“A new perspective on climate change,” By David Adams, reporting by Kyle Carruthers (Originally published in Taylor University’s The Echo on February 8, 2013, republished with permission):
Call it climate change or global warming, Earth’s gradual heating has been widely discussed for at least the last decade. As the scientific and international communities have reached consensus on its existence—according to organizations like the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change—the conversation about climate change must begin to evolve.
The question of what must now be addressed was the subject of a seminar delivered Tuesday night at Taylor by Ben Lowe, national organizer and spokesperson for Young Evangelicals for Climate Action. YECA seeks to “overcome the climate crisis as part of our Christian discipleship and witness,” according to its mission statement.
“All the problems that we’re facing, these interconnected social and environmental crises . . . they’re not technical problems with technical solutions,” Lowe said following his lecture. “To address it at that level only is to address it at the level of symptoms.”
Instead, Lowe believes Christians, particularly young evangelical students, must think of the climate crisis as a moral issue, one rooted in the problem of sin as much as any other societal problem. Lowe recognized the value of steps taken toward climate awareness but emphasized the necessity of “a movement of the people to push back and demand that kind of change.”
The church has an important role to play as well. Christians are under an obligation to care for the Earth as a means of caring for its people, Lowe said, and to emphasize a message of hope rather than of despair.
YECA believes that senior leaders, including pastors, teachers and college administrators should promote climate awareness within their respective communities. Lowe grew up as a pastor’s kid but he did not hear a sermon about stewardship of the earth until he was 19 years old. Lowe encourages colleges to adopt programs to equip students with the theological viewpoint and practical skills to become active in climate issues.
Coordinator of Stewardship and Sustainability and YECA Steering Committee member Kevin Crosby said that Taylor creates opportunities for students to get involved through Stewards of Creation and events like Green Week. Crosby also said the Earth and Environmental Science Department is considering a major focused on sustainability, and he hopes Taylor will implement a climate action plan in the future.
Beyond new policies, programs or even increasing Taylor’s recycling rate or lowering its water and electricity usage, Crosby highlighted the need for an evolution in the way the campus thinks about sustainability.
“The operation of Taylor is just a small part of what we can do in terms of sustainability,” Crosby said. “Really what we’re looking for is almost a cultural shift to make sustainability . . . an issue that’s relevant, here at Taylor, for everyone.”
The decisions Taylor students, faculty and administrators make can impact not only Taylor’s campus but also the community, the local environment and the university’s “Christian witness,” a viewpoint Lowe shares.
If the root of climate crisis is sin, Lowe said, “There is only one solution, one ultimate solution, to the problem of sin, and that’s Jesus Christ and what he did on the cross. That’s why I believe Christians have to be leaders in this area, because we have a message the world needs to hear.”