One day we may look back and call 5/17/18 a “red letter day” for climate science.
In what has become a normal routine, Republicans of the House Science Committee this week made absurd claims such as the Earth is not warming, sea level rise is caused by rocks falling into oceans, and that Antarctica’s ice sheet is growing.
Enter Jim Bridenstine. Formerly a Republican congressman from Oklahoma, he took the helm three weeks ago as NASA’s new administrator. And in the face of Trump’s incessant and nonsensical climate denials, Bridenstine took a stand. His full quote:
“I don’t deny that consensus that the climate is changing. In fact, I fully believe and know that the climate is changing. I also know that we humans beings are contributing to it in a major way. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas. We’re putting it into the atmosphere in volumes that we haven’t seen, and that greenhouse gas is warming the planet. That is absolutely happening, and we are responsible for it.”
Bridenstine’s confirmation took almost a year, with Democrats opposing him for previous statements casting doubt on climate change. But over the year of constant discussion, scientific evidence has won out.
Millennials have always stood out as a generation that cares about social issues – and the issue of climate change is no different. According to Pew Research, 81% of Millennials agree there is solid evidence of warming – and over 80% of those believe the science indicates humans are largely responsible. Compare that to only 53% of Gen X, 47% of Boomers and 40% of the Silent Generation.
Even 57% of Millennial Republicans agree that solid evidence for warming exists, and organizations like Young Evangelicals for Climate Action (YECA Website) have begun popping up.
In any given week, I see a multitude of stories across diverse news sites bringing light to the discussion – from CNN to the Weather Channel to even, surprise, Fox News. Not even joking. It’s 5:20AM and there’s already a Fox News article today on an official who declared the US pullout of the climate deal as “dangerous nonsense.” Yesterday Fox ran an article on how cloning woolly mammoths could help combat global warming. It doesn’t even surprise me to see a great climate read and then find out it originated at Fox. (Still mad at them for cancelling “Firefly” though!)
Millennials generally care about climate action. And when I look at Scripture, it seems like caring for Creation is something we were always supposed to be about.
It might mean more to Millennials because we’re young and don’t want to live through the consequences of inaction over the next 50 to 80 years. Other generations may not have the same investment. There are only 20 million Silent Generation members left alive, compared to 80 million Millennials. And 10,000 Boomers reach retirement age – every single day. Maybe they just don’t care to look 50 years down the road at a planet the won’t be around to see.
But maybe, just maybe, climate is a concern for everyone.
We hope to share over the next week a bit on climate. What evidence do we find most compelling? What does Scripture have to say about our moral obligation to care for creation? Is it really a lost cause – will God really “burn it all up in the end” anyways? Why do Protestant Christian Republicans often have a knee-jerk reaction against climate action when their Catholic Christian and Democrat Christian counterparts do not?
It’s an important discussion. Because one of the first steps toward making a real change is having a real talk. I was surprised to find the map below – where green indicates places where climate change is rarely talked about and purple is where it’s a regular conversation piece.
Living in Knoxville, Tennessee and working as a Park Ranger, it surprised me that the “Bible Belt” doesn’t get around to talking about climate often. That will change as the issue becomes more and more relevant. We may not feel the changes on a daily basis – at least, not as much as someone living on a shoreline, near a glacier, by a coral reef or in other areas more sensitive to changes.
But doubting a globally documented issue just because you don’t feel it in your neighborhood isn’t a recipe for a healthier planet, a better tomorrow for our children, or a strong Christian witness. And climate related issues are beginning to affect millions of fellow Earthlings. We owe it to them to keep an open mind, talk about the issues, make sure we are well-informed, and take necessary actions toward a healthier planet – to preserve it for future generations and present it as a fitting gift to Christ when He returns to redeem it.
Until next time, enjoy some of my favorite climate memes. Memes are NOT evidence – but they can challenge us to think in new directions, especially when our preconceived notions fly in the face of facts but we’re clinging to them for tradition, pride, or convenience.