Oliver Thomas: God goes green

I used to marvel at how foolish an organism is cancer. It can’t seem to pace itself. Left to its own devices, it will greedily consume its host until the host dies, thereby causing the cancer’s own premature death.

Then, one day I had an epiphany. We’re like cancer. Unable to pace ourselves, we are greedily consuming our host organism (i.e. planet Earth) and getting dangerously close to killing ourselves in the process.

The difference is that cancer has an excuse: No brain.

Consider that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has issued one of its most sobering reports to date. The hundreds of scientists and scores of nations participating in the project paint an apocalyptic future of flooding, drought, disease and food shortages. In the face of such a crisis, one might expect people of faith to flock to the cause of protecting the environment. After all, the theological issue appears a simple one. “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof. The world and all that dwell in it!” proclaims Psalm 24:1. The earth is on loan. God owns it, and we are God’s caretakers or “stewards,” according to the Bible.

Despite all that, and the fact that 90% of us say we believe in God, most Americans appear reluctant to begin making the sacrifices necessary to address global warming. Evangelical Christian leaders in particular seem to be dragging their heels. So, why the hesitation? Why aren’t more Christians trading their SUVs for hybrids, turning down the thermostat and writing letters to Congress?

First, our political loyalties get in the way. Evangelical Christians tend to vote Republican, and party leaders such as the president and vice president have been outspoken in their skepticism about the urgency of the global climate crisis.

Then, there’s money. In the short run at least, it simply costs more to go green. Hybrid cars, fluorescent bulbs and alternative energy sources don’t come cheap. Until substantial government incentives or market forces change that equation, many Americans will opt to save a buck rather than the environment.

There’s also the fact that for many Christians, the Bible appears contradictory on the subject of global warming. Didn’t Jesus say there would be wars and rumors of wars, famine and earthquakes before he could return? Isn’t that exactly what the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is predicting? For millions of Christians, the world’s downward spiral into political and ecological chaos may appear a necessary prerequisite to the second coming of Christ.

Read it all.


Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Climate Change, Weather, Energy, Natural Resources, Religion & Culture

16 comments on “Oliver Thomas: God goes green

  1. Rolling Eyes says:

    So, man-kind = cancer.

    That’s the kind of rhetoric that just draws in skeptics, isn’t it?

    Evidently, it’s impossible to discuss things like global warming, or even same-sex blessings, without checking one’s brain at the door and resorting to hysterics.

  2. Daniel Muth says:

    This author seems to be confusing good citizenship with Christian self-sacrifice. The notion that activities such as taking public transportation, riding a bike, etc. are part of “living a moral life,” that is considered too hard for spoiled American Christians looks to these eyes both shallow and unfair. Such things are nice enough to do, and theologically defensible no doubt, but are far removed from suffering torment and death for the Gospel. I suspect that the reason people aren’t flocking to buy hybrids for Jesus is that, at some level and however dimly, they sense that this sort of stuff trivializes the sacrifices He actually calls us to, that He demands our lives be given in a more radical and transforming way.

  3. Stefano says:

    Mankind is a cancer?

    Mankind is a virus? Wasn’t this dialogue in the movie “the Matrix”?

    I knew someone in college who was nicknamed “Buzz” and I don’t think it had anything to do with electricity but may have had to do with something green.

  4. libraryjim says:

    I thought that Mankind was created in God’s image? Remember the old poster:
    I ain’t Junk! God don’t make junk!

    We’re not the cancer — sin is the cancer. Besides the case for human caused Global Warming is far from convincing to anyone who has the brains to look at all the evidence, not just the propaganda.

  5. William P. Sulik says:

    Exactly, Stefano, this is exactly why I was opening the comments:

    I’d like to share a revelation that I’ve had during my time here. It came to me when I tried to classify your species and I realized that you’re not actually mammals. Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with the surrounding environment but you humans do not. You move to an area and you multiply and multiply until every natural resource is consumed and the only way you can survive is to spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern. Do you know what it is? A virus. Human beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet. You’re a plague and we are the cure.

    – Agent Smith, in the Matrix (1999)

    This is so last millennium…

  6. Craig Stephans says:

    I would really like to hear what this author or those like him are doing sacrificially and effectively to stop global warming besides “writing letters to congress” and “driving a hybrid.” I’m sure he feels better about himself after being so sensitive to environmental issues, but what effective thing is he doing or suggesting?

  7. libraryjim says:

    By the way, Roy Innis has a great column titled Enemies of the Poor” exposing the ‘concern for the poor’ that the human cause Global Warming organizations are showing (I urge Kendall & the elves to consider posting this article, too!). Some relevant passages:

    The WWF, Greenpeace, Oxfam, Sierra Club, Rainforest Action Network and other multinational activist corporations battle mines in Romania, Peru, Chile, Ghana and Indonesia; electricity projects in Uganda, India and Nepal; biotechnology that could improve farm incomes and reduce malnutrition in Kenya, India, Brazil and the Philippines; and DDT that could slash malaria rates all over Africa, where it kills 3,000 children every day.

    Agitators use global warming and “corporate social responsibility” to force companies to acquiesce to their agendas – and ignore human rights to energy and technology, and people’s desperate cries for a chance to take their rightful places among the Earth’s healthy and prosperous people. They promote little solar panels on huts, but never enough electricity to help communities emerge from poverty and disease.

    The environmental injustice is prevalent here in the United States, too. A few years ago, the poor, mostly black community of Convent, Louisiana welcomed plans for a $700-million plastics factory that would bring good construction and permanent jobs, health benefits, a stronger tax base and better schools. Over 70% of the residents wanted it. But Sierra Club and a Tulane University group claimed the high-tech plant would pollute and cause cancer.

    In fact, cancer rates would have gone down, because residents would have had better nutrition and regular medical check-ups. But the radicals won, the plant wasn’t built, and residents still work menial jobs for minimum wages in sugarcane fields.

    Today, the greens’ demand higher energy prices and reduced energy supplies, to prevent global warming. For wealthy families, the impact would barely be noticeable. But low- and fixed-income families would have to spend a far higher portion of their limited budgets on energy and food. Some would likely have to choose between heating and eating – for no detectable environmental gain.

    Yes, there are environmental impacts from mines, dams and other development. They change lives and communities. There are health and other risks.

    But those changes also came with the Industrial Revolution. Are we worse off for it? Would we prefer to return to the jobs, lifestyles and living standards of pre-industrial, pre-electrical America – when 95% of Americans were farmers, cholera and malaria were ever-present, and the average life expectancy was 45? Are we not able to protect health and the environment with prudent regulations?

    Would any of the greens, politicians and celebrities who clamor to keep the world’s poor “indigenous” (and thus impoverished, energy-deprived and diseased) care to live that lifestyle for even one month? Would they exchange their 10,000-square-foot mansions for a Fort Dauphin hovel, give up the blessings of electricity, and stop globe-trotting in private jets?

    Why haven’t the UN and its Human Rights Council spoken out about the institutional racism that is being perpetrated in the name of “saving the planet”? Where are the US civil rights groups, news media and churches? The leaders of these poor countries?

    This intolerable situation cannot continue, and people of conscience must no longer remain silent.

    Roy Innis is national chairman of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), one of America’s oldest and most respected civil rights groups, and a life-long advocate of economic development rights for poor families and communities around the world.

  8. Steven says:

    Despite all that, and the fact that 90% of us say we believe in God, most Americans appear reluctant to begin making the sacrifices necessary to address global warming. Evangelical Christian leaders in particular seem to be dragging their heels. So, why the hesitation? Why aren’t more Christians trading their SUVs for hybrids, turning down the thermostat and writing letters to Congress?

    Perhaps because there is considerable doubt as to whether such actions will affect “global warming.” After all, some of us are old enough (and I’m only 48) to remember the “Coming Ice Age.” And then there are the current observations that there is “global warming” happening at a similar rate and time on Neptune, on Mars, on Pluto, and elsewhere in the Solar System.

    Is something happening? Most likely, yes. But before engaging in radical solutions, perhaps we ought to figure out what is happening, what is causing it, and then see if the proposed solutions might actually have the intended effect. Trading in our SUVs, turning down our thermostats, and writing our Congresscritters (all of which might be good stewardship anyway) won’t have the desired effect on the global climate if the warming is largely an affect of the Sun or water vapor, and international agreements let the Chinese increase belching out CO2 at a greater rate than we would be commanded to reduce it. Then there’s an inconvenient truth that computer simulations of the climate have yet to accurately predict the actual climate (I’m not talking weather, but climate) as it is, much less what it will be in the future.

  9. Cousin Vinnie says:

    How do these Christians know that global warming is not part of God’s plan now? Presumably, it has been when it happened in the past. Could we be attempting to thwart a development God has willed?

  10. Grandmother says:

    Some people say, we aint seen nuthin yet. Seems to me the Bible has something to say about “warming”??

    Imagine, we can become God, and change his plans…

  11. Katherine says:

    We should be concentrating on reducing actual pollution, as in smoke and chemicals belching into the air and water, rather than on the quite small human contribution to the CO2 total. Viable large-scale improvements could come from nuclear power and from biomass power production (using the methane from trash and sewage), and from fuel cells if someone makes them commercially feasible. Driving an electric car which uses power produced from coal or using ethanol from corn don’t really change the existing equation.

  12. Katherine says:

    And by the way, these environmental knee-jerk programs often have serious unintended consequences, as for example the outright ban on DDT which has contributed to millions of deaths in Africa, deaths which careful DDT spraying could have averted.

    But here’s one on the less serious side: The push for ethanol may reduce the supply of tequila by one-third or more. Agave plantations in Mexico are being burned an planted with corn instead. I hope a horticulturist will correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t agave far more suited to growth in the high Mexican deserts than water- and fertilizer-intensive corn? Bye bye, margaritas! Here’s the link:

  13. mathman says:

    Global warming.
    Has anyone in this audience a reason for the melting ice caps? ON MARS? Has anyone in this audience a reason for the global warming? ON PLUTO? How did our SUV’s do that?
    What a preposterous farrago of anti-scientific and anti-reason mob hysteria.
    The entire issue derives from computer models. The computer models do not properly predict prior weather. The computer models do not match up. No computer model can possibly be programmed with sufficient data to do anything of the sort.
    Just look at the Earth. The atmosphere is a very thin film which completely covers a sphere (I know, it is slightly oblate) to a depth of 1%. One would need systematic sampling of the whole film. Such sampling would involve 5 billion reporting transponders, 25 for each square mile. The expense of establishing and maintaining such a transponder network (temperature, pressure, relative humidity, wind speed, wind direction, rainfall, every 2000 feet up to 50,000 feet, one in each square mile) is in the trillions of dollars. And then there is the computer network to manage all that data.
    And when this is matched up with the famous “butterfly effect”, we come to realize that the grand utopian dream of predicting the weather, even 10 days out, is not going to happen.

  14. libraryjim says:

    Just last week our weather-caster stated at noon that the next good chance for rain was three days out — and oly 30% at the most. At 5:00 that very afternoon it poured down like crazy for 15 minutes before slowing to a drizzle that lasted another 50 minutes.

  15. Reactionary says:

    Trading in our SUVs, turning down our thermostats, and writing our Congresscritters (all of which might be good stewardship anyway) won’t have the desired effect on the global climate if the warming is largely an affect of the Sun or water vapor, and international agreements let the Chinese increase belching out CO2 at a greater rate than we would be commanded to reduce it.

    Europe also gets a pass by starting with a benchmark for 1990 that includes the Soviet bloc nations. Also, any word from the environmentalists on limiting immigration so the US can lower its carbon footprint and ease the strain on its environment?

  16. libraryjim says:

    Have you seen the guidelines for what to do if one of the compact Flourescent bulbs breaks? My goodness!

    From FreeRepublic:

    When a CFL breaks, the EPA cautions consumers to open a window and leave the room immediately for at least 15 minutes because of the mercury threat. The agency suggests removing all materials by scooping fragments and powder using cardboard or stiff paper. Sticky tape is suggested as a way to get smaller particles. The EPA says vacuum cleaners and bare hands should never be used in such cleanups.

    After final cleanup with a damp paper towel, the agency warns consumers to place all materials in a plastic bag.

    “Seal and dispose of properly,” says the EPA. “Wash hands.”

    But disposing of properly might be a tough thing to do, because CFLs should never be thrown in the trash like their old-fashioned incandescent predecessors. They need to be turned into recycling centers, which are few and far between.

    So to recap:

    First, open an window in the room and LEAVE for at least 15 minutes to avoid breathing in mercury laden fumes.
    Second, clean it up with a broom and dustpan, never bare hands, and wear gloves and use TAPE or sticky paper to get up the fragments.

    Boy I feel better already about saving a few cents on my electric bill.

    From NPR:

    “The problem with the bulbs is that they’ll break before they get to the landfill. They’ll break in containers, or they’ll break in a dumpster or they’ll break in the trucks. Workers may be exposed to very high levels of mercury when that happens,” says John Skinner, executive director of the Solid Waste Association of North America, the trade group for the people who handle trash and recycling. Skinner says when bulbs break near homes, they can contaminate the soil. Some states, cities and counties have outlawed putting CFL bulbs in the trash, but in most states the practice is legal.