The Global Warming Gospel

The Global Warming Gospel
By Mark D. Tooley | Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Lausanne Movement was founded by evangelist Billy Graham, starting
with the Berlin Congress on Evangelism in1966, to host periodic mass
gatherings of global evangelical leaders. The next one, scheduled for
Cape Town, South Africa in 2010, evidently will highlight the urgency
of Global Warming.

"Climate change is the biggest threat on the planet – it’s bigger than
global terrorism,” claimed Lindsay Brown, international director of
the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization. He was speaking at a
recent organizational meeting for evangelicals in Sydney, Australia
who are preparing for Cape Town. Brown is British and formerly headed
an international group for evangelical students.

Typically these Lausanne gatherings have attracted thousands of
evangelicals to deliberate over strategies for evangelism. Four
thousand are expected in Cape Town. Evidently Brown said that climate
change, urbanization and the moral failures of evangelicals will rank
as top topics for the jamboree. Most of the attendees will come from
the Global South, where they struggle with extreme poverty, epidemics,
child mortality, and lack of clean drinking water, not to mention
persecution by socialist or Islamist regimes. For these preachers
representing hundreds of millions of evangelicals in Asia, Africa and
Latin America, Global Warming is probably not the major issue.

But for wealthy and sometimes self-absorbed evangelicals in the West,
climate change is a convenient issue with which to showcase global
empathy and compassion at minimal cost to themselves. For most in the
materially comfortable West, the activist Global Warming agenda calls
for reduced consumption and ostensibly “sustainable” living. They
envision such sacrifices as more bike riding, avoiding Styrofoam and
paying a little more for electricity generated by earth friendly
renewables rather than sinister carbon producing fossil fuels.

A thoroughly enacted Global Warming agenda for the impoverished
billions of the Global South would carry a more dramatically severe
cost. It would preclude any hope of electricity, refrigeration,
central heating, air conditioning, or personal vehicles. So that
wealthy Westerners could feel smug in their climate consciousness,
hundreds of millions of Asians and Africans and Latins would have
continue to live primitively in huts and shacks, with dung as their
fuel source for heat and cooking, with mules and carts as their
primary transportation, and with uninhibited exposure to the raw
elements, virtually unimproved from a hundred generations before.

Such a grim future is hardly appealing for most of the world’s
population. This miserly message could hardly be successful for
evangelicals aiming to share their Gospel with several billion people
who have not yet heard it. Historically, evangelicals have proclaimed
a message of economic and political progress. They traditionally saw
Western Civilization as a product of Christianity, and they believed
that technology and economic prosperity, if founded upon virtue and
law, were the rightful companions of true religion. In other words,
they offered hope.

The grim Malthusians who dominate the Global Warming movement, which
now includes the Evangelical Left, believe that Western Civilization
is a blight upon the planet. Its industries and engines for wealth
creation are causes for remorse, not celebration. Atonement for the
West’s sins shall include sparing the rest of the world the benefits
of Western, carbon-producing prosperity and technology. The world’s
poor would prefer to remain in their ostensible natural habitats,
living organically, uncorrupted by the ease of running water or the
nuisance of long life spans.

Global Warming’s fervent adherents base all their demands on
“science.” A leading voice for persuading British and American
evangelicals has been John Theodore Houghton, who has served with the
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and who teaches atmospheric
physics at the University of Oxford. Himself a Christian, he spoke to
the National Association of Evangelicals in the U.S. in 2005, where he
preached the usual apocalyptic demand that the West must repent of its
carbon producing sins.

“We, in the developed countries, have already benefited over many
generations from abundant fossil fuel energy,” Houghton told the
American evangelicals. “There is already a strong tendency in the
world for the rich to get even richer while the poor get poorer. The
impacts of human induced climate change will tend to further bolster
that trend.” Global Warming alarmists like to broadcast concern for
poor nations by claiming that Western fuel extravagance will
precipitate famine, flood and disease in the Global South. Such
alarmists never explain that their agenda demands that the world’s
poor largely abandon any hope of economic betterment, which the
planet’s atmosphere ostensibly cannot afford. Houghton naturally
talked of transitioning to energy generated by tides, the sun, rivers
and the wind, all very exciting prospects for Western
environmentalists. But wind farms and solar panels, so appealing to
green suburbanites in Colorado or Connecticut, probably will not
meaningfully help many energy starved Congolese, Brazilians,
Bangladeshis, or Chinese.

One of Houghton’s chief disciples is Richard Cizik, chief lobbyist for
the National Association of Evangelicals, who recently told a Council
on Foreign Relations conference call that climate change is possibly a
"love letter" from God to awaken wicked humanity from the consequences
of its "greed."

“I sort of think it’s [climate change is] a love letter from God that
says that if you’re going to continue to live this way—pride, apathy,
and greed—then you’re going to have consequences,” he discerned,
prophetically. Enthusiastic about evangelicals embracing the Global
Warming agenda, Cizik claimed: “[W]hat’s happening in the religious
community is nothing less than a renaissance; a spiritual
transformation, I think, of significant proportions that’s cutting
across all faiths and denominations.”

Cizik, like other true believers, sees Global Warming activism as a
panacea. It “connects with everything else… Even the crash on Wall
Street—I don’t see how to solve some of these problems, economic and
otherwise, without also bringing in the green issue. One of the ways
saving the financial system is to… restore the climate and expand the
green industry.”

For the Evangelical Left, what used to be good news has become grim
news. Perhaps at the 2010 gathering in Cape Town, more realistic
Global South evangelicals will let their Western colleagues know about
more pressing human concerns than the environmental hobbies of wealthy
environmentalists in America and Europe.