• Pro-Life Christians Support Reductions in Carbon Pollution

    December 05,2014, 14:27 PM

    Over the past several months the Evangelical Environmental Network has submitted to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) 334,530 comments from 202,068 pro-life Christians in support of reducing carbon pollution.

    Here is one of their recent messages to the EPA:

    As pro-life Christians, we urge the EPA to protect life and God's creation by reducing carbon pollution and toxic emissions from existing coal burning power plants. We ask the EPA to provide maximum flexibility to states as to how they will cut emissions, including options such as a pollution fee that could cut other taxes. It is time for our leaders to act for the sake of our children's health, the most vulnerable among us, and His beautiful creation.

    Some may be surprised at this number of comments. After all, a recent poll once again confirms that "White evangelical Protestants are more likely than any other religious group to be climate change Skeptics."

    "We have been able to reach and activate those considered unreachable by traditional environmentalists because we share their values and our actions are informed by those values," said the Rev. Mitch Hescox, EEN's President/CEO.

  • Hugs for Life

    June 04,2014, 13:40 PM

    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.

  • Our Children Can't Afford Small Thinking on Climate

    April 08,2014, 07:43 AM

    In our current political moment many have given up on achieving anything big, like a "grand bargain" on the budget and deficit reduction (e.g. The New York Times recent editorial, "An End to the Grand-Bargain Charades"). The realism of incrementalism is back. A fatigue factor has set in after 3 years of political brinkmanship and paralysis. In this political climate, forget trying to find common ground with one's political adversaries to solve the big issues of the day.

    Thing is, most of the big problems got big precisely because we've ignored them or given up trying to find common ground. And these issues are not going away. Thinking small isn't helpful, either. That's certainly true with one of the most divisive issues of our day, climate change.

    As an evangelical Republican working on climate change, I know how hard it is to find common ground. Yet my own experience within the evangelical community is that shared values overcome polarization and working together is possible on big issues that matter to people's lives.

    Recently I spoke at an event of religious leaders with senior White House and Administration officials to talk about overcoming climate change. I'll be searching for a way forward together, despite our differences, and I'm hopeful -- confident, even -- that such a way can be found.

    My confidence rests on our shared values as expressed in our Declaration of Independence: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. From these American values can we create a vision of the future worthy of our past bequeathed to us by our forbearers, worthy of the love we have for our children, a vision big enough to inspire us once again to greatness?

    Our Founding Fathers issued the Declaration of Independence and fought the American Revolution because tyranny threatened our values.

    President Obama and I have found common ground in believing that we must declare our independence from another form of tyranny, global warming, and its threat to life, liberty, and happiness:

    Life: While global warming's tyranny has and will threaten the lives of millions, the solutions we create will enhance the lives of billions.

    Liberty: While global warming's cruelty has and will threaten the political and economic liberty of around the world, American ingenuity and can-do spirit will foster freedom through clean energy growth and the creation of new industries both here and abroad.

    Happiness: While global warming tries to steal happiness from us in the misery it portends, a richer, deeper quality of life awaits us, one of deep fulfillment that comes from creating a better future for our children.

    President Obama said recently, in announcing the start of creating new fuel economy standards for big trucks, that we should learn from past fuel economy efforts. The lesson? Don't make small plans, make big plans.

    The President is exactly right. Global warming is a big challenge that creates an even bigger opportunity to overcome this tyranny and build a brighter future for our children.

    We need to envision this future together. To get the conversation started, let me share what I believe our future can look like.

    I see cleaner skies and purer water, healthy children free to enjoy the beauty of God's creation, their bodies not hindered by pollution, their brains not diminished by toxics. I see an economy that is the envy of the world producing the technologies that help us achieve life, liberty and happiness; plentiful, affordable energy to power our homes and vehicles and businesses, freeing up time to spend with family and loved ones, to rebuild community life, and to be creative with the gifts God has given each of us. I see such a life being made possible in the Majority World, where American technology creates clean energy and new industries that lift billions out of poverty and into prosperity.

    Leaders of our past dared to think big -- Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Edison, Martin Luther King, Steve Jobs -- and achieved great things that make our lives better today. Let's be inspired by their example and not make the mistake of thinking small and achieving even less.

    And so, strange as it may seem in our current moment of polarization and disillusionment, now is precisely the time to think big. Although it may seem that the big issues divide us, it's just as true that an issue like global warming has the potential to unite us and bring us together as we envision a brighter future based on our shared values of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

    The Rev. Mitchell C. Hescox is president of the Evangelical Environmental Network and lives in New Freedom, PA. Before leading EEN, Rev. Hescox pastored a local church for 18 years and previous to ministry worked in the coal and coal utility industries.

  • Taking our Temperature on Climate Awareness

    August 17,2012, 18:10 PM

    by Jim Ball

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

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

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

    It's Been Hot!

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

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

    Here's an excerpt from an excellent AP story:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    It's Been Dry!

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

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

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

    It's Been Violent!

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

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

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

    Lots of Wildfires!

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

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

    The Bugs are Biting!

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

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

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

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

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

    We Just Keep Fiddlin' While the Planet Burns!

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

    Thank God for Sen. Inhofe

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

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


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

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

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

    June 06,2012, 08:12 AM

    by Jim Ball

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Sad, but true.

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

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

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

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

  • Reason 6: The Need to Adapt

    June 05,2012, 06:08 AM

    by Jim Ball

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

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

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

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

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

    Next Up: Essential to Create Public Support

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

  • Reason 5: Ocean Acidification

    June 04,2012, 05:39 AM

    by Jim Ball

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

    Next Up: The Need to Adapt

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

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

    May 30,2012, 05:16 AM

    by Jim Ball

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

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

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

    Next Up: Ocean Acidification

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

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

    May 23,2012, 16:15 PM

    by Jim Ball

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    May 17,2012, 12:22 PM

    by Jim Ball

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

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

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

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

    Next up: We Need a Revolution, Not a Transition

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

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

    May 16,2012, 09:55 AM

    by Jim Ball

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Here are 7 reasons why:

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

    2. We Need A Revolution, Not A Transition

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

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

    5. Ocean Acidification

    6. The Need to Adapt

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

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

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

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

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

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

    January 06,2012, 16:18 PM

    by Jim Ball

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    November 17,2011, 15:14 PM

    by Jim Ball

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

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

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

    We Are Currently Headed in the Wrong Direction

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

    The Emerging Economies Outstrip Developed Economies in Energy Consumption and Emissions

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

    We Are Almost Out of Time

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

    The Longer We Wait the More Expensive Reducing Emissions Becomes

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

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

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

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

    October 05,2011, 19:01 PM


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

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

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


    USA Today

    "How the GOP Should Engage Climate Science"

    by Bob Inglis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


    Bloomberg Businessweek

    "Conservative Means Standing With Science on Climate"

    by Bob Inglis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Climate News is Hopping; recent speaking engagements

    September 16,2011, 11:09 AM

    by Jim Ball

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • My Journey into Creation Care

    August 09,2011, 13:10 PM

    by Matt Walter

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

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

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

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

  • Global Warming & the Risen Lord Book Review

    August 08,2011, 08:07 AM

    by Brittany Bennett

    I am truly astounded by how much has been put into this book. It is packed solid with the most accurate scientific information, true stories, and Scripture - yet it's very easy to read. I can't say it's not challenging, but I really couldn't put it down! I'm sure that you will be able to find the time in your busy life to read it as well, and will come back to it many times. I felt like I was literally taking a journey around the world and the Lord was holding my hand the whole time. I believe that's because He was at all these places and He sees what's going on. He knows all the people we meet and the places that are described. He also has a plan as ever, and that's where we come in.

    This is a book to unite generations and denominations into the Church that had the courage to walk with Jesus across the earth, and the faith to believe that there could be healing in the midst of global warming. It's a strong bridge across the widening gap that the followers of Christ are called to stand in.

    This book is written with the careful wisdom and understanding that most Christians simply didn't know that the future would look like this. We've tried to live our lives in obedience to the Lord, we've enjoyed what we worked for,and we given what we can - but along the way we became distracted from an understanding about our impact on the environment, and the ways that our neighbors and other living things are struggling to adapt.

    This is where I was a couple years ago. I've come to general understanding of what is going on and why I should care. The biggest struggle I have is wondering how I can be more faithful? How can I keep hope and know that in a few more years I won't be devastated from the weight of these challenges? What does it mean to be a son of God in a world where millions are seeking refuge from a climate that is changing around them? How can I be in this world where these things are occurring, but not of it? What are the most accurate specifics about global warming? Where can I give? What can I do with my talents and skills? What can we do together?

    So many questions friends! It is not easy to carry the cross down here, though it is an incredibly light burden compared to the alternative. Let me tell you that if you are wondering about these things too, please read this book. Don't be afraid. I have faith that it will bless you and give you sustenance as it has me.

    I thought that I had been hopeful, but I realized how little I've actually believed that the Risen LORD can so fully overcome. It is so easy to forget, but How good is He! How powerful and glorious is the Risen LORD that all our sin and weakness has been overcome! Many are the believers and great is the Lord. Let us walk together with Him as He brings redemption, and let us learn more about how we can love and care for all that He has loved.

    Brittany Bennett is a recent graduate of Eastern University and has been actively involved with creation care.

  • Progress in Understanding Climate Adaptation, Part Two

    July 15,2011, 13:57 PM

    by Jim Ball

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

    1) Commitment: Moral and Political Will

    2) Adequate Funding

    3) Good Governance

    4) The Right Policies

    5) Accurate, Understandable Information for All Decision- Makers

    6) An Integrated, Coordinated Response

    7) Community Engagement

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

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

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

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

    The last mile? That's Jesus country.

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

  • Progress in Understanding Climate Adaptation, Part One

    June 24,2011, 12:25 PM

    by Jim Ball

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Here are some sobering statistics from the report:

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

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

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

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

    As for the future:

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

    It goes on to recognize:

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

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

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

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

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

  • Truth-telling Down Under

    May 24,2011, 11:13 AM

    by Jim Ball

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

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

    And ...

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

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


    Australian Climate Commission Report Summary


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

    April 06,2011, 15:08 PM

    by Jim Ball

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • House Set to Block EPA Climate Action, Gut Federal Climate and Clean Energy Funding

    February 15,2011, 09:16 AM

    by Jim Ball

    In its legislation to fund the federal government through September (in this instance a Continuing Resolution or CR), House Republicans, driven in large measure by tea-party inspired new Members, have offered radical cuts in funding for climate and clean energy programs. Here are some examples:

    • Block EPA from implementing new climate regulations required by law.
    • Slash EPA's budget 29%.
    • Cut by one-third the federal program to study potential impacts of climate change.
    • Cut completely funds to the World Bank to help poor countries develop cleanly and cope with the consequences of climate change. These funds are designed to attract private investment, increasing total investment 10-fold on average, according to one expert.
    • Cut nearly $11 billion in funding for energy efficiency and renewable energy applied research programs. (In contrast, fossil fuel and nuclear programs take much smaller cuts.)
    • Cut funding for breakthrough energy technologies (the so-called ARPA-E program) from $300 million to a mere $50 million.
    • Cut $2.5 billion from President Obama's high speed rail initiative.

    (For more, go here.)

    These cuts and the effort to stop EPA from implementing climate regulations by cutting off funding are reckless and irresponsible. Instead of beginning to play our part as a nation in overcoming global warming, instead of beginning to seriously play our part in helping poor countries adapt to climate impacts and make sustainable economic progress via clean energy, instead of investing in the clean energy future in this country, House Republicans would take us in the opposite direction.

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

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

    February 11,2011, 11:59 AM

    by Jim Ball

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    February 08,2011, 15:35 PM

    by Jim Ball

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

    But that has started to change.

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

    The article goes on to note the following:

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

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

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

    Nary a peep. Zip. Nada.

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

    Here are a few quotes:

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

    Krugman continues:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Quick Numbers-Crunching of the President's Clean Energy Proposal

    January 26,2011, 09:00 AM

    by Jim Ball

    Michael Levi of the Council on Foreign Relations has done some quick crunching of the numbers to compare President Obama's goal of 80% of electricity coming from clean energy by 2035 announced last night in his State of the Union speech.

    By Levi's calculation, this would generate more clean energy than last year's proposed legislation by Senators Kerry, Graham, and Lieberman (74% by 2035). It would also have carbon's price per ton at around $90 in 2035, which would be a healthy price signal.

    If a Clean Energy Standard that achieved 80% by 2035 were to pass Congress this session (a very big if), it would be a major step forward in overcoming global warming and helping our country create a clean energy future. It's not all we need to be doing. But it would be very important.

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

  • Obama's State of the Union Highlights Clean Energy

    January 26,2011, 06:40 AM

    by Jim Ball

    Last night President Obama gave his State of the Union speech. His basic theme was summed up in this phrase: "The future is ours to win." He went on to say, "But to get there, we can't just stand still. As Robert Kennedy told us, 'The future is not a gift. It is an achievement.' Sustaining the American Dream has never been about standing pat. It has required each generation to sacrifice, and struggle, and meet the demands of a new age."

    We agree.

    We were pleased to see that the first thing he said we needed to invest in as a country to win the future was clean energy. Here's an extended excerpt:

    "This is our generation's Sputnik moment. Two years ago, I said that we needed to reach a level of research and development we haven't seen since the height of the Space Race. And in a few weeks, I will be sending a budget to Congress that helps us meet that goal. We'll invest in biomedical research, information technology, and especially clean energy technology -" (applause) -- an investment that will strengthen our security, protect our planet, and create countless new jobs for our people.

    Already, we're seeing the promise of renewable energy. Robert and Gary Allen are brothers who run a small Michigan roofing company. After September 11th, they volunteered their best roofers to help repair the Pentagon. But half of their factory went unused, and the recession hit them hard. Today, with the help of a government loan, that empty space is being used to manufacture solar shingles that are being sold all across the country. In Robert's words, "We reinvented ourselves."

    That's what Americans have done for over 200 years: reinvented ourselves. And to spur on more success stories like the Allen Brothers, we've begun to reinvent our energy policy. We're not just handing out money. We're issuing a challenge. We're telling America's scientists and engineers that if they assemble teams of the best minds in their fields, and focus on the hardest problems in clean energy, we'll fund the Apollo projects of our time.

    At the California Institute of Technology, they're developing a way to turn sunlight and water into fuel for our cars. At Oak Ridge National Laboratory, they're using supercomputers to get a lot more power out of our nuclear facilities. With more research and incentives, we can break our dependence on oil with biofuels, and become the first country to have a million electric vehicles on the road by 2015. (Applause.)

    We need to get behind this innovation. And to help pay for it, I'm asking Congress to eliminate the billions in taxpayer dollars we currently give to oil companies. (Applause.) I don't know if -- I don't know if you've noticed, but they're doing just fine on their own. (Laughter.) So instead of subsidizing yesterday's energy, let's invest in tomorrow's.

    Now, clean energy breakthroughs will only translate into clean energy jobs if businesses know there will be a market for what they're selling. So tonight, I challenge you to join me in setting a new goal: By 2035, 80 percent of America's electricity will come from clean energy sources. (Applause.)

    Some folks want wind and solar. Others want nuclear, clean coal and natural gas. To meet this goal, we will need them all -- and I urge Democrats and Republicans to work together to make it happen. (Applause.)"

    The President's call to have 80% of our electricity come from clean energy sources by 2035 was a pleasant surprise. And we think paying for the innovation to get us there by using subsidies we currently give to oil companies is exactly right.

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

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