One of the core commitments of the Colson Center has always been to illustrate the truth and relevance of Christianity to all of life and reality. This means that there are no issues anywhere within the public square where sound Christian philosophy and theology cannot be applied analytically and rational insight gained. Given the ever-increasing call for government intervention in response to the so-called “existential threat” to our planet, we need to analyze the “green movement” and the assertion of man-caused climate change.
On the one side we have those who would subordinate mankind to nature and on the other—let me be honest—Christians, who haven’t had a lot to say in the environmental debate. We tend either to withdraw from the issue altogether, because we don’t like those who seem to be dominating the topic, or we act indifferent to the issue, as if we don’t care about the environment. And a few evangelical organizations have opted for a third alternative: capitulation to “green politics.”
For those of us who believe the extension of the kingdom is God’s purpose in the world and that this kingdom is the reign of Christ and His supremacy over all things, this passivity sends a powerful but negative message. To paraphrase Dorothy Sayers, ‘Why would anyone remain interested in a religion that seems to have little to no interest in real life or the world in which we live?’
My principle concern with developing a consciously Christian approach to the environment is directly related to being missional. In other words, offering a biblically-intelligent answer to the current environmental debate provides a relevant point of connection to the Truth, and, possibly, a needed response to a false ideology “that keeps people from a knowledge of God.” Therefore, what we need is a thorough examination of the issues from a theologically-grounded and well-reasoned approach that seeks to transcend politics.
Let’s face it; the issue of climate change has become one of the most contentious political, cultural, and religious issues of our time (I’ll explain that last one later in this series). A biblical approach to the environment should balance humanity’s primacy within the created order with our responsibility to steward God’s good creation (cf. Genesis 1:26). Furthermore, this is a profoundly moral issue about which Christians can and should deeply care. Given that creation belongs to our Lord, this should have a profound interest for us.
In order to understand the present debate, we must begin with an examination of the competing premise, which is that of humanity’s place in the created order. Either man is created by God, and thus holds a privileged position in the created order with particular responsibilities, or he is merely another biological organism with no special distinction. These two opposing views of reality necessarily produce two very different responses to environmental stewardship. The former regards man as the “keeper” of the environment while the latter tends to think of humanity as the enemy of nature and the environment.
One such figure who views humans as the enemy is Paul Watson. The co-founder of Greenpeace and one of Time magazine’s 20th century “environmental heroes,” Watson views human beings as the “AIDS of the earth.” Jeff Jacoby writing for the Boston Globe points out that Watson regards human beings as “invaders who are spoiling the planet for animals, insects, and plants that are its rightful inhabitants.” Watson “has called for the global population to be slashed from 6.5 billion to 1 billion, as well as for the elimination of cars, planes, and all ships not powered by sail” (Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was not the first to articulate this idea).
I find it interesting that those who call for such radical measures never offer to leave the planet or stop driving cars, travelling in planes, or using electricity. But this is typical of those who hold to false worldviews. Once idealized they are all-too-eager to impose their ideas on the rest of us but don’t jump to live so themselves.
Namely, this because a false worldview requires you either to adjust your worldview to live in accordance with reality (as in the case of most radical environmentalists) or you have to adjust your reality to live consistent with your worldview. In the case of radical environmentalism, the latter is slightly more difficult requiring them to live in a cave; grow their own food, and avoid procreation!
Jacoby adds, “While these views may seem extreme they are in fact quite common among the ‘green elite.’” If you listen closely to the highly controversial debate over climate change, you can discern that over-population of environmentally hostile humans is the primary culprit in the apocalyptic ecological theories put forth and popularized by the media and Hollywood celebrities.
Remember Al Gore, the former Chicken-Little of global warming? He along with many others argued, “The world’s population explosion, which by 2050 will reach 9.1 billion, has increased the demand for energy, water and food and has contributed to the problem of global warming.” This centuries-old fallacy culminated in the widely accepted myth of “population explosion” made popular in the 1960s.
The publication of a little pamphlet entitled The Population Bomb by Hugh Moore, founder of the Dixie Cup Company, galvanized this idea and what began as mere conjecture became the generally accepted consensus. Moore was no scientist or researcher—he had no facts or data—he simply read a book that moved him to act.
That book was The Road to Survival by William Vogt, the national director of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Naturally, Planned Parenthood has a stake in promoting the “population problem,” which is the marketing of abortion, but that’s another story. In Road to Survival Moore read how population growth was “the basic cause of future wars” and “the spread of tyranny and communism.” This then became Moore’s lifetime work and passion.
Moore believed that people needed to be scared, really scared, in order to become aware of the “disaster” that loomed before them. And what better way to scare them than with an image of a “bomb,” and talk of an “explosion.” These are the same alarmist tactics being employed by those harkening an imminent “planetary emergency.”
What Al Gore and so many others neglect to say is that the 2050 global population estimate represents the peak, after which point world population will begin to decline sharply. United Nations figures now show that the 79 countries that comprise 40% of the world’s population now have fertility rates too low to prevent population decline.
Michael Fumento, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute in Washington, D.C writes, “The populations of several Soviet-bloc nations already are falling because of declining birth rates and emigration. Japan’s population peaked in 2006 and is expected to drop by 14% (almost 20 million people) by 2050. Germany expects a similar decline, while Italy and Hungary may lose 25% of their populations and Russia a third. These nations already are becoming giant ‘leisure worlds,’ with Depends outselling Pampers.”
In the next installment, I will show that while world population has no doubt increased this has not impacted natural resources in the way suggested by environmental doomsayers. The fact is, technological developments have resulted in tremendous improvements related to food production and resource conservation.
In conclusion, a recent Google search revealed more than 669 million results in response to the term “climate change,” another 195 million for “global warming” while “Christianity” only produced 306 million. Clearly this is an important issue dealing with real life and the real concerns of people.
The Christian life and worldview offers an intelligent and balanced approach to the subject and should be understood by professing Christians. This installment is the beginning in a series that I hope offers a helpful response to this complex and important issue, again, all for the sake of demonstrating the truth and relevance of Christ and His kingdom to all of His creation.
[Editor’s Note: This is the first in a six-part series. Click on the links below to read the other articles.]
Part Two: The Population Bomb & Other Fairy Tales
Part Three: Malthusian Dreams
Part Four: Cooking the Science
Part Five: Sun May be Causing Global Warming—Seriously?