Sceptics being deceived?
Sir, I sympathize with SP Jackson (Letters Page, 27 March). He or she feels that the scientists are too dogmatic, and is worried that belief in ‘climate change’ is a trendy view of the moment. Now, I think he/she is wrong, but as an evangelical myself, I know why this writer is tempted to take that view.
Evangelicalism has taught me not to get swept away by ‘every wind of doctrine’, and I’m cautious about accepting what may look like the latest scientific fad. Yet I believe Christian climate change sceptics are being deceived in two ways. One is that, although scientists will obviously be thinking of their careers, this financial pressure dwarfs that being applied by the big energy and oil companies on the world stage.
If we use less energy, they stand to lose a lot of money, and their secret financing explains not a few climate change sceptics. The Royal Society has complained about the American giant ExxonMobil, which was discovered to have financed a number of “independent” experts.
Secondly, evangelicals are wary of “New Age” thinking, often rightly so. Such thinking often suggests that personal salvation comes from eating certain foods, or following certain lifestyles, which are often surprisingly austere. Avoiding climate change - usually very important for such people - is thus a matter of a personal austerity that not everyone, frankly, can follow. Facing up to one’s sin, however, is rather avoided, and there is a decided flavour of “earning one’s way to heaven”. Evangelicals should be wary.
However, I suspect that most of us, particularly the poorer of us, do not have much influence on the climate; our own “carbon footprint” is too small. Surprisingly easy measures, such as checking our buildings have the right insulation, buying cars with a low mpg, or getting solar panels on our churches, will go a long way to help.
The biggest contribution most of us can make is by putting pressure on the huge corporations that dominate our planet. I dislike corporations. They are artificial people many are serving. Surely they are idols? And their legal structure means that even if their directors are reasonable people - which many are - they are forced to act in the short-term selfish interests of the shareholders.
Naomi Klein, in her recent book ‘ This Changes Everything’, argues that we will have to abandon the present - to my mind, idolatrous - economic structures, or this planet is doomed.
The general trend of world surface temperature is upwards, but irregularly. (It tends not to feel that in this country, because when it gets hotter here, we get more rain.) 1998 was an exceptionally warm year, so comparisons with it are misleading. The Arctic ice is rapidly collapsing; this winter it advanced less far than it has ever done. The Antarctic icesheet has crept forward slightly - although the ice-sheet behind it is melting - but the Arctic melt outweighs this.
As was predicted in the 1990s, our climate is getting wilder and wilder, as there is more and more energy in the system. To my mind, we must fight the idol-worshippers to prevent our planet being wrecked.