The Great Melt of ’14 is under way in our corner of New Jersey. Mild weather and sunshine are doing the job just fine, but we can’t resist helping it along. Saturdays ring with a catharsis of chipping and chopping at winter’s icy residue.
If you think global warming is all hype, this winter must have you feeling all smug, though not snug. If you believe global warming is real, your season is coming. Every record-breaking July day will offer grim vindication. In the polar vortex of American politics, the left likes it hot, while on the right, “cold comfort” takes on new meaning.
It’s ridiculous. I’m generally conservative, but guess what, folks? The climate is changing. You can debate all you like what’s causing it – human activity, natural cycles, alien sabotage. It’s happening. The effects aren’t uniform; it may get colder in some places for a time, but on average, across the globe, things are getting hotter. The end of it all won’t be pleasant if we can’t at least avoid making it worse.
Say what you will about Al Gore, the title of his famous book was apt. Climate change is an inconvenient truth. Inconvenient for whom? Business, for one. I like free markets and private enterprise as much as the next conservative. It’s the best fit with this thing we call the Protestant work ethic, which is biblically sound when properly understood. Still, what’s good for business doesn’t bend the laws of physics. A rainy day is bad for sidewalk cafes, but you can’t stop the rain or blame it on liberals.
So, if I join the party-line denial of climate change, what does that say about me as a Christian? It could say that I sincerely disagree with the science that points to a changing, overall warming climate. It might say something else.
I like my fossil-fueled lifestyle, and the fossil-fueled, free-market economy that makes it possible. But if that leads me to deny the plain, documented truth, maybe my priorities are out of order. Maybe I’m making idols of my lifestyle and our economic system. Perhaps I’m forgetting that God left humans as stewards of the earth – and when He commanded humanity to “subdue” the earth and “rule” over it (Genesis 1:28), He meant to tame it and protect it, not leave it bloodied and oppressed.
He knew, of course, that we would make a mess of it, and we have. This physical world has been in decline since Adam fell. So why would Christians shut their eyes and plug their ears against the idea that the whole planet’s ecosystem is breaking down? Especially now, as world events point to the end of days, we need to see reality clearly.
No one knows God’s timing, and we’re still under orders from heaven to be stewards of earth, so we shouldn’t give up on it. We don’t make an idol of Mother Earth, but if human activity is damaging this planet and we feel called to speak and act in its defense, that not un-Christian. Not even if some would call it un-conservative and – horrors – bad for business.