Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Global Warming

At Thanksgiving, my mother-in-law mentioned that she heard a program at church recently about Global Warming. She didn't know what to think, she said. The man said it was such a political issue, she said. It didn't take long to figure out that the speaker she heard doesn't believe that global warming is real.

It wasn't more than a month ago that our synod invited Will Steger to come and speak to us. His presentation was "Eyewitness to Global Warming", and one of the things he said was, "this is not a matter of politics." Not for him, at least. He doesn't have a political axe to grind. He's been there, seen things, and just wants to tell people what he has seen, as a person who loves the earth, and the creatures who dwell on it. It's possible that he thinks of himself as a kind of prophet, although I don't know if he would use those words.

One small story that struck me that day: there is a small Inuit village that has been in the same spot for centuries. But, they will have to move their village due to the change in climate. The village is Shismaref. When Will Steger said this name, I sat up, because a friend of mine was a Lutheran pastor in Shismaref.

Here's the problem I have with the Global Warming nay-sayers: They are telling us exactly what we want to hear. We don't have to change the way we do anything. Everything can stay just the same as it is. We can continue to live our comfortable existence. Don't worry. There is nothing to repent about.

Kind of like the false prophets -- the ones who would say, "Peace, peace," when there was no peace.

Now I don't know for 100% sure if global warming is real, although I do think that Will Steger has some credibility. I would be the first person to rejoice if I found out absolutely that there was no such thing.

But the whole thing does remind me of our gospel reading for Sunday: not the part we are always curious about, the part where some are "taken up" and some are "left behind." But the first part of the reading, when Jesus says that "as in those days before the flood, marrying and giving in marriage..." In other words, they were not paying attention, even though an ark was being built right in front of them.

We are not to be alarmists, trying to figure out the day that Jesus is coming back (we will never know), or even what day the earth will give out. But God does want us to pay attention -- to what is going on with our neighbors, the stranger, the earth -- and to live our lives as good stewards of the earth and of one another.

The basic instructions for Christians remain: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself." -- and keep in mind that our neighbor includes the earth and its creatures.

16 comments:

mompriest said...

sigh... basically I think global warming is real...and, as you say, we are like the people long ago who fail to heed the warnings of the prophets...

Barbara B. said...

Yes, mainstream science is in agreeement that global warming is a reality. I agree that we are called to be stewards of this earth.

LET'S TALK said...

I to think that we have made a mess of this earth and yes, global warming with all the different signs and scientific research shows that it is real and it is now.

Mrs. M said...

Here's my thought: whether or not global warming is real, pollution is real, and waste is real, and we've been atrocious stewards of creation. I would think that as Christians, we could all agree on that much (though I've seen evidence to the contrary).

Diane said...

mrs. m, I agree with you. part of the point of my little "essay"... we need to be stewards of the earth. We need to get past arguing about whether this is "real" and look at what kind of stewards we have been...

Rowan The Dog said...

I think a lot of the nay-saying comes from those who perceive themselves as "having dominion," in a world where "dominion" means to dominate. I sometimes correspond with them on the southern baptist site. They're convinced... Of everything.

lj said...

More than 1200 climatologists are in agreement about climate change ... the largest gathering of scientists in human history to agree on something like this. There are approximately 3 scientists world-wide who are nay-sayers and they are employed by Exxon Mobile and other oil companies.

This is a case of first-world blindness. We are the only folks in the world not getting it. More than 6 years ago, the loss of 150,000 lives in central Africa annually due to global warming was reported on the front page of the Washington Post. Whole pacific island nations are seeking refuge in neighboring countries who have more "in-land" space because of sea-level rise due to climate change.

This is real and it is not in the future. It has been happening for years, but the lobbies in this country to keep us living our same lifestyle are very, very strong and we simply don't get the real news about it.

OK, I'll step off my soap-box now, but honestly, I think as Christians concerned about justice for our brothers and sisters around the world, this is an absolutely critical issue to address.

P.S. an after-thought said...

I agree with Mrs. M. We need to be good stewards, leave resources for the future generation, global warming or not! We've used up quite a bit in the last hundred years.

I guess if one believes that the return of Jesus is eminent, then go ahead and use use use. God will be the judge. However, the return of Jesus has been in our future for 2000 years. We need to live both as though He will come tomorrow and he will come in 1000 years. Many applications of this principle.

more cows than people said...

this is a great essay, diane. thanks.

i just skimmed through these comments, but I was reminded of something I think I first read in Lauren Winner's book "Girl Meets God". It was something about if you're planting a tree when you hear the Messiah has come, keep planting the tree.

steve said...

Global warming nay-sayers seem unable to recognize scientific consensus when it hits the me in the face, in my humble opinion. Even the Bush administration (I almost feel like putting that in caps, as in "EVEN THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION!") recognizes that global warming is a reality.

Diane said...

one of the things that Will Steger (a MN boy, by the way) said is that global warming is
1) an environmental issue
2) a justice issue (what lj said)
3) a security issue (who we are oil-dependent on)
that made sense to me.

relievedebtor said...

A recent seminary grad, I heard more than my fair share of environmentalist concerns couched in religious language, though it often struck me as rather pagan. There rarely seemed/seems to be an honest debate. One can be, as I am, a skeptic of man's role in causing or stopping global warming, but still believe in global warming as a reality of our ever-changing planet. Does that make me a nay-sayer?

And to assert that there are only 3 scientists who are "nay-sayers" represents a lack of intellectual honesty. There are many very reputable scientists that are not alarmed about global warming, and even hint that it may be good for the earth (like increase the number of rain forests, etc.)

Also, many "nay-sayers", or let's call them "crunchi-cons", feel very strongly about the need for us to be good stewards, but want to ward off the very real threat of economic sanctions. After all, do we expect that we can simply fight global warming with no costs? How will we feel if economic sanctions cost millions of jobs because industries have no incentive to produce? I merely ask to not be so naive as to think those evil oil companies are the only "nay sayers." People who deeply care about creation and the welfare of humanity also question the "consensus" about global warming .

Diane said...

Certainly, there are some whose concern for the earth has "pagan" overtones, but I believe that we do need to be better stewards of creation.

... and that there is a call to repentance in this.

FranIAm said...

Sorry I missed reading this yesterday- it is brilliant.

Loving the earth is part of our mission - let us do what we must to serve God by loving each other and the world we live in.

relievedebtor said...

Diane, I agree entirely there is a call to repentance and that there are legitimate needs to be good stewards. And I appreciated the sensativity with which you wrote your post and your comments. I was addressing this more to some of the other commenters. I wanted to be a voice that offered an alternative point of view, especially that not all "nay-sayers" want to destroy the earth, but in fact, feel an overreaction to something provable by circumstantial evidence at best could do more damage than the warming in the first place. I appreciate your blog!

Gartenfische said...

Most scientists agree that warming is real and that we are causing it. The naysayers are in the vast minority. I went to a talk by a government (yes, government) scientist who showed graphs and slides that made it incredibly clear that g.w. is happening and showed clearly the connection between our activities and that warming. It is irresponsible for us to ignore this.