Last March I sat on the set of the Anderson Cooper debating global warming with another evangelical – Jim Ball. I winced when I originally received the invitation because I knew where they were going to attempt to take the conversation. As I sat in the hot seat, I hoped desperately that I would not be called upon to attack one of my fellow evangelical comrades.
I decided before the program that I would not let the session dissolve into a name-calling contest. Further, I realized that in the name of scientific faithfulness, the reporters could cast me as a well-meaning Neanderthal or worse – a mean-spirited, religious zealot. I was further aware of the fact that as a non-scientist I should avoid trying to sort through research and declare that I had some kind of epiphany or divine revelation concerning global warming and CO2 emissions. The problem as I perceived it was that this was another attempt to make Christians look like they are anti-science. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The Bible says, “The heavens declare the glory of God.” In other words, nature and science belong to God. They reveal His glory. They are an extension of Him. They do not compete with Him. In fact some of the most devout Christians I have ever met have been born-again scientists. Therefore, I want to re-state an obvious truth - scientists are not the enemy of the conservative community on the issue of the environment. The true enemy to the nation’s best interests is a group of radical environmental activists. It seems to me that conservatives often get caught in emotional debates that we cannot win – creating a polarizing tension.
Sometimes we forget that it may be necessary for us to create good answers to complex problems instead of simply cursing the darkness. We need to be the people lighting candles of hope and understanding and leading the way to a sensible future.
Environment zealots, like political ideologues never come up with good solutions; they advocate their position as though it were a new religion or faith. Our response, after having been bombarded by conflicting information for years, is simply to say to the environmental community, “We are tired of responding to your most recent refrain of the old, old song The Sky is Falling!”
There are two polarizing films on the market today that do not clearly articulate the problems of the environment and what the majority of reasonable scientists actually think. These films are Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth and The Great Global Warming Swindle. Let me explain.
Al Gore was laughed to scorn for claiming that he invented the Internet. This statement, which brought his character into question, was a gross exaggeration of the truth. Gore actually created the High Performance Computing Act which funded the work that brought the Internet to the masses. The DOD had used precursors of this system since the 1970s. Gore, to his credit, was perhaps the first person in his position of political leadership to realize how useful it would be for public access to such a tool. In other words, instead of making a responsible declaration of accomplishment which may have impressed thinking people, Gore overstated the real work he had done. Similarly his Inconvenient Truth has also been accused of exaggeration. For example, the documentary shows a large part of New York City under water as the result of sea levels rising by twenty feet. Serious scientists would say that there is no foreseeable scenario under which we would see that kind of increase in the sea level. Even a three foot increase, would take at least a century or two.
The Great Global Warming Swindle is the exact reverse of Gore’s work. It gives a very convincing argument that there are reasons that reasonable scientists do not support global warming. Instead of crediting their scientific peers with any wisdom at all, this film accuses an overwhelming majority of scientists of selling out to the new environmentalist global warming industry. The film makes the scientific community sound as though they are a community of passive, self-centered people who are easily led. This depiction does not reflect the character of any of the scientists who have affected my life personally. Scientists, by nature, are often questioning and skeptical. This documentary plays off of scientific skepticism without fairly representing the true science behind the debate.
So what do we do about global warming? Or more importantly, how do we respond to the belief that we need to adjust our nation’s energy policies?
Surprisingly, there is a place of agreement for those who believe in global warming and those who do not. The next president will have to make major changes in America’s energy policies. There is a key problem with continuing our dependency on fossil fuels – our addiction to foreign oil must be decreased. We have been “tithing to terror,” as one scientist put it, by allowing 17% of our oil to come from foreign sources. Changing fuel sources will simultaneously increase national security and help appease the cry of environmentalists.
Mike Huckabee says on his website, "The first thing I will do as president is send Congress my comprehensive plan for energy independence.” Sam Brownback has commented as follows, “We are too dependent upon foreign oil. We are subject to threats from people like [Venezuelan President Hugo] Chavez and [Iranian President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad. We need to take care of our own security by developing our own energy resources, and we need to do so in a fashion that is environmentally sound and economically workable.”
Let’s stop arguing with liberals about the environment and chart a course for the nation that makes sense for everyone!
Bishop Harry Jackson is chairman of the High Impact Leadership Coalition and senior pastor of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, MD, and co-authored, Personal Faith, Public Policy [FrontLine; March 2008] with Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council.