Wednesday, June 02, 2010

It's Hot Out There

Well, of course it is. It's June in Virginia, after all. It's always hot in Virginia in June.
On the other hand, it's been pretty hot for a while. In fact, NASA reports that we just experienced the hottest April globally in its data set that dates back to 1880. January to April was the hottest such period in those records, and the same data suggest that the earth just endured its hottest 12 months in those 140 years.
As the Evangelical Climate Initiative puts it so clearly, "Now is the time for followers of Christ to help solve the global warming crisis."
The truth is clear. The planet is heating up. How much of the heating is driven by human activity is too complex to pin down with utter exactitude, but a century of research clearly shows that industrial activity (manufacturing, energy production and use, transportation) plays a significant role in the changes. Just as clearly, there are changes we could undertake that would make a huge difference.
The moral imperative from our Judeo-Christian tradition is obvious. We are stewards of what we have been given. We are part of creation and we do not stand apart from it. Moreover, we have an ethical responsibility to hand on to our children a liveable world. At the moment we are failing.
The gaping wound in the Gulf, bleeding crude oil into a beautiful ocean, is a symptom of our failure, and it should spur us to action. Oh, I know, it's not directly related to climate change, but it is a part of the same system.
That system must change, and it is up to us to change it.
Part of the solution is political and part is personal. I probably should have ridden my bicycle instead of my motorcycle to church today. On the other hand, I did leave the car at home (and it is a low emission, fuel efficient hybrid -- not to mention a pretty sweet ride.) Each of us can make changes that make a difference.
I also called both of my United States senators today to encourage their support of comprehensive climate change legislation as part of a Virginia clergy call-in day in support of a clergy statement on climate change.
Meanwhile our state attorney general is attacking climate change research both from the EPA and the University of Virginia.
Perhaps the AG is an authentic climate change skeptic or maybe he is cynically playing to his conservative political base. It could be both.
Whatever the case may be, the opposition to climate change legislation is clearly part of a conservative political program driven in significant part by corporate interests whose bottom lines could suffer if the United States adopts strict emissions controls. As the Union of Concerned Scientists reported several years ago, oil interests -- in particular Exxon Mobile -- have poured millions of dollars into funding climate skeptics.
And I've just fallen into their well-laid trap by getting lost in the political weeds of what should be, first and foremost, a moral issue.
Perhaps the fact that a growing number of evangelicals share a moral outrage about the state of the earth will change the political calculus on the issue. They understand on this issue that their interests are not the same as those of the oil industry.
After all, everybody sweats, and it's getting hotter all the time.

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