Thursday, July 27, 2006

Evangelicals and Global Warming: The ISA Response

The Interfaith Stewardship Alliance is a coalition of religious leaders, scientists, academics, and others who desire to speak and serve as biblical stewards of God's creation. They particularly seek to promote the principles of the Cornwall Declaration in the discussion of various public policy issues including population and poverty, food, energy, water, endangered species, habitat, and other related topics.

Recently, the ISA drew up a specific response to those evangelical leaders (and many pseudo-evangelical leaders) who had fallen hard for the politically but scientifically-incorrect theories of global warming that are touted by the left. In fact, a document entitled, Climate Change: An Evangelical Call to Action, which reflected these theories (and which included plenty of political commentary) was signed not only by such liberal religious figures as Jim Wallis and Ron Sider but also by popular evangelical leaders like Rick Warren and Jack Hayford. That document made a lot of noise when it was released last winter.

The excellent, well-balanced ISA response to the above mentioned document is entitled, An Open Letter to the Signers of “Climate Change: An Evangelical Call to Action” and Others Concerned About Global Warming. The letter begins...

Widespread media reports tell of a scientific consensus that:
• the world is presently experiencing unprecedented global warming;

• the main cause of it is rising atmospheric carbon dioxide because of human use of fossil fuels for energy; and

• the consequences of continuing this pattern will include (1) rising sea levels that could inundate highly populated and often poor low-lying lands, (2) more frequent deadly heat waves, droughts, and other extreme weather events, (3) increased tropical diseases in warming temperate regions, and (4) more frequent and intense hurricanes.

Recently eighty-six evangelical pastors, college presidents, mission heads, and other leaders signed “Climate Change: An Evangelical Call to Action,” under the auspices of the Evangelical Climate Initiative. The document calls on the federal government to pass national legislation requiring sufficient reductions in carbon dioxide emissions to fight global warming and argues that these are necessary to protect the poor from its harmful effects.

In light of all this, many people are puzzled by the Interfaith Stewardship Alliance’s opposition to such calls. Do
we not care about the prospect of catastrophic global warming? Do we not care that with rising temperatures the polar ice caps will melt, and the sea will inundate low island countries and coastal regions? Do we not care that the world’s poor might be most hurt by these things?

Yes, we care. But we also believe, with economist Walter Williams, that “truly compassionate policy requires
dispassionate analysis.” That is the very motive for our opposing drastic steps to prevent global warming. In short, we have the same motive proclaimed by the Evangelical Climate Initiative in its “Call to Action.” But motive and reason are not the same thing. It matters little how well we mean, if what we do actually harms those we intend to help.

That is why we take the positions we do. In the accompanying document, “A Call to Truth, Prudence, and
Protection of the Poor: An Evangelical Response to Global Warming,” we present extensive evidence and argument against the extent, the significance, and perhaps the existence of the much-touted scientific consensus on catastrophic human-induced global warming. Further, good science–like truth–is not about counting votes but about empirical evidence and valid arguments. Therefore we also present data, arguments, and sources favoring a different perspective:...

Read the complete text of the ISA letter here and then, check out the ISA study document itself -- A Call to Truth, Prudence and Protection of the Poor: An Evangelical Response to Global Warming.