As a Conservative, Evangelical Republican, Why Climate Change Can’t be True (Even Though It Is)

By Dr. Scott Rodin    


Imagine a mathematician basing his or her entire life’s work on the premise that 1+1 = 3. Absurd, right? Yet a few years ago I came to the conclusion that I had done exactly that when it came to my views on climate change. Here was my flawed formula.

I had spent nearly ten years of my life writing, speaking and teaching on biblical stewardship. As an evangelical theologian, I was (and am) passionate about helping Christians understand the full meaning of what it means to be a faithful steward in every area of their life. That included care for God’s creation.

Add to that that I’m a product of the 60’s when we believed that science was trustworthy on most things. I have no reason to doubt conclusions that come from a broad consensus of scientists. I am no conspiracy theorist, and I have a basic trust in the veracity of scientific data, especially when it is confirmed on a broad scale.

What is the conclusion that I drew from the combination of my passion for stewardship plus a basic trust in science? I was an adamant climate change denier. Yup, 1+1 = 3. Global warming was a hoax. Environmentalism was a word you said with a sneer on your lips. I cared for God’s creation and held science in the highest regard, all while sitting at home watching Whale Wars and rooting for the Japanese whaling ships (seriously). For some unknown reason I lived comfortably with this irreconcilable internal contradiction.

Finally, this absurdity became intolerable, forcing me to question how I got here, and why it had been so easy to establish and remain in such a paradox for so long. I have come to the conclusion that for me, and perhaps for far too many of us in the evangelical church, the answer can be summed up in one word; conditioning.

Webster defines conditioning as ‘a gradual training process, learning behavior over time.’ I realized that over my lifetime I had been conditioned to think about environmentalists through the lens of five significant perspectives. Not everyone will have the same experiences, but see if some of these don’t ring true for you.

1. Conditioning: People who care about the environment are left-wing, socialist, former hippies who have no job and hate those who doIn the culture in which I was raised, ‘environmentalists’ fit very comfortably in this tight little box. After all, you never saw businessmen in three-piece suits riding around in Greenpeace zodiacs. There were no clean-cut, all-American patriots camping out in the offices of Exxon Mobil. The message was clear, if you cared about the environment you aligned yourself with some pretty undesirable people.

2. Conditioning: People who care about the environment are liberal Democrats who favor big government, crushing regulations and higher taxes, who kill jobs, run up deficits, don’t care about small businesses and ruin the economy. Having been raised in a conservative Republican home, the environment was always “their” issue, and “their” only solution was massive regulation, bigger government and higher taxes. Liberal politics and environmental concerns were two sides of the same coin. There was also the hard reality that most every environmental policy I heard about did indeed seem to steal jobs from people. In Oregon in the 1970s the crusade to save the spotted owl nearly broke the timber industry, which included the families of a lot of the kids I went to school with. I concluded that environmentalists hated hard-working, everyday American people. They all lived somewhere back there in Washington DC, cut off from the real world, and probably taking drugs. Damned environmentalists!

3. Conditioning: People who care about the environment are alarmist, scare-mongering activists who chain themselves to trees and always think the world is coming to an end. Thinking back on it, I don’t ever recall seeing a sane environmentalist depicted on television. Every time the news captured the green movement it showed angry fist-wavers and screaming celebrities who were either breaking the law or proclaiming the end of the world. With the possible exception of Ralph Nader, environmentalists were regarded in my circles as kooks. To care about the environment was to align with the lunatic fringe.

4. Conditioning: People who care about the environment are shame peddlers, always wanting to make everyone feel guilty for the way we live, what we drive, how much money we spend and for not caring about the rain forest, polar bears and, yes, spotted owls. In the town I grew up in and the church I attended, all talk about saving the rainforests and protecting the whales was greeted with rolled eyes and a shake of the head. Environmentalists relished in telling us that our lifestyles were killing the planet. The real truth was, we didn’t want to change. We especially didn’t want a wacko, hippie-type liberal telling us what laundry detergent to buy or why our mahogany coffee table was destroying the earth. This isn’t the Soviet Union (think 1970’s), after all. This is America, and we are free to pursue life, liberty and happiness. To believe anything less was un-American.

5. Conditioning: People who care about the environment are atheists who worship nature, hate Christians and believe humans are intruders on the earth. If the first four conditioning agents didn’t seal the deal, this was the game-changer. Simply put, environmentalists were atheists. They dismissed any idea of God and deeply disliked the idea that human beings had any real right to be on the earth. They worshiped trees, idolized mother Gaia, saw the Earth as sacred and considered humanity a deeply flawed polluter on an otherwise perfect planet. As a conservative Christian, if you even hinted at ‘caring’ for creation, you were already heading down the slippery slope of pantheism. We prayed for such wayward brothers and sisters!

Having been thoroughly conditioned by these five attitudes, it should not be surprising to see how easy it was to hold to my contradictory foundational philosophy. Somewhere deep inside me, however, I knew that our call to care for creation required more of me than I dared think. I was also slowly worn down by the unquestionable scientific evidence that became impossible to ignore.

Finally, one day I was forced to face the internal absurdities of my worldview and I was challenged to do the unthinkable. I had to consider in one crushing moment that maybe, just maybe, they were right, at least at the foundational level of understanding the need to care for our environment.

But there was more. Could it be that those I held in contempt may actually have unwittingly been acting more biblically than I had? Could it be that decades of conditioning had calloused me from any serious engagement with this issue, and that disengagement bore witness to my disobedience to God? I had to confess that for me, it had, and it was time to speak the truth and repent.

Once the humiliation subsided, the work began to use my theological training to reclaim an understanding of our created purpose and responsibilities when it comes to caring for God’s creation. The challenge was to rethink this issue from a truly biblical standpoint, setting aside as much as possible the layers of conditioning that so deeply influenced my thinking.

I am still in process in making this transition, but I pray the following is a faithful response to the five conditioning influences I’ve mentioned. Let me revisit them in reverse order.

1. Even though many environmentalists are atheists and many others do worship creation – as evangelicals, we can love God and still care about creation – in fact, we are commanded to do so. I am convinced that a person with an unconditioned mind who embraced Scripture in its purity and simplicity would come away fully committed to caring for God’s creation. There would be no temptation to worship creation. Scripture is clear we worship God alone. It is also clear that if we are to love the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind and strength we must put our heart, soul, mind and strength into caring for what God cares about, and that includes our neighbor and the world in which we live. In fact, you cannot love your neighbor and love God while destroying God’s creation. Here’s the good news: Evangelicals can hold the highest view of Scripture and embrace the most strident care for God’s creation as one integrated act of submission and obedience. Yes, there will always be environmentalists who will worship creation. But that must not deter us from bearing witness to the image of the God who created us to care for and steward the world he created.

2. Even though some environmentalists continue to be shame peddlers  – as evangelicals, we care for creation out of love and obedience, not guilt. The fact of the matter is our lifestyles are destroying this planet, we do need radical change in the way we choose to live, and we are responsible for the warming of our planet. Our response, however, flows from our deep love for the God who created this world, his Son who came to this world to redeem all of it, and the power of the Holy Spirit that guides us into all truth regarding our place in this world. The change we must embrace is motivated by our deep sense of thanksgiving and honor to the creator who placed us in charge of the creation he loves. Let the shame peddlers wag their fingers at us. Our response must be both passionate and humble, but unequivocal if it is truly to be the response to grace and the call to joyful obedience in the name of Christ the King.

3. Even though some environmentalists will continue to be alarmists – as evangelicals, we are not alarmists, but we take seriously the critical state of the creation and our urgent responsibility to act. There is nothing wrong with being alarmed about those things that God finds alarming. Time and again God sent prophets to raise the alarm among the Israelites that their lack of obedience to God’s commands would not go unpunished. Some Christian and political leaders are claiming that God’s sovereignty gives us an excuse for our continued pollution. Such desperately wrongheaded thinking and pitiful theology should be alarming. When we hear of species of animals that God created becoming extinct because of our own greed and arrogance, we should be alarmed. When evangelical leaders scoff at the idea of global warming and claim there are “more important issues” than taking seriously our fundamental responsibility to care for a creation that is a gift from our Creator, we should be very alarmed. The important point here is that we, as conservative evangelicals, should be alarmed about the right things. Perhaps most alarming of all is our apathy in the face of unequivocal evidence that we are ruining this planet. For all the right reasons it should be us, the followers of the Creator God, who should be raising the alarm.

4. Even though some environmentalists are liberal Democrats – caring for the environment is not a political issue, it is a moral issue. As a Republican, I champion small government, the minimum necessary federal regulations governing our lives, policies that create jobs and taxes that are fair and as low as possible. I also believe that the government will need to play a role in leading us with a responsible energy policy that takes seriously the implications of global warming and climate change. I don’t know how those things will hold together, but I’m absolutely convinced that they must hold together. We need to find political leaders of both parties (or a third?) with the creativity and will to envision a third way through this impasse. There is a way to create jobs, minimize regulation and expand our economy while implementing aggressive policies that will decrease pollution, increase investment in alternative resources and seriously engage our country in the international effort to curb global warming. There is no doubt this can be done. God help us if we don’t have the will to do it.

5. Even though some environmentalists represent the liberal fringe – I am pleased to announce to my conservative, evangelical friends that there is an army of educated, intelligent, sane, level thinking, baseball loving, patriotic, apple-pie eating, Bible believing, church attending people who believe in man-made global warming and are committed to lifestyles that will help save the planet. Praise be to God that we no longer have to choose between loving our country and caring for creation, between being good Christians and committed conservationists. We can put our “save the whales” sticker on our bumper right next to our fish emblem. We can drop off our recycling on the way to Bible study. We can use the electricity generated from our newly installed solar panels to show the Jesus Film. The term ‘evangelical environmentalist’ is no longer an oxymoron, it is, in fact, a term of supreme biblical obedience and authentic Christian witness.

What this meant for me was that it was time to stop living with this internal inconsistency, time to set aside my years of conditioning and start to live my faith boldly. 

I want to encourage every conservative evangelical who is courageous enough to admit to a similar internal inconsistency in your worldview. To you I say, it is time to stop being influenced by our cultural conditioning and start thinking as God’s people.

It is time to follow Christ not culture.

It is time to put obedience above politics.

It is time to seek repentance and begin living as faithful stewards.

It is time to start speaking boldly regardless of the cost.

And it is time to take joy in connecting with the message of the gospel and the heart of God by caring for his creation.

Dr. Scott Rodin    

Dr. Rodin is the president of The Steward's Journey, whose mission is to inspire and equip God's people to be free and joyful stewards of life. He also serves as President of Kingdom Life Publishing and Rodin Consulting Inc.

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Leave a comment:

  • Don Barefoot

    You leapt to exhortation without presenting any case for your conclusions (i.e., the Bible is true and so are manmade global warming claims). As a Biblical disciple/steward and a proponent of objective science, I’m not nearly convinced on this point. America is more forested today than it was a century ago, and the total global ice mass is larger than a generation ago… even though every locale has its own self-focused anecdotes and every generation has its own blind-to-history, utopian, “its all about me and what I observe today” way of ignoring the cyclical patterns of our God-given solar system. This can lead to enormous, misguided, squandering of God-given resources and opportunities. True enlightenment on this issue, in our exceedingly arrogant and superficial, one world/big government, ‘postmodern’ time, definitely requires historical and statistically sound corroboration. Got any?

    • Don, Thanks for your reply. The blog was not meant to be a scientific or biblical treatise but a story of my own journey. Blessings on yours as you seek God’s truth.
      – Scott

    • Don: There are many resources out there which can explain to you the evidence behind man’s significant contribution to the current global warming and its effect on weather patterns we are observing and can expect to observe. If you have some specific issues that seem to contradict the idea that man’s contribution is large, I would recommend If you want to get a very thorough understanding of the basics of climate change theory, then I would recommend you take an online course. I took one that greatly deepened my understanding:

      It was a course from the University of Chicago given by professor Archer. I don’t know when it will be offered again, but you could read his book

      “Global Warming: Understanding the Forecast” by David Archer

      The thing that made me understand that man’s role is profound is to understand the action of the greenhouse and how it relates to fundamental physics, especially the laws of thermodynamics. Good luck in your search for the truth.

  • Adrian Schmadrian

    Some great thoughts in here…but in the end I came away thinking “This is still ‘Us’ vs ‘Them’.” In other words, you state the case well regarding how to re-orient yourself (and other Christians) regarding environmentalism, and yet are still dismissive/intolerant/damning of environmentalists in the main. While I salute your personal transformation on this subject, I think you’ve still got a long way to go when framing the discussion by What Would Jesus Do?

    • Adrian, thanks for your reply. I intentionally used us/them language to tell my story and drive home the point that such thinking leads us nowhere. My audience is my fellow evangelicals so I was speaking as one and from a viewpoint that is all too common to us. To move beyond it we need to name it, that was my intent. Thanks again for taking the time to respond.
      – Scott

      • AnneButterfield

        Dr. Rodin – I do wish you would use your platform to more fully confront the toxicity of we-vs-them thinking. Didn’t Jesus particularly assail the tribal logic of his times?

      • I wish conservative and right-wing evangelicals would acknowledge that evangelicalism has always been nearly evenly split between left and right. It’s shifted back and forth a bit across the generations, but the shift has never been vast. At the moment, the division among evangelicals is mostly demographic: whites vs minorities, older vs younger, etc.

        The age demographic is particularly relevant, as most young evangelicals are left-leaning and find anti-science attitudes bizarre. But if you go back to early 20th century, evangelicalism and environmental conservation went hand in hand. It’s not anything new. It’s just a generation of Silent and Boomer evangelicals pushed a strong religious right for a while, and yet even during that time there remained a large movement of Christian environmentalists.

        One thing that needs to be mentioned as well is that the primary division has never been between Christians and atheists. Most Americans, left and right, Republican and Democrat, are Christians. I’m willing to bet most environmentalists are and have been Christians or otherwise religious. Atheism, although growing, is still a tiny part of the population.

    • What would Jesus do? Since the author didn’t answer, I’ll throw in my two cents. He would fight for higher taxation on the rich to fund programs that educate, feed and house the poor. He would fight to expand the EPA to protect the commons. He would understand that industry can’t be trusted to regulate itself and would indeed need government oversight. He would fight for universal health care. He would fight for tolerance. He, who dined with tax collectors and prostitutes, would excoriate anyone who paid lip-service to his word.

  • dmac54

    Certainly, I believe that weather patterns are changing, what I am not convinced of is that this is only an issue caused by man. Most definitely, we need to treat our environment kindly, but not as God. This is what separates me from the radical environmentalist.

    • I agree. We can treat the creation well without worshipping it. Blessings to you in that work.

    • Maggnum

      I have to ask you then: what evidence does it take to convince you that this is an issue caused mostly by man? Or, perhaps more precisely, what MORE evidence do you need?

  • BJK

    Scott, good post. My personal bias is less about the science than it is wondering about the cure. I don’t find the environmental activists any more annoying than the plethora of other hyper-ventilators that abound today. “Climate Change” has been underway since the beginnings of creation – if you think about it, Climate Change is really a result and agent of creation itself. “Save the Planet” bumper stickers (T-Shirts, Buttons, etc.) always make me smile. They should read “Save the Humans” – because the planet has endured far worse from natural geological and likely cosmic events.

    The planet’s gonna be fine. The bigger question is/will be “can humans survive?”. Our current cycle of change has no doubt been influenced by humans. No argument. But what can we do about it? Under the most recent agreement with the Chinese, the US has some pretty aggressive near term carbon emission reduction requirements that will require a lot of behavioral change. On the other hand, China doesn’t even start trying to turn back the clock for 30 years – or, something along those lines. Meanwhile a Chinese population roughly equal to that of the US currently lives with water that we would find “non-potable”. It all feels a little bit like trying to drain the ocean with an eyedropper.

    In the past the cures for environmental crises have been technological (i.e. the automobile replaced the horse and got rid of all the horse ‘you know what’ that was spreading disease on the streets of NYC – ironic, yes?) SO, yes I buy all the science. I’m also praying that science, by the grace of God, will also save us. Some pretty smart people predict that colonizing space is looking more and more like a necessity in the next millennium, or so – not something I hope to experience. Go Science!!

    In the meantime, we should all do what we can to care for the creation we now inhabit. Personally, while I’m not putting my head in the sand, I am trying to accept climate change as a given so we can continue rejoicing in the abundance and beauty that we have around us. What I can get excited about are actions that help address the human suffering that will inevitably continue as the human race adapts and moves in response to climate change. All the while praying that God will grace us with discoveries (and possible natural changes) that will allow Humans to continue to inhabit this beautiful planet.

    Keep calm and carry on.

    Your old pal, Brad

    • Great to hear from you, Brad. And thanks for the reply. I agree the challenge is in the cure. Hopefully a combination of science and collective human will can find it. I’d hate to think of my great grandchildren hanging out on the moon :). I trust you are well!

      – Scott

      • BJK

        Hahaha! Couldn’t agree more ! Let’s keep those grandchildren close!

        • SlowMoneyGreen

          ” What I can get excited about are actions that help address the human suffering that will inevitably continue as the human race adapts and moves in response to climate change”

          That really made my day! I’m really glad to hear we have that in common between us. After seeing what even small regional weather disruptions can do (such as drought, followed by govt inaction leading to the Syrian civil war, or high grain prices, brought on by drought and extreme heat in the northern hemisphere grain belt, leading to the Arab Spring and the Egyptian Revolution…”Bread and Justice” was the rally cry in the opening days), I wonder and worry over what will happen when drought and heat one day forces large populations out of California, NV, AZ, Mexico, or nations further south.

          “Climate Refugees” are already becoming real, and the world’s collective heart does not appear to be in a place to receive them. If sea levels start to change rapidly, as we’re starting to see now, then we may see as much as 1/10 of the human population displaced.

          I think the place where the enviros and the Christians intersect most strongly is around the concept of “Community-ism”, which is the idea that we can make our cities more resilient to outside changes, by re-localizing more of the economy, and creating a more inter-connected, self-supporting way of life, both with each other, and with the world around us. Not socialism, or Agenda 21, or Beck’s Libertarian Compounds, but Christ’s kind of communism, which translates to something like socialized-libertarianism (e.g. care for the disadvantaged, along side the principle of non-interference, but we still teach each man to fish, etc).

          We’ll need this kind of structure, if we’re going to smoothly absorb displacements and disruptions, and avoid grander societal disruptions, and Christians belong on the tip of that spear, as Christ commands.

  • Scott – I enlyed your article. One correction, while the Endangered Species Act came into being in the 70’s, the spotted owl debates did not happen until the late 80’s and early 90’s. Also, while I was a Foursquare pastor, I went into the forest for a four month spiritual retreat/llama hime. Many of the earlier commentors still seem to fall into a trap that Evangelicals have fallen into since our origin during the Enlightenment, i.e. a theistic personal peity perspective that focuses on our personal realtionship with Jesus. Yet in the great commission founr in Mark, Jesus says, “,,,preach the Gospel to all creation.” The Gospel – the good news of reconciliation of us with God, us with our neighbors (and even enemies) and reconciliation with nature. But while evangelical adopted a personal piety approach to pur relationship to God, we also adopted a largely deistic view of nature. William Paley wrote about “God the watchmaker, and the earth as a well-oiled machine. The problem with that, is the earth is not a machine – it is a biosphere made up of organic and inorganic, living and nonliving systems and cycle – much like the human body. And scripture says all of creation sings praise to the Creator. Machines do not sing, or praise. The modern church seems to forget that while scripture says humans are made in the image of God, we seem t forget that we were also made of the substance of the earth. Adam – man, Adamah – earth. Instead of man vs nature, we should see it as earth filled with earthlings. We are kin with creation – unique in our God-imageness, but totally dependent on the systems of life. As I fight terminal cancer, it it not the cancer that will kill me. It is that my cancer will harm, distrup and eventual cause my systems to fail – liver, spine, lungs, brain etc. And then I will die. So we have been entrusted with the miracle of life – not only human life, but the biosphere that supports it.

    As Christians we are called to protect the integrity, interconnectedness and interdependence on the systems of nature. We are stewards of the whole, of the systems. It is a sacred trust. Sacred does not mean divine – it means beloved. Only God is divine and when we disrepect the divine it is called blashphemy. When we disrespect the sacred – that whih is loved by God, or set aside for God, or what God has set aside – that is sacrilage. The grove of trees in Mexico that millions of monarch butterflies migrate to every year, sometimes taking five generations to get there, are sacred trees – set aside by God for the Monarchs, No one has every been able to answer the question “what product could we manufacture that would justify cutting down those trees.” God gave us the sacred duty to serve what he loves (Mat 24:45 – Faithful AND wise steward.”

    When people, Christian or non, love what God loves (and the Bible is clear that God loves all that he has made, it is not earth worship. Instead it is the heart of faithful stewardship. The good shepherd gets up to find the lost sheep not out a spirit of duty, but out of love. I am proud to be a Christian treehugger – to love and care for the only place in the known universie that supports life is a sacred responsibility. Psalms 145:10 “All that you have made will praise you oh Lord, and your saints will extol you.” We are just part of the choir of praise.

    Keep challenging us – Peter Illyn of Restoring Eden.

    • Peter, so good to hear from you. Thanks for writing. This is a beautiful piece, your response is more worth reading than my blog! I pray God’s rich and daily presence in your life as you walk your own journey of health and grace.

      – Scott

      • AnneButterfield

        Peter’s discussion and reverie is some of the best theology I have seen yet in defense of the wholisitic living project that God put in our hands: “As Christians we are called to protect the integrity, interconnectedness
        and interdependence on the systems of nature. We are stewards of the
        whole, of the systems. It is a sacred trust.”

        I absolutely adore the similarity drawn between that which is set apart by God as sacred (the tree grove in Mexico which houses the monarchs over winter) and Jesus’s drive to find and protect lost lambs and sheeps – Peter speaks for my heart!! Peter brings the sensiblity of a biologist and a bible scholar AND and a heartful advocate for those aspects of life which are voiceless, unique, vulnerable, and essential to the web of life.

        Peter’s well articulated vision to protect the ecosphere is as beautiful and as sensible as the charge to Noah to protect the animal world thru the creation of his Ark, which includes the responsibility of repairing the Ark along the way of the voyage. That is our charge.

        Peter’s bio can be found here –

    • AnneButterfield

      Peter please see my praising response to your writing, below Dr. Scott’s reply. I hope for your writing to live on past you, as you sadly refer to terminal cancer being with you now – and so wisely you remind that the cancer itself doesn’t kill but that its *disruption of your system* that is the killer – you make people think clearly!! I love this!!

  • GaryCreely

    I enjoyed the article. It was interesting to think as conservative evangelicals that we would think “People who care about the environment are shame peddlers, always wanting to make everyone feel guilty for the way we live”, when that is precisely what most of the world thinks of us.

    • Thanks for the reply, Gary. I’m glad you enjoyed it. There seems to be plenty of guilt peddling to go around. I have seldom seen it ever lead to substantive change, so I am glad we can take another route to discussing this issue. Blessings on your own journey.
      – Scott

      • AnneButterfield

        Well said about shaming: “I have seldom seen it ever lead to substantive change”
        The work of John Bradshaw “Healing the Shame the Binds You” is the bedrock of this knowledge. Shaming is a psychological tool for enslaving others – whereas love and knowledge equip the saints to act in true freedom, effectively. That is our call.

        • Pam Miner

          That was an important thought you pointed out about shaming.
          I have always been one of those that Scott would have hated, even though I’m a “born again” Christian.
          I used to go to a church who got a new pastor who was a party line republican and preached that at church.
          One day I realied that the liberals were usually much closer in their outlook to God’s will than the republican party was.
          I quit the church when a nother member told me, “you can’t bee a Christian and be a democrat” And the majority do have a spirit of fear, a spirit of shaming and became fidgety on studying helping the poor.
          I miss the joyous praise songs they sang, but I now worship on my own.

  • RustbeltRick

    Your championing of small government is actually part of the problem, sir. When conservative voters are deliberately choosing a toothless and under-resourced government, and conversely believing that turbo-charged corporations are entities after God’s own heart, of course you will see the kind of environmental chaos that you see right now. The pro-business conservatives you continue to elect are working very hard to put profit over people, profit over animals, and profit over nature. If this is genuinely something that troubles you, vote Democrat; many evangelicals, like myself, do so.

    • Well, we won’t agree on this, but thanks for writing.

      – Scott

      • AnneButterfield

        One of the important aspects of the value of “small government” is to be sure to protest higher-level government measures aimed at outlawing lower-level local actions. For example, is it Texas that just passed a law to outlaw towns from passing particular environmental municipal ordinances against free plastic bags? And Colorado is trying to use state-level reg’s to outlaw ordinances against fracking in the cities and counties (even tho the Constitution of our state is clear about Home Rule rights).
        Point being, a watered down, insufficient national policy such as what CCL advocates (rev-neutral c-tax) can still lead to remarkable improvement in our use of fossils **IF** local governments are not preempted from creating their own, more ambitious environmental measures.

      • Crayven

        If you took time to consider, just like you took time to consider the global warming issue, you would realize he is right in that fact too.

        In fact the left has been right – in America anyway – about most things. I’m sorry, it’s true.

        I know it’s frustrating to wake up to have lived a lie, but it’s true.

        Small government = big corporations. And corporations don’t care about the environment.
        Worst, small govt = less help for poor people that America has an increasing amount of due to…corporate tax evasion and off-shoring.

    • balmy4

      you know, this reminds me of something, when jesus rampaged through the temple and kicked the money changers and business ventures out. That was a pro-regulation moment right there for Jesus. Also there are plenty of places in the bible where they say, don’t charge interest or too much, so businesses taking it to the limit on the backs of the people is something Jesus was against. I can’t imagine Jesus would be upset if he wasn’t the only person keeping things level and reasonable. At the very least he was against rampant capitalism.

    • Joel T Sprecher

      That was really well put. Also, this clown should look @ economic stats of Dems & Repub. administrations. Democrats can’t even stick around long enough to clean up the mess of the last Republikkkan. As I read through it a second time I realized just how wrong this guy, and anyone who remotely resembles him are. Too bad the very people who claim the moral high ground are the same ones who threatens human and every other animals survivability. It’s not that far away. A hell of a lot closer than the “rapture”, which is truly the oddest thing i have ever heard.

      • RustbeltRick

        Thanks. I wrote that a year ago. The author pretty much said, “thanks but no thanks.” His core philosophy is limited/small government and a free pass for big business, and somehow out of that he expects greater environmental care. Not sure it’s ever worked that way anywhere.

  • Tony Sirna

    Thank you for this thoughtful article. As a lifelong environmentalist, it is great to hear what others think of us so that we can do a better job of reaching out to people without alienating them.

    As far as non-partisan market-friendly solutions to climate change you might consider looking into a fully-rebated, revenue-neutral carbon tax such as the one proposed by Citizens’ Climate Lobby ( I work with CCL and we are actively trying to reach out to conservatives, Republicans, and people of faith, with a message that we can solve climate change without growing government and while creating jobs and growing the economy.

    • Tony, thanks for the reply. I do think that something like a revenue neutral carbon tax may be part of the solution, so thanks for your work in this area. It will certainly require a robust alternative energy economy along with limited but strategic government policy to solve this crisis. Glad to be working together looking for solutions.
      – Scott

  • SlowMoneyGreen

    What a magnificent post! I’ve been called everything on your list, while defending climate science.

    Only recently has it become clear to we the enviros and sustainability guys that we made a grievous error in communicating environmentalism, especially climate science. You’ve outlined the reasons brilliantly, although you didn’t actually say it: ….By using environmentalism and climate change to press forward social justice issues, we’ve alienated the entire ‘right’ on the issue, and made accepting the science unpalatable, because (our fault) the solutions challenge many of your deep, core values, as right leaning minds, in general.

    Ooops. We’ll work on our messaging and hopefully we can forge a path we all want, together, without driving a wedge between the whole nation. Our bad.

    You’re an amazing human for laying all this out, in a way that reaches across divisions.

    Thank you for your work!

    • Thanks for this gracious reply. Perceptions and labels have done us all a disservice, which is why I decided to share my journey of trying to work through them to think more clearly on the issue. I would like to think there is a third way that could unite us in a common cause despite our differences. The issue is that critical. Thanks again.
      – Scott

    • The fact of the matter there is no rational or moral way to separate environmental issues from social justice issues. The least among us…

  • nathan mccreery

    I am a photographer; long time photographer. I am also Christian, born again, card carrying, Jesus loving and God fearing. What you say here is true. Years ago I read Francis Scheaffer’s (I think I just butchered the spelling of Dr. S’s name) “Pollution and the Death of Man”. Also another book “Caring for Creation”. both were excellent in helping me to form my Christian beliefs about the environment. Needless to say, in my vocation, I am frequently the only Christian in the room. In that environment you have to learn how to “set your sail” or you will be absolutely run over. I have made many of your points in the discussions that invariably occur in reference to “environmentalism”, whatever it is that word means. It is interesting to see the responses of people, especially after they’ve had a few beers and I am stone cold sober. My big hope on the thing is that I have been a good witness, which is the only reason we are still on the earth, to those people. Like the words I heard someone say in effect, preach a sermon everywhere you go. Use words if necessary. PS. The photograph at the header of the page could have been mine. Been to that spot many times.

    • Thanks, Nathan. Yes, your life as witness will be far more powerful than words. Blessings to you in your work. Had I known you I would have used your photo:).
      – Scott

      • Deleted

        Because a system that leaves a few hundred people with half the entire wealth of our nation is a wise and equitable distribution of finite resources, and capitalism is the Christian economic system….just think about how much conditioning has gone into evangelical Christian’s thoughts on economic policy. It’s far, far more invasive than anything involving environmentalism.

        • nathan mccreery

          Hmmmmm, “a system that leaves a few hundred people with half the entire wealth of our nation is a wise and equitable distribution of finite resources”… I could be wrong, but that sounds like a huge exaggeration, does it not? And “finite resources”?, when we really have no idea what the quantify of resources is? I question both those statements. Wow, just wow.

          • Deleted

            Ok, the first statement was an exaggeration…the top 1% control about 35% of the nation’s wealth. That statement is shocking enough to not need the exaggeration.

            You question whether resources are ultimately finite? If they are infinite and people are still wanting for basic goods and needs, that would certainly make it an even worse system of resource distribution.

          • nathan mccreery

            We have not begun to imagine the wealth in the earth. When you look at the poorest nations in Africa, for instance, and realize the huge mineral wealth in those nations that are not being used in any form, you will begin to realize that even though the wealth of the world may not be infinite it is certainly bigger than you know, or can figure out. Whether it’s a good thing to utilize that wealth is perhaps another topic. You are critical, both of you, of the capitalistic system of the U.S. Perhaps you would prefer a system that distributes wealth evenly and a governmental system that would mandate that. Tell me please one place that has worked. You can’t. Because as long as you have people running a governmental program you will have people problems. If you can find, or figure out, a better system then I would encourage you to either start your own country with that system in place, or go to one of those places and see how that works out for you. In the mean time, the only thing keeping you from accumulating that wealth for yourself, and then re-distributing it yourself is you. So don’t gripe and complain about the wealthy having a disproportionate share of the wealth. The U.S., for all its flaws and faults empowers you with the best opportunity to become wealthy in the history of the world.

          • Deleted

            Sure, as long as you vague couch resources as some aggregate sum you can ignore individual ones that are actually disappearing.

            As to capitalism, certainly at it’s core, it’s a reasonable distribution system on a day to day basis. It just generates insane excesses over time and it is not a self-correcting system. The long term outcomes can be extremely unhealthy.

            Plenty of social democracies work great and I would be happy to live in them. I prefer to fix the system in my own country where my allegiance lies rather than move though. If you have an easy way for me to start my own country though, I’m interested.

          • Slow Dave

            If you’ve ever played the game “Monopoly”, you know that the richer you are, the easier it is to get richer, and the poorer you are, the harder it is to get ahead. The natural tendency of the game is to end up with one person having all the money and the rest having none. The game is a toy, but the principle is true in real life as well. This is why progressive taxation (richer people paying a higher percent tax than poorer) is important, to give everyone a chance to do well.

          • Drew

            I was curious so I tried to figure it out. It’s hard to find the total wealth of the US in meaningful terms. But:

            The Forbes top 400 hold a total net worth of $2.3 trillion, which is about $800,000 for every single person in the country ($2.3 trillion divided by 300 million). The average net worth in the US (including that top 400) is $300,000 per adult and the median net worth is $43,000.

            So to me, that would suggest those 400 individuals hold a little over 75% of the net worth, which is one measure of wealth. But someone better at math can probably correct me.

          • Pam Miner

            It is not exaggeration by far. Since when this was published it has gone even more quickly to the top .1% point one %, it’s the group that leave even the 1% behind.

        • scotchleaf

          by next year, 1% of the world’s population will own more wealth than the other 99%.

      • nathan mccreery

        Oh, that is not an issue at all. I haven’t been to Antelope Canyon in 20 years.

    • Many environmentalists are Christians. It’s just left-leaning Christians are less likely to flaunt their religiosity and use it to bludgeon people into submission. You are probably surrounded by Christians in the room and don’t even know it.

  • markdouglas

    Of course you are right, but most of this was about YOU, especially at first. Very common writing mistake. It grew tiresome rather quickly.

    • The confessional is an ancient religious tradition and often is expressed through writing. Over the centuries, it has often even been used for secular reasons. Many widely read popular writings have been confessional in nature. But of course it can be done well or not so well, which is another issue.

  • Rick Ratzlaff

    I have no problem in a position of a Christian environmentalist (Right wing) Probably all significant damage done to the environment is due to man’s greed and selfishness. 1) However the cost of protectionism has gone way beyond realistic. For example: Crude oil is fertilizer. Crude oil is basically and largely nitrogen derived from plant and animal decay. (someone told me that) Thus it is bio-degradable. It came from the earth. So it’s organic! In fact as an old trucker from years back saw oil spills in the ditch that hugely increased the grass/vegetation growth many fold in subsequent years. My daughter went to the National Science Fair with her samples of oats growing on differing amounts of crude oil verses no crude oil. However now when there is an oil spill the world comes unglued. Alarmists are given press time and all stops are pulled ate the terrible disaster. Crap God designed the earth to heal itself. I heard a scientist say that on Paul Reagan’s talk show when talking alarmed at the oceans ElNenio He said “The earth seemed to be healing itself”. da really – dummy

    2) However you can’t. And you eluded to God’s sovereignty – well if you know the Bible you can’t miss that he is in control of everything for his glory. He’s either in TOTAL control or not. 3) You said “and we are responsible for the warming of our planet”. You have NO OBJECTIVE proof of that. Nor does anyone else. If the catastrophic melting ice packs were going to cause ocean front property in Arizona then our Warf / shipping docks of the world would show evidence of it. Not happening. The earth has always gone through massive climate trends long before the industrial age.
    3) Water is never lost as industry uses it. It can’t be destroyed. Just changed nature (liquid or gas) However I think we should be alarmed at the un-calculable amount of water flushed down the proverbial toilet for fracking. That I think is a travesty. Oil and gas void is filled with our fresh water. Now that is a lost commodity.
    4) The whole carbon emission tale is another load of ….. One volcano spew’s more carbon into the air in one day than the continent of the North America. Our little dinky impact is insignificant. However I DON’T take that for licence. Lets just focus on the important and be balanced. Glorifying God alone.

    • Tube Socks

      this is my response to each of your points, please do not think that I intend to insult you or your intelligence in any way.


      Elemental Composition of Petroleum
      Although there is considerable variation between the ratios of organic molecules, the elemental composition of petroleum is well-defined:
      Carbon – 83 to 87%
      Hydrogen – 10 to 14%
      Nitrogen – 0.1 to 2%
      Oxygen – 0.05 to 1.5%
      Sulfur – 0.05 to 6.0%
      Metals – < 0.1%

      I'm glad someone told you that crude oil is nitrogen based, however it's simply false

      Organic does not mean derived from the earth,

      Organic molecules are the molecules of life and are built around chains of carbon atoms that are often quite long. There are four main groups of organic molecules that combine to build cells and their parts: carbohydrates, proteins, lipids, and nucleic acids.
      the problem with oil spills is that crude oil is nonpolar due to being a hydrocarbon. this means that instead of dissolving in water, it floats on the surface. blocking out light that sustains all life below the ocean, and instead of pooling, it spreads out over huge swaths of ocean, devastating surface and submarine life.


      I will not respond to your comments about god, because I do not share your belief in one.

      The oceans have risen approximately 8 inches since reliable record keeping began in 1880. now I don't know how large you think that the oceans are, but it takes 28,940,800,000,000,000 gallons of water to raise the oceans ONE inch, 29 quadrillion gallons eight times over seems quite a bit if you ask me. This is OBJECTIVE, EMPIRICAL EVIDENCE.


      I agree, fracking is a serious issue, but that's neither here nor there. as you say, water can change forms. Ice becomes water, water becomes vapor, water vapor collects refracted heat and causes the air to heat, heating even more ice.


      it's true that in comparison to nature, we as a species contribute proportionally small amounts of CO2, but unlike natural processes, we recycle none of it.

      a quick infographic on the issue:

      the fact is, the earth IS heating, and at an accelerating rate. I suggest you look deeper in the issue, and try to ignore your previous bias.

      have a good day,
      Tube Socks

  • Pepin Lachance

    Good for you man. It is so nice to see someone really digging deep in their journey of faith.

  • Erica_JS

    Thank you for writing this. As a liberal, atheist environmentalist* who is scared and grieved about the future of the planet, and frustrated that the “culture wars” are preventing the US from taking significant action on climate change, I am curious: what advice would you give to those of us trying to engage people who, like you, are inclined to reject everything we have to say based on our cultural identity? Was there any one approach or idea that led to your changing your mind?

    *I do enjoy apple pie. So there’s that.

    • Erica, Thanks for the reply. For me, when it became a moral issue that transcended all political and ideological divisions. Regardless of our cultural corners, we can unite around what is being called the greatest moral issue of our times. Hopefully there we can find common ground for action.

  • Thanks, everyone for the comments and thoughts. Clearly this is an important issue to many of you. I want to point out that we have some basic rules regarding blog responses and comments. We try to be open to allow everyone’s opinions to be heard, and most all of you have been civil even in your disagreements. Thank you. There are three types of comments that we will delete rather than allow to remain on the comment thread. They are 1) comments that are clearly meant to offend without adding to the discussion (my call), 2) comments that denigrate the Christian faith, and 3) self-promoting comments that include websites and other links to promote you (links to helpful sites that are not self-promoting are fine and appreciated). Some of you may have found your comments deleted and I just wanted to be up front as to why that is the case. Thanks again for taking the time to comment.

    • E. Calvin Beisner

      Grace and peace to you in Christ, Dr. Rodin.

      I gather that my comments, with links to the “Open Letter to Pope Francis on Climate Change,” were among those deleted, for reason (3) above. Guessing that you deemed it “self-promoting” because it’s on the website of the organization I lead, I’ll attempt here to make it possible for “everyone’s opinions to be heard,” as you welcome.

      The “Open Letter” (signed so far by over 170 experts including climate scientists, physicists, other scientists with relevant expertise, environmental and developmental economists, and theologians, philosophers, pastors, and ethicists) offers various reasons to reject any global agreement to attempt to mitigate (diminish) global warming by reducing CO2 emissions, including (excerpting here):


      How Societies Overcome Poverty

      What has delivered much of humanity from absolute material poverty is a combination of moral, social, political, scientific, and technological institutions. These include science and technology grounded on a view of the physical world as an ordered cosmos that rational creatures can understand and harness for human betterment; private property rights, entrepreneurship, and widespread trade, protected by the rule of law enforced by limited and responsive governments; and abundant, affordable, reliable energy generated from high-density, portable, constantly accessible fossil and nuclear fuels. By replacing animal and human muscle and low-density energy sources like wood, dung, and other biofuels, and low-density, intermittent wind and solar, fossil and nuclear fuels have freed people from the basic tasks of survival to devote time and bodily energy to other occupations.

      Empirical Evidence Suggests that Fossil Fuel Use Will Not Cause Catastrophic Warming

      Many fear that fossil fuel use endangers humanity and the environment because it leads to historically unprecedented, dangerous global warming. This has led many well-meaning people to call for reduced carbon dioxide emissions and hence reduced use of fossil fuels.

      Computer climate models of the warming effect of enhanced atmospheric carbon dioxide are the basis for that fear. However, for models to contribute validly to decision making, they must be subordinate to data, and there has been a growing divergence between real-world temperature observations and model simulations. On average, models simulate more than twice the observed warming over the relevant period. Over 95% of the models simulate greater warming than has been observed, and only a tiny percentage come tolerably close. None simulated the complete absence of observed warming over approximately the last 16 (according to UAH satellite data) to 26 (according to RSS lower tropospheric data) years.[4] The data confirm the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) observation that we are currently experiencing an absence of global warming long enough to be nearly impossible to reconcile with the models. All of this makes it increasingly clear that the models greatly exaggerate the warming effect of carbon dioxide. The models’ errors are not random—as often above as below observed temperatures, and by similar magnitudes—but clearly biased, consistently above observed temperatures.

      The scientific method demands that theories be tested by empirical observation. By that test, the models are wrong. They therefore provide no rational basis to forecast dangerous human-induced global warming, and therefore no rational basis for efforts to reduce warming by restricting the use of fossil fuels or any other means.

      For the Foreseeable Future, Wind and Solar Energy Cannot Effectively Replace Fossil Fuel and Nuclear Energy

      Wind and solar energy, because of their higher costs and lower efficiency, account for only a few percent of total global energy use. Fossil fuels, because of their lower costs and higher efficiency, account for over 85%. Substituting low-density, intermittent energy sources like wind and solar for high-density, constant energy sources like fossil fuels would be catastrophic to the world’s poor. It would simultaneously raise the cost and reduce the reliability and availability of energy, especially electricity. This, in turn, would raise the cost of all other goods and services, since all require energy to produce and transport. It would slow the rise of the poor out of poverty. It would threaten to return millions of others to poverty. And it would make electricity grids unstable, leading to more frequent and widespread, costly and often fatal, brownouts and blackouts—events mercifully rare in wealthy countries but all too familiar to billions of people living in countries without comprehensive, stable electric grids supplied by stable fossil or nuclear fuels.

      The Poor Would Suffer Most from Attempts to Restrict Affordable Energy Use

      The world’s poor will suffer most from such policies. The poorest—the 1.3 billion in developing countries who depend on wood and dried dung as primary cooking and heating fuels, smoke from which kills 4 million and temporarily debilitates hundreds of millions every year—will be condemned to more generations of poverty and its deadly consequences. The marginal in the developed world, who on average spend two or more times as much of their incomes on energy as the middle class, will lose access to decent housing, education, health care, and more as their energy costs rise. Some will freeze to death because they will be unable to pay their electricity bills and still buy enough food. Tens of thousands died even in the United Kingdom in several recent winters due to Britain’s rush to substitute wind and solar for coal to generate electricity.

      Affordable Energy Can Help Millions of the World’s Poor Emerge from Poverty

      While the computer climate models exaggerate the warming effect of atmospheric carbon dioxide, they plausibly simulate that greater economic development driven by growing use of fossil fuels will add more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. Consequently, Working Group 3 of the IPCC finds that the warmest scenarios for the future are also the richest, especially for those societies that are now the poorest. The risks of poverty and misguided energy policies that would prolong it far outweigh the risks of climate change. Adequate wealth enables human persons to thrive in a wide array of climates, hot or cold, wet or dry. Poverty undermines human thriving even in the very best of climates. It follows that reducing fossil fuel use means reducing economic development, condemning poor societies to remain poor, and requiring poor people of today to sacrifice for the sake of richer people of the future—a clear injustice.

      Rising Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide Enhances Plant Growth

      While adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere causes far less warming than previously feared, it has a positive effect on plant life. With more carbon dioxide in the air, plants grow better in warmer and cooler temperatures and wetter and drier soils, make better use of soil nutrients, and resist diseases and pests better, increasing their fruit production, expanding their range, and greening the earth. This makes more food available to all other creatures, especially—as agricultural yields rise, making food more affordable—the world’s poor. Substituting wind, solar, and other low-density energy sources for coal, oil, and natural gas therefore hurts the poor not only by raising energy (and all other) prices but also by reducing food production. It also hurts the rest of life on earth by depriving it of the fertilizing effect of heightened carbon dioxide.


      Readers interested in reading the rest of the letter and seeing the list of signers can always Google for its title. They’ll find that it’s been reported on fairly extensively in the media, sometimes positively, sometimes negatively.

      I wish you well, Dr. Rodin, and would welcome vibrant and mutually respectful exchange over the reasons for and against various climate-change opinions and policies.

      • Thanks for your comments, Cal. They will help readers see how climate change deniers are seeking to shape the issues. Always good to have contrary views for comparison and contrast. It will be interesting to see how all of Christendom will respond to the Pope’s encyclical.

  • James Long

    I have an idea . . . How about NOT defining ourselves as conservative or liberal, Republican or Democrat, etcetera ad nauseam, which only obscures issues and leads to further judgement – and instead focus on our common humanity with common challenges that require us to set aside differences? I understand this post will probably get shot down by people who are addicted to their labels, but we are all on this small blue planet together.

  • Shawn Manley

    I’m 99% with you. The other 1% still gleefully roots for the whaling ships (or maybe I’m just rooting against the Sea Shepherd).

    • You’re only 1% sociopathic. I guess that is a good thing.

  • Tube Socks

    It does my socks good to see lessening complacency with government inaction, especially from the right. Good luck spreading your message.

  • AnneButterfield

    Dr. Rodin et al: if you don’t know about the teaching of Dr. Katharine Hayhoe of Texas Tech, her bio can be found here She is a widely followed christian climate scientist, and with her pastor husband, she is co-author of A Climate for Change – all about climate change and the faith-based call to address it.

    Also here is her TED talk
    about how to see climate change and talk to people about it. Important in her research are her findings about what inclines people and groups to accept or summarily reject climate science, ranging from the temperature of the room where you sit to the political views of your in-group (just as you articulate so well, Dr. R).

    I believe she’s an important ally and resource to you, and I have FB messaged her about your good work!

    LASTLY, I jsut posted this excellent article on the facebook page of my group, Clean Energy Action, where I post many articles about US energy policy, climate science, faith and environmentalism, small town and other nations’ actions for climate, technology, false leads, etc. Please follow us…

    • Thanks for you comments, Anne. Katharine has sent me a very warm and supportive response to the blog and she had been a friend of EEN for a good long time. I respect her work greatly.

  • It looks really good and the only thing I would change is that Christians aren’t alarmists. All creation loving Christians should be spreading the message of creation being destroyed by our pollution. It is an urgent issue that will have stronger consequences the slower we are at changing.

  • Vincent Pawlowski

    I am a former engineer who first heard about the greenhouse effect in 1977. To me, it is not an environmental issue. What was a minor technical issue then, due to inaction, became an important, but solvable international issue in 1992 with the advent of the Kyoto Protocol. Due to denial of our responsibility, the United States thwarted progress in 1997. Then it became an international justice issue. Now, it is a moral issue, as most major religions in the world have pointed out. It never was an environmental issue. It is too bad that environmentalists took it as theirs. Religious people need to reclaim it as the most critical moral issue of the 21st century. It negatively affects more people in the world than any other. That the US has done nothing to lead the world on solutions is a moral lapse of the first order.

    • Werner John

      And why can’t it be both a moral and environmental issue?

  • E. Calvin Beisner

    Was it a critic of the IPCC’s notion of dangerous manmade climate change who wrote this?

    “The case against science is straightforward: much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue. Afflicted by studies with small sample sizes, tiny effects, invalid exploratory analyses, and flagrant conflicts of interest, together with an obsession for pursuing fashionable trends of dubious importance, science has taken a turn towards darkness. As one participant put it, ‘poor methods get results.’ …

    “In their quest for telling a compelling story, scientists too often sculpt data to fit their preferred theory of the world. Or they retrofit hypotheses to fit their data.

    “Journal editors deserve their fair share of criticism too. [They] aid and abet the worst behaviours. [Their] acquiescence to the impact factor fuels an unhealthy competition to win a place in a select few journals. [Their] love of “significance” pollutes the literature with many a statistical fairy-tale. [They] reject important confirmations.

    “Journals are not the only miscreants. Universities are in a perpetual struggle for money and talent, endpoints that foster reductive metrics, such as high-impact publication. National assessment procedures, such as the Research Excellence Framework, incentivise bad practices. And individual scientists, including their most senior leaders, do little to alter a research culture that occasionally veers close to misconduct.”

    No. It was Richard Horton, editor of THE LANCET, one of the world’s most prestigious scientific journals, in his April 11 editorial ( A professional statistician who (precisely because of his expertise in statistical methodology) is also a critic of the IPCC discusses the implications of that editorial for the debates over climate change at

    Interesting reading.

  • Phil Radtke

    Thanks for the thought-provoking post. It can be hard to accept certain scientific information when we see others who have come to symbolize that information as distrustful zealots. Thus, the phrase, “even though some environmentalists are…” enters into the conversation. A point of view worth considering is that of a person who distrusts Christianity because some Christians are… (insert negative adjective here). In either case Augustine’s words are worth keeping in mind, “Hate sin. Love mankind.”

  • Rusty Barnacle

    I find it is interesting that the people who don’t believe in climate change (or the fact that pollution is altering our climate) will believe all the preposterous stuff that is found in the bible. I don’t think clinging on to the teachings of the past help in today’s modern world and are not good for modern society. If there is a god he needs to send another son down to update your bible. You don’t have to be a liberal, environmentalist, or Christians to care for nature and the environment. You just have to be a good person with common sense. You can see the destruction with your own eyes and know it is wrong. I don’t think you even need science to know that the our environment is not indestructible and the human population is taking its toll on it.

  • Scott L.

    Thank you very much for this thoughtful post. Today, one of the more important ways to care for creation and be responsible stewards of creation is to avoid animal products from factory farms. These factories defy our responsibilities in the most disrespectful ways. They are also responsible for major environmental degradation, including being one of the top causes of climate change.

    Matthew Scully, who is a religious Christian, a conservative Republican, and was a speechwriter for President George W. Bush, wrote a book called “Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy.” It is an elegant summary of this issue. Supporting animal factory farming goes against Biblical teachings and our important duties to creation.

    Charles Camosy, professor of Christian ethics, wrote “For Love of Animals: Christian Ethics, Consistent Action,” which is another very thoughtful study of our duties of stewardship for God’s creation.

    I believe that we all must consider ceasing to support these un-Christian factories. It takes a bit of work because 99% of all meat, egg, and dairy products today come from these factories, including the products that are labeled to suggest otherwise (“free range”; “humane”; “cage free”; “grass fed”; and other such deceptive labels usually mean these products came from horrific factory farms). Fortunately, it is easy to do one’s research and figure out how to proceed.

    Let’s be good stewards of creation and cease using these morally and environmentally unacceptable products.

    Thanks and best regards.

  • AnneButterfield

    Hi Dr Rodin !!
    My friend Chris Mooney mentioned your recent blog entry in his Washington Post item about faith and climate concern. Pieces are definitely coming together!!!

    (You’ll see this same note from me on your FB page, by message, fyi.)

    • Werner John

      That’s how I found this amazing and hopeful piece. I will be sharing it with many of my friends, both environmentalists and Christians. Dr. Rodin, the clarity of your writing about your process is inspirational.

  • scotchleaf

    Here’s a question for those who don’t care about the current mass-extinction we are causing: “At the time of the flood, didn’t God allow everyone on earth to die, while saving the Spotted Owl from extinction? Doesn’t that mean God cares more about the continued existence of species than he does about people’s financial concerns?”

  • Rich Voget

    Please, please don’t stop proclaiming your being in favor of solving the climate change problem by just posting this blog. You are a trusted messenger in the Evangelical Republican community who has the power to change the views of your peers. How far can you spread your story of overcoming your conditioning influences with interviews and guest pulpit exchanges? Please brainstorm all possible ways of communicating your story since the health of the climate for our children and grandchildren depends on creating a rising public outcry for action. I give climate presentations that are entitled, “A Faith Based Approach to the Urgency of Climate Change” where I start with the introduction to the parable of the Good Samaritan where the lawyer asks in Luke 10:29 “Who is my neighbor?” I state that in climate change terms, your neighbors are all the blameless and defenseless victims who didn’t create the problem and have no voice in the decision making to address the problem…the youth, future generations, indigenous peoples, people in less developed countries and all the other creatures and plants of God’s creation. But since I am a “lefty environmentalist” my message would be discounted on all the levels you have enumerated. So please spread your message in your circle of influence and I will do the same in mine. Together we can help create a mighty voice for addressing and not delaying a solution.

  • Werner John

    Dr. Rodin, thank you for sharing your brave, inspiring and profoundly significant journey. I still remember the fine spring day I stepped out of a church service and realized in my bones that the sky was the most fitting cathedral, living trees the most fitting pews, the smell of flowers the most fitting incense for me personally to worship God. The language within DNA speaks to me of the Creator. As such, we may believe differently but I so appreciate your deep work toward seeing that we are all in this together.

  • I applaud your ultimate acceptance of the science of global warming, but I’m rather puzzled by much of the rest of your essay. It seems that you’ve spent most of your life pooh-poohing “liberals,” “environmentalists,” and “hippies,” and mentally reducing them to people whose arguments, ideas, and lifestyles are worthy of contempt and dismissal. This is so far from my understanding of Christ’s message and a Christian lifestyle that I’m rather flabbergasted. Do you truly follow Scripture and seek to love God and God’s creation (surely God created liberals, and big government, and high taxes, and spotted owls)? From your essay above, it seems that your mental transformation needs to include not only global warming, but also learning to love your fellow man and, with humility (often considered a virtue by Christians), consider that you might be wrong and exclusionary of a large number of your fellow humans.

    • Stever, thanks for writing. One of the effects of conditioning is to distance us from our neighbor in such a way that we not only reject their viewpoint but we reject them as person. When this happens it is exactly what you said – wholly unChristian. The point of my essay was to say that while we do not have to agree with the whole agenda of those with whom we are at idealogical odds, we cannot let our conditioning keep us from engaging on issues that we hold in common like the need to act on climate change. There are two levels at work here. One is the idealogical (what we believe) and the other is ontological (who we are). My essay was meant to stay at the first level of ideas and opinions. However, you are right to point out that it all too often includes the second, and we can demonize not only our opponents’ ideas but their personhood. And that is unacceptable as Christians. I pray that my journey includes both an openness to dialogue in the former and a love for my neighbor (regardless of who they are or what they believe) in the latter. (By the way, I agree that God created liberals and spotted owls, but I think big government and high taxes are on us :)).

  • ” we no longer have to choose between loving our country and caring for creation, between being good Christians and committed conservationists.”

    You never did. All you had to do was open your mind.

    • And open your heart, maybe even your soul.

  • Rick Kenyon

    Dear Mr. Rodin,
    I am sorry to say that if you were someone that was watching the slaughter of whales on TV and you were hoping that the Japanese would win over Green Peace’s fight to stop it, then you should not be writing blogs that represent the Evangelic church. I have been a Christian for 35 years and can not honestly find the conditional teachings on the environment in the church that you have described. In fact I would be quite appalled to have met someone in the church with views such as yours. Please do not throw the church under the bus because of your personal lack of improper thinking about the environment. One of the problems we face with environmental issues is that the scientific community lacks unity in their findings and have actually been accused of cooking the numbers And, unfortunately, there will be plenty of money to be made as companies jump aboard on these issues.

    • Dan Herscher

      Hi Rick. I’m not quite sure what you are saying here. Are you suggesting that his current views are wrong or his past views? If the latter then I think it uncharitable to criticize him for his honest reflection and change of heart and mind. It takes great courage and intellectual honesty to confront the realization that you might have been wrong.

      If the former then I suspect you might have been mislead about the scientific community. Some try to play up uncertainty to support preconceived ideological conclusions about environmentalists. The consensus is extremely clear, 97% of climate scientists are convinced, based on the evidence, that human caused climate change is happening. Climate scientists have been falsely accused of cooking the numbers but every time the accusations turn out to be wrong and the scientists cleared. Again, part of a campaign to further a narrative of environmentalists as the “other” who are trying to harm you.

      • Rick Kenyon


        Mr. Rodin’s first round of five conditioning points are completely opposed to the teachings that we live by in the Bible. This is why I have a hard time believing he is a Christian, let alone a pastor. Christians that are true followers of God will have characteristics that demonstrate love, Grace, forgiveness towards everybody, no exceptions! How could he be under those teachings for years and still believe the way he did, or find pleasure in the destruction of whales. So, my point is: Mr. Rodin judgment on the church was really his own misguided beliefs and judgments on the environmentalist but not God’s. There is a lot of people who claim to be Christians but are quite far from the true practice.

        Honesty, when it comes to global warming issues the first thing that has to be overcome is man’s pursuit of money. Unfortunately, money is at the top of the food chain and everything else falls below. I see the way our government functions and other foreign governments and wonder how long below before the system completely crashes. I know this is a bit negative but just look at the history of man and you will not find a glowing testimony.

  • halfkidding

    According to Wiki 13.1% of world Christians are Evangelicals. OK it’s Wiki but worth a look. The basic facts here are surely correct.

    That is ‘Evangelicalism’ is a modern movement. A movement out of England and of English speakers. A movement that I contend it is equal parts religion and ideology. With arrow pointing ever more towards ideology.

    As someone brought up and educated Roman Catholic, but no longer Christian, my moral and ethical standards are rooted in Catholic teaching. Catholic teaching says that man is imperfect and that no man nor system made by man is perfect or perfectible. Rarely noted from this is that ideology is thus always fatally flawed since ideology is invented by man.

    It would do Dr. Rodin well to abandon his ideologies; Conservative, evangelical and Republican. Only by taking the leap into uncertainty and away from the certainties of ideology can real wisdom come.

    I will grant that science has ideological tendencies as well with climate science itself often guilty. The physics of climate are certain however and untainted by ideology. The models of climate change not so much.

  • Jim Mooney

    Alarmism? I’ve been in a number of evangelical churches that preach the end-times are upon us. Of course, given the state of the environment, that may very well be true ;’)

  • Dan Herscher

    Great article Dr Rodin! Almost every point hit home as reasons why it took me 25 years to start taking climate change seriously, despite learning about it in elementary school. As a science teacher and science lover I am embarrassed that it took me so long to accept the scientific consensus and these 5 reasons are big ones.

    For point 4 (second time): There is a great proposal that lines up with conservative values of small government and low taxes. Citizens Climate Lobby’s Carbon Fee and Dividend proposal is revenue neutral, adds jobs, and reduces pollution far more than any EPA top down regulation. Check it out at

  • Jenny Hill

    “As a Republican, I champion small government, the minimum necessary federal regulations governing our lives, policies that create jobs and taxes that are fair and as low as possible.”

    So do environmentalists, liberals, atheists, and Democrats. But we define “small government” differently. I want government to protect the environment, the weak, the poor (evangelicals have not taken care of all the poor, mentally ill, abused, and jobless).

    • I’ve found many have simplistic understandings of the political spectrum. A lot of people are trapped in their own ideological reality tunnels.

  • Dan Herscher

    Great article Dr. Rodin! It really resonated with me as to why it took me so long to become engaged in climate action.

    Upon reading below I realize that I may have violated one of your discussion board rules and had my previous comment deleted by posting a link to Citizens’ Climate Lobby. I would like to point out again for you and your readers that the Citizens’ Climate Lobby proposal adheres to conservative principles of limited government and no taxes. Reading through point 4 on your second time through, you seemed to be looking for a solution that conservatives could support and the CCL proposal fits the bill very well. We have numerous conservatives who champion our proposal from George Shultz to Bob Ingles. I thought that perhaps this is the sort of thing you would be looking for in a government solution.

    • Dan Herscher

      Or maybe I just wasn’t paying attention to the order that my comments were being listed and it is still there. Opps.

  • Nancy Watson

    I am an evangelical Christian. I’m really glad about your change of heart about climate change. I’m also glad that my first pastor was not a person who judged people by what they wore or whether they liked baseball. You know that in Christ there is no “Jew or Greek”, no “business leader or hippie type” but one “new man”. Those things have nothing to do with being a Christian. However I am glad that we are having this discussion. People do need to talk to each other and not vilify each other in this country.

    • emeans

      Dr. Rodin:

      Much thanks for writing this highly personal message. But I want you to get just a bit *more* personal. You said in the message above: “Finally, one day I was forced to face the internal absurdities of my worldview and I was challenged to do the unthinkable.”

      Such a huge step is inconceivable for many, and for most of us it is a rare event. Please elaborate more: what provoked you to finally face your ‘internal absurdities’? An event? A person? This may exemplify what the entire issue hinges upon for us all.

      • Thanks for the challenge. Unfortunately I cannot point to one pivotal moment or experience. Yet my change of heart did happen over a fairly short period of time, It was as if the weight of the internal inconsistency of my theology was finally too much to bear. For us to see our entire life as stewards of what belongs to God, yet stop short of creation and adopt a utilitarian posture toward it alone was unbiblical. If I was to speak and teach on the life of a faithful steward as absolute surrender to the will of God and the joy and freedom of knowing and doing His will for His glory, I could no longer stop and say, “Except of course for creation. That He has left to us to do with as we please.” If we are truly to be caretakers of creation we have to ask, ‘how are we doing’ and ‘by what do we measure what care taking looks like?’ This is where both scripture and science were unrelenting. Clearly we are called to care for creation as God’s people, and clearly we were doing a terrible job of it. I would have liked to have created an echo chamber of minority voices around me so I could go on living and believing as I did, but my conscience wouldn’t allow it. Dare I say the Holy Spirit was at work to help me finally align my attitudes toward creation with the rest of my views on being a faithful steward? So it was this combination of honesty about stewarding creation and the evidence of how poorly we are performing that were the main influencers of my change of heart and spirit. I hope that helps.

        • emeans

          Thank you. I don’t often see such introspection. I am a Christian myself, & a registered Republican voter, and I consider myself intensely “environmental” as well. I believe to the bottom of my heart that conservative Christians should not only be sympathetic to the issue of climate change, they should *own* this issue. Humility, personal responsibility, and stewardship of God’s creation should be among the first things people think of when the word ‘Christian’ pops into their heads. Laughable, I know, in the current political environment: but believe it I do. It is encouraging to read your own story in this vein.

          • Nancy Packard

            I am a Christian who has, for years, paid attention to information about the environment, and so I am one of those you have now come to terms with. It is ironic that folks like me have been lambasted by Evangelicals and others who simply have not kept themselves informed. Eventually all will come round to the fact that it is the Kochs with their oil interests, and Fox News and others who have created this rift. And it is not only a rift–it imperils my life and my grandkids’ lives! I anguish over the waste–the wasted time and the wasted energy spent despising folks who have grown increasingly frightened by the state of our natural world, and now by Climate Change! I think Evangelicals bear some responsibility for the numbers who have lost or left their religious beliefs. Stubbornly refusing to inform themselves/listening to strident falsecasters has caused folks like me to look in desperation for a better group, a better way.

  • scotchleaf

    You can’t vote Republican and claim to care about the environment.

    • At least not these days. But earlier last century you could have.

  • Dana Oleskiewicz

    Not only should we cast off the ‘Us’ vs ‘Them’ in environmental work, we should eliminate the ‘science’ OR ‘salvation’ message. I lost my faith as a young person to the evolution / faith dichotomy. I then spent my life’s work in water protection (business suit, briefcase in tow) but as a nonbeliever until the Lord recently and blessedly called upon me. God is now showing me how very important Christians are to protecting our earth. To do so, however, we need the scientific community, yet this sector is often severely alienated from Christianity over the negative debates on earth age, evolution, and climate change. Only with the Lord’s help will we solve human-made environmental problems. Scientists need to be our partners in this venture, not our foe.

  • Jack Clifton Walters

    AS long as you are against the carbon tax, against stopping pipelines from being built and against the crazy large government grants and subsidies to green billionaires, then knock yourself out.

  • Notacos Iasplode

    One huge error I see right off the bat is “I have a basic trust in the veracity of scientific data, especially when it is confirmed on a broad scale.” That is a major error. The sciences have all become political in nature. The researchers, the majority of people weighing in on the subject, all have to go to politicians to get their funding. In a lot of cases they will say whatever is needed and reach the conclusions that are expected to continue receiving these funds. Trusting the results of research done by people that have a vested interest in only one outcome is never a good idea. Do you trust studies about the impact of smoking done by tobacco companies? No, and rightly so. The best case that I have seen for not trusting the results is the fact that when any scientist comes forward with research that challenges the results they are attacked on a personal level, instead of having their research challenged. The few times that the research gets addressed the reply from those on the global warming side is always the same…”you must know more than the majority or scientists” or “the vast majority of scientists disagree with you” or something equally dismissive. I believe that was called the Bandwagon Fallacy in logic class. Just because the majority of people believe something does not make it true.
    There is a problem with any person of faith getting into bed with the environmentalists in my opinion. Many of them have raised the whole global warming issue to a religious level. It is “do you believe in global warming?” “they are global warming deniers” and so on. You have Bishops, the Pope, the head of the UN environmental study group, and MANY more people saying ignoring global warming or doing things to cause it are a sin. This takes the science out of the equation and makes it a subject of belief. That does absolutely nothing to advance the study of the environment and only leads to stagnation. It is not the first time that the churches have gotten in the way of real scientific advancement and I doubt it will be the last. The global warming “debate” is settled in the eyes of that type of person and so there is no debate allowed on it, and that is a very sad day for science when debate and research are not allowed.

    • Jimmy

      You again raise an important issue, but you only raise it to one side. Sure, there are certainly scientists funded by some group or other to say that global warming exists, but you do not mention that this is also the case for some scientists who came to conclusions that global warming doesn’t exist. However, when the distribution of wealth between self-identified Republicans and Democrats is roughly equal, the fact that well over 90% of scientific studies point towards man-induced global warming becomes difficult to rectify. A few possibilities: 1. only Democratic-leaning people care enough to spend money on such an issue, 2. only Democratic-leaning people demand a certain result from the studies they fund, 3. Scientists, in some way (such as how STEM fields attract more men than women) are inherently biased to one side, 4. Despite corruption present on both sides of the issue, the trend of scientific research is strong enough to make its untruth impractically unlikely compared to its truth.

      1. This possibility is easily falsifiable by simply looking into how much money is spent by both sides of the issue. Even a logical test makes it quite unlikely: if the public overwhelmingly believes that global warming is caused by our use of fossil fuels, people will use less fuel, demand more alternative energy, and many of the most powerful corporations in the world (oil companies) will have a significant decline in profit. If man-made global warming is a lie, what reason could these companies possibly have for NOT funding studies that reveal the truth? To take it a step further, if man-made global warming is true, how many of these companies would create studies that attempt to prove it false to bolster their bottom line? This doesn’t even count the conservative billionaires who simply have an ideological (not financial) reason for disputing global warming and more than enough money to fund any research they want, objectively or not.

      2. The only way to argue this point is by saying that only Republicans are morally upstanding and truthful people. This is incredibly easy to falsify both with undeniable lies told by Republican-leaning people and undeniable truths told by Democrat-leaning people. This is not to say that all Republicans lie and all Democrats tell the truth, rather, that people of any ideology both lie and tell the truth. Thus, you would expect that even IF the vast majority of climate change research were funded by Democrats (close to 100%), there would still be SOME sizable minority who would simply want to know the truth. In reality, where the spread of funding is far less one-sided, in order for virtually all research pointing one direction to be false data, all Democratic-leaning research must be lies and all Republican-leaning research must be true (and vastly outnumbered, so this means that #1 above must also be true).

      3. Being that science attracts a pursuit for objectivity, it is very hard to find any kind of correlation between wanting to become a scientist and being ideologically consonant with global warming (i.e. without having looked at the data). Once having looked at the data, the fact that the vast majority of scientists agree with climate change should indicate not that it is true, but that there is good science behind it. Unless there is some global conspiracy that transcends decades of time, all languages and peoples, and the ability to be detected, the idea that science attracts people who are disproportionately pro-global warming because of some visceral, unreasoned response is extremely unlikely.

      Which brings us to 4. Despite corruption present on both sides of the issue, the trend of scientific research is strong enough to make its untruth impractically unlikely
      compared to its truth.

  • Notacos Iasplode

    Just one example of intelligent research that goes the other direction on the global warming argument. Did anyone see the study about the oceans causing the CO2 increases? It pointed out that 71% of the planet is water and as temperature increases the water breaks down and creates more CO2. That would indicate that the correlation between CO2 and global warming is the OPPOSITE of what environmentalists say and it is the increased heat causing the increase in CO2, not CO2 causing increased temperatures. There was a study that showed that the years with the increased temperatures correlated with years where the sun had increased output. Hmm, increased output from our major source of heat happened at the same time the planet got warmer, causing increased amounts of CO2…not a theory that the majority of people have heard about I can guarantee you because it does not lend itself to “fixing” the problem by giving more control to those in power.
    I do not claim to have all the answers to the global warming debate, but I know for a fact that no one else has all the answers either and that a great deal more REAL research needs to be down before the answers are found. Until that research is done and concrete answers are laid out in a logical manner for the public to see I guess I will have to stay a heretical global warming denier.

    • Jimmy

      You bring up an important issue, but are forgetting a very important part of this issue: CO2 has been repeatedly proven to aid the Greenhouse Effect, thus it is a greenhouse gas (i.e. a better heat retainer than nitrogen or oxygen, the main components of our atmosphere). CO2 is proven to increase the warming potential of a gaseous solution exposed to solar radiation. Whether most of the CO2 is coming directly from humans or most of it is coming from the oceans while humans contribute a smaller percentage of CO2, CO2’s greenhouse affect is not prevented by having come from one source or another. If the warming of the oceans creates more CO2 in the atmosphere, then we have a feedback loop: the hotter it gets, the more CO2 and the more CO2, the hotter it gets. It is easy to see how this might turn into an exponential increase. The nature of an exponential increase is such that you start off with a very small amount (we will say, for argument, CO2 produced by humans), and in a relatively short amount of time it becomes many times what it was initially (the small amount of warming it produced led to increased release of CO2 by the oceans, and this leads to much greater increases in temp).

      Regarding solar activity, the argument still holds. If the solar output increases and that causes an increase in CO2 released by the oceans, that same CO2 acts as a greenhouse gas to further warm the earth, which in turn releases more CO2, and so on it goes. If this is the case, it still should go without saying that any increased output of CO2 by humans is only going to compound the problem, whether or not our actions create the MOST CO2 that is present. If we have the ability to stop this feedback loop (or at least not add to it) and thus prevent mass extinction at a rate never before seen, it is our moral imperative to do so.

  • Wow, you watched Whale Wars and rooted for the Japanese whalers? I guess you get points for honesty, but, man that’s some cruel and sociopathic stuff. You should talk to a professional.

  • Norah Elizabeth

    This post gives me hope. I am an environmentalist was raised a Christian but was turned off by religion & politics since it divides people and encourages the us verses them mentality. We all need to be good stewards of the earth and all its creatures. I believe in my heart this was what Jesus would want.

  • balmy4

    Half of that article was about democrats vs republicans. That’s also some crazy conditioning right there and the author didn’t even notice it in himself. Jesus wasn’t political. He said pay your taxes and don’t complain about it. Don’t store up treasures on earth. And Jesus was always hanging out with the downtrodden and the fringes of society. You can only imagine that would be gays transgenders prostitutes, addicts etc, so I doubt he was yelling at people that they’re horrible abominations or to get a job or starve because that’s on them. He didn’t make it a policy to judge people but just to love them. I swear that most people claiming christian republican are 70/30 republican christian. You cannot serve two masters, and the republicans are winning out over the christian values. Craziness!

  • dennisglodzik

    One of the most puzzling aspects of dis-belief in climate change is that people are ready to accept it depending on where they hear it from. One guy I used to argue with at work was a staunch “God makes the weather” guy, and would not consider otherwise. Then one day, he seemed to have done a 180 degree turn around. I said, “Bob, you never believed in global warming but you’re puzzling me now. You seem to be accepting what i say about it.”
    He said that his grand daughter was studying it in school and was talking to him about it.
    I find this rather scary in that some people can be so adamant until the “right” person talks to them.

  • Randy

    I am late to this conversation but Scott you would do well to read another evangelical perspective – Rick Joyner’s book “Living Dangerously; A Behind the Scenes Look at the Climate Change Debate.” Rick spent a significant amount of time with James Cameron (the Titanic Director) and others being part of the documentary Cameron filmed on climate change. The other piece is this past week I listened to a British Researcher who said we are entering into a mini ice age in the next four years and we will again see the Thames frozen over. There is no ‘scientific’ consensus on this issue. The co-founder of Greenpeace has a petition singed by over a thousand scientists who say carbon in the atmosphere is not the issue. No time to get into it now. I strongly believe we need to be good stewards of the environment and there are many corporate practices that need to be stopped or altered. I also think we need to do research and exercise wisdom.