A follow-up from yesterday’s post…
If the earth is God’s temple, why aren’t we as Christians more concerned about environmental issues like climate change? According to one survey, only a third of Christians see preventing climate change as part of our obligation to protect God’s creation (though a majority of Christians think preventing climate change is important for other reasons). Why is it that Christians, particularly evangelicals, are more skeptical about climate change than the general population?
1. What’s the worst that could happen if we fight climate change, only to learn in hindsight that our concerns were overblown?
The answer: Globally, we might be a few hundred billion dollars poorer. That’s the equivalent of 1-2% of one year’s GDP.
Some of that money would have been well spent even if climate change turned out not to be a serious problem. With a finite supply of oil, coal, and other high carbon-emitting energy sources (no matter how much we “drill, baby, drill”), does anyone really think it’s not worthwhile to invest in alternative energy sources?
2. What’s the worst that could happen if climate change is real (and every bit as serious as the experts are telling us) and we fail to act?
Let’s start by putting it in crass economic terms. Some estimates project that failing to rein in greenhouse gases will cost up to 20% of GDP. (And you thought the last recession was bad.)
And then there are the people. No surprise, it’s the desperately poor — those who have contributed the least to climate change — who stand to suffer the most. In fact, they’re already feeling the effects of climate change. From the increasing frequency and intensity of droughts in parts of Africa, to rising sea levels already threatening to overwhelm an entire nation.
Two decades of progress combating extreme poverty could be wiped out if we do nothing to address climate change.
Spend a few hundred billion dollars now or jeopardize millions of lives in the future.
Of course, many doubt the science of climate change, even though the underlying principle, the greenhouse effect, has been a proven scientific fact for well over a hundred years. But what’s the driving force behind such skepticism?
Could it be we just don’t want to give up the standard of living we’ve grown accustomed to? Could it be we want to go on using the earth as we see fit and leave the mess for someone else to clean up?
As Christians, how do we reconcile this attitude with the reality that the earth is not ours — that it is not first and foremost our dwelling place, but God’s?
What will we say when the time comes to give an account for how we’ve tended God’s temple?