Edward Maibach is director of the Center for Climate Change Communication at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va.
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How to Talk with Climate Change Skeptics in Your Church
More than 97 percent of climate scientists agree that human-caused climate change is happening here and now. Yet many Americans are unaware of this scientific consensus.
Meanwhile, evidence of climate change is mounting—rising seas, retreating glaciers, and extreme weather—as are their effects on human health and well-being, everything from more lung disease and vector-borne illnesses to injuries and deaths from extreme weather events.
In the face of these sobering realities, the Trump administration is taking steps to reverse progress the U.S. has made on carbon pollution by eliminating the Clean Power Plan, radically shrinking the Environmental Protection Agency, reversing environmental safety regulations, and potentially withdrawing from the Paris climate agreement.
However, we are not helpless, and the situation is not hopeless. In many ways, the prospects for progress in combating climate change are good. The costs of clean, renewable energy, such as solar and wind, are dropping precipitously, and a large majority of Americans want us to transition quickly away from fossil fuels, regulate carbon emissions, and abide by the climate agreement reached in Paris last year. National environmental organizations are seeing rapid increases in donations and volunteerism from those who oppose federal efforts to dismantle environmental protections. But it’s not enough.
Building a strong national movement to protect the climate requires many voices. The voices of Christians are especially needed. And many are speaking up. “The poor, the disenfranchised, those already living on the edge, and those who contributed least to this problem are also those at greatest risk to be harmed by it. That’s not a scientific issue; that’s a moral issue,” wrote Katharine Hayhoe, a renowned climate scientist and evangelical Christian, on The Conversation website. She has noted that, “As scientists we don’t know a lot about suffering, but as Christians we do. And we know that part of the reason we’re here in this world is to help people who are suffering.” Pope Francis has made the case that climate change is one of the principal challenges facing humanity and that it is a moral imperative for Christians to rise to the challenge.