- What is Climage Change or Global Warming?
- Why is global warming an urgent problem?
- Are there solutions?
- What are the consequences of climate change?
- What is the Evangelical Climate Initiative?
- Why is climate change a concern for evangelical leaders associated with the Evangelical Climate Initiative?
- Which evangelical leaders are speaking out?
- Does the Bible have anything to say about taking action to help solve global warming?
- Is there a scientific consensus that the problem is real?
- Are the solutions expensive big-government approaches that will wreck the economy?
- Are you endorsing specific legislation?
- Are businesses agreeing with the Evangelical Climate Initiative that it is time to take action?
- What are the opinions of evangelicals about climate change?
- Does addressing climate change mean we’re becoming liberals?
- Are we working with environmentalists?
- What are other saying about the Evangelical Climate Initiative?
- What can I do?
What is Climate Change or Global Warming?
Climate change, also called global warming, is an urgent problem that can and must be solved. The problem is caused primarily by human activities that produce heat-trapping or greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, artificially warming the planet and thereby changing the climate. Serious consequences include dryer droughts, fiercer floods, and harsher hurricanes. Carbon dioxide (CO2), the main greenhouse gas or global warming pollutant, is released when fossil fuels such as oil, gas, or coal are burned in our vehicles, by power plants, and by industry. The good news is that there are plenty of cost-effective solutions that will create jobs, clean up our environment, and enhance national security by reducing our dependence on foreign oil, thereby creating a safe and healthy future for our children.
Why is global warming an urgent problem?
There are three basic reasons for urgency: (1) Global warming is happening now. Impacts are already starting to be felt, e.g., a 2003 heat wave in Europe that killed approximately 20,000 people. (2) The oceans warm slowly, creating a lag in experiencing the consequences. Many of the impacts from climate change to which we are already committed will not be realized for several decades. The consequences of the pollution we create today will be visited upon our children and grandchildren. (3) As individuals and as a society we are making long-term decisions each day that determine how much carbon dioxide we will emit in the future, such as whether to purchase energy efficient vehicles and appliances that will last for 10-20 years, or whether to build more coal-burning power plants that last for 50 years rather than investing more in energy efficiency and renewable energy. We need to start solving global warming now to make it easier and less expensive for our children to deal with in the future.
Are there solutions?
Yes. The good news is that there are plenty of cost-effective solutions available today that will create a safe and healthy future for our children by creating jobs, cleaning up our environment, and enhancing national security by reducing our dependence on foreign oil. We believe American ingenuity and our capacity to tackle challenges will help America lead the world in solving global warming. See our Success Stories page for examples of what companies and churches are already doing. See our Take Action page for what you can do.
What are the consequences of climate change?
Millions of people could die in this century because of climate change. Why? Climate change will make natural disasters like floods, droughts, and hurricanes more damaging. Hurricane Katrina demonstrated that even in the U.S. the poor are the most vulnerable to disasters. Global warming could increase the number of people impacted by flooding by 20-50 million. Drought will reduce agricultural output in many poorer countries. An additional 80-90 million poor people could be at risk of hunger and malnutrition. Finally, hundreds of millions of people will be at increased risk of malaria, dengue fever, yellow fever, encephalitis, and other infectious diseases because of global warming. (See our Resources page for fact sheets on the consequences of global warming.)
What is the Evangelical Climate Initiative?
The Evangelical Climate Initiative is a group of more than 85 evangelical leaders who—as a result of their commitment to Jesus Christ and concern for His Creation—have signed the statement entitled Climate Change: An Evangelical Call to Action. It represents their efforts to encourage action by evangelical Christians and all Americans to make life changes necessary to help solve the global warming crisis, and to advance legislation that will limit emissions, while respecting economic and business concerns. The Initiative grew out of the Sandy Cove Covenant taken by evangelical leaders in June 2004. See our brief history page for more information.
Why is climate change a concern for evangelical leaders associated with the Evangelical Climate Initiative?
First, we care about the world our children and grandchildren will inherit. We must begin to fix global warming now to make it easier for our kids and grandkids to deal with it in the future. Second, we care about fulfilling our Lord’s teaching to love our neighbors and care for “the least of these.” Global warming will make hungry kids hungrier, droughts dryer, floods fiercer, hurricanes harsher, and health concerns like malaria more menacing. Loving our neighbors today includes reducing the impacts of climate change tomorrow. Third, society is looking for evangelical leadership on major problems. We are articulating a biblical, Christ-centered, business-friendly evangelical approach to climate change and providing a different way of understanding the problem.
Which evangelical leaders are speaking out?
Evangelical leaders who have signed the Evangelical Climate Initiative’s statement calling for action include prominent pastors such as Rick Warren, CEOs of major evangelical organizations such as Todd Bassett of the Salvation Army and Richard Stearns of World Vision, heads of denominations such as Jack Hayford, and college and seminary presidents such as Duane Litfin of Wheaton College, and Timothy George of Beeson Divinity School. See our Signatories page for a complete list of those who have signed Climate Change: An Evangelical Call to Action.
Does the Bible have anything to say about taking action to help solve global warming?
Yes. Once we understand the profound impacts climate change will have on people, especially the most vulnerable, then we find plenty in the Bible calling us to take prompt action. Jesus’ commands to love our neighbors (Mk. 12:30-31), do unto others as we would have them do unto us (Lk. 6:31), care for “the least of these” (Mt. 25:40, 45), and be proper stewards of His creation (Lk. 12:42-48; Col. 1:16) all require immediate and sustained action to solve global warming.
Is there a scientific consensus that the problem is real?
Yes. While a few are in denial about the reality of the problem, a scientific consensus that climate change must be addressed has actually existed since 1995. Recently the National Academies of Science of all the G8 countries (the United States, Great Britain, France, Germany, Japan, Canada, Italy, and Russia) as well as the Academies of China, India, and Brazil, issued a statement reaffirming the decade-old scientific consensus that human-induced climate change is real and that countries should take “prompt action.” Failure to act now “will make the job much harder in the future.”
The scientific consensus is represented by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The 2001 IPCC report stated: “There is new and stronger evidence that most of the warming observed over the last 50 years is attributable to human activities.”
Christians can take comfort in the fact that the first three scientific assessments of the IPCC, in 1990, 1995, and 2001, were chaired by Sir John Houghton, an evangelical Christian. To see the text and slides of a recent presentation by Sir John to the National Association of Evangelicals, go to our Resources page.
Are the solutions expensive big-government approaches that will wreck the economy?
No. For example, Senators McCain and Lieberman have put forward a market-based approach that an MIT study says would cost the average household a mere $20 a year. A recent poll of evangelicals found that 66% would favor such a bill even if it cost $15 a month.
A Sense of the Senate Resolution on Climate Change, passed on June 22, 2005, endorsed a mandatory market-based approach. Voting in favor were such conservative Senators as Domenici (R-NM), Lugar (R-IN), Warner (R-VA), McCain (R-AZ), DeWine (R-OH), Graham (R-SC), Alexander (R-TN), Byrd (D-WV), and Lieberman (D-CT). We trust that these Senators will address global warming in a sensible way that does not harm the economy.
Are you endorsing specific legislation?
No. Our statement sets out guidelines for what we consider would be a good approach.
Will addressing global warming also reduce pollution that harms human health and increase our national and economic security?
Yes. National and economic security can be enhanced by reducing our dependence on foreign oil from unstable regions. Making and driving vehicles that are more fuel-efficient will both reduce our oil dependence and our global warming pollution. Burning less oil and coal will also reduce pollution that harms human health, including the health of the unborn and children. The biggest step an individual can make today to reduce global warming pollution and reduce our dependence on foreign oil is to choose a car that goes farther on a gallon of gas.
Are businesses agreeing with the Evangelical Climate Initiative that it is time to take action?
Yes. Many businesses in industries that would have to significantly reduce global warming pollution agree with us that it is time to take action. This includes Chevron, BP, Shell, General Electric, DuPont, and Cinergy (an electric utility that produces 95% of its electricity from burning coal). (See our Success Stories page for more information on what these companies are doing.)
In addition, a recent Business Week editorial stated: “we do know that the world is warming—the ’90s were the warmest decade in centuries. We know that businesses can save money and increase efficiency by cutting energy costs. And we know that a national policy that cuts fossil fuel consumption converges with a geopolitical policy of reducing energy dependence on Middle East oil. Reducing carbon dioxide emissions is no longer just a ‘green’ thing. It makes business and foreign policy sense, as well.”
What are the opinions of evangelicals about climate change?
A recent opinion poll of evangelicals conducted by Ellison Research found the following.
70% believe global warming will pose a serious threat to future generations. Even 56% of conservatives believe this.
63% believed that although global warming may be a long-term problem, the problem is being caused today; therefore we must start addressing it immediately.
51% said steps should be taken to reduce global warming, even if there is a high economic cost to the U.S.
66% favored a bill that would cost $15 a month.
Among those who were completely convinced global warming is taking place, 71% also thought it will impact them during their lifetime.
76% of moderate evangelicals were completely (24%) or mostly (52%) convinced global warming is happening. 48% of conservatives were completely (11%) or mostly (37%) convinced.
See a report by Ellison Research on this poll in the Resources section.
Does addressing climate change mean we’re becoming liberals?
No. We believe that creating a better future for our children and grandchildren by fulfilling our biblical call to stewardship and love of neighbor through reducing pollution is simply being a good biblical Christian. Climate change is not a liberal issue. It is a profound problem for people Jesus loves, people Jesus died to save.
Are we working with environmentalists?
No. While we are not working with environmentalists, and are critical of some of their views and approaches, we also feel that once we have established our own voice on this issue we should use this as an opportunity to share the gospel with those who care about “environmental” issues. We also appreciate all environmentalists have done to protect God’s creation. Finally, we do not rule out working with environmentalists and anyone else of goodwill in the future.
What are other saying about the Evangelical Climate Initiative?
See our What Others Are Saying page.
What can I do?
Glad you asked! See our Take Action page.