Cover Story

Greener than thou

"Greener than thou" Continued...

Issue: "Meltdown," April 22, 2006

That's the way Union University professor David Gushee, the original drafter of the ECI statement, wanted it: "People are OK with statements of theological and ethical principle, but as soon as you put some specific policy into association with that, then the rubber hits the road and people start taking sides. That's what's happened here." Mr. Gushee said he intentionally departed from past policy-free evangelical calls for creation care because he felt morally convicted to do so.

Evangelical members of the Interfaith Stewardship Alliance, a group of prominent academics and clergy united in skepticism of global warming extremes, share no such conviction. ISA advisor P.J. Hill, an economics professor at Wheaton College, rejects making climate change policy an article of faith: "One can take very seriously the biblical mandate for stewardship and yet come down on very different sides depending on how one assesses the science and economics. The Bible does not give us the answer."

The nuclear option

Despite international scorn, Mr. Bush has maintained that top-down emissions restrictions like those called for in Kyoto Protocol would cripple economic growth

President Bush has never wavered in his defiance of the Kyoto Protocol, a voluntary emissions reductions pact signed by all seven of the other G8 nations in an effort to combat global warming. Despite international scorn, Mr. Bush has maintained that top-down emissions restrictions like those called for in Kyoto would cripple economic growth, hurting poor and rich alike.

Now, other G8 nations are struggling to meet their Kyoto commitments. British Prime Minister Tony Blair, one of the foremost original supporters of Kyoto, has softened his stance in light of economic damages. A recent study of Italy, Spain, Germany, and the United Kingdom projected that meeting Kyoto commitments by 2010 would increase energy costs by as much as 40 percent and eliminate hundreds of thousands of jobs.

Even if every G8 nation could reduce its emissions as outlined in Kyoto, proponents of the protocol admit the maximum projected benefit would yield no more than a 0.2-degree Fahrenheit reduction in warming over the next 50 years. And that assessment is likely overly optimistic, failing to account for a dramatic spike in emissions from China and India as they undergo their respective industrial revolutions.

At a G8 meeting in Moscow last month, the United States and Russia posed an alternative, long-term method for reducing emissions without harming economies: full-scale development of nuclear power. Environmentalists condemned the idea, citing concerns over potential power plant leaks. But nuclear power remains the only existing technology capable of significantly decreasing dependence on fossil fuels, an objective President Bush made clear in his January State of the Union address.

The goal of reducing foreign oil dependence is one shared by all sides of the climate change policy debate, suggesting a point of agreement from which to support an economy-wide transfer to renewable energy. Nuclear power will require at least two decades of development to make a significant impact, however, leaving extreme eco-pessimists unsatisfied.


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