Clothesline in Winter

Clothesline in Winter

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Climate Crisis: It's Beyond Debate

You’d think that our problems were really pretty minor.

Watching the debate last night, you got an earful about who would have done a better job handling the Benghazi Consulate attack. You heard who would support more student loans, and who would be tougher on China.

But you didn’t hear a word from either candidate about what is arguably the greatest peril that humanity has ever faced.  And that’s despite the presence at the debate of a strong contingent of young evangelical Christians led by activist Ben Lowe, who were there to “bear witness to the lack of climate science” in the debate and the campaign.

"One of my biggest disappointments of the election so far is that neither candidate has shown the leadership that we're hoping for on the climate crisis," Lowe said. "For us, it's not just an energy issue, it's not an economic issue; it's a moral issue and it's a spiritual issue. And honestly, it's a pro-life issue."

Spirited exchange, but silence on climate
Sure, you did hear an exchange or two about energy, with the President attacking Romney for his opposition to clean energy and efficiency, and the Governor going after Obama as an insincere supporter of oil, gas and coal. But the climate crisis? Not a word.

Here’s a sampling of climate-change matters deemed too insignificant for our presidential contenders to debate openly:

  • The worst U.S. drought in 56 years, resulting in the smallest corn crop in nine years – and the third consecutive annual decline in production, costing Americans tens of billions of dollars.
  • A persistent global farm drought also gripping the major grain-producing giants of Russia and Kazakhstan, with wheat production falling for the second consecutive year – and world output falling 5% from last year.
  • Drought-related food price increases equaling a “$30 billion tax on U.S. consumers,” according to the Morningstar rating agency.
  • Projections by hunger advocacy agency Oxfam of a sharp increase in global hunger in 2013 due to the current drought – causing unspeakable suffering and potentially triggering food riots like those in 2009, which destabilized many countries and undermined global peace and prosperity.
  • A wildfire season that burned more than 8.8 million acres in the U.S. – an area the size of New Jersey and Delaware combined.
  • A record ice-melt season for the Arctic, with 98% of Greenland losing ice this summer and sea-ice cover at its lowest level on record – an outcome far worse than the “worst-case scenario” of the UN’s climate science panel.
  • New warnings from the world’s leading marine biology association that ocean reefs – the nurseries of our oceans – are facing catastrophic decline, largely due to ocean acidification from high levels of CO2 emissions in the atmosphere.
  • Warnings from the UN that between one-fifth and 70% of all living species on earth will now become extinct because of human-caused climate change.
  • Rising sea levels projected by the Organization for Economic Development  & Cooperation to wreak $7.2 TRILLION in losses in only four U.S. cities – an amount equal to half the U.S. national debt, on only a tiny fraction of the U.S. coastline.
Withered corn in Indiana

Surely, you’d think, we could squeeze in maybe one question – between the de-funding of Big Bird and restrictions on assault weapons – on whether we will leave our children a world which could sustain our race and God’s millions of other species?

When I reached young evangelical leader Ben Lowe by phone today, he admitted to disappointment with the debate.  “Neither candidate has broken silence on the climate crisis,” he said.

But his disappointment was offset by the passion and commitment of young Christians who traveled to the debate from schools across the country. “God has given us so much hope and vision for his creation. We’re excited to see how he’ll lead us next.”

So are we, young man. God give us the grace to be there standing with you.

Thanks for reading, and may God bless you.

J. Elwood

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