This blog is written for everybody, but I am a Christian myself. It’s not universally recognised in the church, but to me it is very obvious that my faith has something to say about sustainability and equality. If you’re not a Christian, feel free to pass on this section if you wish. If you are a Christian, please read on, because I believe we have a duty that we have been turning a blind eye to. And check out some of the other sites I’m involved in that are more specifically for a Christian audience – Joy in Enough, and Christian Climate Action.
Let me summarise the idea of Christian responsibilty in four areas:
We have a duty to God.
Psalm 24 begins with the following words: ‘The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.’ The earth is not ours. Contrary to some popular understanding, God did not give us the earth – he gave us the use of it.
We have a duty to the world
In Genesis we read that God made the earth good, and that the earth is ‘cursed’ because of us. Human behaviour and the state of the earth are inextricably linked. Have a look at Hosea 4, where it describes a society’s violence and dishonesty, and goes on to say: ‘Because of this the land mourns…’
We have a duty to each other
A very simple principle that John the Baptist puts best in Luke 3: ‘The man with two tunics should share with him who has none, and the one who has food should do the same.’
We have a duty to ourselves
Homo Sapiens literally means ‘the soil that knows it is alive’ – from the latin for soil and for knowing. As nothing more than ‘sentient earth’ we are part of the ecosystem, not above it. Genesis 3 reminds of us this: ‘dust you are, and to dust you will return.’ When we forget this, we give ourselves a status we can’t live up to.
I’ll write more about the place of faith in this debate. Click here for more from the archives, or select one of these:
Bishop John Shelby Spong published a fantastic book entitled The Sins of Scripture: Exposing the Bible’s Texts of Hate to Reveal the God of Love. Spong’s second chapter, The Bible and the Environment, demonstrates how certain verses of the Gospel not only legitimize but arguably encourage exploitation of mother earth: “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it” (Genesis, 1:28); “…let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth…” (Gensis, 1:26).
JS Spong is a not a Christian regardless of title or position. Having read some of his writing, he is clearly a skilled manipulator and writes to encourage those who have already made up their minds regardless of the facts.
Thanks for your comment Rahul, you’re quite right, that verse has been used to legitimise the abuse of the earth. The main problem is in translation of the word ‘dominion’, which is understood to mean ‘domination’. In the original Hebrew it has connotations of ‘serving and shepherding’. Very different. We are to serve creation, it is not there to serve us. Unfortunately this misunderstanding has been used to justify exploitation and that’s to our shame.
Thanks Rahul. The fact is that mankind does have a controlling role in so much of what happens on our planet, whether or not we accept the Biblical reference. The Bible has a very great deal to say about equitable distribution, and care of the natural world. It would be unfair to use the Genesis references as if this is all it says on the subject.
Can you provide a little detail on the original Hebrew here? What is the Hebrew word which is mistranslated? How do you know about its connotations?
Yes, the word in Genesis 1:28 is ‘Radah’, which is probably best translated as dominion to be fair, but is a broader term that also means ‘to take possession’, and is even used to describe taking bread out of an oven.
It is balanced by the words used in Genesis 2:15, where God tells Adam and Eve to ‘cultivate and keep’ the earth. Here we have the words ‘abad’ which means to serve or to work, and ‘shamar’ which means to guard or protect, to preserve and to care for.
It’s in the balance of those concepts that we find God’s role for human beings – ownership and responsibility, but also a duty of care. It’s best summed up by Jesus of course, who was the servant king, or the good shepherd – totally in charge, but serving and protecting rather than exploiting.
I’ve learned these things from lexical aids to the Old Testament, and a Hebrew dictionary.
Even though I’m an ex-Christian, I heartily agree with your view of the Bible. Here’s hoping that the Evangelical Fundamentalists in the US move to your point of view.
Good to see the emphasis on sustainability and equality. Most “God wants you rich” teaching ignores the progression in the Bible towards the teaching of Jesus and the New Testament writers who heavily warn of the dangers of acquiring wealth and encourage giving to the poor.
Good site J. I like it.
To weigh in on the above, I beleive part of the problem is based in a misunderstanding of heaven. Many people have a belief that God will take us to heaven, when in reality Heaven comes to earth and everything is renewed. If you believe that you get zapped away to a heaven in the sky you will be less likely to look after the planet which is a gift from God for now.
And now a note on sustainabilty and agriculture in Genesis it say’s And God said, “Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the sky.”. You have to consider whether the way we fish let’s the seas and oceans teem with fish. I would say it doesn’t. We overfish, and choose selected fish leading to extinction.
The same can be said of animals and plant’s. God see’s the diversity and call’s it “good”.
I absolutely and wholeheartedly agree with you. It is one thing to neglect the poor when you do not affiliate to a particular system of belief which accords to you certain obligations, but as Christians the issue of injustice and poverty should be central in our lives. Well done again, I’m feeling quite inspired now, I’m so happy to see more brothers and sisters thinking this way 🙂
The biological function of all living beings on Earth, from the bacteria to the largest,is to improve the habitat for all life, by being truthfully who/what one is….
Human beings are born innately attuned to this : empathy, cognition, creativity, the ability to learn more than can be taught, and intuit, insight and the senses that sense love, joy, pleasure : pain is a sign that something is wrong and not, as many would have it, necessary.
You are the first Christians I have ever come across that have a sense of this, and can connect it to the sense of Christ – you are Christians, not Biblicans. I commend you for that.
And finally, poverty does not exist in nature : it exists because some people take from others what is their birthright; the trap of charity is the it allows people to NOT challenge the status quo that engenders poverty.
do what you love, it’s your gift to universe
It is the ruthless audacity and arrogance of puny man to ever suggest he could possess the power even intentionally to materially impact the environment. Such an individual must surely be convinced they are wiser than God. Read Isaiah 24. I’ll give you a clue. The fate of the world is already decided. The earth will be COMPLETELY laid waste and totally plundered. Why don’t you believe what He tells you in His word? Do you not believe His exact words. God CANNOT lie. The Grand Global Priesthood of Environmental Witchcraft is authored by the Father of Lies. Revelation 21
The New Jerusalem
1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.
Believe the God of Heaven and Earth. Trust the Spirit of all Truth which is the Word of God.
Sorry to be blunt Lance, but that’s just not correct, neither logically nor theologically.
If you cut down all the trees somewhere, you leave it bare to erosion and you get desertification – and you’ve impacted your environment. That’s not setting yourself above God, it’s just the way the world works.
And the Bible says the same thing: “Why is the land ruined and laid waste like a wilderness, so that no one passes through?” asks Jeremiah in chapter 8:12. “And the Lord says: because they have forsaken my law that I set before them, and have not obeyed my voice…”
God gave us the earth to steward and serve in Genesis. If we don’t look after it, it doesn’t work for us.
And while you’re out to attack the gaians, look up my response to Gaia theory here:
Hey Lance! Great quotes from the alarmists on that site. Isn’t it great when they openly brag about their agenda and tactics! It makes our work as skeptics and protectors of freedom soooo much easier.
“We need to get some broad based support,
to capture the public’s imagination…
So we have to offer up scary scenarios,
make simplified, dramatic statements
and make little mention of any doubts…
Each of us has to decide what the right balance
is between being effective and being honest.”
– Prof. Stephen Schneider,
Stanford Professor of Climatology,
lead author of many IPCC reports
“We’ve got to ride this global warming issue.
Even if the theory of global warming is wrong,
we will be doing the right thing in terms of
economic and environmental policy.”
– Timothy Wirth,
President of the UN Foundation
“No matter if the science of global warming is all phony…
climate change provides the greatest opportunity to
bring about justice and equality in the world.”
– Christine Stewart,
former Canadian Minister of the Environment
“The data doesn’t matter. We’re not basing our recommendations
on the data. We’re basing them on the climate models.”
– Prof. Chris Folland,
Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research
“The models are convenient fictions
that provide something very useful.”
– Dr David Frame,
climate modeler, Oxford University
“The only way to get our society to truly change is to
frighten people with the possibility of a catastrophe.”
– emeritus professor Daniel Botkin
It was interesting to bump in to this site as I have been looking into sustainability recently and I wanted to be sure i didn’t get in to any new age type of stuff.
As I have a christian background, but at the same time I am very concerned about the way the world seems to be going.
I believe in being a good steward. I have acreage that I have restored to indigenous flora, to attract and protect the idigenous fauna. I spend a good deal of time and money feeding and providing shelter for wildlife. I get no monetary incentives for doing so.
Sustainability is important, but man comes first, I think even God would agree with that. Nowhere has it been proven that CO2 is a pollutant or problem. It stands accused, and accused only.
Our climate has been both much warmer and much cooler, without man’s interference. The first and most obvious answer to why our climate is changing is natural variability. In order for one to claim that man is responsible for climate changes, one must first rule out natural variability as the cause of recent climate changes. This has never been done. Never.
Is it likely that a loving God would set his children up for a fall? Or would He more likely give us resources, that when used responsibly, benefit us and His planet?
Science shows that additional CO2 is beneficial to the vast majority of life forms on our planet. Plants use water more efficiently, grow larger and through photosynthesis actually work to cool their environments.
The claims of ocean acidification and other eco-scares identified with increased atmostpheric CO2 are bunk. Our current level of CO2 is at a near historical low, we are CO2 starved.
Hi again Gator. You raise some different questions here, so let’s talk. I’m going to ignore the bit about ruling out natural variability, since I’ve covered that enough times.
I agree that CO2 isn’t a pollutant, and that it can be good for plant growth. The key is balance. After all, nitrogen is a great fertiliser, but too much of it washed into a river creates algae blooms and then dead zones. Salt make food taste better, but it doesn’t follow that adding more salt always make it takes better – there’s a right amount.
Likewise, there’s a right amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. After all, if there was too much CO2 in the atmosphere you and I wouldn’t be alive. This is all about balance. Your last comment there – that we are CO2 starved. Where the heck is that coming from, by the way?
On the theological point, no, God doesn’t set us up. But he does expect us to behave responsibly. He gave us free will, right? Humans are able to do terrible things to each other, and it’s up to us to keep ourselves in check and create the social structures that allow us each to flourish. Is it so bizarre to think that God expects us to manage the planet in the same way as we manage society, or manage our own behaviour?
Hey Jeremy! Sorry, I’m not letting you wiggle out of this. If we do not know to what degree natural forcing is altering climate, we cannot know how much, if any, effect man has on our climate. So if you want to blame man’s miniscule addition of CO2, you are going to have to first rule out natural variabilty. It is basic logic. No cheating allowed.
Nitrogen is not carbon dioxide. Let’s stick to comparing apples to apples. Again, basic logic. This reminds me of the mindless cancer arguemnts, tedious and unrelated, stick to the subject at hand.
Plants evolved under much higher CO2 conditions, this is a known fact. I cannot believe you do not know this, you have alot of catching up to do. Here is a nice video that clearly shows what a properly fed plant looks like…
I actually performed this same kind of experiement over 30 years ago. The results are always the same. Imagine what God’s gift to us would look like if we were to allow it to blossom as HE designed it.
As for CO2 concentrations, time for school!
“CO2 Concentrations and Effects”
150 ppm – the minimum concentration below which many plants may face problems to run photosynthesis and stop growing
180 ppm – the concentration during ice ages
280 ppm – the concentration during interglacials, i.e. also the pre-industrial concentration around 1750
391 ppm – the concentration today
500 ppm – the concentration around 2060-2070 (unlikely that before 2050 as they claim)
560 ppm – the concentration around 2080-2110 (the “doubled CO2” relatively to the pre-industrial values) relevant for the calculations of climate sensitivity); a concentration routinely found outdoors today
700 ppm – the concentration in an average living room
900 ppm – concentration in an average kitchen
1,270 ppm – the concentration used to double the growth of Cowpea in a famous video
1,700 ppm – the average concentration in the Cretaceous 145-65 million years ago (early mammals came, plus figs, magnolias, birds, modern sharks)
4,500 ppm – the concentration 444-416 million years ago (the Silurian dominated by corals and mosses); see other values in geological epochs
10,000 ppm – sensitive people start to feel weaker
40,000 ppm – the concentration of CO2 in the air we breath out
50,000 ppm – toxic levels at which the animals like us get weaker in hours; the value is 5 percent of the volume
180,000 ppm – the concentration of CO2 in exhausts of a healthy motor; that’s 18 percent
1,000,000 ppm – pure CO2, just to make you sure what the units are!
Increased CO2 also makes plants more efficient in their use of water, further protecting our most inportant resource. Plants love CO2 and God loves us. Of course we should be responsible, but man has dominion over the Earth and we are God’s, not Gaia’s children.
As I stated above, I work very hard to take nothing but pictures and leave only footprints, including a ‘carbon’ footprint, as God intended.
Ask Al Gore and all his jet set buddies why they cannot sacrifice for the good of the environment. Does Gore really need 5 houses? Even one mansion? Appears he is not a man of principles, is a liar, or most likely both.
Do not put anything before God, not even the Earth. He has commanded you to first care for His children and AGW mitigation does not care for humanity. Eco-nuts would rather starve millions of humans than loose a single minow. You are on the wrong side, and you do not understand science. I must seriously doubt your understanding of Christ as well.
Okay a whole bunch of things there. Let’s start at the beginning.
I’m not attempting to wiggle out of anything. I’m getting bored of repeating myself, that’s all. The earth’s temperature changes naturally. Natural changes are occurring all the time. We can study those natural changes. We know, for example, that the sun follows an 11-year cycle, with longer cycles too. Observers have been counting sunspots for 400 years, and the sun is no more active now than it was 50 years ago. We also know that volcanoes can have a cooling effect. There have been slightly fewer volcanoes in the last century than in the previous two or three. Some 20th century warming will be due to the lack of volcanic activity.
This is my point – climate scientists can and have studied the natural effects, and compared them to the temperature record. Factoring in CO2 is the only way to reconcile the numbers. Natural variability has occurred, but so too has human activity. The two combined have given us the temperature record we see today.
Nitrogen is an example, like the salt. My point is balance.
I know that plants evolved under higher levels of CO2. Incidentally, how warm was the earth when concentrations were that high?
Good for you for taking nothing but pictures. I can appreciate your efforts on that front.
For the record, I can’t stand Al Gore.
I’m not putting the earth above God. God has told us to steward the earth, and I’m trying to take him seriously. And caring for the climate means caring for people. Have you not noticed how it is the aid agencies and poverty charities that are leading the charge on climate change? Rainfall patterns in Africa are already severely affected. Future warming will devastate crop yields across some of the world’s poorest countries.
I grew up in Africa. I love it and I care about it, and it breaks my heart that our CO2 intensive way of life. My main motivation for being involved in the climate change debate is people.
In future, can you try and make one or two points per reply? It keeps our discussion from fragmenting in every direction.
“This is my point – climate scientists can and have studied the natural effects, and compared them to the temperature record. Factoring in CO2 is the only way to reconcile the numbers. Natural variability has occurred, but so too has human activity. The two combined have given us the temperature record we see today. ”
Again, you do not understand science, or logic. It is impossible to blame CO2 for anything to do with climate change if you do not understand what forcings drive climate and by what amount. Impossible. Period.
“I know that plants evolved under higher levels of CO2. Incidentally, how warm was the earth when concentrations were that high?”
In some cases much much warmer and in some cases much much cooler. CO2 has very little if any effect on climate fluctuations. Something you failed to note in youir noodling is that, yes CO2 levels and temepratures have both been much higher and at the same time without any tipping points. Instead of being a disaster, life flourished. AGW denied once again.
“I grew up in Africa. I love it and I care about it, and it breaks my heart that our CO2 intensive way of life. My main motivation for being involved in the climate change debate is people.”
This is because you have been brainwashed into believing CO2 is bad. That is a lie. CO2 helps regulate climate, it both absorbs heat and cools through photosenthesis and other means.
There is nothing unusual or unprecedented about the current cliamte or how we got here.
Noone can show that man’s teeny tiny addition of CO2 is altering climates anywhere, except actual greenhouses who use 1000-1500 ppm for better plant growth.
Again, we’re going round in circles here.
How many times do I have to say it? We do understand what forcings drive the climate. We know the sun is involved. We know its forcing effects because we can compare temperature and solar activity, and we can see that 11 year cycle in action.
We know volcanic activity is involved, and we know how much. We can watch what happens to the temperature record after a major eruption, and can put pretty specific figures on the cooling effect that a volcano has.
All of this is being studied. We do understand this. And natural activity is not sufficient, on its own, to explain the change in temperature that we have seen over the last century.
“How many times do I have to say it? We do understand what forcings drive the climate. We know the sun is involved. We know its forcing effects because we can compare temperature and solar activity, and we can see that 11 year cycle in action. ”
Jeremy read me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
“According to the IPCC’s Table 2.11 (2007). This depicts 16 climate factors that the UN IPCC claims drive radiative forcing. The table reveals that the IPCC has only understanding of carbon dioxide plus a moderate level of understanding of 2 other factors. It then admits to an alarming ‘low’ or ‘very low’ level of understanding of an astonishing 13 of the 16 other possible drivers of climate.”
“Major IPCC Climate Model Software Error Discovered By Researchers: Model Estimates Incorrect By Factor of 10x”
“Informed observers of the global warming, climate change debate are well aware that climate models are ludicrously atrocious at predictions and forecasting. ‘C3′ has documented many of the models’ shortcomings, which obviously leads them to be WORTHLESS tools for policymakers to rely on.”
“A team of scientists, Eric D’Asaro et al., is publishing new research that revealed a huge software error in the climate models based on FAULTY ASSUMPTIONS. Primarily, the scientists found that the rate of energy release between ocean and atmosphere is 10 to 20 times HIGHER than the standard, “consensus” IPCC assumption.”
“A soon to be published paper in the journal Science documents a new study of the ocean surface boundary layer and, to the investigators’ surprise, reveals that the rate of energy dissipation within the boundary layer to be enhanced by 10 to 20 times. This indicates that the atmosphere does not supply the energy for the boundary turbulence, the ocean does. This contradicts the prevailing scientific wisdom and shows once again that computer climate models are constructed using false assumptions.”
“”[T]hese results are consistent with recent theory on submesoscale processes and thus encourage incorporation of this theory into boundary layer models. Such physics is not accounted for in present-day climate models. Fronts associated with the Kuroshio, Gulf Stream, and Antarctic Circumpolar Current are key players in the ocean-atmosphere climate system. Inaccurate representation of the boundary layer and flow energetics in frontal regions could thus significantly affect the predictive skill of climate models.”…..”That is science speak for the models are wrong—they do not represent an accurate picture of how nature works.” [Eric D’Asaro, Craig Lee, Luc Rainville, Ramsey Harcourt, and Leif Thomas 2011: Science]
Additional climate-model and peer-reviewed postings.”
This is just one of many many peer reviewed studies that show the models are garbage. GIGO.
What part of ‘low to very low’ do you not understand? What part of ‘every prediction has failed’ do you not underastand.? The reasons the models always fail is because the programmers do not understand the drivers of climate. DUH!
And for good measure, nothing like quotes straight from the horse’s mouth…
“According to the NOAA State of the Climate 2008 report, climate computer model simulations show that if observations find that the globe has not warmed for periods of 15 years or more, the climate models predicting man-made warming from CO2 will be falsified at a confidence level of 95%.”
“Near-zero and even negative trends are common for intervals of a decade or less in the simulations, due to the model’s internal climate variability. The simulations rule out (at the 95% level) zero trends for intervals of 15 yr or more, suggesting that an observed absence of warming of this duration is needed to create a discrepancy with the expected present-day warming rate.”
“According to Phil Jones, there has been no statistically significant warming since 1995 [16 years, 5 months ago]. Ergo, the climate models have already been falsified at the 95% confidence level and it’s time to revert to the null hypothesis that man made CO2 is not causing global warming.”
Take care of His people, and He will take care of the planet.
25″Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?”
26″Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? 28And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?”
31″So do not worry, saying, `What shall we eat?’ or `What shall we drink?’ or `What shall we wear?’ 32For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
Being a good steward is enough, and still comes second to caring for your fellow man. The AGW movement is anti-human, they consider us parasites.
Our climate is natural, and noone can show otherwise, or they would have already.
Are we looking at the same table? The IPCC table you’re pointing me to says that there is ‘strong evidence’ that greenhouse gases are a forcing agent and that there is a ‘good deal of consensus’ about this.
So is CO2 changing the climate or not? Is the IPCC reliable or not? You can’t trash it in one post and then quote it as a source in another.
The table suggests that there is insufficient consensus and insufficient evidence that all these other factors have a forcing effect at all. The most robust evidence is for the CO2 explanation, which is what I’m saying. You’re kind of proving my point for me.
Did you miss my point that the poverty charities are the ones leading the charge on climate change? Caring for the climate is caring for other human beings. When Habitat for Humanity fix up someone’s home, they’re caring for the person, not just the home. If I care about the environment in Africa, it can also be caring for the people who live there. This isn’t an either/or, and any environmentalist who says it is would have to be way, way out on the radical fringe.
“Are we looking at the same table? The IPCC table you’re pointing me to says that there is ‘strong evidence’ that greenhouse gases are a forcing agent and that there is a ‘good deal of consensus’ about this.”
Actually, the table says nothing of the sort. What you need to know, Jeremy, is that there is the science, and then there is the spin. You were reading spin. Reread the table.
Out of 16 forcings, they only list ‘LLGHGs’ as being something they ‘highly’ understand, and they don’t. If they did, their models would not have been falsified, at the 95% level already.
Robbing resources from starving humans is not charitible.
I will restate what you apparently missed earlier, a warming planet benefits life and a cooling planet kills life. Have you ever heard of an ice age? How about hundreds of years of Viking farms in Greenland? The Roman Warm Period, otherwise known as the ‘Roman Optimum’?
The Roman Optimum (called this because it was a time of great wealth and prosperity) was warmer than today and aided in the expansion of the Roman empire. Later when the planet went into a cooling phase, food shortages started the demise of that same empire.
Study history and learn.
A number of points need to be considered in this discussion. Which, as Jeremy has rightly said, been going in circles.
Firstly, For the record, the fall of the Roman Empire had little to do with food shortages. Food shortages were suffered throughout the whole duration of the Empire, yet the wealthy kept their heads above the water. The demise was the inevitable result of what was considered limitless growth.
Secondly: On the climate change debate, anyone, including myself can quote arguments both for and against. Analysing government documents on the matter are nearly always futile since its been proven time and again that these reports are often ‘doctored’ to say what the administration at the time desires. Similarly, all science reports and peer reviewed journals are funded. Funding has to come from somewhere, and in many cases, comes with ‘conditions’. So everything you need must be taken with a pinch of salt.
Thirdly: Climate science is relatively new (by comparison to others). The study of it is complicated as it is forever changing. The very yard stick by which it is measured changes! Good scientists always highlight errors, anomalies etc in there work. How it can be improved or studied further. This is what other scientists pick up on the further the research, so of course there will be contradictions. Thats how science works! We’d be here all day if we all just kept quoting science at eachother.
Fourthly: Arguing that a warming planet is good and a cooling planet is bad, is a sound argument. I have no quarrel with that. True, that if the world were in it’s natural state, a warming planet would increase productivity greatly.
The point you are failing to see however is that a warming planet, in it’s current condition is bad. Due to desertification, desert encroachment, deforestation, intensive draining and irrigation, GM plants and any number of other factors, we have created a planet that is now hostile to further warmth. Maybe if we lived in the time of the Romans, we’d be alright, but living in the now, we’re in trouble. A large proportion of climate is dictated by the condition of the planet. In the past, it was different, but today our planet is quite unwell. History may repeat itself, but the planet remembers.
Hey Paul! Man, did you bring back bad memories. When I was a climatology student in the 1980’s, I wrote my term paper on Desertification. God what an embarrassment that paper is to me today.
I thoroughly researched desertification and EVERY government and university entity agreed, there was CONSENSUS. Unelss man spent hundreds of billions of dollars (1980’s money) the deserts would continue to expand and arable land would continue to dwindle. Guess what happened? The deserts have actually contracted since. All the experts were wrong, and consequently so was I.
As I told Jeremy, you need to study history and stop listening to the doomers. There is nothing different about a warm planet today than there was during the Roman Optimum.
“An extensive study of tree growth rings says there could be a link between the rise and fall of past civilisations and sudden shifts in Europe’s climate. A team of researchers based their findings on data from 9,000 wooden artifacts from the past 2,500 years. They found that periods of warm, wet summers coincided with prosperity, while political turmoil occurred during times of climate instability.”
Yes, warm good. Not warm, bad.
Nature runs in cycles, deserts expand and contract. The planet warms and cools. Very simple to understand.
There is nothing unusual or unprecedented about our current climate or how we got here. Nothing at all.
The point is the planet is no longer natural, nor anything like it was 2,500 years ago. If anything, your point about civilizations being impacted should cause us to take action. Sure, the planet is warming, but that means other places are getting colder. It doesn’t function like an oven where everything just gets hotter. All the more reason to take the message that things are changing on board and do something. There are plenty of arguments for climate change besides CO2, and those factors must be taken into account and managed to minimise the damage. Would you stand in front of a tsunami and say ‘perfectly natural – these happen all the time’ and argue with the warnings? Its an awful risk to take just to say ‘I told you so’. Regardless of causes (which I can accept we will not agree on), changes are occurring and action must be taken.
Wow, I’m constantly amazed at the stuff you throw out there. “The deserts” have contracted – what, all of them? What about the new deserts forming in Northern China?
And it’s not for you to say whether warmer or colder is better. If you live in Greenland, sure, warm is better. But warm better if you live in Australia?
“The point is the planet is no longer natural, nor anything like it was 2,500 years ago.”
Earth is constantly changing and we are incapable of stopping it.
There is nothing unusual or unprecedented about our current climate or how we got here.
Tsunamis are off topic, circles you know.
Hey Jeremy! You need to seek help with your reading comprehension.
“Wow, I’m constantly amazed at the stuff you throw out there. “The deserts” have contracted – what, all of them? What about the new deserts forming in Northern China?”
I’m sure life is ‘constantly’ amazing for you when things wizz by your head, tantalizingly close to being comprehended.
I said ‘the deserts’, not ‘all deserts. What I said means deserts as a whole. What you inferred is again incorrect.
If you were trained in these matters, you would understand that most of the warming we see in a wam period occurs at the poles, and diminishes as you approach the equator. So arable lands expand, allowing for more food and more room for God’s children. Why do you protoest prosperity?
What amazes me is that you claim to be a journalist and have such issues with what I believe is your native tongue. Of couse, I do not see a journalist, I see an activist. But that is not surprising.
I work in a major US city and we have a large convention center that hosted a gathering of journalism students a few years back. When interviewed, the most common response for why they decided to become journalists was that they wanted to change the world. That is the job of politicians, lobbyists, holy men, activists, etc… but not journalists.
I was a climatology major who recieved a degree in remote sensing, but am really a trained geologist. I spent eight years studying in the Earth Sciences department and loved virtually every minute of it. I was a liberal back then too. That is how I got sucked into the desertification lie. It was everywhere in the echo chambers I inhabited. But I should have known from years of geology classes that it was bunk. I was duped and I am big enough to admit it.
Fool me once, not twice.
There is nothing unusual or unprecedented about our climate or how we got here. Nothing to see, go home.
I’m a little tired of your condescension, thank you very much.
You are welcome. I am tired of your tunnel vision, we are even.
Greenbelt festival 2012, themed “Saving Paradise” had some interesting talks on the Christian’s responsibility to the environment (and the people who live within that!). Talks can be downloaded from the website http://www.greenbelt.org.uk
First allow me to say I have enjoyed your newsletter and articles very much. They are well written, rational and balanced.
On the note on Faith, I believe it is a very personal thing and perhaps should remain that way ? What are your thoughts on the following quote ?
“When you call yourself an Indian or a Muslim or a Christian or a European, or anything else, you are being violent. Do you see why it is violent? Because you are separating yourself from the rest of mankind. When you separate yourself by belief, by nationality, by tradition, it breeds violence. So a man who is seeking to understand violence does not belong to any country, to any religion, to any political party or partial system; he is concerned with the total understanding of mankind.”
― Jiddu Krishnamurti
Again, thank you for the great work you do !
Hi Fouad, thank you for your comments. It’s an interesting quote, and a noble sentiment, but I think it is an ideal rather than a practical consideration. If this is true, then we also separate ourselves from others in many other ways – through what we wear, eat, or do for a living. Do these all breed violence? If I say that I don’t like rap music, have I set myself against those that do? I would need to live without ever expressing a belief, or even a preference.
I think the problem with such a worldview is that it assumes that differences must always be in competition with each other, when most are not. Some are – and clearly religion has often fallen into that category, but that is an abuse of religion and not its true purpose. I believe that God is love, and that God wants to cooperate with each other rather than compete.
Having said that, I do actually hesitate to call myself a Christian sometimes. It has so much baggage as a term, so many things that I would want to disassociate myself from. It is hard to tell the message at the heart of it from the religion we have built up around it. I often just call myself a follower of Jesus.
Hi Jeremy, thank you for your reply.
It’s funny, though I agree with your general sentiment, I would say it differently and to some extent it could be read as the opposite of what you said.
The quote, in my mind, would be a practical consideration, the ideal being, as you noted, that differences between people should not be seen to be in competition. In other words the ideal is all people accepting each other for who they are while being able to wear their personalities and beliefs on their sleeves.
However, as you also mentioned, some things unfortunately fall under the category of divisive in the current world environment.
In some circles, what we wear or eat or choose to listen to does cause violence, thankfully not usually in our immediate surroundings. Even so, in practice, I do not think these are comparable to the violence caused by the segragation of people into religions worldwide.
So in my mind, the practical application of the sentiment expressed in the quote is more important today than ever before and hopefully more important then it will ever be again.
Until humanity as a whole learns to appreciate unity in diversity.
And for that to happen, if that is indeed something we want, perhaps we need to focus on the similarities for a while and keep our personal beliefs our own ?
I often question whether giving in to societal pressure in this way is the right way to go, and more often than not, my answer is no. However, in the specific case of religion, I do not see a downside to keeping it personal, as it is a very personal thing.
That being said, this entire argument should not be seen as a condemnation of proper debate.
A thoughtful response, and I agree that religion tends to be more divisive than other things. I suppose my problem with keeping it to myself is that I believe faith is more than just personal. I believe that the essence of Christianity is not membership in a ‘club’ or church for likeminded people, but to be part of a movement.
That movement is supposed to be a blessing to others, a movement of love and justice. At times it has been, when you look at the Victorian philanthropists who outlawed child labour, or Wilberforce and the campaign to end slavery, or the Jubilee 2000 campaign. At other times it has been the opposite.
For me, my desire to campaign for a fair and sustainable world is inseparable from my faith, and that’s why I mention it in the about section. But you’ll also notice that it’s tucked up there in the menu for those looking for more information about me or the blog. It’s not front and center, so it doesn’t ever need to exclude readers or get in the way.
I’d like to make it clear that I believe this note on Faith to be very gentle in form and intent, and I agree that its’ placement on the site is quite discreet.
However, if I may for the sake of argument ask: Considering the baggage associated with every religion and the arguments made previously, would the movement of love and justice not benefit from remaining nameless ?
Do you feel it would take away from the blessing and the intent behind your message to not give ‘credit’ to anyone in particular ? Would it not avoid the automatic creation of barriers and hence increase the potential for individual change and the growing of that movement ?
Well, Jesus said to not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, doing your good deeds without drawing attention to them, so you’ve got a point there. At the same time, how do you recruit people to a movement that is completely invisible? I think there’s a balance. Personally, I’m part of a very low key church, with no building and no employed leaders or staff. We just get on with it as a community, looking to serve the part of town where we live. That seems to me to be a better way of doing things than the big and politically powerful churches that dominate church history.
I agree with your second paragraph completely. And perhaps the key point in this discussion is exposure. I totally agree with your local approach with the small church and community action.
On a larger scale though, when more diversity of cultures are present, perhaps the approach implied by Krishnamurti might be more efficient because less divisive ?
The movement of love and justice grows itself through its’ actions, it is contagious that way, and I believe it is easily recognized whether it has a name or not.
This conversation need not have a resolution, so perhaps you prefer we discontinue it or continue it by email ?
In any case, it’s been nice talking to you Jeremy ! I wish you well and I will be looking forward to your articles !
Great work you’re doing here Jeremy… I didn’t realize your foundation is from a Christian perspective. How wonderful and insightful…. I think you would appreciate these blogposts belwo from a good friend of mine, now 93 years old – Frater Charles Brandt who is a hermit monk in tradition of the early desert fathers. He has done much good ecological work and is also a leader of Christian Meditation here in British Columbia, Canada .
I’ll give a few links to posts I’ve created. The photography and most of the accompanying dialogue is his own voice – or maybe “the voice of the earth.” I couldn’t decide which of the posts presents best, so I’ve liberally given you numerous examples. I’m confident you will find his message inspiring. I too have found that your work here in your work is full of wisdom and hope, with practical examples.
I hope and trust it’s OK with you to share these links. i.e Posts about spirituality, the earth, and contemplation – as per Fr. Charles Brandt:
Cheers from Bruce,
Northern Vancouver Island , British Columbia
Thanks for your words of encouragement and for the links, I’ll check those out!
I am a Christian as well and I do upcycle and recycle because I believe that is our responsibility to take care of the world God gave to us and show some love to the environment, this will also affect peoples quality of life! Can I be part of it and how? I live in Finland at the moment, I am a neighbor! 😀 hehehe
I found your blog when searching for reviews of the book ‘The Beauty of Everyday Things’. As I looked through your website I was immediately drawn to so many topic areas that you touch on. Sustainability is something important to me and relates to principles that I try to teach my children about what we buy, what we eat and what we grow. I felt to leave a comment however, as I saw you are a Christian. I am a Christian as well and we attend church weekly as a family (three children under 14). So much of my faith is based on the beatitudes and caring for God’s creation and the people that live on it. I am from Australia and have felt such despair regarding our recent bushfire season, which started earlier and burnt longer and more fierce, and yet we have a government that cannot bring itself to admit that a changing climate has something to do with this. More distressing to me are that those close to me, who share my faith, cannot see the responsibility we have to care for God’s creation and be responsible for what has been gifted to us. It is like to believe in climate change is to be a heretic. Thank you for sharing these articles, and providing me with encouragement!
I know what you mean. I have felt that disappointment with the church too, and it seems like a strange blindness. To me it’s so obvious that sustainability and climate change action are part of 21st century discipleship.
Thanks for dropping by, and I’m glad you enjoyed the site!
Was looking for some takes regarding this topic and I found your article quite informative. It has given me a fresh perspective on the topic tackled. Thanks!