Lesson 2 - The Science of Climate Change

Science and Pseudoscience

Part of the reason it’s so difficult to talk about climate change is that people sometimes have a hard time agreeing on what research is reliable and what isn’t. Our cable news networks may make it seem like the data of climate change is unclear or debatable, but it’s not. As Rick shows here, credible scientific bodies are unanimous in their consensus on the reality of climate change. 

The quality of our conversation surrounding environmental care and policy will improve if we can learn to sort out dubious climate change research—climate denialism based on anecdotal evidence, linked to one individual scientist, found in non-peer-reviewed sources, or rooted in selective interpretations of data—from credible climate change research—conclusions confirmed by scholarly consensus, found in peer-reviewed publications, and grounded in expansive research with lots of data. 

Reflect:

  • In your experience and in your personal network, what is the discussion around climate change? Where do people get their information about climate change?  

  • What role do our political and religious commitments play in our interpretation of climate science data? 

The Grim Facts of Climate Change

So, if there is a consensus among scholars who produce trustworthy climate change research, what is it? Well, as Rick explains, while not without hope (more on that later), the outlook is pretty grim: 

It’s Real — There are “hundreds of indicators,” as Rick says, that confirm that the earth’s climate is warming.

It’s Us — While Rick concedes that the earth’s environment is always in flux, the data unequivocally shows that the prime factor changing the climate is the release of greenhouse gases produced by humans.

It’s Bad — Climate change has already impacted all regions of the United States, all sectors of the economy, and all aspects of human life.

It Will Get Worse — Even if we instantly stopped emitting carbon today, the earth’s temperature would still increase at a rate surpassing the aspirational goals set by the Paris Climate Agreement drafted in 2016.

In the words of NASA climatologist James Hanson,

“Failure to act with all deliberate speed functionally becomes a decision to eliminate the option of preserving a habitable climate system.”

Reflect:

  • Part of the reason climate change is such a difficult topic to think about is that it’s paralyzing. It seems to be a problem of impossible proportions. What is your reaction when you consider the scope of climate change and its potential impacts?  

  • In the face of such staggering realities, what gives you hope for the future of creation? 

Climate Change in Action

Have you ever felt a sense of angst and restlessness regarding your work? Have you ever wondered if you were doing what God has called you to do?
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