• THE EVANGELICAL ENVIRONMENTAL NETWORK CHALLENGES PREMISE OF SCOTT-CRIST DEBATE QUESTION ABOUT FAITH & SCIENCE

    October 17,2014, 14:42 PM

    Florida Evangelicals Recognize Science of Climate Change and are Calling for Action

    The premise of Miami Herald reporter Patricia Mazzei's question about "science [being] at odds with religion" is fundamentally flawed. As evangelical Christians throughout Florida, we believe in the science of climate change and are calling for solutions for overcoming climate change, driven by our faith to defend our children and the Biblical imperative to care for what God has created. ENN believes that caring for God's creation is a matter of life.

    Witness ENN's scientific advisor, Dr. Katherine Kahoe " a Texas Tech climatologist and evangelical Christian " who was just named to the TIME 100. She defies the notion that faith and science are antithetical. Or witness me, a registered Republican minister who once worked in the coal industry, leading an organization that is committed to Creation Care.

    Witness the over 63,000 petitions signed by pro-life Christians in Florida that we recently delivered to the governor's office, calling upon him to come up with a comprehensive plan to address not only the impacts of climate change " a topic discussed in the recent debate -- but the power plant pollution that is causing it as well. Gov.Scott continues to insist that when it comes to climate change impacts on Florida he is interested in "solutions." To that end, one immediate step he can take is to offer his support for EPA's Clean Power Plan.

    Witness the many churches across the nation showing leadership when it comes to solutions to address climate change. For instance, more than 350 pastors from across Florida have made commitments through EEN's Joseph Pledge to make their churches 'energy efficient,' 'clean,' and 'healthy'for present and future generations.

    Witness the hundreds of pro-life,pro-family evangelicals in Florida who are sharing their testimonies and speaking out directly to Gov. Scott with the clear message that it's time for all of us who are reconciled unto Christ to take personal responsibility for addressing climate change to defend the health of all God's children.

    EEN believes so strongly insolving climate change that we recently launched "testimonial" radio ads across the state, calling on Gov. Scott to address this moral, pro-life issue.

    The Rev. Mitchell C. Hescox is President of The Evangelical Environmental Network.

  • Caring For God's Creation is Pro-Life

    April 14,2014, 06:57 AM

    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.

  • Our Children Can't Afford Small Thinking on Climate

    April 08,2014, 07:43 AM

    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.


  • On The Latest Climate Report

    April 04,2014, 06:49 AM

    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:

    The Australian 28 September 2013
    The Australian 28 September 2013

    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:

    • Climate change is already affecting us today, in the places where we live
    • Climate change disproportionately affects the poor, the socially vulnerable, and the disadvantaged- not coincidentally, the very people we are told to love and care for as Christians
    • We will need to adapt to the impacts of climate change because they are already occurring and will continue to occur in response to both past and future emissions from human activities
    • The risks of potentially dangerous impacts increase with emissions. We need to reduce our emissions in order to be able to successfully cope with the impacts of climate change.

    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.

  • A Letter To The Enviroment and Public Works Committee, US Senate

    January 20,2014, 07:20 AM

    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.

    Sincerely;

    The Rev. Mitchell C. Hescox

  • The Comments of Our President At EPA Philadelphia Listening Session Of Carbon Pollution

    November 09,2013, 15:56 PM

    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.

    Isaiah 24:5 (NCV)
    5 The people ofthe 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 lastforever.

    "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:

    Climate change will affect DoD in two broad ways. First, climate change will shape the operating environment, roles, and missions that we undertake.
    The U.S. Global Change Research Program, composed of 13 federal agencies,reported in 2009 that climate-related changes are already being observed in every region of the world, including the United States and its coastal waters. Among these physical changes are increases in heavy downpours, rising temperature and sea level, rapidly retreating glaciers, thawing permafrost, lengthening growing seasons, lengthening ice-free seasons in the oceans and on lakes and rivers, earlier snowmelt, and alterations in river flows.

    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.

    Blessings

    The Rev. Mitchell C. Hescox

  • Back to a Warmer Future with the IPCC

    October 04,2013, 13:04 PM

    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:

    • More heat waves (doubling their likelihood in some areas).
    • More violent storms.
    • Rising sea levels (and more quickly than previously thought).
    • More destructive storm surges (like in Hurricane Sandy).
    • Intensified floods and droughts.
    • More destructive wildfires.

    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.]

  • An Open Letter To Rush Limbaugh

    August 14,2013, 13:03 PM

    Dear Mr.Limbaugh,

    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.

    In Christ,

    The Rev. Mitchell C. Hescox 


  • The President is Right - Let's Defend Our Children's Health

    July 29,2013, 05:18 AM

    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

  • Evangelical Scientists Call for Climate Action

    July 15,2013, 14:59 PM

    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.)

    The effort has garnered some attention, including a nice ClimateWire story as well as some predictable blow-back from climate deniers.

    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.

    Thanks!

    **************************

    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.

  • POTUS's Challenge

    February 13,2013, 10:38 AM

    The President issued a challenge on climate change during Tuesday's State of the Union Address.

    Now, the good news is, we can make meaningful progress on this issue [climate change] while driving strong economic growth. I urge this Congress to get together, pursue a bipartisan, market-based solution to climate change, like the one John McCain and Joe Lieberman worked on together a few years ago.

    But if Congress won't act soon to protect future generations, I will. I will direct my cabinet to come up with executive actions we can take, now and in the future, to reduce pollution, prepare our communities for the consequences of climate change, and speed the transition to more sustainable sources of energy.

    I for one hope Congress takes up this challenge from the President and acts. Climate change is a moral challenge for all America. It's not a liberal or a conservative issue, but a matter of life. Each American already feels our changing climate. Food prices have risen from extreme weather events like the record-breaking 2012 drought that consumed two-thirds of our nation. Transportation slowed to a standstill on the Mississippi River as water levels reached historic lows. Superstorm Sandy devastated the Northeast, and the recent blizzard paralyzed New England. Massive forest fires, extreme weather, sea-level rise have all become the new normal. All of these events are in keeping with human-caused climate change, and the extremes will only intensify.

    Last fall, I preached at a local Harrisburg, PA church. Between worship services, I talked with a disabled man living in poverty. During the summer's long-lasting heat wave, this individual, who lives in an upstairs apartment without air conditioning, was overcome by the excessive heat and passed out. Only by God's grace and the caring action of a neighbor who found him unconsciousness and called 911 was he saved from death.

    Excessive heat, extreme weather, water shortages, and destroyed crops are just the tip of the iceberg. All America will suffer, but our poor and the world's poor will suffer the most. Indeed, they are already suffering. Some estimates put the annual death toll from climate change at 300,000, and countless others have fled from devastated cropland, water shortages, flooding, and sea level rise. Conflict arises as scarce resources force survival competition. People already suffer, and it will only get worse unless we act now.

    We need a comprehensive American plan to battle our changing climate. Climate change remains the greatest threat to our security, prosperity, and way of life. As my colleague, The Dr. Rev. Jim Ball, so forcibly states, "Climate Change is the greatest moral challenge of our time." Yet with action now, we can limit the loss of life, and stave off the worst of the crisis. America must act and act now. Climate change no longer is up for debate. The science is clear and compelling, but meaningful action requires all of us.

    The choice is simple. We can work together and forge a brighter America or shirk our responsibility and have regulations that make the choice for us. Buy-in from all America, including Congress, seems the best solution, but without Congressional leadership, we must act, our future and all God's children depend on it.

    Many American businesses already have picked up the gauntlet. They not only understand climate change threats, but also see the opportunity. Corporate giants like Wal-Mart, Dow Chemical, M&M-Mars, Duke Energy, Exelon, and many others see new markets and increased profits as they take moral leadership. Individuals across our nation reduce waste and save energy, but we must come together with a national plan.

    We can start with a national effort to strengthen and coordinate planning to address the extreme weather events that cannot be avoided. Improving our infrastructure from electric transmission to bridges and highways must be a priority. Also increased energy efficiency standards need incentives. However, a price on carbon pollution remains the single most effective way to address climate change.

    Pricing carbon must happen, and President Obama issued the challenge. Can Congress find a bipartisan market-based approach? Or by our in action will court-ordered Clean Air Act regulations have to take effect? Which will Congress and the American public choose?

    Above all else, America needs to be the leader. The new party line for many of my fellow Republicans is, "Climate Change is real, but with China and India now as the largest carbon pollution emitters, any effort on our part would be negligible."

    First, my mother told me that two wrongs don't make a right. Second, we are responsible for much of the existing carbon already warming our world, and third, moral leadership works.

    Over the last two years, The Evangelical Environmental Network, The National Association of Evangelicals, and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops worked hard to see the Clean Air Act enforced to reduce mercury emissions from coal burning that is poisoning our children. The Mercury and Air Toxics Standards became law and our efforts provided the U.S State Department the moral authority necessary to secure the first ever-international mercury treaty. While this treaty isn't perfect, it is agreat step forward in protecting our children, especially the unborn from mercury poisoning.

    Leadership works. We commend the President for his moral leadership in overcoming the threat of climate change. May Congress and all America join together, rise to this great challenge as we have done with other great challenges in the past, and work together to solve the climate crisis.

    The Rev. Mitchell C. Hescox

  • A York PA Plan For Climate Change

    February 11,2013, 13:30 PM

    A York Plan for climate change

    MITCHELL HESCOX

    First published in the York Daily Record/Sunday News, ydr.com

    We all agree on the need to protect our children. The recent Sandy Hook tragedy broke our hearts, and yet we still expose our children to larger threats every day.Asthma rates are soaring; toxins exposure is on the rise from our energysources, plastics, pesticides and building materials. Studies are showing thelinks between environmental toxins and the epidemic rise in autism, ADHD and breast cancer. These toxins have serious impacts on our children.

    Extreme weather also threatens our kids - 2012 was the year without winter; drought ravaged two-thirds of the U.S., winter storm Euclid spewed December tornadoes, andSuperstorm Sandy affected millions as it tore though the Mid-Atlantic coast.

    Corn and soybean prices,thanks to the drought, remain at all-time highs, and 50,000 additional NewYorkers faced Sandy's storm damage from rising sea levels.

    Yes, 2012 was quite theyear, and it's only the tip of the iceberg for tomorrow. Extreme weather eventsare not an anomaly, but the new normal, increasing in both frequency andintensity. Perhaps even more alarming is a recent insurance industry study thatranks the U.S. as the seventh most at-risk nation for extreme weather. Notsince Pearl Harbor has the U.S. seen this sort of threat to our homeland.

    Will Sandy, the drought,and other extreme weather be our Pearl Harbor moment?

    We need to mobilize anational effort to defeat extreme weather; overcoming our new normal will require common purpose and commitment. Not since WWII have we as a nation accomplished the same energy efficiency and national commitment that we need today in order to defeat the causes of amplified extreme weather.

    Fortunately, we have amodel created here in York County, PA as our guide.

    In February 1942, agroup of York business and community leaders gathered and drafted the York Plan. The 15-point plan called for shared expertise, sought cooperation, not competitiveness, joint resources and cared for the health, housing and fairwages for all. The York Plan, adapted quickly for national use, provided the blueprint to defeat a common threat; our society came together to find solutions, work in harmony, remain competitive and value its employees. We need to rekindle the York Plan, defeat our latest threat, and protect our children.

    Let's acknowledgeinitial attempts to address extreme weather solutions came from the wrong direction. Unfortunately, too many pushed for government-based solutions as the first step. This approach further fractured our already polarized American populace. Instead, the best solutions, as illustrated by the historic York Plan, come from businesses, industry and community leaders as they initialize aplan that involves common sense approaches that unite us in common purpose.

    Companies like Johnson & Johnson, Dow Chemical, Wal-Mart, M&M/Mars, and York Container alreadylead the way. They understand the need to address the systemic roots to extreme weather, the necessity for clean energy, and they know what it takes to do sowhile helping the economy.

    Dow Chemical, for example, invested $2 billion in the past decade or so for $9 billion savings in energy efficiency. Wal-Mart reduced its distribution costs and subsequent energy savings by 69 percent. Newsweek recently issued its fourth worldwide report on those companies leading the way. If we wish to protect our children,our economy, and creative meaningful employment, America needs to unite.

    Our community, individual lives, national policy and assistance to the poor must focus on protecting our children and their future. Every local chamber of commerce, manufacturing association, trade group, labor union, and all community stakeholders can build a recipe for success unique to local resources,capabilities and circumstances. Just as the York Plan matched local talents,our new All America Plan to protect our children must seek national goals with community-focused strategies.

    Let's make York County a model community to save our kids. One group, Stewardship For Prosperity, has already made the first steps, but we can do more. We need a challenge to bring us together - and protecting our children's health should be that challenge.There is simply too much at stake to do nothing.

    We have the technology to defeat extreme weather threats, but we lack the will. Using the original York Plan provides the historic roots, and as a person of deep Christian faith, I find that Jesus provides the courage. The author of the Book of Hebrews combines both and said it best 2,000 years ago:

    "Therefore, sincewe are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith."

    The Rev. Mitchell C.Hescox is President/CEO of the Evangelical Environment Network. He lives in NewFreedom.

  • A Gathering to Pray for Both Conventions

    September 07,2012, 11:49 AM

    by Josh Martin

    With the Republican and Democratic national conventions underway, and a persistent deficit remaining in the Presidential Candidates' stands on the pressing climate crisis, some friends of ours spent Monday evening reflecting on what the next few months will hold for our country's part in the fate of the planet.

    The evening started out with a communal and climate-friendly meal " an unusual blend of Thai curry with locally killed and processed venison " where we reveled in the opportunity to catch up on each other's lives as a respite from our busy weeks. As discussions on various issues concerning our nation's social ills circulated, as they are known to do, we soon arrived at a focused conversation on the nuts and bolts of climate change and the responsibilities we, as the church in America, are faced with as the situation rapidly worsens. Naturally, the dialogue moved to the greater scheme of climate change policy as thoughts of the presidential race were freshly resonating in the back of our minds.

    With such looming and seemingly insurmountable barriers weighing on our hearts throughout the discussion, we decided to pause and take the time to remember the only ultimate hope that the world truly has.We sat together as a family before our Heavenly Father asking that, for the sake of His glory and for the poorest of the world who are the most effected by this dilemma, that He would intervene on a number of fronts and set His Body, our government and our own hearts on a path of justice, love and self-sacrifice that would prepare His way in our world to bring about the healing and restoration both the earth and all of its people are groaning for.

    We remembered that regardless of the identity of the next President of the United States, that Jesus is the reigning king above all powers and authority and that one day everything will be set right again. We asked for grace and mercy as we looked forward to the days ahead which could prove to be some of the most important times in the history of our planet.

    With the last amen, we sat back in a quieted chatter and began to trickle out one-by-one back into the night with a renewed optimism that something greater is yet to come.

    Josh Martin is a graduate student in the intercultural studies and TESOL program at Wheaton College (IL). Learn more at Young Evangelicals for Climate Action.

  • American Meteorological Society Issues Climate Change Statement

    August 29,2012, 13:05 PM

    TV weather men and women, or at least their society, finally approved a definitive statement on climate change. Joining other major scientific bodies the American Meteorological Society's states, "Prudence dictates extreme care in accounting for our relationship with the only planet known to be capable of sustaining human life." The Society has issued a rigorous and fair statement on climate change. It agrees with our belief that creation care is a matter of life, and that climate changes presents one of the most persistent moral challenges.

    photo by Kevin Jarrett
    photo by Kevin Jarrett

    The statement covers the gambit of climate science from how climate is changing "0.8°C (1.4°F) over the period 1901-2010 and about 0.5°C (0.9°F) over the period 1979-2010" to why it's changing, "It is clear from extensive scientific evidence that the dominant cause of the rapid change in climate of the past half century is human-induced increases in the amount of atmospheric greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide (CO2), chlorofluorocarbons, methane, and nitrous oxide."

    Here's what the society says we can expect now and in the years ahead:

    "For many areas, model simulations suggest there will be a tendency towards more intense rain and snow events separated by longer periods without precipitation. However, changes in precipitation patterns are expected to differ considerably by region and by season. In some regions, the accelerated hydrological cycle will likely reinforce existing patterns of precipitation, leading to more severe droughts and floods. Further poleward, the greater warming at high latitudes and over land likely will change the large-scale atmospheric circulation, leading to significant regional shifts in precipitation patterns. For example, the model simulations suggest that precipitation will increase in the far northern parts of North America, and decrease in the southwest and south-central United States where more droughts will occur."

    The statement will stay in effect until August 2017 unless an updated statement is made. The statement concludes, "This scientific finding is based on a large and persuasive body of research."

    Faced with the mounting evidence exacerbated by extreme weather, the AMS provides increased national creditability in helping the American public to understand that our changing climate is a moral issue that impacts all of us, and not one that should follow the typical partisian divides.

    View the full statement here.

  • Taking our Temperature on Climate Awareness

    August 17,2012, 18:10 PM

    by Jim Ball

    2012 is turning out to be quite an interesting year when it comes to awareness and action on climate change. This blog focuses on awareness; another on action will follow in early September.

    In an election year when the politicians are ignoring or criticizing the need for climate action, when major enviro groups have been disappointingly AWOL, the climate itself refuses to be ignored. Indeed, while politicians, enviro leaders, and much of the media were absconded to the climate change witness protection program,

    this year turns out to be the year that climate impacts came to a Facebook page near you.

    It's Been Hot!

    According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), "The average temperature for the contiguous United States during July was 3.3°F above the 20th century average, marking the warmest July and all-time warmest month since national records began in 1895." July 2011 through June 2012 was also the warmest 12 months on record.

    While there are many stories associated with this heat -- including the ones you may have lived through -- one of the more memorable has been the massive fish kills.

    Here's an excerpt from an excellent AP story:

    About 40,000 shovelnose sturgeon were killed in Iowa last week as water temperatures reached 97 degrees. Nebraska fishery officials said they've seen thousands of dead sturgeon, catfish, carp, and other species in the Lower Platte River, including the endangered pallid sturgeon. And biologists in Illinois said the hot weather has killed tens of thousands of large- and smallmouth bass and channel catfish and is threatening the population of the greater redhorse fish, a state-endangered species.

    So many fish died in one Illinois lake that the carcasses clogged an intake screen near a power plant, lowering water levels to the point that the station had to shut down one of its generators.

    "It's something I've never seen in my career, and I've been here for more than 17 years," said Mark Flammang, a fisheries biologist with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

    Iowa DNR officials said the sturgeon found dead in the Des Moines River were worth nearly $10 million, a high value based in part on their highly sought eggs, which are used for caviar. The fish are valued at more than $110 a pound.

    "Those fish have been in these rivers for thousands of thousands of years, and they're accustomed to all sorts of weather conditions," he said. "But sometimes, you have conditions occur that are outside their realm of tolerance."

    In Illinois, heat and lack of rain has dried up a large swath of Aux Sable Creek, the state's largest habitat for the endangered greater redhorse, a large bottom-feeding fish, said Dan Stephenson, a biologist with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

    "We're talking hundreds of thousands (killed), maybe millions by now," Stephenson said. "If you're only talking about game fish, it's probably in the thousands. But for all fish, it's probably in the millions if you look statewide."

    Of course, it's just going to keep getting hotter because of global warming. Much, much hotter. By the end of this century the average temperature in the U.S. could be 11 degrees F hotter. Thus far, we've seen an average increase of 1.5 degrees F. Add 9.5 degrees on average on top of what we've already experienced. Ask yourself -- do you want to live with that?

    It's Been Dry!

    At the end of July, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, 63% of the country was in moderate to extreme drought. As of the first week in August, 87% of the corn crop, 85% of the soy bean crop, and 72% of cattle were experiencing drought, with over half of the corn and soy beans in extreme to exceptional drought (the top two categories).

    Over half the country has been declared a natural disaster area, making this drought the largest natural disaster in U.S. history.

    What does the future hold? Unfortunately, in the Southwest, projections are for a continuous drought as severe as the Dust Bowl for upwards of a 1,000 years.

    It's Been Violent!

    Never in my life had I heard the term "derecho" used until late June. That's when an extreme heat wave helped create the conditions for this type of rare violent storm that stretched in a 600-mile line from northern Indiana through Washington, DC, and beyond.

    We were fortunate and only lost power for about 14 hours. Millions suffered in sweltering heat without power for days. All in all, 3.7 million lost power and 22 people died.

    Of course, as several major reports have now told us (here and here), much more extreme weather is in our future due to global warming.

    Lots of Wildfires!

    One of the interesting things about my own knowledge of the occurrence of wildfires this year was that I started hearing about them on Facebook even before I began to see news stories about them. Friends out west posted pics of their neighborhoods burning, sharing stories of loss.

    The sad thing is, more wildfires are in our future. According to a report by the National Academy of Sciences, we are on our way to increasing wildfires by 200-400% out west, with portions of western Colorado seeing an increase of over 600 percent.

    The Bugs are Biting!

    Unfortunately, it's been record-breaking year for cases of West Nile Virus, with my former hometown, Dallas, doing aerial spraying for the first time in nearly 50 years.

    According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), as of August 14:

    43 states have reported West Nile virus infections in people, birds, or mosquitoes. A total of 693 cases of West Nile virus disease in people, including 26 deaths, have been reported to CDC " The 693 cases reported thus far in 2012 is the highest number of West Nile virus disease cases reported to CDC through the second week in August since West Nile virus was first detected in the United States in 1999.

    West Nile Virus Activity, Aug. 2012
    West Nile Virus Activity, Aug. 2012

    Projections are that climate change will bring even more cases of West Nile Virus.

    We Just Keep Fiddlin' While the Planet Burns!

    According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), the official advisor to the G8 on energy matters, humanity released a record high level of global warming pollution in 2011. In order for us to have a 50% chance of staying below 2 degrees C, the world's emissions must peak at a mere 3% above 2011 levels, which the IEA hopes won't be until 2017. As IEA's chief economist puts it, "The new data provide further evidence that the door to a 2°C trajectory is about to close."

    Thank God for Sen. Inhofe

    One politician who's not afraid to talk about global warming is our old friend Sen. Inhofe (R-OK), who recently pointed out that "President Obama himself never dares to mention global warming ... " Even as his state suffers from extreme heat and drought, he is not one to let his convictions wilt in the face of the facts.

    On the Senate floor, he explained this year's climate extremes this way,

      

    "It gets cold, it gets warmer. It gets colder, it gets warmer. God is still up there, and I think that will continue in the future."

    The Rev. Jim Ball, Ph.D., is EEN Executive Vice President for Policy and Climate Change and author of Global Warming and the Risen LORD.

  • Climate Change in the West

    August 17,2012, 08:57 AM

    One of the better videos on the impact of climate change on the American West. From the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership.

    Worth the watch

  • Young Evangelicals for Climate Action

    July 24,2012, 06:44 AM

    Pollution and climate change have repercussions for many of today's pressing issues from the health of our children, to global and domestic poverty, to jobs and economic growth. This makes how we care for God's creation one of the greatest moral challenges of our time. And as Christians, we also know it is a challenge that cuts to the heart of how we promote and cherish life.

    The reality of climate change is already being felt here in the U.S. and around the world in the form of extreme weather and health impacts, which most affect the unborn, poor, and powerless. It is time for America to tackle this great moral challenge. Doing so protects life and abides by Christ's teaching to love one another and care for the least of these, who will be hit hardest by climate change.

    Unfortunately, our country's leaders are not stepping up to this great challenge.

    But our young people are!

    I want to introduce you to a living embodiment of hope in our fight to overcome climate change. It's a just-launched effort called Young Evangelicals for Climate Action (Y.E.C.A.). EEN's own Ben Lowe serves as National Organizer and Spokesperson for Y.E.C.A., while EEN's Jim Ball serves as Senior Advisor. Y.E.C.A.'s Steering Committee, the decision-making body for Y.E.C.A., is made up of young evangelical leaders from across the country.

    The Y.E.C.A.'s Call to Action will give you a good sense of what they're about. Here's a quote:

    We believe that God is calling us to take action towards overcoming the climate crisis. For us, this means living as good stewards of God's creation, advocating on behalf of the poor and marginalized, supporting our faith leaders when they stand up for climate action, holding our political leaders accountable for responsible climate policies, and mobilizing our generation and the larger church community to join in. Together, with the LORD's help, we can overcome the climate crisis.

    Here's a recent podcast featuring Rachel Lamb a recent graduate of Wheaton College, Keane McCullum an undergraduate at Messiah College, Rick Herron a senior at Yale University, and EEN's Ben Lowe. Be sure to listen in!

  • Extreme Weather, A Conversation with Katharine Hayhoe

    July 10,2012, 09:14 AM

    by Alexei Laushkin

    With much of the eastern half of the United States being pelted with extreme weather and extreme heat and the western half experiencing severe wildfires I sat down with Katharine Hayhoe, who along with her husband pastor Andrew Farley, is the author of A Climate for Change: Global Warming Facts for Faith Based Decisions to talk about recent events and the latest science around climate change.

    Katharine is a preeminent climate scientist who teaches at Texas Tech University. She publishes regularly and talks and consults with a wide range of groups on the implications of climate change for the world today.

    Be sure to listen in!

  • 50,000 Pro-Life Christians Support EPA on Climate Change Action

    June 29,2012, 09:18 AM

    This past Sunday morning the organization I work for, the Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN), ran TV spots in key states -- Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Missouri and in D.C. -- asking viewers to tell their Senators "that defending the EPA's ability to reduce carbon pollution is the right thing to do."

    On Monday, EEN's President, the Rev. Mitch Hescox, and I met with the Environmental Protection Agency's Assistant Administrator for air pollution issues, Gina McCarthy, played the TV spot for her, and hand-deliver more than 50,000 messages of support from pro-life Christians.

    Here is what that message said:

    Dear EPA Administrator Jackson:

    As a pro-Life Christian, I urge you and the EPA to remain strong in your efforts to address carbon pollution through the authority of the Clean Air Act.

    The reality of climate change is already being felt here in the U.S. and around the world in the form of extreme weather and health impacts, which most affect the unborn, poor, and powerless. It is time for America to tackle this great moral challenge. Doing so protects life and abides by Christ's teaching to love one care for the least of these who will be hit hardest by climate change.

    Thank you.

    As we told Gina, we're happy to stand side by side with the EPA as it leads our country in reducing carbon pollution.

    The TV spots highlight the extreme weather that has been plaguing the United States and point out that the poor in poor countries are and will continue to experience more frequent and intense heatwaves, droughts, floods and other harmful impacts due to climate change.

    "You do whatever it takes to protect someone you love," the video narrator says. "What about the less fortunate in poorer countries? Climate change is threatening their lives. Jesus taught us to care for 'the least of these,' and today this means working to overcome climate change."

    I'm sure it will surprise some to know that over 50,000 pro-life Christians are supporting the EPA's efforts to overcome global warming. Support for climate action has been quietly growing, despite our economic troubles and the disavowal of climate change by prominent political leaders. Christians are seeing that climate action is part of Christ's lordship in our lives, even in the midst of hardship and opposition.

    Support for climate action within the evangelical community began in February 2006 when more than 80 senior evangelical leaders, including Rick Warren of Saddleback Church and Bill Hybels of Willow Creek Community Church, formed the Evangelical Climate Initiative (ECI) and issued a statement calling for strong action on climate change, including federal legislation to put a price on carbon. Since then evangelicals have authored numerous books climate change and creation care, including Katharine Hayhoe and Andrew Farley's "A Climate of Change: Global Warming Facts for Faith-Based Decisions," Jonathan Merritt's "Green Like God," Ben Lowe's "Green Revolution" and my own "Global Warming and the Risen LORD."

    In addition, for the first time an evangelical denomination, the Christian Reformed Church, recently adopted a special report on creation care and climate change, which included the following statement:

    "Urgent action is required to address climate change. Action is needed at the personal, community, and political levels toward reducing human causes of climate change and mobilizing ourselves in urgent assistance to those who are forced to adapt to its negative effects. We have an opportunity now to reduce the future impact of climate change by reducing the emission of greenhouse gases. These emissions are increasing at an exponential rate. Waiting to act until more data accumulate limits our ability to reduce future impacts and ensures that future climate change will be greater rather than smaller" (p. 57).

    Christ's Lordship over climate action is reaching more and more evangelicals, and support for the EPA's climate regulations will continue to grow.

    As my colleague and EEN's President, the Rev. Mitch Hescox, says: "So goes our community on this issue, so goes the country."

    The Rev. Jim Ball, Ph.D., is author of Global Warming and the Risen LORD. This article originally appeared at the Huffington Post.

  • Evangelical Denomination Affirms Creation-care and Climate Action

    June 15,2012, 15:00 PM

    by Jim Ball

    Yesterday the Christian Reformed Church made history, becoming the first evangelical denomination located in the United States to affirm the need for climate action as contained in the report it adopted by their Creation Stewardship Task Force -- which was chaired by the "dean" or elder statesman of the evangelical creation-care movement, Dr. Cal DeWitt (pictured above).

    The CRC's newly adopted position on climate change begins on page 56 of the Task Force's report. (Yes, you read that right -- page 56! This is a very thorough report, containing much biblical, theological, and scientific material that will serve as a resource for years to come.) As they themselves acknowledge, their position follows closely that of the Oxford Declaration on Global Warming, adopted in 2002, and the Evangelical Climate Initiative's statement, released in 2006.

    Their fifth point states:

    "Urgent action is required to address climate change. Action is needed at the personal, community, and political levels toward reducing human causes of climate change and mobilizing ourselves in urgent assistance to those who are forced to adapt to its negative effects. We have an opportunity now to reduce the future impact of climate change by reducing the emission of greenhouse gases. These emissions are increasing at an exponential rate. Waiting to act until more data accumulate limits our ability to reduce future impacts and ensures that future climate change will be greater rather than smaller" (p. 57).

    We couldn't agree more. We urge all to read and ponder this important report.

  • Responding to an Important Address by Sen. Lugar

    June 12,2012, 17:13 PM

    by Jim Ball

    Yesterday morning, June 11th, Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, gave a very substantive keynote address at a conference of US Agency for International Development (USAID). I think it deserves to be read widely and encourage each of you to read and reflect upon the wisdom it contains.

    Sen. Lugar provides a strong defense for funding that helps poor countries. Near the beginning he asserts that:

    "development assistance, when properly administered, remains a bargain for U.S. national security and for our own economic and moral standing in the world."

    I couldn't agree more. The rest of the address fleshes out this proposition.

    At one point Sen. Lugar states:

    "I would assert that as a moral nation, founded on moral principles, we diminish ourselves and our national reputation if we turn our backs on the obvious plight of hundreds of millions of people who are living on less than a dollar a day and facing severe risk from hunger and disease."

    Many would argue with one or more of the assertions made in this remarkable sentence -- and that's part of my point. This address deserves to be studied and argued over.

    I myself have certain parts of the address I would like to comment on, and I'm sure those of you who know me will be shocked to find that it has to do with climate change.

    Sen. Lugar has some legitimate concerns about funding designated to help the poor in poor countries address climate change. I and other colleagues in the religious community have been involved in advocating for such funding on the Hill for nearly a decade now. And I have several chapters in my book devoted to this issue. I very much appreciate Sen. Lugar's careful attention to climate change and foreign assistance.

    He states:

    "While foreign assistance investments often require significant time before demonstrating impacts, funding should flow to programs that demonstrate results. Our programs can only produce results when they are developed with results in mind. I raise this point, because a percentage of foreign assistance funding to some countries is moving away from traditional purposes -- including education, food security, and disease prevention -- toward climate change."

    Several things to comment on here.

    First, I'm grateful that Sen. Lugar counsels patience in waiting for results from foreign assistance.

    Second, those of us in the religious community who have been advocating for increased funding to help the poor cope with climate change would agree strongly with Sen. Lugar that "funding should flow to programs that demonstrate results."

    We ourselves have told this to senior officials at USAID.

    But when thinking about results, two things must be kept in mind.

    1. We must not forget those least developed countries whose level of societal infrastructure and/or stability require additional efforts towards capacity building even before specific climate programs can be implemented. In other words, we can't just go for the easy wins while never addressing the tougher cases.

    In comparing development and diplomacy, Sen. Lugar made the following point:

    "In a development context, we are willing to take a much longer view of the world and devote resources to countries of less, or even minimal, strategic significance. We are willing to allow the diplomatic and national security benefits of development work to accrue over time. And we are willing to engage in missions for purely altruistic reasons."

    I and my religious community colleagues have argued that this same rationale applies to poor countries and climate change. Indeed, for our long-term development goals to be successful, it must apply. If we foolishly neglect adapting to climate change, much if not all of our development work will be undermined, even reversed. All development work must now be done taking present and future climate impacts into consideration.

    2. What do you measure and what is the standard by which you judge? Climate adaptation --enhancing resilence and reducing vulnerability to climate impacts -- is planning for hard times to come, like the Patriarch Joseph did in Egypt. It is prevention, which, as the old say goes, is worth a pound of cure. Just like Sen. Lugar has argued for development, it's a bargain for our country.

    Sen. Lugar has called for measureable results, as have we. How do you measure prevention? Lives saved, disasters curtailed or avoided, hunger and thirst averted.

    Development seeks to help folks climb out of poverty so they can travel the road of economic freedom and have the capacity to make their lives better. Have we helped to improve a person's economic situation? That's measurable.

    Unfortunately, climate impacts will help push them back into poverty. Successful adaptation includes both development and ensuring folks don't fall back into poverty. Let's keep this in mind as we are seeking to measure results, what Sen. Lugar rightly encourages us to do. Bad stuff curtailed or avoided, making sure things didn't get worse because of climate impacts -- that must count, too. It could be that in situations with significant climate impacts, maintaining an economic status quo can be counted as a major success.

    Climate adaptation and development are related but distinct goals that must be pursued simultaneously if both are to be achieved; in fact, they can often be achieved by the same solutions if done in a climate sensitive fashion. (See my book for numerous examples, such as a local business in Tanzania, Katani, Inc. They use sisal, a drought-resistant, year-round cash crop to make numerous profitable products and then burn the remainder in a biomass gasifier creating electricity for the community.)

    For this reason, distinguishing them to the point of pitting them against one another in a funding context is counterproductive. The religious community has always argued that adaptation funding must be additional to funding for relief and development or "ODA." We must not rob Peter to pay Paul.

    This leads to my third comment on the quote above from Sen. Lugar. He brings up the need for measurable results "because a percentage of foreign assistance funding to some countries is moving away from traditional purposes -- including education, food security, and disease prevention -- toward climate change."

    This is the robbing Peter to pay Paul problem that I just highlighted. We don't want the poor to be short-changed in terms of the total level of funding, which needs to go up to deal with climate impacts. Again, climate funding must be additional. Indeed, from the climate adaptation perspective, this must be the case because successful development is adaptation. Having success in the three areas Sen. Lugar highlights -- education, food security, disease prevention -- helps to enhance resilence and reduce vulnerability to climate impacts. So when Sen. Lugar sees funding for these "moving away from [these] traditional purposes," and that means they are getting less funding, that's a problem. (Sen. Lugar is addressing USAID and saying he's concerned about such shifts. What really needs to happen is for Congress to increase the funding for both. Hopefully Sen. Luger can help with that!)

    But I'm left wondering whether deep down Sen. Lugar's comment still reflects the idea that substantively climate adaptation and development are distinct and separate and competitive. I hope not.

    Part of the confusion about the relationship between development and adaptation stems, I believe, from a truncated understanding of adaptation. Most of the time when people are saying "adaptation," what they are referring to is what I call "targeted adaptation." As I have just discussed, adaptation more broadly includes development (or my preferred term, sustainable economic progress). But there are also projects specifically designed to address projected climate impacts in a particular place. Knowing, for example, that a certain area will experience more drought and water scarcity could have you move towards drought-resistant crops. That's targeted adaptation. It is very much needed, but, again, it must not be pitted against adaptation via development or sustainable economic progress.

    Sen. Lugar's main concern is that targeted adaption projects "are among the least likely to offer measurable development results and the most likely to be politically motivated."

    To the concern to see targeted adaptation produce "measurable development results," as my previous comments suggest, I would contend that a development metric, or a make-things-better metric, is an unfair one for many such projects. Again, we must recognize that preventing worse things from happening is a success.

    What we need now is increased funding for both climate-sensitive development and targeted adaptation, so that we're working hard to make sure climate impacts don't make things worse while we are helping folks create sustainable economic progress, thereby making things better.

    I'll sum my perspective up this way: prevent things from getting worse while helping things get better.

    Finally, let me highlight how Sen. Lugar closes out his climate change discussion:

    "If ten million dollars are spent on a climate change project in a country suffering from malnutrition and uncontrolled disease, we must be able to demonstrate that those dollars will produce a better result than what could be produced through alternative initiatives related to agriculture development and disease prevention."

    I think this is fair, assuming such "alternative initiatives" would not have taken climate change into account. If that is the case, then climate-sensitive development and targeted adaptation will easily provide a greater rate of return. Honestly, I wish it were not true. But the reality is that climate impacts are already occuring, and are going to get worse, unfortunately.

    The Rev. Jim Ball, Ph.D., is EEN's Executive Vice President for Policy and Climate Change and author of Global Warming and the Risen LORD.

  • Reason 7: Essential to Create Public Support to Pass Climate Legislation

    June 06,2012, 08:12 AM

    by Jim Ball

    This post is the last in my 7 Reasons Why series making the case for why the President must talk now about climate change being a top priority.

    To begin to make my final point, let me summarize much of what I've said thus far:

    • global emissions must peak during the next Presidential term to overcome global warming and ocean acidification,
    • the rate of change to achieve this is daunting but doable,
    • forestry and agriculture must be part of the solution, and
    • we must make major preparations to adapt and help the poor adapt.

    All of this requires comprehensive climate legislation with the following characteristics:

    1. Puts a price on carbon in a way that avoids economic harm to the poor and doesn't disproportionately impact any region or major sector of the economy.
    2. Provides significant long-term funding for climate-friendly R&D.
    3. Has specially designed programs to incentivize climate-friendly activities in forestry and agriculture.
    4. Creates and funds comprehensive adaptation programs for both the U.S. and poor countries.

    Clearly whoever is the President cannot do this alone. He needs support. And those of us who have accepted the climate challenge must play our part and help create a movement for climate action.

    But the President also needs to help build support for action. The nature of the threat requires it, given that we only have a few years to launch a revolutionary, society-wide transformation. So too does the creation of public concern and support.

    The work of social scientist Robert Brulle and his colleagues shows that public concern for climate change goes up when senior political leaders talk about the need for action. It goes down when they don't, or when they speak against action.

    As one of Brulle's colleagues, Craig Jenkins, put it:

    "It is the political leaders in Washington who are really driving public opinion about the threat of climate change "The politics overwhelms the science."

    In addition, their study found that the level of public concern also tracked with the amount of media coverage there was, which itself was driven to a large extent by what political leaders were saying.

    In an interview Brulle got right to the point: "The fact that Obama isn't talking about the issue or even using the word matters very much."

    What's normally the case for politicians is that they respond to what the public considers to be an urgent concern. This mentality was captured in a recent interview on climate change with John Huntsman, former Republican candidate for President and former Governor of Utah. According to Gov. Huntsman, who continues to believe in global warming, the climate challenge

    "hasn't translated into any kind of action within the political community because you don't have people on a broad basis who are pushing us because they " just don't see the urgency. The political policy agenda does not move unless it has people who are moving it."

    He went on to observe that the lack of leadership is bipartisan:

    "I don't hear Democrats talking about it either. I don't see it on the agenda anywhere."

    Sad, but true.

    Here's the bottom line. The nature of this challenge, both the threat itself and the public support for action, demands Presidential leadership. He can't be the Facilitator-in-Chief on this one. He has to be the Leader-in-Chief. He can't lay back and wait for support to materialize. He must help create it.

    In his interview Gov. Huntsman reminded us that "Politics is the art of the possible." But in the case of overcoming global warming we need the President to help make it possible.

    Right now, unfortunately, the President is close to being the Neville Chamberlin of the climate challenge, with an apparent strategy of appeasement when it comes to this terrible threat. But President Obama has within him the courage to be the Winston Churchill of overcoming global warming. He must bring forth this God-given courage now and let the country know that it is a top priority. Doing so will give him the moral and political authority to say to the country and Congress that we must do what needs to be done to overcome global warming and create a better future for ourselves, future generations, and those most vulnerable, the world's poor.

    The Rev. Jim Ball is EEN's Executive Vice President for Policy and author of Global Warming and the Risen LORD.

  • Reason 6: The Need to Adapt

    June 05,2012, 06:08 AM

    by Jim Ball

    The world is already experiencing the effects of climate change. Even if the world puts into place a strong program to reduce global warming pollution we will still experience major impacts. And most of these consequences will fall on the poor.

    We are all going to have to adapt, and the rich are going to have to help the poor adapt.

    Climate adaptation is basically planning for hard times to come, like the Patriarch Joseph did in Egypt when he led the country to store up grain for the coming famine (Gen. 41).

    But just like Egypt needed the leadership of Joseph, so too our country needs the President to explain that we must invest in preparations for climate impacts here in the U.S., and that it is in our nation's interest to help the poor in poor countries do the same.

    It's pretty simple. The President can't make the case for climate adaptation if he isn't willing to talk seriously about climate change.

    Next Up: Essential to Create Public Support

    The Rev. Jim Ball, Ph.D., is EEN's Executive Vice President for Policy and author of Global Warming and the Risen LORD.

  • Rev. Mitch Hescox Testimony on Carbon Pollution (May 2012)

    June 04,2012, 08:30 AM

    A video of Mitch's testimony. You can view the text of the submitted testimony below.

    On March 27, 2012, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed the first national carbon pollution standards for power plants. This is an historic step in the right direction to overcome global warming and protecting public health.

    "The simple fact is that if man is not able to solve his ecological problems, then man's resources are going to die."(1) Noted evangelical, Francis Schaeffer correctly stated those words in 1970 and they remain true today. The earth has a fever, (2) and the fever's impacts have reached epidemic proportions, threatening 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 Climate Change Vulnerability Index 2012 (3) displayed on the left graphically indicates the great difficulty in scrapping out life for the world's poorest people. The darker the color on the map indicates those already impacted. 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(4) issued by the Lausanne Movement (founded by Billy Graham and John Stott, another internationally respected evangelical leader) recognizes the need for climate change action, as does as does the global evangelical network Micah Challenge. (5)

    The changing climate kills hundreds of 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 Warming Increases the Risk of Civil War in Africa. The authors' model the impacts just described and their influence by temperature rise. They conclude for each 1 degree Celsius warming will result in a 49% increase in African civil wars, a 54% increase in conflict, and an additional 393,000 battle deaths within the next 20 years. (6) They are not alone in predicting increased instability. The 2010 United States Department of Defense Quadrennial Review states:

    Climate change will affect DoD in two broad ways. First, climate change will shape the operating environment, roles, and missions that we undertake. The U.S. Global Change Research Program, composed of 13 federal agencies, reported in 2009 that climate-related changes are already being observed in every region of the world, including the United States and its coastal waters. Among these physical changes are increases in heavy downpours, rising temperature and sea level, rapidly retreating glaciers, thawing permafrost, lengthening growing seasons, lengthening ice-free seasons in the oceans and on lakes and rivers, earlier snowmelt, and alterations in river flows. 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 an accelerant 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. (7)

    These facts represent people. Victor Mughogho, the Executive Director of Eagles Relief and Development "Malawi, recently visited the United States for my organization's Global Day of Prayer For Creation Care and the Poor. During his presentation, Victor shared exactly what climate scientists' have predicted for years.

    Victor told us how for their parents the rainy season was so predictable they knew to plant on October 15 every year. They planted and the rains fell --predictable --stable --reliable. They grew so much food they had an overabundance. In their parents' lives, they experienced one major drought.

    Since 1970, droughts, floods, and unpredictable rains have become the new normal, exactly what the scientists said climate change would do,(8) wreaking havoc for poor farmers.

    2011 was the fourth consecutive year drought has plagued Malawi. Moreover, when the rains come they are unpredictable. Victor told us that last year the farmers planted and the crops failed; planted again, failed again; planted a third time and they failed a third time. Hunger, malnutrition, the stunting of children are the results. Victor reminded us that such stunting harms a person's brain development, further jeopardizing their future and that of Malawi. Further, women who were stunted as children are at greater risk of having complications giving birth, delivering lower birth weight infants, and higher birth morality for both mother and child.

    Another example stems from the work of Dr. Val Shean, a veterinarian and missionary in Uganda. For nearly 20 years, Val has shared Christ's love in both word and deed among the seven sub-tribes of the Karamojong, who live in most arid region of Uganda (watch a clip of Val Shean sharing about here experiences here). During a recent visit to the United States Dr. Shean shared the following story with us, about a baby named Muya Val who was orphaned because of climate change.

    For the last three years Val's friend Aleachae's ability to grow crops to help feed her family had been thwarted by the changing climate. For two of these years the rains came at the wrong time for planting and when they did come, it was not enough to stem the drought. Then in the third year, the community experienced "a horrible flood," all the more remarkable since they have never had flooding. For three straight years, Aleachae's family did not have enough food. Her husband became so enraged that he threw her out of the home for being a bad wife and mother, as she could not grow a garden. Of course, it was not Aleachae's fault. It was because of global warming. Yet she was blamed.
    Once her husband threw her out, Aleachae went to another village, lived with another man, and became pregnant. Aleachae was tossed away --again, and attempted a return to her original village. However, she died after childbirth, and named her child, Muya. Muya was then brought to the local church, who asked Val to be her guardian, and gave Muya Val's last name because the father was unknown.

    Unfortunately, in the years to come there will be many more climate change orphans like Muya Val. Indeed, in our lifetime billions of the world's poor will be impacted by climate change resulting from carbon pollution.

    The United States does not escape either. 2011 was the wildest year on record for extreme weather in the US with 99 major events. Insurance losses in 2011 were the second costliest on record, only 2005 with hurricane Katrina were higher. The trend continues in 2012 being the year without winter, extreme weather appears to be drawing attention to a changing climate. Science now affirms that North America's summer heat waves and changing precipitation are very likely resulting from anthropogenic climate change. In other words, the extreme weather events of the past several years are typical of climate change and very likely will continue.

    Others present today will testify to coal-produced electricity (the largest source of carbon pollution) adding $0.0972 - 0.2689 per kWh in hidden health and other costs not currently realized by the utility.(9) Others may testify to jobs created by clean energy, or the American public's desire for clean air. All true. However, my testimony is a moral cause for the poor. Someone must stand and speak for those without a voice and those who are most impacted by carbon pollution, yet the least responsible for its toxic emissions. And there are many Christians in the U.S. who are concerned about what happens to poor people in poor countries.

    The New Source Standard for Carbon Pollution remains a first step, but only a first step. We need a clean energy revolution whose rate of change must be incredibly fast. A gradual transition will not provide an adequate means to protect public health from the well-documented fossil fuel consequences of carbon, mercury, lead, and other heavy metals, particulate pollution.

    Our nation must empower a second "Greatest Generation" who similar to the mobilization required for overcoming fascism, provide the leadership for a clean energy revolution. Clean energy and reducing carbon pollution, according to the respected business-consulting firm McKinsey & Co., will require a 10-fold increase in carbon productivity.(10) This will require a united effort of government, business, and all society working together, including comprehensive energy/climate legislation.

    A national clean energy policy, including comprehensive climate change legislation that includes a price on carbon, must be a national priority. Our nation must lead in driving innovation throughout the economy, and success for market-based solutions will occur only as a carbon fuel's true cost becomes realized.

    A clean energy future provides a healthy new economy for America and our success at home can then be exported to other parts of the world. American innovation and businesses stand to gain if we can come up with the next efficient clean energy production.

    The New Source Performance Standard for Carbon Pollution is an historic first step in the right direction and we strongly recommend its finalization and promulgation in its current form. However, it's only a beginning, a springboard. We urge the Administration, Congress, industry, and the American people to work toward a market based solution to reduce current carbon pollution and insure a safer and healthier world for all God's children.

    ------

    cited references

    1 Francis A, Schaeffer, Pollution and the Death of Man, Tyndale House, Wheaton, IL, 1970, reprinted 2011, pg. 9.
    2 Jim Ball, Global Warming and the Risen Lord, The Evangelical Environmental Network, Washington, DC, 2010, pg. 39.
    3 http://maplecroft.com/about/news/ccvi_2012.html
    4 http://www.lausanne.org/en/documents/ctcommitment.html
    5 http://www.micahnetwork.org/sites/default/files/doc/library/micahnetwork_statementtoworldleaders.pdf
    6 Warming increases the risk of civil war in Africa (October 2009); Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
    7 United States Department of Defense Quadrennial Defense Review Report (February 2010).
    8 http://www.actionaid.org.uk/doc_lib/malawi_climate_change_report.pdf
    9 Paul R. Epstein, et.al., Full Cost Accounting For The Life Cycle of Coal, Annals of the NY Academy of Sciences, 1219, (2011), 73-98.
    10 http://www.mckinsey.com/Insights/MGI/Research/Natural_Resources/The_carbon_productivity_challenge.

  • Reason 5: Ocean Acidification

    June 04,2012, 05:39 AM

    by Jim Ball

    Reason 5 in this 7 Reasons Why blog series is not about the consequences of global warming per se, but rather about another consequence of our carbon pollution called ocean acidification.

    God's oceans are a tremendous benefit to humanity. For example, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), "more than a billion people rely on food from the ocean as their primary source of protein."

    Unfortunately, humanity's poor stewardship -- including overharvesting, water pollution, bad development and fishing practices, and the rise of ocean temperatures from global warming -- is stealing God's blessing from the creatures of the sea (Gen. 1:20-22).

    Another major impact that has recently come to light is called ocean acidification, which is being caused mostly by the same carbon dioxide produced from burning fossil fuels (coal, oil, natural gas) that is also the major cause of global warming.

    Since the start of the Industrial Revolution, anthropogenic or human-caused CO2 has made the ocean 30% more acidic. A just-published study in Science concluded the following concerning the current rate of acidification:

    • it is happening faster than any time in the last 300 million years, and;
    • it is 10 times faster than the last time the oceans were this acidic some 56 million years ago " and that episode was accompanied by a massive extinction.

    In other words, what we are doing to God's oceans through ocean acidification is unprecedented in the history of the earth.

    Anything with a shell or skeleton made from calcium carbonate -- from oysters, clams and shrimp, to coral reefs, to tiny creatures like Pteropods that help create the foundation of oceanic food webs -- is in serious danger from ocean acidification. As NOAA states, "When shelled organisms are at risk, the entire food web may also be at risk."

    NOAA
    NOAA

    Let me briefly highlight two examples. First, coral reefs have been called the rainforests of the oceans for their ability to support so much life " approximately 25 percent of the living creatures of the oceans. They also generate billions of dollars in benefits to humanity. Coral reefs are a focal point of God's blessing of the seas: "God blessed them and said, 'Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas'" (Gen. 1:22).

    Ocean acidification on its own puts coral reefs at risk. In our lifetimes -- on our watch as God's stewards -- we could literally destroy the capacity of many coral reefs to sustain life through ocean acidification and other harmful activities.

    Second, oysters are a major industry, with the West Coast bringing in over $270 million a year. As NOAA reports, "In recent years, there have been near total failures of developing oysters in both aquaculture facilities and natural ecosystems on the West Coast." They consider ocean acidification a "potential factor" in this collapse." A just-published study of a commercial oyster hatching facility in Oregon goes further, concluding that ocean acidification was responsible for a decline to a level that was not economically sustainable.

    Just as with climate change, it is ocean acidification's unprecedented rate of change that requires us not simply to have a gradual transition towards clean energy. The President must help the country understand that we need a revolution, not just a transition. We need a great transformation to overcome these twin challenges of climate change and ocean acidification. But time is running short to bring about this great transformation. The country cannot accomplish this without strong leadership from the President.

    Next Up: The Need to Adapt

    The Rev. Jim Ball, Ph.D., is EEN's Executive Vice President for Policy and author of Global Warming and the Risen LORD.

  • Reason 4: It's Not Just About Energy -- Forestry and Agriculture

    May 30,2012, 05:16 AM

    by Jim Ball

    More than half of the actions to reduce global warming pollution worldwide will need to come from outside the electricity and industrial sectors. While electricity's potential is the largest at 26%, you might be surprised to learn that the forestry sector is the next largest at 21%. And actions in the forestry sector keep overall costs of overcoming global warming worldwide down significantly " it would cost approximately 50 percent more without them.

    Here in the US, forestry accounts for around 11% of potential reductions, the same as transportation, while forestry and agriculture combined equal 17%, the same as what can be achieved via the industrial sector.

    For the President simply to talk about clean energy won't get us where we need to be in the U.S. on forestry and agriculture. And our innovations in these areas are needed to help prime the pump worldwide. But for us to play our part, the President must lead.

    Next Up: Ocean Acidification

    The Rev. Jim Ball, Ph.D., is EEN's Executive Vice President for Policy and author of Global Warming and the Risen LORD.

  • Reason 3: Natural Gas May Be "Fool's Gold"

    May 23,2012, 16:15 PM

    by Jim Ball

    Today's blog provides Reason 3 of the 7 Reasons Why the President must talk about climate change and not just clean energy.

    For years now natural gas has been touted as the "clean" fossil fuel, given that it lacks air pollutants like soot and mercury. And when burned at a power plant to make electricity, it produces about half the global warming emissions as coal.

    As such, natural gas has been pushed by some supporters of climate action as a "bridge" that will help take us from the fossil era into the clean energy era. (See, for example, former Sen. Tim Worth's comments here and here and here.)

    In his 2012 State of the Union address, the President proclaimed his Administration's strong commitment to natural gas development. He recently reiterated this in a speech in New Hampshire on March 1st:

    "We're taking every possible action to develop a near 100-year supply of natural gas, which releases fewer carbons."

    Unfortunately, serious reservations have recently been raised about natural gas serving as a "bridge" to a climate-friendly future. Indeed, natural gas could be "all hat and no cattle" when it comes to overcoming global warming.

    First, two prominent scientists, Myhrvold and Calderia just published the results from "a quantitative model of energy system transitions that includes life-cycle emissions and the central physics of greenhouse warming." Essentially they gamed out scenarios for replacing coal-generated electricity with electricity generated from sources that are less carbon intensive to determine what temperature reductions they would bring and when. They concluded that natural gas "cannot yield substantial temperature reductions this century."

    On its own this study raises important questions about natural gas as part of overcoming global warming. Certainly more study is needed along such lines.

    But other disturbing news has come to light about natural gas.

    Recent studies (here and here and here) have indicated that current and future natural gas production in this country could produce more global warming pollution than coal -- even more when looking at a 20-year time-frame. The main reason? Natural gas fields are leaking much more gas than previously thought.

    Again, more study is needed of such "fugitive emissions" as they are called. But enough has been done to raise very serious questions. These fugitive emissions could be addressed by an upcoming regulation of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). By how much is not yet clear.

    Taken together, these studies suggest that natural gas can no longer be relied upon as part of a strategy of climate change mitigation. It could be "fool's gold" when it comes to overcoming global warming, foolish investments that take money away from real solutions.

    As such, the President cannot tout natural gas as part of an energy strategy he privately hopes will also address climate change. Indeed, it requires the Administration to put the brakes on natural gas until these serious climate concerns are thoroughly assessed. To justify such a major change in policy would require the President to talk about a key reason for the switch: climate change.

    Next Up: It's Not Just About Energy: Deforestation, Agriculture

    The Rev. Jim Ball, Ph.D., is EEN's Executive Vice President for Policy and Climate Change and author of Global Warming and the Risen LORD.

  • Reason 2: We Need A Revolution, Not A Transition

    May 21,2012, 14:49 PM

    by Jim Ball

    As I put forward in the Introduction to this blog series, there are 7 Reasons Why the President must talk about climate change and not just clean energy. Last week I posted Reason 1, arguing that to avoid dangerous tipping points global emissions must peak during the next presidential term. Today's post is Reason 2.

    We're going to need a clean energy revolution whose rate of change must be incredibly fast. A gradual transition won't cut it. This revolution will require strong and sustained Presidential leadership.

    According to the respected business consulting firm McKinsey & Co., to overcome global warming will require a 10-fold increase in carbon productivity (or amount of output produced per unit of carbon). Has something like this ever been achieved? Yes. The Industrial Revolution achieved a 10-fold increase in labor productivity. However, our "carbon revolution" will have to occur in one third the time.

    Here's where things currently stand. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) recently released its annual forecast. (The EIA is an independent analytical agency of the federal government that tracks energy use and trends, including greenhouse gas emissions.) It projects that US carbon dioxide pollution will be 7% below the 2005 level in 2020, and will continue to stay below 2005 levels through 2035 even with a 25 percent rise in population. This results from increased fuel economy standards, appliance standards, federal clean air regulations, state policies requiring more renewable energy, and a rise in natural gas use, but doesn't yet include two other major policies that will reduce emissions further " the mercury regulation of power plants and the next round of fuel economy standards.

    While we're moving in the right direction, this current EIA projection is less than half of the commitment we made at the 2009 international climate talks in Copenhagen (or 17 percent below 2005 levels). And the commitments made at Copenhagen are themselves not enough to overcome global warming.

    So here's the deal: we're on the right path, but without comprehensive climate change legislation that includes a price on carbon we won't get there. The President's proposed Clean Energy Standard, focused on making electricity much cleaner and climate-friendly, is important but insufficient. A price on carbon is still needed to drive innovation throughout the economy. Such a price on carbon could be provided by market-based policies like a cap-and-trade system or a revenue-neutral carbon tax where those who do the right thing effectively get a tax cut. The resulting innovation will benefit not simply the U.S. The world needs us to make such investments and drive such innovation. As McKinsey & Co has shown, emissions from electricity generation and from industry represent less than half of the potential opportunities to overcome global warming worldwide. Other sectors like forestry and agriculture must also contribute (discussed further in Reason 4, forthcoming).

    If emissions didn't need to peak by 2015-17, if the rate of change needed to overcome global warming was much slower, then we could get away with talking just about clean energy and proposing policies like a Clean Energy Standard. We could avoid talking about putting a price on carbon. And the President could avoid talking about making overcoming global warming a top priority.

    But ignoring the rate of change needed or wishing it away won't make it disappear. It's a reality we must face.

    Next Up: Natural Gas May Be "Fool's Gold"

    The Rev. Jim Ball, Ph.D., is EEN's Executive Vice President for Policy and Climate Change and author of Global Warming and the Risen LORD.

  • Reason 1: To Avoid Dangerous Tipping Points Global Emissions Must Peak During the Next Presidential Term

    May 17,2012, 12:22 PM

    by Jim Ball

    Yesterday I posted up the Introduction to this series of blogs providing 7 Reasons Why the President must talk about climate change and not just clean energy. Today's blog presents the first of these seven reasons.

    Whoever is President during the next term (2013-2016) will be the most important President ever -- before or since -- on overcoming global warming. No one person in the history of the world will have more opportunity to lead on climate change. He can't do it alone, but without strong leadership from the President we won't get it done. Simple as that.

    Just talking about clean energy doesn't convey either the urgency or the scale of the changes needed. When it comes to overcoming global warming, the International Energy Agency (IEA), which advises the G20 on energy matters, concluded the following in their latest annual report, the World Energy Outlook 2011:

    • 80 percent of the world's emissions budget is already "locked in" due to existing energy-related infrastructure (e.g. power plants, buildings, vehicles) and we are on track to lock in the remaining 20 percent by 2017.
    • If significant action is delayed until 2015, "around 45 percent of the global fossil-fuel capacity installed by then would have to be retired early or refurbished by 2035."
    • If action is delayed until 2017, all new energy-consuming capital stock will have to produce no global warming pollution if we are to have a chance at overcoming global warming. In other words, all new buildings, vehicles, power plants, etc., must be zero carbon/GHGs in order not to exceed a 2 degrees Celsius rise from preindustrial levels or 450ppm.

    Next up: We Need a Revolution, Not a Transition

    The Rev. Jim Ball, Ph.D., is EEN's Executive Vice President for Policy and Climate Change and author of Global Warming and the Risen LORD.

  • 7 Reasons Why the President Must Talk About Climate Change Before the Election and Not Just Clean Energy: Introduction

    May 16,2012, 09:55 AM

    by Jim Ball

    [Editor's Note: This is the Introduction to a 7-part blog series.]

    Climate change has nearly disappeared from the national conversation. But climate change itself has not disappeared. It still remains the great moral challenge of our time, impacting billions this century and a mortal threat to millions of the world's poor. And if we don't act decisively in the next few years dangerous tipping points could be crossed with consequences yet to be fully imagined. Overcoming climate change is still possible, but that window will soon close.

    Instead of talking about climate change, President Obama talks about clean energy -- and here lately he's shifted from talking about clean energy to talking about "American energy," even using a favorite phrase of Speaker John Boehner and House Republicans, an "all of the above" approach to American energy.

    The Administration's branding of their energy strategy
    The Administration's branding of their energy strategy

    Now there are lots of good things associated with clean energy, with striving for "energy security" and "energy independence." And it is vital to have an emphasis on producing more clean energy here in the United States. Who isn't for clean energy made in America?

    But to be a real leader of our country at this moment requires the President to talk about overcoming global warming, not just energy.

    To have the necessary political and moral authority to be the leader he needs to be, the next President (whether that be our current President or Gov. Romney) must state publicly that overcoming global warming will be a top priority in his Administration; without this, it will be extremely difficult for him to come to Congress and the country and ask for their support, given that major changes are needed that will affect all of us.

    I'm sure President Obama's rhetorical turns of phrase on energy poll quite well. And I'm guessing his political advisors could be telling the President to stay away from talking about climate change.

    But for the good of the country and the world the President must explain to the country why significant climate action is needed.

    Here are 7 reasons why:

    1. To Avoid Dangerous Tipping Points Global Emissions Must Peak During the Next Presidential Term

    2. We Need A Revolution, Not A Transition

    3. Natural Gas May Be "Fool's Gold"

    4. It's Not Just About Energy: Deforestation, Agriculture

    5. Ocean Acidification

    6. The Need to Adapt

    7. Essential to Create Public Support to Pass Climate Change Legislation

    (These 7 Reasons Why also apply to Gov. Romney. But he must also clarify his basic stance on the issue.)

    As part of this series, each of these 7 reasons will be posted as a separate blog post over the coming days.

    Next Up: Reason 1: To Avoid Dangerous Tipping Points Global Emissions Must Peak during the Next Presidential Term

    The Rev. Jim Ball, Ph.D., is EEN's Executive Vice President for Policy and Climate Change and author of Global Warming and the Risen LORD.

  • My Time with Victor Mughogho from Malawi

    May 11,2012, 12:44 PM

    by Kate Perkins

    Recently I had the opportunity to meet Victor, the Executive Director of Eagles Relief and Development Program who was visiting the DC area with the Environmental Evangelical Network.

    We spoke over a short afternoon about the effects of global warming on the culture and economy of Malawi, his home culture. It was both heartbreaking and shocking to realize the ways a shorter growing season (now common in the United States as well) could affect a national food supply. I was especially struck by his comments about how many people in his country who have HIV are dependent on getting nutritious, healthy food and aren't getting it- and how much worse their health conditions become as a result. While in America we can seemingly believe that we have an unlimited food supply-- in reality, food costs DO increase and affect the lives of the vulnerable and sick, including those who have HIV in our own city and country.

    I left the conversation wondering if climate change was more pronounced in developing nations like Malawi- and those of us in America can continue to turn a "blind eye" because of our reliance on the industrial economy to produce goods for us. Victor had a clearly personal sense that the people of Malawi- and the world NOW must think of those who will come LATER. While many individualistic, "today" focused Americans would find this sort of reasoning uncompelling, it was clear that to him he felt a deep, moving sense of responsibility towards future generations who would inherit the world we had continued to mess up. It was clear he identified this as a mode of generational sin.

    When I asked him what he hoped for the church in America he said a couple of summary remarks that helped me to think about moving forward on climate change:

    1. The church in America must take stewardship of the earth seriously and recognize that the scriptures call us to care.

    2. The church in America must take responsibility to become a part of the solution to climate change and stop sitting idly by.

    3. The church in America just take action both locally and globally on the part of the world and especially vulnerable people whose lives will continue to be impacted in extreme ways by climate change.

  • This is Our Earth

    April 13,2012, 12:25 PM

    From the Salvation Army UK

  • New Wine

    April 12,2012, 11:07 AM

    by Mitch Hescox

    Luke 5:36-39 (NIV)

    He told them this parable: "No one tears a piece out of a new garment to patch an old one. Otherwise, they will have torn the new garment, and the patch from the new will not match the old. And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the new wine will burst the skins; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, new wine must be poured into new wineskins. And no one after drinking old wine wants the new, for they say, 'The old is better.'"

    photo by Ricardo Bernardo used via flickr creative commons
    photo by Ricardo Bernardo used via flickr creative commons

    Several years ago, Bill Easum wrote, Sacred Cows Make Gourmet Burgers. Bill's take: those already in the church like to control and operate in a way that is comfortable, stable, and fits nicely in their way of doing things. The book highlights the truth that every pastor or organizational leaders knows all too well: No one likes change. Our ease with current praxis aids our rationalization that what we are doing is correct, accurate, and in the case of the church, sacred. Simply, our love of routine and comfort deludes our quest for truth and ultimately our own openness to accountability or correction.

    Our way translates into the "right way" regardless of the changing culture, new revelations, or understandings that are more accurate. At the local church level, some may wonder why Grandma Sarah is no longer "good enough" to staff the nursery instead of a trained staff member, or even volunteer who undergoes background checks and proper security procedures. These new procedures are required in a world where even church leaders have failed our children.

    Far too often, we dream of the "good-old days" that nicely fit into our perception instead of reality, hence Jesus' comments.

    Jesus rocked the religious and cultural powers in his day. He didn't "fit" their various perceptions of Messiah or especially the Kingdom of God. This doesn't mean that their original precepts were wrong. As human history depicts so well, it's easy to transform our good intentions into idols.

    Our predisposition to "old wine" demonstrates why so many in the evangelical church openly resist many of the Christian social justice issues hotly debated in today's world. These issues become culture wars as they force us to consider how to press new wine versus the old vintage. The new wine presses us to reconsider our models, lifestyles, and understanding of the good news in Jesus, and perhaps nowhere is that more apparent than the reaction of some to climatechange.

    No one denies that cheap and abundant energy transformed the United States into a world power. Our inexpensive energy fueled a national sense of independence and self-reliance. Fossil fuels provided the individual freedom to get in our cars and go anywhere. The creation of the rural electric-cooperative powered even the most remote household with cheap electricity. These societal advancements quickly transformed from a blessings to idolatry. We became dependent on fossil fuel, and our energy addiction foils Christ's goal for the common good. As with all addictions, they transform into self-interest idolatry. Our self-interest for cheap energy fails to account for all costs, especially those dumped upon our neighbors.

    All over the world, our brothers and sisters in Christ cry, "Help!" As carbon pollution continues, food and water become more scarce, diseases spread, and millions are forced to flee as the temperatures increase, storms become more intense, oceans levels rise, and violence exacerbates. The Cape Town Commitment, produced through the Lausanne Movement (founded by Billy Graham and John Stott), provides a good place to start hearing their cries. Hundreds of thousands die each year because of climate change, millions upon millions suffer, and it will only get worse unless we transform. Simply put climate change is the great moral challenge of our generation; we will response or keep drinking the old wine?

    Just as the Pharisees and Sadducees in Jesus' day kept pouring the old wine, many today continue offering the same drink. As always, it's easier to remain the same than change. Is that faith? Please don't allow fear " fear of change, fear of science, fear of government, fear of anything to be your deciding factor. Instead, allow faith and hope to be your guide.

    I can't speak for each of you, but I choose the new wine. In this season of Easter encountering Jesus on my Emmaus Road remains my hope. If we allow ourselves to be transformed by Jesus, then live as good stewards, and care for "least of these," Jesus' will lead us to an abundant life for all creation. Let's not place our trust in "old wine" "it quickly sours, but eat the bread and drink the new wine, they are Christ's promises for abundant life.

  • New Obama Admin Carbon Regs and the Bigger Picture

    March 29,2012, 12:41 PM

    by Jim Ball

    On Wednesday the Obama Administration's Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed carbon pollution standards for new power plants.

    The U.S. needs to be doing much more than it currently is to overcome global warming and protect the poor from its impacts. The Obama Administration's regulation is an important step along this road, given that this is the first time carbon from power plants will be regulated.

    The Obama Administration was required to act because of the failure of Congress to do so. Comprehensive climate legislation with a market-based approach to pricing greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide is still the better option. But until Congress acts, the Obama Administration must keep our country moving forward on overcoming climate change.

    The next regulatory step will be to require existing coal-burning plants to reduce their carbon pollution. We hope that before such regulations need to be issued Congress will pass comprehensive climate legislation that not only puts a price on carbon, but also helps to fund long-term climate-friendly R&D, has specially designed programs to incentivize climate-friendly activities in forestry and agriculture, and creates and funds comprehensive adaptation programs for both the U.S. and poor countries.

    Before such legislation can be passed, President Obama himself must explain to the country that overcoming climate change is vital for our nation's health and well-being. He must let the country know that it will be a top priority if he is honored with a second term. Defending this particular regulation of new power plants provides him the perfect opportunity to do so.

    The Rev. Jim Ball, Ph.D., is Executive Vice President at EEN and author of Global Warming and the Risen LORD.

  • POTUS Can't Remain Silent on Climate

    March 29,2012, 05:27 AM

    by Jim Ball

    President Obama is in the midst of a speaking tour on energy, prodded in large measure by spiking gas prices and dropping approval ratings as many assume the President can do more, but isn't for some reason. The President is trying to convince folks that while he can't really do anything about short-term gas prices -- which is true -- he's got a good handle on the long term. This includes policies to increase fuel economy, thereby saving folks money at the pump, and pursuing an "all-of-the-above," "American-made" energy production strategy. An important part of this "all-of-the-above" approach is alternative or clean energy sources like wind, solar and biomass.

    Funny thing is, increasing fuel economy and clean energy is great for climate change, but the President doesn't mention it. You'd think talking about such policies would lead right into the President saying what he's doing about the greatest moral challenge of our time. But it doesn't.

    Just the other day on Mar. 16 the President was giving a talk in Atlanta with Oprah Winfrey in attendance. Here's the official transcript:

        The President: I was back home in Chicago; came down to Atlanta. It's warm every place. It gets you a little nervous about what's happening to global temperatures, but when it's 75 degrees in Chicago in the beginning of March, you start thinking --

        Audience Member [Oprah]: Something is wrong.

        The President: Yes. On the other hand, really have enjoyed the nice weather. (Laughter.)

    So at this campaign event the most admired woman in America provides the President with the perfect opportunity to say what his administration is doing about climate change, to say that it's going to be a top priority in his next administration. Instead, he makes a joke and moves on.

    Gallows humor? Hey, I take a stab at gallows humor myself from time to time. It can provide a good release.

    But when it's used to duck the greatest moral challenge of our time? Not good.

    I'm sure there are short-term political arguments for why the President is avoiding talking about climate change.

    Right now Republicans like Karl Rove are running ads attacking him on gas prices, and coal is vital to the economies of key presidential battleground states like Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia. Any one of these states could end up determining who inhabits the White House in the next Presidential term.

    But for the good of the country and the world the President must not remain silent. Here are a couple of reasons why.

    First, according to the International Energy Agency, which advises the G8 on climate and energy matters, global emissions must peak during the next Presidential term to avoid what all nations, including the U.S., have agreed is a temperature threshold that should not be crossed.

    Second, to achieve this we can't just have a gradual transition away from harmful climate practices, we can't just concentrate on reducing global warming pollution from a couple of sectors. We need to have a society-wide revolution kick-started by comprehensive climate legislation that puts a price on carbon.

    Third, the country won't pass such legislation unless whoever is President leads the way.

    Here's what I'd like to see. Three weeks after taking office the newly elected (if it's the Republican) or re-elected President addresses a joint session of Congress and say the following: "The time for study alone has passed, and the time for action is now." He'd do so after having campaigned on a pledge to make climate change a top priority. Five months after addressing Congress his administration would have introduced major legislation. The President himself would put the full weight and prestige of his office behind it, and would work hard for its passage. When pushed the President would choose the strongest emission reduction option. And before the end of his first year in office he would sign it into law.

    A fantasy you say? Not really. It's history, actually, the history of the 1990 Clean Air Act championed by the elder President Bush (as recounted in a recent Forbes article). And it wouldn't have happened without strong Presidential leadership from someone who ran on making it a top priority.

    Social scientist Robert Brulle and his colleagues show that public concern for climate change goes up when senior political leaders talk about the need for action. It goes down when they don't, or when they speak against action. In addition, their study found that the level of public concern also tracked with the amount of media coverage there was, which itself was driven to a large extent by what political leaders were saying.

    In an interview Brulle got right to the point: "The fact that Obama isn't talking about the issue or even using the word matters very much."

    Here's the bottom line. The nature of this challenge, both the threat itself and the public support for action, demands Presidential leadership. He can't be the Facilitator-in-Chief on this one. He has to be the Leader-in-Chief. He can't lay back and wait for support to materialize. He must help create it.

    Politics is indeed the art of the possible. But in the case of overcoming global warming we need the President to help make it possible. No joke.

    (Originally posted at the Huffington Post).

    The Rev. Jim Ball, Ph.D., is Executive Vice President at EEN and author of Global Warming and the Risen LORD.

  • Climate Change: Theology For Easter

    March 20,2012, 15:29 PM

    by Mitch Hescox

    Climate Change makes bad things worse. It intensifies natural processes, making natural events unnatural or extreme. Climate Change hits the most vulnerable the hardest.

    Climate Change Vulnerability Index 2012

    The darker the color on the map indicates greater difficulty in scrapping out life. 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 things get that much harder. These impacts are not some future event, they are happening now!

    Around the world, evangelical Christians are crying out for our help and praying that there would be an awakening from us, their American brothers and sisters. The Cape Town Commitment  issued by the Lausanne Movement (founded by Billy Graham and John Stott) recognizes the need for climate change action; as does Micah Challenge. Despite clear calls to understand the impacts of climate change on the body of Christ, do we have ears to hear? Will we simply stay deaf and continue to listen to our favorite political pundits or resist action based on our own selfish desires? It's time for us to stop playing the historical Nero while Rome burns and wash our hearts from sin as Scripture says:

    Isaiah 1:16-17 (NIV)

    Wash and make yourselves clean.
    Take your evil deeds out of my sight;
    stop doing wrong.
    Learn to do right; seek justice.
    Defend the oppressed.
    Take up the cause of the fatherless;
    plead the case of the widow.

    Hundreds of thousands die, millions forced to flee their homelands as food and water scarcity force them to leave. In much of today's world these threats are multiplied by a changing climate. It's time to listen to those being threatened and to the scientists who confirm the threats. The vast majority of climate scientists, over 97%, agree that climate change is real and results from our poor creation care.

    Consider your reaction if during a visit to your family physician, your doctor recommended an appointment with a cardiologist. After completing a stress test and other assorted procedures, the cardiologist strongly recommended by-pass surgery. Unsure of what to believe you ask for a second, third, and even a tenth opinion. If after all the examinations, nine of the ten cardiologists recommended surgery and even the tenth said there was a problem but unsure of the next step, the vast majority would immediately schedule the surgery. The earth's specialists, climate scientists are recommending actions, and our response must be to follow the Biblical imperative and get back to our role as stewards.

    The Biblical Mandate For Creation Care

    Genesis 1:28-30 (NIV)

    God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground." Then God said, "I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground"everything that has the breath of life in it"I give every green plant for food." And it was so. God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning"the sixth day.

    God's creation, as originally created, was indeed very good. One look at the Bible reveals the design cast by the ruach roaming above the primeval earth. Sustainable life for all creation in relationship with the Creator flows from the Genesis' beginnings. The spoken word provided holistic life for each member of creation. Order existed. Life thrived, and all was good. Competition for food and other resources never occurred as God provided all means for abundant life and clearly, the patristic Church leaders understood the message of a good creation:

    Yet is was not because of its utility to him that he produced anything that exists, since being self-sufficient he is in need of nothing. It was rather out
    of his loving kindness and goodness the he created everything; accordingly he
    created things in sequence and provided us with a clear instruction about created
    things through the tongue of the blessed author, so that we might learn about
    them precisely and not fall into the error of those led by purely human reasoning. [1]

    God created the perfect place. Sometimes one catches brief glimpses of Eden in the world today. Perhaps in a beautiful sunset or a mountain stream, a baby's cry, or even the meter of a wonderful poem. Gerard Manley Hopkins, a 19th century English Catholic priest captures both the goodness and after humanity's fall, the ugly:

    God's Grandeur

    by Gerard Manley Hopkins (1877)

    THE WORLD is charged with the grandeur of God.
    It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
    It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
    Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
    Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
    And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
    And wears man's smudge and shares man's smell: the soil
    Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.

    And for all this, nature is never spent;
    There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
    And though the last lights off the black West went
    Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs"
    Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
    World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

    Unfortunately, many in the Church read the Bible from our fallen condition instead of the new creation offered in and through Christ. For by reading in our sinful state, we misread the text and examine it through our eyes instead of God's. One of the most widely misunderstood verses in the Bible is printed above, Genesis 1:28. Whether we use subdue, dominate, rule, or any of a host of English words, it conjures mental images of the right to do as we please without regard. Yes, the Church has made a mistake in teaching some variation of this for much of its first two millennia. These are the same mistakes and rationalizations made regarding slavery or even the feudal system. Far too often, we examine Holy Scripture looking up through our sin instead of down through God's grace.

    Just as we are called to love our neighbor, not subjugate him or her, the same applies to creation we may not simply do as we please. Genesis 2:15 instructs humanity to tend and care for God's garden, and Psalm 24:1-2 declares that the earth and everything in it belongs to God. How in God's Kingdom did we ever assume that the earth was to be trashed or misused in anyway? Genesis reports just the opposite. The earth supplies the necessities for biological life; God designed creation for exactly that purpose. For life to prosper, humans are to enable the garden to flourish. God created and was the first gardener. We have been clearly given the responsibility, as created in God's image, to reflect his image, God's presence, by caring for creation.[2]

    The sad reality since Genesis Chapter 3 is that our stewardship reflects our fallen condition. Upon a close reading of Genesis 3, we understand that original sin was the temptation to be god-like, to be in control. Looking back at human history our principal failing always seems to be the desire to be in charge combined with the inability to live within God given limits. The Genesis narrative describes a universal order with God as the loving/very good creator, humans cast in his image as partners in maintaining creation, and all creation living in a sustainable relationship. However, our sin (our desire to be in control) broke the order, attempted to by-pass the limits, and the injured the relationship leading to a broken and unsustainable world. Each time we use more than we need or consume greater than our share we perpetuate our sin, support our vanity, and continue disregarding God's limits distorting the creation and impacting all. Scripture puts it this way.

    Isaiah 24:4-6 (NIV)

    The earth dries up and withers,
    the world languishes and withers,
    the exalted of the earth languish.
    The earth is defiled by its people;
    they have disobeyed the laws,
    violated the statutes
    and broken the everlasting covenant.
    Therefore a curse consumes the earth;
    its people must bear their guilt.
    Therefore earth's inhabitants are burned up,
    and very few are left.

    Throughout the Old Testament, God defines and provides deliberate instructions in tending the earth. There are strict ordinances regarding farming, animal husbandry, and land use in general. These conditions define the parameters for living in relationship with God, people, and the earth in integrated approach to life. Perhaps no theologian has stated this better than John Calvin:

    "Under its inhabitants. Whether תהת (tăhăth) be translated "Under its inhabitants," or, "On accountof its inhabitants," is oflittle importance. There is a kind ofmutual bargain between the land and the husbandmen, that it gives back with usury what it hasreceived: if it does not, it deceives those who cultivate it. But he assigns a reason, imputing blame tothem, that they render it barren by their wickedness. It is owing to our fault that it does notnourish us or bring forth fruit, as God appointed to be done by the regularorder of nature; for he wished that it should hold the place of a mother to us,to supply us with food; and if it change its nature and order, or lose itsfertility, we ought to attribute it to our sins, since we ourselves havereversed the order which God had appointed; otherwise the earth would neverdeceive us, but would perform her duty.[3]

    Creation subject to humanity's sin suffers. Disregarding God's instructions to tend and care the earth results in the earth's failure to provide the necessities for sustaining life. The consequences of our poor stewardship and the selfish desire to over consume utterly disregard the natural order. Our disposable and carbon based energy overindulgence in the words of Scriptures, "consumes the earth." This is just not a matter of creation care but of people care. The interdependent relationship between the earth, God's people, and all creation, bound together since the beginning is failing because of humanity's inability to follow God's covenant.

    With no desire to read into the text, it is interesting that Isaiah declared, "Earth's inhabitants are burned up." The 2011 became the 35th consecutive year that annual world-wide temperatures were higher than average and the 11th warmest since in recorded records. While one season does not prove or disprove climate change, the eastern United States experienced a mild weather and very early 2012 spring at the same time the Western US experiences a massive snowfall. The extremes at work.

    Over the past hundred years, we have seen the earth's temperature rise significantly and at unprecedented rates. The NASA supplied graph clearly demonstrates the steeply increased temperature. The combination of the increased temperature and sharp rate are unnatural and against the design of creation. The increasing temperature effect more than the earth. They change God's design and impact people; especially the developing world's poor as cited earlier. Climate change, for evangelical Christians, presents a double Biblical imperative as we are called to tend creation and for the poor.

    Among evangelicals, no one would disagree with the calling to follow the great commission:

    Matthew 28:16-20 (NIV)

    Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.

    Unfortunately, we have tended to focus on having a personal relationship with Christ as the final act of Christianity instead of a new beginning. Holy Scripture clearly describes a Holy Spirit transformation that moves humanity from our fallen human nature into the Imago Dei (Image of God). In the Great Commission Jesus instructs us not to produce converts but offer discipleship and obey the very commandments of Christ. Jesus' commands are not about escaping the very good creation that God ordered, but redeeming the world by acting as God agents reflecting his image into the fallen world.

    Too often, we miss the call to discipleship by placing our belief solely on the cross instead of faith in both the cross and resurrection. The cross, thanks to Jesus' sacrifice, atones for our fallen nature and provides the opportunity to a new and transformed life. Easter and the resurrection are the opportunity to encounter the risen Lord, be changed into his image, and complete all creation's redemption. Many scholars agree in the significance of the resurrection occurring in the garden. The garden image draws us back to Eden. In Eden the creation was declared very good and with Jesus' resurrection, the entire creation now has the opportunity to return to that original condition, if humanity accepts God's restoration to the Imago Dei as originally intended. Redeemed and transformed humanity first instruction in the new Eden (as in the old) is to tend and care for creation. Our divine imperative for creation care becomes foundational in sustainable life for all creation.

    We know that complete redemption only will occur upon Christ's return. However while we wait, we are called do accomplish Jesus' mission and Biblically to do greater works than Christ. Accomplishing our ministry becomes possible only through reflecting God image into the world. We are not attempting to earn our salvation, but to live life in Christ as a response to our redemption. It is beyond the scope of this paper to discuss every aspect of Christ's mission. The vast majority of Biblical scholars would agree that we have a mandate for ministry with and for the world's poor. The Bible is quite clear on this perquisite, and Jesus defined his ministry (and thus ours) succulently in Luke:

    Luke 4:16-20 (NIV)

    He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath
    day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. And he stood up to read.
    The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he
    found the place where it is written:
    "The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
    because he has anointed me
    to preach good news to the poor.
    He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
    and recovery of sight for the blind,
    to release the oppressed,
    to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."
    Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down.
    The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him,

    Jesus also instructs our behavior towards others represent our actions to him.

    Matthew 25: 31-40 (NIV)

     "When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him,
    he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered
    before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd
    separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right
    and the goats on his left. "Then the King will say to those on his right,
    'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance,
    the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.
    For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty
    and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in,
    I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me,
    I was in prison and you came to visit me.' "Then the righteous will answer him,
    'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you
    something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in,
    or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in
    prison and go to visit you?' "The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever
    you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'

    Then the apostle Jamesdefines a key aspect of discipleship.

    James 2:14-17 (NIV)

    What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

    The above Scripture speaks for itself for those who are open to hear the message. Christian disciples seek obedience to the Bible but even more importantly to Christ. Faith expressed without concern for creation and especially the impact of climate change on the poor is no faith. Ted Jennings states discipleship as a call to mission and ministry in love:

    Understood in this way faith in Christ will be expressed as faithfulness to his
    Mission and ministry, loyalty to him and to the project of announcing and actualizing
    the Reign of God as the reign of justice and generosity and joy. In this way
    we may succeed in making clear how it is that the sheer unmerited favor of God
    in Christ that befriends the outcasts of religious, economic, and political society awakens the astonished and glad response of joy and gratitude among these so as to engender a glad response of joyful loyalty to the love that befriended us. [4]

    The negative writing and press against climate change and its impacts on the poor stress fear, sacrifice, and hurtful economic impacts in the United States. In very real ways, they are the same arguments used against abolitionism in the eighteen and nineteenth centuries. The evangelical Church and some of its greatest leaders like John Wesley, Wilbur Wilberforce, Charles Finney, and Luther Lee, renounced the fear and replaced it with optimism. Living as Christ's disciple is good news and not bad, caring for our brothers and sisters, God's fellow children results in joy, not despair. As discussed earlier, when we examine scripture, we must read down through grace and not though our sin. Fear and pessimism are not of the Lord. Joy and opportunity are.

    The climate change challenge should awaken the Church to place its hope not on what we can purchase, consume, or even our lifestyle. This is an opportunity for living life by the Spirit and gaining the Spirit's fruits, the Apostle Paul describes in Galatians:

    Galatians 5:16-26 (NIV)

    So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.
    For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit
    what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other,
    so that you do not do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit,
    you are not under law. The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.

    We have a fresh and new opportunity for renewing our life in Christ, to die to the old and co-create a sustainable creation that God spoke into being. Jesus rose and goes forward creating a new world, asking us to join with him. What greater love is possible than to be doing Jesus' ministry for him and through him. Creation Care, including climate change, is not about doing without. It's about doing for Christ, and as such offers us the Spirit's fruit the Apostle Paul describes above. The love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control result by being Christ for this world, acting as creation stewards. The world is not so patiently awaiting the church to be the church.Some of the least reached people groups in the world suffer the most from climate change. Knowing that the Church cares would offer new opportunities in evangelism, and be similar to the missionaries of old who came with the good news along with hospitals, food, and schools.

    Even more than the poor, Jesus awaits us to be disciples. The Book of Acts opens with the disciples staring off into the heavens awaiting the Christ's return. Two angels look down despairingly and ask, "What are you waiting for " go be Jesus for the world." It's time for the church for be the Church and live out the double Biblical imperative to care for God's creation and the least of these. How will we answer the call?

    This Easter may the Church arise and follow our Risen Lord.

    The Rev. Mitchel C. Hescox is President & CEO of the Evangelical Environmental Network

    ___________

    [1] Louth, Andrew, ed., Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, Vol. 1, Genesis 1-11, Inter Varsity Press, Downers Grove, IL, 2001. John Chrysostom, Homilies on Genesis 3:12, pg. 45

    [2] Wright, N. T., After You Believe: Why Christian Character Matters, Harper One, NY, NY, 2010, pg 74-75.

    [3] Calvin, John, Commentary on the Prophet Isaiah, second volume, Christian Classics Ethereal Library, Grand Rapids, MI, http://www.ccel.org

    [4] Jennings, Theodore W., Wesley and the Poor: An Agenda for Wesleyans, The Portion of The Poor: Good News to the Poor in the Wesleyan Tradition, Kingwoods Books, Nashville, TN, 1995, pg. 31.


  • A Changing Climate Takes a Toll on the Most Vulnerable Around the World

    March 07,2012, 09:57 AM

    By Helen Heather

    'The earth is the Lord's, and everything in it' (Psalm 24:1) and he created us to live in it, to be amazed by it and to glorify him through caring for the people has put on it.

    But with increasing signs of environmental destruction, not least through climate change, it's clear that we have often failed to look after God's creation - and the effects of this are hitting poor people. Very hard.

    The devastating floods in Pakistan, and Russia's worst drought in decades over the past couple of years, remind us that the climate is changing " resulting in more extreme and unpredictable weather, floods and droughts, leading to an increase in disasters. The nature of the climate change means we can never directly attribute extreme events like those in Pakistan and Russia to climate change. But we know they are symptomatic of the problem.

    And as the impacts of a changing climate take their toll it's our poorest and most vulnerable neighbours across the world who are suffering the most. They're dependent on the land for food, their homes are often more fragile in marginal areas and they lack resources and insurance to recover from disaster. This can push them further into poverty resulting in:

    • More precarious farming and failed harvests: 'It's getting harder to get a good harvest " I now grow half of what I used to,' says Emmanuel Niampa from Ouindigi in Burkina Faso
    • Lost homes: 'In the past 15 years we've seen much heavier rain" Our houses are made of mud so we have a problem when the rains come,' says Laxman Rishi Dev from Ranjung-Belgachhia in Nepal)
    • Having to find alternative income and food: 'It's hard to view farming as dependable, because of the changing climate it's not sustainable,' says Andrew Maglasey from Fombe Village in Malawi

    Across the world, churches are helping to bring hope in the face of climate change " answering God's call to love our neighbours (and be good stewards of his creation). Homes are being rebuilt, tree planting and flood defences are protecting land from floods and drought-resistant seeds are bringing more reliable harvests.

    The church is in these places " and can play a key part in transforming the situation. Changing our own lives to live more in step with creation, remembering, as the psalmist says, it's created by and for God and God's people depend on it. We must convince our friends, our churches and our government to love our neighbours and the world that God created by acting upon this injustice and praying for God's power to change the hearts and minds of us all.

    Helen Heather is the Climate Change Campaigns Officer for Tearfund, a Christian international aid and development agency based in the UK working globally to end poverty and injustice, and to restore dignity and hope in some of the world's poorest communities.

  • Attacking Climate Heroes Needs to Stop, and We All Need to Pray

    February 07,2012, 10:28 AM

    by Jim Ball

    Katharine Hayhoe is one terrific Christian. She's a climate scientist who's devoting her life to understanding how climate change will impact human beings and how we can begin to prepare or adapt to such changes. In this way she's like the Patriarch Joseph in the book of Genesis, who helped Egypt prepare for hard times to come.

    She also takes time out of her busy life of being a wife, mom, and professor to speak to church groups and other similar settings and patiently teach folks about global warming. She and her husband, a pastor, also took the time to write a book to help Christians accept the truth about climate change called A Climate for Change: Global Warming Facts for Faith-Based Decisions.

    She's a climate hero and a faithful Christian.

    I recently had the privilege of interviewing her at a conference we were attending. I encourage you to watch the video here to see for yourself what a great person she is.

    But right now she's being treated in a manner that is downright shameful -- and even worse, dangerous. It's well past time for her attackers to stop, and to repent from what they have done.

    One strategy of hard-core climate deniers has been to intimidate individual scientists by attacking them in public. Their goal is to shut them up and make an example of them so that others won't want to work in the area of climate change.

    Katharine is continuing to speak the truth about our need to overcome global warming even in the midst of such attacks, which have recently become voluminous, relentless, hateful, vile, and even dangerous. Some have gone so far as to suggest bodily harm and have mentioned Katharine's child. (Go here only if you want to see a sampling of such emails. The purpose of doing so is not to be salacious, but only to glimpse what our sister in Christ has been dealing with.)

    Katharine has been intentionally targeted for such attacks precisely because she is an evangelical speaking to evangelicals and other similar audiences considered to be the purview of the deniers. She's a threat to them and they are lashing out. Unfortunately, some of these folks are Christians and are behaving in a very unchristian manner.

    I'm not going to name the one person who is probably the most responsible for these terrible attacks on Katharine, the one who has continually published Katharine's email address. I will not do to him what he has done to our sister in Christ. But I want you to be aware that there is such a person.

    I've written this blog with one hope -- that people will pray that such attacks will stop. I'm asking you to:

    1. Pray for Katharine, her husband Andrew, and their child. Pray for their safety and wellbeing. Pray for her climate change teaching ministry.

    2. Pray for all the other scientists who are being attacked for teaching the truth about the need to overcome global warming.

    3. Pray for those who have sent these terrible emails, or for those thinking of doing so, that God will fill their hearts with His love and they will repent from such deeds.

    4. Pray for the one most responsible for Katharine's plight, the one that has published her email address, that he too will be filled with God's love so that he repents and asks forgiveness of Katharine and others he has helped to cause harm.

    5. Pray for ourselves, that we might not fall into temptation.

    6. Pray for our country, that we might have civil, respectful discourse on topics where we disagree.

    7. Share this blog with others, and ask them to pray these things.

    Finally, let us be encouraged by 1 Peter 4:

    Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins ... if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name (v. 8, 16, NIV).

    Amen!

    The Rev. Jim Ball, Ph.D., is Executive Vice President at EEN and author of Global Warming and the Risen LORD.

  • Visualization Shows Changes in God's Creation since 1880

    January 31,2012, 11:33 AM

    NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) released a new study tracking changes in temperature from 1880

    In the animation of (below) temperature data from 1880-2011, reds indicate temperatures higher than the average during a baseline period of 1951-1980, while blues indicate lower temperatures than the baseline average.

    (Data source: NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies. Visualization credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio)

  • Climate Coverage Falls Precipitously, But Belief in Global Warming Rises

    January 06,2012, 16:18 PM

    by Jim Ball

    Recent articles by Climate Wire and Daily Climate showed that media coverage of climate change was at a low ebb in 2011 even as belief in global warming by the public increased. This dip in coverage occurred despite the facts that we had record-breaking drought and other extreme weather events across the country, and a Presidential primary season marked by continual reports of climate denial or climate back-tracking by Republican candidates.

    In other words, climate coverage didn't match newsworthy climate-related events -- but the public could be making the connections despite the lack of coverage.

    From the ClimateWire and Daily Climate stories (and the reports they cite), here are some facts on the dearth of coverage:

    • There were 20 percent fewer stories in 2011 compared to 2010, and 42 percent fewer than in 2009 (the peak).
    • There were also 20 percent fewer reporters on the beat, and 20 percent fewer outlets publishing stories.
    • Less than half the number of editorials by newspapers (589) were published in 2011 compared to 2009 (1,229).
    • The three nightly newscasts only had a measly 14 stories in 2011 (compared to 32 in 2010 and the peak of 147 in 2007).

    Despite this, a recent poll found that belief in global warming had gone up in 2011 compared to 2010, 63 percent compared to 57 percent. Part of the reason may be because more people are starting to connect global warming to changes they are seeing in the climate. The poll found that 65 percent believe that global warming is affecting the weather, and a majority believes this about many of the extreme weather events of 2011. A Rasmussen poll conducted Jan 3-4, 2012, found similar results, with 64% believing that climate change is a serious concern.

    So what's up with the media? Are they scared to talk about global warming? Have they been successfully bullied by the deniers into failing to tell the truth to the public?

    The Rev. Jim Ball, Ph.D., is Executive Vice President at EEN and author of Global Warming and the Risen LORD.

  • Durban Climate Talks Mark Significant Progress

    December 14,2011, 15:09 PM

    by Jim Ball

    The international climate talks that recently wrapped up in Durban, South Africa, could prove to be an historic turning point in the international community's efforts to overcome global warming. While the urgency for overcoming global warming has never been greater, it was actually helpful that expectations for this meeting were quite low.

    Durban achieved significant progress in helping the world to address both the causes and consequences of global warming.

    What was the potentially historic progress that Durban achieved? Its greatest breakthrough came in the area of overcoming the causes (also known as mitigation).

    In a brief document approved at these negotiations, called the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action, all countries agreed

    "to launch a process to develop a protocol, another legal instrument or an agreed outcome with legal force under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change applicable to all Parties".

    Now some of you could be wondering, "They agreed to launch a process to develop ... something ... a something that sounds like legal hairsplitting. Gee, that sounds underwhelming."

    Understandable.

    Agreeing to a process to create what sounds like legal mumbo jumbo doesn't sound like much. But it's actually a significant accomplishment in a process that must come to fruition if it is ultimately to be meaningful.

    Some quick background.

    For the United States government, by necessity these international climate negotiations have been guided by two basic facts that lead to the same conclusion. The first is a political fact, the second a substantive one.

    The political fact is this: the Senate would never ratify a climate treaty that didn't include China and India having the same types of commitments as the U.S. If the U.S. was to have legally binding caps on emissions, then China and India would also have to have such restraints. Any agreement must clear this hurdle. One without it, like the Kyoto Protocol, is a total nonstarter.

    Here's the substantive fact: today China and India are the world's first and third largest emitters of global warming pollution. As I noted in an earlier blog, worldwide energy consumption is projected to grow by over 30% by 2035, and 50% of this will come from China and India -- much of it produced by coal if things continue along their present path.

    Thus, both politically and substantively China and India must take on the same types of commitments as developed countries like the U.S. if the world is to have a shot at overcoming global warming. (To be clear, the same type doesn't mean the same level of commitment of emissions reductions, something that will comprise very hard negotiating as the final deal is reached.)

    Movement had to come from China and India -- and at Durban it did. These words are the kicker:

    "an agreed outcome with legal force ... applicable to all Parties."

    For the first time the world's top three global warming polluters, China, the U.S., and India, agreed to work towards a legally-binding agreement to reduce the world's emissions.

    What created the Durban breakthrough was three things:

    1. The willingness of the European countries as represented by the European Union (EU) to meet a major demand of the developing countries that the Kyoto Protocol and its emissions reductions and other programs be continued for another term.

    2. The willingness of other developing countries who will be impacted most severely by global warming to challenge China and India to step up and accept binding commitments.

    3. The U.S. holding firm to the goal of having all major emitters be subject to the same types of requirements.

    This troika-of-the-moment led China and India to agree to a process whereby all countries will take on legal requirements. This treaty/protocol/instrument is to be negotiated by 2015 and come into force by 2020.

    When combined with continued progress on the political commitments made in the last two international climate negotiations in Copenhagen and Cancun, this gives the world a shot at overcoming the causes of global warming.

    Credit should be given where credit is due.

    Perhaps no one person had more to do with Durban's success than the EU's representative, Connie Hedegaard.

    EU Commissioner for Climate Action, Connie Hedegaard
    EU Commissioner for Climate Action, Connie Hedegaard

    According to various accounts, she helped bring together the EU, small island states, and least developed countries to forge an alliance that put China and India in a position where they needed to make a deal.

    The representatives from small island states and least developed countries (e.g. Grenada) that pressured the emerging economies of China and India also deserve praise. This was the first time that countries within those designated as "developing countries" challenged the major players in this bloc.

    Finally, the U.S. negotiating team, headed up by Todd Stern and Jonathan Pershing, are to be commended for holding firm to the goal of having all major emitters be subject to the same types of requirements. This was always the only way forward, and is now what everyone has agreed to work towards.

    As for overcoming the consequences through adaptation, some progress was made with the approval of the Green Climate Fund's organizational structure. This entity will be established this coming spring. However, there was no agreement on how it will be funded as part of the fulfillment of the $100 billion pledge made by the rich countries in Copenhagen. In terms of funding the Green Climate Fund as well as bi-lateral efforts to help poor countries adapt, the US needs to play a much more substantive role in the future.

    Clearly there is a tremendous amount of work left to be done. But internationally we now have a path forward with the Durban Platform and the Green Climate Fund that gives the world a fighting chance. Whether we will take that path remains to be seen.

    Finally, none of this will have any meaning if the U.S. doesn't get its act together and pass major domestic legislation in the next several years. The world needs us to lead the way in creating the clean energy revolution and in helping the poor in poor countries adapt to the impacts of climate change.

    Put together, all of this means that the 2012 election is the most important U.S. election there will ever be when it comes to overcoming global warming. Without strong leadership from the next President, I don't see how we will get there. Thus, we need presidential candidates to affirm that overcoming global warming will be a top priority in the next Administration.

    The Rev. Jim Ball, Ph.D., is Executive Vice President of EEN for Public Policy and Climate Change and author of Global Warming and the Risen LORD.

  • National Association of Evangelicals Releases Climate and the Poor Study Paper

    December 14,2011, 12:31 PM

    by Mitch Hescox

    On Tuesday, December 13, 2011, The National Associationof Evangelicals released its study paper on climate change and the poor.  Loving the Least of These isn't a policy report or even a position paper, but a study document offered as a conversation starter on climate change's impacts on the least of these around the world.

    The document authored by Dr. Dorothy Boorse of Gordon College takes climate change from partisan politics and places it squarely where the discussion belongs, Christian discipleship. Climate change isn't about politics or even good science; it's about people, people in the United States and around the world already suffering from our changing climate. Hopefully, the NAE's publication sparks a meaningful dialogue that is free of sound bites. Loving the Least of These portrays the impacts of real people, our Christian brothers and sisters who suffer now as climate change further degrades their lives.

    I had a God moment on my way to the study's release. I live in Pennsylvania, and on my way to catch the train to Washington, DC I realized I left my reading glasses on the kitchen table. The train was already pulling away from the station so I had no time to buy new glasses. I stored away my iphone, and resigned myself to fifty minutes of doing nothing instead of reading and replying to the usua lmultitude of morning emails. So instead of busy work, I closed my eyes and prayed. Suddenly, in what, I believe, was pure inspiration, the old hymn, We've A Story to Tell to the Nations, kept filling my thoughts.

    We've a story to tell to the nations,
    That shall turn their hearts to the right,
    A story of truth and mercy,
    A story of peace and light,
    A story of peace and light.

    Refrain
    For the darkness shall turn to dawning,
    And the dawning to noonday bright;
    And Christ's great kingdom shall come on earth,
    The kingdom of love and light.

    Today, while the evangelical church declines in the United States and western world, the 2/3 world represents a great explosion in Christianity continues. Just as Orlando Costas prophesied almost thirty years ago in Christ Outside the Gate, the 2/3 world will teach us about evangelismand. It will also teach us climate change. That's exactly what Loving the Least of These does. By telling the stories of those already impacted, the effects of climate change become real. It's not some political debate, it's real lives being impacted every day. Some studies report that climate will take as many as 300,000 lives this year alone.

    It's the same story that evangelicals from Micah Challenge have been telling for years and the Lausanne Movement's Cape Town Commitment shared earlier this year. The story that our Christian brothers and sisters are sharing from around the world is simple" climate change is real and we are affected. Please help us. For more on what evangelical leaders are asking, please watch the video interviews from two African pastors who travelled to the US in Novembe. Here's the video of both of them in front of the U.S. Capitol, one of Rev. Moses Mwale giving an interview of Jim Ball, and one of Rev. Osborne Joda-Mbewa giving an interview with Jim.

    Loving the Least of These isn't the final word on understanding climate change's impacts, however it's a good beginning. Use it as a study guide for your local church, a small group, or read it for yourself. Then continue your study with EEN's Bible study "Why Christians Should Care About God's Creation" written by Ed Brown, then for the seminal work on Christian discipleship and climate change move to our Jim Ball's Global Warming and The Risen Lord.

    Two years ago, Deborah Fikes from the World Evangelical Alliance spoke in Washington, DC and stated:

    The crisis of climate change does not allow evangelicals a non-participatory rolebecause of its impacton our work of promoting peace and helping the poor. Unlikehere in the U.S., there is little controversy about climate change among our alliance members.

    They know that it is real and they are grieved as they interpret that their brothers and sisters in Christ, in the U.S. are self-absorbed and lack the spiritual will toconsider altering our lifestyles to help solve a problem that is life threatening to them and willplace billions at increased for violent conflicts.

    The way for all God's children to have an abundant life calls us to hear the story from the nations of the world. NAE's Loving the Least of These makes a good start. Let's not deny the realities that face God's creation and truly understand that creation care is a matter of life.

    The Rev. Mitchell C. Hescox is President/C.E.O. of The Evangelical Environmental Network
  • Freedom, Fairness, and the Future

    December 06,2011, 13:16 PM

    [Friends: I delivered these remarks at the launch of the Climate Ethics Campaign on Capitol Hill in DC on Nov. 30, 2011 -- Jim Ball.]

    Our country has always been about creating a better future, because we are a nation of immigrants. Our forbearers came here to create a better future for themselves and their children, and of course this is still happening. That's why the Statue of Liberty perhaps best embodies who we are as a nation: a beacon of liberty proclaiming to the world that here is a country where you have the freedom to create a better life.

    We are a freedom-loving people because we know that to create a better future you must have the freedom to do so. The two great wars fought on American soil, the American Revolution and the Civil War, were fought for freedom. We are the beneficiaries of the blood of patriots who gave their lives on the altar of freedom.

    Because we Americans have believed throughout our history -- and still want to believe -- that the future can be better, we also have a strong belief in fairness. For individuals to be able to create a better future, things need to be fair. Everybody needs a fair shake.

    For the poor in developing countries today, the tyranny ofglobal warming is the equivalent of what sparked our American Revolution, taxation without representation. Through a process in which they have no say, by decisions made by those far, far away, are profound limitations placed upon their freedom to create a better life for themselves and their loved ones. It isn't fair.

    For freedom-loving, fair-minded people like us, global warming is a worldwide scourge, similar to how communism was in the twentieth century. Global warming is a freedom denier, a freedom destroyer, not only in terms of denying opportunities for individuals, but potentially for the cause of freedom in entire countries.

    The creators of the movie Planet of the Apes produced one of the greatest endings in movie history. Charlton Heston's character, Taylor, rides along the beach until he comes to what's left of the Statue of Liberty, one of our greatest symbols of freedom. "Damn you all to hell," he says of those who blew up the Earth with nuclear weapons. But, guess what, we're still here. We didn't blow ourselves up.

    While we still have time to overcome global warming, we are quickly running out of time. Let's work together to create a better future for present and future generations. It's time to be great again by overcoming global warming. America can rise to this challenge, because that's who we are: fair-minded, freedom-loving people who live to create a brighter future.

    The Rev. Jim Ball, Ph.D., is Executive Vice President for EEN and author of Global Warming and the Risen LORD.

  • Major Report Says We Are Almost Out of Time to Overcome Global Warming

    November 17,2011, 15:14 PM

    by Jim Ball

    The International Energy Agency (IEA), which advises the G20 on energy matters, recently released their annual report on energy consumption and their forecast for where things are heading over the next 25 years -- including the possibility of overcoming global warming.

    In their World Energy Outlook 2011 the IEA projects that energy demand will grow 40% by 2035. To meet this demand, the world will need to spend about $1.5 trillion. What we spend it on will determine whether we overcome global warming or not.

    Below is my summary of the IEA's findings. (I encourage you to check out their materials and a video of their press conference here.)

    We Are Currently Headed in the Wrong Direction

    • Even in a slow economy, CO2 emissions in 2010 had a dramatic increase of 5.3% to an all-time high of 30.4 gigatons.
    • Energy efficiency, the foundation upon which overcoming global warming will be built, has declined worldwide for the second year in a row.
    • In 2010, subsidies for fossil fuels worldwide equaled $409 billion, compared to only $66 billion for renewables. Without further reform, fossil subsidies will reach $660 billion by 2020. Finally, fossil subsidies benefit primarily the well-off of a country: currently only 8% goes to the poorest 20%.

    The Emerging Economies Outstrip Developed Economies in Energy Consumption and Emissions

    • By 2035 global energy use increases by 33%, with China and India accounting for 50% of this growth.
    • By 2020, most cars are sold outside developed countries. Passenger vehicles double to 1.7 billion by 2035.
    • China becomes the largest oil importer by 2020.
    • In the last decade coal supplied nearly half of the increase in global energy use, with emerging economies accounting for most of this.
    • After 2020 India will surpass China as the biggest coal importer.

    We Are Almost Out of Time

    • 80% of our emissions budget is already "locked in" due to existing energy-related infrastructure, and we are on track to lock in the remaining 20% by 2017.
    • If significant action is delayed until 2015, "around 45% of the global fossil-fuel capacity installed by then would have to be retired early or refurbished by 2035."
    • If action is delayed until 2017, all energy-consuming capitol stock will have to produce no global warming pollution if we are to have a chance at overcoming global warming. In other words, all buildings, vehicles, power plants, etc, must be zero carbon/GHGs in order not to exceed 2 degrees Celsius of preindustrial or 450ppm.

    The Longer We Wait the More Expensive Reducing Emissions Becomes

    • After 2020 it will cost us $4.30 to achieve the same emissions reductions as a $1 invested today.

    As the above findings show, we are almost out of time to overcome global warming. The Risen LORD is leading the way, but not enough of us are following.

    The Rev. Jim Ball, Ph.D., is Executive Vice President of EEN and author of Global Warming and the Risen LORD.

  • Paul Epstein: A Life Lived to the Glory of God

    November 15,2011, 20:29 PM

    by Jim Ball

    Paul Epstein, M.D., was a gentle, unassuming, brilliant, caring man who made the world a better place. He died from Lymphoma on Sunday at his home in Boston. He was 67.

    While not a Christian, Paul led the type of life Jesus calls us to in the Gospels. As a physician he served the poor in Mozambique in the late 1970s. While there he began to notice the outbreak of diseases such as malaria in places where it had not been before. He was one of the first to put forward the idea that climate change would have an impact on human health.

    I first met Paul in the late 1990s when he came to DC to testify on Capitol Hill about climate and health, and every couple of years we would find ourselves at the same meetings or conferences. A special time was when he co-convened with my friend Rich Cizik a seminal meeting between evangelicals and scientists on climate change and creation-care, attended by E. O. Wilson, who had just published his book, The Creation.

    Whenever I asked him for anything Paul was always ready to help in any way he could. He was one of my favorite people in the wider environmental community. I will miss him.

    Please pray for his wife, Andy, their son, Benjamin, and daughter, Jesse, and Paul's sister, Emily.

    More about Paul can be found in his obituary published in the New York Times.

    The Rev. Jim Ball, Ph.D., is Executive Vice President of EEN and author of Global Warming and the Risen LORD.

  • Testimonies from Africa

    November 13,2011, 23:16 PM

    by Alexei Laushkin

    Over the last week I had the privilege and opportunity to learn from two men with powerful testimonies. Rev. Osborne, the general secretary of the Council of Churches of Malawi and Rev. Moses, the President of the Council of Churches of Zambia as they toured greater Washington to talk about the impacts of climate change on the least of these in both of their countries.

    It was really a moving experience for me. Both shared countless personal stories about how people are being driven from the rural areas to the cities because of the inconsistencies of the harvest due to global warming. Global Warming pushes local climate patterns to their extremes.

    There encounters with climate change were simply incredible. Moses, who is also a professor of development studies at a Christian theological seminary, talked about how this last year he had planted a second crop to help support his children in private school. He invested in corn. Under normal circumstances he would have planted in January and expected the crop to mature through March, where he would than harvest and sell in late April/June. He expected to make about $2,000 from the investment.

    This year the rains did start in early January but stopped in mid February never to return. His crop was a total loss. Luckily he has another job from the seminary that helps him provide food for his family, but for many of his fellow Zambians the failure of crops this year meant that they had to be pushed to the extremes to survive.

    For many of the rural poor that means moving into the city, where the current city infrastructure and jobs opportunities has no place for them. So the rural poor set up shanty towns and slums in the suburbs of the major cities and resort to drugs and prostitution to survive. These are the stories from churches on the front line of climate crisis.

    Osborne told similar stories. Despite some agriculture reforms by the government, climate change is having a strong impact on the rural poor of Malawi. Osborne worked for over 15 years with World Vision International and is very familiar with local development programs; he spoke about that impact of Global Warming on Lake Malawi, where reduced rain fall is helping the Lake shrink to unprecedented levels. The shrinking waters have meant less fish for the local people to eat and increased draughts for the surrounding areas.

    Both men were impressive in their understanding of the challenges that Africa faces. Countless times throughout their trip they spoke of the need for long term wealth creation, to help bring hope and a future for countless Africans who subsist off the land. My prayer is that we will have ears to listen and respond with the compassion that the circumstances demand.

    In 2012, EEN will be sharing stories like those of Osborne and Moses, people who have experienced the impact of climate change in their own lives. We will also be releasing a series of videos to share their stories. The first from Moses & Osborne is available below.

  • Encouraging Signs

    November 13,2011, 21:54 PM

    by Kara Ball

    Last Thursday night I was privileged to join citizens of Harrisonburg, Virginia at the Massanutten Regional Library to discuss climate change. It was especially meaningful for me to be there because Harrisonburg is a rural agricultural community very similar to Bedford County, Pennsylvania where I lived for a number of years.

    I was encouraged to learn there are so many groups already speaking out and acting on climate change in the Shenandoah Valley, including the Climate Action Alliance of the Valley, Harrisonburg Mennonite Church Creation Care Group, and many others.
    We discussed the consensus of the vast majority of climate researchers most actively publishing in the field that global warming is real and that humans are causing it. This consensus is confirmed by every National Academy of Science of every major country in the world, including the United States.

    We also discussed how climate change is related to the extreme weather events we are seeing increasingly more of here in Virginia, the United States and around the world, such as devastating droughts, fires and floods. Many states shattered flood records this year. 252 of Texas' 254 counties had wildfires this year. Nearly 400 million people around the world were affected by exceptional drought in the first half of 2011. Estimates of increasing drought intensification around the world on vast, populated areas are dire unless we act on climate change soon.

    Some in the room who have been actively speaking out and acting on climate change expressed discouragement that others don't always listen. We discussed how this can be frustrating but that this shouldn't stop us from speaking the truth. None of our loved ones or neighbors will be left unaffected by the impacts of climate change, so we are morally obligated to speak out and act on this issue.

    In the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, the lion Aslan is king of the magical land of Narnia. Four children from our world enter Narnia and have adventures, fight evil and in so doing become more who God intended them to be. In one scene in the Prince Caspian book, the child Lucy sees Aslan but her older brothers and sisters don't. When she talks with Aslan later and uses this as an excuse for why she didn't follow him, Aslan gently says to her "why would that stop you from coming to me?" He also stresses that, whatever happened in the past, what matters now is that going forward, she can still make a difference if she is faithful to what she knows is true.

    Likewise, even if we've been discouraged from speaking about and acting on climate change because of the denials of others, what matters now is that we can still make a difference for our families and loved ones if we act now to confront the climate crisis.

    To learn more about the reality of climate change and what you can do go here or visit EEN's resources by clicking here.

  • More Evidence That We Are In Climate Kairos Time, Flirting with Dangerous Tipping Points

    November 08,2011, 14:13 PM

    In the last chapter of my book, Global Warming and the Risen LORD, I state:

    Let me be frank. Many of us have been plodding along in chronological time on this great challenge, and have not awakened to the fact that we are now in kairos time when it comes to climate change. As used in the New Testament, the word kairos means a right or opportune moment usually associated with decisive action bringing about deliverance or salvation. If not acted upon, such moments can pass us by. We are in the kairos climate moment because there is still time to overcome global warming. There is still time for us to be spared from many of its potential devastating consequences, for the poor to be delivered from even more destructive impacts, for less of God's other creatures to become extinct and be robbed of God's blessing of life. If you are still operating in chronological time when it comes to overcoming global warming, it's time to wake up. Simply put: our kairos moment on global warming has arrived, and it won't last forever (p. 436).

    Several recent scientific articles confirm once again that right now is our climate kairos moment.

    The first article concludes that unless global warming pollution peaks soon and is in significant decline by 2020, it puts us in danger of not being able to overcome global warming by keeping us from exceeding a temperature increase of 2°C compared to preindustrial levels. The second article finds that if we continue on our current path, significant portions of the planet will begin to exceed 2°C by 2040, with the entire globe there by 2060.

    Added to these scientific findings is the fact that, contrary to assumptions that the global recession would slow global warming pollution down and buy us a little more time, global emissions exploded in 2010, according to the Department of Energy's Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center at its Oak Ridge Lab. (These findings are in keeping with those of the International Energy Agency.)

    Time Magazine's headline for the article by AP's scientific reporter Seth Borenstein about the increase captured the situation quite well:

    Biggest Jump Ever in Global Warming Gasses 

    As Borenstein comments,

    The new figures for 2010 mean that levels of greenhouse gases are higher than the worst case scenario outlined by climate experts just four years ago.

    Borenstein is referring to that wild and crazy group of the world's leading experts on climate change called the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Far from being serial exaggerators as deniers would have you believe, the IPCC's reports are quite conservative in their projections, as the latest global warming pollution numbers attest. Even their worst case emissions scenario was too low in comparison with our current reality. We've blown right past it. This means that our current path would have portions of the planet reaching 2°C even before 2040.

    It is the Risen LORD who is leading the way in overcoming global warming. But in keeping with human freedom, He does so through human beings. Based on the numbers, we're not doing such a great job of following the Risen LORD in overcoming global warming. What the scientists are telling us is that global emissions must peak by around 2015 and be in significant decline by 2020 to avoid heating the planet to a level where dangerous tipping points could be reached, resulting in far more suffering and destruction.

    Can global warming still be overcome with the Risen LORD leading the way? YES. But we must get started in a serious way right now. Join us as we follow the Risen LORD in overcoming global warming.

    The Rev. Jim Ball, Ph.D., is Executive Vice President at EEN and author of Global Warming and the Risen LORD.

  • Recent Flooding in Washington D.C.

    October 21,2011, 13:24 PM

    by Kara Ball

    I didn't expect the severe rains and flooding we received in Washington D.C. last month from Tropical Storm Lee. As streams overflowed their banks from the intense rains, my route home flooded and my normal, 20-minute commute stretched to four hours. Others fared far worse. Tragically, four people lost their lives, including a 12-year old boy from the church we attend who had gone to look at the flooding stream behind his house and slipped in. The storm drenched eleven states from Louisiana to New York, causing further floods, evacuations, and deaths.

    As the earth warms, the severity of weather events like Tropical Storm Lee and Hurricane Irene and their attendant devastation is expected to increase. Warmer air can hold more water vapor and each additional temperature increase of 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit increases the capacity of air to hold water by 7%. There is already 4% more water vapor in the atmosphere above the oceans than just 30 years ago. Because of the stronger storms we're now experiencing, scientists are considering adding a new category to the hurricane rankings: a Category 6.

    Floods, property damage and loss of life from stronger storms are just a few of the multitude of impacts expected from global warming, including the threat that 30% of the world's species will face increased risk of extinction if temperatures increase by 2.2 " 4 degrees Fahrenheit.

    As Christians, what are we to do when faced with global warming?

    First, we are to seek and speak the truth. When I first became a Christian, some of my friends and family gave me a quizzical look when I shared the news. Not everyone was on board with my decision. What about you? Did you experience something similar?

    Sometimes, talking about global warming can bring a similar response. Nonetheless, because of its impacts, seeking and speaking the truth about global warming is part of what it means to be a Christian today. As my husband Jim emphasizes in his book Global Warming and the Risen Lord, Christ will be at our side as we do our part to overcome global warming.

  • Important Op-Eds on Climate Change by Former Congressman Bob Inglis

    October 05,2011, 19:01 PM

    Friends,

    We wanted to make sure you were aware of two important op-eds recently published by our friend and former Member of the House of Representatives, Congressman Bob Inglis, Republican from South Carolina.

    Bob is one of the most important leaders in the Republican Party on the need for our country to play our part in overcoming global warming -- something we believe the Risen LORD is leading the way on.

    The first op-ed was published on September 25 in USA Today. And the second came out on Oct. 2 on the Bloomberg News site. We provide excerpts below. While we don't agree with Congressman Inglis on everything, we do agree there needs to be a market-based approach that puts a price on carbon.

    *********************************************

    USA Today

    "How the GOP Should Engage Climate Science"

    by Bob Inglis

    "Texas Gov. Rick Perry's recent assertion that the science of climate change has been politicized is almost certainly true. Environmental groups (the kind that always gave me F's on my congressional report cards for voting against bills such as cap-and-trade) decided a while back to run this play on the left side of the political field. But perhaps the strongest proof of Perry's assertion is what we conservatives are doing now ...

    Perry asserts, and many conservatives believe, that the flow of grants have produced a corresponding flow of studies indicating human causes of climate change. Skepticism is warranted, but it's relieved by an observation: Scientists become famous by disproving the consensus, not by parroting it. You don't get a theory named for yourself by writing papers that say, "Yeah, like he said." You become famous (and, for the pure of heart, you advance science) by breaking through with new understandings.

    In the zeal of our disproof, many conservatives have latched on to the outliers to create the appearance of uncertainty where little uncertainty exists. Accordingly, only 15% of the public knows that 97% of climate scientistshave concluded that the planet is rapidly warming as a result of human activity ...

    Many conservatives believe that, even if climate change is caused by human activity, the costs of correction outweigh the benefits. What does that calculation say about our objectivity, our commitment to accountability and our belief in free markets?

    Conservatives say that free enterprise, not government mandates, can deliver innovation. But we've been waiting since 1973 to be freed from foreign oil. Maybe that's because all the costs aren't "in" on petroleum " the national security risk, the costs of protecting the supply lines out of the Middle East, the cost of the pollution from tailpipes and the cost of tax subsidies for petroleum. If those costs were paid at the pump and not out of sight, we'd be aware of our need, and America's entrepreneurs would meet our need with new fuels.

    But markets can't respond when some fuels escape accountability. If the coal industry, for instance, were held accountable for all of coal's costs " including health effects " we'd build emission-free nuclear power plants instead of coal-fired plants. Electricity rates would rise because we'd be paying all of coal's cost at the meter, but health insurance premiums would fall. In such an all-costs-in scenario, the profit motive would drive innovation just as it drove innovation with the Internet and the PC " without clumsy government mandates.

    Conservatives can restore our objectivity by acknowledging that Americans are already paying all the hidden costs of energy. We can prove our commitment to accountability by properly attaching all costs to all fuels. We can prove our belief in free markets by eliminating all subsidies and letting the free enterprise system sort out winners and losers among competing fuels.

    Or, more cynically, we can attempt to disprove science, protect the fossilized and deprive America of a muscular, free enterprise, no-growth-of-government alternative to cap and trade."

    *****************************************

    Bloomberg Businessweek

    "Conservative Means Standing With Science on Climate"

    by Bob Inglis

    "Normally, the country can count on conservatives to deal in facts. We base policies on science, not sentiment, we insist on people being accountable for their actions, and we maintain that markets, not mandates, are the path to prosperity.

    When it comes to energy and climate, these are not normal times.

    We're following sentiment, not science, we're turning a blind eye to accountability, and we're failing to use the power of markets.

    The National Academy of Sciences says, "Climate change is occurring, is caused largely by human activities, and poses significant risks." Several recent studies have found that 95 percent of climate scientists are convinced that the planet is rapidly warming as a result of human activity. But a George Mason University-Yale University poll in May found that only 13 percent of the public realizes that scientists have come to that conclusion.

    You would expect conservatives to stand with 95 percent of the scientific community and to grow the 13 percent into a working majority ...

    Courage fails us when it comes to energy and climate. Fearing our economic circumstances, we've decided to channel the fear rather than to confront it. Some conservatives even allege that the scientific conclusion about climate change is affected by the flow of grant money -- a conflict of interest that we overlook when taking the drug Lipitor, even though the tests proving its efficacy were financed by its maker, Pfizer. Conservatives seem to think that climate change is for elitists, enviros and Democrats, not hard-working, God-fearing Republicans ... the thinking seems to go, it's just not "our" issue. And because we're already at war on a number of other fronts, surely posterity will forgive us if we offer the fearful a scapegoat rather than a solution on this one. Meanwhile, our friends (or are they our masters?) say "Attaboy!" on talk TV and radio ...

    Normally, conservatives are also people who believe in accountability. We start with proposition that humans are responsible moral actors, and we believe that behavior has consequences. So why don't we hold power plants accountable for their emissions?

    According to a study by Abt Associates in 2004, small particulates from coal-fired plants cause 23,600 premature deaths in the U.S. annually, 21,850 hospital admissions, 26,000 emergency room visits for asthma, 38,200 heart attacks that are not fatal, and 3,186,000 lost work days.

    Because conservatives know that there's no such thing as a free lunch, we know that we're paying for those deaths and illnesses. We pay for them through government programs for the poor and elderly, and when the costs of the uninsured are shifted onto the insured. We pay all right, but just not at the electric meter.

    We pay the full cost of petroleum in hidden ways, too. We pay to protect the supply lines coming out of the Middle East through the blood of the country's best and though the treasure that comes from our taxes or, worse, from deficit financing. We pay in the risk to our national security. We pay the cost of lung impairments when the small-particulate pollution comes from tailpipes just like we pay when the small particulates come from power plants. We just don't pay at the pump.

    What if we attached all of the costs -- especially the hidden costs -- to all fuels? What if we believed in accountability? What if we believed in the power of free markets?

    If we did, the price of gasoline and coal-fired electricity would rise significantly, but hidden costs paid in hidden ways would decline commensurately. If we simultaneously eliminated all subsidies, we'd unleash real competition among all fuels. Markets would powerfully deliver solutions. New power turbines would come to market that remove the sulfur and the mercury from coal before combustion, burning only the hydrogen. Emission-free nuclear power plants would be built. Electric cars would rapidly penetrate the market -- not because of clumsy government mandates or incentives, but because sharp entrepreneurs would be selling useful products to willing customers awakened by accountable pricing.

    The solution to our energy and climate challenge can be found in the conservative concept of accountability and in a well-functioning free-enterprise system. We conservatives just need to believe that."

  • Climate News is Hopping; recent speaking engagements

    September 16,2011, 11:09 AM

    by Jim Ball

    I'm just returining from a great several days out in southern California where I spoke to: (1) Point Loma Nazarene University in their chapel, at their "Brewed Awakening" evening series, and in several classes; (2) our EEN Partner, Plant With Purpose (formerly Floresta), and (3) North Coast Calvary Chapel where Mark Foreman is Senior Pastor and a new-found leader on climate change.

    If you ever have a chance to get out to PLNU, it literally looks out onto the Pacific Ocean, as this photo at dusk attests.

    Today I'm catching up on what's been happening, and here's what I find as the headlines from today's ClimateWire:

    • Parties clash on disaster funding as House seeks clean-tech cuts [Rs want to take clean tech funds to use to help with natural disasters; talk about foolishness]
    • Gore takes climate change slide show around the world in 24 hours [started Wed. evening]
    • Continuing drought threatens more wildfires and winter wheat crop in Texas
    • Aid agencies brace for second year of disastrous flooding in Pakistan
    • Hydro infrastructure unprepared for shifts caused by climate change
    • Arctic sea ice melt nears record
    • Walruses are stuck on shore because of melted ice
    • Report finds electric car battery production will outpace demand
    • Intel presents solar-powered processor
    • First Chinese-built car now for sale in America (an all-electric sedan called Coda)

    This is not a bad snapshopt as to the type of things that are happening in terms of climate, clean energy, climate politics, and climate activism.

    And also today there's a new poll out by Stanford for Reuters showing that belief that the earth is warming has gone up since November 2010, from 75% to 82.5 percent. This includes a 6% increase in the number of Republicans who believe this, and a 9.5% increase in Independents -- the latter being quite important politically. At the same time, there has been a nearly 4% drop in those who believe that global warming is mostly or partly caused by humanity. (Even with this drop, a strong 71.5% believe this.) In addition, the percentage of those who are now extremely or very sure that global warming is or isn't happening has gone up by 13 percent. In other words, more people are becoming more sure that they are right.

    Here's my take on what's happening. The extreme weather and hot temperatures are convincing more people that warming is taking place -- but some are still wanting to be in denial about the fact that we're causing most of it. In addiiton, because global warming is now such a hot topic in Republican presidential politics, and powerful skeptics like Limbaugh and others are continuing and even intensifying their opposition, this is combining with the weather to create a situation where more people are making up their minds as to what they believe, as demonstrated by the 13% increase in those who are sure of their views. Thus, things are heating up (in more ways than one) and shaking out.

    And it is young people like those at Point Loma Nazarene University who will have to live with the consequences for the rest of their lives, and who therefore need to step up and take leadership on overcoming global warming.

    The Rev. Jim Ball, Ph.D., is Executive Vice President at EEN and author of Global Warming and the Risen LORD.

  • Update on US Funding to Help the Poor with Climate Change

    August 15,2011, 09:49 AM

    by Jim Ball

    For those of you interested in what is happening in terms of US support for helping poor countries address climate change, the Washington Post has an excellent article by Juliet Eilperin. Check it out.

  • Climate Extremes

    August 10,2011, 05:26 AM

    by Jim Ball

    It probably won't come as much of a surprise, but it's still noteworthy. This July had the highest "Climate Extreme Index" since records began being kept in 1910, as the graph above demonstrates. (The Index is comprised of extremes in temperature, precipitation, and extreme weather events.)

    Here, from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration or NOAA (which includes the Weather Service), are some highlights about July's extremes:

    • Oklahoma and Texas had their warmest months ever on record, with average temperatures of 88.9 degrees F and 87.1 degrees F, respectively. Oklahoma's statewide average temperature was the warmest monthly statewide average temperature on record for any state during any month.
    • 41 of the lower 48 states had above-normal, much-above-normal, or a record warmest July. Only seven of the lower 48 states " all west of the Rockies " experienced a July average temperature near or below the 20th century average.
    • The South climate region -- Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Texas -- had its warmest single calendar month for any climate region on record. The average temperature of 86.1 degrees F, bested the previous all-time record of 85.9 set in July 1980 in the South climate region.
    • Dallas exceeded 100 degrees F on 30 of the 31 days in July. In Oklahoma City, July was the warmest single calendar month, with an average temperature of 89.2, beating the previous record of 88.7 degrees F set in August 1936. Washington, D.C.'s Reagan National Airport had its warmest single calendar month on record, with an average temperature of 84.5 degrees F, breaking the previous record of 83.1 degrees F set in July 2010 and July 1993.
    • The July heat wave was characterized by unusually warm minimum temperatures, during nights and early mornings. This is typical of U.S. heat waves in the last decade, and consistent with increasing warm summer nighttime extremes observed across much of the country since the late 20th century.
    • Wetter-than-normal conditions occurred along parts of the Gulf Coast, all of the Pacific Coast, and much of the upper Midwest. California tied for its fifth wettest July. Other states that were abnormally wet in July included: Utah (6th wettest), Wyoming (9th), and South Dakota (10th). At the same time, July offered no relief to the parched soils of Texas and Oklahoma where it was the second (tied) and ninth driest July on record, respectively.
    • Exceptional drought, as defined by the U.S. Drought Monitor, covers more than 75 percent of Texas (201,436 sq mi). Drought conditions are so harsh in some locations that it would take as much as 20 inches of precipitation in one month to end the drought. In Oklahoma, 100 percent of the state is suffering from moderate-exceptional drought compared to the beginning of the water year (9/28/2010), when drought conditions covered only four percent of the state.
    Wowza.

    Below is a map of July temperatures in the US.

    I grew up in the Dallas area and went to college at Baylor University in Waco, Texas. So I know how hot Texas summers can be. But this is ridiculous. As of Tuesday, Dallas had 39 days of 100-plus temperatures, and they are forecast for 100-plus for the rest of the week, which would break the record of 42 days of 100-plus temps.
        
    Unfortunately, as our colleague John Elwood has recently pointed out, such climate extremes may become the new normal for Texas because of global warming.
        
    The Rev. Jim Ball, Ph.D., is EEN's Executive Vice President and author of Global Warming and the Risen LORD.

  • My Journey into Creation Care

    August 09,2011, 13:10 PM

    by Matt Walter

    I went to a small, liberal arts Christian college in upstate New York. When I was a student there, I was involved with a group on campus called the ecology club. We helped with highway cleanup, built birdhouses and went on nature hikes. One night, the club was showing Al Gore's new movie, "An Inconvenient Truth." I went around campus plastering the bulletin boards with posters and told all my friends they should come see the movie. After inviting one of my good friends, she laughed and asked, "Why are you showing that movie on this campus?" I responded, "Why not? What's wrong with it?" She told me that she thought the movie was just a political tool and that she could not stand Al Gore. I was able to convince her to at least come and watch the movie (I think the free popcorn helped). After showing the movie, I closed the night with a few words. "Now, I know a lot of you don't like Al Gore and think that global warming is just a political issue. And I will agree that not everything Al Gore says may be correct and some things he presents may be taken out of context. But what if just half of what he is saying is correct? One thing I agree with him on is this: global warming is not a political issue, but a moral one. I could see that a lot of the people who came had their minds changed about global warming. But my friend was still not completely convinced. She asked me, "Even if global warming is real, there are so many other, bigger world problems that Christians should be focused on like feeding the hungry, ending wars, and diseases."

    by rovinglight from flickr creative commons
    by rovinglight from flickr creative commons

    This encounter highlights how I believe a lot of Christians feel about global warming. Even if they do recognize it as an issue, they don't consider it as serious of a moral issue as many other crises facing our world. Consider this; the United Nations World Health Organization released a fact sheet in January 2010 stating: "The global warming that has occurred since the 1970s was causing over 140,000 excess deaths annually by the year 2004." And this number is undoubtedly going to rise in future years as global temperatures continue to rise. 140,000 lives a year is not a political issue, it's a moral one. As Christians, we should be taking the lead on this issue. Even non-Christians who are aware of the full impact of climate change recognize it as a moral issue. Why is it so hard to convince Christians of this fact? Jesus told us to take care of widows and orphans, in other words those who cannot take care of themselves. The biggest victims of climate change are those in developing countries who do not have the technology to overcome the results of raising temperatures. As temperatures increase and farm lands dry out, they go without food since they don't have irrigation to ease the drought. As food supplies run out, more violence is spawned. As forests are consumed for money or fuel, locals must walk further to add fuel to their fires, literally. The people affected by these changes have no power to reverse the trend. The only hope they have is for those of us to have the ability to help to do something.

    Al Gore said, "There are good people who hold this issue at arm's length because if they recognize it and acknowledged it, the moral imperative to make big changes is inescapable." Global warming is a moral issue. Christians must realize this and take the lead in combating this. If you would like to dig deeper into this issue, I recommend Jim Ball's new book Global Warming and the Risen Lord. This book is an excellent source for understanding global warming and how it affects our Christian walk. Most importantly, global warming is not about you and me, it's about the "least of these" in todays' world and the generations yet to come.

  • Texas Gets a Glimpse of its Sizzling Future

    August 04,2011, 16:12 PM

    by John Elwood

    It's a blistering 110 degrees in Dallas today.

    Ho hum" That makes 34 days straight in DFW above 100. The record heat wave and drought in Texas make for some curious news. A reservoir in West Texas has turned blood-red, with dead fish floating in the last pools of steaming water. "Exploding pavement" is cropping up everywhere, as extreme heat causes pavement to buckle and shatter. And railroad rails are buckling in the heat, slowing train traffic by 20 miles per hour.

    So, summer's hot in Texas, you say. Tell me something I don't know.

    Okay, how about this: Texas' State Climatologist is warning that this is the beginning of the "new normal" for Texas, and that it's going to get much worse.

    Really, no kidding. Much worse. Since 2000, John Nielsen-Gammon has been Professor of Meteorology at Texas A&M University and the Texas State Climatologist. Together with a large number of Texas climate scientists, he's written a book called The Impact of Global Warming on Texas, and you can get it online (here). Writing in 2008, he called 2000-2008 "the warmest period on record" for the state. He is projecting a further 2-degree increase in Texas temperatures in 2020-2039, and close to a 4-degree increase in 2040-2059.

    That would make today's 110 degrees a pleasantly cool day, for whoever's still living there.

    But sadly, heat's not all you get in Texas these days. Texas is in the throes of a crippling drought. The U.S. Drought Monitor calls Texas "disastrously hot," exacerbating "exceptionally dry conditions." Amarillo broke records for consecutive 100+ degree days two weeks back, and it's not letting up. Tyler is on course to double the previous triple-digit record of 20 straight days, which it also surpassed two weeks ago.

    And the result? The U.S. Drought Monitor tells us that 91% of Texas pastureland is now "poor to very poor." 59% of Texas' cotton crop is also "poor to very poor." Texas farmers are getting killed by this thing.

    When it's "abnormally dry" in Texas, the Drought Monitor tells us that soil moisture content is 20-31%. Today, Texas soil has 0-2% moisture almost all over the state. That's about like talcum powder.

    Every week, the Drought Monitor maps the U.S. with color-coded drought conditions: from white (no drought), through progressively worse yellow, beige and tan, to red (severe drought) and finally dark brown (exceptional drought). In recent months, Texas has been almost entirely dark brown. Dark brown means: "Exceptional and widespread crop/pasture losses; shortages of water in reservoirs, streams, and wells creating water emergencies."

    So Texas is blisteringly hot, and disastrously dry. And the leading Texan climate scientists are warning that this is child's play compared with what's to come in the new age of climate change. You'd think that their politicians would be leading the charge to prevent this outcome, wouldn't you?

    Well, in fact, in April, Gov. Rick Perry did issue a proclamation calling on Texans to pray for rain. But even devout Christian climate activists might consider this to be a suspect strategy for mitigating the effects of greenhouse gases. And for good reason: it hasn't worked so far, as the drought has only strengthened its grip on the Lone Star state.

    What's more, in Congress, the Texas delegation consistently ranks among the most anti-climate-science group of legislators of any in the House. For example, almost 75% of them voted to specifically prevent FEMA from planning with other agencies on how to respond to natural disasters caused by climate change. And in the ongoing House debates over the EPA, a similar Texas majority supports amendment after amendment to strip the agency of powers to protect us from the effects of greenhouse gas concentrations, mercury pollution and other environmental threats.

    So if you're a person of faith in Texas today, pray (indeed!) for rain and relief. But when you're finished talking, listen carefully for the answer. In my experience, God usually changes praying people to become His active instruments in the world.

    It may be time in Texas to pray for our Father's world to be released from the grip of environmental torment.

    Thanks for reading, and may God bless you.

    re-posted with permission

    John Elwood is the author and publisher of The Clothesline Report that deals with the effects of environmental degradation and climate change.

  • Why is Climate Change Political?

    July 20,2011, 10:25 AM

    by John Elwood

    (front page photo by Nick Lucey)

    I was invited to a delightful dinner last Saturday by a couple in Chicago: one a long-time friend, and his wife, who I only just met. They are living proof that love is stronger than politics -- he, a conservative Republican, and she, a Chicago Democrat.

    by Scott Schaefer shared through flickr creative commons. view more of Scott's work by clicking on the link.
    by Scott Schaefer shared through flickr creative commons. view more of Scott's work by clicking on the link.

    Hearing that I was involved in issues of environmental justice, she asked me: "Why is climate change a political issue?" In essence, facts being facts, why would political affiliation so strongly determine what you think of an established line of scientific research?

    I wasn't anxious to infuse politics into a pleasant evening among friends, so I deferred the matter for an hour or two. But eventually, the topic came up, and I gave Liberal Wife (LW) my best answer. At some point, Conservative Husband (CH) commented: "This is where John and I differ a bit. There is a lot of disagreement about whether the climate really is changing."

    So now the argument was pretty much beyond avoiding. Allowing for my imperfect memory, here's how the exchange proceeded:

    John: "Actually, there is very little scientific debate about whether climate change is actually happening."

    CH: "Yes there is. I've read lots of arguments on both sides."
    John: "I said, there's little SCIENTIFIC debate. Of course there are editorials and blogs. But the scientific consensus is very strong."

    CH: "I'll send you plenty of articles I've read."

    John: "Think of it this way. Right here in Chicago, you've got excellent universities. Not one of your universities -- Northwestern, Illinois, DePaul, U. of Chicago -- has an earth science professor who denies that climate change is happening, or that human activity contributes to it." (In fairness, I guessed at this, because it's so hard to find a research university professor who holds such a position.)

    CH: "Yes, but those are LIBERAL universities!"

    Okay. There we are: back to politics determining scientific views. But I wondered: What about the conservative universities in Illinois? Did they really deny that the climate is changing?

    By a stroke of good fortune, I had just attended a meeting of Evangelical Environmental Network, where I met a student from Wheaton College. Of course, Wheaton is an evangelical Christian school, and nobody's bastion of liberalism. I figured that Wheaton was probably among the most conservative major colleges in Chicago, and a great place to look for another view of climate science. My young friend gave me the name of Wheaton's Environmental Science director, Prof. Fred Van Dyke, so I looked him up.

    Wheaton College Prof. Van Dyke:

    Well, I can't say I was surprised, but Prof. Van Dyke not only confirms the findings of climate science, he has written a book titled "Redeeming Creation" (find it here) warning that "ominous signals of real climate change are coming in from many fronts." And he has endorsed an urgent warning about climate change -- called the Evangelical Climate Initiative (ECI) -- issued by more than 300 prominent evangelical leaders. The ECI asserts that climate change is an urgent problem and that the Christian faith mandates a strong response to global warming.

    Prof. Van Dyke calls the ECI "a very appropriate move in terms of a biblical basis and, in fact, long overdue." (Read more here.)

    So where are the climatologists that Conservative Husband is talking about? Well, the Univ. of Illinois did a survey of 3,146 earth scientists in 2009, and found an overwhelming majority affirm that the globe is warming and that human activities contribute to it. In fact, 97% of climatologists -- those who study this question most carefully -- agree on these points. (Read about it here.) I suspect they're not all liberals, so the political influence must not extend to the scientists.

    Well then, who are the scientific climate doubters? In fact, it turns out that there is a small corner of science where climate skepticism is strong: Only about half of the petroleum geologists agree that climate change is affected by human activities. Petroleum geologists! People who work for oil companies. Isn't that interesting?

  • Progress in Understanding Climate Adaptation, Part Two

    July 15,2011, 13:57 PM

    by Jim Ball

    In Part One of this three-part series I discussed how a better understanding of climate adaptation in poor countries is now emerging, as demonstrated by three reports that have recently come out. Part One dealt with one of those reports from Oxfam and CNA entitled An Ounce of Prevention: Preparing for the Impact of a Changing Climate on US Humanitarian and Disaster Response.

    This blog, Part Two, will cover a very important report and proposal:

    Climate Knowledge for Action: A Global Framework for Climate Services "Empowering the Most Vulnerable." The Report of the High-level Taskforce for the Global Framework for Climate Services.

    Oh boy. That's one heck of a title. But it's actually not as bad as all that. Let's keep plugging away.

    First of all, by "climate services" they mean "climate information prepared and delivered to meet users' needs" (p. 8). It would be analogous to our getting the weather report so we know how to plan our day; such information is delivered to us in an easily understandable and timely fashion. But in this case, the forecast would be a "climate forecast," designed to help decisions-makers from heads-of-state to heads-of-households plan for current and future climate impacts.

    Here's a very helpful quote for understanding what they're about:

    Our vision is for an end-to-end system for providing climate services and applying them in decision making at every level of society. Putting this system in place will require unprecedented collaboration across political, functional, and disciplinary boundaries and a global mobilisation of effort (p. 3).

    I couldn't agree more, especially that "every level of society" includes poor families and communities have the information they need to make the right decisions.

     How would climate services be utilized? Here are some quick helpful examples they provide:

    • "Climate predictions can be used by farmers to help them decide, for example, which crops to plant or whether to reduce livestock numbers if a drought is forecast. Farmers making such decisions are likely to use climate outlooks of rainfall and temperature and take into account the uncertainty estimates provided with these products;
    • Statistical assessments of the future frequency of extreme weather and climate events can be used by engineers to help them make decisions, including where to invest in disaster mitigation measures such as dams, where to locate buildings, which construction methods to use and how much heating and cooling is needed for critical infrastructure;
    • Seasonal climate forecasts and monitoring of actual temperature and rainfall can be used to provide forecasts of when and where disease outbreaks are likely to occur. The impacts of predicted outbreaks can then be minimised by public awareness campaigns, stocking and shipping medical supplies and vector control programmes such as spraying;
    • Climate change projections, which can indicate precipitation patterns in the 30-to-50-year timeframe, can be used to guide major investment decisions relating to long-term water management such as whether and where to build new reservoirs" (p18).

    What's our current situation in relation to "climate services"? In the Forward, they begin with "a clear and striking appreciation" of three foundational facts:

    "Firstly, we know that everyone is affected by climate -- particularly its extremes, which cause loss of lives and livelihoods all over the world, but overwhelmingly in developing countries. Secondly, we know that -- where they exist -- needs-based climate services are extremely effective in helping communities, businesses, organizations and governments to manage the risks and take advantage of the opportunities associated with the climate. Thirdly, we know that there is a yawning gap between the needs for climate services and their current provision. Climate services are weakest in the places that need them most -- climate-vulnerable developing countries."

    So:

    1. climate impacts hit everyone, but the poor the hardest;
    2. getting people information they can use " a "climate forecast," " can help them prepare for bad stuff and "take advantage of the opportunities";
    3. those who need the climate forecast the most " the poor and vulnerable " are the ones least likely to get it.

    Here's the kicker. They continue by saying that "this situation is unacceptable and unjust," and they hope their report and proposal will help to bring about a reversal of this situation.

    In my book I identify 7 key ingredients to helping the poor adapt to the consequences of global warming:

    1) Commitment: Moral and Political Will

    2) Adequate Funding

    3) Good Governance

    4) The Right Policies

    5) Accurate, Understandable Information for All Decision- Makers

    6) An Integrated, Coordinated Response

    7) Community Engagement

    At first glance you might think that "climate services" involves only #5, providing all decision-makers accurate and understandable information. But achieving this will require all seven of these key ingredients to be in place.

    The High-Level Task Force believes that putting together the system that will make this a reality will cost $75 million a year. This will be money well-spent. It will be an investment whose economic rate of return will be much better than anything Wall Street has to offer. And its moral and spiritual "rate of return"? Even better. Treasure in heaven (Mt. 6:20).

    The good news of this report is that the Taskforce has laid out a road-map for how the nations of the world can work together to provide climate services for all who need them. That's progress.

    If there is one area where the Christian church needs to make sure that it is actively engaged in this process it is this: ensuring that poor people and communities do in fact receive accurate, understandable information that allows them to make the right decisions. This report talks about this as "the last mile," and recognizes that this is the point where all of their activities could fail. Christians in poor countries, "nationals" and "expats" alike, must ensure that the information makes it "the last mile." It is the day in and day out engagement of Christians in such local communities that will allow us to bring such valuable information that last mile.

    The last mile? That's Jesus country.

    The Rev. Jim Ball, Ph.D., is Executive Vice President at EEN and author of Global Warming and the Risen LORD.

  • Terrific Climate Change Series in Scientific American

    July 05,2011, 14:59 PM

    by Jim Ball

    I just finished reading a terrific 3-part series on climate change in Scientific American by senior journalist John Carey, a former reporter for Business Week. (As is clearly stated, the series was funded by the Pew Center on Climate Change.)

    I highly recommending reading this series. I think it has a great deal of material that can help you talk about climate change with others.

    To whet your appetite, below are the titles and links to the three articles, along with select quotations.

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Storm Warnings: Extreme Weather Is a Product of Climate Change

    Scientists used to say, cautiously, that extreme weather events were "consistent" with the predictions of climate change. No more. "Now we can make the statement that particular events would not have happened the same way without global warming," says Kevin Trenberth, head of climate analysis at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colo.

    That's a profound change"the difference between predicting something and actually seeing it happen. The reason is simple: The signal of climate change is emerging from the "noise""the huge amount of natural variability in weather.

    And

    "Our figures indicate a trend towards an increase in extreme weather events that can only be fully explained by climate change," says Peter Höppe, head of Munich Re's Geo Risks Research/Corporate Climate Center: "It's as if the weather machine had changed up a gear. [Munich Re is one of the world's largest reinsurers, or insurers of insurers.]

    And

    "All of a sudden we're not talking about polar bears or the Maldives any more," says Nashville-based author and environmental journalist Amanda Little. "Climate change translates into mold on my baby's crib. We're talking about homes and schools and churches and all the places that got hit."

    And more about the 2010 Nashville flood:

    The water rose in Little's basement"one foot, two feet, three feet (one meter) deep. "You get this panicky feeling that things are out of control," she says. Over at [Rich] Hays's home, fissures appeared in the basement floor, and streams of water turned into a "full-on river," Hays recalls. Then in the middle of night, "I heard this massive crack, almost like an explosion," he says. The force of the water had fractured the house's concrete foundation. He and his wife spent the rest of the night in fear that the house might collapse. ...

    And all across the flooded city the scenes were surreal, almost hallucinatory, Little says. "There were absurdities heaped upon absurdities. Churches lifted off foundations and floating down streets. Cars floating in a herd down highways."

    Global Warming and the Science of Extreme Weather

    Scientists compare the normal variation in weather with rolls of the dice. Adding greenhouse gases to the atmosphere loads the dice, increasing odds of such extreme weather events. It's not just that the weather dice are altered, however. As Steve Sherwood, co-director of the Climate Change Research Center at the University of New South Wales in Australia, puts it, "it is more like painting an extra spot on each face of one of the dice, so that it goes from 2 to 7 instead of 1 to 6. This increases the odds of rolling 11 or 12, but also makes it possible to roll 13."

    Why? Basic physics is at work: The planet has already warmed roughly 1 degree Celsius since preindustrial times, thanks to CO2 and other greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere. And for every 1-degree C (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) rise in temperature, the amount of moisture that the atmosphere can contain rises by 7 percent, explains Peter Stott, head of climate monitoring and attribution at the U.K. Met Office's Hadley Center for Climate Change. "That's quite dramatic," he says. In some places, the increase has been much larger. Data gathered by Gene Takle, professor of meteorology at Iowa State University in Ames, show a 13 percent rise in summer moisture over the past 50 years in the state capital, Des Moines.

    And on the 2010 Russian heat wave, where Carey (the author) reports a disagreement among two prominent scientists about whether climate was involved:

    What is not in doubt is that the Russian heat wave is a portent"a glimpse of the future predicted by climate models. Even Hoerling [the scientist who doesn't see the 2010 heat wave as being intensified by climate] sees it as a preview of coming natural disasters. By 2080, such events are expected to happen, on average, once every five years, he says: "It's a good wake-up call. This type of phenomenon will become radically more common."

    Our Extreme Future: Predicting and Coping with the Effects of a Changing Climate

    Scientists hope that rigorously identifying climate change's contribution to individual extreme events can indeed wake people up to the threat. As the research advances, it should be possible to say that two extra inches (five centimeters) of rain poured down in a Midwestern storm because of greenhouse gases, or that a California heat wave was 10 times more likely to occur thanks to humans' impacts on climate. So researchers have set up rapid response teams to assess climate change's contribution to extreme events while the events are still fresh in people's minds. In addition, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is preparing a special report on extreme events and disasters, due out by the end of 2011.

    And

    One of the clearest pictures of this future is emerging for the U.S. Southwest and a similar meteorological zone that stretches across Italy, Greece and Turkey. Work by Tim Barnett of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, [Columbia University's Richard] Seager and others predicts that these regions will get hotter and drier"and, perhaps more important, shows that the change has already begun. "The signal of a human influence on climate pops up in 1985, then marches on getting strong and stronger," Barnett says. By the middle of the 21st century, the models predict, the climate will be as dry as the seven-year long Dust Bowl drought of the 1930s or the damaging 1950s drought centered in California and Mexico, Seager says: "In the future the drought won't last just seven years. It will be the new norm."

    And

    "Our civilization is based on a stable base climate"it doesn't take very much change to raise hell," Scripps's Barnett says. And given the lag in the planet's response to the greenhouse gases already in the atmosphere, many of these changes are coming whether we like them or not. "It's sort of like that Kung Fu guy who said, 'I'm going to kick your head off now, and there's not a damn thing you can do about it,'" Barnett says.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The Rev. Jim Ball, Ph.D., is Executive Vice President at EEN and author of Global Warming and the Risen LORD.

  • Progress in Understanding Climate Adaptation, Part One

    June 24,2011, 12:25 PM

    by Jim Ball

    As the title suggests, there is some good news to report in the area of climate adaptation. Indeed, all of this good news can't be covered in a single blog! So Part Two (and possibly Part Three) will be posted next week. To help you understand why this is good news, let me provide some context.

    Overcoming global warming is about dealing with both the causes and the consequences. Addressing the causes is called mitigation; dealing with the consequences is called adaptation. When I was researching and writing my book, Global Warming and the Risen LORD, it was abundantly clear that much more effort had gone into thinking about how to address mitigation than is the case with adaptation. (This meant it took me longer to write the adaptation chapters because the field itself was less well-defined and solidified; I had to do some of that myself!)

    Until recently in the climate community addressing the problem was assumed to mean mitigation. That's because it has been environmentalists who have dominated the discussion about climate change (although that's starting to change). Enviro organizations are focused on reducing pollution, not dealing with the consequences of intensified floods and droughts or health impacts or water scarcity and food security. Not their area.

    But in the past few years the climate community has begun to expand to include relief and development organizations (both religious and secular), humanitarian organizations, and corresponding governmental agencies. And these groups are starting to help develop a deeper understanding of climate adaptation -- that's the good news.

    A few days ago (June 21) my colleague Mitch Hescox and I attended two separate events in Washington, DC, held to release major reports on climate adaptation. The morning event was at the Woodrow Wilson Center and featured a joint report by Oxfam and CNA, a national security think tank. The afternoon event was at the historic American Red Cross headquarters, just a stone's throw from the White House. Both the settings and the groups involved were signs that climate adaptation is starting to lose its neglected step-daughter status.

    This first blog looks at the Oxfam/CNA report, An Ounce of Prevention: Preparing for the Impact of a Changing Climate on US Humanitarian and Disaster Response.  What is perhaps most notable here is the partnership of a respected relief and development organization (Oxfam) with a prominent national security think tank (CNA).

    If there is one thing the fight for adaptation needs, it is for the national security community to help the country understand it is in our national interest to help poor people in poor countries adapt or increase their resilience and reduce their vulnerability to the impacts of global warming. Thus, more than anything I hope this report helps the military and the national security community better understand that "an ounce of prevention" via international climate adaptation will help to decrease future instability, which will in turn help to keep our soldiers safe. We especially need former Generals and Admirals to speak out about this.

    Here are some sobering statistics from the report:

    "Over the past 20 years, more than 75 percent of all disaster events were related to climate, accounting for 45 percent of disaster deaths and 80 percent of economic losses. Flood-related disasters are now four times more frequent than 20 years ago, and they damage larger areas. Losses include direct effects (such as damage to infrastructure, crops, and housing) and indirect consequences (such as loss of revenues, unemployment, and market destabilization)" [p. 8].

    While disasters are going up, aid is not keeping up:

    "Between 2005 and 2009 the international community provided only 69 percent of the amounts requested in UN humanitarian appeals. In 2010, the figure fell to 63 percent. The response is also biased toward food aid, with donors covering an average of 86 percent of the amount requested in food aid appeals during the past decade, compared with 44 percent, 46 percent, and 43 percent for emergency agricultural assistance, water and sanitation, and health, respectively" (p. 8).

    The report looks at what it terms "complex emergencies," meaning those that include violent situations needing additional security -- something that the military will likely have to provide. (I guess we need a name for it, but "complex emergency" almost strikes me as a euphemism; it certainly doesn't communicate that violence is involved.) The report found that over the past decade (2000-09) approximately 80% of US foreign disaster assistance went to situations with violent conflict.

    As for the future:

    "In an environment where climate change has contributed to an increase in the number of failed states and exacerbated existing conflicts, the chance of encountering a threatening security environment during a rapid-onset disaster response may increase. Moreover, as the number of both slow- and rapid-onset disasters increases, the chance that a response will occur in a fragile or failed state will also increase. As a consequence, the cost, to either civilian or military US government agencies, for each response will also increase. Security will be needed more frequently. The affected nation will be less able to contribute its own capabilities. This double challenge --increased demand combined with increased instability -- could test all organizations that provide humanitarian aid" (p. 10).

    It goes on to recognize:

    "The need for integration of US or international military security forces into disaster operations will be one of the most serious challenges that the current disaster response system will face under climate change" (p. 12).

    In sum, climate change will create more bad situations in places where things are already bad. And the latter quote helps us begin to appreciate the description "complex emergencies," because integrating soldiers into disaster operations to provide security will indeed be complex.

    Here's the bottom line: climate change will create more instability; climate adaptation, by enhancing resilience and reducing vulnerability, can preemptively reduce such instability; less instability means less need for soldiers to provide security and find themselves in harm's way. Conversely, the less we help poor people in poor countries adapt, the more we'll need our soldiers to provide security in "complex emergencies."

    My hope is that as more in the military and the national security community reflect upon the increase in "complex emergencies," and that we have an opportunity to reduce the number of such situations via prevention through adaptation, the more they will help our country understand that it is in our national interest to help poor people in poor countries adapt to climate change.

    The Rev. Jim Ball, Ph.D., is Executive Vice President at EEN and author of Global Warming and the Risen LORD.

  • Climate Truth-telling by a Presidential Contender

    June 07,2011, 06:57 AM

    by Jim Ball

    No one who denies that anthropogenic or human-induced climate change is a serious problem that must be overcome should be elected President of the United States. While many of the contenders for the Republican nomination have sadly run away from their previous positions affirming the need to address climate change, thankfully Mitt Romney has not.

    According to Reuters, at a recent campaign event in New Hampshire Romney was asked about climate change. Here's what he said:

    "I believe the world is getting warmer, and I believe that humans have contributed to that " It's important for us to reduce our emissions of pollutants and greenhouse gases that may be significant contributors."

    Given that the Tea Party has pressured others to flip-flop, Romney showed backbone with these words. It's a promising sign.

    The Rev. Jim Ball is EEN's Executive Vice President for Policy and Climate Change and author of Global Warming and the Risen LORD.

  • NYTimes Ignores Climate Change Again

    June 02,2011, 08:26 AM

    by Jim Ball

    The New York Times continues to ignore climate change in stories where it clearly belongs. (See my earlier blog on this topic.) Once again they are doing so regarding China, this time in a major story published on June 1st about water scarcity. In an otherwise terrific article by Edward Wong, "Plan for China's Water Crisis Spurs Concern," not once is it mentioned that China's two major rivers, the Yellow and the Yangtze, the ones that the article primarily focuses on, are fed by glaciers of the Tibetan Plateau (which includes the Himalayan glaciers), and that these glaciers are retreating because of climate change. As I say in my book, Global Warming and the Risen LORD,

    "The glacial loss has already begun due to global warming from greenhouse gases as well as the regional and localized warming effects of black carbon. China's glaciers have declined 21% since the 1950s. As much as two-thirds of the glaciers in the Himalayas are retreating at a rate that is the quickest in the world" (p.102).

    In China alone over 500 million will face additional water scarcity due to this glacial loss.

    And yet not one word from the paper of record about this in an article on the tensions and conflicts being created by a massive effort to divert water from the rural South to the water scarce mega-cities of the North. The article does mention that throughout human history the North has faced droughts and water scarcity, leading to political unrest. All the more reason for global warming's intensification of this situation to be included. Global warming will make an already bad situation worse. Why would this not be mentioned? I assume that it isn't because Mr. Wong and his editors aren't aware of this. I won't insult their intelligence in this way. So I'm led to conclude that it was intentionally left out.

    Why?

    To me this serves as another example of the failure of the mainstream media to adequately report on climate change.

    The Rev. Jim Ball, Ph.D., is EEN's Executive Vice President for Policy and Climate Change and author of Global Warming and the Risen LORD.

  • Carbon Nation -- The Best Film Yet About Overcoming Global Warming

    May 26,2011, 13:04 PM

    by Jim Ball

    Recently I viewed the film "Carbon Nation" and had lunch with the director/producer, Peter Byck. With all due respect to "An Inconvenient Truth," I found Carbon Nation to be the best film on climate change that I've seen. I definitely think it should be in the running for the Academy Award for documentary.

    Not only is it simply and incredibly well-made film, its focus on solutions is quite empowering. But it's the stories of Red State folks creating the clean energy revolution that steal the show. Entertaining, informative, empowering -- quite a combination. We will definitely be using it in our educational outreach.

    I strongly encourage everyone to check it out and use it to help educate others -- especially those who are still unsure about climate change.

    The Rev. Jim Ball, Ph.D., is EEN's VP of Policy and author of Global Warming and the Risen LORD.

  • Truth-telling Down Under

    May 24,2011, 11:13 AM

    by Jim Ball

    In the final chapter of my book, Global Warming and the Risen LORD, I write:

    "It is this decade, 2010-2020, a small sliver in time, which looms the largest in this great challenge to overcome global warming. What we do -- or fail to do -- will determine in large measure what global warming will do to the world in this century and beyond. Will our failure lead to a cascade of irreversible tipping points that result in a world unrecognizable to us? Or will we use our freedom to expand freedom around the world?" [p. 435]

    And ...

    "Many of us have been plodding along in chronological time on this great challenge, and have not awakened to the fact that we are now in kairos time when it comes to climate change. As used in the New Testament, the word kairos means a right or opportune moment usually associated with decisive action bringing about deliverance or salvation. If not acted upon, such moments can pass us by. We are in the kairos climate moment because there is still time to overcome global warming. There is still time for us to be spared from many of its potential devastating consequences, for the poor to be delivered from even more destructive impacts, for less of God's other creatures to become extinct and be robbed of God's blessing of life. If you are still operating in chronological time when it comes to overcoming global warming, it's time to wake up. Simply put: our kairos moment on global warming has arrived, and it won't last forever" [p. 436].

    Now comes an excellent report from the Australian Climate Commission that echoes this same message. I've copied and pasted in below the summary or "Key Messages" document of the larger report, which is titled simply, The Critical Decade. (Find the full report here.)

    ***************************************************************

    Australian Climate Commission Report Summary

    THE CRITICAL DECADE: KEY MESSAGES

    Over many decades thousands of scientists have painted an unambiguous picture: the global climate is changing and humanity is almost surely the primary cause. The risks have never been clearer and the case for action has never been more urgent. Our Earth's surface is warming rapidly and we can already see social, economic and environmental impacts in Australia. Failing to take sufficient action today entails potentially huge risks to our economy, society and way of life into the future. This is the critical decade for action.

    The following points highlight the key messages arising from the report The Critical Decade:

    1. There is no doubt that the climate is changing. The evidence is overwhelming and clear.

    •  The atmosphere is warming, the ocean is warming, ice is being lost from glaciers and ice caps and sea levels are rising. The biological world is changing in response to a warming world.
    •  Global surface temperature is rising fast; the last decade was the hottest on record.

    2. We are already seeing the social, economic and environmental impacts of a changing climate.

    •  With less than 1 degree of warming globally the impacts are already being felt in Australia.
    • In the last 50 years the number of record hot days in Australia has more than doubled. This has increased the risk of heatwaves and associated deaths, as well as extreme bush fire weather in South Eastern and South Western Australia.
    • Sea level has risen by 20 cm globally since the late 1800s, impacting many coastal communities. Another 20 cm increase by 2050, which is likely at current projections, would more than double the risk of coastal flooding.
    • The Great Barrier Reef has suffered from nine bleaching events in the past 31 years. This iconic natural ecosystem, and the economy that depends upon it, face serious risks from climate change.

    3. Human activities -- the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation -- are triggering the changes we are witnessing in the global climate.

    • A very large body of observations, experiments, analyses, and physical theory points to increasing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere - with carbon dioxide being the most important - as the primary cause of the observed warming.
    • Increasing carbon dioxide emissions are primarily produced by the burning of fossil fuels, such as coal and oil, as well as deforestation.
    • Natural factors, like changes in the Earth's orbit or solar activity, cannot explain the world-wide warming trend.

    4. This is the critical decade. Decisions we make from now to 2020 will determine the severity of climate change our children and grandchildren experience.

    • Without strong and rapid action there is a significant risk that climate change will undermine our society's prosperity, health, stability and way of life.
    • To minimise this risk, we must decarbonise our economy and move to clean energy sources by 2050. That means carbon emissions must peak within the next few years and then strongly decline.
    • The longer we wait to start reducing carbon emissions, the more difficult and costly those reductions become.
    • This decade is critical. Unless effective action is taken, the global climate may be so irreversibly altered we will struggle to maintain our present way of life. The choices we make this decade will shape the long-term climate future for our children and grandchildren.

    ******************************************************************

    The Rev. Jim Ball, Ph.D., is EEN's Executive Vice President for Policy and Climate Change and author of Global Warming and the Risen LORD.

  • EPA's Ability to Help Overcome Global Warming Affirmed by Senate

    April 06,2011, 15:08 PM

    by Jim Ball

    GOOD NEWS: Four separate efforts to strip, delay, or modify the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) authority to regulate greenhouse gases and have our country move forward in overcoming global warming were defeated late this afternoon in the Senate.

    50 Senators voted to uphold the EPA's authority, meaning that the opponents of action to protect the poor and vulnerable from global warming thankfully were not even able to muster a simple majority. (Sixty votes were needed on this vote to pass.)

    Unfortunately, 50 Senators also voted to strip EPA's authority, including the following: Pryor (D-AR), Snowe (R-ME), Manchin (D-WV), Graham (R-SC), Landrieu (D-LA), Kirk (R-IL), Nelson (D-NE), and Lugar (R-IN).

    On the Democratic side, it's especially disappointing to see Senators Pryor and Landrieu vote against EPA's ability to overcome global warming.

    A key Democrat who voted for delay (the Rockefeller Amendment) but not to strip EPA's authority (the McConnell/Inhofe Amendment) was Claire McCaskill (D-MO), who is up for reelection in a state that just elected Roy Blunt, a conservative Republican, as Missouri's other Senator. That probably explains why she threaded the needle in this fashion. I would hope that if her vote were the deciding one she would not have voted for delay.

    On the Republican side, Senators Graham, Snowe, and Lugar have all been leaders on efforts to overcome global warming, but sadly were on the wrong side of this vote. Snowe and Lugar are both up for reelection.

    The 50 votes to affirm the EPA should help to stiffen the spine of the Obama Administration and Majority Leader Reid in their budget struggles with the House Republicans, as perhaps a greater threat to the EPA's authority could lie in the anti-environmental riders passed by the House to defund the EPA's regulation of global warming pollution. As I write, the fate of the EPA's authority still hangs in the balance in the budget negotiations, which are currently in stalemate and could lead to a government shut-down.

    Thus, it is vital for President Obama and Majority Leader Reid to hang tough and resist these anti-environmental riders.

    While ultimately we won these votes, it also shows how much work we have left to do to create the support necessary to have our elected officials do the right thing. Having more evangelical Christians who are actively engaged in the fight to overcome global warming will go a long way to creating such support. We must play our part and live up to the gift of our citizenship and the Lordship of Christ who is leading the way in overcoming global warming.

    The Rev. Jim Ball, Ph.D., is Executive Vice President for Policy and Climate Change at EEN and author of Global Warming and the Risen LORD.

  • Overcoming Global Warming and Poverty in Nepal Via Clean Energy

    March 31,2011, 08:52 AM

    by Jim Ball

    In my book, Global Warming and the Risen LORD, I tell many positive stories of how global warming can be overcome. Here's one such story of overcoming both global warming and poverty by creating a clean energy future in Nepal (p. 382):

    Significant investments in small, household-based biogas power plants for the rural poor have occurred in Nepal, a country of 27 million where 80% of the population lives in rural areas with no electricity, relying on wood for cooking and heating. Over 200,000 such mini-power plants have been installed, providing energy to over a million people. Three-fourths of the leftover by-product (called "bio-slurry") is being used as an organic fertilizer, and 65% of these systems have the household toilet connected, helping to solve sanitation issues.

    These households have also saved approximately three hours of work a day by avoiding the need to collect firewood, and reducing time spent both cooking and cleaning off the black carbon from their pots and pans and inside their homes. These biogas systems cost about $350, with the government covering a third of the price and microcredit helping the poor pay their up-front cost.

    Before her family bought a biogas mini-power plant, one mother named Khinu Darai from the southern village of Badrahani had to walk three miles every day to collect firewood. As she put it, "Biogas is a blessing for my family. These days I don't have to go into the jungle to collect wood." She added, "It is clean and safe, and we are healthier now as we are not breathing in smoke all the time."

    Because of the avoided emissions from reducing deforestation, some of the biogas projects in Nepal have received carbon credits equivalent to over $600,000 annually through an international program called the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), which the government is using to help pay for the program.

    The Rev. Jim Ball, Ph.D., is Executive Vice President of EEN and author of the award-winning Global Warming and the Risen LORD.

  • Op-Ed Supporting EPA by Two Former Republican EPA Chiefs

    March 25,2011, 12:17 PM

    by Jim Ball

    Some common-sense words of wisdom on the Washingon Post Op-Ed page today from two former Republican Administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), William Ruckelshaus and Christine Todd Whitman. (Ruckelshaus served under both Nixon and Reagan, and Whitman under George W. Bush.)

    Their piece is titled, "A Siege Against the EPA and Environmental Progress." Here are some excerpts:

    "The Senate is poised to vote on a bill that would, for the first time, "disapprove" of a scientifically based finding, in this case that greenhouse gases endanger public health and welfare. This finding was extensively reviewed by officials in the administrations of presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. It was finalized by the Environmental Protection Agency in response to a 2007 Supreme Court decision that greenhouse gases fit within the Clean Air Act definition of air pollutants."

    (FYI, on action in the Senate, see our Action Alert for how you can respond.)

    "Earlier this year, the House of Representatives approved a bill that would cut the EPA's budget by nearly a third and in certain areas impede its ability to protect our air and water ... It has taken four decades to put in place the infrastructure to ensure that pollution is controlled through limitations on corporate, municipal and individual conduct. Dismantle that infrastructure today, and a new one would have to be created tomorrow at great expense and at great sacrifice to America's public health and environment. The American public will not long stand for an end to regulations that have protected their health and quality of life."

    I hope their fellow Republicans in Congress (and wavering Democrats, especially in the Senate) heed their warning.

    The Rev. Jim Ball is Executive Vice President for Policy and author of Global Warming and the Risen LORD.

  • Natural Disasters: End-Times or Climate Change?

    March 25,2011, 10:44 AM

    by Jim Ball

    A new poll released by the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) and the Religion News Service (RNS), conducted between March 17-19 after the Japanese tsunami found that:

    "Nearly six in 10 evangelicals believe God can use natural disasters to send messages"nearly twice the number of Catholics (31 percent) or mainline Protestants (34 percent). Evangelicals (53 percent) are also more than twice as likely as the one in five Catholics or mainline Protestants to believe God punishes nations for the sins of some citizens."

    Oy vey.

    "Nearly half of Americans (44 percent) say the increased severity of recent natural disasters is evidence of biblical 'end times,' but a larger share (58 percent) believe it is evidence of climate change."

    Where is most of this "end-times" opinion coming from? Here's what the poll found:

    • "Among White evangelicals, 67% believe that natural disasters are evidence of what the Bible calls the 'end times' compared to 52% who see it as evidence of global climate change.
    • Among Republicans, 52% believe that natural disasters are evidence of what the Bible calls the 'end times' compared to 41% who see it as evidence of global climate change."

    Now you can see that a good number of evangelicals simultaneously believe that natural disasters are both signs of climate change and of the end-times. For them they are not mutually exclusive categories. And while on many issues, the numbers for "Republicans" and "white evangelicals" are very close, an additional 15% of evangelicals believe natural disasters are signs of the end-times, and 11% more are willing to see natural disasters as evidence of climate change. The latter is particularly interesting, and leaves me wondering if belief in end-times signs might make some evangelicals more willing to believe in climate change.

    Another thing to note is that, despite all the sexy, headline-grabbing stuff about evangelicals and end-times beliefs, there is only a 6% difference between white evangelicals (52%) who believe that intensified natural disasters are evidence of climate change, and the overall number (58%) who do so.

    And if the Republican number of 41% who believe in the connection between natural disasters and climate change includes a good number of white evangelicals, then they are boosting that 41% significantly -- meaning there could be a big difference between non-evangelical Republicans and evangelical Republicans on this belief.

    The Rev. Jim Ball, Ph.D., is Executive Vice President of the Evangelical Environmental Network and author of Global Warming and the Risen LORD.

  • Climate Change at the Doorstep

    March 07,2011, 05:21 AM

    Watch the full episode. See more Need To Know.

  • Becoming the Anti-Science Party

    February 25,2011, 12:53 PM

    by Jim Ball

    One of our two major political parties, one of the great political parties in our nation's history, the party of our greatest President, Abraham Lincoln, who signed into law the creation of the National Academy of Sciences (our premier scientific body), is gaining a reputation as the anti-science party right before our eyes. It's a sad spectacle.

    The rhetoric, frankly, has been there for awhile. But now that the Republicans control the House, rhetoric is turning into votes.

    A former Republican Chair of the House Science Committee, Sherwood Boehlert, provided this warning after the election in November:

    "My fellow Republicans should understand that wholesale, ideologically based or special-interest-driven rejection of science is bad policy. And that in the long run, it's also bad politics."

    Now comes an editorial in the esteemed journal Science from the former head of the science office of the Department of Energy during the George W. Bush Administration, Raymond Orbach:

    "It was with a mixture of astonishment and dismay that I watched as the U.S. House of Representatives approved H.R. 1, a bill to fund the federal government for the rest of the 2011 fiscal year. Left intact, the massive cuts in research contained in the bill passed on 19 February would effectively end America's legendary status as the leader of the worldwide scientific community, putting the United States at a distinct disadvantage when competing with other nations in the global marketplace."

    An anti-science bent was even more on display in a successful vote -- at 1:50am Saturday morning Feb. 19 -- on an amendment to totally defund the world's premier scientific body on climate change, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Only three Republicans voted against this shameful amendment (go here to see the recorded vote).

    Like any human endeavor, the IPCC has its imperfections and has made a few mistakes in its 30-plus years of existence. But it is universally recognized -- including by our own National Academy of Sciences -- as the most respected scientific authority on climate change, having also won the Nobel Prize in 2007. Furthermore, the funding amount is so small -- about $10 million -- in comparison to the total federal budget, that the primary reason for this amendment was to significantly damage the IPCC's ability to do its job. (The IPCC's thousands of scientists and policy experts from around the world are primarily volunteers. So it's one of the greatest bargains around.)

    The IPCC's work is absolutely essential, and this misguided vote to completely zero out the US contribution to their funding is at the forefront of an extreme attack by House Republicans on the funding of science. Wisdom and prudence dictates that the Senate and the Administration reject these efforts that would have the US forfeit its worldwide leadership in science.

    The Rev. Jim Ball, Ph.D., is EEN's Executive Vice President and author of Global Warming and the Risen LORD.

  • Efficient Cookstoves Help the Poor -- and Tackle Global Warming

    February 24,2011, 05:10 AM

    by Jim Ball

    As I discuss in my book, Global Warming and the Risen LORD (pp. 375-380), 2.5 billion people on the planet cook using simple but inefficient stoves. Amazing as it seems, such stoves are contributors to global warming, and therefore offer tremendous opportunities to both help the poor and overcome global warming simultaneously. The contribute in two basic ways: (1) through deforestation (if the fuel is wood) and (2) the release of black carbon (a form of soot), which is the second leading cause of global warming. As I say in the book,

    "Unlike greenhouse gases, black carbon and other pollutants associated with it can also have regional impacts affecting about 3 billion people, including 20%-50% more warming, the melting of snowpacks and glaciers in the Himalayan region, and regional drought" (p. 375).

    That melting in the Himalayan region is significant, as it is the fount for water for 40% of the world's population.

    Now comes word that a company I talk about in the book, Envirofit, has just announced a major cookstove project in Nigeria.

    According to a ClimateWire article by Lisa Friedman,

    Nigeria could become a testing ground for the world's most ambitious effort to provide affordable clean cookstoves that can also earn carbon credits and turn a profit.

    In a partnership announced today between the nonprofit cookstove maker Envirofit International, the Shell Foundation and the carbon finance company C-Quest Capital, officials laid out a plan to deliver 2 million improved cookstoves to Nigerian homes over the next seven years. The effort, C-Quest CEO Ken Newcombe said, is expected to eliminate 9 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions.

    "It's really only, in my view, in the last 18 months, realistically 12, that it's been possible for the private sector to take risks" on projects like clean cookstoves, Newcombe said.

    This is quite significant. In my book I argue that cookstoves projects at the scale needed will only be succussful if a business model rather than a charity mentality is the guiding force.

    According to the article, the reason this project is moving forward is

    because the United Nations' Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), which enables polluting companies and countries to earn carbon credits in return for establishing clean energy projects in developing countries, recently published methodologies to support capturing the carbon emissions-saving values of cookstoves and also enabled the bundling together of individual cookstove projects into a larger program that can obtain CDM credits.

    This is terrific news for cookstove projects around the world, such as the project EEN supports by one of our network partner organizations, Plant With Purpose.

    The benefits of such efficient cookstoves are much more than their contributions to overcoming global warming. Indeed, such contributions are simply an added bonus. Here's how I summarized the benefits in my book:

    (1) use energy more efficiently;

    (2) reduce deforestation and its greenhouse gas emissions;

    (3) reduce or eliminate black carbon emissions;

    (4) improve human health;

    (5) reduce time spent collecting fuel and cooking, thereby providing women and girls more opportunities;

    (6) increase the family budget; and

    (7) provide local employment.

    I conclude by saying that one word can sum this all up: freedom. Efficient cookstoves are freedom stoves. So three cheers for Envirofit's new Nigeria project, and for the ability of other projects to get CDM carbon credits.

    The Rev. Jim Ball, Ph.D., is Executive Vice President at EEN and author of Global Warming and the Risen LORD.

  • Climate Adaptation in Malawi: An Investment with a Tremendous Rate of Return

    February 14,2011, 17:38 PM

    by Jim Ball

    In my book, Global Warming and the Risen LORD, I tell of the many success stories out there when it comes to overcoming both the causes and the consequences of global warming. We can overcome global warming, but we need to get started in a major way very soon.

    Here is one such recent succes story from our evangelical colleagues in Great Britain working at Tear Fund, a Christian relief and development organization doing excellent work on climate change. It involves a four-year project focused on food security and climate adaptation in over 50 rural villages in Malawi, one of the most densely populated and least developed countries in the world.

    "This study found that the programme had a highly positive impact on target communities in terms of household income and assets, education, health and reduced mortality rates. Remarkably, for every US$1 invested, the project activities delivered US$24 of net benefits for the communities to help them overcome food insecurity while building their resilience to drought and erratic weather. This is a conservative estimate and the true figure could be as much as US$36. This positive financial return on investment provides a powerful argument for investing in preventative activities in vulnerable small-scale agricultural communities." [p. 3]

    Remarkable: for every $1 invested a return of $24-36. Try finding that rate of return in a business investment in the US!

    Rev. Jim Ball, Ph.D., is Executive Vice President at EEN and author of Global Warming and the Risen LORD.

  • Water in the SW & West - Trouble Brewing Via Global Warming

    February 11,2011, 11:59 AM

    by Jim Ball

    A terrific news blog by Time's Bryan Walsh summarizes several recent studies about future climate-enhanced drought in the Southwest and West here in the US. (Does this suggest that the Main Stream Media are starting to appropriately report on climate change, something I claimed wasn't happening in an earlier blog? Nope. Walsh's blog is a web post in a special "Ecocentric" blog page on Time's site.)

    The new studies suggest that population growth alone in the Southwest and West will severely exacerbate water shortfalls, potentially costing over $2 trillion to fix. Global warming would increase the problem by up to 25%.

    It's a no-brainer, of course, that you certainly don't want to make a bad situation 25% worse, costing an additional $350-550 billion. As I point out in my book, Global Warming and the Risen LORD, scientists are worried climate change will help to create a "mega-drought" of historic proportions in the SW and West (pp. 70-71). These new studies add a more detailed economic analysis of the potential costs.

    But Walsh doesn't just speak about drought in the US. He helpfully expands the conversation this way:

    "Even scarier might be the impact of climate drying on agriculture. Food prices are already at a record high"thanks to extreme weather events, rising demand in developing nations and likely some speculation"but in the decades to come farmers will need to feed billions more, many of them wealthier and demanding more meat. (One lb. of animal protein can require 100 lbs. of grain to produce, and thousands of gallons of water.) 70% of the world's freshwater is used for irrigation, so when we talk about water-related climate problems, we're really talking about farming. Even more worrying, agriculture in much of the world has already been propped up by groundwater pumped from aquafiers"but half the planet lives in areas where water tables are falling due to overdepletion. According to the World Bank, 15% of India's food supply is grown with water produced by aquafiers ..."

    Here Walsh does what others in the MSM have failed to do: integrate climate impacts on food and other areas into current concerns about rising food prices and the possibility that climate change will help create social instability in the future.

    Rev. Jim Ball, Ph.D., is Executive Vice President at EEN and author of Global Warming and the Risen LORD.

  • EPA Administrator Jackson Successfully Defends Views Before House Committee

    February 10,2011, 15:01 PM
    EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson
    EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson

    by Jim Ball

    I have just finished watching the head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Administrator Lisa Jackson, successfully defend the EPA's regulation of greenhouse gases at a hearing of the House Energy and Power Subcommittee. I hope the Committee will post up video of Administrator Jackson's appearance and I urge anyone who can to watch some or all of it to do so. (We'll post a link if/when it becomes available.)

    I think any fair-minded individual who watched the hearing would come away grateful that a person of Administrator Jackson's gifts, abilities, and temperament was heading up the EPA. I also think that she successfully: (1) defended the need for regulations to protect human health, (2) explained that the EPA was doing what the Supreme Court said the Clean Air Act (CAA) required the EPA to do, and (3) explained that the EPA had taken economic consequences into consideration in promulgating the various GHG rules. Indeed, she successfully made the case that it would actually benefit the overall economy.

    The stated purpose of the hearing, according to the Chair of the Energy and Power Subcommittee, Rep. Whitfield (R-KY) was as follows:

    "Today's hearing will focus on a greenhouse gas (GHG) rulemaking within the Environmental Protection Agency that many of us believe attempts to address an issue properly within the purview of the Congress, and legislation that would restore the proper balance to decision-making affecting it."

    The draft legislation referred to by Chairman Whitfield is the Upton-Whitfield-Inhofe Energy Tax Prevention Act, which according to today's hearing would prevent the EPA from regulating GHGs. While EEN agrees with Congressman Whitfield that the best public policy approach would be a new law passed by Congress, we oppose any efforts to roll back the authority of the EPA to regulate global warming pollution absent such legislation. If Congress wants to pass a law that would actually have our country play its proper role in overcoming global warming, terrific. But a do-nothing stance is not acceptable. From what I heard at the hearing, the Upton-Whitfield-Inhofe bill is a do-nothing approach

    Rev. Jim Ball is Executive Vice President at EEN and author of Global Warming and the Risen LORD.

  • Climate, Food Security and Instability: How the Mainstream Media is Under-reporting the Connections

    February 08,2011, 15:35 PM

    by Jim Ball

    Did you know that China is the world's #1 producer of wheat? I didn't. That's just one of the interesting facts to be found in a great New York Times article by veteran reporter Keith Bradshear that was prominently featured on their homepage today. One of the reasons this fact may be less well known is that much about China's wheat production and reserves is kept secret by China's government. Another reason is that until now China has been self-sufficient when it comes to wheat. China, a self-sufficient, silent wheat giant.

    But that has started to change.

    What prompted the NYT article was the fact that the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) just issued an alert that China's severe drought has started to significantly impact its wheat crop. According to the NYT, the Chinese government itself reported that its most important area for wheat production "was bracing for its worst drought in 200 years unless substantial precipitation came by the end of this month."

    The article goes on to note the following:

    • World wheat prices are already surging and are playing a role in unrest in the Middle East, including Egypt.
    • Part of the current surge in wheat prices is due to the unprecedented Russian heat waves last summer and the floods in Australia " both normally big wheat exporters.
    • Normally China produces one-sixth the world's wheat output, producing almost twice as much as the U.S. or Russia and five times as much as Australia.
    • China has the cash to buy however much wheat they will require.

    So prices are already high enough to cause unrest in a strategic part of the world. What's going to happen when China really enters the market?

    Could global warming have something to do with unprecedented heat waves, floods, and droughts? Could increasing global warming bring about even worse situations in the future? Is there any mention of this in Bradshear's NYT's article?

    Nary a peep. Zip. Nada.

    You won't find a mention of global warming in Bradshear's article. But you will find it in a terrific op-ed published two days before the FAO's food security alert and Bradshear's article. Who wrote the op-ed and where was it published? Paul Krugman, in the NYT. Krugman had the foresight to be ahead of this story.

    Here are a few quotes:

    "While several factors have contributed to soaring food prices, what really stands out is the extent to which severe weather events have disrupted agricultural production. And these severe weather events are exactly the kind of thing we'd expect to see as rising concentrations of greenhouse gases change our climate -- which means that the current food price surge may be just the beginning."

    Krugman continues:

    "Consider the case of wheat, whose price has almost doubled since the summer. The immediate cause of the wheat price spike is obvious: world production is down sharply. The bulk of that production decline, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture data, reflects a sharp plunge in the former Soviet Union. And we know what that's about: a record heat wave and drought, which pushed Moscow temperatures above 100 degrees for the first time ever.

    The Russian heat wave was only one of many recent extreme weather events, from dry weather in Brazil to biblical-proportion flooding in Australia, that have damaged world food production.

    The question then becomes, what's behind all this extreme weather?

    To some extent we're seeing the results of a natural phenomenon, La Niña " a periodic event in which water in the equatorial Pacific becomes cooler than normal. And La Niña events have historically been associated with global food crises, including the crisis of 2007-8. But that's not the whole story " As always, you can't attribute any one weather event to greenhouse gases. But the pattern we're seeing, with extreme highs and extreme weather in general becoming much more common, is just what you'd expect from climate change."

    It's a sad day when the "paper of record" relegates to its op-ed page the connection of climate change to events being covered on its front page. (And the lack of a legitimate mention of climate change in its reporting is a pattern with the NYT.) Have they been cowed by the climate skeptics?  

    When the Silent Wheat Giant is suffering its worst drought in 200 years in its bread basket, when wheat prices are already high due to unprecedented heat waves in Russia (although now considered by scientists to be a rare but natural event) and floods in Australia, when such prices are helping to contribute to unrest in the Middle East, and when the wheat shortage will only get worse when China enters the market in earnest, it is well past time for the mainstream media to connect the dots for their readers and help inform them of how climate change may be contributing to this situation, and certainly will contribute in the future.

    Rev. Jim Ball is Executive Vice President at EEN and author of Global Warming and the Risen LORD.

  • Floods, Droughts, and Locusts in Australia

    January 18,2011, 09:04 AM

    Since 2003, Australia has been hit with a series of droughts, floods and locust plagues. A business colleague sent these stunning pictures of agricultural regions in 2010, before the most recent flooding.

    The Homeland Security Newswire summarizes the current situation:

    "Brisbane, a city of two million and Australia's third largest, is flooded; roads are inundated, railway lines have been cut, and sewage is spreading into the waters; dozens of suburbs are under three meters of water, with some factories and homes only visible by their roofs; more than 100,000 properties had their power cut as a precaution against flooding of electricity substations; the worst affected area was the town of Toowoomba, west of Brisbane, where residents described an 8-meter "instant inland tsunami" ripping through the streets on Monday; the flood zone in northern Australia now covers area larger than Germany and France combined."

    You may be wondering:

    Is this normal? No, these are extreme events, even for Australia.

    Is this the result of climate change? Probably. More about this in a moment.

    Is this the "new normal" for Australia, long droughts followed by monster storms? Perhaps; this is the fear, a permanently altered climate, a "normal" that anything but normal.

    A quick reminder of how the climate is changing. As humans burn oil, coal and wood, CO2 is released into the atmosphere. Increasing levels of CO2 trap increasing amounts of the sun's energy. As the planet warms, droughts get longer, and precipitation becomes more intense. The computer models predict that before the polar ice caps melt and the coastal cities flood, droughts become longer and rainfall becomes more intense. We have seen the future foreshadowed in Australia, Pakistan, Indonesia, Russia and Africa.

    To date, much of the burden of climate change has fallen on the world's poor, particularly small farmers. Australia may become the most affected rich country. But eventually Australia's problem will affect all of us.

    Elton Sherwin is a Silicon Valley venture capitalist. His most recent book, Addicted to Energy, is written as a letter of advice to a fictional governor. He attends Menlo Park Presbyterian Church and is studying BSF International's Isaiah curriculum. He is particularly concerned about job creation and American competitiveness, both issues discussed in his book. More information, including his blogs from the Cancun Climate Conference can be found at www.EltonSherwin.com.

  • Dan Boone's review of Global Warming and the Risen LORD

    January 14,2011, 15:42 PM

    Dan Boone, President of Trevecca Nazarene University and Nashville, has reviewed Jim Ball's book, Global Warming and the Risen LORD.

    Here's an excerpt:

    "I see two primary strengths of the book. First, Jim has connected the dots between local and global, legislation and practice, money and method. He takes us to a grieving family in New Orleans and a Selco customer in India. He meets the global community as it wrestles with the impact of global warming. In connecting these dots, Jim fairly assesses the responsibility of the United States for causing and curing global warming. He calls our government to act in tandem with leading businesses, energy producers and consuming customers. It is a joint effort whose workload falls equally on us all.

    The second strength is that a man who has carried this banner for 20 years and has experienced opposition from those who share his faith in the Risen Lord, from those whose greed compels them to earn by polluting, from those in the halls of Congress whose wallets are thicker than his, from those who purport themselves to be fair and balanced, and from those who simply wish to be left alone to consume as they wish without regard for the future " after all this, Jim is a man of deep hope.

    The dying world has not squeezed the joy of God's tomorrow from him. Not once does he become the angry, guilt-heaping, finger-wagging prophet of doom, consigning the church to hell for ignoring the obvious signs of danger. Instead, he still sees the people of God as the world's best chance for change. And he roots this, not in our moral duty, but in our response to a loving God who also loves every global neighbor. In short, Jim gives me hope that together the people of God can respond to global warming as an act of loving the neighbor."

    Click here to read Dan's complete review. And let us know your thoughts.

  • It's Only a Natural Cycle

    December 17,2010, 10:56 AM

    by Dr. Howard Snyder, Professor of Wesley Studies, Tyndale University College and Seminary

    When war killed the land and the people were slain,
    and governments raged, then I heard this refrain:

    "It's only a natural cycle."When economists saw how their ways harmed the weak,
    from the left to the right I could hear them all speak:
    "It's only a natural cycle."

    flickr by creative commons Timothy Hamilton
    flickr by creative commons Timothy Hamilton

    When blacks by the millions were brought here in ships,
    then planters grew rich, with this song on their lips:
    "It's only a natural cycle."

    When babies were slain at the prenatal stage,
    those who justified said, sometimes in a rage:
    "It's only a natural cycle."

    When human pollution spread death all around
    then the status-quo people raised again the old sound:
    "It's only a natural cycle."

    When weather broke loose from its normal constraints
    once again people said to the growing complaints:
    "It's only a natural cycle."

    If our children survive and condemn their forebears
    for our shortsighted ways we pursued unawares
    and the death and the loss and avoidable pain,
    how hollow and sad then will seem the refrain:
    "It was only a natural cycle."

  • Back from Cancun

    December 16,2010, 12:20 PM

    by Elton Sherwin

    Returning from the World Climate Summit in Cancun, I felt a nudge to do the homework from the Bible study class I missed while in Mexico. Since I had missed the class I almost took the week off from studying scripture. But something nudged me to read the lesson. It was Isaiah 24:

    "The earth dries up and withers""

    "The floodgates of the heavens are opened""

    photo by Gilbert Rodriguez used through flickr creative commons
    photo by Gilbert Rodriguez used through flickr creative commons

    I was struck by the fact that Isaiah prophesied both droughts and floods. Déjà vu of the Cancun conference.

    Climate scientists have made the same prediction. Computer models at Stanford and elsewhere predict that our air pollution will cause precipitation to become more intense and droughts to become longer. Seemingly contradictory outcomes: More rain and longer droughts.

    It is hard to visualize why wrapping our planet with heat-trapping gases "CO2, methane, smog, and industrial chemicals"causes storms to become more intense and simultaneously droughts to become longer. But they do. We already see this in Texas and elsewhere around the world, record floods one year, followed by record droughts.

    Isaiah might not have understood the mechanism, but his prophecies align with today's computer models. Greenhouse gases cause more intense rain and snow, and longer droughts. It is a problem for Americans and a huge problem for the world's poor.

    I am not the first to see parallels between Isaiah's vision and our world. And there is the temptation to say, "The Bible foretells catastrophe, so I will just get on with my life"I cannot do anything."

    But scripture does not call us help destroy the planet. Scripture calls us to be good stewards of the planet.

    I believe the Old Testament scripture requires us to protect the planet and to protect those who are the most vulnerable.

    I am glad I did my homework. Now there is the tough job of putting into practice God's call.

    Elton Sherwin is a Silicon Valley venture capitalist. His most recent book, Addicted to Energy, is written as a letter of advice to a fictional governor. He attends Menlo Park Presbyterian Church and is studying BSF International's Isaiah curriculum. He is particularly concerned about job creation and American competitiveness, both issues discussed in his book. More information, including his blogs from the Cancun Climate Conference can be found at www.EltonSherwin.com

  • The Cancun Climate Talks: Important but Modest Progress Achieved

    December 14,2010, 21:55 PM

    by Jim Ball, Executive Vice President of Public Policy, Climate Campaign

    As I lay out in my new book, Global Warming and the Risen LORD, climate change is both a major threat but also a tremendous opportunity for the world's poor. In Cancun last week at the international climate talks, important but modest progress was made in addressing the threat and creating opportunities. Dealing with the threat includes addressing both the causes (i.e. the pollution) and the consequences or impacts. Reducing the causes is called mitigation, and dealing with the consequences is called adaptation.

    Concerning mitigation, Cancun essentially ratified the approach of the Copenhagen Accord last year that was forged due to the leadership of President Obama. This includes pledges by both the US and China to reduce their emissions in a verifiable way. Such verifiable pledges are extremely important for an eventual international legally-binding treaty, given that the US and China are the largest emitters. Such pollution-reduction pledges, along with the pledges from other countries, are not yet sufficient to overcome global warming. But they are a beginning. They are based on what countries can realistically get done domestically. In the US this will require both EPA regulations under the Clean Air Act, actions by the states (e.g. California'slaw, AB 32), and additional clean energy laws in this next Congress and eventually a price on carbon after 2012. The most important thing right now is to get started in a way that begins to move the big economies into the clean energy future. And this will happen with actions at the domestic level. For those of us who are Christians here in the US, we need to support the necessary government actions, but also find ways to spur the clean energy revolution (My book lays out the possibilities.).

    This coming clean energy revolution is good news for the poor, because as the developed countries and China continue to create products that use less energy and technologies that produce clean energy like wind, solar, and biogas, the prices for such items will continue to come down. This will allow them to get it right from the beginning to grow cleanly instead of the dirty and inefficient way we did. At Cancun, initial agreements were reached on what is called "tech transfer" to help poor countries receive such climate-friendly, clean, and efficient technologies to power sustainable economic progress.

    Another important way to do mitigationis through planting and maintaining trees and forests. (Live trees soak up carbon; dead trees release it.) In the wonk-speak of climate policy maintaining forests is called "REDD" or reducing deforestation and forest degradation. A REDD framework was affirmed, but how such activities will be financed is not yet clear. Importantly, the framework does state that there must be "The full and effective participation of relevant stakeholders,in particular, indigenous peoples and local communities." We must continue to insist that the rights of the poor are respected and protected, so that perverse incentives are not created that would lead to them being pushed off their land.

    As I stress in my book, two-thirds of mitigation activities in this century need to occur in developing countries. This will create tremendous opportunities for the poor to create sustainable economic progress for themselves. But such activities won't happen at the scale required without agreements being finalized in the international talks on how much each country will mitigate, and how much funding will go to "tech transfer" and REDD.

    Furthermore, such an international deal won't be finalized without there being sufficient funds from the developed countries to help the poorest and the most vulnerable countries adapt to the consequences they didn't cause.

    Last year at Copenhagen, Secretary Clinton put forward the proposal that developed countries provide $30 billionin "fast start" financing, increasing to $100 billion by 2020. Such funds were to come from both the publicand private sector, and be for both mitigation and adaptation. This was ratified at Cancun. In addition, the framework for the actual institutional mechanism to deal with a good portion of these funds, christened at Cancun as the "Green Climate Fund," was created. Such institutional progress might not sound very sexy, but it is essential. Importantly, the Green Climate Fund "shall be governed by a board of 24 members comprising an equal number of members from developing and developed country Parties." (In other words, poor countries have significant representation.) Equally importantly, such funding can be both "bilateral" and "multilateral."

    Here in the US it is essential for there to be the flexibility to have roughly half of such assistance be bilateral or country-to-country assistance. This could include funding given by USAID to US-based relief and development organizations such as World Vision or Food for the Hungry for climate adaptation programs in poor countries. Bilateral funding helps build the political confidence within Congress that the funds are being used to achieve their intended purpose. Multilateral funding through the Green Climate Fund will provide developing countries more confidence about such funds given their representation on the Fund's board.

    It is crucial to maintain both types of confidence, and the Cancun Agreement does that. The one thing it doesn't do is determine where the multilateral/Green Climate Fund money, especially for adaptation, will come from.

    One final thing to note is something else that was approved: the "Cancun Adaptation Framework." This began the process of formalizing what is meant by climate adaptation, that countries must create national adaptation plans, and that the poor countries must be provided technical and financial assistance in creating such plans and programs.

    Thus, the Cancun Agreements formally approved much of what was put forward at Copenhagen as relates to mitigation and funding, and made important but modest progress in creating frameworks for action in the areas of adaptation and REDD. All of this can eventually bring tremendous opportunities for the world's poor through reduced pollution, diminishment of future impacts from global warming, and creation of clean sustainable economic progress.

    Ultimately, each country must summon the will to do its part. Here in the US, Christians must help to provide that will. As I describe in depth in my book, it is by following the Risen LORD that we Christians will be able to play our part. He is the One Who is leading the way in overcoming global warming.

  • Does Believing the World is Just lead to Climate Skepticism?

    November 23,2010, 10:27 AM

    by Jim Ball

    In a forthcoming article to be published in the journal Psychological Science, Robb Willer and Matthew Feinberg, social scientists at U C-Berkeley, present evidence suggesting those who believe the world is "just, orderly, and stable" are primed to become global warming skeptics. This will happen if such individuals are presented with messages about global warming that significantly contradict these very notions. Here is an extended excerpt from their paper that explains this theory (subsequently confirmed by their experiments):

    We contend that one cause of global warming skepticism may be that such dire messages [i.e., messages "that highlight the dire risks associated with unchecked global warming"] threaten individuals' need to believe that the world is just, orderly, and stable, a motive that is widely held and deeply ingrained in many people (Lerner, 1980; Lerner & Miller, 1978). Research shows that many individuals have a strong need to perceive the world as just "believing that future rewards await those who judiciously strive for them, and punishments are meted out to those who deserve them" (Dalbert, 2001; Furnham, 2003). Research on Just World Theory has demonstrated that when individuals' need to believe in a just world is threatened, they commonly employ defensive responses, such as dismissing or rationalizing the information that threatened their just world beliefs (forreviews, see Furnham, 2003; Hafer & Begue, 2005).

    Furthermore, in their experiments Willer and Feinberg found that when those who believe in a just, orderly, and stable world were presented with dire global warming messages and then asked if they would be willing to take actions to reduce their carbon footprint, such willingness dropped even further.

    So it is the need to believe that the world as it exists is just, orderly, and stable, which is threatened by the consequences of global warming. And instead of modifying one's worldview to accept the fact that global warming is indeed a threat to justice, order, and stability, denial is the solution for those whose climate skepticism increases when presented with the facts.

    Contrary to what some may think,belief in a just, orderly, and stable world is not simply some infantile delusion of those who cannot accept the world as it really is. Rather, it is an echo of God's original design. We were created to live in such a world, and our desire for it to currently reflect justice, order, and stability is a good thing. It is the way God's creation should be.

    But to believe that it is the way things currently are is a profound theological mistake with serious ramifications. Genesis 3 tells us that sin entered the world and it is still not what God intended. Christ's death reconciles all things (Col. 1:20) but creation is still groaning until we become all God created us to be when God will create a new heaven and a new earth (Rom 8; Rev 21). In our "already/not yet" existence where we have been redeemed but the fullness of reconciliation is not yet a reality, to believe that the world is already just, orderly, and stable can become spiritually dangerous. Empowered by Christ's grace and guided by the Holy Spirit, God's will for each of us is that we do what we can to create such a world. To fail to do so is a failure of righteousness. If our God-created desire for such a world actually becomes a belief that such a world currently exists, and if threats to such a world like global warming are denied instead of faced and overcome, then we have been captured by a spiritual perversity that will prevent us from doing God's will. Not good!

    So one way to help resolve this problem is simply to continue to expound and teach a full biblical worldview, because without it one can head in the wrong direction. Let's not let a good desire lead us to a bad outcome!

    Willer and Feinberg's research suggests an additional way of avoiding an increase in climate skepticism for those who desire a just, orderly, and stable world. And that is to help people understand that global warming can be overcome. As they put it, if dire messages about global warming "are delivered coupled with a potential solution, it allows the information to be communicated without creating substantial threat to these individuals' deeply held beliefs."

    Balancing realism with hope is something I do in my new book, Global Warming and the Risen LORD.  You can see the balance right in the title. While I provide a realistic depiction of future impacts of global warming, with a particular focus on the unjust impacts that will befall the poor in poor countries, I also stress that the key to global warming is the literal presence of the Risen LORD in our lives " because He is the one leading the way in overcoming global warming." The book also provides numerous stories of people making a difference, and shows how it is indeed possible with technologies available today to overcome global warming.

    Our desire for a just, orderly, ands table world is right and good, because it corresponds with God's "original plan" and is what His Kingdom will be like when it comes in its fullness. We must let this desire help propel us to follow the Risen LORD as He leads the way in overcoming global warming.

    ****************************************************************************

    Click here for more information on Global Warming and the Risen LORD. To join the conversation sparked by the book, check out the book's Facebook page.

  • Pondering Climate Change

    November 10,2010, 08:46 AM

    by Rev. Mitch Hescox

    Want something to ponder over your morning cup of coffee? What do the U.S. Department of Defense, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Lung Association, American Medical Association, American Nurses Association, the National Academies of Science, American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Chemical Society, American Society of Agronomy, American Society of Plant Biologists, Crop Science Society of America, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the bishops of the United Methodist Church, and many of the largest evangelical church pastors in America have in common?

    They all agree that climate change is real, influenced by humanity's fossil-fuel energy consumption and by poor care of our planet's resources. As people of faith are pointing out, this is not a partisan political issue, but a moral issue that already affects the health and well being of millions across the world, including the United States.

    Currently, hundreds of thousands of Africans die each year as food production decreases and vector-borne diseases increase as temperatures rise. Peruvian farmers face the same exasperating conditions as glaciers disappear, disrupting water flow for irrigation, and as malaria reaches into mountain villages once believed too cool for mosquito existence. Alaskan villages are disappearing into the Bering Sea, forcing relocations. Millions will be forced to flee the coastal areas of Bangladesh and many South Pacific islands in the near future. Here at home, increased temperatures and very new and different weather patterns decrease crop production, affect the poor and elderly the most, and have brought topical diseases like dengue fever into Florida and Texas.

    The year 2010 has seen weird weather, and continued climate change will bring more of the same. Ponder the past several months: massive winter storms throughout much of the U.S.; an iceberg roughly five-times the size of Manhattan broke away from Greenland; wildfires in Russia killed thousands and destroyed its wheat crop; the Pakistani flooding devastated an already troubled nation and effectively obliterated their crops for the next two years. Not to mention that 2010 to date ties for the warmest year on record, making 13 of the past 14 years the hottest ever recorded.

    Ponder this as well: If we wake up to the reality of climate change, stop playing politics and act now, we can reduce the effects, save millions of lives and provide a much healthier world for our children and ourselves. It will take change and commitment, but as Americans we are up to the challenge.

    Original post can be found at the Courier Journal by clicking here.

  • Post Post Election

    November 08,2010, 01:51 AM

    by Rev. Jim Ball Executive Vice President for Policy and Climate Change

    The fossil fuel industry and their media enablers are trying to spin the recent election as a "no confidence" vote on doing the right thing on sound climate and energy policy. It's helpful to set the record straight so that a false perception doesn't set in.

    Here are the facts:

    • 80% of those in the House who voted for the Waxman-Markey climate and energy bill were reelected.
    • 7 of the 8 Republicans who voted for Waxman-Markey were either reelected, became a Senator (Kirk, IL), or were appointed Sec. of the Navy (McHugh).
    • Looking at those Democrats labeled "endangered"by the Cook Political Report, 61% who voted in favor of Waxman-Markey lost. But 79% of the endangered Ds who voted against the bill were also defeated. That's an 18% difference in favor of showing climate leadership.
    • A poll done right after the election of those who voted found that "When voters who chose the Republican candidate were asked in an open ended question to name their biggest concern about the Democrat,only 1 percent cited something related to energy or cap and trade. And when offered a list of six arguments Republicans made against Democrats, only 7percent of voters selected the so-called 'cap and trade energy tax'" (Greenberg/Quinlan/Rosner).

    So don't be hood winked by the polluters and their media enablers. It's good to know the truth about doing the right thing

  • 100-Square Mile Island Splits in Half!

    October 07,2010, 13:55 PM

    by John Elwood

    No, this story isn't from the National Enquirer. Maybe you saw the original account in early August: Spurred by recordwarming temperatures in Greenland and the North Atlantic, one of the largest glaciers in the world suffered a major collapse, with a massive sheet of icebreaking off and sliding into the ocean between Labrador and Greenland.

    Aerial photographs are accurate, but they don't capture the awesome mass and power of the event. This one shows the mouth of the Greenland's Petermann Glacier, with the newly-born Petermann Ice Island sliding down the fjord and into the ocean. First reported in early August, the glacier shed an enormous 100-square-mile floating island of ice. Researchers now report that this is the largest break of the Petermann Glacier to occur since record keeping began in 1876.

    Really now, how big is this thing? Well, forstarters, it is really thick, at more than 600 feet. That's about as thick as New York's General Motors Building is high; or San Francisco'sTransamerica Pyramid; or the Chicago Board of Trade Building. We call it an ice sheet, but we mean something more like an ice plateau.

    Of course, icebergs break off all the time, right? Isn't that what sunk the Titanic? Well, yes, but this thing is in a class of its own. It is about 100 square miles in surface area. How big is that? They say it's four times as big as New York's flagship borough, Manhattan.

    Despite its massive size, however, Petermann Island came to an ignominious end last week. Floating intothe straits near Labrador, the behemoth crashed into a humble rock outcrop called Joe Island (Really, I'm not making this up!), and split in two. The fracture must have been an incredible marvel to behold, if anyone did. It will spend the next several years floating in several pieces toward Newfoundland,and melting.

    But the real significance of this event is what it means for the Petermann Glacier. Like virtually all glaciers,Petermann is melting and flowing at an accelerating pace into the ocean. In the past, however, it was slowed and stabilized by this massive ice shelf at its base. Now, that shelf is mostly gone, and many researchers believe that the ocean-bound flow will pick up speed. All by itself, neither the huge ice island nor the accelerating Petermann Glacierwill do much harm. But together with virtually all the other melting glaciers in the world, they combine in a global pattern which threatens every creature and system that relies on stable sea levels.

    Testifying before Congress after the Petermann collapse, Richard Alley of Penn State University, one of the country's leading glacier researchers said: "Sometime in the next decade we may pass that tipping point which would put us warmer than temperatures that Greenland can survive," adding that a rise in the range of 2C to 7C would mean the obliteration of Greenland's ice sheet. The fall-out would be felt thousands of miles away from the Arctic, unleashing a global sea level rise of 23 ft, Alley warned. Low-lying cities such as New Orleans would vanish.

    "What is going on in the Arctic now is the biggest and fastest thing that nature has ever done," said Alley.

    Whether or not this respected scientist is engaging in a bit of hyperbole, many who care about the billions of humans who level near sea level will note this event with alarm. Do you wonder if there's anything we can do?

  • Pakistan Floods

    August 20,2010, 09:08 AM

    Devastating floods in Pakistan have displaced and impacted up to 20 million people. The torrential rains largely follow the pattern predicted by climate models. While it is still hard to tie any one event to climate change, the floods in Pakistan (which in some instances brought more ran in a day than most regions face in a monsoon month) and fires in Russia are part of a larger pattern of increased temperatures which are shifting regional patterns to their extremes.

    We are encouraging supporters of EEN to donate to World Relief and other development agencies in the region.

    World Relief is partnering with Christian Reformed World Relief Committee and the Interfaith League Against Poverty (I-LAP), a Christian Pakistani organization with years of experience serving the poor and vulnerable in Pakistan.I-LAP will serve 8,000 of Pakistan's most vulnerable families"families who lost everything in the flooding and have nowhere else to turn for support. Initial outreach will include basic food provision to meet their daily needs. Emergency food kits will include lentils, flour, oil, sugar, salt and chili powder. Families will also receive tents, mosquito nets, kitchen sets and gas cooking stoves and hygiene kits.

    To find out how you can help and partner with World Relief in the disaster response click here.

    To see some of the images from Pakistan and the extent of the damage click here.

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