Secretary of State John Kerry declared climate change “a threat to national security” and likened it to a “weapon of mass destruction, perhaps the world’s most fearsome weapon of mass destruction.”
His declaration during a speech in Jakarta, Indonesia came on the heels of President Obama’s visit to drought-stricken California to deliver both aid and pointed remarks on the need to make climate change a political priority.
At least one senator—Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)—thinks Congress is getting closer to taking some action on carbon-limiting fees and regulations. But his is a “contrarian view” stoked by pending EPA regulations on coal-fired plants and, perhaps, the demonstrable link in other nations between the increasingly bad weather that people experience and their growing trepidation about a changing climate they may not fully understand.
Could droughts, heatwaves, superstorms and, for good measure, a polar vortex or two finally force a real change in U.S. policy?
Not if God’s Plan gets in the way.
That’s the dirty little secret sustaining the Holy Trinity of big oil, natural gas and “clean” coal. They preserve their grip on both U.S. policymaking and those swollen wads of taxpayer-amplified profits by greasing the palms of political roundheels who, more often than not, are elected by a political base built on the Evangelicals and various mega-churchgoers who dominate gerrymandered districts, act as gatekeepers in primary elections and protest loudly over Biblically-bereft school curricula.
The “protest loudly” part is important because Big Carbon and their coterie of concubines cannot endure without some reliable public acquiescence or, even more alarming, the mechanical recalcitrance of their political base, even in the face mounting evidence. That sort of recalcitrance in the face of evidence is contrary to the practice of science, but almost requisite for adherence to creationism, climate denialism or the idea that our destinies are made manifest by the will of the Almighty.
According to a 2011 Baylor University study, seventy-three percent of Americans believe that God has a plan for everyone. And the more strongly they believe in God’s Plan, the more likely they are to see government overreach in the affairs of Americans. As Christianity Today pointed out, this distaste for government’s role in human affairs “…diminishes as belief in God’s plan wanes.”
It’s a simple juxtaposition—God’s preset course for history trumps any scheme concocted by humans. And any human-centered efforts that deny the Almighty’s heavy hand in the writing of history are, at best, apocryphal and, at worst, heretical.
In the case of the environment and climate change, human impact on something as big as the whole of God’s creation is, in and of itself, a dubious proposition. This makes human-centered explanations of climate change or the sixth mass extinction not only incidental, but even self-aggrandizing. It also fosters a willingness to accept the otherwise unacceptable, and this willingness is predicated on one simple turn of phrase—it’s all part of God’s plan.
Climate is part of God’s Plan.
Extinction is part of God’s Plan.
In fact, the end of the world is part of God’s Plan.
And because it nullifies Genesis—the alpha that sets up Armageddon’s omega—the science of evolution remains the biggest challenge to the veracity of that plan. If evolution is right, then Genesis is wrong. If Genesis is wrong, then God is either a liar or superfluous. And if we are not created in God’s image or living out God’s script for our lives, then humans are not quite as special and unique as we’d like to think.
For that thirty-three percent of Americans who, according to the most recent Pew poll, refuse to accept anything but Genesis, the stakes couldn’t be higher. Without God’s Plan, humans alone have to shoulder the burden of responsibility for turning a once quite real Eden into sweltering Hell on earth.
That’s why almost a century after the sad circus of the Scopes “Monkey Trial” and over one and a half centuries after Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species was first published, the obvious fact of evolution remains a relentless, if completely mind-boggling, controversy for a group of devout Americans who inadvertently, subconsciously or intentionally abet the greed and avarice of Big Carbon.
Maybe it is just a coincidence that two primary fronts in the war on evolution are Texas and Louisiana. They just so happen to be two of America’s most oil-centric states and, therefore, most prolific producers of carbon. Both states are also steeped in fundamentalism. Texas may or may not be the shiny Buckle on America’s Bible Belt, but there is little doubt its political class is awash in oil dollars and its environment tainted by the toxic consequences of fracking. Louisiana is not only in the midst of a $60 billion oil, gas and refining boom, it’s also the home of duck-hunting Bible experts and it’s a national leader in vouchers that allow parents to steer their children away from perilous “humanism” and into “classrooms” featuring anything but the basics of science.
Not coincidentally, America’s kids are perennial laggards in math and science education and too many of America’s adults lack a general knowledge of basic scientific facts. This works hand in glove with Big Carbon’s use of the Big Tobacco playbook for dealing with troubling scientific evidence. When in doubt, create doubt—but call it “scientific” doubt.
This doubt reflex dominated a flaccid debate on Meet the Press between tenacious science educator Bill Nye and Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), vice-chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Ms. Blackburn, a red-blooded social conservative from Tennessee’s 7th District, benefits from an almost Pavlovian voting pattern that has seen her and her GOP predecessor win anywhere from sixty-six to one-hundred percent of the vote over the last seven elections. In the last year, she’s raised $38,000 from the oil and gas industry and she scooped up over $93,000 for her 2012 campaign. She practically has a Minnie Pearl-style price-tag dangling off of her hat.
So, it made perfect sense that she dismissed the scientific consensus about climate change even as another polar blast was inundating the East Coast. The indefatigable Nye, fresh off his debate with creation science promoter Ken Ham, implored Blackburn to “…really look at the facts. You are our leader. We need you to change things, not deny what’s happening.”
But denial is her bread and butter. She, like so many others who use the specious specter of doubt to cloud complicated scientific issues, basically runs interference for the geologists, chemists, engineers and corporate captains who profit from the oil and gas industry, but should know better.
Science and religion can and do work together, even if not for the greater good. A brand new survey by Rice University found that nearly fifty percent of Evangelicals “…believe that science and religion can work together and support one another.”
Alas, they do.
This marriage of convenience works together to deny inconvenient truths about the real and lasting damage Americans are causing each and every day. It’s a match made in heaven, like God and mammon.Tweet
February 20, 2014 @ 10:50 am Roch
Passing this on to Climate-Change-Deniers: gas up your pov, drive it in your garage, close the doors and windows, get back in the pov and do not turn off the engine. Great stuff! No harm anywhere! Enjoy!
February 20, 2014 @ 11:03 am leslie griffith
JP nails the issue as usual.
Just re-read “Letter to a Christian Nation” recently.
Instead of the Koran or the Bible, it should be in the drawer of hotel nightstands around the world.
If there is a God, perhaps he/she will teach fundamentalists the fundamentals of being human. Caring about the welfare of others.
February 20, 2014 @ 11:25 am Doug Bennett
God’s plan is perfect.
1. Isolate new species, man, on a small blue orb in the Milky Way Galaxy for experiment.
2. Endow new species with free-will and creative abilities.
3. Put them in the petri dish (perfect world)for several hundred millennium.
4. Contain and observe until extinction (insure they don’t contaminate the rest of creation).
5. Plan new experiment (preferably on new perfect orb).
February 20, 2014 @ 11:54 am Dv
The climate science that drives these theories if false and non-scientific. The masses of idiots that sit back with no knowledge and accept what the mainstream media and scientists say is fact are the poison that will doom us all. The truth about is it that it is cLIEmate change! Don’t be foold people, they want to blame us but the facts do not support the ideas of those blaming human carbon emissions. In a short time the truth will be known and the clLIemate change supporters will be cornered by their own doings and lies.
February 20, 2014 @ 1:14 pm Kevin Schmidt
How ironic that you use illogical, unscientific nonsense in an attempt to disprove real science.
AGW is accepted by 97% of climate scientists and every major scientific organization and academy around the world. Where is your scientific evidence that every qualified person on this subject is wrong?
Oh, that’s right, your pig headed belief is all you need.
Here is irrefutable proof of AGW:
The evidence for global warming is being meticulously accumulated by scientists all over the world. This evidence includes the following independent observations that paint a consistent picture of global warming:
Our planet is suffering an energy imbalance and is steadily accumulating heat (Hansen 2005, Murphy 2009, von Schuckmann 2009, Trenberth 2009)
The height of the tropopause is increasing (Santer 2003, press release)
Jet streams are moving poleward (Archer 2008, Seidel 2007, Fu 2006)
The tropical belt is widening (Seidel 2007, Fu 2006)
There is an increasing trend in record hot days versus record cold temperatures with currently twice as many record hot days than record cold temperatures (Meehle 2009, see press release).
A shift towards earlier seasons (Stine 2009)
Cooling and contraction of the upper atmosphere consistent with predicted effects of increasing greenhouse gases (Lastovicka 2008)
Lake warming (Schneider & Hook 2010)
Arctic permafrost is warming at greater depths (Walsh 2009) and degrading (IPCC AR4, section 184.108.40.206)
Global sea level rise is accelerating (Church 2006)
Antarctic ice loss is accelerating (Velicogna 2009), even from East Antarctica which was previously thought to be too stable to lose ice mass (Chen 2009)
Greenland ice loss is accelerating (Velicogna 2009, van den Broeke et al 2009)
Glaciers are shrinking globally at an accelerating rate (WGMS 2008)
Arctic sea-ice loss is accelerating with the loss rate exceeding model forecasts by around a factor of 3 (Stroeve 2007).
Lake and river ice cover throughout the Northern Hemisphere are freezing later and breaking up earlier (Magnuson 2000, Hodgkins 2005)
Animal and plant species are responding to earlier springs. Eg – earlier frog breeding, bird nesting, earlier flowering, earlier migration of birds and butterflies (Parmesan 2003)
The distribution of tree lines, plants, birds, mammals, insects, fish, reptiles, marine invertebrates are shifting towards the poles (Parmesan 2003)
Growing season is lengthening (Christidis 2007)
Earlier emergence of Melbourne butterflies (Kearney 2010)
Changes to physical and biological systems across the globe are consistent with warming temperatures (Rosenzweig 2008)
Distribution of plants are shifting to higher elevations (Lenoir 2008)
UK Flowers blooming earlier now than any time in last 250 years (Amano 2010)
Arctic phytoplankton blooming earlier in the year, affecting the food chain (Kahru 2010)
Earlier emergence of Melbourne butterfly: 1.6 days per decade (Kearney 2010).
Decline in lizard populations (Sinervo 2010)
Drop in primary productivity due to unprecedented warming at Lake Tanganyika (Tierney 2010)
Tropical reef corals are expanding poleward (Yamano 2011)
Species are shrinking (Sheridan 2011)
The 10 indicators are:
Land surface air temperature as measured by weather stations. You know all those skeptic arguments about how the temperature record is biased by the urban heat island effect, badly-sited weather stations, dropped stations, and so on? This is the only indicator which suffers from all those problems. So if you’re arguing with somebody who tries to frame the discussion as being about land surface air temperature, just remind them about the other nine indicators.
Sea surface temperature. As with land temperatures, the longest record goes back to 1850 and the last decade is warmest.
Air temperature over the oceans.
Lower troposphere temperature as measured by satellites for around 50 years. By any of these measures, the 2000s was the warmest decade and each of the last three decades has been much warmer than the previous one.
Ocean heat content, for which records go back over half a century. More than 90% of the extra heat from global warming is going into the oceans – contributing to a rise in…
Sea level. Tide gauge records go back to 1870, and sea level has risen at an accelerating rate.
Specific humidity, which has risen in tandem with temperatures.
Glaciers. 2009 was the 19th consecutive year in which there was a net loss of ice from glaciers worldwide.
Northern Hemisphere snow cover, which has also decreased in recent decades.
Perhaps the most dramatic change of all has been in Arctic sea ice. Satellite measurements are available back to 1979 and reliable shipping records back to 1953. September sea ice extent has shrunk by 35% since 1979.
February 21, 2014 @ 10:12 am parks mccants
Good morning J.P. Ive bumped heads with ” fundamentalist” over many issues. Their reference is the bible( of choice.) They do not waver from what they consider to be the word of God.
Unless their God is a cruel and unjust one, may I suggest that he or she has equipped mankind with a large enough ( logical) brain to direct him or her not to ” shit” in one’s own bed.
End of the world or not, shall the children suffer at the hands of profiteers? Good read. Thanks.
March 8, 2014 @ 8:41 pm Tom O'Neill
Both Aquinas and Bonhoeffer found a way around the shallows on which so many religiously inspired people founder. Yes, God made us. Yes God–much like a human parent–has plans for us. But God really did create persons. God created beings that exercise causality. Both theologians would say, “if the causality of humans is not real–if it cannot be really efficacious–then we humans do not really exist and God is not really a creator.” They would add that it is only a very dismal and all-too-anthropomorphic idea of God which denies that he can really create.
So of course we “mere humans” can ruin the planet. We are munching daily on the forbidden fruit. If the fundamentalists can learn to read the Bible as Aquinas and Bonhoeffer did, they may yet be marching in the streets against factory farms, Monsanto, and fracking.
March 14, 2014 @ 1:04 pm GodfearingWoman
SATAN is behind the pollution and causing climate change! He does NOT want God’s creation to flourish or his children to survive! He HATES diversity and a healthy plant. He is clever and has blinded the eyes of the energy industry and is keeping the good godfearing people in blinders! WE MUST RISE UP AND COUNTER SATAN!!!!
Support godfearing politicians and ways to restore God’s Earth to its healthy state. NOW!!! BEFORE SATAN WINS!!!!