As I write the conference in Copenhagen about climate change draws to a close. Some people claim that there is a consensus that global warming is caused by human action that has caused an increase in carbon dioxide. There are notable opponents to this view, including Viscount Christopher Monckton who has spoken out at Copenhagen. He claims that human influence counts for at most one sixth of the global warming, and that government attempts to deal with this by telling us what to do are an abuse of power.
In other words, he says that powerful people are making use of the “scare” to gain more government-level control over world populations. I should like to dismiss such theories, except that it seems obvious to me that people can seek to use any opportunity to advance their own cause or power. See my article about Naomi Klein's Shock Doctrine.
As I understand it, religious people who warn us against the creeping threat of one-world government or one-world religion see this as the fulfilment of Biblical prophecy. The fact that some of those who bring such prophecies are portrayed as insane in media reports does not mean that they are wrong. Prophets have a proud heritage of being misunderstood or ignored (and at other times their advice is acted on). Logically there are three possible positions each of us may take: concerns about one-world government (etc.) are unfounded; the concern is real, and the climate change lobby are part of the movement; the concern is real, but the climate change lobby is not related in to it.
I'm not sure I find these things helpful, because I don't find scary information helpful unless I know what to do about it. Such interpretations or predictions do not suggest that we should take action, rather they suggest that it is part of God's plan – revealed in the Book of Revelation and elsewhere in the Bible – for things to get worse before the final successful battle of Christ over evil. So that suggests that all we can do is watch. The only action advocated (and which readers should thus take seriously) is to fear God and avoid the “mark of the beast.”
It may be tempting to ignore anyone who says what we do not want to hear, whether it is those saying we caused climate change, those saying we cannot blame others for climate change, or those who want to put God at the centre of the conversation. Even if only a small part of climate change is caused by human generation of increased carbon dioxide, there is still the observation that our seas are becoming more acidic to the detriment of shell fish and corals.*
My own belief is that solid progress will not be made while climate change is seen just as a problem to be solved. There needs to be recognition of the connectedness between ourselves (humans), Creator, and creation (which includes our distinctive role or vocation). In such a framework the underlying issue would be seen as sin, and in particular greed. So progress requires that as individuals we do not only look at what practical steps we can take to reduce energy consumption, but that we also look at our underlying beliefs and the effect they have on our behaviour and take penitent steps to address that too.
I also wonder what would happen if, instead of wondering whether we are to blame for climate change and trying to change the climate (King Canute and others have failed), we invested the energy in looking for technological and humanitarian solutions for those populations which are expected to be affected most detrimentally.
It is extremely difficult for a single culture to recognise the ways in which its own belief systems are self-destructive, so maybe that's where the prophets come in.
*Source The Week 19/12/09 quoting Charles Clover in The Sunday Times.