Christians and Climate Science: Moving Beyond Fear to Action

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Bird's eye view of Isle de Jean Charles, Louisiana, which has become virtually uninhabitable because of the effects of climate change. Source: Isle de Jean Charles Resettlement Project, State of Louisiana.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Creation care is not the primary topic we address at BioLogos, but we think it’s an extremely important calling for Christians. Our friend Katharine Hayhoe serves Christ through studying the effects of climate change on God’s creation, and teaching others about the dangerous situation our climate is in—and what we can do about it. If you’re confused or overwhelmed by this topic, be sure to check out the resources below the post, especially Katharine’s “Global Weirding” series on PBS.

I believe in God. I believe he created this amazing planet we live in, and gave us responsibility, stewardship, and dominion over it. I believe God delights in his creation and wants us to delight in it as well. And I believe we are to love others, especially the poor, the vulnerable, and those most in need—just as Christ loved us.

I’m a Christian – but I’m also a scientist. I spend my days studying how climate change is affecting us, in the places where we live. Rainfall patterns are shifting, sea level is rising, and weather is getting weirder: when we add them all up, there’s more than 26,500 separate lines of evidence that the planet is warming.

Nearly two hundred years of meticulous scientific studies has established that global warming is not a natural cycle this time: it’s because of us. And my own research demonstrates the severity of the consequences for all of us, particularly those less fortunate than us who are already suffering. We care about a changing climate because it exacerbates the risks we face today: hunger, poverty, disease, and injustice.

Yet when we hear Christians discussing climate change, often the predominant responses are negative: hostility, anger, or simply just apathy, a stew of toxic emotions underlain by fear. Fear of losing an ideological or political identity ; fear of rejection by our family, our community, or even our church; or fear of losing our comfortable lifestyle in search of what’s right and just.

As Christians, we have a litmus test for these emotions. Because, as the apostle Paul writes to Timothy, “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Tim 1:7). So when we see Christians responding in fear, we know that’s not who we’re meant to be.

What gifts does God give us? Power, to effect meaningful, long-term change. Love, to share God’s heart for our brothers and sisters who are hurting and in need. And a sound mind to look at the reality of what is happening in our world and acknowledge that yes, climate change is real, it’s serious, and we need to fix it.

As Christians, if we believe we’re called “to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with our God,” then caring about a changing climate, and those already suffering its impacts, is something we’ve been created to do. It’s who we are.


If you have questions about the science of climate change, chances are that skepticalscience.com has an answer for you.

For more on why climate change matters, check out the rest of my “Global Weirding” series here.

Notes

Citations

MLA

Hayhoe, Katharine. "Christians and Climate Science: Moving Beyond Fear to Action"
https://biologos.org/. N.p., 25 Jul. 2017. Web. 13 December 2017.

APA

Hayhoe, K. (2017, July 25). Christians and Climate Science: Moving Beyond Fear to Action
Retrieved December 13, 2017, from /blogs/guest/christians-and-climate-science-moving-beyond-fear-to-action

References & Credits

This article is adapted from a post originally published on June 16, 2017, on the blog of Presbyterians for Earth Care, under the title "I Don't Believe in Climate Change. I Believe in God."

About the Author

Katharine Hayhoe

Katharine Hayhoe is a highly-respected expert on climate change. An associate professor in the Department of Political Science and director of the Climate Science Center at Texas Tech University, her focus is developing new ways to quantify the potential impacts of human activities at the regional scale. As founder and CEO of ATMOS Research, she also provides relevant, state-of-the-art information to a broad range of non-profit, industry and government clients about how climate change will affect our lives. Her work has resulted in over 50 peer reviewed publications in key reports on the issue. She also teamed up with Andrew Farley to write A Climate for Change: Global Warming Facts for Faith-Based Decisions.

More posts by Katharine Hayhoe

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