As the environmental advisor to the British Government, and a co-organizer of the UN climate change summit, Alex Evans has a unique theory on why the Paris environmental summit far exceeded the success of the Copenhagen summit. Evans suggests that environmentalists and green activists in the Danish summit attempted to present climate change issues with “piecharts, acronyms and statistics”, what he thought was a boring and unengaging approach. When the Paris summit begun, it seemed that environmentalists understood that the most effective way to promote the urgency of climate change was through narrating personal stories in hopes of evoking emotion. Continue reading →
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 →
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 →
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 →
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 →
How strongly are American evangelicals—who comprise a quarter of the adult US population—opposed to doing anything about climate change? Chaudoin et al. (2013), begin by citing previous research showing that many evangelicals are particularly resistant to any policies that would “…endanger the divine covenant on which the United States was built” and that might lead somehow to a single world government. Hence, the whole idea of an organization like the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), run under the auspices of the United Nations, having any authority over actions of the United States would be anathema to them. This being the case, the authors thought perhaps that evangelicals would be more welcoming to domestic climate policy initiatives than to the US partaking in international ones, and it turned out that they were correct. Continue reading →
In 2011, Mike Hulme (pictured above), then Professor of Climate Change at the University of East Anglia, and a keen student of the relations between society and climate change, wrote a short commentary in the scientific journal, Nature, pointing out to his scientific audience that there was a rich ongoing technical literature about non-scientific aspects of climate change about which they might not have been aware. He cited example papers from anthropology, communications studies, ethics, historical geography, history of science, literary criticism, museum studies, philosophy, psychology, religious studies, social sciences, and sociology. He pointed out that a recent study by the Swedish researches Andreas Bjurström and Merritt Polk, which I’ll address in my next post, showed that the technical literature cited in the IPCC Third Assessment report was heavily dominated by papers from the natural sciences, while social science content was mostly economics, and humanities comment was hardly visible; as Hulme put it, the IPCC view was “…dominated by positivist disciplines at the expense of interpretive ones.” That last phrase got my attention—I had no idea what it meant, evidently a lack of sufficient training in the humanities. Hulme wrote that story-telling and art are important to the overall enterprise of increasing human understanding of climate change—not just fact-finding which occupies the bulk of scientific activities, and not just to translate the scientific results into something more accessible, but as forms of primary information in their own rights. But these are way outside the comfort zone of most scientists, who think of them as rather separate kinds of activities, and certainly unlikely to be contributing to a scientific understanding of the problem. Continue reading →