Evolution of climate fight includes faith community
Feb 28, 2022
I usually ignore ridiculous and nonsensical diatribes like a letter to the editor in the Feb. 20 edition of the Parkersburg News and Sentinel titled “Trust God on climate,” but since the author mentioned Mid-Ohio Valley Climate Action by name, I feel compelled to respond. I have been in the leadership of Mid-Ohio Valley Climate Action from its inception six-and-a-half years ago, and I will always defend the wonderful people in this organization against attack.
First of all, I know literally hundreds of people who work tirelessly to address anthropogenic (from the Greek “anthropogenes, meaning “born of man“) global climate change from a faith-based perspective. These people, both as individuals and in collective groups and organizations, have become members of and donated to Mid-Ohio Valley Climate Action over the years and have worked as part of other organizations in multiple states as Christians, Jews, Muslims and members of numerous other faith traditions and belief systems to engage in what many of them refer to as “creation care.” They believe the deity or deities they worship call on them to care for this earth and they act upon that belief.
As I have affirmed in these pages many times, I myself am an atheist Humanist. The writer of this letter can threaten me and others like me all he wants with the eternal damnation he believes we’re in for, but these are empty, idle threats of no consequence and are quite juvenile. Anthropogenic global climate change is not waiting for any deity to address it meaningfully. A rapidly warming Arctic and Antarctic, rising seas, record-setting droughts, heatwaves, wildfires, precipitation events, floods, and storms like hurricanes, rapidly acidifying and deoxygenating oceans, habitat losses, species extinctions, crop failures, loss of potable water, the massive spread of vector-borne diseases, desertification and so much more are leading to humanitarian crises, migration events, stress on health care systems and widespread death right now, today. These have been definitively linked to human-caused changes in climate and will indisputably worsen with each fraction of a degree more of warming.
The author repeats long-refuted and discarded talking points like “the climate has always changed” and that we as humans cannot affect the status and trajectory of a global climate system. This is bunk. The greenhouse effect has been well understood since at least the 18th century and is occurring at a rate unprecedented since the dawn of the geological epoch known as the Holocene, during which we evolved, leading many geologists to label our current geological age the Anthropocene — translated from the Greek as anthropo for “man” and cene for “new.” The author subscribes to a creationist notion of the earth being only 6,000 years old, so I guess it’s not surprising that he’d fail to understand this.
The author also seems to lack any understanding of energy use or energy policy. He talks about the foolishness of closing coal-fired power plants and asks why the President of the United States doesn’t just load the White House property down with renewable energy. He also suggests that we members of Mid-Ohio Valley Climate Action are likely hypocrites who fail to use renewable energy and engage in other sustainable living practices. While it would be nice if the President followed in Jimmy Carter’s footsteps and put a solar array on the White House roof, the President does not have the unilateral ability to site and build any energy installment he likes on White House property. There are laws, rules and regulations for siting and constructing power-producing facilities. There are costs involved (albeit falling costs that are already far cheaper than energy production using coal). As for our members, all of us either have solar arrays and/or have maximized energy efficiency in our dwellings and on our properties, drive hybrids and EVs or don’t have cars at all, are organic gardeners, have eliminated single-use plastics in our consumption patterns, recycle, compost, utilize wind or geothermal or hydro energy or some mix, eat vegan or vegetarian diets, are conservationists and much more. We walk the talk in countless ways.
Rather than writing hateful and willfully ignorant screeds, I’d suggest the author engage in this Information Age and learn more about human-caused climate change, energy generation and energy policy, geologic history, atmospheric physics and so much more. Before impugning others, maybe read more than one book.
Eric Engle is Mid-Ohio Valley Climate Action board president.