Christians and climate change

Matters for Christians

A recent report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change states there is a 95% certainty that humans have been the dominant cause of global warming since the 1950s. Mark Dowd argues the report’s warning must be taken seriously by Christians. 

- Thinking Faith

What would a truly Christian theology of creation look like?

Former US Vice-President and renowned environmentalist, Al Gore, said in 2006 that global warming presents, 'a challenge to our moral imagination.' Seven years after those words were uttered, it is tempting to conclude that humanity is not facing up to the challenge. The recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concluded that, unless we plot a drastically different course, by 2100 our earthly home could be headed for climate breakdown.

The last hundred years has seen average planetary temperatures increase by 0.85°C and scientists have warned of the dangers of this increase exceeding 2°C. Barring a transformation of our relationship with coal, gas and oil, the IPCC have warned of the dangers of a 4.8°C rise within 90 years.

The nature of the threat is unprecedented in mankind’s history: invisible gases, produced by burning fossil fuels, that lurk in the atmosphere for hundreds of years and have time-delayed, climate-transforming effects. By the time humanity wakes up to the dangers, the momentum of the process is so firmly established that it may be too late to stall and avoid the ‘tipping point.’ Given this backdrop, what should be the response of people of faith to such a bleak ecological outlook?

There are those who would deny that this is a matter for the world’s religions. I recall debating this issue with former Conservative Cabinet minister, Michael Portillo, some years ago on BBC Radio. 'This is a problem for governments and scientists,' he said, 'I really don’t see why Bishops, Imams and Rabbis should be concerned.'

I retorted swiftly, asking him if he did not think it was a question of ethical justice if the people on our God-given Earth with the least culpability for carbon emissions were in the firing line for the worst effects of sea level rises, drought and erratic weather patterns. There followed a long pause and a respectful look across the studio microphones. I really think he had never heard the argument framed in those terms before.

We have a responsibility to truth-telling. 

FULL STORY Christians and climate change

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