200 evangelical scientists ask Congress to pass climate legislation

Two hundred evangelical scientists recently wrote a letter to Congress making the religious case for passing climate change legislation.

Coleen Jose at Climate Wire reports on what inspired these scientists to try and bridge the gap between science and religion:

Larry Louters, a professor of chemistry at Calvin College and leading author of the letter, recalled how discussions with his mother and current work in a Christian college fundamentally formed his motivation to promote both religion and science.

"My mother refused to believe me because [radio personality] Rush Limbaugh said that climate change is a hoax," he said.

"Rush's claim had the same weight as science," he added. "It impairs the American public's ability to judge risk. The same scientific process that diagnoses cancer now warns us about climate risk. But it's a risk that we do not personalize. If we do nothing, what do we pass on to the next generation?"

The religious case for being good stewards of the environment is something we've covered extensively here at TreeHugger. In our Green Spirit series, Mat McDermott wrote about how different religions viewed environmental conservation and why science and religion didn't have to be at odds when it comes to climate change.

Katie Valentine at Think Progress sees hope in some other examples of religious leaders speaking out about protecting the environment:

It may be difficult for evangelicals to embrace a culture that accepts climate science — though as the scientists’ letter shows, it isn’t impossible (and they’ve done it before). But numerous religious people and organizations around the world have been waking up to the realities of climate change. The United Church of Christ, a Christian group known for its progressive stances on social issues, recently unveiled a climate change strategy that includes possibly divesting from fossil fuel companies. Bill McKibben, a well-known environmental activist, is vocal about his Methodist faith. And in March, the new pope was the first to adopt the name Francis, after the patron saint of animals and the environment, and his call for people to be “protectors of creation” in his inaugural address could serve as inspiration for Catholics around the world.

In addition to Christian scientists, the military and even Fox News have recently reported on the risks of climate change. A recent military report cautioned against the risks of inaction on climate change. And even Fox News reported on the threat to energy supply due to a warming climate.

There are still an unfortunately high number of climate change deniers in Congress, so this letter will most likely not lead to climate action, but it is still encouraging to see such a diverse range of groups calling attention to this growing crisis.

Here's a copy of the letter:

Dear Speaker Boehner, Senate Majority Leader Reid, and Members of the United States Congress:

As evangelical scientists and academics, we understand climate change is real and action is urgently needed. All of God's Creation - humans and our environment - is groaning under the weight of our uncontrolled use of fossil fuels, bringing on a warming planet, melting ice, and rising seas. The negative consequences and burdens of a changing climate will fall disproportionately on those whom Jesus called "the least of these": the poor, vulnerable, and oppressed. Our nation has entrusted you with political power; we plead with you to lead on this issue and enact policies this year that will protect our climate and help us all to be better stewards of Creation.

Average global temperatures are at their highest level within the measurement record, and we are beginning to see indications of increasingly disturbed weather. For example, 2012 was the hottest year ever recorded for the contiguous United States, and it will go down as one of the most destructive and disruptive years in U.S. history: wildfires, drought, superstorms, and public health outbreaks. This past year is only one example of the patterns of change we expect to see as the climate warms globally. We're already spending billions in emergency aid for the victims of hurricanes and weather disasters, and these expenses will only increase as the "once in a lifetime" storms become the new normal.

The Bible tells us that "love does no harm to its neighbor" (Romans 13:10), yet the way we live now harms our neighbors, both locally and globally. For the world's poorest people, climate change means dried-up wells in Africa, floods in Asia that wash away crops and homes, wildfires in the U.S. and Russia, loss of villages and food species in the Arctic, environmental refugees, and disease. Our changing climate threatens the health, security, and well-being of millions of people who are made in God's image. The threat to future generations and global prosperity means we can no longer afford complacency and endless debate. We as a society risk being counted among "those who destroy the earth" (Revelation 11:18).

We call on you to pass meaningful legislation during this Congress to reduce carbon emissions and protect our environment, thereby strengthening the long-term outlook for our economy and our children. As Christian scientists and educators, we offer our knowledge, experience, and prayerful witness to assist you and all of our nation's leaders who are willing to address this urgent challenge.

Sincerely,

Names and locations of 200 scientists:

You can read the letter and see the signatories here. (PDF)

Tags: Global Climate Change | Global Warming Solutions | Green Spirit