a climate for change | Reflections & Notes

Katharine Hayhoe, Andrew Farley. a climate for change: global warming facts for faith-based decisions. [Advance Reading Copy] FaithWords, 2009. (206 pages)


Brenda Russell wrote a song in 1988 entitled “Get Here” which has this famous line, “I don’t care how you get here, just get here if you can.” This sums up my thoughts on this book, written specifically for evangelicals. What’s the “here?” The fact of human-influenced climate change, and the moral imperative for us to act.

As a pastor myself, I have plied my theological tools to communicate the direct line between our religious convictions and the need to take climate change seriously, and to work with our global community to mitigate its worst effects for ourselves, our children, and our grandchildren. What fascinated me reading a climate for change, were the theological categories from which they made their religious arguments. While there are aspects of their biblical hermeneutic that I would forcefully critique, I actually care not to do that here. In fact, any theological quibbling would be detrimental to the spirit of this book, and the commonalities that we share. What I can say is that Hayhoe and Farley have brilliantly demonstrated that regardless of the Christian community’s wide theological diversity, the final conclusions can still be achieved, indeed, ought to be achieved. Their brilliant and admirable adherence to the facts of climate change and their faith convictions without a compromise of either is a model I pray all would follow.

For the past several decades, the contentiousness between religious conviction and scientific fact have suffered a level of “MAD”ness–mutually assured destruction–when it comes to climate change (and other topics). This book evinces how “mad,” (meaning, insane) this disputatiousness is. For the redemption of what Jonathan Sacks calls “The Great Partnership,” between faith and science, I warmly and gratefully welcome this book, my new top recommendation for religious skeptics.

Published in 2009, some of the specific data and technological details are dated, but fascinatingly the theology upon which they make their argument isn’t. And, more to the point, perhaps you don’t align with their theological convictions. That’s fine. Because climate change is the most important and consequential challenge we face, read this book to learn how to navigate your own religious convictions, and “get here.”

I say again, “I don’t care how you get here, just get here if you can.”

[Note: I read an ARC (advanced reading copy) and so am missing elements of the final publication. If anyone has the published version, I would be grateful for a copy. 😉 PO Box 1481, Palo Alto, CA 94302]



Introduction: Christians and Climate Change

A Christian Perspective?

A Sea of Opinions

As Christians, we’re naturally suspicious of people who believe differently from us. How can whale-loving, tree-worshiping activists–those whose voices have so often been raised against us on fundamental issues like family and the sanctity of life–have anything worthwhile to say about the environment? (xv)

Our hesitations are justified. It’s hard to trust information from sources we feel might manipulate facts to suit their political agenda. (xv)

| But the issue of climate change really is different. It’s not about blue politics or red politics or any kind of politics. It’s about thermometer readings and history. It’s about facts and figures. It’s about reality. (xv)

cf. the Evangelical Climate Initiative

This book, then, is an invitation. Find out more about the why of climate change and the truth of the most popular “spins” put on the issue. (xvii)

part one

1. The Kivalina Story

cf. the Inupiaq people of Kivalina

A Village on the Edge

As Climate Changes, Traditions Fail

The Changing Arctic

2. Our Changing Planet

Global Temperatures: 150 Years of Records

Weather stations around the world are now regulated by the World Meteorological Organization. This organization makes sure temperatures are measured at the same time of day, using the same instruments, at a fixed height above the ground, by trained observers. (9)

1850 to Present

From 1850 to about 1910, the earth’s temperature remained fairly constant. Then from 1910 to 1940, temperatures rose. After 1940, (9) they flattened out for a few decades until about 1970. Since 1970, temperatures have been rising steadily. (10)

| From these observations, we see a global temperature increase of 1.3°F since 1900. Out of nearly 160 years of records, the ten warmest years have all occurred since 1997. The warmest year ever was 1998, followed by 2005 and 2003. (10)

| Average temperatures across the United States have risen even faster than the global average, more than 2°F since 1950. In the western and northern United States, temperatures have risen on average 70 percent faster than the global average; in some parts of Alaska, by as much as 4°F. (10)

Central England Temperature: A 350-Year History

No Cooling in Sight

…climate change is about what is happening across decades and centuries. (12)

Reliable Temperature Records

The urban heat island phenomenon was first documented by British chemist and amateur meteorologist Luke Howard. (12)

…the urban heat island effect. This effect occurs when the dark surfaces of roads and buildings heat up faster than the green countryside. The dark surfaces also retain the heat longer at night. Together, this means that temperatures in urban areas can be up to 10°F hotter than outside the city. (13)

The Urban Heat Island Effect

3. Indicators of Change

Natural Thermometers

Japan’s Cherry Trees:
Measuring Changing Temperatures

…our record of flowering dates, going back near on hundred years, also indicate that these trees are flowering nearly a week earlier on average than they used to. (17)

Ancient Trees and Coral Reefs:
A Long History of Temperature

As coral grows, it absorbs one of two kinds of oxygen, standard or deuterium, from the seawater. Where the coral holds more standard oxygen, it tells us that the ocean water was cooler. Where the coral holds more deuterium, it tells us that the ocean water was warmer. (18)

The Hockey Stick: Unusual Warming

  • our globe is now warming
  • the current warming appears to be unique in our history
  • the warming coincides with the dawn of the Industrial Age. (19)

Natural Blips on the Temperature Record:
Medieval Warming and the Little Ice Age

…claims of a medieval warming are only relevant to one particular region of the globe. (20)

| Second, the medieval warming did not result in warmer temperatures than we’re witnessing today. And lastly, the medieval warming was the result of natural causes, not human causes. (20)

| Today’s warming is different. The entire globe is warming, from Antarctica to the Arctic Ocean. This warming is already greater than anything we’ve seen in the past, going back one, two, even five thousand years. And it’s also unnatural. For the first time in history, we humans are altering Earth’s climate. (20)

4. Decisions and Consequences

Facing the Truth

The First Fleece: Consequences of Inaction

The Second Fleece: The Benefits of Action

Our Marked Fleece: Undeniable Evidence of Change

part two

5. God’s Gift: The Earth

A Natural Balance

Our natural blanket, the atmosphere, maintains the average temperature of the earth at a very pleasant 55°F instead of the frigid 0°F that it would be otherwise. (30)

The most important gas that helps maintain this much-needed temperature balance on Earth is water vapor. (30)

Gases of Life

…scientists are not concerned about the natural greenhouse effect. What they are worried about is the enhanced greenhouse effect that we’re seeing today. (31)

Tipping the Balance: CO2 Out of Control

Together, natural sources produce more than 200 billion tons of carbon dioxide per year. (32)

| Today, human emissions total over 8 billion tons per year. … Although plants, trees, and oceans are indeed pumping enormous amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, they also take equal amounts out. In contrast, our production of carbon dioxide has skyrocketed in the past two hundred years. So even 5 percent of what trees, plants, and oceans produce is just enough to throw the earth’s delicate balance entirely out of whack. (32)

| Through our activities, we don’t remove any carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. (32)

Figuring in the Flatulance:
The Contribution of Methane

Methane,…absorbs twenty-five times as much heat. So one methane unit released into the atmosphere is like releasing twenty-five cabon units. (33)

The main source of methane is the decay of organic matter. Plant decomposition, animal waste, human waste, and underwater bacteria in shallow wetlands and rice fields produce more than three-quarters of the world’s methane. Mining for coal and natural gas also releases deep pockets of methane buried far below Earth’s crust. (33)

The Latest News

6. The Natural Suspects

Suspect #1: The Sun

The Sun’s Alibi

Suspect #2: Natural Cycles

Suspect #3: Volcanoes

7. The Human Fingerprint

Fossil Fuels and the Industrial Revolution

As far back as we can go in these record, we see that carbon dioxide has varied between 200 and, at most, 300 parts per million in the atmosphere. Methane has varied between 300 and a maximum of 700 parts per billion. Today, carbon dioxide stands at nearly 390 parts per million and methane, at 1800 parts per billion. Today, both of these gases are at levels far beyond anything seen as part of natural cycles in the past. (43)

A Virtual Earth: What Climate Models Tell Us

Unequivocal Evidence of Human-Cause Change

This is how scientists answer the question, “How do we know we are causing the warming?” These models can be used to create that “earth with no people.” This is a virtual world that changes only because of natural causes: volcanic eruptions, changes in the amount of energy the earth is receiving from the sun, natural variability of the climate system, and many other factors. Computer models are run from the mid-1800s to the present. Then the average temperatures of this virtual “earth with no people” can be compared to the real, observed temperatures of the Earth over that same time period. (46)

Over the land, over the ocean, and over every major continent in the world, there is no way to explain the temperature increases that have been observed if we leave humans out of the equation. In fact, for much of the world, temperatures should actually be decreasing if natural causes were the only influence on climate. (47)

| The observed increase in greenhouse gas levels, due to human production, is the only explanation we can find to account for what has happened to our world. We’ve dusted for fingerprints. There’s only one likely suspect remaining. (47)

| It’s us. (47)

8. We’ve Done It Before

The Hole Story

cf. Thomas Midgley, CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons)

Air Pollution and the Dust Blanket

…although we might not have done much to prevent climate change in the last few decades, we have learned a lot about how it can be done. (51)

Global Dimming: How Particles Cooled the Earth

Over the past century, the presence of these particles has actually been good news for our climate! The dust and soot we produced masked some of the effects of the increase in greenhouse gases. (51)From 1960 to 1990, it’s been estimated that dust, soot, and aerosol particles reduced the amount of solar energy that reached the earth’s surface by 4 percent. This effect is known as global dimming. (52)

part three

9. Weather Is Not Climate

The Short Stories of Weather and the Long Tale of Climate

Weather is what our minds are designed to remember. It describes conditions from day to day, week to week, and even from year to year. (56)

Climate, on the other hand, is nearly impossible for us to remember. It describes the average weather conditions over tens, hundreds, and even thousands of years. Climate is the average temperature or rainfall in a certain place, based on what it’s been like for decades. (56)

Climate Change Affects the World

Don’t Trust the Forecast!

But weather forecasting is a tough job, because weather is inherently chaotic. It’s been proven mathematically that it’s impossible to predict the weather more than two weeks in advance. And in reality, two weeks is on the optimistic side. (58)

| Weather is by nature unpredictable, driven by unforeseeable forces. … But what many don’t know is that climate is relatively predictable, driven by forces we do know about. (58)

Climate is stable and predictable for decades or even centuries, under a given set of assumptions regarding how much energy we receive from the sun and more recently, what our greenhouse gas emissions are. (59)

The Long-Term, Global Nature of Climate

Think global. Think long term. That’s where the evidence is found. (59)

10. The Natural Way of Things

Although each of these arguments has intuitive appeal, the truth is that they don’t stand up to the facts. (60)

Svante Arrhenius and Human Production of CO2

The resulting prediction was that Arctic temperatures would rise about 14-16°F if carbon dioxide levels increase by two-and-a-half to three times–conditions Arrhenius thought wouldn’t be likely to happen for three thousand years or so, although we know today we are likely to reach that point well before 2100. (61)

Recent calculations with sophisticated models verified by his work: by the 2090s (when carbon dioxide levels are more than two times the 1890s levels) temperatures are projected (961) to increase 7-13°F over most of Canada, Greenland, and Siberia, with increases up to 18°F over the Arctic Ocean. (62)

The Chicken or the Egg?

A Young Earth?

…what we usually don’t hear is that the natural cycles argument hinges entirely on believing in an old earth. It’s impossible to believe in a relatively young Earth and natural cycles at the same time. (63)

there have been no major natural cycles in Earth’s temperature and greenhouse gases over that time, and no conditions that compare to today. (63)

Our Freedom and God’s Sovereignty

…even this solar minimum event would reduce the amount of energy the earth receives only by the equivalent of seven years’ worth of our carbon dioxide emissions. So it would give us a temporary reprieve. But it will not fix the problem. (65)

11. No More Debate

Do most climate scientists agree about global warming and its causes? The short answer to this question is an emphatic, yes, they do. (66)

International Consensus: Scientists Agree

It’s true that scientists like to argue. You probably couldn’t even get a roomful of scientists to agree on the exact color of the sky, let alone the state of the planet. (67)

| That only makes the degree of scientific consensus on the subject of climate change even more extraordinary. … But today, scientific disagreements center around details: what are the microscale processes by which different types of particles accumulate water? What is the correct way to compare the effects of reducing carbon dioxide versus methane? Or, most seriously, why have our models grossly underestimated the speed at which the Arctic’s sea ice and Greenland’s ice sheets are melting? These are the types of questions that remain. (67)

| In contrast, there is widespread agreement that:

  • The global warming observed over the last century–and particularly the last fifty years–is highly unusual.
  • Present-day conditions are outside the range of any natural cycles experienced over the course of human civilization.
  • Although changes in the sun, volcanoes, and natural cycles are still affecting climate, the temperature increases we’ve seen over the last fifty years or more are primarily the result of human emissions of greenhouse gases. (67)

Today, there is no legitimate national or international scientific organization that does not accept the fundamental role of human emissions in recent climate change. (69)

An Overwhelming Consensus: The Literature Agrees

It’s not just the large scientific organizations that agree on how human activities are affecting our planet. The same consensus is also evident in the scientific literature, and among individual scientists themselves. (69)

In other words, from 1993 to 2003 there was essentially no evidence in the peer-reviewed scientific research to support the myth that there is still a major disagreement among scientists regarding the reality and causes of recent climate change. Instead, an overwhelming consensus emerged–less than 0.1 percent of the research in climate science was in disagreement with the scientific consensus represented by the IPCC and other international scientific bodies. (70)

Disagreements and Debates

The Reality of Climate Change

Instead, concern is growing that science has underestimated the rate of change. … Now, human activities are causing change at extraordinary speeds. And scientists are convinced that if we continue on our current pattern of energy use, we can expect global temperature changes on the order of 10°F or more in just one hundred years’ time. (72)

12. A Window to Our Climate Future

…the last doubt that many have is this: How on earth can we tell what’s going to happen in the future? And if we don’t know what’s going to happen, what reason do we have to do things any differently? (73)

Possible Futures: The Science of Climate Change

…in the case of climate change, the main reason we can’t predict the future is because it depends on the energy choices we make over the next few decades. (73)

In other words, they can answer the question “What if humans acted in this way?” as opposed to “What if humans acted in that way?” (74)

Scientific Scenarios and Models

Possible Futures: Higher or Lower

If We Had to Bet…

So to review, the two largest uncertainties affecting where (on the scale shown in Figure 13) our planet will end up by the end of this century are: (76)

  1. The choices we make that affect our production of greenhouse gases today, and over the next few decades.
  2. How Earth responds to those changes. (76)

What We Can Expect in the Places We Live

Looking to the Future: How Will the Earth Respond?

part four

13. Increasing Extremes

One of the first and most obvious ways that climate change is grabbing our attention is through its influence on extremes. (83)

Climate Change Extremes

You can’t be sure if you get into an accident, develop heart problems, or experience a bank foreclose, that it was 100 percent due to the choices you made. But most of us can acknowledge that there are some things we do that increase the risk of an unusual but unfortunate thing happening to us. (84)

Hurricanes and Heat Waves

Warmer Temperatures, Stronger Storms

Hurricanes are fueled by warm water. They cannot occur when ocean surface temperatures are cooler than 80°F.

Heat Waves and Wildfires

Climate change can’t be blamed for any single event. But it is stacking the weather’s hand against us, increasing the risk of our being dealt one of these devastating events. (88)

14. Water: Feast or Famine

Unpredictable Rain

California Water Wars

A Feast of Water

Water Famine

15. On Thin Ice

In our Inuit language we have the same word for the weather/climate and the human mind. It says sila. So if you are not taking care of the climate it might mean that you are out of your mind. – Josef Motzfeldt, Inuit, former Minister of Foreign Affairs for Greenland

The Arctic is where the most significant warming has been measured over the last few decades. In some places, winter temperatures are now 7°F warmer than they were just fifty years ago. (96)

Sea Ice: Gone in Summer

Just a decade ago, scientists were speculating that the summer Arctic might be ice-free toward the end of the twenty-first century. A few years ago, the best projections were showing an ice-free Arctic as early as 2040. Today, scientists suggest the summer Arctic will be ice-free as soon as 2015. There is no way to stop it. (97)

The Bear Facts: A Disappearing Species

The polar bear spends most of its life on the ice, so much so that its name in Latin means “maritime bear.” (98)

The Big Two: Greenland and Antarctica

Why Do We Care?

16. Our Rising Seas

Over the past century, the sea level rise of ten inches is about ten times faster than over the last several thousand years. (101)

The History and Future of Our Sea Levels

Most sea level rise over the past century was due to thermal expansion, not melting ice. (102)

Depending on these factors,…our sea level rise over the rest of this century may be between about seven and sixty inches. (102)

…if we continue on our high emissions pathway, we may pass a “tipping point” beyond which their eventual meltdown becomes inevitable. If this happened, we would be committing ourselves to a sea level rise of twenty-three feet from Greeland and sixteen feet from West Antarctica alone–in addition to what is projected over this coming century. (103)

Coastal Populations: Who Is Affected by Rising Tides

It’s estimated that, on average, for every one person at risk from coastal flooding in industrialized nations such as the United States, there are thirty people at risk in developing countries. (103)

Deltas and Other Low-Lying Areas

Disappearing Islands

cf. The island of Tuvalu

17. Our Fragile Food Chain

When We Thought Carbon Dioxide Was Good

In a warmer environment with more carbon dioxide, plants mature faster, but build up less plant matter. So it takes more plants to get the same amount of yield. A large enough increase in temperature can even eliminate the benefits of carbon dioxide for the plant. (108)

Warmer conditions with high carbon dioxide levels cause weeds to grow up to three times faster than crops. (108)

The Plant That Ate the South

…although agriculture might seem to benefit from climate change and more carbon dioxide, there are serious qualifications to that conclusion. (109)

Rising Temperatures and Crop Impacts:
Mixed Blessings

One of the most striking ways that climate change has affected us is through its impact on global food yields. It’s estimated that climate change–driven reductions in wheat, maize, and barley yields from 1981 to 2002 have already cost the world an estimated five billion dollars per year. (11)

| This estimate is just for major crops. Many specialty crops–such as fruit and nuts–may be even more sensitive to climate than corn or grain. (110)

A Positive Shift for Northern Climes

Inequity for the Developing World

18. Squirrels and Seeds

Shifting Zones of Growth

For most of the United States and southern Canada, the typical plant hardiness zone has already shifted by nearly one full zone over the last twenty years! (114)

Depending on what our future looks like, the plant hardiness zone for a given place in the United States is to produce increasing amounts of greenhouse gases. (115)


Opportunists of the Animal World


Extinctions and Threats

part five

19. Motivation for Change

The real ‘inconvenient truth’ is that those who contributed least to climate change will be affected the most; those who face the greatest threats will likely bear the greatest burdens and have the least capacity to cope or escape. – John L. Carr, Secretary of the Department of Social Development and World Peace of the U.S. Conference of Cathlic Bishops

The earth has enough resources to satisfy everyone’s need, but not enough resources for anyone’s greed. – African Church Leaders Statement on Climate Change and Water (2008)

Our Ailing Earth

Caring for the Poor

And the Greatest of These Is…

Love God, love others, and remember the poor: this was the unwavering mandate of the early church more than two thousand years ago. And this is our solidly biblical motivation for caring about climate change today, and how it is already affecting real people. (127)

A Faith-Based Response

We believe the answers to these questions are straightforward. The only sensible response to climate change is to minister to the hurting, loving our global neighbors as ourselves, just as the Good Samaritan did to the man lying in the road. We shouldn’t simply look the other way or, even worse, deny our responsibility by perpetuating the idea that it’s not really happening. (128)

Climate change may not seem l like a serious issue to many of us. But Christianity has always been about looking beyond ourselves and becoming aware of the needs around us. (128)

20. No Fear in Life

The Christian Consensus

…most thinkers in the areas of Christian ethics or biblical ecology who are concerned about the interaction of humans with the natural world gravitate toward the same basic principles any of us would:

1. God created the world.
2. He put Adam and Eve in charge of the Garden of Eden.
3. He gave them dominion over all living things (and, by extension, the planet). (130)

These biblical facts are then usually used as the basis for the following logical extension:

4. Because the earth is God’s creation, we should respect it.
5. Humans are in charge of it; therefore, we as humans inherit the responsibility and are accountable to God for fulfilling the mandate given to Adam and Eve. (130)

This is the point at which most views diverge. (131)

…as much as we’d like to argue that the need for action on climate change is a natural extension of God’s command to Adam and Eve, we cannot defend a biblical call to action on that basis. (131)

The Gospel: Foundation of Our Belief

The Bible makes it clear that the New Testament church has been called to a particular focus. That focus does not directly relate to planet care. Instead, our calling might be summed up in the following ways:

  • Understanding what the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ accomplished for us personally and celebrating it for the rest of our lives.
  • Communicating the incredible message of total forgiveness and new life to each other and the world at large.
  • Interacting with, caring for, and building up the body of Christ, our community.
  • Displaying Christ to the world, primarily through our love for God and for each other. (131)

According to one biblical scholar, the top ten issues discussed throughout the New Testament are these: (131)

1. God–His existence, nature, and attributes
2. Jesus Christ–His deity and lordship
3. The existence of other spiritual entities such as angels and demons (131)
4. Loving God and loving each other
5. The Holy Spirit
6. God’s love and care for us
7. The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ
8. Our sinfulness and accountability to God
9. Salvation by faith alone
10. Christ’s return (132)

Among those issues, ecology, stewardship, or even general responsibility for the planet is not mentioned once. We’ll go out on a limb even further, though. If you were to read all the way through the New Testament, we propose that you would find zero mentions of caring for creation. (132)

[via: This is a strange argument, advocating for an actual imperative. I’d be curious what, if any meaning, the creation mentions in Romans and Revelation (and Genesis) provide any theological counterargument for Hayhoe and Farley.]

There is no question that there are many verses throughout both the Old and New Testaments that mention aspects of nature and highlight God’s care for them. However, to preach a gospel of environmentalism as a requirement for the New Testament church is to miss the point of the gospel altogether. (132)

[via: Ah, okay. So, this is a more narrow definition of “gospel,” a bifurcation of humanity and creation. There is another–what I would argue more faithful–interpretation that grounds the good news in the entire scope of the biblical narrative of which Jesus is merely the culmination. For the record, on this topic of climate change, I don’t really care how Christians get there theologically; for that, I’m thankful that Hayhoe and Farley are advocating for action based upon their tribal theology.]

Help Redeem Creation?

But this is not a call for us to help God redeem the earth in the sense of restoring it to its original condition before the Fall. To do so is to usurp God’s role. We are not the Redeemers–He is. (133)

Improved or Replaced?

The idea that the creation is groaning and will be set free someday stems from the Fall. (134)

The earthly is left behind and replaced by the heavenly. This is not a preserving and improving of the old, but rather a dying of the old. When we die and go to heaven, we don’t take our earthly bodies to a heavenly destination. This is an important concept to grasp–the old and the new are incompatible. Redemption here is not a “fixing” but a total replacement. (134)

| This also applies to the new heaven and the new earth. There is no preservation of the old. Instead, it destroyed by intense heat. Peter tells us, … (2 Peter 3:10, 12-13) (134)

cf. Rev. 21:1

Again, the point is clear. Our current earth will pass away to be replaced with a new earth. There will be no improving, no restoring, no fixing of the old earth. Just destruction of it followed by a new creation. (135)

cf. Isa. 65:17

Global warming aside, the main point here is that we shouldn’t expect God to redeem the current earth nor should we attempt to “help” Him redeem it. This earth is going away permanently someday. (135)

| But for now, it’s all we have. (135)

21. Spiritual Freedom, Wisdom, and Compassion

Cleaning Up After Ourselves

Permissible but Not Profitable

…the true Christian message is one of freedom of choice, not guilt of duty. The gospel is about living from “want to’s,” not from “have to’s.” The moment we adopt any action out of obligation, we set the wheels of human effort into motion. Then it is no longer Christ in us and Christ through us. Instead, it is merely the human-driven notions of philanthropy or activism. (138)

Using our God-given wisdom to comprehend the climate change issue and making decisions that we believe will help the poor and disadvantaged certainly fall within the attitude of Christ in us, Christ through us, and Christ toward others. And we believe that making these choices is a loving thing to do. (138)

No condemnation. No guilt. No fear. No religious obligation. Walking solely by the Spirit means acting from genuine, heartfelt love. (138)

Freedom to Choose: Faith in Action

There are many gray areas with regard to how Christians “should” respond to things that the Bible does not directly address. Climate change falls into that category. Therefore, like any matter, it is incumbent on us to become aware of the issues at hand and then act as our hearts and minds lead us. This is true Christian freedom in action. (139)

If you decide you don’t want to individually contribute to a solution to climate change, so be it. You are free in Christ to decide that. Conversely, if you as an individual decide to make decisions that help, that is great. You won’t earn status points with God nor are you somehow fulfilling your deepest calling as a Christian more than another person who doesn’t. But you may be doing something that benefits yourself and others along the way. And that can be a very tangible expression of God’s love. (139)

What If…?

Sure, we can sit on our hands and claim our freedom in Christ as we allow crime in our cities to increase and our economy to crash. Or, we can learn the causes for these problems and then treat them the best way we know how. And global warming is no different. (140)

Doing something, anything, about climate change is a step in the direction of caring for people. (140)

| We’re all free in Christ to decide if we care. It’s not a guilt thing. It’s just reality. Knowledge plus caring leads to action. (140)

22. Small Steps Toward Change

As an African, I urgently call on ordinary people in rich countries to act as global citizens, not as isolated consumers. – Bishop Desmond Tutu

…before you take all-or-nothing approach, keep in mind that small actions do matter. They add up to something big. And changing attitudes may well be the most important change we need. (141)

Our Choices Matter

Full Disclosure

Use Less

Change a Bulb

Household Choices

Smart Decisions on Our Big Buys

Where to Go for More Help

23. Taking on the World

We Don’t Have the Technology We Need

It Will Wreck Our Economy

It’s Antidevelopment

It’s Far Too Expensive

No, It’s Not

Instead of cowering in fear, clinging to the outgrown security blanket of fossil fuel dependence, it is time to move forward with boldness, confidence, and sound judgment to build a new and better future for ourselves and for our children. (157)


As Christians, we are free in Christ to reach out in love. … Let’s use our freedom to serve one another in love. (160)

Further Reading

Discussion Questions


About VIA



  1. Pingback: Let Creation Rejoice | Reflections & Notes | vialogue

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