Global warming seems to have reached a tipping point in public consciousness in recent months. President Bush acknowledged the threat in his State of the Union address. Many global warming skeptics now concede that the problem is real, even though other points of disagreement still exist. The role of evangelical Christians in the fight against climate change has also garnered much positive media attention. The Evangelical Climate Initiative was one of the biggest stories of 2006 and many major publications are praising the broad Christian coalition speaking out on global warming.
For most of us, the dangers of environmental degradation are pretty abstract; things like glaciers melting, average global temperatures rising, species extinctions, and other fears are remote from our daily lives. But a central part of Christian concern for environmental issues - especially global warming - is that trees, animals, and oceans are not the only targets threatened by the changing climate. Global warming is very much a human rights issue.This post at Signposts explains just why global warming is a moral issue (ht: Connexions):
Thousands of people have already become climate change refugees from Wellington, NZ to New Orleans, USA. As the ice continues to melt, and the seas continue to rise, the UN believes this will run to 50 million people by 2010 and some scientists predict this to rise to 150 million. For those fortunate enough not to be forced from their homes, they will still be subject to more intense weather patterns, from stronger storms more often, to more severe droughts more frequently. Global warming is a moral issue.
Going beyond the sheer numbers of people who stand to suffer from the effects of global warming, it is important for Christians to understand that the poor and the vulnerable will disproportionately feel the impact of global warming. The millions of people worldwide, particularly those in the Third World, who already suffer from abject poverty, human rights abuses, civil war, AIDS, hunger, or corrupt or cruel governments - these are the people who will be hit hardest by global warming. Their food supply, shelter, and safety will be at greater risk than those of more affluent nations and communities who have the power to address global warming. Environmental injustice is the idea that people who lack political power, resources, and voices - specifically minority and low-income populations - unfairly bear more of the burden of environmental harm than the rest of us do.
Global warming is a human rights issue, a moral issue, a Christian issue. How much longer will we stand by and do nothing while the powerless suffer?