A few hours ago, the New York Times published an article summarizing the findings of a just completed congressionally mandated Climate Change Assessment Study. The report is currently awaiting final approval of the current Administration before release. Scientists from 13 Federal Agencies participated in the study.
There was concern that the report would be suppressed by the administration, so the final draft was leaked by unnamed government scientists to the New York Times, which has a summary here (“Government Report Finds Drastic Impact of Climate Change on U.S.”), and the complete draft of the report here (“U.S. Global Change Research Program Climate Science Special Report”).
I’ve perused the first few dozen pages of the report. Very little of what I read was a surprise, but the magnitude of the environmental changes to come that are foreseen because of this research is larger than seen in past forecasts. The report is carefully written, thoroughly researched, and very sobering reading. Even if we stopped burning fossil fuels today, the cumulative effects of the carbon dioxide already released into the atmosphere will continue to increase for centuries to come. Large areas of coastal land will likely be flooded by the end of this century, including most of Florida.
We can no longer ignore what is coming. Those who continue to do so, particularly those in leadership or who are in a position to influence public opinion, are putting the lives and livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people at risk – doing us, our nation, and our children, serous harm.
Climate Change is not a partisan issue. Climate Change is not a political football. It is not a left wing conspiracy.
It is a certainty. And, responding to it is a matter of survival.
God help us all.
For those who’ve followed this blog (or my ministry) for the last several years, I think you’ll agree that I try to strike a balance between my own beliefs and views (which are clearly rather Progressive); and emphasizing the importance of listening-to those who have different perspectives. And, I believe this is imperative if we are serious about our faith: we must make a determined effort to really understand where others are “coming from.”
As I see it, we’re all in this together. And, we cannot make progress towards a better future for all UNLESS we all believe together that it is a better future. But, there comes a point where the line between reasoned debate and outright insanity is crossed. That has happened repeatedly in the last few months, and isn’t going to end any time soon. Even so, I have tried to differentiate between the actions and beliefs of our demonstrably incompetent and self centered president; and the well founded anger and doubts of many who support his administration. Anger and concerns which many of us on the Liberal side of the spectrum actually share. There is much more that unites us than divides us, even now.
But for me, this decision of the president’s to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord is the last straw. (This article from the Weather Channel does a good job of summarizing what this will mean for us.)
Now, for those who have questions about Climate Change, fine: have questions. Ask them. Ask lots of questions. And when well informed folk respond, listen.
But the president’s decision goes far beyond that: it not only flies in the face of unequivocal scientific research and findings; but also puts the USA at odds with the ENTIRE WORLD.
No good can come of this in an environmental, economic, political or diplomatic sense. It isolates us from our allies and economic partners. It removes us from our former status as a respected world leader. We are well on the way to becoming the bully with a big stick whom others will have to join together to knock back into line. It is hard to imagine a worse decision being made by any past, present, or future president – short of starting another global war.
I’m always happy to engage in reasoned dialog on the issue of Climate Change. But, it is not a left vs. right issue, but a right vs. wrong issue: do we listen to what ALL reputable scientists are telling us? Or, do we subscribe to the conspiracy theories and “research” promulgated by a tiny band of deniers whose motives and qualifications are for the most part highly suspect?
For this country to remain strong, for it to retain it’s position as a world leader, requires more than just a large economy and an oversized military. Other countries will eventually eclipse us on that score, and even sooner than we might think. Such leadership solely through raw power cannot endure. For us to remain a leading nation in this world requires us to lead in other ways. Sadly, the current administration and leadership in Congress does not understand this, and is leading us down a path from which we will take decades to recover, if we ever do.
For a positive example, I look to our own congregation: We saw faith at work last night in our Annual Meeting – a time of remembering, visioning and deciding; sharing our knowledge, and evaluating the effectiveness of the wealth, wisdom and work we’ve expended in the past year. It was a time of counting up the resources available to us and deciding how to best utilize them to accomplish the mission and goals we believe are a part of our journey into the future.
That meeting, just like this worship service, and the many other things we do – either individually or jointly – are all positive, beneficial, things – or at least we see them as such. And, we see them as expressions of our faith.
On the other hand, Oklahoma Senator Jim Inhofe frequently quotes the Bible to “prove“ as he says, that “…The hoax is that there are some people who are so arrogant to think that they are so powerful, they can change climate. Man can’t change climate.” This is the perspective he works-from in his new post as chair of the Senate’s Committee on the Environment and Public Works: a placement of faith ahead of Science, to the exclusion of science in fact. Is this also Faith? If so, is it a beneficial application of faith?
It seems to me that we need to understand what Faith is, since what it is is central to who we are as Christians, and therefore critical in our discernment and pursuit of God’s Call upon our lives.