It’s time for a Christian consensus on climate change

Clayton Carlson

Clayton Carlson
December 16, 2015

With nearly 200 nations pledging action on climate change as part of the Paris Agreement, Christians should form a similarly unified voice.

December 16, 2015

The problem remains that there is no proof whatsoever that man affects the climate in any way. In fact, when you dig into the science, climate change happens on a cyclical basis. And from a Christian standpoint, to suggest that we are the cause places our actions as more powerful than God's creative acts.

Clay Carlson
December 16, 2015

Hi Morgan, thanks for reading. As I said in my other TC article on climate change (linked just above your comment) I think debating about the data is not very useful. The global consensus is written by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change: http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar5/syr/SYR_AR5_FINAL_full.pdf.

The figure that most clearly addresses your concern is 1.10 (here is just that figure: http://ar5-syr.ipcc.ch/ipcc/sites/default/files/AR5_SYR_Figure_1.10.png). The figure shows land temperature, sea temperatures, and sea ice coverage around the world over the last 100 years. For each point there is a comparison of what is happening versus models based on either A) just natural events or B) natural and human caused events.

As worshipers of the Creator, and stewards of His creation, we should have been among the first to work to combat climate change if there is even a chance that these data are true. With COP-21 we now know the entire world believes that they are. If secularists, Hindus, Muslims, and atheists from around the world want to protect creation, we should be welcoming them to the effort instead of playing catch up.

It is like the parable of the Great Banquet in Luke 14. Our maker has called His people to His side to join Him in the work of caring for all people and creatures of this world. But when He called us we respond with excuses. COP-21 shows us that God will find people to do this work. Please let Jesus never mean us when he says, "For I tell you, none of those who were invited will taste my dinner."

Doug Hawkinson
December 16, 2015

There is no consensus in the scientific community about what (if any) correlation there is between the activities of man and climate change. The models used by climate change activists are flawed or outright tampered with. Remember we used to call it global warming but when the actual observable results over time contradicted the models it was politically expedient to rename it to "climate change".

The result of spending trillions of dollars globally of a phenomenon that we have no conclusive proof will do any significant good along with legislation that in effect forbids the economically poor yet resource rich countries puts those nations in dire risk of never being able to economically enhance the lives of their people. It is a criminal waste of current dollars and a future waste of of the ives of millions of the poorest people on the globe.

We do need to act responsibly but we need to do it on the basis good science not hysteria. Since when did the Pope become and expert physicist. You are calling upon experts who are not experts. Let the Pope work on enhancing the spiritual quality of lives for Roman Catholics and leave science to scientists.

This is the first update I have gotten from you folks. If it is typical, I will unsubscribe. This is NOT Christian Thinking.

Jerry Brown
December 16, 2015

The problem of cost to correct or at least make an effort towards reducing CO2 and other environmental issues will be efficient even if we are unable to make a climate impact. These changes will have a impact on many other factors as well. If the projected impact is wrong we will still be better off than if we continue in the same path. If we do nothing the cost could be more than anyone has calculated. I hear many Christians who doubt the consequences, but agree or disagree we are still under the command to Adam to care for the garden. A false hope that Jesus will come and make it all right might in fact be our condemnation for being unfaithful stewards of His resources.

Clay Carlson
December 16, 2015

Hi Doug. The Pew Research Center did a fascinating study in July where they compared the views of members of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) to those of non-scientists across a range of environmental issues. The AAAS is the premier scientific association in the United States. While not all AAAS members are climate scientists, they are all well respected and productive scientists. This research by Pew shows what scientists think about the work of climate scientists. 88-90% agree. That sounds like consensus.

Here are the results of their survey: http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/07/23/an-elaboration-of-aaas-scientists-views/2015-07-23_aaas-members-elaboration_05/

Chip G
December 16, 2015

I have a hard time understanding the reluctance to acknowledge that there even MIGHT be climate change occurring and that it could be influenced by poor stewardship of the Earth. From what I read, there's a wide consensus on climate change, with a few outliers who provide contrary evidence. On examination, much of the contrary evidence is localized, while the global measurements indicate climate change occurring. I guess I'd ask people: what is your motivation for casting out any evidence of climate change? Some reasons I've heard include a general distrust of science due to evolutionary thinking. (On that basis we should also toss out all modern medicine, because it was also developed by scientists.)

One rule in these kinds of disputes: Follow the money.

I can't see the motivation of the varied scientists to create and maintain a climate change fraud, but I CAN see the motivation behind many of those who refute the science--they profit from inexpensive extraction and use of fossil fuels and would lose money should they be required to cut back. I suggest that these are not the people to trust for scientific rigor in regards to climate change. Those I see refuting the science as having "no basis" are relying on their information from--whom? They have read some information from some source, but I have not found any who is an unbiased, fully-informed scientist with a full grasp of the situation. (And if the source is a politician I would reject it out of hand.)

We do not serve capitalism, we serve the Creator. He does not promise us an inexhaustible supply of clean resources on earth, with no consequences for burning them up, but He does promise a new heavens and earth (in His timing), and in the original creation mandate, He commands us to take care of this one in the meantime.

So, be wise and serpents, people! Check your own motivation and that of those you listen to.

Doug Hawkinson
December 16, 2015


I am sorry to say that looking at the results of the Pew Study tells us exactly nothing. I am surprised an associate professor would use it. In the first place it is anecdotal in nature. There is not a shred of scientific data behind it. In fact, I'm not sure you can even call it a Study so much as a "gathering of opinions" even they alluded to that in their footnotes.

In the second place it engages in the logical fallacy of using an appeal to authority when there is not evidence that any (but I will concede that a few may be) are authorities. They are merely working scientists in some field of Natural Science or Medicine. They could be geologists or micro-biologists or any number of other experts in some field other than something germain to the issue. It more an evidence of group-think than anything scientific.

Thirdly, when did consensus become a standard of truth? Just because a position is held to be true, doesn't make it true. Most of the scientific community are naturalists too (that everything can be explained as resulting of natural causes). I am a creationist (and I hope you are too). Most people will tell you that Jesus is merely a man (and maybe not even historical). The Bible teaches that he is God and became a man to save us from our otherwise certain eternal separation from God. I am not suggesting we disregard all science. But I am saying that just because a scientist believes something, doesn't make it true. Pick your sources. See my suggestion below.

Lastly, the category of Research Scientists is of marginal value. Research Scientists rely on grants. Mosts grants (the big money ones at least) come from governments. Fall out of favor with your grantors and the grant money dries up. That is the weakest of my dissenting arguments because it borders on an ad hominem attack. But even if you discount that argument, the others still stand.

Please start getting some of your information from the Cornwall Alliance http://www.cornwallalliance.org/. They address this issue with compassion and no hysteria.

Doug Hawkinson
December 16, 2015

This will be my final contribution to this contribution.

The proposals have been mostly on the basis of consensus. As I stated in my last post, consensus does not lead to truth. Investigation might lead to truth if it is aided by the Holy Spirit.

The decision for all of us is do we want to follow the herd like lemmings or bison, or do we want to take the effort to investigate? Investigation is the more difficult course. Oftentimes it requires expertise we do not have. At that point we must look to experts. And this is where it gets tricky. You must vet your experts the best you can.

I have vetted Cal Beisner and the Cornwall Alliance. I find them to be compassionate Christians with PHDs who are reasonable men, trying to get to truth about stewardship of the planet. They are dissenters. At least listen to what they say and then make your decision.


Signing off.

Clay Carlson
December 16, 2015

Hi Doug,

Climate scientists from around the world through the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change have detailed the scientific consensus for climate change. According to Pew, 90% of other scientists agree with the IPCC's work. With COP-21, the leaders of the entire world have decided to invest time, resources, and reputation in the IPCC's results. I have already provided links to all of the above.

You are welcome to disagree with their results and find others that share your view, but it is incorrect to say there is no scientific consensus about the human causes of global climate change. There is overwhelming consensus and I am ready to try to serve as God's steward and try to do something about it.

Thank you for your interest in the article and the topic, but I have nothing else to say about the science.

David VanderWeele
December 16, 2015

Thank you for this article, Clay. Whether as stewards of the creation, or as Christians concerned for the millions or billions of brothers and sisters whose homes and water source are likely threatened by climate change, we are indeed called to do what we can to reverse the warming trend that is almost certainly caused by human events.

I find it shocking that the events of COP21 took place at all. I think my level of surprise speaks to the unusual culture of the United States, where, as you said, even presidential candidates deny climate change is real or needs to be addressed. I assumed this meant there would be more resistance in other countries, as well, to sign an agreement that may not be strong enough, but is certainly a good first step in a global effort to fight climate change. I am glad to see COP21 was as successful as it was and would like to see more Christians engaged in these conversations, helping to steer the national and international conversation on climate change.

December 17, 2015

That there is consensus is undisputed. That the consensus is anymore than group think is quite another matter. If reports are to be believed (and there is no good reason not to), the climate change group are involved in manipulating data, ignoring contradictory data, and taking far too slim a slice of history to reach their conclusions. And they can't even tell us what exactly is causing the purported change, nor if the change is reversible. Furthermore, there is great money to be made in telling the government what the government wants to hear. So we should not be surprised that people paid by governments are telling governments what they want to hear.

Remember, this is the same scientific community who told us we were in an ice age with irreparable damage just a few decades ago.

Christians should be good stewards of creation. We should also be good stewards of truth. The two things need not be set against each other as you have done.

There is no "Christian position" on climate change. There is only a Christian position on subduing creation for the glory of God.

Kenneth Mash
December 17, 2015

I am new to these posts and this is my first time to comment. I have but two thougts to add. As I read the post and comments I am surprized at the lack of Scriptural quotes to support and refute the ideas that the world is advancing. God not man is in control and God not made will bring an end to this present world and world order as we know it. Second, from my understanding of Scripture related to the end of this world I believe we have at least 1007 years before the end of it occurs. I do believe we need to be good stewards of what our Creator God has entrusted to us but I believe He is ultimately in control of global cooling/warming, climate change or what use to be called weather.

Josh Larsen
TC Staff
December 17, 2015

Hi Kenneth,

Welcome to Think Christian. If you’re looking for more direct Scriptural support of Clay’s position, I’d point you to his earlier TC piece, linked above and entitled ‘<a href="http://thinkchristian.reframemedia.com/why-i-signed-that-evangelical-scientists-letter-on-climate-change">Why I signed that evangelical scientists’ letter on climate change </a>.’ I’d add that the piece is another strong example of consensus – this time on the part of Christians in the field of science – on the topic of climate change. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

Josh (TC editor)

Doug Vande Griend
December 17, 2015

I tend to think the extreme politicization of the climate change debate has undoubtedly distorted claims about the science -- perhaps on all sides. Notwithstanding, I think there is common ground that exists, and has for years now, right in front of our faces.

The father of climate change concerns, James Hanson, has been saying for years now that the best, and perhaps only, immediate remedy to increasing CO2 is to push hard on building modern technology nuclear energy plants. Yet when he says that, all of his co-concerned-about-CO2-crowd goes totally silent.


If in fact CO2 alarmists truly believe what they say, they would at least discuss what their god father suggests is the (perhaps only) solution. And frankly, if they don't and won't, I don't and won't believe a word they say about the science, or even the sincerity of their claims. Nor should any other Christian.

How can I say the last sentence? The claim that there should be a Christian consensus on climate change is far less presumptuous and objectionable than my claim that climate change Christians who reject out of hand the common ground solution proposed by the first and foremost advocate for their own cause are insincere, or if not that, merely uninformed band wagon riders.

Doug Vande Griend
December 17, 2015

Anyone enamored with the political declarations of the IPCC, or even the folks gathering at the recent Paris conference, should take the time to read the recent 12/8/2015) testimony of John Christy to the Senate Committee on
Commerce, Science, & Transportation. John is a brother in Christ who also happens to be a one of the world's foremost climate scientist, having done groundbreaking work in satellite measuring with another world class climatologist, Roy Spencer.

The testimony is at: http://web.archive.org/web/20151210182540/http://www.commerce.senate.gov/public/_cache/files/fcbf4cb6-3128-4fdc-b524-7f2ad4944c1d/80931BD995AF75BA7B819A51ADA9CE99.dr.-john-christy-testimony.pdf

Christy has no connections whatsoever with the energy industry or its money. And contrary to what climate alarmists would have you believe, Christy and Spencer are not rare birds. There are a great number of world class climatologists who are not aligned with the opinion expressed in this article, nor that trotted out at the Paris conference state.

Certainly, a very high percentage of scientists do say that the world is warming and man's activity are one of the causes. But even Christy and Spencer would agree with that. The devil is in the details, and those devils tend to be ignored whenever a question become highly politicized. The nuanced questions include: how much warming is occurring?, how long has the planet been on a warming trend regardless of the existence of the human race (since the last ice age)?, how much does CO2 play a role in warming compared to other greenhouse factors?, what are the effects of the current rate of warming?, how does the planet's ability to adapt (as it always has) to warming (or cooling)?, how much do we understand or not understand about the planet's total energy equation?, what is the effect (e.g., the so-called "iris effect") of cloud formations in moderating warming or cooling agents?, and how much do computer models accurately predict planetary warming (so far not well)?

And this is just a short list of remaining unresolved questions. We are a thousand light years from being able to genuinely say "the debate is over," at least if we are talking about scientific as opposed to political debate.

December 17, 2015

The "climate change" movement is embedded with corruption and political agendas. There are as many highly recognized scientists that completely disagree and to say there is an agreement is misrepresentation. I am personally and professionally passionate about stewardship of God's creation and do not consider the climate change theology to represent my interests as an environmentalist or as a Christian.

Robby Olson
December 17, 2015

When Jewish Christians wouldn't associate with Gentiles, the Holy Spirit called Peter to the house of Cornelius: “What God has made clean, you must not call profane.” Those enculturated to the old party line were not pleased.

When Jewish Christians demanded full obedience to the Law, Paul declared, "You are not under law, but under grace." Those enculturated to the old party line were not pleased.

When the Holy Spirit lead Jesus to speak against the culture of his faith, he began, "You have heard it said... but I tell you..." Those enculturated to the old party line were not pleased.

When the Church declared the world the center of the universe, scientists who observed otherwise declared what we now take for grated. Those enculturated to the old party line were not pleased.

Need I continue? Church culture makes mistakes (politically, scientifically...) and it desperately needs those willing to raise their voice against the tide of, "We're right! We always have been and we always will be!"

The Christian communion (or more accurately, an outspoken minority of our communion) stands at a precipice, will we listen and learn with humility or will we dig in our heels? We can fight for old party line—fearful that the sacrifice of our energy indulgence my lead to discomfort and angry at our loss of power—or we can take our place as the heirs of Genesis 2:15, doing everything in our power to wisely till and keep the creation as God's faithful stewards awaiting the consummation of God's kingdom ON EARTH as it is in Heaven.

Dr. Carlson, thank you for stepping out to call us away from the old party line into our true calling to till and keep God's creation.

Corenna Roozeboom
December 17, 2015

Surely the Holy Spirit was present at COP 21. The fact that 196 countries recognized the urgency and came to an agreement, albeit an agreement that could be stronger still, is a miracle. Praise God!

I’m encouraged and filled with gratitude that Christians from all over the world had a presence at COP 21, bearing witness to Jesus’ words in Matthew 25:40: “‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” Given that climate change is already affecting billions of people worldwide who have contributed the least to it, yet are the most poor and vulnerable, without resources to adequately adapt to and mitigate the effects, it is a deeply moral issue that demands that Christians respond in faith.

Thank you, Clay, for your courage to humbly call us to action. Changing our lifestyles and advocating for just policies isn’t always easy, yet “from everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required; and from the one to whom much has been entrusted, even more will be demanded” (Luke 12:48). May we respond to Christ’s call in love and gratitude.

Jan Van Der Woerd
December 18, 2015

Thank-you Clayton for this article.
And thank-you for reminding us of or mandate and duty toward God's creation.
As participants we all have a responsibility to work in community supporting this valuable outreach initiative.
I find it troubling to read about threats of boycott toward this excellent, insightful and courageous attempt to bring Christian perspective into the public forum.
May God continue to Bless this work.

December 19, 2015

Science is not based on a consensus.

Dayne Curtis Burns
February 16, 2016

Another credible view is that man plays a role in global warming, but the costs proposed are huge and largely ineffective potentially destroying economies.

April 27, 2017

Really appreciate you tackling this subject. Its dissapointing that Christian's automatically have a visceral reaction against anything scientific because they assume it has to go against their understanding of God.
The more mature option rather than shutting the conversation down, is to consider how science and faith can integrate.
The church should be leaders in thought and action.

April 27, 2017

I may be oversimplifying this issue, and that is fine I can bare the brunt of that tension, but I believe we argue too much instead of finding a common ground to stand on. In my opinion I believe there is much bias on either side of the issue and it is hard to come to an agreement with subjective points of view stemming from culture, upbringing, residence, and etc. Science can learn from scripture and scripture can be further understood from science. It is not an either or.

Now, that being said, the common ground we should strive for is truth. Part of this truth is God has made us stewards of this planet since the creation of Adam. It was Adam's work after all. From the moment sin entered this world it has been decaying. Look around and you can not with peace say that man has had no ill-effect on the natural creation. We have become consumers and takers not managers and conservationists.

The parable Jesus spoke in Matthew 25 about the talents was a condemnation against inactivity and not caring for what the master had entrusted us. So, whether climate change exists or not I believe we can celebrate the general consensus of the world moving towards stewardship of God's creation. Further, we should be united in diminishing any harm, temperature or otherwise, we are causing to the environment God designed to sustain those He loves.

Richard Euson
April 27, 2017

A number of years ago, my wife and I took a cruise to Alaska. At one point we sailed into a bay and a spokesman from the national park service commented on the rounded hills. Their topography, he said, was due to glaciers advancing and retreating over the mountains, gradually eroding the landscape to the rolling hills we were seeing. He then pointed out on a map of the area where various contour lines showed the extent of the advance and retreat of glaciers over the historical past. What struck me was that the greatest retreat of the glaciers was in the period before the industrial revolution, and hence could not be attributed to human industrial activity increasing the CO2 levels. Couple that with the reluctance of well-known "climate scientists" to release their raw data for peer review and attempts at replication of their results, causes me to be skeptical of "climate science."

Doug Vande Griend
April 27, 2017

In response to 30331, by David:

Wow David. Hard to find a better example of imputing an emotional condition and a substantive position on all those with whom you disagree. Hey, I'm a Christian and I don't "automatically have a visceral reaction against anything scientific". Nor is my position on "climate change" "immature." My guess is I've studied the issue quite a bit more than you have.

Finding common ground would be easy on this, actually (you claim you want to in 30333). James Hansen, former NASA head and the acknowledged original expert on the "climate alarmism" side, has quite publicly promoted a very acceptable (to both sides) "common ground proposal," which is that we greatly increase nuclear power generation. See at: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/dec/03/nuclear-power-paves-the-only-viable-path-forward-on-climate-change

So when James Hansen promotes nuclear as the only scientific true solution to the "climate change" problem, even if we assume it is a critical problem (and Hansen does), most (all?) within the "climate alarmism" community refuse to listen (at least they go dead silent). This is a solution. This is science. Why do Christian climate alarmists have this "visceral reaction against [this] scientific [solution]...."? Is it "because they assume it has to go against their understanding of God"? Or is it because it goes against their well established, non-scientific, political perspective, taken in a Lemming-styled march kind of way from the American political left, that "nuclear equals bad -- no need to think about it"?

There is quite a bit of legitimate debate to be had on the question of climate change, even among those who like you, David, who are climate alarmists. I'm interested in rational common ground. Are you? And I am indeed interested in Christians being, as you suggest, "leaders in thought and action" on this. But all I see from the alarmism community (sans Hansen) is Lemming-styled following. As to leadership, James Hansen does much better. Where are you on that?

David #2 #30333
April 27, 2017


You are unintentionally confused, no harm done. I did not write the first comment about being "visceral" or "immature." And as far as I am concerned James Hansen is a great voice of reason. Also, I am not a "climate alarmist" and personally believe we have had little impact on climate change and I was only referring to the meta-narrative of stewardship and simply voiced an encouragement for unity.

Hopefully this helps clarify the two posts.

Perry Lassiter
April 27, 2017

I wonder that no one has seen a simple and rather obvious solution. Instead of debating global warming, why not tackle big city smog? I had a friend years ago who had to come back to America from Tokyo because the smog made his sinuses bleed! Most big cities have that problem to one degree or another. A major reason Republicans fight this is the cost of scrubbing the exhausts. A paper mill in Hodge, LA - a village, not even close to a small city - spent 10 mil to clean up its smoke stack. Baton Rouge has an awful collection of refineries. Big business opposes climate change because they don't want to spend the millions required to counter it. I submit that a campaign to clean up smog would go a long way toward curing pollution. It also has the advantage at focusing in places where liberals predominate, so the city councils and state legislatures may well be able to get something done. How to get Foreign cities like Tokyo and Hong Kong to take steps eludes me. Surely there are people who could shape up such programs.

Bill Wald
April 27, 2017

100 years ago, Karl Popper argued that science should be limited to subjects that can be falsified because if a statement has no way of being falsified then neither can it be said to be true.

Current scientific conclusions are the consensus of the latest best guess.

Conclusions based on observations of pre-historical material can not be "scientific" because they can not be duplicated.

Statistical data can be used is scientific analysis but many scientists have forgotten the basics of statistics and probably thus their conclusions are lying with statics."

Subjects that are inherently chaotic like climate change are not "scientific."

I don't trust anyone who can say social (political, economic. . .) science with a straight face.

Doug Vande Griend
April 28, 2017

To the second David: Sorry about the Davidic confusion ... :-)

Doug Vande Griend
April 28, 2017

Responding to Perry Lassieter, #30338:

I'm quite sure that climate change alarmists wouldn't be satisfied with tackling "big city smog," even if to the tune of 100%.

CO2 is not smog, but touted as far more dangerous, at least by CO2 alarmists. I'd back your "simple and rather obvious solution" suggestion, but it wouldn't even get James Hansen's approval, let alone any other's in the climate change alarmism community.

April 28, 2017

In Reply to morgan (comment #27696)
While I agree with you that Climate occurs on a cyclical basis however saying that humans having an impact on the climate would take away from God's power is not entirely accurate.

Yes God is all powerful but he has put us here to look after the planet and environment (Num. 35) (Gen 2:15). As Christians we have a duty to protect the earth and we have the potential to destroy the earth (Revelation 11:18).

Bill Wald
April 28, 2017

By the way, one must differentiate between local weather and climate. Beyond any doubt, humans can mess up local weather. Within reasonable limits, I support changes that improve local weather/air conditions. I loved my wood stove but when there was a smog alert I understood the need to shut it down.

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