The New York Times posted an article yesterday about 86 prominent evangelicals who signed a statement urging steps to reduce greenhouse emissions that may lead to global warming, as part of our stewardship of God's Creation. That article also noted that a smaller group of 22 equally prominent evangelicals signed a statement in January urging that no stand be taken on this topic, as it had not achieved consensus among Christians. I commented on the NY Times article yesterday, as did Mike Kruse of the Kruse Kronicle. Mike has a somewhat different perspective on this than I, but his opinions are well formed. For further information, visit Mike's section on the environment.
Paul Waldman writes in this article how the split between evangelical Christians on global warming represents an opportunity to drive wedges in the conservative community, and should be exploited as part of an effort to destroy the conservative movement:
"...So why should progressives be glad about the NAE’s retreat from one prominent element of what is known as “Creation Care”? Not just because it exposes a split within the organization, but because that split reveals the forces now threatening the unity of the conservative movement. Progressives should be on the lookout for divisions among religious conservative, and between religious conservatives and other conservatives, to find wedges that can be driven home to crack the conservative movement to pieces...."
What Waldman doesn't acknowledge is that the number of signers opposing the recent statement on global warming is about 1/4 the number of signatories of that statement. And I suspect that there are many members of the NAE who DO support environmental stewardship.
In addition, he seems to make the all-too-common assumption that "evangelical" = "right wing conservative". It doesn't, as any evangelical knows. There is an evangelical left and center, as well as a right -- and they are well-represented in the Christian environmental movement.
But perhaps Waldman's most disturbing attitude is his apparent willingness to use this issue to weaken a key consituency in the stewardship of the environment. People forget that it was conservatives in the early years of the last century who were the movers behind the modern environmental movement. If we are to make progress in caring for the environment, it would not be wise to alienate any segment of our society. The concerns about the environment are far too pressing to permit political ideology get in the way.
Global warming may not have reached consensus among evangelical Christians, but neither has it reached consensus among scientists. The preponderance of scientific opinion is that it IS a clear danger, but some feel that it is part of a natural cyclical phenomenon. Reasonable people do have differing opinions about this.
What should not be a mattter of dispute is that there ARE environmental concerns that need to be addressed. Overgrazing in the Third World as well as in some of the more developed areas, water pollution, air pollution, solid waste, toxic runoff, and others have been and continue to be major issues in the quality of life. We take things for granted in this country. I travelled to another country's capital a few years ago for a meeting. My eyes burned, and my nose itched from smog. I had not experienced that in over 30 years, and I have done enough travelling inside the US to have an informed opinion about air quality. We have no done so well with water quality, but things are improving.
As Christians we are are called to have dominion over God's creation. Not domination. Not to consume it voraciously. To care for it so not only we can enjoy it, but our descendants.