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Increased News of Global Warming Threats, Evangelicals Call for Increased Actions

( [email protected] ) Sep 06, 2008 02:15 PM EDT
In early Sept., series of reports of the worsening of the earth’s climate brought by global warming arose: in a picture released by United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration, North Pole has now become an island, which is caused by the glacier’s melting; for the first time in 125,000 years, the two path ways connecting Atlantic Ocean and Pacific Oceans have melted at the same time. This endangers the animals, such as polar bears, that depend on the glaciers for survival. Scientists who study climate changes said that this is an important sign of the extent of damage from global warming on earth.
Sea ice extent as of August 26, 2008. Orange border indicates normal ice edge. (Source: NSIDC) (Source: NSIDC)

In early Sept., series of reports of the worsening of the earth’s climate brought by global warming arose: in a picture released by United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration, North Pole has now become an island, which is caused by the glacier’s melting; for the first time in 125,000 years, the two path ways connecting Atlantic Ocean and Pacific Oceans have melted at the same time. This endangers the animals, such as polar bears, that depend on the glaciers for survival. Scientists who study climate changes said that this is an important sign of the extent of damage from global warming on earth.

Many scientists believe that large quantities of glaciers surrounding North Pole shall disappear completely by summer of 2030. Others believe that in around seven years, North Pole will no longer be frozen throughout the year, but it will soon show signs of a complete melting.

On Sept. 1, United Nations Environment Program released a report at Geneva stating that if the trend of global warming cannot be contained, accelerating the speed at which the world’s glaciers melts, then at the turn of the end of this century, human kind will have to face the danger of all the ice melting away.

Furthermore, the report pointed out that not only is the glacier’s melting related to the source of fresh water for the future generations, but it will also cause extinction of species and series of problems stemming from the rise of the sea level. Every nation in the world should raise their awareness and implement an action plan prior to the 2009 Copenhagen World’s Climate Conference.

Comparing the information released above with the news of this type in recent years, it’s only the tip of the iceberg. Some Christian charity organizations have already been urging for attention on global warming, saying that it will threat the lives of billions of lives. In May of 2005, a British charity organization once stated in a report that billions of lives will face the threats of death as a result of the consequences of global warming: flooding, famine, drought, diseases, incident of violence and others.

Evangelical Christian leaders urged to take action

Facing the daily-increasing threats caused by global warming, Evangelical Christians in United States are becoming more concerned of this issue. In 2006, Voices of America addressed the present trend in a report titled U.S. Evangelicals Speak Out on Climate Change, stating some evangelical organizations are speaking out regarding global warming and environmental protection, and are shifting the center of their topics of debate to the problem of global warming and the steps of actions for addressing this problem.

"A very important aspect of evangelical culture is being politically active and socially vocal and this (issue of the environment) is becoming something the evangelicals are no longer going to be silent about," says Kyle Von Houten, a PHD Candidate in Environment and Religion at Duke University.

Van Houten has studied the recent involvement of the evangelical Christians with the environment, and sees several reasons why these deeply religious activists are turning their attention to an issue as highly technical and controversial as global warming: "For evangelicals, the recent phenomenon of them getting very engaged with the environmental issues has been a historic suspicion with science and intellectualism and also the traditional association with different political issues, with abortion and homosexuality and other issues," he says.

In February of 2006, a group of 86 leading evangelicals, including theologians and seminary professors, signed a manifesto called "Climate Change: An Evangelical Call to Action". In the document (released at the National Press Club), the signatories express their agreement with recent scientific findings on climate change and call for stepped up energy conservation measures to reduce the consumption of fossil fuels. The evangelicals also agree that global warming is human induced and that if unchecked it will have catastrophic effects on the planet.

David Neff, editor of the Illinois based evangelical periodical Christianity Today and one of those who signed the Evangelical Climate Initiative last February, said that global warming is real and that all Christians have a responsibility, based on their belief in the Bible and God's plan for humanity, to take steps to curb climate change and to protect the environment

"We recognize that in creating this world, God put humankind in keeping it in good order," Neff says. "Developing it yes, but developing it responsibly so we don't ruin the gift that God has given us."

United front of science and religion against global warming

Besides calling Christians to take actions on global warming, some evangelical leaders have started to partner with scientists, hoping to combat global warming with the resources for science and religion. In a report released Jan. last year, VOA reported that several high profile scientists and evangelical Christian leaders agreed to temporarily set aside their disagreements regarding the origin of life, and to together fight against global warming.

Eric Chivian, chairman of the Harvard Medical School Center for Health and the Global Environment, said that scientists and evangelical leaders have already sensed that we have a common concern, and felt the urgency towards the threat that all living creatures on earth faces. We should unite to protect the earth.

Up until now, evangelical Christians and scientists did not cooperate with each other together on a larger scope. Partly, it is because of major differences in evolution and biblical doctrines. Despite their disagreements, both agree that they can’t let their disagreements hinder their partnership in tackling this problem of global warming that jeopardizes the welfare of the earth.

[Editor's note: reporter Ruth from San Francisco contributed to this report.]