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Climate change: False prophets and truth-tellers

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Those of you familiar with the prophets of the Old Testament are more than familiar with their plights. Some warned of disastrous events to come. Some spoke of current events and their impact on life in their day and time.

They did foretell about what was going to happen. Often, they were ordained to speak the truth about the present. Condemning social sins and warning of dangers to come were an integral part of their work.

Those prophets who told the people what they wanted to hear were most likely to be later referred to as false prophets. You see, the mission of a true prophet was not just foretelling, but also speaking the truth to power.

From this writer’s perspective, there seems to be similarities between climate change deniers who appeal to religious beliefs to support their claims and the false prophets of the Old Testament.

There is an attractiveness to such false prophets. Corporations can keep selling fossil fuels out of financial greed. And right-wing radio talk show hosts like Rush Limbaugh can laugh and say, “Folks, you don’t have to change your lifestyle.”

The Bible is not a book of science. It is a book of faith. In it we are admonished to take care of all of God’s creation and that includes the planet earth.

Given the scientific evidence, we are not doing well at all.

The U.S. Department of Defense recently released a report on the security implications of climate change: “Global climate change will aggravate problems such as poverty, social tensions, environmental degradation, ineffectual leadership and weak political institutions that threaten the stability in a number of countries.”

Is it possible that our contemporary prophets are rising out of the ranks of the global scientific community? Divine creative activity did supply we humans with a brain. If God is God, why cannot such be the case?

The following is a joint statement of the International Academies: “Climate change is real. There will always be uncertainty in understanding a system as complex as the world’s climate. However, there is now strong evidence that significant global warming is occurring. The evidence comes from direct measurements of rising surface temperatures and subsurface ocean temperatures and from phenomena such as increases in average global sea levels, retreating glaciers and changes to many physical and biological systems. It is likely that most of the warming in recent decades can be attributed to human activities.”

Contemporary climate scientists are giving us the evidence of the “handwriting on the wall” and the “canary in the coal mine”: Average global temperatures rising — oceans are warming, arctic ice sheets are shrinking, glaciers are retreating, snow cover is decreasing, sea levels are rising and more extreme weather events and ocean acidification are occuring.

A quote from John Stott is most illuminating for me, “God intends…our love of creation to reflect our love for the Creator.”

For me, this is when my faith and science are aligned side by side. My faith leads me to trust the studied, factual warnings of the scientific community on the issue of climate change.

Choose your prophets wisely.

Edward “Ned” Walsh of Princeton is a retired Baptist denominational worker who served as executive director of Johnston County Habitat for Humanity from 2004-08.

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