Thursday, July 8, 2010

Doomspeak revisited

A blog post by Mike Klassen in CityCaucus.com looks at the latest exercise in Doomspeak -- a talk given by SFU Prof. Mark Jaccard, in which he says humans are kidding themselves when it comes to actions being taken to reduce or eliminate climate change. Prof. Jaccard says, in effect, that talk of "carbon neutrality" and reducing dependancy on fossil fuels takes our focus away from what he says is the real task at hand: eliminating the use of fossil fuels altogether.

Urban studies specialist Gordon Price reported on Prof. Jaccard's talk in its entirety.

I'm sorry to say that I think the headline on the CityCaucus item is misleading. It says that humans lack the capacity to prevent climate change, which is not what Prof. Jaccard said, at all, according to the body of the story. I actually agree with the premise in the headline: to use the Apostle Paul's description, we're beating against the air, accomplishing nothing, with this "fight" against climate change -- and, as I've said before, we're dangerously close to trying to fight against God's plan.

All that being said, it's interesting reading Mike's and Gordon's posts and some of the comments, because they all remind me of one of those goalmouth scrambles in a hockey game where the puck misses on one side of the net ... then the other ... then over the top ... goes everywhere, in fact, but into the net. Those commenting seem to be all around different points and arguments, except for the one that should be staring us in the face.

While Prof. Jaccard says the grand delusion is that the actions we're taking now can actually solve things, he doesn't say whether it's any less delusional to think that eliminating all human-produced greenhouse gases would stop or even make a dent in climate change. I posed that question to the eminent scientist Bill Rees in the spring of 2009 and did not get a real response then, either. (Not that I pushed for a response: it was at a dinner for some international-development environmentalist types where I was a guest (my wife is a former member) so I didn't want to spoil the party by pushing too hard with the notion that maybe the emperor had no clothes. Besides, someone else -- one of those cloyingly apologetic visitors from the US who seemed to be ashamed of being white, male and American (no, it wasn't Mike Moore) -- had made a remark that the "Bible-thumpers" had been holding up progress on climate change, so I had a feeling I wasn't in sympathetic company.)

Prof. Jaccard says our desire for "good news" is blinding us to what he says is the problem. And maybe that's part of it: we're so focused on the problem, whether the perceived solution involves eliminating climate change (as if) or reducing our contribution to it, that we miss the real Good News.

I've written about that good news elsewhere, but it bears repeating: our treatment of God's Creation has been Original Ecological Sin. God instructed us in Genesis 1 to "be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth and subdue it". We've had no problem with the "fruitful and multiply and subdue" part, but we've failed miserably at replenishing. But the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross was not just to draw us closer to God, but to give us a chance to step away from our past sins (repent) and start with a clean slate. In environmentalist terms, that means to repent and move forward as proper stewards of Creation.

But stewardship of Creation is only a part of our walk with God, and we have to remember that. We cannot obsess on that one area at the expense of the rest of that Walk, which also involves loving one another, reaching out and helping those who need it, spreading the Gospel: things that, at times, may seem at cross-purposes with the environmental movement in the way they need to be accomplished.

Of course, Satan -- the god of this world -- wants to keep us from seeing that Big Picture, which is why he's snookered people into this raging debate and discussion and doomspeak over the most contentious element of environmental concern: climate change and the role of humans. Air quality? Water quality? Land use? Pretty much a slam-dunk when it comes to human involvement in those. But climate change? Still a lot of theories and a lot of questions and a lot of doubt, and that's just the way Satan likes it. After all, he's not interested in whether Creation survives: he just wants to keep us depressed and at one another's throats so that we don't turn our hearts and minds towards God.

If we ever did, we'd see that God promises that, if we turn away from our wicked ways, repent, and turn back to Him, He'll heal the land. Open-and-shut, if you ask me.

Environmentalism is about sustainability. Jesus is about abundant life.

Environmentalism is, at its heart, very inward-looking: how can I reduce my "carbon footprint". Jesus is about looking toward others and seeking God above all else. When He promises that "all these things will be added unto [us]" when we do that, He's talking about the things we need to survive -- including a healthy planet.

There's one more thing we need to understand. Nowhere in the Word of God does it say that earth is going to be around forever. One of the failings of the hard-core environmentalists is that they act and speak as if it's supposed to, and God clearly tells us that, sooner or later, there are goingto be big changes. He's told us what His plan is; we have to stop trying to fight it and find out instead what our role in it is.

That's Good News. One wonders why certain eminent scientists don't want us to look for it.

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