a style of advocacy that is more likely to intensify opposition ... then [to] ameliorate itIt sounds as if his main argument is that Cook efforts are counter productive because Cook is not an American Republican, which is hard to fix.
Katryn HayhoeAs an example of how you communicate climate science the right way, Kahan mentions Katryn Hayhoe as an example. Hayhoe is an evangelical climate change researcher and stars in three beautifully made videos where Hayhoe talks about God and climate change.
The most frustrating thing about her position, she says, is the amount of disinformation which is targeted at her very own Christian community.Maybe naively, but I was surprised that the Christian community is a special target. While I am not a Christian myself, my mother was a wise environmentally concious woman and a devout Christian. Also when in comes to organized religion, I remember mainly expressions of concern about climate change. Thus I thought that Christians are a positive, maybe even activist, force with respect to climate change.
Thus let's have look what the Christian Churches think about climate change.
Evangelical Church in GermanyAs I life in Germany, let's first have a look at the Evangelische Kirche in Deutschland (Evangelical Church in Germany), which is the democratic umbrella organisation of the non-catholic churches with 24 million members. They write in their annual book (link in German) titled "Justice V: People, Climate, Future. Roads to a just World, Social justice and climate justice belong together":
Climate change is the key environmental, social and peace-relevant challenge of the 21st Century - Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation will not be possible without limiting climate change.German original:
Der Klimawandel ist die zentrale ökologische, soziale und friedenspolitische Herausforderung des 21. Jahrhunderts – Gerechtigkeit, Frieden und Bewahrung der Schöpfung werden ohne Begrenzung des Klimawandels nicht möglich sein.In the clinical words of Cook et al. (2013) this would be an "implicit endorsement of human-caused global warming".
Dutch Counsel of ChurchesI was born in The Netherlands. Most Dutch churches are organised in the Dutch Counsel of Churches (Raad van Kerken in Nederland). They have a subsidiary group on church and environment (in Dutch). In an official statement on climate change they write:
The climate change problem call for inventiveness, for radical proposals to change.Dutch original:
Het probleem van de klimaatverandering vraagt om vindingrijkheid, om radicale voorstellen tot verandering.
Which I would judge to be "implicit endorsement".
Conference of European ChurchesThe Conference of European Churches is a fellowship of some 120 Orthodox, Protestant, Anglican and Old Catholic Churches from all countries of Europe, plus 40 associated organisations.
In a press release issued before their 13th Assembly in Lyon in 2009 they write jointly with the Catholic Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community (COMECE):
Securing a stable climate is one of the most pressing moral and political challenges of the twenty-first century. Failure to address this challenge would amount to a moral failure on the part of humanity as a whole.Which I would again judge to be implicit endorsement.
World Council of ChurchesAccording to their homepage: "The World Council of Churches (WCC) brings together churches, denominations and church fellowships in more than 110 countries and territories throughout the world, representing over 500 million Christians and including most of the world's Orthodox churches, scores of Anglican, Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist and Reformed churches, as well as many United and Independent churches. At the end of 2012, there were 345 member churches."
One of their main activities is Care for Creation and Climate Justice.
Care for creation and justice are at the centre of WCC work on climate change. The Bible teaches the wholeness of creation and calls human beings to take care of the garden of Eden (Gen 2:15). ... When creation is threatened, churches and Christians are called to speak out and act as an expression of their commitment to life, justice and love.I would say: "implicit endorsement".
Catholic ChurchThe position of the Catholic Church is made clear in the third encyclical of Pope Benedict XVI, Caritas in Veritate.
As an aside, in it Pope Benedict makes an unnecessary strange attack against atheists:
When nature, including the human being, is viewed as the result of mere chance or evolutionary determinism, our sense of responsibility wanes.I would personally claim that from an evolutionary position nature is very precious. If a species goes extinct you are destroying billions of years of development and it is lost forever in the evolutionary view. In the creation view, you just destroy two days of work and God could recreate it any time.
On climate change he is clear. In paragraph 50, he writes about the obligation of international leaders to protect the climate.
the protection of the environment, of resources and of the climate obliges all international leaders to act jointly and to show a readiness to work in good faith, respecting the law and promoting solidarity with the weakest regions of the planet.Implicit endorsement.
Climate consensusIf Dan Kahan is right, this post should be a convincing way to communicate the climate consensus. I am curious and would not mind seeing the number of readers to disinformation blogs such as WUWT going down further. It would be great if the word sceptic again stands for someone who is also critical about his own ideas. Without disinformation, the public debate about the pros and the cons of the various mitigation and adaptation measures will be much more productive.
The disparity of opinions between the American evangelical Christians and the rest of the Christian world, suggests that Christian exchange programs could be a good way to tackle climate change denial.
It would be highly appreciated if you could add the positions of your national Churches below.
- Katharine Hayhoe - Climate Science and Christianity
- The Inquiring Minds podcast (Chris Mooney) interviews Hayhoe after being on Years of Living Dangerously and after being named one of the 100 most influential people of 2014 by Time magazine.
- Climate, Politics, and Religion
- Katharine Hayhoe explains that it is politics not religion that drives climate denial and how to effectively talk to such people.
- Creation Care
- The homepage of the Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN). They seek to "equip, inspire, disciple, and mobilize God's people in their effort to care for God's creation".
- Pale Blue Dot
- A Baptist describes how a change in perspective can make you see how precious and valuable the Earth is.
- The Guardian: Just what is it with evangelical Christians and global warming?
- Discussion of the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, the need for "creation care" and speculative global warming.
- Reddit, Christianity: Why are conservative evangelicals against climate change?
- Interesting discussion among Christians. Limbaugh: ‘If You Believe In God, Then Intellectually You Cannot Believe In Manmade Global Warming’
- In response to a quote of Rush Limbaugh, ClimateProgress lists American Christian groups that think and accept climate science.
- Christians Care About the Earth Too: Earth Day Reads From the Creation Care Movement
- Some good books from the Creation Care movement, which is rooted in God's Gensis 2:15 command to tend the earth.
- Ethics and public perception of climate change: Exploring the Christian voices in the US public debate
- A scientific article that analyses the climate debate between US Christians.