lying areas. Specifically, the report clearly shows how:
So how do we, as Christians, respond? Looking to the Bible, there aren't any verses about climate change per se. But there are plenty of verses talking about what and who we should care about, and what should be our motivation.
Ephesians 5:2 tells us to love others as Christ loved us
Verses like Acts 4:34 and others demonstrate how caring for the poor was a key priority of the early church
Lastly, 2 Timothy 1:7 tells us that God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of love.
When we look at the issue of climate change, we see that it is affecting others, particularly the poor. And when we look at resistance to climate change, we see fear: of losing our comfortable lives, our freedom, our money, our ideology.
So if we find ourselves reacting out of fear, or to secure our own well-being at the expense of others, we know that we are not acting in accord with the new creation we have become. On the other hand, when we act from love, caring about others and desiring the best for them, we know we are acting from God's compassion.
Dr. Katharine Hayhoe is an atmospheric scientist who studies climate change, one of the most pressing issues facing the planet today. An expert reviewer for the Nobel Peace Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, her life's work has been dedicated to discovering and communicating the realities of a changing climate to those who will be affected most by it. As an associate professor in the Department of Political Science and director of the Climate Science Center at Texas Tech University, part of the Department of Interior's South-Central Climate Science Center, Katharine develops new ways to quantify the potential impacts of human activities at the regional scale. As founder and CEO of ATMOS Research, she also bridges the gap between scientists and stakeholders to provide relevant, state-of-the-art information on how climate change will affect our lives to a broad range of non-profit, industry and government clients.
Statement by the Rev. Mitch Hescox, President & CEO, Evangelical Environmental Network:
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.
Pro-life Christians should be especially concerned about what these conclusions will mean for young children and the unborn. Pollution impacts young children and even developing children in utero. Both groups are at increased risk for Asthma, developmental challenges, environmental toxins, severe allergies, and more in a world where pollution will become more common as the world warms.
Even though the news is becoming stark, we have hope. Hope that God will empower us to develop the next generation of technologies and adaptations to address climate change. Hope that God will work through His people to provide better outcomes for the unborn and the vulnerable.
In light of this hope, we believe we can take steps towards a brighter future, one where we have:
1. increased our energy efficiency, thereby saving money;
2. reduced air and water pollution that harms children and the unborn;
3. created good, well-paying jobs from developing the next generation of clean energy and climate friendly innovations in the United States;;
4. created more effective responses by governments, businesses, and churches and non-profits to help everyone impacted by climate-intensified weather events and increased pollution.
We urge Christians to set aside this Thursday (April 3rd, 2014) for the first National Day of Prayer for Climate Action.
Statement by Rev. Mitch Hescox, President & CEO, Evangelical Environmental Network:
We're proud to stand together with EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, The American Lung Association, the car industry and wide variety of other manufactuters to celebrate the promulgation of the Tier 3 Motor Vehicle Emissions and Fuel Standards.
We've made good process in cleaning up our air, but our children are still at risk. The American Lung Association calculates that these standards will prevent more than 2,000 premature deaths and more than 19,000 asthma attacks each year by 2030. For pro-life evangelicals like myself this is great news, given that medical research links vehicle pollution to birth defects. It's simple: cleaner fuels lead to purer air and healthier kids. And all for one penny a gallon. That's a good deal for all of us.
The Tier 3 Standards are another great example of industry, government, and citizens working together for a healthier, cleaner America. The more we work together the better for us all.
In the blast of northern cold, my friends left and right are finding broken pipes. One friend reports a neighbor gone for five days, who had 250 gallons of water a day pouring into her basement. Another is in a hotel because of broken pipes in her apartment complex. While my water pipes have been fine in the shock of the polar vortex, an abundance of water is the norm in my life as well.
My yard is full of snow and ice, frozen water lies across the countryside. Slick puddles crowd my drive. When it rains, as it did last weekend, the frozen ground repels and floods of water make their way down the street, bearing debris, and grit and salt. Come spring, that salt and grit and water will run across lawns and streets, and into wetlands and streams.
Some of my favorite places are small wetlands, and I have spent years studying a set of 22 small wetlands in forested areas in Essex county. They provide valuable habitat for salamanders, turtles, and some unusual invertebrates. Many water birds use them as breeding sites. Small water bodies also affect humans by being a part of the water cycle. Some are large, some are small and many are in floodplains. Most importantly, they hold water. This lessens flooding downstream and allows water to enter the ground water, to "recharge" water under the soil. The millions of small water bodies in our uplands, especially forests, keep us from both floods and droughts. They also provide some or our drinking water, at least eventually.
It helps to understand where you fit into the water cycle. The water coming out of my (not yet frozen!) pipes originates from Wenham Lake, a reservoir that stores water from the Ipswich River. Water comes from the headwaters in eastern Middlesex and Northeastern Essex counties. Its tributaries cover a 155 square mile watershed. Dozens of smaller streams join a meandering river about 45 miles long. This river provides drinking water for my city of Beverly, MA and 13 other communities, giving drinking water for more than 330,000 people. For a small river this is a great deal of use, and in some years the Ipswich river has dried up in some stretches. Many towns in the watershed have water bans (periods of time when certain types of water use are not allowed) every summer.
Wenham Lake is closer to the ocean and my town is lower in the watershed than some of the other towns. What it means is this: I am downstream from many of the 330,000 people served by the Ipswich River. Decisions they make about land use will affect how much water is available to me. I am not unique in this dependence. We are all downstream of something, in some part of our lives. Therefore, what other people do (upstream) affects us. At other times, we are the upstream neighbor in our complex human ecosystem. I think this is a good metaphor for a spiritual reality as well- we are dependent on each other and responsible for how our actions affect others, in part because God has made us to live in relationships. God has made us to have to share.
It's easy to see this principle at work when we read of the chemical spill in West Virginia last week, that has made the water for 300,000 people in nine counties undrinkable. A spill of 7,500 gallons of a dangerous coal-cleaning chemical has stopped daily activities in numerous towns and cities as people use bottled water for drinking, cooking, bathing, dishes, and are unable to wash their clothes. Such a big event , with a single source, is called "point-source" pollution. Distributed small pollution events, the kinds that occur across the landscape over longer periods of time, and from many small sources, are called "non-point source" pollution. Such pollution is harder to detect and prevent, but this pollution matters as well.
What developers and industries do up stream, even to small water bodies, affects underground water, determines flooding, and in turn affects the Ipswich River--the water supply of hundreds of thousands. This reality is the main point behind a recent report and proposed rule by the Environmental Protection Agency. The report, Connectivity of Streams and Wetlands to Downstream Waters, uses scientific findings to describe just how important small water bodies upstream are to their connected downstream waters. Discharge in a small floodplain wetland for example, might affect swimming in a state park miles away. What we see here in Massachusetts with the Ipswich River watershed is repeated in large and small watersheds all over the country; even tiny water ponds and streams that periodically dry are important to water used downstream by cities and towns.
Dredging, draining, filling, paving and releasing chemicals in a forested area pool, or stream in some distant place will cause flooding, contamination, and drought in lower areas. We are all neighbors. Our water is your water. Your water is our water. An EPA proposal that came out of this extensive study is designed to recognize that interconnectedness. It won't bring more areas under EPA jurisdiction, but it will make it more clear- who gets to do what to an upstream headwater or water source and why does it matter?
Here's where people of faith come in. Many people are leery of government intervention in our lives. Their concerns are certainly reasonable. However, reasonable people also want to protect people downstream from actions that can contaminate their water, making it impossible to use or expensive to treat. We can see that with a clear case of pollution in West Virginia that leaves hundreds of thousands without water to drink or cook with and that closes thousands of businesses such as restaurants who depend on the availability of tap water. Understanding how the water cycle works can help us see how our water can be harmed by less obvious activities as well. Being people who care for our neighbors, makes us people who care for water. So this winter as you use water, be thankful for the neighbors, the watchdogs, and the agencies protecting it for you, and be a part of that protection for others.
(Darren) In response to Dr. Boorse's excellent article I asked her the following question:
While I understand that the management of streams, rivers and wetlands very much seems like a regulatory issue, I was wondering if you had any additional thoughts or suggestions with regards to what individuals can or should do, with respect to their personal water usage, in addition to supporting the EPA proposals?
(Dr. Boorse): Using water carefully is an important part of being a steward, not only because it helps our neighbor but also because treating, pumping and heating water takes a great deal of energy, costs money, and keeps water from being used for other purposes.
If you care about water, be careful about what you put on your lawn, maintain native vegetation around streams and wetlands (this cuts down on run-off), and conserve water. You might also want to find out about water conservation groups in your area. Lake and river associations, for example, are full of good ideas about taking care of water. In my area, the Ipswich River Watershed Association is one such group.
If you're a teacher, do a class unit on water. What we do on land affects the ocean as well, so you might want to look at a book like Going Blue: a Teen Guide to Saving our Oceans, Lakes, Rivers, and Wetlands. Also see what your church or other group can do to adopt a river, stream or pond, clean it up and protect it.
Dorothy Boorse, Ph.D. is Professor of Biology at Gordon College. She studies wetland ecology and is passionate about connecting science and faith communities and supporting science literacy. She teaches, does research with students, and has just co-authored an environmental science textbook for undergraduates. She was lead author on Loving The Least of These:Addressing a Changing Environment, a publication about poverty and climate change.
re-posted with permission. You can view the original post here.
The Honorable Barbara Boxer, Chairman
The Honorable David Vitter, Ranking Member
The United States Senate Committee on
Environmental and Public Works
Washington, DC 20510-6175
Dear Chairman Boxer and Ranking Member Vitter:
Too many issues in Washington today are being dragged into partisan politics. Our children's health should not be one of them. Defending our children from harm remains central to who we are as Americans and for the pro-life evangelical Christians we represent. Climate change should be a non-partisan issue. It simply makes sense to save our children from the threats of environmental degradation, including carbon pollution.
As pro-life Christians, we urge the Senate to defend life by establishing a price on carbon or regulating it and other toxic emissions from fossil fuel burning power plants. These emissions impact the most vulnerable in our communities and around the world. It is time for our government to act wisely and prevent carbon pollution from despoiling creation, our children's health, and the lives of the poorest populations around the world who are most severely impacted.
Our children deserve clean air and pure water. Carbon pollution exacerbates smog and leads to escalating respiratory disease; climate change already affects our water supply, and increased extreme weather threatens us all. The evangelical community is already voicing their concerns. To date, over 38,000 pro-life Christians have provided supportive comments for The Environmental Protection Agency's New Source Carbon Standard, and the comment period has just started.
Defending our children's health must be our national priority. It is the greatest moral challenge of our time and it calls America into action.
As such, we are pleased to know that you will be conducting a hearing on January 16, 2014 to consider the President's Climate Action Plan. The President calls us to come together as a nation and act, and we are grateful for his leadership. Let's work together as one nation under God, make the President's plan better where needed, and defend our children " it's the American thing to do.
The Rev. Mitchell C. Hescox
by The Rev. Mitch Hescox
On Wednesday, January 22, 2014, many in the Roman Catholic and evangelical communities will rally to celebrate the right to life. Some see this day as a time to be anti-abortion, but I see this as a day to celebrate life and life in abundance with God. Catholic social teaching has long lifted high a pro-life theology as dignity for all life and in the past decade, more and more evangelicals see the same consistent theology. My friend, Shane Claiborne likes to shout out, "We're pro-life from the womb to the tomb."
We in the Church need a consistent theology of love and grace around life itself. As a former local church pastor, I know the struggle most women have in the decision to terminate pregnancy. I have walked beside too many women who have had their abundant life spoiled as they have dealt with aftermath of their decision. At such time, love and grace provide the healing, not guilt or shame. So to have I witnessed firsthand brain injuries that resulted from the spraying of toxic chemicals, hunger that raged from destroyed crops ravaged by drought exasperated by our changing climate, and our supposedly pure water so filled with synthetic hormones that puberty starts much earlier leading to increases in breast and other cancers.
Medical research states that one in four of our children in the United States suffer from asthma, ASHD, autism, or allergies caused at least in part by our poor care of God's creation. Human life, especially defending our children's health must be a national priority. However, too often we put other interests above our children. A couple of years ago during a Congressional Hearing, a conservative Representative tried to override my concern for children my saying, "Pro-life is only about abortion and nothing to do with the quality of life." A few weeks later, a more liberal Senate staffer denied me the opportunity to testify on the same children's health issues because I am pro-life.
Both positions are simply wrong, and they stem from fear. On one hand, we have a conservative elected leader wanting to continue claiming to be pro-life and receiving support from our community while pushing the interests of a special interest, namely the fossil fuel industry. On the other hand, we have "liberals" so afraid to respect evangelical Christian values our voice is ignored.
These positions typify American dialogue today in both the public agenda and in private discussion. Everyone is so afraid in his or her own ideology, we refuse to have reasonable dialogue and work toward common ground. "My way or the highway" might as well be our national slogan. However, from my understanding of faith and being a Christian, the answer comes from following Jesus' way and that way has always been love.
Scriptures teach that "perfect love drives out fear" and Jesus' final command to his disciples was, "love each other." It's time to work together in love, respecting our differences, and find the common ground to defend our children and rekindle the grace given our nation.
Nowhere is this more apparent than the national shouting match regarding our changing climate. Climate is changing. One doesn't have to be a scientist to recognize the signs, only eyes. Look around at the increasing wacky weather, sea level rise, plants blooming earlier, and insect born diseases spreading into areas they never were. Climate change threatens human well being, period. Hundreds of thousands die each year from climate change threats and the future for our children and all God's children looks bleak. Poverty, forced migration, increased disease are already bad problems that will get worse. From 2012's Super Storm Sandy, 2013's Colorado floods and wildfires, and even January's Arctic Vortex weather derive in part from climate change. They are just the beginnings of what our future world will be unless we act.
Unfortunately, climate change instead of being a human life or pro-life threat became labeled as a liberal cause and many Americans started to react in fear and anger. These fears are fueled by a denial campaign by those who desire unfair protection of their products instead of bearing the true costs. Unfair protectionism for one industry doesn't support a market economy; it only burdens the rest of us.
It's time to break away from fear, act in as love as Jesus' teaches and move beyond the shouting matches to sensible solutions from all perspectives. No one side has the answers, but if we start to care for each other, love our children, listen, and love God, we will find the WAY. We believe in a God of hope who desires abundant life for all.
by Howard Snyder
Ignoring Genesis 9 in covenant theology is like ignoring John 1 in Jesus theology. Skipping God's earth covenant in soteriology is like skipping the incarnation in Christology.
Yet as I noted in my January 3 blog, "14 Favorites Ways to Twist the Gospel," covenant theology usually bypasses the Genesis 9 earth covenant and begins with Abraham. Strange, since the first explicit biblical covenant is in Genesis 9, where God establishes his "covenant between me and the earth" (Gen. 9:13).
God's Covenant with the Earth
The human race is sadly and lethally alienated from the land. Sin separates us from the land as well as from God. So it is significant that one of the first things God does in the history of salvation is to make covenant with the land.
God brings salvation through a series of covenants, climaxing in the new covenant through the blood of Jesus (Luke 22:20; Heb 12:24). These covenants are key markers in the biblical narrative. They are all linked, all essential in the ecology of the story. We won't fully understand the later story if we miss the significance of this first covenant. This "everlasting covenant" with the earth is beautifully and powerfully pictured in Genesis 9:8"17.
God says to Noah after the flood, "I am establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you, and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the domestic animals, and every animal of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark" (Gen 9:9"10). All covenants have a "sign," and the sign of this one is the rainbow.
Three things stand out as we examine the Genesis 9 covenant God.
First: It is a three-dimensional covenant. It is multidimensional, ecological. The covenant includes not only God and Noah's family, but "every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth" (Gen 9:16).
It's fascinating to see whom God includes in this covenant. God is the initiator: "I am establishing mycovenant" (Gen 9:9). God both establishes and sustains this covenant, the rainbow the sign. So the covenant is first of all God's, not ours.
The second party is Noah and his family"that is humankind, all the human family that descends from Noah. Not just Noah's immediate family, but "your descendants after you, . . .for all future generations" (Gen 9:9, 12). Note the generational theme.
The background here is Genesis 1"2, with its emphasis on the good earth and all the creatures God made. Now, after fall and flood, Genesis 9 marks a new beginning. The plan of salvation really begins here, not with Abraham. This covenant is important in specifying the post-fall relationship between God and all humanity. God is the sovereign Creator and Sustainer; humans are his creation and his stewards of the earth.
The text emphasizes the earthly dimensions of this covenant. All earth's creatures are included. Genesis 9 is surprisingly comprehensive here, repeating the phrases "every living creature," "every animal," "all flesh" on earth. The references become increasingly broad and inclusive. Then in verse 13 God says, "the covenant between me and the earth"!
Why this stress on "every living creature"? This echoes the full variety of creatures God made at the beginning, as well as God's words to Noah to take "every kind" of creature into the ark (Gen 7:2). The "every creature" emphasis is also practical and ecological, a matter of human sustenance, because robust human health requires an abundance of creatures in wide variety, all in relative ecological balance. It reminds us too of God's care and concern for all creatures for all generations. Most amazingly, the "every creature" emphasis signals God's concern for all his creatures, showing that he himself has a covenant with every creature, with every species. So Jesus' says of sparrows, "not one of them is forgotten in God's sight" (Luke 12:16).
The Genesis 9 covenant is thus a three-dimensional covenant, not narrowly between God and humans only. It is a covenant between God, all people, and all the earth.
Preservation and Preparation
Second, this is a covenant of preservation. "Never again," God says, will he destroy the earth by flood. "As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease" (Gen 8:22).
Four times God says, "Never again!" (Gen 8:2; 9:11, 15). This is God's promise to humanity, to the earth, and to himself. God promises to preserve the earth, working out his saving plan through the subsequent covenants he will make, culminating in the New Covenant in the blood of Jesus. This covenant of preservation is thus also a covenant of preparation. God intends not merely to preserve but to create something greater. This first covenant with the land prepares the way for God's plan of salvation and New Creation through Jesus Christ.
Third, this is an everlasting, ongoing covenant. It is not temporary nor interim. Rather, it's a covenant "for all future generations" (Gen 9:12). Significantly, the phrase "everlasting covenant" here (Gen 9:15) is the same phrase used to describe later biblical covenants. God's covenant with the earth is unending.
This may surprise us. Perhaps we assumed God's covenant with the earth was temporary, until Jesus' return. Not. In fact, the Septuagint (the Greek version of the Old Testament) uses the word "eternal" here, the same word the New Testament employs for "eternal life."
Does God really have an eternal covenant with the earth and all its creatures? The Bible says yes"suggesting that the promised new heaven and new earth in some sense means the renewal, not the extinction, of God's creatures.
Thus in his earth covenant God acts to preserve the earth, limiting his judgment (the flood) so he can fulfill his larger purposes. Another example of the consistent biblical focus on God's concern for both people and the land. We begin to see that God intends to save people with their environment, not out of their environment.
Why Important Now
Since the earth covenant is "everlasting," clearly it was not cancelled by God's later actions. The rainbow ever reminds us that God's earth-covenant still holds. God says, "Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth" (Gen 9:16). The rainbow is God's cupped hand over the earth, reminding of his care and concern for the world and its creatures. God sees the rainbow"and remembers his covenant. Do we?
The fact that the Noahic Covenant of Genesis 8"9 still holds is important for three reasons.
First, the Genesis 9 covenant teaches us the true relationship between God, people, and the earth. God's earth covenant clarifies the actual relationship in effect right now between God and all his creatures. God continues as Creator and Sustainer. Human beings and the earth continue to be under his care. All people without exception depend moment-by-moment both on God and on the earth, God's gift. This is not theory; it is fact. The earthly side of this multidimensional covenant"that is, the interdependence between people and the physical environment"is now fully documented by the natural sciences, as well as being taught in Scripture.
Genesis 9 is important both to our physical wellbeing and to our understanding of salvation. Both are part of God's economy, the plan of salvation. Genesis 9, and in fact the whole biblical worldview, teaches us that the nature of the created order is interrelationship between God, humans, and the earth. It continues to be true that:
In the larger sweep of the biblical narrative, the Noahic Covenant is foundational for the new heavens and earth that Scripture promises. The New Creation is not a second creation ex nihilo. It is the restoration and enhanced flourishing of the original creation.
Note again that the God"people"earth connection is a covenant relationship. Its source is God's sovereign action and initiative; his grace and mercy.
Here the biblical worldview clashes sharply with two common distortions. Some views blur the distinction between humans and the rest of creation. New Age philosophies and some environmentalists and eco-theologians do this.
On the other hand, many people are blind to God's concern for the earth and all its creatures, so are oblivious to our shared responsibility to care for the earth. This also is a serious distortion.
Biblically, it is wrong either to elevate the environment over human beings or to stress human uniqueness to the point that we miss our utter earth-dependence. The biblical way is not to place one over the other, but to see the interdependence built into God's order. Here we think ecologically if we think biblically, rather than assuming a clashing hierarchy of priorities.
Since this interdependence is covenant-based, earth's abundance is not just "raw materials" for industry. It is not just "natural resources" or "real estate." The fruit of the earth is not just "commodities." It is God's good, morally valued creation"a partner in a covenant pact with God that still holds. Since God is in covenant with the earth, we sin against God when we fail to care for the earth.
Second, the Genesis 9 covenant is important today because it reminds us of God's concern for all living creatures. Earth's life forms exist for God, not just for human use or enjoyment. The creatures have their own right to exist and flourish, because they were created by God. They are God's, not ours.
The Bible speaks repeatedly of God's concern for earth's creatures. This is a major theme of the Psalms, and of Job. especially. "O Lord, how manifold are your works! In wisdom you have made them all; the earth is full of your creatures" (Ps 104:24).
A sign of Solomon's wisdom was that he "spoke about plant life, from the cedar of Lebanon to the hyssop that grows out of walls. He also spoke about animals and birds, reptiles and fish" (1 Kgs 4:33).
A third key implication of the Genesis 9 covenant follows: Here is the biblical basis for a theology of creation care. In the biblical view, earth's creatures and species are to be "stewarded" for four key reasons: God created them; God delights in them; we depend on them; they are part of God's larger plan.
This abiding commission for all humanity has particular meaning for Christian mission, as I elaborate inSalvation Means Creation Healed.
Biblical Christians are countercultural here. We have a different basis for looking at environmental issues. God the Creator and his everlasting earth covenant are the touchstones. We see the Noahic Covenant as part of the larger biblical story of creation, the disease of sin, and the healing restoration that comes through Jesus by the Spirit. We see creation care in light of the story of Jesus"his incarnation, life, teachings, death, resurrection, reign, return, and final triumph. We think of Jesus' literal, physical, flesh-and-blood resurrection and the promise of our own resurrection, "the redemption of our bodies" (Rom 8:23), not just our spirits. This is a renewed heaven and earth, not a disembodied heaven. The resurrection of Jesus renders incoherent the idea that salvation means living eternally in heaven.
In other words, we see Genesis 9 in light of Romans 8, and vice versa. We see the line that connects them. We see also how Genesis 9 illuminates the remarkable promise in Revelation 11:18, "The time has come for judging the dead, and for rewarding your servants the prophets and your people who revere your name, both great and small"and for destroying those who destroy the earth" (TNIV).
God's earth covenant recorded in Genesis 9 opens the door to a biblically comprehensive view of salvation and thus of the mission of God, missio Dei.
Formerly professor of the history and theology of mission, Asbury Theological Seminary (1996-2006); now engaged in research and writing in Wilmore, Kentucky. Professor of Wesley Studies, Tyndale Seminary, Toronto, 2007-2012. Formerly taught and pastored in São Paulo, Brazil; Detroit, Michigan; and Chicago, Illinois. Dr. Snyder's main interest is in the power and relevance of Jesus Christ and his Kingdom for the world today and tomorrow. Works include The Problem of Wineskins, Community of the King, and most recently, Salvation Means Creation Healed.
"There remains a Sabbath-rest for the people of God." --Hebrews 4:9 NIV
Tomorrow is the first Sunday of an entire New Year. How are you viewing the upcoming 24 hours? How will you spend this first Sunday. Can you sleep in? Will you read and reflect on Scripture? Will you pray and worship with a local congregation? Will you playfully engage with family, friends or neighbors? Are you grateful to have "a day off?"
Ten years ago, Eugene H. Peterson, Professor Emeritus of Spiritual Theology at Regent College in Vancouver, BC, wrote in the journal "Weavings" that trivializing Sabbath into just "a day off" really turns it into a life-diminishing and culture-destroying "bastard sabbath."
Peterson recently penned the introduction to an excellent and refreshing new Sabbath-keeping study by Matthew Sleeth, MD, "24/6 - a prescription for a healthier, happier life."
Saying that he has "read most of the books and articles written on this subject in the last fifty years," Peterson boldly states that even if you have too, "you must read this latest entry in the genre." Peterson concludes that Matthew Sleeth has crafted a compelling invitation to participate in Sabbath-keeping that is, in his experience, "without peer."
As one involved in spiritual formation and discipleship which incorporates Sabbath rhythms over this same time span, I heartily agree! So does my wife Susan.
Drawing from years of experience as a hospital ER physician, husband, father, and environmental ministry leader, Dr. Sleeth's presentation is fresh, alive, witty, and packed with instructive stories. These illustrations properly convict but never condemn. They inspire.
While reading "24/6," the Holy Spirit imparts ideas, thoughts, and instructions as to how one might readily restore patterns of personal Sabbath-keeping. Yes, even in the midst of our hyper-active, techno-crazed world, unrelenting in its demands, distractions and pressures to "succeed" and profit by working longer, harder, and digitally smarter. Dr. Sleeth keenly observes that:
"The tyranny of the urgent, business deals, and social distractions were all cited by those who walked away from Jesus."
Yet, you might be encouraged to know that successful big businesses like Chick-fil-A, Hobby Lobby, and B&H Photo of NYC have implemented Sabbath-keeping policies. B&H Photo closes their seventy-thousand-square-foot retail business and even shuts down their extensive Internet sales for twenty-four hours.
Recognizing that parenting is non-stop 24/7, Sleeth transparently shares from his own family's struggles. He also offers suggestions as easy as preparing "Sunday cinnamon bread and a box of soft toys" that children might wake to and enjoy, thus enabling tired parents to sleep in a bit.
Following Jesus and enjoying the rest prepared for us, not rules, sets the tone of this transformational study. Sabbath rest and fellowship was man's first experience with his Creator.
Sabbath-keeping, not just another app, could save your faith, your family, your health, even your life. It will also help renew the Church and restore healthier cultures around the world.
As 2014 begins, learn how to do a "stop day."
Click here to order "24/6" via Amazon delivery. A commission is returned to EEN's ministry.
Statement by the Rev. Mitch Hescox,
President/CEO of the Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN),
On the Accomplishments of the Honorable Nancy Sutley,
Chair of the Council for Environmental Quality (CEQ)
Nancy Sutley has been a terrific friend to the evangelical creation-care movement, and so we're sad to see her leave CEQ -- but thankful for all she has accomplished to make our country greater. We know Chair Sutley has worked tirelessly behind the scenes to make our air cleaner, our water purer, our kids and communities safer, and to protect our natural resources.
President Obama may have said it best when he said that Chair Sutley:
"has played a central role in overseeing many of our biggest environmental accomplishments, including establishing historic new fuel-economy standards that will save consumers money, new national monuments that permanently protect sites unique to our country's rich history and natural heritage, our first comprehensive National Ocean Policy, and our Climate Action Plan that will help leave our children a safer, healthier planet."
We will keep Chair Sutley in our prayers as she transitions to her next place of service.
On September 20, 2013, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed the first uniform national standards for carbon pollution standards for new power plants. This action coupled with the eventual existing source standard provides a historic step in the right direction to defend our children's health, and limit the already experienced threats of our changing climate.
Children,both born and unborn, are our most precious gift. Each child should be born into a welcoming world, not one threatened by a changing climate. For people like me who are pro-life evangelical Christians and life-long Republicans, defending our children, theunborn, and those yet to be born, is at the heart of who we are.
I live inSouthern York County, Pennsylvania. According to the American Lung Association, Central Pennsylvania,including the Harrisburg and York areas, already receives failing marks forhigh ozone and particulates, leading to over 27,000 cases of pediatric asthmaand over 270,000 children at risk. Higher temperatures caused by a changing climate simply multiply theharm. Already York has the same climateas Richmond, VA twenty years ago.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's September 2013 Report stated, "The global land surface temperature was 0.89°C (1.60°F) above the 20th centuryaverage of 12.0°C (53.6°F), marking the sixth warmest September on record. For the ocean, the September global sea surface temperature was 0.54°C (0.97°F) above the 20th centuryaverage of 16.2°C (61.1°F), tying with 2006 as the fourth highest for September on record." Those under the age of 29 have only known a warming world, because every month since February 1985 has been above the 20th Century average.
"The simple fact isthat if man [sic] is not able to solve his ecological problems, then man'sresources are going to die." Noted evangelical Francis Schaeffer correctly stated those words in 1970 and they remain true today. The earth has a fever, and the fever's impacts threaten all of us. Simply put, climate change is the greatest moral challenge of our time.
Climate Change resulting from carbon pollution makes bad things worse. It intensifies natural processes, making natural events unnatural or extreme, and hits the most vulnerable the hardest.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo, Haiti, Malawi, Sierra Leone, and Bangladesh are already some of the most difficult places to survive in the world, and with climate change, they are at the most at risk. These threats are not some future event. They are happening now,and God's children across this planet cry for our help. The Cape Town Commitment issued by the Lausanne Movement (founded by Billy Graham and John Stott,another internationally respected evangelical leader) recognizes the need for climate action, as does the global evangelical network Micah Challenge.
The changing climate kills thousands a year, multiplies diseases, and forces millions to flee their homelands, as food and water security simply do not exist. Without basic needs met,conflict ensues. In October 2009, Burke et. al. published WarmingIncreases the Risk of Civil War in Africa. They conclude that for each 1 degree Celsius warming there willbe a 49% increase in African civil wars,a 54% increase in conflict, and an additional 393,000 battle deaths within the next 20 years. They are not alone in predicting increased instability. The 2010 United States Department of Defense Quadrennial Review states:
Assessments conducted by the intelligence community indicate that climate change could have significant geopolitical impacts around the world, contributing to poverty, environmental degradation, and the further weakening of fragile governments. Climate change will contribute to food and water scarcity, will increase the spread of disease,and may spur or exacerbate mass migration.
While climate change alone does not cause conflict, it may act as anaccelerant of instability or conflict, placing a burden to respond on civilian institutions and militaries around the world. In addition, extreme weather events may lead to increased demands for defense support to civil authorities for humanitarian assistance or disaster response both within the United States and overseas.
Just a fewmonths ago, my dad, an 87-year-old former coal miner, and I were sitting at hiskitchen table and having a discussion. "We just don't have the winters we used to have," he said, "Snow used to stay around all winter, and we had a lot more of it. I think it's time to do something about this climate change stuff before it's too late." My dad gets it, and most of us feel it inside. In 2012, Pennsylvania experienced atotal of 24 broken heat records, 5 broken snow records, 40 broken precipitation records, and 5 large wildfires. Ourweather is more extreme and getting worse.
In addition to my Dad, most of my family worked in coal; and before becoming a pastor, I worked fourteen years designing and supplying equipment to both the coal mining and utility industries around the world. While businesses like Dow Chemical, M&M Mars, and even Wal-Mart spend billions for energy efficiency, big coal spends hardly anything to study how to clean up their act. Only when forced by regulations did the coal industry address mine safety, acid rain, mercury pollution, and all forms of water pollution and land reclamation. My childhood play grounds near my Cambria County home were un-reclaimed strip mines that spewed sulfur and heavy metal contaminated water into the remaining forests and streams.
Some say coal produces the cheapest electricity. In York County, I could pay around $0.08 per kWh for electricity but thanks to Pennsylvania's Switch Program, I elected to pay $0.085 per kWh for renewable energy. This is hardly an economic burden that you may hear from some today. However, sustainable energy costs much less when you factor in all the external costs from coal like medical bills, lost lives, property damage, and the like;coal electricity is triple what you pay at the meter, according to one study. It may appear cheap, but each of us pays the price in our children's health, insurance premiums, and polluted water and air. They are hiding their costs in the bodies of our children and in the changing climate.
Defending our children's health now and in the future must be a national priority. It's the greatest moral challenge of ourtime, one we are all called to do something about. We need creative minds making new energy discoveries, energy efficient cars, appliances, homes, and buildings. We also need state specific plans that wil lallow each region the maximum flexibility to reduce carbon pollution. Pennsylvania is not Iowa or even New Jersey. State flexibility provides the advantage for local wisdom, industry, and opportunities.
Let's worktogether as one nation under God to defend our children, and understandovercoming carbon pollution as an All-American Opportunity.
The Rev. Mitchell C. Hescox
by Alexei Laushkin
One of the primary tasks of the body of Christ is to help the city of man remember other more fundamentally truths about himself and the world around him.
It's been one year since Hurricane Sandy. So many lost their homes and property when a storm of epic proportions battered the East Coast, and while we can not lay the blame on global warming, we can say that climate change contributed to the dimensions of this storm.
In particular we saw first hand, as we have before, the vulnerability of American infrastructure to this type of storm. We continue to see the vulnerability of our governing culture and insurance industry in the empty homes and displaced lives.
Storms of this proportion cause Christians of conscience to stop and wonder what like events mean for people in distant lands. Lands where the resources are scarcer, governance more corrupt, and infrastructure nonexistent.
In light of these realities we begin to consider climate change afresh. To consider the impacts of pollution on human life. The need for Christians to defend the family, the home.
Let us not forget that our only hope is truly in the Lord of hosts. He lifts our eyes to see Him and His work in the midst of suffering. The Trinity who guides and defends, enables us to be better stewards of his good gifts.
by Jim Ball
Do you know what was popular the last time the world had a cooler-than-average month? Ironically, the top movie was Back to the Future. The No. 1 song was "Like a Virgin" by Madonna. And David Letterman had just introduced for the first time his signature comedic vehicle, his Top Ten List. All back in February 1985. Ever since Letterman's Top Ten List began, each month has been warmer than the 20th century average, 342 consecutive months, more than 28 years. Our young people have only known a warmer world.
One week ago, on Friday, September 27, the world's leading scientists once again took us back to the future, the future of an ever-warming world. And maybe this time we'll hear what they have to say as if for the very first time and take it to heart.
This particular back to the ever-warming future report was released by the Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the world's most authoritative body on the subject. In this instance it was their Summary for Policymakers (SPM) of the first volume (WG1) of the long-awaited 4-volume Fifth Assessment Report (AR5). As the name implies, this is the fifth time the IPCC has issued a thorough assessment of where things stand with climate change. The last 4-volume report, AR4, came back in 2007. So it has been a while. (They take the time to get it right, which can be frustrating for folks like me who work on the issue!)
Here are the highlights.
1. Human Activities Are the Problem
This basic conclusion was actually reached all the way back in 1995 with the second report. (Brad Plumer of Wonkblog has a nice, brief review of this history; as a personal aside, I just love Wonkblog.) Through the years the confidence has grown to where now it is determined to be a near-certainty. As the summary says:
"It is extremely likely [a 95 percent or greater chance] that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century."
(FYI, evangelical leaders affirmed this basic finding back in 2006 in the Evangelical Climate Initiative statement.)
Thus, for nearly 20 years the world's leading scientific experts have told us that human pollution from burning fossil fuels has created a situation where we are artificially heating up God's creation; we are giving the planet a fever. This latest IPCC report reaffirms this conclusion even more strongly, a 95 percent or greater chance that we're the problem. The good news, as the IPCC also affirms, is that we still have time to overcome global warming -- and with God's help, we can do so. We have the solutions; what we need is the will.
2. We Are Starting to Feel the Consequences
As this IPCC report highlights, each of the last three decades has been warmer than the last. The scientists have confirmed once again what we've seen on the news and experienced in our own backyards -- the weather is getting more extreme:
Unfortunately, things are going to get worse and we must prepare for that; and if we don't do the right thing, even more dire consequences will result. This leads to my next point ...
3. We're The Solution -- But Time Is Running Out
If we're the problem, then we're also the solution. A scary thought? Yes. But also a hopeful one. The worst consequences are not inevitable. We can do things to avoid them, things that are good to do for lots of reasons.
And Christian faith reminds us of the most important thing to remember: we are not alone! God is with us, and He will help and guide us in overcoming climate change as He does with everything else.
It has long been recognized that a dangerous threshold we wouldn't want to cross is raising the temperature more than 2 degrees Celsius (or 3.6 degrees F) above what it was before the start of the Industrial Revolution, or 2C for short.
Now, for the first time, the IPCC has given us a "carbon budget"; they have quantified how much global warming pollution we can emit to have a reasonable chance of staying below 2C. To do so, we must not emit more than 1000 gigatonnes of carbon (GtC) since preindustrial times. As of 2011, we have used up over half of that budget, or 531 GtC. Unfortunately, our current rate of pollution would have us exceeding this budget in about 30 years.
Now you might be thinking, "What's the rush? When year 29 rolls around we'll get serious." Perfectly understandable.
Unfortunately, it can't work that way (and highlights a shortcoming of the "carbon budget" framing).
First off, this is a budget to stave off unprecedented damage; even the amount of pollution we have already emitted is causing harm, and the more we add, the more harm there will be. So the loving thing to do is start reducing as much as we can right now.
Second, how is it that we emit the pollution? We do so through power plants that last 50-plus years, vehicles that last 10 to 20 years, buildings that last 100-plus years. In other words, each time we invest in something that has a by-product of global warming pollution, we lock in those emissions for 10, 20, 50, 100-plus years. (That's unless we want to prematurely tear such investments down, which of course no one wants).
For several years now the International Energy Agency (IEA) has done a similar analysis to determine what needs to be done to avoid 2C and by when. Their conclusion is that worldwide carbon pollution needs to peak by 2017.
So, it may take us 30 years to blow through our budget before unprecedented damage occurs, but we will have exceeded our "carbon pollution investment budget," if you will, by around 2017.
Thus, by the end of this decade, if not sooner, we will have set our course and put ourselves on autopilot that in 30 year's time leads to a 2C world and beyond.
That is why the next several years are so crucial, why the loving and righteous path is the creation of sustainable economic progress via a clean energy revolution that creates jobs, cuts air and water pollution that hurts our kids and the unborn, and enhances both our economic and national security.
A better and safer world, free from the scourge of unprecedented climate change, is indeed possible, and God is leading the way and giving us the spiritual power necessary to prevail.
The Rev. Jim Ball, Ph.D., is author of Global Warming and the Risen LORD.
[Editor's Note: This was slightly adapted from a Huffington Post blog by Jim Ball.]
"Our care of creation makes us more attentive to God and each other. We can't do that if we are on the run all the time. We need space to recover a sense of ourselves."
While we do not agree with President Obama on all issues, we agree on the overwhelming scientific evidence of climate change's threat to America, our children, both unborn and born, and all God's children across God's creation.
If science shows that life begins at conception, then we cannot deny the threats of air pollution, water pollution, toxin exposure, and carbon pollution are also threats to our children, unborn and born. As pro-life Republicans, we must set aside partisanship and come together to protect God's creation from climate change. We need solutions that engage all of America. American ingenuity can help us cut down on pollution, champion energy efficiency and create the next generation of jobs, while protecting our kids from harm.
According to the American Lung Association, over 32.3 million U.S. children are at risk from air pollution that our increased temperatures will only exacerbate. This does not include the additional threats from extreme weather, droughts, or raising sea levels. Nor does this include the millions of children already impacted in Africa, Latin America, Asia, and the South Pacific. The poorest of the poor, who bear the least responsibility for carbon pollution, already pay the cost.
Today, EPA Administrator McCarthy unveiled the proposed New Source Standard for Carbon Pollution for Power Plants. We are pleased at the revised proposed standard considered the views of all stakeholders, including over 52,000 pro-life Christians who wrote positive comments in support of the original proposed rule last year.
We are encouraged that the road map shared for the upcoming existing source guidelines will provide individual state-by-state flexibility. Once side benefit after promulgation, the carbon standards will provide each individual a choice selecting energy sources based on real costs, not the hidden burden of our children's health.
"For people like me who are pro-life evangelical Christians and life-long Republicans, the protection of children, the unborn, and those yet to be born is at the heart of who we are. It's time to stop playing games with our children lives, accept the reality of our changing climate, and act as one nation under God and work for solutions. Evangelical theologian, Francis Schaeffer, wrote in 1970, 'The simple fact is that if man [sic] is not able to solve his ecological problems, then man's resources are going to die,'" stated EEN's President Rev. Mitch Hescox.
A group of evangelicals leaders went to Malawi this past May to hear about some of the current and future impacts of climate change on Malawi. On our trip we learned that economic growth is a key factor in growing climate resiliency. That is why we believe that decentralized power can be a part of the solution for rural Malawians. When folks have access to clean air, clean water, abundant and reliable clean energy, the internet, and a stable food supply they can really begin to flourish and thrive. We don't want give more hand-outs in foreign aid, but we want to work with their God given talent so that they can move forward in a way that builds their capacity to thrive.
With governance issues in Africa and the overwhelming cost of building centralized power, we do not see centralized power as being the only solution to the challenges of Africa.There is a place for centralized power, but if Africans have to wait on their government or our government to act they will never move forward. Far better for local folks to be empowered and equipped with market based local solutions. Mini-grids and other local energy solutions can be a real part of the future.
Here's what one of our partners Victor Mughogho Executive Director of Eagles Relief and Development in Malawi said about climate change and the need for action:
"It's one globe only and the word of God tells us that we are to rejoice with those who are rejoicing and that we are to mourn with those who are mourning. If part of humanity is in pain, it calls on others to join with them, to be part of the solution. There are millions of children impacted by climate related hardships. These are brothers and sisters that are part of the body of Christ, and God calls all of us to respond."
Another one of our partners John Kanthungo the Executive Director of the Assemblies of God Relief and Development Malawi had this to say to the American Chruch:
"The issues of climate change is real and the impact is being felt and people are being affected. The message that I have to the Assemblies of God Church or other Christians, we need your help through innovative initiatives like irrigation. On our own the church here is doing something but on a small scale, but if we have more assistance more communities could be reached out to."
This is not an either/or proposition. It's a both/and that God is calling us to. We have to all move forward in such a way where we do better by the health of our children, and we help to inspire real long lasting solutions. This is about looking for common sense steps to be good stewards of God's creation. Let's work together.
Blessings in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
As a lifelong Republican and an evangelical pro-life clergyman who pastored a local congregation for almost 20 years, spent fourteen years working in the coal industry, and now leads one of the oldest creation care ministries, I ask you to refrain from your harmful rhetoric on climate change. It is simply wrong.
Recently, you stated that "If you believe in God, then intellectually you cannot believe in man-made global warming." Nothing could be further from truth.
You made this false claim as part of a rhetorical sleight of hand wherein you posited a straw-man position, which you then defeated, saying that only God has the power to destroy his creation. But in "winning" such a false argument, you take people further from the truth. I am aware of no one who is saying that human-induced climate change will completely destroy the earth.
From the beginning we were created to be God's stewards or caretakers of His creation; we were given the freedom to care for it and for each other, or go our own way and selfishly look to our own interests and desires. Sadly, human history shows us that too often we have chosen the latter.
Today, human-induced climate change works against our call to love others and care for God's creation. Its impacts on creation are already a threat to our children and therefore a pro-life concern. Over coming climate change is an act of discipleship, stewarding what was created for and through Jesus, the Christ.
We could not agree more for your concern for unborn children. However, pro-life is much more than preventing abortion; it's a concern for all life from conception until natural death. Focus On The Family produced an excellent video on pro-life as respect for all life from "the womb to the tomb" as many of my evangelical friends state. Putting it simply, pro-life is greater than preventing abortion; it is also concerned with the quality of life or the abundant life promised by Jesus.
Three recent major medical studies link air pollution to birth defects. Currently 1 in 3 American children suffer from Asthma, ADHD, Autism, or Allergies all with connection to pollution, pollution directly linked to fossil fuel energy and petrochemicals.
As Scripture teaches, God created a sustainable earth to provide our physical needs; however, Scripture also teaches us that humanity harms God's creation by not following His commandments.
Isaiah 24:5 (NCV)
5 The people of the earth have ruined it,
because they do not follow God's teachings
or obey God's laws
or keep their agreement with God that was to last forever.
John Calvin recognized our failure to steward God's creation centuries ago, and our continued spewing of carbon pollution already has given the earth a fever, and we keep adding a blanket atop God's creation.
Of course,you don't have to believe me, but the Lausanne Movement founded by Billy Graham and John Stott in their Cape Town Commitment state the dangers of climate change:
We lament over the widespread abuse and destruction of the earth's resources, including its bio-diversity. Probably the most serious and urgent challenge faced by the physical world now is the threat of climate change. This will disproportionately affect those in poorer countries, for it is there that climate extremes will be most severe and where there is little capability to adapt to them. World poverty and climate change need to be addressed together and with equal urgency.
Recently over 200 evangelical Christian scientists wrote a letter to Congress asking for climate change action, Young Evangelicals For Climate Action demand American Leadership, and over 350 evangelical leaders signed the Evangelical Climate Initiative. All of us recognize along with the National Academy of Sciences, American Medical Association, American Meteorological Association, the US Department of Defense, plus every major scientific body in the United States, that climate change is real; it won't completely destroy God's creation, which no one to my knowledge is claiming; but it has and will do serious harm to God's children.
Believing in God and understanding climate change as one of the greatest threats to our children's health and well-being both now and in the future is an act of following our Risen Lord.
Actually, a proper understanding of climate change perhaps is not the real issue of your comments. Love is. The Apostle John wrote:
1 John 3:11-18 (NCV)
11 This is the teaching you have heard from the beginning: We must love each other. 12 Do not be like Cain who belonged to the Evil One and killed his brother. And why did he kill him? Because the things Cain did were evil, and the things his brother did were good.
13 Brothers and sisters, do not be surprised when the people of the world hate you. 14 We know we have left death and have come into life because we love each other. Whoever does not love is still dead. 15 Everyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderers have eternal life in them. 16 This is how we know what real love is: Jesus gave his life for us. So we should give our lives for our brothers and sisters. 17 Suppose someone has enough to live and sees a brother or sister in need, but does not help. Then God's love is not living in that person.18 My children, we should love people not only with words and talk, but by our actions and true caring.
Being a Christian is loving as Christ loves. Your recent claim doesn't reveal love and therein is the problem.
So in closing:
Romans 15:13 (NCV)
13 I pray that the God who gives hope will fill you with much joy and peace while you trust in him. Then your hope will overflow by the power of the Holy Spirit.
The Rev. Mitchell C. Hescox