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
by Rick Herron
Stewardship is often mishandled or under-utilized by environmental communicators, whether they are advocates or public officials. It is abstracted, stripped of its deep moral resonance, and is thus reduced to a staid, soporific, managerial watchword, the very opposite of a rallying cry.
And yet stewardship was a theme to which Administrator McCarthy returned to time and again over the course of her first public address as head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). But even more important than the frequency was the specific framing of the stewardship ethic which she used. She brought it home as directly as possible through her own children, two of whom were in the audience and one of whom, her eldest daughter Maggie, introduced her. She repeated time and again why she chose to work on environmental issues, and how all the work she had done and hopes to do, is for the sake of her own children. I had no doubt after listening to her speak that this was the way in which she felt. She has stewardship deep in her bones. Mrs. McCarthy's address was thus a prime example of the way that Christian communicators need to talk about stewardship as well; not just in terms of protecting God's sacred creation (which is still, of course, essential) but also in terms of protecting our children, protecting those who are most dear and precious to us.
Another important section of McCarthy's address is how directly and vigorously she attempted to break climate change free from the constraints imposed by its traditional framing as an environmental issue. She stated point-blank that she doesn't consider climate change to be an 'environmental issue', and that anyone looking on in the wake of major weather events would realize that it is a "fundamental economic challenge." Again, protecting the beauty of the natural world for its own sake is undeniably a core component of a Christian stewardship ethic. But breaking the false dichotomy between the economy and the environment, as Mrs. McCarthy emphasized again and again in her address, is essential for building the public will necessary for action and for unlocking the potential of a can do American economy.
Mrs. McCarthy is an incredibly experienced public servant who has spent decades working on the state and federal level fighting for environmental protections, for the future of her children. And while she arguably has more influence and ability to protect our children than she's ever had as head of the EPA, she will still face enormous challenges and obstacles. Even with a supportive president, a climate action plan in hand, and an entire agency behind her, all the expertise in the world will be for nothing if she is undermined by deep funding cuts or overruled by Congress, a body filled with far too many members who deny the reality of climate change. We and we alone, as citizens, have the power to ultimately ensure this does not happen, by making our voices heard, by speaking out on behalf of our children, grandchildren, and generations yet unborn.
I went up to Mrs. McCarthy after her speech, because she was gracious enough to stick around to greet and speak to the attendees. I shook her hand, thanked her for everything that she had done, and told her I was hoping to be an environmental advocate both for my career and for my vocation, as my calling in life. "That's great!" she exclaimed. "We need more boots on the ground."
Her response reminded me of an old saying I'd heard before: that activism fails if left to the activists. Many who care deeply about issues of social justice are reluctant to wade into the messy world of politics because they don't self-identify as 'activists.' But all activists really means, at its core, is participating in our democracy and communities to effect positive change. I don't participate in what some would call 'activism' because I'm an activist, per se. I participate because I am a concerned citizen, and because I'm a Christian. And I would call on those older than me to participate, like Mrs. McCarthy does, simply because they are parents, parents who simply cannot and must stand by and allow a devastated environment to imperil the lives and future happiness of their children.
Rick Herron is a committed Christian who grew up in Tennessee. He is supportive of groups like Young Evangelicals for Climate Action.
The President is Right " Let's Defend Our Children's Health
The Rev. Mitchell C. Hescox
President and CEO " The Evangelical EnvironmentalNetwork, New Freedom, PA
This week the President of the United States offered the first comprehensive national plan to combat in a serious way the greatest moralchallenge of our time " climate disruption and carbon pollution. It calls on all Americans to unite and fightthis threat to our children's health and well-being. I believe in no greater cause than protectingour children. This most fundamental task of parents and adults remains central to who we are as Americans.
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. As such, climate change should be anon-partisan issue. It simply makes sense to protect our children from all harm, including environmental degradation.
Recently, Harvard University issued a new study linkingi ncreased mercury and other toxins to birth defects, including autism; this is thethird major medical study connecting birth defects to pollution. According to the American Lung Association, Central Pennsylvania, including the Harrisburg and York areas, already receives failing marks for high ozone and particulates, leading to over 27,000 cases of pediatric asthma and over 270,000 at risk children. Higher temperatures caused by changing climates simply multiply the harm.
Our climate is changing. Just a few weeks ago, my Dad, an 86-year-old former coal miner, and I were sitting at his kitchen 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 a total of 24 broken heat records, 5 broken snow records, 40 broken precipitation records, and 5 large wildfires. Our climate in South Central Pennsylvania has changed to equal that of Richmond, VA twenty years ago. Our weather is more extreme and getting worse.
Carbon pollution is the major cause of our changing world. We have thrown another blanket on God's creation. Without the natural carbon blanket, our earth would be 70 degrees colder and life couldn't exist,much like Mars, but our continuing pumping out more carbon pollution heats the earth to look more like Venus. We are giving the Earth a fever.
Of course, some in the coal industry immediately cried foul. While I have considerable empathy for coal industry workers, the industry itself is another story. Since its beginning, the coal industry's reputation as a good neighbor has been lacking. I know first hand stories of company towns, poor working conditions, and maximizing profits at the sake of others. 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&MMars, and even Wal-Mart spent billions for energy efficiency, big coal spendshardly 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 playgrounds 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. But when you factor in all the external costsf rom coal like medical bills, lost lives, property damage, and the like, coal electricityis 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 futuremust be our national priority. It's the greatest moral challenge of our time, one we are all called to do something. The President calls us to come together as a nation and act. We need creative minds making new energy discoveries, energy efficient cars,appliances, homes, and buildings. We also need to be prepared. Climate changeal ready intensifies our weather, impacts our food supply, and multiplies extreme heat. In short, all of us are threatened, especially the most vulnerable our children. Let's work together as one nation under God; make the President's plan better; and defend our children. It's the American thing to do.
This post first appeared in Harrisburg (PA) Patriot News on June 30, 2013
EEN was pleased with yesterday's 59-40 vote to confirm Gina McCarthy as the next head of the Environmentla Protection Agency. Gina is well positioned for success at EPA during some of the most crucial years to clean up pollution that harms our kids, the unborn, and those yet to be born. As pro-life evangelicals we believe that human life needs to be protected. As such, it's time for all of America to come together to champion energy efficiency, the next generation of clean energy, while we take steps to reduce carbon pollution for the sake of our children and future generations.
We are especially thankful for the bipartisian leadership from Senators Alexander, Pryor, Corker, McCaskill, McCain, Hagan, Brown, Casey, Landrieu, Ayotte, Kirk, Collins, Donnelly, Flake, Warner, Kaine, and Heitkamp. Yesterday's vote sends a signal that Republicans and Democrats are willing to work together for the sake of our kids.
When you have groups as diverse as the American Public Health Association, Society of Chemical Manufacturers and Affiliates, and the American Sustainable Business Council you now that you have a very capable civil servant.
by Dr. Andy Bannister
The path through the trees was narrow and overgrown, meandering its way through birch, oak and elm, climbing gently as it wound its way up from the valley. A few minutes walking brought me to the ancient moss-laden wall that surrounded the forest, from which a wooden gate led out on the hillside.
From there the track quickly steepened as it wound sinuously up toward the mountaintop. I paused every so often to catch my breath, turning to watch the cloud shadows chase one another across the flanks of the hills on the farside of the valley.
Onwards and upwards I climbed, as the first hints of dusk began to take hold and the shadows grew longer. I gained the summit ridge just as the westering sun was beginning to sink behind a bank of clouds hanging over the distant Langdale Pikes, among the most well known of Lakeland's hills and loved by the poets, by Wordsworth, Coleridge and Southey.
Suddenly, as the sun dropped completely behind the cloudbank, the whole sky turned the colour of burnished gold and the clouds themselves lit up as if on fire, a maelstrom of red, orange and ochre, with the occasional flash of silver. At that moment, through a gap in the clouds poured a great ray of sunshine, streaming into the valley below like a searchlight and throwing into stark relief the lines of fields, lanes and hedgerows.
All of this took place in utter silence: not a breath of wind, nor the cry of a bird, nor the plaintive bleat of a sheep. For a moment, it seemed as if the whole of creation had paused and taken a deep breath. I watched, transfixed, hearing just my heartbeat in my own ears from the exertion of the climb. The lightshow continued as colours mixed and mingled and shifted. I was awestruck with wonder, unsure what the right reaction was before such beauty " one wanted to cry, to dance, to shout for joy. I was reminded of Mark Twain's line:
The summer world was bright and fresh, and brimming with life. There was a song in every
heart; and if the heart was young the music issued at the lips.2
For many of us, our instinctive reaction when faced with such beauty is to try to capture it on camera: perhaps we can somehow bottle the experience, pin it down, capture it in megapixels. But digital renderings are flat, lifeless things, capturing the colour, but not the sounds, smells, textures, emotions "the being-there-ness, what philosophers call qualia.
Reflecting on our reaction to beauty, two philosophies present themselves. The first is naturalism, the worldview of many of my atheist friends, which says that only material things exist: atoms, particles, stuff. There is no soul, no spirit, no transcendent reality and certainly no God. However, for those of ustruly love the outdoors, especially the wild places, naturalism patently fails; for it would claim that all I saw from the mountaintop that evening were atoms and photons whilst my experience " well, that was only the motion of chemicals in my brain. Anthony Esolen playfully parodies this philosophy:
[For the philosophical naturalist] it is best to keep the word "only" ready in the arsenal at all times. The flame of the sky at sunset is "only" the part of spectrum that penetrates the atmosphere at that angle " it is "only" something or other material that scientists know about " or at least somebody knows all them in some Important Places. Beauty is "only" a neurological tic, or a personal opinion.3
Yet this does not come close, not even remotely, to my actual experience on the mountain that evening. Reminiscent of the "flat" digital photograph, naturalism represents a fumbling attempt to simplify and reduce an experience that is rich, deep, three-dimensional, to a caricature. It is not that the naturalistic explanation is entirely false, it is simply that it falls considerably short, just as describing Paradise Lostas a "a poem", Chartres Cathedral as "a building", or love an "emotion" equally does not do justice to their entire reality.
Beauty is one of many such experiences that strips away our pretensions, exposes the frailties of our philosophy and points us beyond ourselves. The instinctive reaction to natural beauty is that it causes us to yearn, to desire, to sing with joy. As Wordsworth, who loved the English Lake District with a passion wrote: "My heart leaps up when I behold " the sky".4
But there's more. I sensed that evening as I watched the fiery sunset a feeling almost akin to homesickness, to a desire for something or somewhere more beautiful, more radiant, more real. Whereas naturalism struggles to begin to even to describe such emotions and the experience of seeing real beauty, a second philosophy, the Christian worldview offers a more compelling explanation. Consider these words of the Bible:
The heavens declare the glory of God, the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Why do we respond the way we do to beauty? Simply because it points beyond itself to something else, to the God who is the very source of all wonder, all goodness, all beauty, the God who is creator and artist and has painted and sculpted in creation a myriad masterpieces. This understanding of beauty also helps explain that sense of "homesickness" I described; beauty reminds us, tells us, shouts at us that we are made for something more than just this world.
Atheist and existentialist Albert Camus, wrestling with these ideas, wrote: "Beauty is unbearable, drives us to despair, offering us for a minute the glimpse of an eternity that we should like to stretch out over the whole of time."5
Tragically, I think that on naturalism this hold trues, because beauty points beyond itself and sets the heart yearning for something that molecules, atoms and particles alone can never ultimately satisfy.
In the Bible, we read these words: "God has made everything beautiful in its time; He has also set eternity in the hearts of men" (Ecclesiastes 3:11). Eternity in our hearts. I might also add "and our eyes".
Plato once said, through the mouth of Socrates,6 that "wonder is the beginning of philosophy" and whilst that is true, it begs a question: where is its end? The answer, if we are to live authentically, is only in the fulfilment of wonder in the God who is the source of all beauty. Once again, I think it is often the poets who see this most clearly. Dante opens the third and final canticle of his epic poem, The Divine Comedy,with these words:7
The glory of the One who moves all things
penetrates the universe with light,
more radiant in one part and elsewhere less:
I have been in that heaven He makes most bright
and seen things neither mind can hold nor tongue
utter, when one descends from such great height;
But as we near the One for whom we long,
our intellects so plunge into the deep,
memory cannot follow where we go.
Nevertheless what small part I can keep
of that holy kingdom treasured in my heart
will now become the matter of my song.
1 Thomas De Quincey, Recollections of the Lake Poets, Edited with an Introduction by David Wright (New York: Penguin, 1970 ).
2 Mark Twain, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer(New York: Dover Publications, 1998) 8.2
3 Anthony Esolen, Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child (Wilmington, DE: ISI Books) 236.
4 Wordsworth, 'My heart leaps up when I behold' in Stephen Gill (ed.), William Wordsworth: The Major Works(Oxford:Oxford University Press, 2008 ) 246.3
5 Albert Camus, Notebooks 1935-1951 (New York: Marlow & Company, 1963) 6.
6 Plato, Theaeteus.
7 Dante, The Divine Comedy, Paradiso Canto I.
by Jim Ball
We want you to know about an important effort by evangelical scientists urging climate action. Over 200 evangelical scientists sent a letter to all Members of Congress asking them "to pass meaningful legislation during this Congress to reduce carbon emissions." (See the text of the letter and the names and affiliations of all signatories here. The text is also pasted in below for your convenience.)
If past history is any guide, the signatories could receive some criticism and pressure to remain silent in the future -- maybe even intimidating threats.
So (inspired by Rachel Lamb of Y.E.C.A.) here's a few suggestions as to how you can help:
1. Pray for this effort, including protection for its signatories and success for its cause. Look at the list of signatories and pick some individuals to pray for by name.
2. Make the effort to look at the list and see if you know any of the signatories or are familiar with the school where they teach. Then be in touch with them to thank them and let them know you support them and are praying for them.
July 10, 2013
Dear Speaker Boehner, Senate Majority Leader Reid, and Members of the United States Congress:
As evangelical scientists and academics, we understand climate change is real and action is urgently needed. All of God's Creation - humans and our environment -is groaning under the weight of our uncontrolled use of fossil fuels, bringing on a warming planet, melting ice, and rising seas. The negative consequences and burdens of a changing climate will fall disproportionately on those whom Jesus called "the least of these": the poor, vulnerable, and oppressed. Our nation has entrusted you with political power; we plead with you to lead on this issue and enact policies this year that will protect our climate and help us all to be better stewards of Creation.
Average global temperatures are at their highest level within the measurement record, and we are beginning to see indications of increasingly disturbed weather. For example, 2012 was the hottest year ever recorded for the contiguous United States, and it will go down as one of the most destructive and disruptive years in U.S. history: wildfires, drought, superstorms, and public health outbreaks. This past year is only one example of the patterns of change we expect to see as the climate warms globally. We're already spending billions in emergency aid for the victims of hurricanes and weather disasters, and these expenses will only increase as the "once in a lifetime" storms become the new normal.
The Bible tells us that "love does no harm to its neighbor" (Romans 13:10), yet the way we live now harms our neighbors, both locally and globally. For the world's poorest people, climate change means dried-up wells in Africa, floods in Asia that wash away crops and homes, wildfires in the U.S. and Russia, loss of villages and food species in the Arctic, environmental refugees, and disease. Our changing climate threatens the health, security, and well-being of millions of people who are made in God's image. The threat to future generations and global prosperity means we can no longer afford complacency and endless debate. We as a society risk being counted among "those who destroy the earth" (Revelation 11:18).
We call on you to pass meaningful legislation during this Congress to reduce carbon emissionsand protect our environment, thereby strengthening the long-term outlook for our economy and our children. As Christian scientists and educators, we offer our knowledge, experience, and prayerful witness to assist you and all of our nation's leaders who are willing to address this urgent challenge.
How often do you think about the air you breathe? If you have a child with Asthma probably a lot. This week almost 8,300 pro-life evangelicals joined the drive to make our air that much cleaner for our children.Given the increase in Asthma rates and birth defects with at least some linked to environmental toxins, it just makes sense to clean up our air and to do everything we can to protect our kids.
This week we delivered those 8,300 comments in person to Acting EPA Administrator Bob Perciasepe and urged him to act on cleaner fuel standards (Tier 3).
Thanks to a number of environmental standards and protections we have here in the United States, we are far less worried about illnesses caused by pollution we breathe in than other parts of the world. That doesn't mean more can't be done.
Currently the U.S. ranks 47th in the world for reducing sulfur emissions, which impacts the health of thousands of Americans, especially children and the elderly. The EPA has the power to protect our citizens' health by implementing "Tier 3 standards" that would reduce the amount of sulfur in our gasoline.
Cleaner gas in, less pollution out. It's that simple. And all without really changing what you pay at the pump. That's why pro-life Christians are urging the EPA to implement these standards.
This week the President talked about our responsibility to our children and future generations to address climate change. At Esperanza we believe America needs to come together and find a solution that reduces carbon pollution and helps us be good stewards of God's earth.
In light of the impacts we are already facing from more intense storms like Hurricane Sandy, our communities can't be subject to inaction.
"The President's focus on energy efficiency, clean energy development and support of other nations in places like Latin America to do the same, puts the appropriate emphasis on the need for all people to address climate change together," said the Rev. Luis Cortes, President of Esperanza.
While Esperanza is still studying the details of the plan, we believe that the President's Action Plan is the first step in our nation joining together to provide leadership in an area that is of critical importance.