Confession time. I’ve never watched An Inconvenient Truth. I’ve never read Earth in the Balance. In fact I’ve never studied the global warming issue in any depth beyond the occasional news article in Time magazine. I’m not sure this is anything to be ashamed about…I’m probably like many Americans in this regard. But since Barack Obama has taken office and everything is now green (“green economy,” “green jobs,” “green energy,” “green cars,” and “green business”) I’ve started to actually pay attention to the issue of anthropogenic global warming (AGW). I know what the “deniers” on the right think. Rush Limbaugh is fond of saying that humans didn’t create life on earth and therefore we cannot destroy it. He says global warming is a myth concocted by lefty scientists to scare citizens and big business into accepting more socialist governmental policies. That certainly fits his narrative of reality. But his belief that we didn’t create the earth and therefore cannot destroy it can be discredited in two words: nuclear weapons. It is true that we didn’t create life, but humanity has developed the capacity to destroy it. While I disagree with Rush, I have to admit that I’m a bit suspicious of the Chicken Littles as well. I’m enough of a skeptic to pause when I see fear mongering used to get people to part with their cash or vote for a certain party. The Right successfully uses terrorism as their bogeyman, and it seems the Left uses global warming. Within the church there is also a split. Some have argued that the green movement is a popularization of New Age philosophy and pantheism. This idea may border on paranoia, but there is some truth to it. As I’ve interacted with atheists / humanists in recent years it’s been amazing to see how much of their purpose and rhetoric is linked to environmental issues. Michael Crichton has employed his training as an anthropologist to show how environmentalism fits the definition of a religion in this insightful video. (More on Crichton in a minute.) But there are many within the church, particularly among the young, who are eager to integrate environmentalism (aka, creation care) into the evangelical agenda. Part of this is to be celebrated–a new awareness of God’s concern for all of creation, a cosmic scope to the gospel, and humanity’s calling to be stewards of the earth. But one wonders if much of the energy around “creation care” within younger communities of believers is rooted in an insecure desire to be seen as relevant by the popular culture. Is it just another case of the church jumping onto the green bandwagon? But apart from the cultural and political implications of global warming, there is still the science. Regardless of what Obama, Rush, or Bono thinks, there remains the basic and important question: is anthropogenic global warming real? In my brief exploration
of the evidence, and I am certainly no scientist, I’ve come to this conclusion: I don’t know. I’m not going to waste my time or yours recapping all of the evidence for and against. You can read that stuff all over the web. But I do want to share one video I found particularly interesting. Best selling author Michael Crichton, who died in 2008, was lambasted when he came out as a skeptic of AGW. I was a bit surprised when I read Crichton’s opinion and watched his interview with Charlie Rose. Consider Crichton’s community… he’s a Hollywood writer and producer. He’s a self-identified Democrat and personal friend of Al Gore. He moves within circles that include the leading voices of environmentalism in the popular and political culture. In short, unlike Rush Limbaugh or other GOP/conservative leaders, Crichton had nothing to gain by questioning the science around AGW. In this video, Crichton gives one of the most balanced perspectives I’ve yet heard about global warming. Essentially he says that global warming is real, it is likely man-made, and it should be addressed… but it’s not a crisis. In addition, there are far more devastating problems facing the world that we can solve. I encourage you to watch the video. The conversations about global warming begins at the 22 minute mark:
[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/-AA5aIdOqlw" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /] In conclusion, I’m still not sure what I think about global warming. I’m not willing to join the “deniers” who shout “Drill Now! Drill Here!” at rallies. But I’m not able to embrace the call for carbon caps and massive economic policies designed to protect the environment but which may also hurt the poor and underdeveloped in the world. I’m pleased to see the church broaden it’s understanding of creation and God’s work. But I’m also hesitant to encourage the cultural bandwagoning that chronically plagues evangelicals. In short, I don’t find it easy to be green.