On Tuesday, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee's chairman and ranking Republican, John Kerry and Richard Lugar, will hold a briefing that will bring scientists and evangelicals together to share their concerns about climate change.
Big names will be there, including Richard Cizik, former vice president for government affairs at the National Association of Evangelicals, and Nobel laureate Eric Chivian, a physician who heads Harvard Medical School's Center for Health and the Global Environment.
Kudos to Kerry and Lugar for bringing leaders in the science and faith communities together to highlight their shared concerns about climate change.
Both senators and their 533 congressional colleagues also would benefit by reading a just-published book, A Climate for Change: Global Warming Facts for Faith-Based Decisions. It was written by Katharine Hayhoe, a geoscientist at Texas Tech and expert reviewer for the IPCC, and her husband Andrew Farley, lead teaching pastor at the west Texas church Ecclesia and author of the bestseller, The Naked Gospel: The Truth You May Never Hear in Church.
Hayhoe and Farley wrote the book to help their fellow Christians make sense of the evidence for human-caused climate change and understand the harmful consequences that follow.
They bring climate change home, describing disconcerting shifts in the seasons and rhythms of the places where we live. Not in the distant future, but now.
Hayhoe and Farley do something in addition. They reflect on climate change in light of Biblical teachings and offered the following message in a Q&A with me: "God has given us the freedom to make our own choices," but there are consequences for making poor choices. They quote the apostle Paul, who said, "everything is permissible, but not everything is profitable."
"We don't believe that guilt is an effective motivator for lasting change, nor do we believe that is what God intends for His children," the authors told me. "We need to realize that our old way of doing things, of depending on old, unrenewable sources of energy, is not the forbidden fruit. It is not that guilty pleasure, that favorite sweet that we just can't seem to give up because it tastes so good. Not at all. It's a dirty, inefficient way to get energy that polllutes our air and our water, and forces us to rely on foreign providers. It's something that makes absolutely no sense for us to continue in."
The public discussion about climate change has been sullied with partisan politics and ideology run amok. Hayhoe and Farley bypass the political fray and, in a conversational tone that people would use among friends, ask their readers to reflect on the facts and trend lines. "The goal of our book is to present the facts and figures of climate change in a non-political light, in order to let people of all backgrounds decide for themselves the truth of the issue." Their argument is that only when questions about climate change "are answered to the majority's satisfaction can we begin to move towards collaborative solutions."
"The science of climate change has nothing to do with red politics, or blue politics, or any kind of politics," they told me. "It's a simple matter of temperature readings and long-term trends that have been happening over the last few centuries. By continuing to ignore objective scientific findings, we do ourselves and our global neighbors a tremendous disservice. It's time to open our eyes to what is happening in the world God has given us, and make sound, no-regrets choices to leave the world a better place for future generations."
Hayhoe and Farley have put together a good read. The engaging text is complemented with helpful color graphics. Pick it up and share it with friends.
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