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Climate change, global warming
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Warning to humanity:

Over three decades ago, James Hansen, a  startled a U.S. Senate committee meeting in 1981 by saying that he was 99% certain that human activities were already warming the climate. Ironically, the speech was given during a stifling heat wave. He coauthored an article in Science during August of that year that begins:

"Atmospheric CO2 increased from 280 to 300 parts per million in 1880 to 335 to 340 ppm in 1980, mainly due to burning of fossil fuels. Deforestation and changes in biosphere growth may also have contributed, but their net effect is probably limited in magnitude. The CO2 abundance is expected to reach 600 ppm in the next century, even if growth of fossil fuel use is slow." 2

On 1992-NOV-18, over 1,500 members of national, regional, and international science academies from 69 nations signed the World Scientists' Warning to Humanity. The introduction to the Warning states:

"Human beings and the natural world are on a collision course. Human activities inflict harsh and often irreversible damage on the environment and on critical resources. If not checked, many of our current practices put at serious risk the future that we wish for human society and the plant and animal kingdoms, and may so alter the living world that it will be unable to sustain life in the manner that we know. Fundamental changes are urgent if we are to avoid the collision our present course will bring about." 3

Two decades have passed since this warning was issued. The earth's environment has further degenerated during that interval.

The public is becoming increasingly aware about threats to the environment. Air quality is degrading and contributing to the early deaths of tens of thousands of North Americans. Climate change appears to be an established fact. It is having repercussions in the number of high intensity hurricanes, violent storms, erratic weather, etc.

Why does this religious site discuss environmental concerns?

A topic like this might normally be considered a scientific matter, without a significant religious component. It might not be expected to appear on this web site. We have included it because environmental concerns and religion are linked in at least two ways:

bullet Many religious conservatives deny that the problem exists or that it is serious. Some of this belief may be derived from the general distrust that many religious conservatives have towards science and scientists. Another source may be their belief that Jesus Christ will soon return to Earth and instantly correct any pollution problems. Thus, they feel that we need not pay attention to these matters today.

bullet Morality has always been closely associated with religion. A case can be made that leaving a highly polluted world behind for future generations is a profoundly immoral act, to say nothing of the massive loss of life caused by environmental degradation.

About the main author of this section:

Vladimir F.J. Tomek (1922-) donated most of this series of essays because of his concern that "we are sleepwalking into an ecological disaster." He graduated from Charles' University in Prague as 'Doctor of natural science' (chemistry and physics) in 1947. After a most eventful life, he settled in Ireland in 1968. Now in retirement, he writes papers in the fields of religion and the environment.

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. We have been unable to read the source information of this image from its upper right corner. If you created this image, please let us know so that we can either credit you or remove it. Your choice.
  2. J. Hansen, et al., "Climate Impact of Increasing Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide," Science, 213, 957-966, doi:10.1126/science.213.4511.957, 1981-AUG-28, at: http://pubs.giss.nasa.gov/ This is a PDF file.
  3. "World scientists' warning to humanity," Union of Concerned Scientists, 1992-NOV-18, at: http://www.ucsusa.org/

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Copyright © 2006 to 2014 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally posted: 2006-JUL-02
Latest update: 2014-MAR-19
Author: B.A. Robinson

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