Climate change

Bill McKibben 07-05-2012

Please don’t sweat the 2,132 new high temperature marks in June — remember, climate change is a hoax.

The first to figure this out was Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe, who in fact called it “the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people,” apparently topping even the staged moon landing.

But others have been catching on. Speaker of the House John Boehner pointed out that the idea that carbon dioxide is “harmful to the environment is almost comical.” The always cautious Mitt Romney scoffed at any damage too: “Scientists will figure that out 10, 20, 50 years from now,” he said during the primaries.

Still, you have to admit: for a hoax, it’s got excellent production values.

Linda Adams 07-03-2012
Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Silted Dam Reservoir, Haiti, filled after deforestation. Universal Images Group via Getty Images

The Colorado wildfires are raging this week. I’m in Denver, and the grey haze over the mountains in the distance gives me a sick feeling. Countless trees on hundreds of thousands of acres have gone up in smoke. Hundreds of homes have been destroyed. Even human lives have now been forever lost to the flames. It’s tragic, and it’s not over yet. 

But here’s what I believe. One day, when these fires have been extinguished, this land will be restored. People will do whatever it takes to reforest these hills and rebuild their homes. In a few years, mountainsides that are charred and blackened today will be green again. We have the will and the resources to restore our environment when it has been destroyed.

Two weeks ago I was in Haiti. Unlike the deforestation that has happened in Colorado in a matter of days, Haiti’s 98-percent deforestation has happened over centuries. The destruction to Haiti’s natural environment is almost complete. Birds are rare. Small animals are almost gone. Fish that once teemed in the waters around the island are barely there. 

It gets worse. 

What happens when a church tries to recognize the real cost of fossil fuels?

QR Blog Editor 06-27-2012

In the final part of its series on evangelicals and climate change, The Christian Post's Napp Nazworth writes:

"Global warming skeptics argue that while global warming activists say that reducing carbon dioxide emissions is necessary to protect the poor and vulnerable, the science is so iffy and the cost of control so high that money would be better spent on direct aid to the poor."

Read more here
Alycia Ashburn 06-22-2012
Courtesy Alycia Ashburn

Luther College President Richard Torgerson with Alycia Ashburn after receiving his award. Courtesy Alycia Ashburn

Last night I had the rare privilege of dining with the president of my alma mater, Luther College, as he accepted a well-deserved Climate Leadership Award from Second Nature on the college’s behalf. 

While I’d met President Richard Torgerson a couple of times before at alumni gatherings, I hadn’t had the opportunity to talk with him about the extensive sustainability efforts that the college has undergone during his tenure. And there have been a lot of such efforts to discuss. Nor had I been able to ask him about his experience as an entomologist. I was keen to find out if his love for bugs was inspired by a great professor, as mine was by Dr. Kirk Larsen in the biology department at Luther. It takes a special person, after all, to get others excited about God’s creepy crawly little creatures and to use that excitement to launch a lifelong commitment to environmental stewardship.  

Katharine Hayhoe 06-22-2012
Photo courtesy Katharine Hayhoe

Fires that burned through Texas last April - August. Photo courtesy Katharine Hayhoe

I spend most of my days studying the natural environment. From that perspective, the answer is clear: God has given us the freedom and the ability to make choices. These choices have consequences. And one of the consequences of building in fire-prone areas (and suppressing natural fire patterns in those same areas) is that when a fire comes, there is a lot to burn.

In most cases, these fires are the result of a perfect storm: lots of vegetation, low humidity, dry, hot and windy conditions, and a spark, usually from a human source. In a place where fire is common, like the western U.S., these conditions all come together naturally every few decades or so.

But fires are intimately related to temperature, humidity, and rainfall. So it makes sense to ask—is climate change making these fires worse? Do our energy choices, which include burning coal and gas and oil and increasing levels of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere, affect the risk of wildfire?

Climate change experts and skeptics can hash it out all they want, but Victor Mughogho is living it. 

His home country of Malawi is already feeling the effects of climate change in real and devastating ways. Five droughts in the past 20 years, coupled with changing weather patterns, have resulted in famine — and a generation of children growing up developmentally stunted because of malnourishment. 

QR Blog Editor 05-31-2012

From The Associated Press:

The world's air has reached what scientists call a troubling new milestone for carbon dioxide, the main global warming pollutant. Monitoring stations across the Arctic this spring are measuring more than 400 parts per million of the heat-trapping gas in the atmosphere.

Learn more here

the Web Editors 05-16-2012

While James Hansen's TED talk may be a few months old, his message continues to resonate as concerns around climate change grow worldwide.

The total energy imbalance now is about six-tenths of a watt per square meter. That may not sound like much, but when added up over the whole world, it's enormous. It's about 20 times greater than the rate of energy use by all of humanity. It's equivalent to exploding 400,000 Hiroshima atomic bombs per day 365 days per year. That's how much extra energy Earth is gaining each day. ~ James Hansen

Karla Vasquez 05-08-2012
As part of Climate Impacts Day, Christians in D.C. hold circles to connect the d

As part of Climate Impacts Day, Christians in D.C. hold circles to connect the dots between weather and climate change.

Sacred the land,
Sacred the water,
Sacred the sky,
Holy and true,
Sacred all life,
Sacred each other,
All reflect God who is good.

Franciscan Brother Rufino Zaragoza, OFM

Last Friday night was the first time I uttered this refrain. As I sang, I felt a sense of gratitude to know the significance of these words and to feel the conviction of knowing that I have a responsibility in protecting that which is sacred.

Jack Palmer 04-13-2012
iMarch poster

iMarch poster

A lawsuit that comes to a head May 11 could set a trajectory for how we legislate and mitigate against the devastating impacts of global climate change, Think Progress reports.

The suit, which has been dubbed a ‘David vs. Goliath battle,' sees a group of young adults taking on high-level government officials, states, energy companies and big businesses over their collective failure to adequately protect our planet for future generations.

Jack Palmer 03-14-2012
 By E.W.A. hong kong/Getty Images.

Coastline of Tarawa, Kiribati damaged by rising sea levels. By E.W.A. hong kong/Getty Images.

There may be those in the public sphere who dismiss climate change as a ‘hoax’ — doing so is good politics in some spheres — but the people of the small island nation of Kiribati do not have the luxury of debating whether climate change is real.

It is. And it's threatening the very existence of their nation.

Sven Eberlein 03-01-2012

In the wake of last year's Fukushima disaster, German chancellor Angela Merkel announced the country would phase out nuclear power. Churches are at the forefront of Germany's new solar revolution.

The U.N. climate change talks in South Africa were a major disappointment -- but the struggle continues.

the Web Editors 02-15-2012

You've Heard Of Evangelicals, But Who Are They?; Radical Solutions To Economic Inequality; Playing Fair In Love And Climate Change; Jeremy Lin Says Faith In God Triggered 'Lin-Sanity'; 800,000 Americans Tell Senate: Stop The Keystone XL Pipeline; 5 Things You Might Have Missed In Obama's Proposed 2013 Budget; 'Plug In Better': A Manifesto; Render Unto Caesar; Are You A Real Christian?; Hundreds Rally Against Alabama Immigration Law.

the Web Editors 02-09-2012

Color The 1 Percent 99 Percent Conflicted; Congress Looks To Ethics Bill To Boost Public Image; Rick Santorum: The 'Church' Candidate; States Negotiate $26 Billion Deal For Homeowners; Religious Right Bashes Green Evangelicals For Supporting EPA Rules; Obama, Explained; Four Ways The U.S. Could End Up At War With Iran Before The Election; Employment Rate For Young Adults Lowest In 60 Years, Study Says; Keystone XL Tar Sands Pipeline: The Facts Deserve Repeating (OPINION); Study: GOP Votes Drive Public Opinion On Climate Change.

Duane Shank 02-05-2012

While the mid-Atlantic basks in higher than normal temperatures, it isn’t like that everywhere. Two stories from The New York Times on the struggle for warmth.

In Maine, elderly and often disabled folks who can’t afford heating oil struggle for warmth. The energy assistance program of past years was slashed as part of federal spending cuts, resulting in 65,000 households in this state alone receiving less help, while the cost of oil has risen more than 40 cents a gallon. The basic need for heat becomes a full-time struggle.

the Web Editors 02-02-2012

Obama: Jesus Would Tax The Rich; Pockets Of Prosperity Across USA Escaped Recession; Obama Won't Touch Climate With A Ten-Foot Pole; U.S. Press Freedom Fell 27 Places Last Year To 47th In The World; Gingrich Slams Romney: The Founding Fathers Believed In Equal Opportunity For The Poor; Why Both Parties Are Flying the Anti-Wall Street Banner; Occupy Your Voice; Can Science End War?; Alabama's Immigration Law To Cost State Millions In Lost Taxes, Study Says.

Elizabeth Palmberg 02-02-2012
Dr. Hayhoe, with one of her inspirations to fight climate change.

Dr. Hayhoe, with one of her inspirations to fight climate change.

There are a lot of heinously unmerited personal attacks going on in these United States right now, but for some reason I’m most bothered by the ones against Dr. Katharine Hayhoe, a climate scientist and evangelical Christian. As this current Sojourners action alert describes, she’s been targeted by Rush Limbaugh, among others, for her efforts to speak the truth about global warming.

Partly, these attacks get under my skin because I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for evangelical scientists. My dad is one, and my Intervarsity-linked Bible study in grad school was so full of them that, as often the lone humanities student, I jokingly made up a scientific discipline to fit in (“I’m in immunostatistics — I model atypical populations.”)

But mostly, the attacks on Hayhoe sadden me because she’s so genuine and earnest in her desire not just to convey the evidence for climate change, but also to engage in respectful dialogue.

the Web Editors 01-27-2012

Marco Rubio Calls For A Shift In Rhetoric On Immigration; Davos Head Offers To Meet With Occupy Protesters; UN Rights Chief Calls For Them To Be Heard; Global Evangelical Body Plans Egyptian Summit, Calls For Worldwide Prayer; For GOP, Dislike For Obama Trumps All; Who Are Evangelicals?;congre A Scalpel, Not A Hatchet; Climate Change Goes Back To Square Zero; Rick Santorum: Gingrich And Romney ‘Bought Into The Global Warming Hoax’.