Adventist Leaders Comment on Climate Summit
Caring for environment is “Christian issue,” president says
BY VICTOR HULBERT, communication director, British Union Conference
HOULD CHRISTIANS be concerned about caring for the environment? The president of the Seventh-day Adventist world church, Jan Paulsen, said, “Yes, they should,” in a video released on YouTube coinciding with the recent 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark.
“Quite fundamentally, caring for the environment goes back to our earliest [Adventist] beginnings,” Paulsen said.
Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams has said he believes Christians should be concerned about climate change. Leaders of the Church of England joined 16 other senior
officials from the United Kingdom at Westminster Abbey on December 6, 2009, for a “Stop Climate Chaos” march.
Williams is one of many Christian leaders around the world who watched proceedings at the recent climate change summit in Copenhagen. In a March lecture he stated, “Religious communities are failing profoundly in what is expected of us in energizing a response to climate change in society.”
Many Christians do not regard the issue of manmade global warming as
a significant issue. A Barna Research report indicated that only 33 percent of Evangelicals in the United States consider global warming a major problem. Additionally, Australia’s legislature recently struck down a carbon limit, and some nations reportedly pulled out of the Copenhagen conference.
PRESIDENTIAL VIDEO: Jan Paulsen, Seventh-day Adventist world church president, commented on the Christian’s responsibility to care for the environment in a recent YouTube video. [Photo: M. Kellner/AR]
“Unfortunately, I’m not too optimistic that anything dramatic is going to come out of [the Copenhagen summit],” said Samuel Soret, chair of the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health at Loma Linda University’s School of Public Health, part of the General Conference-owned institution. "Hard decisions that are binding should be made on curtailing emissions and sorting out issues between developed and developing nations,” Soret said. “Climate change is probably one
of the most serious health iniquities in the history of humankind.”
Though a climate change skeptic, British Adventist pastor Paul Lockham says he focuses on being a creationist, whose job is to “tend” to the earth. “Without being too radical I do seek to do my bit. We are called to be stewards of God’s creation, not museum keepers, nor wreckers,” Lockham said.
Others take a different view. “I am wondering how much of an impact we can really make as ‘Christians’ knowing what the end of the world will be,” said scientist Peter Walton, a global warming skeptic. “There are innumerable papers and talks by top scientists that completely demolish the weak science behind the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports and its sponsor the United Nations Environment Program,” Walton added.
But Walton pushes the argument in a different direction, citing the sentiments of author Michael Crichton, who spoke at
the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., in 2005, saying we “are not morally justified to spend vast sums—trillions of dollars—on this speculative issue when finally, and most importantly, we can’t predict the future, but we can know the present.”
Walton quotes from Crichton’s lecture in which the best-selling author stated, “A child is orphaned by AIDS every seven seconds. Fifty people die
of waterborne disease every minute.” Walton argues that this does not have to happen, and calls for a refocusing of priorities. Whether or not climate change is a reality is a subject for rigorous debate. Miroslav Ostrovljanovic, a media student at King’s College London, said, “God said at the creation that humans are supposed to take care of creation. That isn’t changed because we know the world will end.”
Victor Pilmoor, treasurer for the Adventist Church in Britain, pondered on the climate summit in the light of Genesis 1 and Colossians 3 in a recent worship talk. “The Adventist position should be clear: Our covenantal responsibility as stewards of creation predates sin and its consequence. We show respect for everything that God has given us, regardless of the science,” he said.