Skeptics often joke about the “religion” of man-made global warming. It turns out one Canadian scientist is actually using scripture to convince evangelical Christians global warming threatens God’s green Earth.
“Our response to climate change was never intended to come from a place of fear,” Katharine Hayhoe, a Texas Tech University climate scientist and Canadian immigrant, said during a presentation to evangelical Christians in Texas, according to a spotlight by the Canadian magazine Maclean’s.
“God has given us three amazing gifts,” Hayhoe said during her talk. “He’s given us a spirit of power to get things done, a spirit of love and—as a scientist, this is my favourite—a sound mind. Who knew? God gave us a sound mind to make good decisions, using the information he’s given us.”
Hayhoe has been touring Texas, giving lectures to conservative Christians about global warming. She’s focused on making a religious argument for why Christians should be worried about global warming. Maclean’s called Hayhoe “an apostle of her discipline, faced with a daunting challenge.”
Hayhoe even tailors her talks to a “peculiarly American perspective” by showing 6,000 years of historical temperature data — because that’s how old some Christians think the Earth is.
“I view myself as picking my way through a minefield, with one specific mine that I want to defuse,” Hayhoe told Maclean’s. “To get to it, I’m willing to pass by every other issue on which science and faith disagree.”
Maclean’s describes how one of Hayhoe’s slides with a temperature graph dissolves into a white screen with the words from Paul’s second apostle to Timothy, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”
Maclean’s reports that “white evangelical Protestants are least likely to believe in human-caused planetary warming” and are big funders of Republican candidates. Hayhoe hopes to stir up global warming fears among Christians so GOP candidates will be forced to respond.
“How loving is it to ignore when developed countries do things that actively harm developing nations?” Hayhoe says during her speech. “When people who have resources do things that harm people who do not, right here in our country?”
“That’s why our Christian values are integral to how we treat this issue,” Hayhoe told evangelicals. “Far from holding us back, or making us doubt, or saying there’s nothing we can do, our values demand we be on the forefront of this issue. That’s what we as Christians are called to do.”
Hayhoe isn’t the first activist to try and appeal to religious groups. For years, religious leaders in the U.S. and U.K. have been promoting “climate action” among churchgoers. Some American Christians went on a “carbon fast” for Lent in 2013 to lower their carbon footprint.
More recently, Pope Francis has backed a United Nations global warming treaty. The pope released an encyclical in June acknowledging a “very consistent scientific consensus that we are in the presence of an alarming warming of the climatic system.”
There are regions now at high risk and, aside from all doomsday predictions, the present world system is certainly unsustainable from a number of points of view, for we have stopped thinking about the goals of human activity,” Francis wrote in his encyclical.
Hayhoe is trying to build on the pope’s call to action on global warming. The Canadian scientist will even be heading to the U.N.’s upcoming climate summit in Paris on behalf of an environmental group, the Union of Concerned Scientists.
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