Can our ancestors school our scientists on how to solve climate change?

by Karalee Corley

In our current, complex state of struggle to mitigate climate change, the question begs to be asked: can science alone offer the knowledge to resolve climate change? Maybe not. Science instructs us to know and observe processes such as climate change in the natural world. We have done so for decades, yet the data reported on the negative changes in our environment cannot apparently, by itself, inspire societal change. In a recent article, Smithsonian geographer R.D.K. Herman (2016) offers vehement argument, and extensively evidenced non-scientific knowledge, that the scientific disciplines will not resolve the issue of our decaying planet on their own. The author asserts that the predominance of capitalism and colonialism in our recent history has fostered a societal one-sidedness and overconfidence in our scientific outputs. Continue reading

Traditional Religious Beliefs and Their Effect on Climate Change Adaptability.

by Chris Choi

Conor Murphey researched the relationship between religion and climate change and how it demonstrates rural populations’ ability to adapt to these disturbances. Many areas of Sub-Saharan Africa still retain their traditional belief systems which continue to influence the lifestyles of different populations. The populations’ traditional beliefs are usually linked with Traditional Ecological Knowledge, which is used to describe the indigenous traditional knowledge regarding how to sustain local resources. To prevent climate change, TEK management policies have been created, however, a change in belief or adhering to multiple beliefs makes it difficult to follow them. Murphey conducted case studies in Malawi and Zambia to study how TEK, traditional beliefs, and the introduction of Christianity exist together in communities while determining how practicing multiple beliefs affects their ability to adapt to climate change. Continue reading

Religion calls for dialogue with science over the “global commons”.

by Xiaoshi Zhu

In a time when global efforts are required to address climate change, Pope Francis unprecedentedly published an encyclical on climate change, poverty and inequality in 2015. This is the first time a Pope from The Roman Catholic Church has addressed an encyclical to all “people living on planet Earth”. It has extraordinary meaning for the relationship between religion and science. In the article Science and religion in dialogue over the global commons, authors Ottmar Edenhofer, Christian Flachsland and Brigitte Knopf explore the significance of the Pope’s encyclical. Continue reading

Religion to the Rescue (?) in an Age of Climate Disruption

by Jake Kessler

Bron Taylor, a professor at the University of Florida, became deeply concerned about anthropogenic climate change after reading The end of Nature in 1989. Throughout the 1980s he observed the connection between religion and social movements in Latin America, and perceived a similar relationship between some environmental movements and religious individuals.

Taylor believed, and continues to believe, that religion was connected to climate change because of its human-centric ideas. His paper, Religion to the Rescue (?) in an Age of Climate Disruption, looks at the opinions of religious individuals to understand if religion can be used to increase climate change awareness. Continue reading

Combating Climate Change with Religion

by Riley Hoffman

In her article “Can Science and Religion Respond to Climate Change?” (2015), Mary E. Tucker acknowledges the flaws of science and religion but suggests many ways that if the two were able to unite, the world could know how better to respond to global climate change. Her article explains that in order for true change to occur, the public needs the scientific base knowledge and an incentive, or an ethical reason, to pursue these changes.

Tucker proposes twelve ways for policy makers to induce change if science and religion came together. The first two ways describe how we need to change our perspective on global climate change. It cannot be treated as a side effect of economic growth; climate change would not be inevitable within if developed countries succeeded in reversing the effects that their emissions caused. Along those lines, she also suggests that Earth shouldn’t be seen as a tool for us, but instead as something that needs to be preserved and used sparingly to ensure long-term fitness. Continue reading

Are Glaciers More Than Just Ice in the Human Psyche?

by Jassmin Del Rio

There exist cultures in which glaciers and mountains are associated with deities and hold tremendous spiritual importance to the people that live near them. Climate change itself has cultural and spiritual ties that are, unfortunately, often overlooked by scientific communities. By holding scientific information regarding climate change above all else, spiritual data are left out and, often, not even thought about. Allison points out that there may be considerable value in looking at the climate change issue through humanistic lenses instead of just scientific ones. It is a moral and ethical issue as well as a scientific and economic one, especially for those most directly affected by the changes. Spiritual affiliation could prompt more people to actually take action and educate themselves on the climate change crisis, which would be helpful in alleviating it. Continue reading

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. Continue reading