What to tell my kids about Climate Change?

Disclaimer: I am not a scientist, nor a physicist, nor an ecological expert.  At best, I’m a decent teacher/thinker, but what I am most assuredly is a Dad who cares deeply about my kids and their future in this world. 

Having just read “Global Waming: A Very Short Introduction” by Mark Maslin, I’m left with so many questions, but I’m choosing to focus on just one:  What to tell my kids about Climate Change?

This is such a heated debate within the political, social and religious culture of modern America.  If you acknowledge any hint of conviction in a kind of Climate Change that is happening through the measurements of Science, you are labeled an immediate political and religious liberal.  There appears to be no category for economically conservative, evangelically traditioned and an ascent to at least a kind of Climate Change

Well, here it goes:  I do believe in at least a kind of Climate Change that appears, according to the science of certain measurements, to be the result of human agency.  The scientific community is in no way in agreement on every point on this matter to be sure, but there is relative aggreement that with the increase of carbon dioxide at the hands of human development is having environmental effects.  “One of the few claims of the global warming debate that seems to be universally accepted is that there is clear proof that levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide have been rising ever since the beginning of the industrial revolution.” (p. 7)   Clearly our expansive development through the Industrial, Space and Information age have created a quality of living, comfort and modernization as never before seen on this blue planet, but at what cost to our environment? 

There are so many issues to muddy the water in this debate:

  • Global Warming has become big business, and the point of big business is to protect and sustain big business which means profits.  This is a dangerous slippery slope to Science as it has been to Religion through the centuries.  There is no such thing as being ‘unbiased’, particularly when so much money and professional reputations are on the line.  The Scientific community is at odds a bit on this issue, see this article. 
  • The politicization of this issue particulary in the fractured American world of politics.  To be for ‘climate change’ means you are a democrat, and to be against it is to be Republican.  It would be professional and political suicide to differ from the ranks on this issue.  How did we come to this point?  It seems to have peaked with Al Gore’s participation with “An Inconvenient Truth” and now it is purely a political issue/stance instead of a human reflection. 
  • A postmodern distrust in media, institutions and organizations of power such as the UN and others from the scientific community.  Consumers are used to the over-statements of daily marketing messages and the dire warnings of climate change seem to fall into the same white noise. 
  • A fractured relationship between the Chrisitan Church and the Science community.  You can trace the origin of this fault line most likely all the way back to the Scopes Trial of 1925.  As a result, the evangelical Christian community within America has launched a culture war to “win back” America from the secular age.  The culture war created a bubble of it’s own music, books, movies, t-shirts, camps, concerts, video games, breath mints, schools, nightclubs, dating services, campus groups and a myriad of other versions of Christian industry.  At the very top of the list of this crusade to take back America is a severe distrust of the Scientific community for it’s lack of space for any kind of rational creationism.  Science is met with fear and reactive statements.  This fracture grieves me and perhaps one of the reasons why I have no home within the fuzzy middle of this culture war, it makes no sense to me as a person of faith. 

So, what to tell my kids about Climate Change?:

  1. You live in a global community.  You are a uniquely gifted individual that lives within the context of a global community.  With that comes responsibility to use your personal freedoms with the common good in mind.  Think tribe, think community, think inter-connectivity.  Your individual actions affect the whole and vice-versa.  The American propaganda of hyper-individualism is a fool’s gold, there’s no life in it.  Think of others, act on behalf of others, use your gifts to serve others; you’l find youself in harmony with the intention of a life-giving Creation.
  2. Re-use and recycle because it’s just a good idea of being stewards of Creation.  Will it affect global change when China is expanding it’s CO2 inducing industrial plants?  Probably not but it doesn’t make it a bad idea.  Act in your freedom to do what is doable.  Healthy living and thinking has its own rewards.
  3. Refuse more.  Learn to live on less.  Contentment is found in simplicity.  Don’t buy into the myth of “away”.  When we throw “away”, it doesn’t go to a magical land of nothingness.  It goes to a place on earth built for waste and it overwhelms our environment.  Be conscious of our contribution of waste in our communities.  Meaning is created, it isn’t purchased. 
  4. Embrace Science, it is a physical revelation of what we can know about the design of our Creator.  It is a lifelong wonder.  Read Science with awe as you do the Scriptures, they are describing the same God and His intent for humanity.  Learn to read and discuss important issues with people you disagree with.  Listen, think critically and then offer your measured response.  Learning sometimes happens in unexpected places. 
  5. Humanism leads to fear, the wonders of our world are astronomically far beyond us.  Most of what can be known, we yet don’t know.  Fear is not our story, our God is not nervous.  We act responsibly, we use our freedom to serve, we participate in a Kingdom that has come on earth as it is in heaven.  But it is not about us, salvation is beyond us.  Have a proper view of self in the scope of God’s Creation and history.
  6. Love this world, it’s a part of our expected hope.  Resist the dualism of this world being “bad” and the far off place called ‘heaven” being the good.  We believe in the restoration of all things, a coming of a new heaven and a new earth.  We will not be raptured away to a different land in the by and by, rather there will be an unveiling of the New Creation that will restore and resurrect the one we have.  The Scriptures are not linear, they are circular.  Revelation points back to Creation, our hope is that God is restoring the intentions of Creation itself.  As Howard Snyder put it recently, “Salvation Means Creation Healed“.  Start with the end in mind, our hope in Christ is the salvation of all of Creation.  We are not in a culture war, we exist to love our neighbors. 

Tricky and complicated issues to be sure, but they deserve to be wrestled with and sifted through.  With complete disregard, it may be the end of the world as we know it, for good or bad.