Features

An inconvenient winter

"An inconvenient winter" Continued...

Issue: "The waiting game," March 22, 2008

On the international policy front, the recent cooling has generated no speed bump for movement toward worldwide caps on greenhouse-gas emissions. The European Union and the United States have called on developing nations like China and India to self-impose restrictions. And Congress seems bent on legislating similar policy stateside, though it may wait for the ensuing administration to take over next year.

The only opposing factor with hope of derailing calls for a national cap-and-trade program is evidence from Europe of the idea's abject failure. Industry restrictions have harmed the economies of nations like Britain and Germany to the extent that public opinion on the value of global-warming crusades may be shifting. A recent survey by the Environmental Transport Association of more than 2,000 Brits found that 30 percent believe there is too much publicity about climate change and more than half are fed up hearing about it.

Amid that kind of skeptical population, any more global cooling could spark a revolution of expanding carbon footprints.

Fashion statement

Several dozen prominent Southern Baptists joined the ever-fashionable crusade against global warming this month

By Mark Bergin

Several dozen prominent Southern Baptists joined the ever-fashionable crusade against global warming this month with the release of a declaration dubbed the Southern Baptist Environment and Climate Initiative. The statement charges that the denomination's current engagement on the issue is "too timid" and purports to break rank with past Southern Baptist statements, which have urged caution "in light of conflicting scientific research."

Signatories to the new document include Frank Page, president of the Southern Baptist Convention, former SBC presidents Jack Graham and James Merritt, and Danny Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, among others.

The declaration grants that some uncertainty on man-made climate change remains but argues for the need "to engage the issue without any further lingering over the basic reality of the problem or our responsibility to address it." It further states that the time has come "for individuals, churches, communities and governments to act." But the statement offers no specific suggestions and fails to address the central debate over what kind of action would most minimize harm.

Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, responded with an objection to the charge of timidity and a defense of the SBC's official position, which calls for "an appropriate balance between care for the environment, effects on economics, and impacts on the poor when considering programs to reduce [emissions]."

The conflict prompted SBC president Page to clarify his reasons for signing the Southern Baptist Environment and Climate Initiative. In a prepared statement, he said he does not believe the SBC has been "too timid" on the issue of human-induced global warming and that he "totally stands behind" all past SBC resolutions on the topic: "The document in question is simply a call to responsible biblical stewardship of our environment."

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