Religious right is wrong about climate change

April 4, 2012 | By | 20 Replies More

Putting misguided beliefs above rational thought

David Suzuki, environmental activist and author

Troy Media – By David Suzuki

I recall a time when science and scientists were taken seriously, but lately they’ve been getting knocked around because of climate change, especially in the U.S. and Canada.

Is the world getting nuttier? Looking at recent events in North America, it’s hard not to conclude that humanity is taking a crazy step backwards.

The State of Tennessee, for example, passed a law that allows teachers who don’t believe in evolution or human-caused climate change to challenge existing scientific theories. Yes, students should be encouraged to think critically and to question everything they are taught but, given the current political climate in the U.S., this is likely to lead to misinformation. In the 1920s, a Tennessee school teacher was tried, convicted, and fined for teaching evolution.

Political deniers

Meanwhile, candidates vying for the Republican presidential nomination reject the overwhelming scientific evidence for human-caused climate change. Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich once held rational positions but have since capitulated to the fossil fuel lobby. Rick Santorum just seems out of touch on every issue, from rights for women and gays to the environment. He’s referred to climate change as a “hoax” and once said, “We were put on this Earth as creatures of God to have dominion over the Earth, to use it wisely and steward it wisely, but for our benefit not for the Earth’s benefit.”

Some of these people put their misguided beliefs above rational thought. Republican senator James Inhofe, one of the more vocal and active climate change deniers in U.S. politics, recently said, “God’s still up there. The arrogance of people to think that we, human beings, would be able to change what He is doing in the climate is to me outrageous.”

That statement is in keeping with the Cornwall Alliance’s Evangelical Declaration on Global Warming, which has been signed by a range of religious leaders, media people, and even some who work in climate science, such as Roy Spencer, David Legates, and Ross McKitrick. It says, in part, “We believe Earth and its ecosystems – created by God’s intelligent design and infinite power and sustained by His faithful providence – are robust, resilient, self-regulating, and self-correcting, admirably suited for human flourishing, and displaying His glory. Earth’s climate system is no exception.” It also states that reducing atmospheric carbon dioxide and fossil fuel use will “greatly increase the price of energy and harm economies.”

And then there was this claim from Arizona Senator Sylvia Allen: “This Earth’s . . . been here 6,000 years, long before anybody had environmental laws, and somehow it hasn’t been done away with. We need to get the uranium here in Arizona so this state can get the money from it and the revenues from it.”

And so there you have it. The economy matters more than the environment, and God won’t let puny humans damage “His” 6,000-year-old creation anyway. That’s not to criticize religion; only those who let it blind them to science and who would use it to advance agendas that don’t even reflect the spirit of their own traditions.

Don’t be smug, Canadians

Lest we get too smug in Canada, we must remember that we have politicians who hold similar religious views and are just as anti-science, although Canada has so far managed to keep religion largely out of politics. But recent cutbacks to government scientific research and staff show that many of our leaders also believe that the environment should take a back seat to corporate interests, and that any science that gets in the way must be hushed up or discredited.

Never mind that the environment is real and that we depend on it for survival and that the economy is a human invention that can be altered to suit the times. Never mind that a long-term healthy economy depends on a healthy environment and that placing all our bets on non-renewable and polluting fuels is folly. These people want to ignore both the problems and the solutions for the sake of short-term and short-sighted benefits for a relatively small number of people.

Whether they justify it with religion or political ideology, it still doesn’t make sense.

Written with contributions from David Suzuki Foundation Editorial and Communications Specialist Ian Hanington.


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Category: Canada, Environment

Comments (20)

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  1. Tom Harris says:

    This must be one of the stupidest articles I have ever seen from David Suzuki in that it is riddled with self-evident logical fallacies anyone can see.

    For student everywhere, see how many you can find in the above.

  2. Albert Jacobs says:

    It is amazing that a man with a Biology can spout such unadulterated nonsense.
    Climate Science may not have been his main concern when he was researching fruit flies, but Science is Science, and it puts some obligations on its practitioners in terms of methodology and ethics. It also requires one to defend and debate positions taken and not to descend into ad hominem attacks on people one disagrees with.

    To be sure, religion has nothing to do with it and religionists (of which I am not one) are on either side of the climate issue, as they are on evolution for that matter. As an earth scientist, having worked with a planet which is undoubtedly older than 6000 years and as a student of palaeontology, I have worked with all kinds of people and I should know. My colleagues included strict Catholics and rater fundamentaistl Protestants.

    Neither has the easy right wing/left wing argument any basis in fact, except possibly in the USA, where in the last decade it seems everything has been politicized in a partisan way. In my work in climatology I know of many left wing “sceptics” in Europe and some excellent work has been done by Russian scientists too.

    His use of words like “Deniers” is unbecoming for an educated man. First of all, the connotation is heavy with the holocaust, second, what is it that the sceptics are denying?
    I have yet to meet one sceptic over many years who “denies” that the globe is warming. And I know of no geologist who would doubt that climate change is “real” as the alarmist noisily pronounce. Most will also concur that the human interference with soil, forests, and by the building of cities has caused some warming to take place, though most of the warming of about one degree Celsius per century is a natural recovery from the Little Ice Age. Temperatures in a city centre are several degrees higher than those on its outer limits. E.g. the whole US East Coast is one enormous Urban Heat Island.

    Carbon dioxide does not even enter the picture. This trace gas at 0.04% of the atmosphere will not cause run-away global warming catastrophe. And a “pollutant” it is not. That’s what it is all about, David.
    We should be saving our money, billions of dollars of it, by getting away from unproductive carbon trading, carbon taxes and bankrupt subsidised alternate energy schemes.

    The earth has a thermostat. It’s called Water. The constant exchange between atmospheric vapour, the soil and the oceans has kept us well within tolerant living conditions for a long, long time.
    Please go back to your fruit flies, David; as a climate scientist you are never going to make it.

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