Reviews Providing Insight Into The Relationship Between Religion and Climate Change

by Sarah Whitney

The Journal of Religious History (2013) reviewed a collection of several articles and volumes by Sigurd Bergmann and Dieter Gerten describing the importance of engagement with religion from the global climate change community. The authors state that these selected volumes provide valuable evidence that the climate change community should consider cultural and ethical values represented in local religions. These subjects are currently excluded from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and most other discussions on global climate change efforts. These volumes also offer significant insight into the relationship between religion and climate change by showing that communities who are immediately threatened by climate change are adapting their beliefs and actions.

The Parliament of World’s Religions was held in December of 2009 at coincidentally the same time as the United Nation’s Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen. This occurrence prompted religious leaders from all over the world to directly address political leaders as they wrote about their reassurance and concerns regarding climate change. Even though the outcome may not have been effective, connecting these two groups was beneficial as it united people with an extreme diversity of beliefs to think about one common problem. It demonstrated the potentially large role of religion to promote sustainability and various green practices. Both Sigurd Bergmann and Dieter Gerten believe that an interdisciplinary approach is fundamental to addressing the complex issue of global climate change.

Since the interaction of this conference, studies and classes have developed regarding religion and the environment. In their works, Bergmann and Gerten focus on climate change with an anthropological lens. They state that the United States Evangelist church shelters conservatives. Noting specific incidents, like the number of degrees the global temperature has increased and its effects, help conservatives join the cause as they see exactly how communities are hurting. Conservatives focus on the impact of climate change on vulnerable local communities who are currently experiencing the effects of global warming. Such evidence is prompting different interpretations of Christian ideology and traditions, and sparking interest in the community.

Bergmann, S., Gerten, D., 2013. Religion and Dangerous Environmental Change: Transdisciplinary Perspectives on the Ethics of Climate and Sustainability.

Journal of Religious History, Religious History Association.


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