Taking Global Warming to Church

Global warming is not an abstract, future crisis. Human beings generate ever increasing amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, producing carbon dioxide and other gases that trap heat and keep it from escaping into space.

Our earth has arrived at a tipping point, and our own generation bears witness to the impact.

That point is worth emphasizing. A Time/ABC News poll shows that only 44 percent of the U.S. public understands global warming as “a serious problem” today. About 54 percent identify it as “a problem for the future.”

To some degree, the mitigation of the crisis among the general public can be traced to a concerted campaign to sow doubt regarding the scientific validation of climate change. Lobby groups from the energy sector fund pseudo-research and ancillary public relations campaigns to promote the view that climate change is a “theory” that is highly contested in scientific circles. The journal Science, however, published in 2004 a survey of serious scientific studies addressing global warming. Of the 928 research studies that have been published on the subject in scholarly, peer-reviewed journals, “none of the papers disagreed with the consensus position” that our atmosphere is getting warmer, and the phenomenon is a consequence of human activity.

This past April Paul Krugman published in his New York Times column a leaked memo that emerged from a 1998 meeting of the American Petroleum Institute. Those assembled—major oil companies and their industry lobbyists—laid out a strategy to offer “logistical and moral support” to individuals and groups that raise doubts about global warming, “thereby raising questions and undercutting the ‘prevailing scientific’ wisdom.”

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Sojourners Magazine July 2006
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