Bill McKibben 01-04-2016
sakhorn / Shutterstock

sakhorn / Shutterstock

TWO RECENT news items: 1) A new U.N. report finds that over the last 20 years, 4.1 billion people have been injured in extreme weather events—the floods and forest fires that are proliferating as the climate warms. The report adds that the total will keep steeply climbing in the years ahead.

2) Two teams of investigative journalists, following separate document trails, proved in the course of the fall that Exxon—now ExxonMobil, the world’s most profitable company—had known everything there was to know about climate change 25 years ago. And then lied about it, helping to set up the elaborate infrastructure of climate denial that has prevented serious international action on global warming.

I don’t know how to keep these two things in my head at the same time without giving myself over to hatred. I know I’m not supposed to hate, and much of the time I’m able to work on climate change without losing my cool. I can meet oil industry executives, understand the problems that make it hard for them to move quickly; I can and do sympathize deeply with coal miners and tar sands miners whose lives will be disrupted as we take necessary action.

But for Exxon? There have been hours, reading these reports in the Los Angeles Times and the Pulitzer-winning InsideClimate News, when I’ve just found myself in a blind rage, unable to comprehend how people—professed Christians, most of them, in that Texas hotbed of Christianity—could act this way. Their scientists told them quite straightforwardly that burning coal and oil was heating the planet and that it was going to be disastrous. By the mid-1980s, before any politician was talking about climate change, they had good computer models indicating (correctly as it turned out) how much the earth would warm. And they believed those predictions—they helped guide their actions in places like the Arctic, where they were bidding for leases in waters they knew would soon be free of ice.

But they also knew that serious action on climate change would cost them money—would force them to start switching their business from fossil fuel to renewable energy. And so they went to work, helping to set up front groups that hired veterans of the tobacco wars to open a new front of obfuscation. Their CEO, Lee Raymond, gave a speech in Beijing in 1997 insisting that the climate models were hokum, and that the earth was cooling.

Ed Spivey Jr. 06-01-2012

Even al Qaeda can use rebranding.

Chuck Collins 04-14-2011

In the face of state and federal budget cuts, many of us have been fasting and contemplating the question: "What would Jesus cut?" In light of tax day, however, we might equally contemplate: "What would Jesus tax?"

After all, a great deal of our budgetary stress is the result of declining revenue, thanks to the economic downturn and decades of tax cuts.

A new report that I co-authored, "Unnecessary Austerity," argues that before we make draconian budget cuts at the federal and state level, we should reverse huge tax cuts for the wealthy and tax dodging corporations.

The Jesus I know would be concerned about the extreme inequalities of wealth and power that have emerged in our communities. He would rail against principalities and powers that rig the tax rules so the privileged pay less.

He would lament the destruction of God's creation through excessive consumption and pollution. And, he would be alarmed about financial and commodity speculation driving up the cost of food and worsening hunger. (In today's world of high finance, someone would be hedging investments on how quickly Jesus could multiply loaves and fishes.)

Brian McLaren 06-11-2010

Joanna Weiss asks the right question in a recent Boston Globe editorial:

Jim Wallis 06-10-2010
We are counting the days now: the 49th day of the oil spill, the 50th, the 51st. We now know more every day, too.
Sheldon Good 06-04-2010
The BP Oil Spill is the worst oil spill in U.S. history, much worse than Exxon Valdez.
John Gehring 11-06-2009
As an urbanite fortunate to live within walking distance of work and trendy restaurants, I rarely drive these days.
Becky Garrison 09-28-2009

Fans of gonzo political activism may remember the Yes Men's infamous stunt in which Andy Bichlbaum posed as a Dow Chemical spokesperson named Jude (patron saint of the impossible) Finisterra (earth's end).

Timothy King 11-12-2008

Eating scrolls, taking a stroll around the city naked, cooking food over dung, marrying a prostitute, and naming your kid "Not My People" are just a few examples of the behavior of biblical prophets.