Climate change & other environmental concerns:
Webmaster's note. Scientists' warnings.
Why do we discuss this topic? Infographic.
A climate change denier makes a point at a climate summit
A personal note by the webmaster:
I recall reading a science fiction book perhaps 5 decades ago in which some scientist had developed a form of super steel that was so strong that it could not be drilled or machined in any way. Then it was found that if this piece of steel touched another piece of steel, the new piece would mutate and become super steel as well. The whole process got out of hand until all the steel on Earth could no longer be machined or drilled or welded. This caused massive hardship.
It was an interesting story. But it got me to thinking whether something similar might actually happen to the world. For example, an artificial form of life might be created in a lab that is fatal to humans. If it escaped, and propagated, it could create a world-wide epidemic. It might aggressively propagate itself from human to human until there were no people left alive on earth to infect.
Something like this may have actually started already. The highly industrialized nations in particular have been burning fossil fuels in increasingly large amounts. This has caused the Carbon Dioxide content in the atmosphere to increase by 70 parts per million (ppm) between 1959 and 2009. This level is projected to increase by another 115 to 615 ppm by the year 2100. The result is an increase in the well-known greenhouse effect which traps heat near the surface of the earth, causing climate change. This is causing, and will continue to trigger radically unusual and unpredictable climate fluctuations. It also causes global warming.
Even if governments are able to overcome the influence of the well financed climate change deniers, it may be impossible to stop the rise in carbon dioxide and prevent massive devastation.
1981 until now: Scientists' warnings to humanity:
Over three decades ago, James Hansen startled a U.S. Senate committee meeting in 1981 by
saying that he was 99% certain that human activities were already warming the
climate. Ironically, the speech was given during a stifling heat wave. He
coauthored an article in Science during August of that year that begins:
"Atmospheric CO2 increased from 280 to 300 parts
per million in 1880 to 335 to 340 ppm in 1980, mainly due to burning of fossil
fuels. Deforestation and changes in biosphere growth may also have contributed,
but their net effect is probably limited in magnitude. The CO2 abundance is expected to reach 600 ppm in the next century, even if growth of fossil fuel use is slow." 2
On 1992-NOV-18, over 1,500 members of national, regional, and international
science academies from 69 nations signed the World Scientists' Warning to
Humanity. The introduction to the warning states:
"Human beings and the natural world are on a collision course. Human
activities inflict harsh and often irreversible damage on the environment
and on critical resources. If not checked, many of our current practices put
at serious risk the future that we wish for human society and the plant and
animal kingdoms, and may so alter the living world that it will be unable to
sustain life in the manner that we know. Fundamental changes are urgent if
we are to avoid the collision our present course will bring about." 3
Over two decades have passed since this second warning was issued. The
earth's environment has further degenerated. There have been a long series of updates from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and from national and international science academies and scientific societies which consistently warn of continuing problems increasing in magnitude into the foreseeable future if we continue burning fossil fuels at an accelerating rate.
However, climate change deniers are actively trying to convince the population that the world is not threatened. Some promote the idea that climate change is not occurring. Others say that it is happening, but that it is not caused by human activity and cannot be overcome. For example, Rush Limbaugh said:
"... if you believe in God, then intellectually you cannot believe in man-made global warming ... You must be either agnostic or atheistic to believe than man controls something he can't create."
Why does this religious site discuss environmental concerns?
A topic like this might normally be considered a scientific matter, without a
significant religious component. It might not be expected to appear on this web site.
We have included it because environmental concerns and religion are linked in at
least two ways:
||Many religious conservatives deny that the problem exists or that it is
serious. Some of this belief may be derived from the general distrust that
many of them have towards science and scientists. Another
source may be their belief that Jesus Christ will
soon return to Earth and instantly correct any pollution problems. Thus,
they feel that we
need not pay attention to these matters today. Many believe that if climate change really got out of hand, that it would cause Jesus to return earlier.
||Morality has always been closely associated with religion. A case can be
made that leaving a highly polluted world behind for future generations
is a profoundly immoral act, to say nothing of the massive loss of human and animal life caused
by environmental degradation.
Citizens for Public Justice, A national Canadian group has produced this infographic:
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
- The climate change denier cartoon is by Joel Pett, who is the cartoonist at the Lexington Herald-Leader Newspaper. It is used by permission, which we really appreciate. It is a gem.
- J. Hansen, et al., "Climate Impact of Increasing Atmospheric Carbon
Dioxide," Science, 213, 957-966, doi:10.1126/science.213.4511.957,
1981-AUG-28, at: http://pubs.giss.nasa.gov/ This is a PDF file.
- "World scientists' warning to humanity," Union of Concerned
Scientists, 1992-NOV-18, at: http://www.ucsusa.org/
- The climate change denier cartoon is by Joel Pett, who is the cartoonist at the Lexington Herald-Leader Newspaper. Used by permission, which we really appreciate. It is a gem.
- Daniel R. Taub, "Effects of Rising Atmospheric Concentrations of Carbon Dioxide on Plants," Nature, 2010, at: http://www.nature.com/
- Tom Zeller, Jr, "Climate Change And Species Extinction: The New Normal Is Not The Old Normal," Huffington Post, 2013-JUL-24, at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/
- David Pruett, "When faith and facts collide," Huffington Post, 2014-AUG-24, at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/
- Ïnfographic: Living faithfully into a new climate," Citizens for Public Justice, at: http://cpj.ca/ The CPJ encourages sharing of this graphic.
Copyright © 2006 to 2014 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally posted: 2014-SEP-15
Author: B.A. Robinson