By Rev. Mitch Hescox
Governor Scott of Florida recently released his environmental agenda for the upcoming years. It shows progress by the Governor in at least talking about caring for God's creation. But, to paraphrase Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, it is one small step for the Governor's image, but hardly the giant leap needed to protect Floridians and God's creation. It fails to address current creation-care needs and ignores climate change and its current impacts to Floridians and the increasingly more severe threats. It's a lukewarm attempt at best.
The Governor rightly focuses on water, but oddly enough fails to mention that climate change is a major driver for water challenges. From salt water intrusion to high precipitation events, Florida's water infrastructure needs a significant overhaul, especially as Florida continues to grow and attract new people and businesses to the state. In South Florida alone the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP), which includes significant water infrastructure upgrades, will cost over $10 billion over the course of 30 years.1
Water management is a significant stewardship issue and Floridians are already paying the cost. Miami Beach voted on measures totaling $400 million to keep water off its streets and has already identified an additional $200 million in water quality improvements.2
Protecting Florida's water is vital as numerous wells along Florida's southern coast are already impacted from salt water intrusion as sea levels rise. If climate action isn't adopted, costs will soar to over a billion dollars and more. Florida needs a comprehensive plan to address the rising sea levels, decreased fresh water, more extreme weather, increased vector borne diseases, and higher temperatures. Just as important is a plan to mitigate carbon pollution and limit the amount of damage to homes, farms, and coasts.
Scripture states that being lukewarm is worse than being hot or cold (Rev. 3:16). This current plans seems to move the Governor from cold into the lukewarm temperature range. That might be good enough for some, but as fellow evangelicals we understand the Bible's answer for those that are lukewarm.
Revelation 3 also clearly states forgiveness and reconciliation for those that open the door and transform from lukewarm to hot. For several weeks, I have been knocking at the Governor's door to discuss both a plan and the opinions of 60,000 pro-life Christians who are asking for Governor to make action on climate change a priority. But Governor Scott has not opened the door to receive the comments of his constituents.
Working with the Governor's office has been frustrating. First, after requesting a meeting with the Governor, I was sent a form letter telling me to contact my Florida legislator.
Thank you for contacting Governor Rick Scott's office and sharing your concerns. The Governor asked that I respond on his behalf.
Governor Scott wants to know how Floridians feel about the many critical issues we face and your input is important to him. You can influence legislation by contacting your local legislative delegation. To contact your legislators and track bills as they proceed through the legislative process, please visit www.leg.state.fl.us.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact the Governor's office. Information about the Governor's administration and initiatives can be obtained online at www.flgov.com.
It does make one wonder how much of the Governor's correspondence is even read. After forwarding the form email to a senior staffer, I received an apology and the promise for a meeting with Gov. Scott. Then after patiently waiting for ten days I received a new reply on Wednesday, August 6, 2014:
Your request for an appointment with Gov. Scott has been referred to this office.
Regrettably, the Governor's schedule is filled with travel throughout Florida and matters related to governance of our State. Accordingly, not withstanding any expectation otherwise, your request cannot be fulfilled.
It's amazing that a request to pray with Governor Scott went to the Governor's lawyer for an answer, especially since he shares my evangelical faith and that of the 60,000 pro-life Christians who are asking him for a plan to address climate change.
Just as in the parable Jesus told concerning the persistent widow and judge, I'm going to keep knocking on the Governor's door, keep praying, and trusting in a miracle. So next week, I plan to show up in Tallahassee at the Governor's office to deliver in person the request of those 60,000 Floridians, and spend time in the Capitol's Chapel in prayer.
Testimony of Rev. Mitch Hescox, President & CEO, Evangelical Environmental Network
To Be Delivered Friday August 1, 2014
"See!" he said to all the people. "This stone will be a witness against us. It has heard all the words the Lord has said to us. It will be a witness against you if you are untrue to your God." Joshua 24:17
I am the Rev. Mitchell Hescox, President/C.E.O. of the Evangelical Environmental Network, a native and resident of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, an evangelical pro-life Christian, and life-long registered Republican. I am here in support of the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) purposed Clean Power Plan and to offer my unique perspective not only as an evangelical Christian but as someone who spent eighteen (18) years as a local church pastor, fourteen (14) years as a professional in the coal and power industries, and who is also a father and grandfather.
Today marks the opportunity for a new day. We have a choice to make: will we as citizens of the United States of America defend the lives and health of our children and provide them the opportunity for new clean energy economy, or will we burden them not only with a national monetary debt but the even more harmful burden of an increasing climate changed world? Will we stop the special favors that the coal industry has enjoyed and allow the real cost of coal to affect our energy decisions?
With four (4) children and five (5) grandchildren, I have a considerable interest in their future and the future for all God's children. My kids have never experienced a June below the 20th century average June temperature, and with June 2014 as the hottest June in history and marking the 352nd month above the 20th century average, my grandchildren already live in a changed world. The future is upon us, and the question remains, will we cling to a threatening past or stretch for a new future?
There are many good people testifying today that also are concerned for their children. They fear the loss of jobs and a way of life. At the same time, we must be concerned for coal miners and power plant workers and find ways to address their fears. Circa 1900 there were similar fears as the third largest industry in terms of workers and dollars, the horse industry, faced a similar situation from the quickly developing automobile industry. But living in a country whose economy is market based means we must allow the markets to work to create new opportunities and brighter futures, and not be hindered by political roadblocks from special interests.
For years, we have subsidized the cost of coal generated electricity in the brains, lungs, and bodies of our children and privatized the profits. Asthma, cancers, autism, birth defects, and brain damage have a direct link to the use of fossil fuels and petrochemicals. Even today, according to the American Lung Association 2014 State of the Air Report, Pittsburgh's air still flunks, and over 26,000 children live asthma-impeded lives - with climate change making smog worse. These threats to our children make caring for God's creation a matter of life and Christian discipleship.
The proposed Clean Power Plan begins a market correction that is long overdue. Some wish us to believe that coal provides cheap electricity. But according to several studies, when you add in the cost to our health in medical bills, lost lives, property damage and the like, coal electricity is at least triple what you pay at the meter. Coals appears cheap, but each of us pays the price in our children's health, insurance premiums, fouled air, and polluted water.
Providing pure water and clean air shouldn't be a hindrance to our economy, jobs, and future. In fact, having a fruitful creation enhances existing industries, new industries, the attractiveness of communities, and satisfied employees. If Pennsylvania, for example, takes advantage of the standard's flexibility, there will be an equal amount of employment created in the natural gas industry as lost from fuel switching.[i] More importantly, 13,000 new jobs will be created by 2020 based on Pennsylvania's Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard (AEPS) Act of 2004. And if Pennsylvania's implementation plan for the Clean Power Plan returns the Commonwealth to its former leadership position, renewable energy jobs in solar and wind will increase significantly.[ii]
Job creation is vital, but defending life remains paramount, and the proposed Clean Power Plan accomplishes significant pollution reduction in both carbon and additional co-pollutants, including particulates, SO2, and NOx. According to a recent Syracuse University and Harvard medical study, Pittsburgh and the entire Ohio River Valley will benefit with the greatest improvements in air quality from EPA's Clean Power Plan.[iii] This is something to celebrate; and with cleaner air, our out of pockets expenses will decline and so will our electric bill. The Analysis Group's recent report on EPA's new standard supports EPA own analysis that electric rates might increase slightly in the short term but will decline overall.[iv]
The Clean Power Plan is a key aspect of a needed comprehensive national effort to mitigate and prepare for climate change's threats to the United States. The Clean Power Plan makes economic sense as well. Harvard's Robert Stavins wrote recently:
The combined U.S.-only estimates of annual climate impacts of CO2 ($3 billion) and health impacts of correlated pollutants ($45 billion) greatly exceed the estimated regulatory compliance costs of $9 billion/year, for positive net benefits amounting to $39 billion/year in 2030.[v]
His analysis focusing on U.S. benefits states what is obvious to many of our nation's businesses. Act now before it's too late and the costs skyrocket.[vi] Delaying action simply costs more, but procrastinating also removes the great opportunity in creating a new clean energy economy. Businesses like Caterpillar, Dow Chemical, General Electric, General Motors, Procter & Gamble, Sprint, and Walmart all have climate action plans. They have a clear vision of both the costs of climate change and the vision for the future.[vii]
All God's children deserve a future where they can breathe freely, think clearly, and pursue their dreams for a brighter America and an entire world not threatened from the food insecurity, water scarcity, foul air, extreme weather, forced migration, and sea-level rise. We can do nothing less as a nation.
Addressing carbon pollution from the largest single polluter, the power industry, is an essential step in facing climate change's threat and embracing the opportunity of a new future. But it is one of many steps. We need a comprehensive plan to:
The Clean Power Plan, once promulgated, will be the most important action to date in overcoming climate change. It shows our nation's resolve in doing the right thing, the moral action. It returns The United States to the leadership position and sets the standard for a worldwide clean energy economy. This provides the signal the market needs to spur development and action. It removes the burden of cost from our children's health and begins to establish true costs for electric generation.
The simplest and most enforceable action to reduce carbon pollution would include a carbon pollution fee. This would simplify state implementation and be the most accountable direct market mechanism to price carbon. As such, we ask the EPA to include explicit language in the final standard assuring states the option for a carbon tax/pollution fee.
Now is the time to act. We are quickly approaching the deadline to keep God's marvelous creation below the two (2) degree Celsius maximum urged by experts and agreed to by the United States in the international climate negotiations. While some understand climate action as political, from my evangelical Christian faith it's a scriptural and moral imperative. In the opening of this testimony, I quoted a portion of a longer biblical passage. The patriarch Joshua calls the nation together and commits to a plan to follow God and work together for the betterment of all. He even states the rocks will act as witness. Creation already witnesses our changed and changing climate. Looking out your kitchen window and going for a walk it is easy to see the changes.
Let's join together as Christians, as people of all faiths, as Republicans, Democrats, and Independents, and become Americans, Americans working together to solve the great moral challenge of our time and to begin the greatest energy and economic revolution. Then maybe our kids and grandkids will commend us for helping them reach their American Dream, instead of a nightmare.
[iii] Driscoll, C.T, Buonocore, J., Reid, S., Fakhraei, H, and Lambert, K.F. 2014. Co-benefits of Carbon Standards Part 1: Air Pollution Changes under Different 111d Options for Existing Power Plants. Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY and Harvard University, Cambridge, MA. A report of the Science Policy Exchange. 34 pp.
[iv] EPA's Clean Power Plan: States' Tools for Reducing Costs and Increasing Benefits to Consumers
Analysis Group -Paul Hibbard, Andrea Okie, Susan Tierney, July 2014
by Rev. Mitch Hescox
In my family we hug a lot. I know it's not everyone's cup of tea, but what can I say, we're huggers. My wife Clare and I especially love it when our grandkids give us hugs.
My seven-year-old grandson runs into my arms to give me the biggest hug he can muster, and when I say, "I love you" he replies, "I love you more!" My three-year-old just jumps in my arms, plants a big wet kiss, and says, "Love you, Poppop!" The youngest, just 4 weeks old, simply looks at me when I hold and hug him.
My grandkids and their future immediately came home to me on Monday morning as I received a hug from a friend. It just happened to be at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the friend giving me the hug was the head of the EPA, Administrator Gina McCarthy. She did so immediately after she signed the proposed standards for reducing carbon pollution from existing power plants.
I've made no secret of the fact that Administrator McCarthy and I have a good working relationship. Our ministry at the Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN) has supported Administrator McCarthy and the EPA on a number of occasions. We worked hard to put the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards into effect because mercury harms the brains of our unborn and newly born children. We stood alongside EPA and others to support new fuel standards that would make cars more efficient and therefore reduce harmful air population linked in numerous medical studies to birth defects. And now, we are standing with the EPA for a proposed standard for reducing carbon pollution from the single largest source, electric power plants.
Administrator McCarthy and I make an odd couple. I'm an evangelical pro-life Christian and have been a registered Republican my entire life. McCarthy grew up with an Irish Catholic background and is a member of President Obama's cabinet "much more progressive. She's also a Red Sox fan while I support the Orioles.
However, what we have in common is so much greater than our differences. We love our kids and grandkids. Climate change is a serious threat to those we love and a tremendous opportunity for creating a better life for them via a clean energy economy. Following the leadership of our Risen Lord Jesus, we can work to provide an abundant life in tune with God's plan for humanity as caretakers for His world.
As a fiscal conservative, I would prefer a market based approach to reducing carbon. It is simply egregious that we put the costs of carbon pollution in our children lungs and brains while the profits are privatized. Simply put, the market has never realized the true cost of fossil fuels. As an example, we might like our neighbors and be thankful for ways that they helped us, but none of us would be happy with the same neighbors tossing their trash into our yards and expecting us to clean it up. That's exactly what has been happening with our fossil fuel use and it's time to act before it's too late.
Common sense and our own experience tells us it is better to act sooner to address a looming threat than to ignore it and wait until it's harder and more expensive. That's what economists tell us about climate change: act now or the costs both human and economic will escalate. With each year of delay, the costs multiply for addressing increased disease, sea-level rise, extreme weather, food scarcity, and resource conflicts.
It would be great to have a national discussion on the best policy approaches to address climate change, and as I've said, I think a market-based approach is best. But it's hard to have a discussion when one team refuses to acknowledge that there is a problem. Now there are many reasons that Republicans don't want to discuss climate science, but I believe it's time that we start to engage and I think most conservative policy makers agree, at least privately. A few months ago, during a private meeting, a leading Republican in U.S. House of Representatives said, "We all know we have to price carbon."
As a Republican, I am proud of my party's conservation legacy. Ronald Reagan signed the Montreal Protocol to save our ozone layer (and bought us some time in addressing climate). President George H.W. Bush revised the Clean Air Act and reduced acid rain. These basic protections did not significantly impact the economy, in fact, they produced a lot of co-benefits and spurred new industries.
My prayer is that people I respect, like Speaker Boehner and Senate Minority Leader McConnell might lead a new discussion on addressing our environmental challenges. Perhaps we could share a pat on the back as well. For me, hugs celebrate not only the importance of love and life but a job well done.
We're not there yet. Addressing global warming will take all of us working together. So for the moment at least, I will keep hugging and praying for my grandkids, follow our Risen Lord, and help provide hope for a new future. Our kids, grandkids, and all God's children deserve the best from all of us.
The Rev. Mitchell C. Hescox is President/C.E.O. of the Evangelical Environmental Network and lives in New Freedom, PA.
Over 130,000 Comments of Support by Pro-Life Christians Already Generated
NEW FREEDOM, PA (June 2, 2014) - The Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN) applauds President Obama and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for the release today of the EPA's draft rule to regulate carbon pollution from existing power plants.
"Today's release of the EPA's draft regulation of existing power plants is a historic step in our nation's journey to overcome climate change," said the Rev. Mitch Hescox, EEN's President and CEO. "We look forward to studying the draft carefully as we offer our support and suggestions for possible improvements."
EEN's efforts to stand with President Obama and the EPA on the need for strong action on climate change have already begun. To date, EEN's efforts have generated over 130,000 comments from pro-life Christians to the EPA in support of carbon regulations.
"This 130,000 is simply a down-payment," said Alexei Laushkin, EEN's VP in charge of grassroots campaigns. "Now that the draft rule is out, we plan to step up our activities and generate even more support."
A chief concern of pro-life Christians is the health impacts of the pollution from fossil fuels that is driving climate change.
"The health and well-being of our children is already being affected," said the Rev. Emilio Marreo, VP of Esperanza, one of the nation's premier Hispanic evangelical organizations and organizer of the biennial Hispanic Prayer Breakfast in Washington, DC. "The impact of air pollution is a significant concern for the Latino community because Latino Americans are more likely to live in areas with high levels of air toxicity due to poverty. We can't afford not to act. We need better policies that address climate change and provide for the well-being of our communities. We are glad that these standards will help families in our community."
The need for serious action is driven home by the fact that climate impacts are already upon us.
"I'm a Christian, entrepreneur and meteorologist - I've been tracking the symptoms of a changing climate on my weather maps for 15 years. We've been poking at Earth's climate system with a long, sharp stick and then acting surprised when the weather bites back," said Paul Douglas, Meteorologist/Founder & CEO of Broadcast Weather in Minneapolis, MN.
"Climate Change represents the greatest threat to life and the greatest opportunity for hope of our generation and the generations yet to come," said Rev. Hescox. "Reducing carbon pollution from existing power plants will protect children from health impacts and help lead to cleaner air and purer water. By providing states flexibility in how to reduce carbon pollution, including market-based approaches to pricing carbon, this proposal from EPA will be a major impetus for a clean energy future that creates good jobs and continues to position our country as the world's innovative business leader."
by Rev. Mitch Hescox
It's rare to have the opportunity to shake the hand of the President of the United States and share a few words. In all honesty, it's something I never, ever expected to do. But it happened this week at the annual White House Easter Prayer Breakfast.
After worship ended, the President walked to each table, greeted us all, and stopped for a photo opp. In my normal unreserved fashion, I told the President, "I'm your friendly evangelical Republican environmentalist." The President smiled. Then, referring to the head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Administrator Gina McCarthy, I said "Thanks for supporting Gina and her work!" The President gave one of his classic gigantic grins along with a big thumbs up.
Many know that I have strongly supported Gina McCarthy. While there are things in which we profoundly disagree, together we work to defend our kids from environmental threats.
At the Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN) we believe that Creation Care Is A Matter of Life. We worked long and hard to defend our unborn babies from the hazards of mercury pollution, and now we support Administrator McCarthy's leadership in overcoming the greatest environmental threat to all God's children, climate change.
Some of my brothers and sisters in the evangelical community and a good number of my fellow Republicans are aghast at my support. However, God is calling us to find common ground. We are not to settle for lowest common denominator, but reach for the summit of the highest peak in protecting the most vulnerable. If the Church won't act as a bridge for political and cultural divides, who will?
This week at the White House Easter Prayer Breakfast, the Holy Spirit brought us together. When the choir sang, I felt I heard angels, and The Rev. Dr. Otis Moss, who some consider the best preacher in the country, delivered a truly inspired message.
The spirit of unity at the Easter Prayer Breakfast reminded me of one aspect of American church life in the first half of the 19th Century. Baptist and Methodist traditions grew at an amazing pace. One reason for their tremendous popularity was the altar call. At the altar, there were no black or white, slaves or free, rich or poor, or even political parties. There were simply children of God in need of redemption and restoration.
Like the alter call of old, it's time for our country to experience a new spirit of unity, a new day in our public discourse. It's time to bridge differences like our partisan divide and unite our nation under God to turn our challenges into opportunities. In this most Holy Week as we Christians remember Jesus' suffering on the cross, let us continue our journey from Good Friday to Easter Sunday and encounter our Risen Lord and His Love. Even today too many Christian see Easter as an empty tomb instead of an encounter with our living Savior.
This week I experienced hope that we might come together not because of our differences, but because of God. Miracles happen. Who would have believed a coal miner's kid from a little town in western Pennsylvania would ever shake the hand of the President of the United States in the White House. May God work in all of us to follow our Risen Lord. May our encounter with the risen Jesus transform our lives, overcome the divide, and guide us over the mountain to work together.
The Rev. Mitchell C. Hescox is President/C.E.O. of the Evangelical Environmental Network and lives in New Freedom, PA.
Here's the latest episode:
Listen in as the entire EEN team (Rev. Mitch Hescox, Rev. Jim Ball, Ben Lowe, and Alexei Laushkin) weighs in for this special Easter podcast.They talk about climate change and pollution, their recent successes, and hope for the future.
Related Podcast Resources:
Check out our other podcasts!
by The Rev. Mitchell C. Hescox
From the formation of a child's first tiny cell to life's final breath, all life has dignity and value because each and every one of us is made in the image of God. And that is why when we talk about being "pro-life," it's not just about a political issue. It's a world view...it's a life-view. It's a way of looking at each human life that transcends culture, class, race, age and opinion.
--- The Dignity of Life by Focus on The Family
My organization, the Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN), has long believed "creation-care is a matter of life." For us this means protecting human life from conception until natural death. As the recent video, The Dignity of Life, by Focus on the Family puts it: "From the formation of a child's first tiny cell to life's final breath, all life has dignity and value because each and every one of us is made in the image of God."
For us, being pro-life includes not only defending our unborn children, but also the biblical mandate to care for all life. Toxins and other pollutants foul our water, air, and soil, impacting the purity of life God intends for His creation. Every concern mentioned in the video by Focus on the Family is impacted by our poor stewardship of God's creation; creation-care is foundational to our quest to overcome poverty, human trafficking, racism, women's rights, and Jesus' call for abundant life. That's why creation-care remains integral to being pro-life. As the Focus video states, being pro-life is "not just about a political issue. It's a world view " it's a life view."
Last week, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued its latest study on the human impacts of climate change already occurring, and the more serious threats yet to come. On a recent EEN trip to Malawi, one of the world's poorest countries, we saw the consequences ourselves and listened to those whose lives have been made worse. Listen to this firsthand account from Lifnette James, mother of six. Recently the Assembly of God's relief agency in Malawi sent a letter asking the American Church to awaken to their plight. Will pro-life Christians answer this call? Will we answer the call of the one who is leading the way in overcoming climate change, our Risen Lord?
As we approach Easter, our current inability to seek the opportunities for overcoming climate change reminds me of my favorite Bible passage describing Jesus' resurrection. In John's gospel, there is a unique and often overlooked story:
14 At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.15 He asked her, "Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?" Thinking he was the gardener, she said, "Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him."16 Jesus said to her, "Mary."She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, "Rabboni!" (which means "Teacher"). 17 Jesus said, "Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, 'I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'" 18 Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: "I have seen the Lord!" And she told them that he had said these things to her." (Jn. 20:14-18, NIV).
This text has caused lots of thoughts and opinions throughout the Church's life. To me the text is quite simple. Mary, so overcome with joy in finding Jesus alive, wanted to hold on to him. Mary clings to what she knew. She desires holding on to the past and is completely blind to a new future.
Most of us can identify with Mary. We don't like change and are apt to live in the past. Mary couldn't understand that Easter was a transforming moment. The past, wiped clean at the cross, became a new hope and new opportunity in the resurrection. Beginning with Mary on that Easter morning, the Risen Lord offers us the choice to follow Him into a new future, a new reality.
Today part of following our Risen Lord means letting go of our outdated dependence on fossil fuels and seeking new opportunities. Coal, oil, and natural gas provided some great benefits, but with a cost long unknown and a price unrealized. Now we know that part of the price we have paid and will pay is the health of our children. Dirty air, fouled water, and contaminated soil have left a legacy of brain damage, malfunctioning lungs, and a host of other health concerns.
It's hard to let go. Our history remains filled with examples of people and industries failing to grasp new ideas. In the 1800's Western Union turned down the opportunity to buy the telephone; in the early 20th century the equine industry believed automobiles to be a fad, and the list of foolish decisions could go on and on. Let's not make the same mistakes again.
Climate change already impacts food production, water resources, increases disease, and forces more and more of God's children to flee their homes. Addressing these pro-life concerns will require us to let go of the past, dream big, and together follow our Risen Lord toward a new day.
Here's what I see: I see cleaner skies and purer water; healthy children free to enjoy the beauty of God's creation, their bodies not hindered by pollution, their brains not diminished by toxics. I see an economy that is the envy of the world, producing the technologies that help us achieve life, liberty and happiness, ones that lead to a cleaner environment, plentiful, affordable energy to power our homes and vehicles and businesses, freeing up time to spend with family and loved ones, to rebuild community life, and to be creative with the gifts God has given each of us. I see such a life being made possible in the Majority World, where American technology creates clean energy that empowers sustainable economic progress, lifting billions out of poverty and into prosperity.
It's time to see visions of a new day, a new beginning. Let's move beyond our fear in holding on to the past and see what Risen Lord is doing. Being pro-life is caring for life and following our Risen Lord. This Easter let's move beyond our past and rise to a better future; Jesus did.
In our current political moment many have given up on achieving anything big, like a "grand bargain" on the budget and deficit reduction (e.g. The New York Times recent editorial, "An End to the Grand-Bargain Charades"). The realism of incrementalism is back. A fatigue factor has set in after 3 years of political brinkmanship and paralysis. In this political climate, forget trying to find common ground with one's political adversaries to solve the big issues of the day.
Thing is, most of the big problems got big precisely because we've ignored them or given up trying to find common ground. And these issues are not going away. Thinking small isn't helpful, either. That's certainly true with one of the most divisive issues of our day, climate change.
As an evangelical Republican working on climate change, I know how hard it is to find common ground. Yet my own experience within the evangelical community is that shared values overcome polarization and working together is possible on big issues that matter to people's lives.
Recently I spoke at an event of religious leaders with senior White House and Administration officials to talk about overcoming climate change. I'll be searching for a way forward together, despite our differences, and I'm hopeful -- confident, even -- that such a way can be found.
My confidence rests on our shared values as expressed in our Declaration of Independence: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. From these American values can we create a vision of the future worthy of our past bequeathed to us by our forbearers, worthy of the love we have for our children, a vision big enough to inspire us once again to greatness?
Our Founding Fathers issued the Declaration of Independence and fought the American Revolution because tyranny threatened our values.
President Obama and I have found common ground in believing that we must declare our independence from another form of tyranny, global warming, and its threat to life, liberty, and happiness:
Life: While global warming's tyranny has and will threaten the lives of millions, the solutions we create will enhance the lives of billions.
Liberty: While global warming's cruelty has and will threaten the political and economic liberty of around the world, American ingenuity and can-do spirit will foster freedom through clean energy growth and the creation of new industries both here and abroad.
Happiness: While global warming tries to steal happiness from us in the misery it portends, a richer, deeper quality of life awaits us, one of deep fulfillment that comes from creating a better future for our children.
President Obama said recently, in announcing the start of creating new fuel economy standards for big trucks, that we should learn from past fuel economy efforts. The lesson? Don't make small plans, make big plans.
The President is exactly right. Global warming is a big challenge that creates an even bigger opportunity to overcome this tyranny and build a brighter future for our children.
We need to envision this future together. To get the conversation started, let me share what I believe our future can look like.
I see cleaner skies and purer water, healthy children free to enjoy the beauty of God's creation, their bodies not hindered by pollution, their brains not diminished by toxics. I see an economy that is the envy of the world producing the technologies that help us achieve life, liberty and happiness; plentiful, affordable energy to power our homes and vehicles and businesses, freeing up time to spend with family and loved ones, to rebuild community life, and to be creative with the gifts God has given each of us. I see such a life being made possible in the Majority World, where American technology creates clean energy and new industries that lift billions out of poverty and into prosperity.
Leaders of our past dared to think big -- Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Edison, Martin Luther King, Steve Jobs -- and achieved great things that make our lives better today. Let's be inspired by their example and not make the mistake of thinking small and achieving even less.
And so, strange as it may seem in our current moment of polarization and disillusionment, now is precisely the time to think big. Although it may seem that the big issues divide us, it's just as true that an issue like global warming has the potential to unite us and bring us together as we envision a brighter future based on our shared values of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
The Rev. Mitchell C. Hescox is president of the Evangelical Environmental Network and lives in New Freedom, PA. Before leading EEN, Rev. Hescox pastored a local church for 18 years and previous to ministry worked in the coal and coal utility industries.
by The Rev. Mitch Hescox
On Wednesday, January 22, 2014, many in the Roman Catholic and evangelical communities will rally to celebrate the right to life. Some see this day as a time to be anti-abortion, but I see this as a day to celebrate life and life in abundance with God. Catholic social teaching has long lifted high a pro-life theology as dignity for all life and in the past decade, more and more evangelicals see the same consistent theology. My friend, Shane Claiborne likes to shout out, "We're pro-life from the womb to the tomb."
We in the Church need a consistent theology of love and grace around life itself. As a former local church pastor, I know the struggle most women have in the decision to terminate pregnancy. I have walked beside too many women who have had their abundant life spoiled as they have dealt with aftermath of their decision. At such time, love and grace provide the healing, not guilt or shame. So to have I witnessed firsthand brain injuries that resulted from the spraying of toxic chemicals, hunger that raged from destroyed crops ravaged by drought exasperated by our changing climate, and our supposedly pure water so filled with synthetic hormones that puberty starts much earlier leading to increases in breast and other cancers.
Medical research states that one in four of our children in the United States suffer from asthma, ASHD, autism, or allergies caused at least in part by our poor care of God's creation. Human life, especially defending our children's health must be a national priority. However, too often we put other interests above our children. A couple of years ago during a Congressional Hearing, a conservative Representative tried to override my concern for children my saying, "Pro-life is only about abortion and nothing to do with the quality of life." A few weeks later, a more liberal Senate staffer denied me the opportunity to testify on the same children's health issues because I am pro-life.
Both positions are simply wrong, and they stem from fear. On one hand, we have a conservative elected leader wanting to continue claiming to be pro-life and receiving support from our community while pushing the interests of a special interest, namely the fossil fuel industry. On the other hand, we have "liberals" so afraid to respect evangelical Christian values our voice is ignored.
These positions typify American dialogue today in both the public agenda and in private discussion. Everyone is so afraid in his or her own ideology, we refuse to have reasonable dialogue and work toward common ground. "My way or the highway" might as well be our national slogan. However, from my understanding of faith and being a Christian, the answer comes from following Jesus' way and that way has always been love.
Scriptures teach that "perfect love drives out fear" and Jesus' final command to his disciples was, "love each other." It's time to work together in love, respecting our differences, and find the common ground to defend our children and rekindle the grace given our nation.
Nowhere is this more apparent than the national shouting match regarding our changing climate. Climate is changing. One doesn't have to be a scientist to recognize the signs, only eyes. Look around at the increasing wacky weather, sea level rise, plants blooming earlier, and insect born diseases spreading into areas they never were. Climate change threatens human well being, period. Hundreds of thousands die each year from climate change threats and the future for our children and all God's children looks bleak. Poverty, forced migration, increased disease are already bad problems that will get worse. From 2012's Super Storm Sandy, 2013's Colorado floods and wildfires, and even January's Arctic Vortex weather derive in part from climate change. They are just the beginnings of what our future world will be unless we act.
Unfortunately, climate change instead of being a human life or pro-life threat became labeled as a liberal cause and many Americans started to react in fear and anger. These fears are fueled by a denial campaign by those who desire unfair protection of their products instead of bearing the true costs. Unfair protectionism for one industry doesn't support a market economy; it only burdens the rest of us.
It's time to break away from fear, act in as love as Jesus' teaches and move beyond the shouting matches to sensible solutions from all perspectives. No one side has the answers, but if we start to care for each other, love our children, listen, and love God, we will find the WAY. We believe in a God of hope who desires abundant life for all.
While we do not agree with President Obama on all issues, we agree on the overwhelming scientific evidence of climate change's threat to America, our children, both unborn and born, and all God's children across God's creation.
If science shows that life begins at conception, then we cannot deny the threats of air pollution, water pollution, toxin exposure, and carbon pollution are also threats to our children, unborn and born. As pro-life Republicans, we must set aside partisanship and come together to protect God's creation from climate change. We need solutions that engage all of America. American ingenuity can help us cut down on pollution, champion energy efficiency and create the next generation of jobs, while protecting our kids from harm.
According to the American Lung Association, over 32.3 million U.S. children are at risk from air pollution that our increased temperatures will only exacerbate. This does not include the additional threats from extreme weather, droughts, or raising sea levels. Nor does this include the millions of children already impacted in Africa, Latin America, Asia, and the South Pacific. The poorest of the poor, who bear the least responsibility for carbon pollution, already pay the cost.
Today, EPA Administrator McCarthy unveiled the proposed New Source Standard for Carbon Pollution for Power Plants. We are pleased at the revised proposed standard considered the views of all stakeholders, including over 52,000 pro-life Christians who wrote positive comments in support of the original proposed rule last year.
We are encouraged that the road map shared for the upcoming existing source guidelines will provide individual state-by-state flexibility. Once side benefit after promulgation, the carbon standards will provide each individual a choice selecting energy sources based on real costs, not the hidden burden of our children's health.
"For people like me who are pro-life evangelical Christians and life-long Republicans, the protection of children, the unborn, and those yet to be born is at the heart of who we are. It's time to stop playing games with our children lives, accept the reality of our changing climate, and act as one nation under God and work for solutions. Evangelical theologian, Francis Schaeffer, wrote in 1970, 'The simple fact is that if man [sic] is not able to solve his ecological problems, then man's resources are going to die,'" stated EEN's President Rev. Mitch Hescox.
A group of evangelicals leaders went to Malawi this past May to hear about some of the current and future impacts of climate change on Malawi. On our trip we learned that economic growth is a key factor in growing climate resiliency. That is why we believe that decentralized power can be a part of the solution for rural Malawians. When folks have access to clean air, clean water, abundant and reliable clean energy, the internet, and a stable food supply they can really begin to flourish and thrive. We don't want give more hand-outs in foreign aid, but we want to work with their God given talent so that they can move forward in a way that builds their capacity to thrive.
With governance issues in Africa and the overwhelming cost of building centralized power, we do not see centralized power as being the only solution to the challenges of Africa.There is a place for centralized power, but if Africans have to wait on their government or our government to act they will never move forward. Far better for local folks to be empowered and equipped with market based local solutions. Mini-grids and other local energy solutions can be a real part of the future.
Here's what one of our partners Victor Mughogho Executive Director of Eagles Relief and Development in Malawi said about climate change and the need for action:
"It's one globe only and the word of God tells us that we are to rejoice with those who are rejoicing and that we are to mourn with those who are mourning. If part of humanity is in pain, it calls on others to join with them, to be part of the solution. There are millions of children impacted by climate related hardships. These are brothers and sisters that are part of the body of Christ, and God calls all of us to respond."
Another one of our partners John Kanthungo the Executive Director of the Assemblies of God Relief and Development Malawi had this to say to the American Chruch:
"The issues of climate change is real and the impact is being felt and people are being affected. The message that I have to the Assemblies of God Church or other Christians, we need your help through innovative initiatives like irrigation. On our own the church here is doing something but on a small scale, but if we have more assistance more communities could be reached out to."
This is not an either/or proposition. It's a both/and that God is calling us to. We have to all move forward in such a way where we do better by the health of our children, and we help to inspire real long lasting solutions. This is about looking for common sense steps to be good stewards of God's creation. Let's work together.
In one of the most anticipated speeches of his second term, President Barack Obama will announce tomorrow afternoon at Georgetown University his plan for overcoming climate change.
In his video announcing the speech President Obama recognized we all have an obligation to protect God's creation.
"As a fellow Christian, we greatly appreciate President Obama's acknowledgement that all Americans must do our part 'to preserve God's creation for future generations' by helping to overcome climate change," said the Rev. Mitch Hescox, President and CEO of the Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN).
Bold action is needed to both protect ourselves from current and future impacts and ensure that we reduce climate pollution to levels that avoid dangerous and destabilizing consequences (or keeping the world's temperature from exceeding 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels).
Unfortunately, without bold action, the U.S. will not meet its commitments to help keep the world safe from destabilizing impacts and help the poor in poor countries deal with the climate disruption that has and will occur.
"Having just returned from a fact-finding trip to Malawi, I have seen first-hand the devastating consequences the poor are already experiencing from the climate crisis," said Ben Lowe, national spokesperson for Young Evangelicals for Climate Action (Y.E.C.A.). "From the day we were born my generation has never experienced a world unaltered by climate change. We need bold leadership from the President and Congress to ensure our future remains bright, unhindered by dangerous climate impacts. We stand ready to support the President and leaders in Congress in efforts to protect our future from climate change," said Lowe.
"With God's help, our country has faced big moral challenges before like World War II and the Civil Rights struggle and come out better on the other side," said Rev. Hescox. "We agree with President Obama that overcoming climate change will require all Americans to play our part in this great cause of freedom. There is no time to delay, as the health and well-being of our children is already being affected. As a pro-life Republican, let me add that we must set aside partisanship and come together to protect God's creation from climate change."
by Mitch Hescox
When it comes to protecting human health, especially vulnerable populations like kids and the elderly, who are you going to believe, the American Lung Association (ALA), or the American Petroleum Institute (API)? Are you going to believe those who have a vested, financial interest in maintaining the status quo like the oil corporations? Or folks who are fighting to protect human health?
We at the Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN) are proud once again to stand with our friends and colleagues at the American Lung Association (ALA) to demand that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) fulfill its obligation to protect our kids and the vulnerable from dangerous, life-threatening pollution.
What we're talking about today is a proposed EPA regulation to get more sulfur out of gasoline, the so-called "Tier-3" standards.
Compared to other countries, we've fallen significantly behind in reducing sulfur, ranking 47th, just behind Thailand. No disrespect to Thailand, but we can do better.
It's well past time for the entire country to meet a standard that is already in place in California, the European Union, and Japan -- and that's what the EPA has proposed.
A recent report from the ALA concluded that cleaning up the gasoline we put in our tanks would cost us about a penny a gallon, and improving the ability of new vehicles to reduce such pollution would add about $150 to the sticker price.
Here's what health benefits we'll get for this investment:
This last point brings up one of the great things about making the gasoline cleaner: we don't have to put new emissions control equipment on our existing cars, or buy a new car, to get cleaner air. Cleaner gas in, less pollution out. From day one. Pretty simple.
As the car companies put it in their testimony in favor of EPA's proposed Tier 3 regulations:
While it will take a couple of decades for the current fleet to be replaced by vehicles with tighter emission controls, reducing sulfur at the pump will immediately reduce emissions from every gasoline-powered vehicle on our roads, no matter how old (p.2).
But that's not all.
As the car companies further pointed out, removing more of the sulfur from gasoline will help improve gas mileage in new vehicles, saving folks money at the pump and reducing global warming pollution to boot.
So what's not to love?
Well, as you can imagine, the oil companies are not happy with having to clean up their gasoline. Last spring during the run up to the elections when gas prices were high the American Petroleum Institute sponsored a study saying that doing so would cost 25 cents at the pump. Some politicians tried to make political hay out of this, but even at the time it was pointed out that this particular study wasn't modeling what EPA was planning to propose. Now that the EPA has put out their proposed Tier 3 rule, this industry-sponsored study has been revised.
What did it find? The cost of producing a gallon of gas would go up 6 to 9 cents.
Of course, this doesn't mean that you would necessarily pay that cost. Oil prices are set in a world market, so competition could mean that U.S. refineries would have to absorb such costs, meaning less profits for them.
As mentioned earlier, the American Lung Association found that the cost would be about a penny a gallon.
So what would this cost the average consumer? Let's err on the high side and say that it would cost 5 cents a gallon. The average consumer uses about 10.4 gallons a week. Let's make that a little higher and say 12 gallons. So 5 cents times 12 equals 60 cents.
So would you be willing to pay anywhere from 12 cents to 60 cents a week to protect our kids from dangerous air pollution? For us that's an absolute no-brainer.
And if that doesn't do it for you, think about this. Where's a place where there's lots of sulfur in the air? (Hint: fire and brimstone.) How about we make our air less like that of H-E-DOUBLE-TOOTH-PICS. Here at EEN, we're all for that!
The Rev. Mitch Hescox is President/CEO of the Evangelical Environmental Network.
by the Rev. Mitch Hescox
One of the latest examples of gridlock in Washington occurred this morning when my fellow Republicans on the Senate's Environment and PublicWorks (EPW) Committee boycotted a confirmation vote for Gina McCarthy to become the next head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Without the Republicans, the committee didn't have a quorum, and so no vote could be taken.
Across the nation, Christians are sick and tired of Washington's gridlock. We want decisions and not political games. To that end, in March I organized a group of Christian leaders to pray on the lawn of the US Capitol for an end to gridlock; around the country Christians joined us in prayer -- including the states from where these Republican senators on the EPW Committee come from. We prayed that our elected officials would seek common ground for the good of our nation.
I'm on record supporting Gina's nomination. She has excellent qualifications, has the record of listening to all sides, and even has the support of many in industry. I consider her a "good cop" in protecting the health of our children. Even a few weeks ago, not a single Republican during her EPW nomination hearing questioned Ms McCarthy's qualifications. Senator Sessions (AL) even stated she would be confirmed.
If a Senator, Democrat, or Republican, wishes to vote no on Ms McCarthy's nomination, that's their right. But cast a vote, and live by our American democracy and way of life. Too many of our service men and women put their lives on the line everyday (including my own son) to protect our way of life to have Senators play such games.
If Congress doesn't like the Clean Air or the Clean Water Act that protects our children's lives and health, then change the law -- that's part of their job. Just don't play games with the "top cop" for environmental health whose job is to enforce what Congress already passed.
Give Gina McCarthy the confirmation votes she deserves, and let's put in place the "top cop" to protect our children from pollution.
The Rev. Mitchell C. Hescox is President/CEO of the Evangelical Environmental Network.
Thursday, April 11, 2013, was a good day. First, I had the honor to speak with one of my senators, Bob Casey, and thank him for continuing to stand firm in protecting our children from mercury poisoning. During the recent Senate budget vote-a-thon,Senator Casey voted no on an amendment offered by Senator Coats that would have delayed the implementation of the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards. These standards are critical to reducing the one in six babies born with threatening levels of mercury. Senator Casey understands that protecting our children from toxic chemicals both inside and outside the womb is a pro-life issue.
Additionally, I asked Senator Casey to support Gina McCarthy as the new Administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency. "Why?" asked theSenator. I replied, "Gina and I have become friends over the last several years and I am confident she will make an excellent EPA Administrator. She is a good cop for protecting our childrenand considers all viewpoints." (Please see my March 4 post.) Senator Casey was a bit surprised that that a former coal miner's son personally knew the EPA Administrator nominee. Hopefully, my opinions were helpful as the Senator expressed his support for Gina.
Second, I was privileged to attend the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee confirmation hearing of Gina McCarthy. Right before the hearing I told Gina I was praying for her. I continued praying in the EPW hearing room. My prayers were for peace and wisdom not only for Gina but also for all the senators. I don't know about you, but I'm tired of Washington's partisanship. It's long past time for all America,including our elected and appointed political leaders, to work together. And yesterday demonstrated that prayer works.
From the beginning of the Obama Administration my fellow Republicans have used the EPA as their favorite political punching bag. Here's the problem with that: no one should try to score political points at the expense of our children's health.
But I'm proud to say that las tweek's hearing was respectful all around. The top Republican (or Ranking Member) Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) did have some tough things to say about the EPA, but treated Gina fairly, as did the rest of my fellow Republicans on the EPW Committee. I especially liked Senator Sessions approach,and the prediction that Gina would be confirmed.
Last week was more proof in power of prayer. I'll continue prayers for Gina as she leads the EPA, but I will also pray for all our elected and appointed leaders. I would encourage you to do the same.
Contact: Alexei Laushkin,Evangelical Environmental Network, 202-352-9920
A Statement by the Rev. Mitch Hescox, President/CEO of the Evangelical Environmental Network On the Nomination of Gina McCarthy to be the Next EPA Administrator:
"Protecting our children's health testifies to the moral character of our nation. With one in three American children now suffering from asthma, autism, ADHD, and allergies, all linked to environmental toxins, we need someone to champion our kids' health. Gina McCarthy's nomination as Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) places her in the position of our country's top cop on children's environmental health. We support her nomination wholeheartedly. Ms McCarthy's record as a champion for our children in Massachusetts under Governor Romney, running Connecticut's Department of Environmental Protection, and as Assistant EPA Administrator, testifies to her ability to get the job done.
In my experience, Gina is tough, but also fair. She listens to all sides and strikes a balance in enforcing our nation's laws.
We are a nation who lives by the rule of law. It's been over twenty years since the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments and only now are important portions of that law being enforced, such as reducing mercury pollution. Our children's health must be protected, and Gina McCarthy is the good cop we need to get the job done.
WASHINGTON, DC- Evangelicals from across the country are urging that Congress extend the Renewable Energy Tax Production Credit (aka"Wind Tax Credit") during the fiscal cliff negotiations. In a press call earlier today, evangelical leaders from the Good Steward Campaign and Evangelical Environmental Networkoutlined a national grassroots and media campaign to mobilize Christians on this issue. The call featured Rev. Mitch Hescox, President & CEO of the Evangelical Environmental Network, Rev.Gabriel Salguero, President of the National Latino Evangelical Coalition, and Rev.Steve Fortenberry, Pastor, Common Ground Church, North Lima, Ohio.
"Conservative pro-life Christians are deeply concerned about the continuing impact o fpollution on children and the impact of toxins like mercury on the unborn. Our commitment to protect current and future generations has led us to conclude that renewable energy, including wind, is essential in protecting the health of present and future generations," said the Rev. Mitch Hescox. "While we've made progress in protecting our kids from toxic pollution more needs to be done. Every parent knows you can't put a price on the health of our kids."
This current campaign builds upon successful advocacy efforts earlier this year in which more than fifty thousand pro-life Christians petitioned the EPA in favor of clean energy. In the last week, thousands of Christians have signed a petition in favor of Wind Tax Credit as part of an ongoing email campaign to 9 million evangelicals and Catholics and renewed outreach from evangelicals to key House and Senate leaders.
Wind is a big part of America's current and future energy needs. Over 35% of new electric generation over the last five years has come from wind power. In 2011 alone, wind helped displace over fifteen thousand short tons of nitrogen oxide emissions and over one hundred million short tons of sulfur dioxide emissions, resulting in cleaner air and a safer world for our children.
Learnmore at http://creationcare.org/ourkids
You can listen to the teleconference hosted earlier today
By Mitch Hescox
My wife had a co-worker walk into her area some time ago and proclaimed, "Christians are idiots!" Certainly, the claim smacked of prejudice, extremely poor taste, and perhaps even harassment as the colleague knows my wife's faith. Notwithstanding the negatives, part of me understands the comments and the damage many Christian brothers and sisters pile on those outside the Church with ideologies that go beyond what God intended. We are called to be different " in the world but not of it. Radical discipleship means loving the least, hilarious giving, and self-denial in following our Risen Lord. However, Christian leaders making misstatements to serve their own ends, attacking other believers for not agreeing with their worldview, and misusing science turn people away from the good news in Jesus. As Paul reminds us I have the right to do anything," you say"but not everything is beneficial. "I have the right to do anything""but not everything is constructive. No one should seek their own good, but the good of others (1 Corinthians 10:23-24).
A couple of weeks ago, I shared radio airtime with Dr. Cal Biesner, Cornwall Alliance, on Moody Radio to discuss Hurricane Sandy and climate change. While Dr. Biesner and I agree that climate change didn't cause Sandy, we both believe climate change made Sandy more intense. In Dr. Biesner's view, climate change made Sandy fractionally worse This is a view that he has held for some time even in the face of mounting studies and evidence that shows that changes to our global system are happening faster than we could have imagined a decade ago.
According to meteorologist Scott Mandia, coauthor of the new book Rising Sea Levels: An Introduction to Cause and Impact, for every one inch of the 8 " 9 inches of total sea-level rise 6,000 more people were impacted in New York City alone. Almost 50,000 more people and additional billions of dollars in destruction isn't just a fraction and this only accounts for New York City, not including New Jersey, Connecticut, or Rhode Island. More detailed research will appear in the coming weeks and months that more accurately determines Sandy's increased force and destruction from climate change caused sea-level rise, but let's not downplay the human impacts that we are already facing in the United States. Eight inches of sea level rise contained in a 9 feet storm urge is significant, along with a two degree Fahrenheit warmer ocean temperature, and a left turn into the eastern seaboard only happening once before. They are unusual to say the least.
Another misuse of the evidence made by Dr. Biesner's on Moody Radio, "There is no correlation between rising carbon dioxide levels and the increase in the earth temperature." The graph on the left taken from the National Academy of Sciences Climate Change Website clearly shows the relationship over time. Carbon Dioxide levels and temperature track identically. Now look at temperature and carbon dioxide record from Biblical times to the present. Notice the unprecedented rapid temperature rise in the last 150 years. With the beginning of the industrial age, we started burning more and more fossil fuels and thus changing the delicate balance God created for sustaining life on His creation.
Without the normal 285 ppm of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere, our earth would be a chilly place with an average 70oF colder climate. One of the true miracles of creation is the greenhouse gas effects that make this earth habitable for humanity. Take a look into the sky some evening or early morning to get a glimpse of Mars or Venus our nearest planet neighbors. While there is a difference between the energy the other planets receive from the sun, the largest factor single factor in freezing to death on Mars or burning-up on Venus are the greenhouse gases. Small amounts of carbon dioxide make a difference. Dr. Biesner often states that changes in CO2 couldn't have a significant impact on temperature. The "natural" 285 ppm of CO2 or new record levels set in 2011 of 390.1 ppm CO(that translates to 412 billion tons of carbon pollution since the beginning of the industrial revolution) are very significant. Perhaps an easy way to understand that small amounts of gas are deadly requires a quick look at carbon monoxide. At levels below 100 ppm, carbon monoxide causes headaches, dizziness, and nausea but at exposure of 150-200 ppm for approximately one hour may be deadly. At concentration levels less than half the current carbon dioxide levels, carbon monoxide kills. Small percentages upset the created balance and put human life at risk. No one is saying the earth will be destroyed, but climate change already impacts millions around the world, especially the poor, and some estimates place climate deaths over 300,000 annually.
Before going any further, I invite you to look at the world around you. The past two years resulted in record droughts, massive forest fires, high temperatures, floods, and even a superstorm in the United States. Extreme weather is the new normal and here's a simple example for every 1 record low temperature there are 10 record highs just in the United States. In Pennsylvania where I live, 2012 was the year without winter. However, go beyond all the recent extreme weather and remember twenty years ago. My home in South Central Pennsylvania now has same climate as Richmond, VA twenty years ago. Trees and flowers bloom sooner; the grass requires cutting earlier in the spring and later in the autumn. Just last week, my 86 year old Dad said, "This climate change stuff is real. We have nowhere near the snow or winter cold temperatures we once had." My Dad gets it, and so do the vast majority of the world's scientists. As the graphic at the beginning of this post illustrates, at least 97% of the scientists who study climate agree that our climate is changing and humanity is the cause, not the sun, not natural cycles, but the burning of fossil fuels.
It's not just the climate scientists who form the world-wide consensus; it's every national academy of science including our National Academy of Sciences. Dr. Beisner, of course, offers a different take. Real science, according to Cal, doesn't take place in consensus meetings, but in the work of skeptics. This is where I believe his contrarian worldview has blinded him on the science. He over relies on the skeptics despite the real stakes not just to the economy but also to the global poor.
Watch this video, from the PBS series, Earth: The Instruction Manual. The video offers a look inside our National Academy of Sciences. The NAS formed by President Abraham Lincoln to advise our government on the best scientific evidence without profit or political agendas to distort their conclusions. When charged with a task, the Academy gathers the best scientific minds, reviews all the current research, proposes new research when the evidence remains uncertain, and offers recommendations based on rigorous debate. The National Academy of Sciences conclusions on climate change are summarized on their video, America's Climate Choices or by reading the full report of Advancing the Science of Climate Change.
Climate change is occurring, is caused largely by human activities, and poses significant risks for"and in many cases is already affecting"a broad range of human and natural systems.
However, much more importantly than correcting misstatements on science is that climate change hurts God's children now and will have greater impact in the coming years. Currently harvests here at home and around the world are impacted by extreme weather and it will get worst.
We are beginning to live in the new normal as far as weather goes. Evangelical Christians represented through both the World Evangelical Alliance and the Lausanne Movement are crying for us to take action on climate change. The poor across Africa now face shortfalls in rain leading to food and water shortages. Flooding resulting from glacier melt and sea level rise force migration, diseases spread more rapidly as temperature warms, and the struggle for resources will result in more conflict. Climate change is not the end of the world, but human life will be radically effected. We must come together under the leadership of our Risen Lord and take action that will reduce the human suffering. God gave us a sustainable planet, providing for our needs. Seeking our own good over others destroys God's creation. Trusting in the Christ will transform us to develop clean energy, sustainable food production, and care for all creation.
Christians aren't idiots, but misleading statements, or claims based on ideologies rather Biblically truth hurts the Church's efforts in sharing the gospel and living life as faithful stewards. Creation care is a biblical imperative, and we remained committed to being a missional ministry proclaiming God's love for all, telling the good news in Jesus, and caring for the least of these. Although he is out of favor for some in our evangelical community, Tony Campolo once wrote, Following Jesus Without Embarrassing God. Too often, the church embarrasses God, by denying the physical laws ordained by Our Creator, and replacing God's precepts with our political and economic human desires. Believe in God, listen to His creation suffering groans, and act to help humanity by understanding creation care as a matter of life.
 National Academy of Sciences, Advancing The Science of Climate Change,National Academy Press, Washington, DC, 2010.
Listen in as the team at EEN give a recap of the last year and share some of the focuses of the year ahead. Be sure not to miss this one!
by Mitch Hescox
As Focus on the Family so beautifully depicts in the video below on the Dignity of Life "When we talk about being "pro-life," it's not just about a political issue. It's a worldview . . . it's a life-view."
Pro-life is so much more than being against abortion, it's also about protecting humanity from poverty, human trafficking, and for us the threats from pollution. Abortion is a nationally tragedy, but so is 1:6 children born with mercury levels that could cause brain damage, or the 78% increase in autism in the past decade, or the fact women now face a 1:8 chance of developing breast cancer " all linked to increases in toxic pollution. The Christian Church has long supported pro-life as whole life, from conception to natural death. Pro-life has everything to do with quality of life as well as preventing abortions. The long Biblical history promotes pro-life as a true concern for all life. To limit pro-life to only abortion weakens the Church's witness in caring for all God's children.
Psalm 139:13-14 (NIV)
For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
God created us in His image and breathed into us the breath of life. We were created special --with special responsibilities to care for each other and to care for all of God's creation. Hopefully, no one will dispute the Christian call to be faithful stewards of all God has entrusted to us and this especially includes the earth. We live at a critical time as new chemical compounds are developed by the thousands each year, and many have never been tested for their effects on human life, especially in the combinations in which they are marketed in pesticides, herbicides, and even plastics. Lakes, streams, and ground water contamination continues from lead, mercury, organic compounds, and synthetic hormones. All these are threats to human life, especially our unborn children and "the least of these" that Jesus commands us to care. Moreover, this doesn't include another serious threat to human life - the climate disruptions caused by carbon pollution that result in extreme weather leading to drought and severe temperatures that menace human life, both here at home and around the world.
Recently, a few Roman Catholic and evangelicals developed A Joint Declaration on Life. Their goal was to call attention to the political partisanship that attempts to disrupt true Christian witness in favor of one party over another. The degree of partisanship of those concerned with our whole life message is troubling. No single political party has the full solution to life issues. The church must carefully speak on the need for action to reduce abortion and to reduce harms to all of life including harms that come from chemical exposure and the world we will leave to generations yet unborn. I signed the declaration as it represents a balanced whole biblical approach to pro-life and rejects a partial Christian understanding of pro-life.
Let's rebuff any worldview that "waters down" the Biblical message and witness that calls us to protect all life at all time in all ways. Pro-life as whole-life doesn't confuse the message but completely and fully describes our biblical witness.
The Rev. Mitch Hescox is President & CEO of the Evangelical Environmental Network
For the first time since 1985, Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards have been finalized, raising fuel economy standards for passenger vehicles to 54.5 mpg by 2025. "10 years after What Would Jesus Drive we finally have higher fuel economy standards that consumers are demanding," said Rev. Mitch Hescox President & CEO of the Evangelical Environmental Network. "This is good for our wallets, human health, job creation, and national security," Hescox went on to say.
With the standards announced today the average family will still save from $6,000 to $8,000 through the life of the vehicle. About 45 percent of our daily petroleum use goes toward driving our cars and light trucks -- 3.1 billion barrels per year, the equivalent of 620 Gulf Oil Spills.
Soot, smog, ozone-forming volatile organic compounds, nitrogen oxide and carbon pollution contribute mightily to polluted air across the US. While we have made progress, 41% of Americans still suffer pollution levels that are too dangerous to breathe according to the American Lung Associations' State of The Air 2012 Report. 127 million American face increased heart attacks, asthma, and premature death from our dirty air and the new CAFé standards provide another step in protecting public health. This standard is truly good for all America.
Retired military, carmakers, labor unions, health care professionals, and other stakeholders all speak in favor of these standards. "There is broad bipartisan support for the need for fuel economy standards, the first fuel economy standards were signed by President Gerald Ford," said Rev. Hescox. When making a car purchase 42 percent of consumers, in a recent Maritz Research study, now rate fuel economy as a top priority.
In 2002, EEN launched What Would Jesus Drive an educational campaign, which included a 30-second TV spot. That next summer EEN did a 14-city What Would Jesus Drive Bible Belt Tour with speaking engagements at local churches.
"We'd love to see even further innovation. When companies invest in what consumers are demanding and what's good for God's creation, it's a win, win" said Rev. Mitch Hescox. Let's work together to set a high standard of excellence that will encourage America's true entrepreneurial spirit.
by Mitch Hescox & Alexei Laushkin
The hottest July on record, drought plaguing almost two-thirds of the US, and Arctic sea ice at historic low levels. God's creation needs a little good news and we just got it. US carbon pollution is declining with emissions at their lowest point in 20 years. With that the US has made deeper and faster cuts in carbon pollution emissions than any country in the world over the last 6 years. It's not enough to avert the moral challenges that are and will be associated with climate change, but it's a bigger start than anyone expected.
No one was predicting this, but like we've been saying all along the American entrepreneurial spirit drives change. Investment in natural gas, as a transition fuel, and with the soon to be released Fuel Economy Standards leading to cars that are more efficient, plus LEED building standards, and more sustainable products are putting us on the onramp to a clean fuel highway. Americans are tired of waste, wasteful spending and wasteful energy use.
What we need now is a comprehensive energy strategy, a roadmap that incentivizes renewable energy and home grown clean energy jobs. We need America to lead the clean energy market. Let's make America the center of a new revolution for industry instead of maintaining our dependence on foreign oil and fossil fuels.
Natural gas puts us on the starting blocks for what will be a marathon toward a clean energy economy. Its' current cheap price makes for the perfect transition fuel for achieving our initial carbon pollution reductions and clean air goals. The EPA's proposed new standards for methane will mitigate most drilling and transportation leakage issues, but hydraulic fracturing remains a significant human health concern. Yet, there are simply too many unknowns to complete an informed safety judgment on fracturing. Simply put natural gas is part of the solution, but it can't be the only path toward our clean energy renaissance.
When we recover from our economic doldrums (which we will!), Americans have a fundamental choice to make. Will we make smart investments in clean home grown technology or will we rely on the same old fossil formulas?
We need a real investment in our clean energy manufacturing base and an energy policy that helps us solve the moral challenges of climate change. We're a can do people, a hopeful people. Americans are waiting to show the world that we can have free-prosperous societies that don't perpetuate pollution and undermine the livelihoods of others who rely on clean air, clean water, and a stable food supply to provide for their families.
Americans want fuel abundant, cheap, and clean. Until technological efficiencies can kick in we need to count the cost of our over reliance on pollution intensive energy.
Others will find a way to develop clean abundant energy; we believe America should get there first. If we can win the race for clean energy we will have provided for the next generation of Americans manufacturers and sent the signal that you can choose for democracy and freedom without undermining the ability to provide for your family. We can solve the challenges of our time while cherishing and protecting our freedoms. The dirty fossil economy spewed dangerous toxins polluting God's creation. Let's start a new race on a new road toward a clean energy future that provides a healthy environment for our children and our economy. Natural gas brought us to the starting line will we jump into the race to win or will this just be another false start?
Rev. Mitch Hescox is the President & CEO of the Evangelical Environmental Network. Alexei Laushkin is the Senior Director of Communications for the Evangelical Environmental Network.
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.
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.
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).
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.
by Mitch Hescox
I have a confession. I'm an evangelical Christian and I love to share Jesus. I love to tell the story of Jesus and his love. Jesus' story is a love story - a love for God, for all creation, a special love for the most vulnerable, for you, and for me. Jesus' love story doesn't offer an escape from this world, but it does offer hope for a new one, a renewed creation where all things are made new. The ultimate focus of the scriptures is that in the end Jesus will return us to a new beginning, a beginning that reflects its original design.
That original story, the one in Genesis, tells us that God walked daily with humanity, and we walked with him, living in sustainable peace with the rest of creation. The beginning expressed God's goodness in all that was created including the genuine happiness and joy that ensued.
In telling Jesus' love story, I'm not willing to make the same mistakes made by the 19th century social gospel movement. Sin still exists and God's Kingdom won't be complete until Jesus' return. However, the already but not yet exists, and we as Jesus' disciples are commanded to live now in the expectation of the future fulfillment. In fact, we must live as Jesus for this world until he returns, and that means loving as Christ loved - his greatest commandment.
1 John 3:19-24 (CEV)
When we love others, we know that we belong to the truth, and we feel at ease in
the presence of God. But even if we don't feel at ease, God is greater than our
feelings, and he knows everything. Dear friends, if we feel at ease in the presence
of God, we will have the courage to come near him. He will give us whatever we ask,
because we obey him and do what pleases him. God wants us to have faith in his Son
Jesus Christ and to love each other. This is also what Jesus taught us to do. If we obey God's commandments, we will stay one in our hearts with him, and he will stay one with us. The Spirit that he has given us is proof that we are one with him.
Christ's love alive in us makes the world worth living in and provides us our daily provision for happiness, fulfillment, and joy. While this may seem like some empty statement, it's real and changed my life. I admit it's hard to explain until you receive Jesus' love, but those who have it know it, and those who don't have to ask for it. Jesus' followers overflow in his love and know it's more wonderful than anything is. Jesus' love makes life complete. His love satisfies more than the sweetest kiss or the joy of childbirth. Jesus' love outlasts the latest toy - even big people ones, the most successful business deal or even the great joy of grand parenting. Simply put, knowing Jesus' love and sharing that love supersedes anything human. It's the greatest joy in the entire universe and the greatest story ever told. Yet, we, the American church, seem to live more in fear and fear's external symptom, hate.
In the 4th Century, Gregory of Nyssa characterized the Christian journey in three stages. The first stage begins in fear as in being a slave, the second seeks reward as a good servant, and finally a friendship based on love and relationship. Gregory's points have too often become the basis for the church's theology and evangelism. Come to Jesus and save yourself from damnation (fear) - certainly the message of many an evangelist is "the sinners in the hands of an angry God." Others stress the reward of heaven, but unfortunately, this focus on escaping the present reality does nothing to further our Lord's commands to love and care for the least of these. Only as we transform by God's grace to understand God as sovereign friend in a loving relationship do we find the real good news in Jesus.
Looking around the evangelical church today or at least what so many evangelical leaders share in the press, it is hard to find deep expressions of a love built upon a relationship with Jesus. Joy should be the outward visible countenance of Christians. We should be the happiest people on earth. We have been freed from our pasts, have a friend in a glorious Savior, and a future already known. Christ's love does amazing things all around and when I look around within my church circles - I see fear and hate dominate so much. It's as if we are returning to the mourner's bench.
No one knows the full history but sometime in the early 19th century Methodist and Baptists began an interesting evangelism technique, the mourner's bench. The bench, originally used in camp meetings and later incorporated into sanctuaries, was placed right in front of the preacher, and many times the community's most "despicable" character was forcibly seated there. In true "hell fire and brimstone" preaching the "sinner" mourned their past and repented of their sins to avoid damnation.
Fear, manipulation, and coercion forced many a conversion and certainly a bit more friendly than the few hundred years' earlier method of being burnt at the stake. (The theological belief was it was better to feel the fire and recant instead of spending an eternity in flames.) Neither the mourner's bench nor the stake can be considered acts of love. Fear simply doesn't reflect Jesus or His Kingdom - not now, not ever. Repeatedly Scripture records the message, fear not. Fear represents the actions of the overly zealous and the misguided blinded by their allegiance to doctrine and not biblical faith. Somehow, I believed we were overcoming the "fear factor" but it's ripe and spreading across our nation. Just look at current events, religious leaders, politics, and everyday life for a glimpse.
We see Christians quoted in newspapers disparaging Republican Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney for being a member of the Latter Day Saints and the same folks referring to our current President as a Muslim. Are these statements acts of love? We see immigrants dehumanized daily and yet Scripture has clear commands for caring for the stranger. Is this love? Nowhere more does fear and fear mongering present itself than attacks on science.
It's incredulous that our society has grown dependent on modern medicine, electronic technology, air travel, and literally millions of scientific advancements but we still love to belittle science. Recently, I witnessed a pastor giving a sermon berating science from his Ipad- talk about an oxymoron! Nowhere does this fear present itself as pure ugliness than in sharing climate change, the greatest moral challenge of our time.
Today across the world people are hungry, thirsty, disease ridden, and dying by the hundreds of thousands each year but so many in the United States deny climate change reality because of fear. Even with every major scientific body in the world recognizing that climate change results from humanity's use of fossil fuels - fear dominates reality. Moreover, there are those who spread the fear with name-calling and identifying people like me as a "Green Dragon", a not to subtle reference to the evil one's beast from the New Testament's Book of Revelation.
Personally, I refer to myself as the Jolly Green Giant filled with Christ's joy and hope rather than the allusion to fear. Fear preys on our fallen humanity instead of the life given in Christ. Fear degenerates into a mentality of scarcity instead of trust in the Good Shepherd to provide all our needs.
Psalm 23 (NIV)
The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name's sake.
Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD
Recently the Heartland Institute, thankfully, failed in their attempt to continue this fear campaign in the secular world by linking climate change believers to Osama Bin Laden and the Unabomber. Calling people names, linking them to evil and dehumanizing them are broad attempts in both the church and the secular world to feed on our most basic fear: change. Fear of change isn't new. Who among Christians doesn't remember the Exodus story?
In the middle of the wilderness, Moses faced a revolt as many wanted to return to their known life of slavery instead of moving forward toward freedom's hope in the Promised Land. However, those living in much of the majority world don't have 40 years for us to grapple with our fear. Fear exacerbates our reality and delays God's hope for us all. It's time to reject fear and those who profit from it and move forward together in love, Jesus' love for all God's children.
Imagine what might have happened if Jesus gave in to his last temptation, fear. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus faced temptation to deny the cross and have the "cup" removed as fear almost overcame love. In the most powerful scene in Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ Jesus arises from his temptation and stomps the serpent signaling victory over fear. Jesus' victory in the garden, on the cross, and ultimately his resurrection provides the love to overcome our fear and trust in the hope of our Risen Lord.
Are we returning to the mourner's bench and allowing fear to dominate our faith? I hope not for it's not the way of Jesus. I can't speak for all the church, but I have hope provided in Christ's love to overcome our challenges, live like Christ and share the good news of Jesus and His Kingdom. For me it's simple, it's love.
I love to tell the story
of unseen things above,
of Jesus and his glory,
of Jesus and his love.
I love to tell the story,
because I know 'tis true;
it satisfies my longings
as nothing else can do.
I love to tell the story,
'twill be my theme in glory,
to tell the old, old story
of Jesus and his love.
By Katherine Hankey
The Rev. Mitchel C. Hescox is President & CEO of the Evangelical Environmental Network
"The King will reply, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'" (Matthew 25:40)
Thank you for participating in the April 26 Global Day of Prayer for Creation Care and the Poor. Our morning together in Washington, DC was a time of prayer and worship. It was all about God. We praised the Creator who provides life's necessities through a garden, which He wonderfully made. Yet, we confessed our failure to care and tend His garden. Our poor stewardship is at the center of our world's great injustices, and if we are serious in our discipleship, we must recognize creation care's role in our responsibility for "the least of these."
The poor are poorer because many of us live unsustainable lives. Food and water scarcity are amplified by a changing climate. Disease multiplies. Women and children suffer increased violence and are forced to travel greater distances searching for ever scarcer resources. Drought-stricken land and rising seas are forcing millions to flee. And violence escalates as people desperate for resources fight over what remains.
We acknowledged our sin and yet we celebrated because we are not without hope. The Risen Lord, Jesus the Christ, is our hope. Following Jesus and living in a compassionate relationship as his disciples with all creation makes the impossible possible.
We anticipated that God's grace would empower our eyes and ears to open as we worshipped and prayed together. We prayed to understand the reality of creation care and the impacts of climate change on God's children. We prayed and called upon God to transform our hearts and to call us into action to do the greater things Jesus promises for all his followers. God's grace and manifest presence was evident. We waited in silence upon the Lord. Sisters and brothers in the Lord reported that their lives and understandings were deeply impacted. Hundreds of challenging personal commitments were made and written out. We will be posting these in the future, along with videos of the sharings by Chris Wright and others that were delivered over the course of the morning.
Tens of thousands of pastors, churches, prayer leaders and individuals across the U.S. and around the world received Global Day of Prayer notices and links to the Prayer Points, written in a way so that we can continue to use them throughout the year. Multitudes participated individually or corporately.
Again, "Thank you!" Please continue to participate in the great wave of climate concern, prayer and concerted action that is mounting across the U.S. and around the world. There is room for everyone on the EEN Team. To receive periodic CreationCare Prayer Alerts just email email@example.com. Become a Creation Care Champion! You are invited to participate in the new Creation Care Teaching Institute monthly conference calls. Equip yourself and network with others in your region. For more information just email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Books and resources by our Prayer Breakfast speakers, as well as the April, 2012 edition of Creation Care magazine, PRAYERS FOR AUTHENTIC FAITH, RIGHTEOUSNESS AND JUSTICE, are readily available at www.CreationCare.org
Mitch Hescox - President, Evangelical Environmental Network
"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." (Romans 15:13)
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.'"
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.
Gabe Lyons of the Q, a learning community that mobilizes Christians to advance the common good in society, sits down with Mitch to talk about the mercury, creation care, and much more.
Don't miss this excellent conversation.
On March 27, 2012 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed the first ever national power plant carbon pollution standards for electric generating stations. "This is an historic step in the right direction to overcome global warming. It starts returning American leadership to our moral responsibility for the poor around the world, those most threatened by climate change's impacts. However, comprehensive legislation is still needed, and we hope the President will state clearly that passing such legislation will be a top priority," stated the Rev. Mitch Hescox, President & CEO of the Evangelical Environmental Network.
The carbon pollution standard will do the following:
The New Source Carbon Pollution Standard is an important step in reducing carbon. We urge the Administration, Congress, industry, and the American people to work toward a market based policy solution to reduce current carbon pollution and insure a safer and healthier world for all God's children.
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.
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. 
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:
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.
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.
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. 
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
 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
 Wright, N. T., After You Believe: Why Christian Character Matters, Harper One, NY, NY, 2010, pg 74-75.
 Calvin, John, Commentary on the Prophet Isaiah, second volume, Christian Classics Ethereal Library, Grand Rapids, MI, http://www.ccel.org
 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.
By Mitchell C. Hescox
Who doesn't know that doctors tell pregnant moms to limit fish consumption during their pregnancy because of mercury? This is basic and lifesaving advice. As a father and now a grandfather, I know the importance of listening to your doctor especially during pregnancy. While eating fish can have tremendous benefits to the baby and the mother, the presence of mercury in fish means that moms have to limit their intake. Mercury can have a devastating impact on the unborn; unborn children who are exposed to mercury, a potent neurotoxin, are at much higher risks for lowered IQ, reduced motor and language skills, cardiac problems and a host of other threats to their life and quality of life. Mercury pollution levels are getting so high that as many as 1 in 6 children in the United States are born with threatening levels of mercury, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control.
For years, the ministry I lead, the Evangelical Environmental Network, has taken a clear pro-life stand, which has extended to protecting our unborn children from this threat. The largest single U.S. domestic source of mercury, 50%, comes from coal burning power plants. Mercury emitted from smoke stacks falls into our waters and enters our food chain through fish. Currently, all 50 states issue fish consumption advisories for high levels of mercury. As the threat of mercury continues to grow, we strongly endorse EPA's Mercury and Air Toxics standard, which protects our children through the reduction of mercury emissions.
Groups like the National Association of Evangelicals and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops as well as over 100 senior evangelical leaders who signed our common statement, understand that this is a pro-life concern. Anything that would diminish a baby's right to their God given gifts threatens the abundant life that God intended. During my recent testimony before the Energy and Power Subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives, Congressman John Shimkus (R-IL) in an attempt to refute my testimony read the following from a document issued by the Cornwall Alliance that same morning:
The life in pro-life denotes not quality of life but life itself and only refers to opposition to a procedure that intentionally results in dead babies.
We couldn't disagree more and so do many others. Focus on the Family has produced a wonderful video about defending the sanctity of human life that states:
Like a new set of glasses that helps us see the world with greater clarity, the value of human life defines how we see and respond to those around us. From the formation of 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 "pro-life," it's not some political issue. It's a world view " it's a life-view"
We agree with Focus on the Family that to be pro-life is to understand that the "life" message is part of a seamless message upheld in Christian Scripture and in the life of Jesus.
But we are confused and disappointed that Tom Minnery, Focus on the Family's Vice President for Policy, joined with the Cornwall Alliance statement against protecting our unborn from mercury poisoning. It is this contradictory message of defending the unborn from abortion, but not from powerful industries and donors who profit from mercury pollution that diminishes one's quality of life, that gives the evangelical community a black eye to so many in our society. Many are asking, how can you be pro-life and ignore the impacts of toxins like mercury on the unborn?
Life is a gift from God and remains sacred in our eyes. Together we stand committed against abortion that terminates the life of over 1.2 million children in the United States each year. We also stand committed to protecting the lives of the millions of children whose lives and ability to reach their God-given potential is threatened by mercury and other hazardous waste. Only by protecting the quality of an unborn child's future from pollution like mercury can we be consistently pro-life. Such consistency is how we begin to transform our culture into one that is seamlessly and totally pro-life.
Let's stop this politically motivated attack against life and the value of our children. The Cornwall document, quoted by Congressman Shimkus, calls for a cost/benefit analysis, a cost benefit analysis to see if it is worth saving the lives of the unborn. Attempting to force dollar limits on whether to protect life lessens our nation and totally rejects our founders' words of our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. This is unconscionable and shows Cornwall's overt libertarian bent.
As evangelical Christians let us value all life as a precious God given gift and protect that life, especially the most vulnerable from mercury and other toxins. Bishop Stephen Blaire of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops who stated in support of the Mercury and Air Toxics Standard, "Who wouldn't want cleaner air and water, it just makes sense." We couldn't agree more.
Rev. Mitchel C. Hescox is the President & CEO of the Evangelical Environmental Network.
by Gary Bergel
"Pollution is essentially a by-product of our vastly increased per-capita consumption, intensified by population growth, urbanization, and changing industrial processes. In the coming years, problems of environmental degradation will rise exponentially." (Ash Council Memo to President Richard Nixon, 1970)
The close of 2011 finds the U.S. at an historic ecological tipping point.
On Friday, December 16, 2011, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) signed the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS). On Wednesday, December 21, these MATS were publically unveiled by EPA Administrator, Lisa P. Jackson, at the Children's National Medical Center in Washington, DC.
Also termed "The Mercury Rule" because they will sharply limit the emissions of mercury, a long-studied neurotoxin, the MATS will also set overall federal standards on emissions of other toxic heavy metals like nickel and selenium, as well as on arsenic, acid gases, cyanide and other carcinogenic chemicals routinely emitted by the burning of fossil fuels -- for the first time in the history of the U.S.
"By cutting emissions that are linked to developmental disorders and respiratory illnesses like asthma, these standards represent a major victory for clean air and public health " and especially for the health of our children," Administrator Jackson stated.
The risk of neurological disorders to America's unborn children by mercury and other toxic emissions was documented at a November 30, 2011 U.S. Senate Staff Briefing hosted by Sen. Robert P. Casey, Jr (PA), the National Association of Evangelicals, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Evangelical Environmental Network. Cynthia F. Bearer, MD PhD, Chief of the Division of Neonatology, Dept. of Pediatrics, University of Maryland Hospital for Children outlined the toxins, including mercury (Hg++) she looks for when examining newborns exhibiting neurological disorders.
Rev. Mitch Hescox President of the Evangelical Environmental Network, spoke at the briefings and MATS ceremony and pointed out that the MATS were "over 20 years in the making." "We are glad this moment has finally arrived, our unborn children and infants deserve it!" he declared. In his meetings with officials and in public appearances, Rev. Hescox boldly proclaims that evangelical Christians believe life is sacred and that human life begins at conception. He explains that it is this biblical "pro-life" belief, coupled with an evangelical believer's commitment to Christ, that compels them to work to protect the weakest members of society, the unborn, and to ensure their right to the "abundant life" that Jesus offers.
Various secular media reported on the support of MATS by evangelical Christians. Public Radio International (PRI) included a segment on Living on Earth, and chose to post and make their full audio interview with Rev. Hescox available.
When MATS were proposed in mid-March, 2011, officials such as John Bachman who worked for the EPA's Office of Air Quality Planning for 30 years, pointed out that the fossil fuel industry-funded lobby efforts, political in-fighting and resultant decades-long delay in proposing toxic emissions standards has "cost thousands of lives."
According to law, the EPA actively sought public feedback, regional public hearings were held, and the public comment period was extended to 140 days. More than 900,000 comments were received. Full review required an additional 30-day extension before the MATS were issued on December 16.
That these MATS were "over 20 years in the making" actually reflects back to the first legislation involving air pollution, The Air Pollution Control Act of 1955. Additional Clean Air measures were passed in 1963, 1967 and 1970. It was Republican President Richard Nixon, and his Special Message to the Congress on Environmental Quality on February 20, 1970, that really moved the Clean Air ball down the political playing field. In his speech President Nixon stated this about Stationary-Source Pollution:
Industries, power plants, furnaces, incinerators -- these and other so-called 'stationary-sources' add enormously to the pollution of the air.... Such pollution can quite literally make breathing hazardous to health, and can cause unforeseen atmospheric and meteorological problems as well.... Air is no respecter of political boundaries: a community that sets and enforces strict standards may still find its air polluted from sources in another community or another state.
In this February Special Message, President Nixon referenced that his Advisory Council on Executive Organization, headed up by Mr. Roy Ash, would be making recommendations to him by April. One of the Ash Council recommendations was for consolidation of regulatory protection and enforcement authority over matters related to the environment. The 1970 Ash Council Memo was prophetic in nature and predicted the "The Environmental Crisis" we are facing today:
Pollution is essentially a by-product of our vastly increased per-capita consumption, intensified by population growth, urbanization, and changing industrial processes. In the coming years, problems of environmental degradation will rise exponentially.
While our population will increase from 200 to 260 million by the year 2000, pollution will increase much more rapidly. Even if 50 percent of the nation's electric generating capacity is nuclear-powered by the year 2000, pollutants from fossil-fuel generations will double by 1980 and redouble by 2000.
At the same time, our demand for fresh water will increase from 350 to 800 billion gallons a day -- considerably exceeding the dependable supply of fresh water now available, some 650 billion gallons daily. More and more clean water will have to be retrieved from progressively dirtier waterways.
The enormous future needs for land, minerals, and energy require that the protection of our environment receive a powerful new impetus. In this, the nation will be on the "horns of a dilemma." The economic progress which we have come to expect, or even demand, has almost invariably been at some cost to the environment.
Various measures, including the National Environmental Policy Act which established the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), were swiftly passed by Congress. Richard Nixon created the EPA on May 2, 1971. This agency was specifically mandated to implement the Clean Air Act of 1970. Amendments calling for protection from mercury and other heavy metal toxins were signed into law by George H. W. Bush in 1990.
"The nation will be on the 'horns of a dilema.'" (Ash Council Memo, 1970)
Fortunately, while waiting for federal action since 1990, regulations similar to the MATS have been initiated by more than a dozen states, resulting in the installation of "scrubbers" by about half of the nation's energy-producing coal and oil utilities. Clean utility operators are calling their "dirty" peers forward in implementation of the new and reasonable standards.
While the MATS are projected to cost non-compliant utilities $10.6 billion by 2016, agency analysts project that the lowered toxic emissions will save $59 billion in annual health costs, preventing 11,000 premature deaths a year, debilitating heart and lung conditions, and lost workdays.
"On the whole, industry can comply in a timely and cost-effective manner." (Michael Bradley, Executive Director, Clean Energy Group)
Last-minute negotiations between the White House and EPA added a provision for extensions to power plant operators who apply for a waiver and demonstrate that they cannot meet the MATS three to four year deadline. Michael Bradley, Executive Director of the Clean Energy Group, testified at MATS hearings that, "on the whole, industry can comply in a timely and cost-effective manner."
Already-compliant utility executives, such as Ralph Izzo of New Jersey's largest electric utility, Public Service Enterprise Group, said the MATS were "long overdue" and that the new standards provide enough flexibility to allow all power generators to come into compliance without any threat to the nation's power grid. Contrary to scare tactics by MATS opponents, leading electric grid officials are assuring U.S. citizens that "no lights will go out."
Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) decried the MATS as a "thinly veiled electricity tax," and said that they are part of an Obama administration "war on affordable energy." Prominent Republican members of Congress fiercely opposed the MATS and are declaring that they will counter the regulations in Congress. Some utility heads said that they will challenge the MATS in court.
The oldest coal power plants in the U.S. have been spewing out mercury and other toxins for 90 years. Public awareness and scientific data regarding pollution has been building for almost a century. Earlier Clean Air standards have removed lead and toxins from gasoline and automobile exhaust. Work on mercury standards was set aside in the Clinton administration so that the industry emissions of nitrogen and sulfer oxides causing acid rain could be curbed through, ironically, a successful cap-and-trade program spearheaded by Republicans as they controlled Congress.
And now, at the close of 2011, even though huge sums of money were put into campaigns and behind rhetoric to make mercury and toxic emissions look innocuous and spin distortion that the MATS and cleanup would be "disastrous for jobs," another giant is falling.
We are at a positive tipping-point. Significantly, more conservatives are calling for conservation. Corporate corruption can be curbed and environmental degradation can be mitigated and even reversed. America can still regain moral leadership in the international community -- once again by example.
Some angry, shrill voices call for the abolishment of the EPA and decry the collaborative efforts of Evangelical Christians, Roman Catholics, and others in the Church who are standing and battling together against abortion, euthanasia, slavery and sex-trafficking, lack of religious freedom, racism, environmental degradation, climate crisis, threats to public health, and a host of other ills. Some say that the meaning of being "pro-life" is being "obscured."
Just the opposite is true. Biblically, being "pro-life" is far more than being "anti-abortion." The Evangel, "abundant life" Kingdom message of Jesus Christ, Savior of the world, is being unveiled and actualized. "You will know them by their fruits," Christ declared. (Matthew 7:16)
The Church is called to be authentically and totally pro-life. If we were really "getting it," then abortion would not be happening among so many "Christians," and there would be few rather than millions of foster children left to adopt in the U.S. The Church could be taking over health care, or at least starting new hospitals. Thank God for some new Christian clinics and at least a token concern for the handicapped. We each often fall far short of being "pro-life."
This MATS protective victory from toxic poisoning for mothers and their unborn children is evidence that the Holy Spirit, the Parakletos, "He who draws alongside to comfort and help," is mightily at work! The Lord is restoring the full meaning and requirements to being "pro-life."
As 2011 ends, we pray that "the meekness of wisdom" and "wisdom from above" (James 3:13-18) might be granted, enter in, and prevail. Christ, our Hope, stands smiling with arms outstretched before us on the 2012 horizon.
Soli Deo Gloria! For the Glory of God Alone!
For many it might seem highly unusual for an Evangelical Christian to stand alongside EPA Administrator Jackson this morning. I am standing with her today because we agree on the need to protect children from mercury. Christians are called to protect life, it's sacred, and evangelicals take very seriously the Biblical belief that life begins at conception. As Scripture states:
Psalm 139:13 (ESV)
13For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother's womb.
The unborn are the weakest members of our society. We must protect them and insure their right to an abundant life. Currently 1 in 6 babies are born with harmful levels of mercury in their blood. The largest source of domestic mercury emissions are coal-fired electric utilities and the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards promulgated today will provide significant reductions, over 90%, of the mercury contained in the coal that is burned.
We have been waiting since the 1990 Clean Air Act for this day to come. It's been a long road,
but we're glad it has finally arrived; our unborn children and infants deserve it. As a father and now a grandfather, this is personal. It is also central to the Evangelical Environmental Network's ministry of creation care, because for us creation care is a matter of life. We understand the gift of creation as a sustainable gift empowering and providing for human life. Unfortunately, humanity has too often endangered creation and therefore endangered human life with pollution like mercury.
My organization, along with those we work with in the faith community including the National Association of Evangelicals and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, are thankful for recently finalized National Mercury and Air Toxics Standards and their life-saving benefits from mercury, particulates, and acid gases. Bishop Stephen Blaire of USCCB stated, "The U.S. Catholic bishops welcome this important move by the Administration to adopt long-awaited standards to reduce mercury and toxic air pollution from power plants and to protect children's health. In the end it just makes good sense to want to have clean air for our children and families to breathe and for future generations."
However, protecting our unborn children from mercury doesn't end with today's action. Addressing mercury from other sources, both domestic and international, remains a priority. We look forward to EPA's leadership in helping to protect our most vulnerable lives from these other major sources of mercury. For now, however, this mercury regulation marks a significant milestone in the fight to protect our unborn children from toxic pollution and is something to be celebrated. We appreciate the leadership of the President and Administrator Jackson in bringing this day about.
by The Rev. Mitchell C. Hescox
What a sad state of affairs when Christian brothers cannot agree to protect our unborn children's health. Cal Beisner penned another attack piece yesterday in World Magazine. I will continue to pray for Cal and his lack of understanding to the dangers our unborn children face from mercury poisoning. The Evangelical Environmental Network has had a long record of being pro-life and speaking out on abortion. We have marched in the March for Life almost each year, including 2005 when we carried a sign calling for an end to mercury poisoning of our unborn. Additionally, our latest issue of Creation Care Magazine features our pro-life position. Protecting our children from all threats is pro-life.
In the past year whether testifying before the EPA, on Public Radio International, to reporters or to members of Congress, we have constantly stood against abortion, we are pro-life in standing-up to protect our unborn from the devastating dangers from the poisons spewed into God's creation. Our efforts have brought new awareness and new openness to being pro-life.
In spite of Cal's comments, medical peer reviewed literature states that 1 in 6 children are born with threatening levels of mercury.1,2 A National Institutes of Health article from 2010, further exposes the problem by saying there is no known safe level of mercury.3 What compounds mercury poisoning in our unborn is that once mercury enters the child in the womb, there is no way to excrete the mercury. Research upon research testifies that umbilical cord blood levels may contain double the mercury present in the maternal blood.4
The American Academy of Pediatrics states:
We agree with the strong evidence the EPA provides to support their decision that the proposed rule is both appropriate and necessary to protect public health as required under Section 112 of the Clean Air Act. Exposure to likely harm from mercury and methylmercury continues, as does strong evidence of exposure to multiple, recognized carcinogens and other toxics that cause or increase risk of cardiovascular, respiratory, and other acute and chronic systemic damage" 5
EEN doesn't have any in-house medical expertise. Months ago, we sought out the leading medical expert on mercury's impact on the unborn, Dr. Phil Landrigan of Mt. Sinai Medical Center in New York City. You can listen to Dr. Landrigan briefing by clicking here. The Evangelical Environmental Network, the National Association of Evangelicals and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops held a Senate staff briefing on Mercury and the Unborn on November 30, 2011 where Cynthia F. Bearer, MD, PhD shared her expertise. Dr. Bearer is the Mary Gray Cobey Professor of Neonatology and Chief of the Division of Neonatology in the Department of Pediatrics at University of Maryland Hospital for Children, Baltimore, MD. Her presentation affirmed Dr. Landrigan, the National Academy of Sciences, the American Pediatric Association, and the vast other medical associations supporting the need to reduce mercury. Each statistic we cite is peer reviewed medical research and not some number pulled from an industry paper or environmentalist scare report.
Coal fired electric utilities are the single largest domestic source of mercury. Mercury, once emitted, falls to the earth and enters our food chain through fish. According to the United States Geological Survey, over 40% of the fresh water in the United States has enough mercury for fish eating advisories and the percent of polluted fresh water continues to increase.6 There are mercury fish eating advisories in all 50 states and hence the need for pregnant women to closely monitor their fish consumption. In many areas of our nation, it is simply not safe to go fishing, especially if you plan to eat the fish.
Please remember that the efforts to reduce mercury emissions are not new. Since the 1990 Clean Air Act signed into law by the first President Bush, we have to attempting to reduce domestic mercury emissions. In fact, many utilities have already acted proactively and eleven of the top fifteen utilities executives are supportive of Mercury and Air Toxins Standard. 7 The current "Utility MACT" or Mercury and Air Toxin Standard would reduce 91% mercury from coal burned by electric utilities. That's a good beginning and gives us a national standard.
Mercury poisoning of our unborn is real. It results in brain damage and lasts a lifetime.8 That makes it a strong pro-life message, and it is just sad for some to believe otherwise.
citations below correspond with the numbers above
 See Mahaffey et al., "Blood Organic Mercury and Dietary Mercury Intake" Environmental Health Perspectives, 112,#5 (April 2004).
 Trasande,et al., "Public Health and Economic Consequences of Methyl Mercury Toxicity to the Developing Brain," Environmental Health Perspectives, Vol.113, No. 5 (May 2005): p. 590
 Bose-O'Reilly, et. al., Mercury Exposure and Children's Health,Curr. Probl. Pediatric Health Care, 2010 September: 40(8):16-18.
 Lederman et. al., http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2516590/
 Trasande,et al., "Public Health and Economic Consequences of Methyl Mercury Toxicity tothe Developing Brain," Environmental Health Perspectives, Vol. 113, No. 5 (May 2005): p. 590.
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,
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
by Rev. Mitch Hescox
Something we're missing. Riding in a cab after two consecutive days of coast-to-coast flying with six hours of presentations and meetings tossed between, I started a conversation with my young driver. We chatted over the area, weather, coffee (which I was in desperate need), local jobs, and the economy. "People around here take the environment seriously, we're sort of an outdoors kinda' people," shared Michael. "I went to the local book-store a while back and found something called the Green Bible." My younger brother died not too long ago, and I'm trying to figure things out," Michael continued. "I gotten through the Genesis part, but so far I have more questions than answers." As Michael paused and looked over with a glancing gaze with maybe you think I'm crazy expression, I admit to a little chuckle. "Michael, in my briefcase is my Green Bible. " Michael, I spent the last 20 years being a pastor and now help churches and our government understand how important it is to care for God's creation," I replied to a very surprised taxi-driver. Michael shared a little more of his live, his hurt, his confession. How a friends were turning to God and others away from God. "I spend some time in church as a kid, but I don't have much use for church," Michael stated. "Let's start with your questions and try to build a relationship with God before we worry about the church," I replied.
We spent the next 20 minutes discussing Scripture, his questions and his feelings. As we arrived at my destination, I simply asked Michael if I could pray for him. After laying hands on my new friend and praying, I offered him my card and asked him to email his questions so our conversation might continue. However, the story isn't over. The next day on my return trip with some colleagues. Our now woman cab driver wanted to know if anyone had travelled alone by taxi the day before. I confessed! She immediately shared how her son Michael had come home yesterday waving my card and telling his mom about our conversation. Only the Lord knows the outcome of this serendipitous moment, but without the Green Bible inspired by Dr. Cal DeWitt a connection would have never happened.
Creation care and our stewardship for the earth are not only a Biblical mandate, but also perhaps the greatest 21st century evangelism gift. Are we awake enough to make the connection?
Rev. Mitch Hescox is President & CEO of the Evangelical Environmental Network
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, - Declaration of Independence, 1776
by Mitch Hescox
My evangelical Christian faith holds life as both precious and sacred, as does the founding document of these United States. However, such fundamental rights and our government's ability to secure these rights is based upon knowing the truth about things that might contribute to or impede life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. This is why the First Amendment to our Constitution provides for freedom of the press. But for journalists to fulfill their beneficial function in our society they must get us in the neighborhood of the truth. When they actually lead us away from the truth, especially when it comes to human health - something absolutely fundamental to our pursuit of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness - then they not only fail to fulfill their constructive role of finding the truth, they find themselves in opposition to the values of our country.
A perfect example of such journalistic failure appeared in an editorial by the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) on June 13, 2011, entitled "The EPA's War on Jobs," criticizing the Environmental Protection Agency's proposed rule to reduce mercury pollution.
The WSJ is one of the most respected news and financial publications in the world. Yet how its editorial board could not do a thorough fact check before printing this piece is troubling.
Below are just a few examples:
First, the Journal states "even by the EPA's lowball estimates, it is the most expensive rule in the agency's history." Contrary to the assertion that EPA does "low ball estimates," it is a historical fact that the opposite is true; EPA traditionally overestimates the cost of compliance. This is especially the case with the Clean Air Act regulations. Cleaning up acid rain provides most comparable analogy to the proposed mercury regulations; it's the same industry with similar technology. During the discussions on acid rain, EPA estimated $750 per ton of sulfur dioxide removal, the utility industry suggested $1500 per ton, and the actual cost less than $200 per ton.1 As for the claim that it will be an expensive rule, this is true. But it is an investment that will produce a net increase in jobs and reap $5-13 in health benefits for every $1 spent. That's quite a deal.
The WSJ editorial does mention the claims about the terrific health benefits the regulation will produce, but wrongly asserts that because they are primarily from particulate reductions rather than from mercury, that this is analogous to "a corporation double-counting revenue."
There is no double-counting here whatsoever. The particulate reductions achieved by this regulation are new and additional reductions, resulting in new and additional health benefits.
By falsely ignoring the substantial health benefits from the particulate and other toxin reductions, the WSJ then claims that we will have to spend $1,847 to achieve $1 in benefits from mercury reduction. That's like purchasing a new car for $20,000, removing a front tire, and then saying that tire is worth about what we paid for the whole car.
Another false claim is that the process for creating this regulation has been "overly rushed," and that industry needs more time to comment on the proposed regulation. How is something 20 years in the making overly rushed?
From the perspective of human health, from the perspective of providing all unborn children a fuller life, liberty from the debilitating impacts of mercury poisoning, and a chance at happiness, freedom from this pollution is long overdue. Overly rushed? Quite the opposite.
The WSJ editorial also falsely claims that "reliability downgrades will hit the South and Midwest."
But utility representatives themselves debunk this. In recent testimony at EPA's public hearing in Philadelphia, Exelon's Bruce Alexander stated that "nothing about this rule [the mercury regulation] will jeopardize the reliability of the electric system." 2 Testifying before a House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee hearing, Michael Bradley, representing a coalition of utilities, stated that "we do not believe compliance with the rule will compromise the reliability of the electric system."3 And a recent report from the Bipartisan Policy Centers says, "While an emergency reliability issue is unlikely and should be preventable with proper planning and oversight, DOE and FERC have authority to address such situations if they arise."4
Lastly, the WSJ editorial quotes the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers opinion that the mercury regulation would be a job killer. While the IBEW source was not revealed, this simply doesn't match with EPA modeling that provides a modest 31,000 construction jobs and net 9000 new permanent positions.5 Nor does it match the conclusion of a just-released report from the Economic Policy Institute, the labor movement's premiere analytical shop. It states: "The toxics rule would have a modest positive net impact on overall employment, likely leading to the creation of 28,000 to 158,000 jobs between now and 2015."6
All Americans have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Let's stop jeopardizing our well-being by partisan politics, misstatements, or poor research. We can have true dialogue that rises above today's ranker. For the sake of our children, let us uphold the values enshrined in our Declaration of Independence, which call us to stop the mercury poisoning of children here today and those yet to be born.
The Rev. Mitchell C. Hescox is the President/C.E.O. of the Evangelical Environmental Network. To learn more and act on mercury & the unborn click here.
1 William Reilly, The EPA's Cost Underruns. Washington Post, Oct. 14, 2003.
3 U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power Hearing on "The American Energy Initiative" regarding Recent EPA Rulemakings Relating to Boilers, Cement Manufacturing Plants, and Utilities, April 15, 2011. For Bradley's testimony, go to:
4 Bi-Partisan Policy Center, Environmental Regulation and Electric System Reliability, June 2011: http://www.eenews.net/assets/2011/06/13/document_pm_02.pdf.
5 EPA, Power Plant Mercury and Air Toxics Standards: Overview of Proposed Rule and Impacts
6 Economic Policy Institute, A Lifesaver, Not A Job Killer: EPA's proposed "air toxic rule" is no threat to job growth, Briefing Paper #312 (June 14, 2011):
The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) recently published an op-ed "The Myth of Killer Mercury" by Willie Soon and Paul Driessen. You can find the original piece here. EEN submitted the following note to the editors of the WSJ and received no reply. Please note this piece contains footnotes linked at the end of the author's tagline.
by Mitch Hescox
We all tell fish stories. Those wonderful stories of the fish that got away, and it was much larger in the veracity of our imagination than reality. All of us tell tales greater than the truth. Maybe the motivation for the fish story resides in our desire for others to believe our stories; or perhaps we become so convicted in our beliefs that the reality of the truth goes beyond our capacity to see past our prejudices. Researchers know that no one is unbiased " that is why peer-review is so critical. Having others evaluate one's work minimizes the bias.
Unfortunately, fish stories make it more and more into respected publications. Certainly, I have made mistakes in my writing, but through proper vetting my embellishments are reduced and the truth hopefully emerges. Seeing something in print filled with misstatements or that is poorly researched raises my blood pressure and also raises the question the author's intent. Just last week the Wall Street Journal published, "The Myth of Killer Mercury" by Willie Soon and Paul Driessen. The op-ed clearly stands against the new EPA proposed standards for mercury and other air pollutants, something my organization supports. Hopefully the authors just made errors in research and were not attempting any misinformation. Below are just a few of the op-ed's faulty assertions with an attempt to correct the record.
" EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson claims that while the regulations will cost electricity producers $10.9 billion annually, they will save 17,000 lives and generate up to $140 billion in health benefits.
The EPA is not claiming that the 17,000 lives saved and $140 billion in health benefits will come from mercury reductions. Rather, these particular savings come from the health benefits of the reductions in sulfur dioxide (SO2) and particulate matter, and the EPA makes this abundantly clear. For these claims there is a substantial factual basis. It is hard to understand how Soon and Driessen could have misunderstood this.
" Mercury is found in air, water, rocks, soil and trees, which absorb it from the environment. This is why our bodies evolved with proteins and antioxidants that help protect us from this and other potential contaminants"
Health professionals for over 100 years have known that mercury is a serious threat. The term "Mad-Hatter" started from factory workers inhaling mercury used in the felt hat industry in 19th century England. While mercury poses less of a health problem to adults, unborn children are extremely vulnerable because their bodies are too young to have developed our natural defenses against it. Currently 1 in 6 unborn children have harmful levels of mercury in their blood.1 The FDA has issued detailed warnings on fish consumption during pregnancy and all 50 states have either complete or partial fish advisories for locally caught fish.2,3 Soon and Driessen must know that the unborn and young children are much more vulnerable.
" But U.S. forest fires emit at least 44 tons per year; cremation of human remains discharges 26 tons"
While reputable researchers have estimated that forest fires place 44 tons tons of mercury into the air each year as Soon and Driessen claim, the mercury actually originates from coal-burning power plants, the very sources Soon and Driessen don't want us to regulate. The emissions from burning coal fall into forests, and then spread from the hot updrafts as the forest burns.4 As for their assertion about cremation, according to the latest mercury assessment, crematoriums emit less than 1 ton, not the 26 tons they erroneously claim.5 It's hard to understand how Soon and Driessen could have so completely mischaracterized and misstated these facts.
Soon and Driessen also seem to place the blame for our mercury problem on foreign nations. Depending upon where you live, anywhere from 10 to 80% of US mercury pollution comes from domestic sources6 and over 50% of domestic anthropogenic mercury emissions come from coal-burning power plants, making them the largest such source.7 Global mercury emissions do remain large in Asia, but I for one don't wish to wait for the Chinese to protect our unborn children. Individual state efforts8,9 prove we can reduce mercury and the threats to our unborn. With a national standard, we can continue removing mercury as a threat by reducing 91% of the mercury emissions and 55% of the SO2 emissions from the largest source of these emissions in the US: coal-burning power plants.10
" A 17-year evaluation of mercury risk to babies and children by the Seychelles Children Development Study found "no measurable cognitive or behavioral effects" in children who eat several servings of ocean fish every week, much more than most Americans do". Instead, the agency based its "safe" mercury criteria on a study of Faroe Islanders"
The authors place huge weight on the Seychelles Island study over against the Faroe Islands study. First, the Faroe Islands research selection came not from the EPA but from a report by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, who clearly thought it was appropriate. Second, there is no mention of a similar study with matching results to that of the Faroe Islands study, completed in New Zealand. Finally, the updated research from the Seychelles study (2010) correlates to both the Faroe Islands and New Zealand research.11 The selective use of an older study, which itself has been superseded by an updated version that now agrees with the other studies, raises serious questions about the reliability of this op-ed in the Wall Street Journal.
We have a tendency to laugh at fish stories. Our hearts know that when told at a family picnic they are harmless and part of our American culture. Yet our new American culture allows fish stories to end up as op-eds in the Wall Street Journal. The unfortunate "fish story" here is that many fish contain dangerous levels of mercury, and the fish threaten our unborn children. They deserve more than a fish story; the unborn deserve our protection and an abundant life.
The Rev. Mitchell C. Hescox is President/C.E.O. of The Evangelical Environmental Network, a ministry dedicated to promoting Creation Care: It's a Matter of Life.
Maffey et al., "Blood Organic Mercury and Dietary Mercury Intake",Environmental Health Perspectives, 112, #5 (April 2004).
 EPA website, http://www.epa.gov/mercury/about.html. Data from the 2005 National EmissionsInventory
Selin, "Global Biogeochemical Cycling of Mercury: A Review," Annual Review of Environmental. Resources(2009) Vol. 34 (2009): p. 48
EPA website, http://www.epa.gov/mercury/about.html. Data from the 2005 National EmissionsInventory
Florida DEP, Integrating Atmospheric Mercury Deposition with Aquatic Cycling inSouth Florida, Nov 2003.
EPA, Power Plant Mercury and Air ToxicsStandards: Overview of Proposed Rule and Impacts, p. 2.
Lynch, ML, L-S Huang, C Cox, JJ Strain, GJ Myers, MP Bonham, CF Shamlaye, AStokes-Riner, JMW Wallance, EM Duffy, TW Clarkson and PW Davidson. 2010. Varying coefficient function models to explore interactions between maternal nutritional status andprenatal methylmercury toxicity in the Seychelles Child Development Nutrition Study. Environmental Research http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.envres.2010.09.005.
by The Rev. Mitchel C. Hescox
It's time to be honest with ourselves. Facts no longer seem to matter in much our national discourse --- only the reality we choose. Our decisions are based solely on internal worldviews and what is best for us. Perhaps it has always been so, but today our internal standards have lead us to a national polarization unsurpassed in recent memory. Indeed, we face many problems. Our national debt is too large. The national infrastructure is falling apart. Greater numbers endure poverty, we face another energy crisis, and diseases like cancer are literally at epidemic proportions. Shouting at each other or calling those with different internal standards derogatory names, and even running away from discussion won't solve problems but only dig us into a deeper hole.
Our internal standards and worldviews inform our approach to national problems; from health care, budget, welfare, military, and beyond. However, allow me to address directly something that I know at least something about, our changing climate, and energy. (Please read on before you dismiss what I am hoping to address. I happen to be a registered Republican, although one that others might describe as "progressive." In other words, I'm center-right, and my desire for strong action on clean energy and climate change is not driven by partisanship.)
This week's US House of Representatives hearings are a case in point. Every major scientific body in the United States, the American Medical Association, our military, the CIA, and most major faith groups recognize climate change as a significance problem regarding human life, human health, increased international violence, and a host of other impacts detrimental to human well-being.
As the hearings demonstrated, the science doesn't seem to make a difference it's our individual standards. On one side are those who believe in the status quo. They understand our economy as based on a fossil fuel standard. It's been the norm of our nation for the past 200 years. Moreover, they are correct in assuming that fossil fuel energy has made America what it is today. Our abundant supplies of wood, coal, and petroleum have been the basis for our economic power from the beginnings of the industrial revolution up to and including today. They have fed our perception of individual freedom. Who in America doesn't enjoy the option of driving their cars to work, to grandma's or of course to the greatest American pastime --- shopping?
Looking at the facts might force us to change and no one likes change "that's a proven fact. Especially when coupled to the reality that the American energy business desires to maximize their profits for as long as possible. Who wouldn't! Profits in and of themselves are not a bad thing. Profits create jobs, are reinvested, drive stock markets, and fund many retirements.
However, petroleum, our most common fossil fuel, is a commodity that is increasingly in short supply with a large current demand making it more valuable and therefore more expensive.
Our internal standard is terribly misinformed on petroleum pricing. In times when crude prices escalate due to international crisis, we often hear demands for increased drilling and increasing domestic production. First, the United States, while still the third largest producer of petroleum, has only 2% of the proven reserves. Saving our reserves for when supplies are really scarce and for valuable uses such as chemicals, pharmaceuticals, and plastics seems wise. However, unless we wish our government to engage in price controls, the worldwide commodity market will determine the value. Drilling in the US simply cannot make a major impact in world production to effect price --- that's a fact. The "Drill, Baby, Drill" slogan simply ignores this reality, and prevents many from seeing our true situation.
Limiting our energy options only to fossil fuels limits not only our children's future but also denies the American Spirit of entrepreneurship and new economic opportunities. With our current employment woes, it makes sense to move beyond the limits we have placed upon ourselves by our continued over-reliance on fossil fuels and transition to a more vibrant economy based on new energy sources. Just a couple miles up the road is the village of Hametown. Once noted for hame production. (Hames are part of a horse collar.) Believe it or not the hame shops are gone, and so will be future jobs for our children if we don't unbridle our attitudes, values, and internal standards.
On the other side are those just as radical. Their desire promotes an entirely new society based on a false sense of moral superiority bordering on a utopian worldview. They demand immediate change and a new standard without considering our current values or fears. All business is viewed as potentially evil and legislation becomes the methodology for social change. Unfortunately, legislation, while important, doesn't change our internal standards or values. Only a society willing to discuss, listen, and learn from each other can come to understand a new standard with values we all share. Our paradigms must shift to insure the future.
We need to rediscover our shared values before it's too late for our children, grandchildren, and the world. A fossil fuel economy never was sustainable. Neither is complete and immediate trashing of our current economic basis. However, there is a third way.
First, let me be clear that the basis for my hope is faith. I profess loyalty as a follower of Jesus. As the sustainer and redeemer of all things, Jesus remains my hope and strength for the work needed to provide a future for our children. That said, below is an outline of a third way for moving beyond our current impasse to a new sustainable life of each of us.
i. Commit to examining your values and lifestyle. Look beyond yourself to at least your future generations, if not the world.
ii. Start at home and look for ways to live more sustainability. Consider options that would add value and health within your family and additionally save money. There are a number of great resource books such as Go Green, Save Green by Nancy Sleeth, Green Mama by Traci Bianchi and Green American Style by Anna Clark to get you started.
iii. Make a covenant to listen and not deride those with different standards or perspectives. Let's move into discussion with solutions and away from shouting.
iv. Encourage our political leaders to work on a bipartisan American Energy Plan including:
a. Eliminating all subsidies for fossil fuels;
b. Developing a Clean Energy Standard.
v. Learn all the costs of using fossil fuels, including added health risks and national security threats.
vi. Believe that together we can change and provide a future.
It's time to be honest. Together we can build a better today and tomorrow if we look first at changing ourselves and then consider the facts. That's a truth we can all agree on that will help give our children a future.
Rev. Mitch Hescox is President & CEO of the Evangelical Environmental Network lives in New Freedom and speaks nationally on creation care and Biblical approaches to energy, the poor, and Christian Discipleship. Learn more at http://creationcare.org. This Op-Ed appeared in this Sunday's York Daily Record (York, PA).
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.