The Evangelical Debate Over Climate Change
John Copeland Nagle, Th e Evangelical Debate Over Climate Change
The E vangelical Debate Over Climate Change
John Copeland Nagle
JOHN COPELAND NAGLE*
In 2006, a group of prominent evangelicals issued a statement calling
for a greater response to climate change. Soon thereafter, another group
responded with their own statement urging caution before taking any action
against climate change. This division among evangelicals is surprising
because evangelicals are usually portrayed as homogenous and as
indifferent or hostile toward environmental regulation. Yet, there is an
ongoing debate among evangelicals regarding the severity of climate
change, its causes, and the appropriate response. Why?
* John N. Matthews Professor of Law, Notre Dame Law School: . I am
grateful for having had the opportunity to participate in the symposium Peace with Creation:
Catholic Perspectives on Environmental Law at the University of St. Thomas School of Law and
to present earlier versions of this essay at a faculty workshop at the University of Notre Dame and
at the University of Minnesota's MacLaurin Institute's conference Pristine Harmony: A Confer
ence on Christianity and the Environment. I am also grateful for the comments shared by Amy
Barrett, Calvin Beisner, Andy Crouch, Nicole Garnett, Rick Garnett, Alex Klass, Lisa Nagle, Kris
Ritter, Vince Rougeau, Aaron Simmons, James Tonkowich, John Wilson and Sandi Zellmer. I am
especially indebted to Kris Ritter, whose extraordinary research on how evangelicals are ap
proaching climate change contributed greatly to my understanding of the issues discussed here,
and to Carlo Rodes, who researched the science and policy of climate change.
The answer to this question is important because of the increasing
prominence of both evangelicals and climate change. After forsaking the
political process for much of the twentieth century, 1 evangelicals have now
gained significant political importance. In their own words, "never before
has God given American evangelicals such an awesome opportunity to
shape public policy in ways that could contribute to the well-being of the
entire world."2 Evangelicals "recognize both our opportunity and our
responsibility to offer a biblically based moral witness that can help shape
public policy in the most powerful nation on earth, and therefore contribute
to the well-being of the entire world."3 Those outside the evangelical
community recognize the same phenomenon, albeit with varying levels of
approval or disapproval. E.O. Wilson, the eminent Harvard biologist and
self-avowed "secular humanist," wrote a book-length letter to an imaginary
Southern Baptist pastor beseeching the evangelical church to support
environmental causes.4 But Kevin Phillips is one of many observers who
warn that the United States is becoming a theocracy, and Salt Lake City
librarian Chip Ward has decried "zealous fundamentalist Christians" as
"America's Taliban, also known as George Bush's base."5 The prospect of
evangelicals dictating public policy is threatening to such observers, even
when they might agree with the policy in question. These views prompted
New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof to write about the need to
"hug an evangelical."6
At the same time, climate change has achieved a central role in
political debates. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
reported in 2007 that the evidence for climate change is now "unequivocal"
and is almost surely caused in part by human activities.7 Six weeks after the
report was issued, former Vice President Al Gore testified before Congress
that climate change "is a planetary emergency-a crisis that threatens the
survival of our civilization and the habitability of the Earth."s Both the
IPCC and Gore won the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts. Nicholas
Kristof again opined that climate change "could be the most important issue
of this century."9
The sudden prominence of evangelicals and climate change has also
been matched by a recognition of the relationship between the two. One
scholar observed that "it's the evangelicals, with their close ties to the GOP,
who 'have the power to move the debate . . . . They could produce policies
more palatable to people who have . . . been [un]moved by secular
environmental groups.' "10 Prominent environmental organizations are
boasting of their connections with evangelicals interested in responding to
climate change. 11 The political debate regarding the appropriate responses
to climate change is still evolving, so garnering the support of a key
political constituency is important. The emergence of evangelical interest in
climate change has intrigued observers accustomed to linking evangelicals
to social issues and the Republican Party. 12 For example, the policy director
of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) , Richard Cizik, was
pictured on the cover of Vanity Fair as walking across water. 13
Some evangelicals, however, are notably cool to calls to respond to
climate change. Three of the four evangelicals who testified at a June 2007
congressional hearing exploring the impact of religious beliefs on the
response to climate change called for caution and prudence, not immediate
action.14 Further, the national media attention given to the unusual alliance
of evangelicals and traditional environmentalists who oppose climate
change probably exaggerates the support within the broader evangelical
community for addressing climate change.
The evangelical community, in short, is divided among those who
believe that action to combat climate change is necessary and those who are
more skeptical about the need to prioritize climate change. The former
group, favoring a more aggressive response to climate change, is led by the
Evangelical Climate Initiative (ECI), which was founded in 2006 and
supported by dozens of evangelical leaders. The Interfaith Stewardship
Alliance (ISA), founded in 2005 and likewise supported by many
evangelical leaders, represents those who question the wisdom of
expending significant societal resources on climate change. These groups
reflect the broader divisions among evangelicals who are beginning to
engage many environmental issues from their shared faith perspective.
This essay explores some of the possible explanations for the division
among evangelicals with respect to climate change. Part I provides an
overview of evangelicals, climate change, and how evangelicals are
responding to climate change. Part II considers theology and ethics, science,
and law and politics as the source of the differences among evangelicals
regarding climate change. None of these explanations prove to be
definitive, though contrasting perspectives on political engagement may
offer the best explanation for the division among evangelicals. Part III
suggests some lessons from the climate change debate for future
environmental engagement by evangelicals and sketches my own tentative
thoughts on the problem.
Throughout this essay, I hope to provide insight into the contemporary
relationship between religious faith and public policy. My undertaking here
is descriptive, not normative. I am hopeful that a better understanding of the
contrasting views within the evangelical community will lead to more
thoughtful responses to climate change, a more constructive engagement
between evangelicals and environmental activists, and a deeper
understanding of the relationship between religious teachings and
has been profiled in Rolling Stone, too. The Prophet, ROLLING STONE, Nov. 3, 2005, available at
14. An Examination of the Views of Religious Organizations Regarding Global Warming:
Hearing Before the S. Env't & Pub. Works Comm., 1l0th Congo (2007), available at http://epw.
senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Hearings.Hearing&Hearing_ID=E39940af-802a-23ad4371-252edd78194f [hereinafter Religious Leaders & Climate Change Hearing].
OVERVIEW OF EVANGELICALS AND CLIMATE CHANGE
Let me begin with a brief overview of the two aspects of my topic and
how they fit together. I will first summarize the science and policy of cli
mate change, next describe the evangelical community, and then explain
how evangelicals have become involved in the climate change debate dur
ing the past few years.
"Climate change refers to any significant change in measures of cli
mate (such as temperature, precipitation, or wind) lasting for an extended
period (decades or longer)."15 The basic science behind the earth's retention
of heat is as follows:
Energy from the Sun drives the Earth's weather and climate. The
Earth absorbs energy from the Sun, and also radiates energy back
into space. However, much of this energy going back to space is
absorbed by "greenhouse" gases in the atmosphere . . . . Because
the atmosphere then radiates most of this energy back to the
Earth's surface, our planet is warmer than it would be if the at
mosphere did not contain these gases. Without this natural
"greenhouse effect," temperatures would be about 60°F lower
than they are now, and life as we know it today would not be
These "greenhouse gases" include carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous
oxide and fluorinated gases. Such gases exist naturally in our atmosphere.
Changes in the sun's intensity, earth's orbit, ocean's circulation and vol
canic eruptions are among the natural factors that can change the climate.
Human activities such as the burning of fossil fuels, deforestation, refores
tation, urbanization and desertification can affect the climate as well. 17 The
IPCC concluded in 2007 that human activity "very likely" has caused most
of the rise in temperatures since 1950. 18
The effects of climate change could include flooding in coastal areas,
droughts elsewhere, heat waves, cold spells, extinctions, and the spread of
15. U.S. Envtl. Prot. Agency, Climate Change Basic Information, http://www.epa.gov/cli
matechange/basicinfo.htm1 (last visited Jan. 23, 2008). The terms "climate change" and "global
warming" are often used interchangeably, but I will use "climate change" because "it helps con
vey that there are [other] changes in addition to rising temperatures." [d.
16. U.S. Envtl. Prot. Agency, Climate Change Science, http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/
science/index.html (last visited Jan. 23, 2008); see Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change,
Frequently Asked Questions, in CLIMATE CHANGE 2007, supra note 7, at 93,98, available at http:/
/ipcc-wgl.ucar.edu/wg1/ReportlAR4WGl_Print]AQs.pdf (describing the greenhouse effect).
17. U.S. Envtl. Prot. Agency, supra note 15; Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change,
supra note 7, at 2-3.
18. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, supra note 7, at 2-5, 10 ("Most of the
observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is velY likely due to
the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations.").
diseases. The IPCC's 2007 report concluded that "changes in arctic temper
atures and ice, widespread changes in precipitation amounts, ocean salinity,
wind patterns and aspects of extreme weather including droughts, heavy
precipitation, heat waves and the intensity of tropical cyclones" have al
ready been observed. 19 Many people fear that climate change could work
far more dramatic changes in the future. Al Gore's documentary An Incon
venient Truth, for example, fears that climate change could displace twenty
million people from Beijing, forty million from Shanghai, and sixty million
from Calcutta and Bangladesh.20 A number of scientists and policymakers,
though, contest these more apocalyptic scenarios.21
The international community responded to climate change in 1992
with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which
sought to stabilize greenhouse gas emissions.22 The Kyoto Protocol, added
to the convention in 1997, contains legally binding emissions targets for
developed countries and encourages investment in emissions reductions in
developing countries.z3 As of 2007, one hundred and seventy-five nations
have ratified the ProtocoJ.24 The United States signed the treaty, but the
Senate did not ratify it. In 2002, President Bush announced that the United
States was withdrawing from the agreement because of the economic im
pact of implementing the changes necessary to reduce emissions and the
failure to treat all polluting nations equally.2s Alternatively, the climate
change debate in the United States has turned to domestic solutions. That is
the debate that evangelicals have entered.
Sociologist Michael Lindsay wrote that "[e]vangelicals are the most
discussed but least understood group in America today."26 Evangelicals are
known by their religious beliefs. The term "evangel" comes from the Greek
words for "good news," and a defining characteristic of evangelicals is to
19. [d. at 7.
20. AL GORE, AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH: THE PLANETARY EMERGENCY OF GLOBAL WARM
ING AND WHAT WE CAN Do ABOUT IT 204-06 (2006).
21. For perhaps the most familiar and controversial account, see BJORN LOMBORG, COOL IT:
THE SKEPTICAL ENVIRONMENTALIST'S GUIDE TO GLOBAL WARMING (2007).
22. United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, Framework Convention
on Climate Change, 31 LL.M. 849 (1992).
23. Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, U.N.
Doc. FCCC/CP!19971L.7/Add. 1 (1998), available at http://unfccc.intlresource/docs/cop31I07a01.
live as witnesses to the gospel message articulated in the New Testament
and the entire Bible. According to the National Association of Evangelical's
(NAE) statement of faith, evangelicals "believe the Bible to be the inspired,
the only infallible, authoritative Word of God.'>27 At the risk of oversimpli
fication, this view of scripture distinguishes evangelicals both from main
line Protestants (who regard the Bible as somewhat less authoritative and
are more likely to supplement it with appeals to experience, tradition and
other spiritual insights) and from most Catholics (who, besides being in
structed by the Bible, seek to honor the past teachings of the church). The
definitional difficulty is illustrated by the fact that some Catholics fit the
description of evangelicals. Whatever the distinction from other forms of
Christian belief, the supremacy of the Bible has obvious implications for
evangelical attitudes toward public policy questions such as climate change,
for guidance is sought from specific biblical texts and from the broader
message of the scriptures. Evangelicals also "believe in the resurrection of
both the saved and the lost; they that are saved unto the resurrection of life
and they that are lost unto the resurrection of damnation."28 Other central
beliefs include the Trinitarian concept of God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit; the
deity of Jesus Christ and the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit; and "the
spiritual unity of believers."29 Many of these beliefs are not unique to
evangelicals, as I know well from my many Catholic colleagues at Notre
Dame, but together they form the distinctive characteristics of evangelicals
Evangelicals are part of many denominations and many nondenomina
tional churches. The Southern Baptist Convention is the largest evangelical
27. Nat'! Ass'n of Evangelicals, Statement of Faith, http://www.nae.netiindex.cfm?FUSE
ACTION=nae.statement_ofjaith (last visited Jan. 23, 2008).
29. [d.; LINDSAY, supra note 26, at 4 (defining "an evangelical as one who believes (
the Bible is the supreme authority for religious belief and practice, (
) that he or she has a personal
relationship with Jesus Christ, and (
) that one should take a transforming, activist approach to
faith"); MARK A. NOLL, THE RISE OF EVANGELICALISM: THE AGE OF EDWARDS, WHITEFIELD AND
THE WESLEYS 15 (2003) (describing the "unswerving belief in the need for conversion (the new
birth) and the necessity of a new life of active holiness (the power of godliness)" as the "founda
tion" of the evangelical movement); David Skeel, The Unbearable Lightness of Christian Legal
Scholarship 1 (U. Pa. L. Sch., Public Law Working Paper No. 06-37, 2007), available at http://
papers.ssrn.com/abstract=929850 (citing David Bebbington's understanding of evangelicals as
"characterized by a commitment to (
) the authority of the Bible, (
) the cross (the belief that
salvation is only possible through the atoning work of Jesus Christ), (
) conversion (a believer
must, like Jimmy Carter, be 'born again'), and (
) activism (in evangelism, missions, and social
work")); D.W. BEBBINGTON, EVAGELICALISM IN MODERN BRITIAN: A HISTORY FROM THE 1730s
TO THE 1980s 2-3 (1989); The Barna Group, Americans Are Most Worried About Children's
Future, THE BARNA UPDATE, Aug. 20, 2007, available at http://www.barna.orglFlexPage.aspx?
Page=BarnaUpdate&BarnaUpdateID=277 (defining evangelicals as those who (
) are born again,
) regard their faith as very important, (
) have a responsibility to share their beliefs, (4) believe
that Satan exists, (
) believe that salvation comes through faith not works, (
) believe that Jesus
lived a sinless life, (
) believe that the Bible is wholly accurate, and (8) view God as all-knowing
and all-powerful) [hereinafter Americans Are Most Worried].
church in the United States, followed by a number of African-American
denominations. Evangelicals are also active within mainline Protestant
churches that do not share their theological beliefs. Evangelicals are partic
ularly active in "parachurch" organizations that transcend denominations
and individual congregations, including relief organizations such as World
Vision, youth ministries such as Young Life, and prison ministries such as
Prison Fellowship (founded by Chuck Colson in the aftermath of his con
version and imprisonment related to the Watergate scandal).30
Historically, evangelicals were politically active during the nineteenth
century, when they comprised the dominant religious community in the
United States. Evangelical influence began to wane after the Civil War, and
a series of events coinciding with the Scopes trial of the 1920s convinced
evangelicals to withdraw from the public square.31 Their reengagement be
gan during the late 1940s, thanks to such figures as Christianity Today
founder Carl Henry, and it quickly expanded in the 1970s in the aftermath
of controversial Supreme Court decisions involving school prayer and
Evangelicals have gained a high political profile, typically associated
with issues such as abortion and international religious freedom. Lindsay
reported, however, that "there remains a vibrant constituency of liberal or
progressive evangelicals that has been around for decades."33 Moreover,
"the movement has been the site of deep divisions, several of which have
political consequences."34 Lindsay explained some of these divisions by
distinguishing between "populist evangelicals" and "cosmopolitan
evangelicals." Populist evangelicals rely upon large campaigns for religious
and political actions, derive their authority from the evangelical subculture,
and see traditional believers as good and secular activists as bad. Cosmo
politan evangelicals enjoy greater affluence and access to powerful institu
tions, are eager to act on their faith outside of the evangelical subculture,
and seek to influence society and gain legitimacy over the longer term.35
Tensions exist between evangelicals along these lines, but political differ
ences "do not follow the cosmopolitan/populist divide."36 Climate change
30. See generally Walter Russell Mead, God's Country?, FOREIGN AFF., Sept.-Oct. 2006, at
24 (distinguishing evangelicals from fundamentalists and liberals).
31. See generally MARSDEN, supra note 1 (describing evangelical social engagement in the
early twentieth century).
32. DAVID W. BEBBINGTON, THE DOMINANCE OF EVANGELICALISM: THE AGE OF SPURGEON
AND MOODY (2005); MARK A. NOLL, AMERICA'S GOD: FROM JONATHAN EDWARDS TO ABRAHAM
LINCOLN (2002); DOUGLAS A. SWEENEY, THE AMERICAN EVANGELICAL STORY: A HISTORY OF
THE MOVEMENT (2005). See Skeel, supra note 29, at 13-17 (summarizing the fall and rise of
evangelical activism during the twentieth century). More detailed accounts of this history appear
in MARSDEN, supra note 1.
33. LINDSAY, supra note 26, at 27-28.
34. [d. at 62.
35. See id. at 218-21.
36. [d. at 221.
presents a fascinating test case for how evangelicals use their newfound
power and the causes for which it should be used.
Evangelical Responses to Global Warming
Like the broader Christian community, evangelicals were late to ad
dress environmental issues. Lynn White, Jr. offered the most famous expla
nation in his 1967 Science article "The Historical Roots of Our Ecologic
Crisis," which blamed Christian teaching for encouraging an attitude of un
limited exploitation of the natural world.37 White's thesis has been sub
jected to numerous theological and historical critiques in the past forty
years, but whatever its accuracy, the claim that Christianity (and Christians)
are unconcerned about the environment has prompted a growing literature
exploring the proper relationship between Christian teaching and the
Christian environmental thinking began with the innumerable biblical
texts involving the creation of the earth and all of its creatures, the relation
ship of the people to their often hostile environment, the rules for treating
animals and the land, and the rich imagery contained in the Psalms and
other books. In America, the landscape paintings of Thomas Cole and writ
ings of wilderness enthusiast John Muir were deeply influenced by Chris
tian thought, albeit in different ways, yet the Christian community played
only a modest role in the development of modern environmental law during
the last half of the twentieth century. There were some exceptions, includ
ing the Christian imagery voiced by numerous witnesses in the hearings on
the proposed Wilderness Act of 196439 and Francis Schaeffer's 1970 book
warning of Pollution and the Death of Man.4o Such exceptions notwith
standing, Christians and Christian teaching were absent from most of the
recent debates about environmental law.
The origins of evangelical interest in environmental issues, and climate
change in particular, are found in several events that occurred during the
past fifteen years. The Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN) was
formed in 1993, and one year later it worked to support the Endangered
Species Act and prevent changes it feared would weaken the law.41 In 2000,
a group of more conservative evangelicals issued the Cornwall Declaration,
37. Lynn White, Jr., The Historical Roots of Our Ecologic Crisis, 155 SCIENCE 1203 (1967).
38. The best of this abundant literature includes NORMAN WIRZBA, THE PARADISE OF GOD:
RENEWING RELIGION IN AN ECOLOGICAL AGE (2003); ALISTER MCGRATH, THE REENCHANTMENT
OF NATURE: THE DENIAL OF RELIGION AND THE ECOLOGICAL CRISIS (2002); STEVEN BOUMA
PREDIGER. FOR THE BEAUTY OF THE EARTH: A CHRISTIAN VISION FOR CREATION CARE (2001);
ROBERT BOOTH FOWLER, THE GREENING OF PROTESTANT THOUGHT (1995); and JAMES A. NASH,
LOVING NATURE: ECOLOGICAL INTEGRITY AND CHRISTIAN RESPONSIBILITY (1991).
39. See John Copeland Nagle, The Spiritual Value of Wilderness, 35 ENVTL. L. 955 (2005).
40. FRANCIS A. SCHAEFFER, POLLUTION AND THE DEATH OF MAN: THE CHRISTIAN VIEW OF
41. See John Copeland Nagle, Playing Noah, 82 MINN. L. REV. 1171 (1998).
which acknowledged the need to address environmental problems but re
sisted greater governmental regulation. The declaration identified "three ar
eas of common misunderstanding" that contradicted the goal of relying
upon "sound theology and sound science" to guide public policymaking.42
They first criticized the view of people as "consumers and polluters" in
stead of as "producers and stewards," and the resulting failure to recognize
"our potential, as bearers of God's image, to add to the earth's abun
dance."43 A second argument favored active human shaping of creation in
stead of leaving nature untrammeled by man. In other words, "human
stewardship that unlocks the potential in creation for all the earth's inhabi
tants" is "good."44 The Cornwall Declaration's third claim sought to distin
guish environmental concerns that "are well founded and serious" from
those that "are without foundation or greatly exaggerated," listing "fears of
destructive manmade global warming, overpopulation, and rampant species
lost" among the latter.45
EEN returhed to the spotlight in 2002 with its "What Would Jesus
Drive?" campaign against SUVs and excessive car usage.46 Then, in 2005,
the Interfaith Stewardship Alliance (ISA) was formed to build upon the
principles articulated in the Cornwall Declaration. The ISA published An
Examination of the Scientific, Ethical and Theological Implications of Cli
mate Change Policy, containing essays written by climate scientist Roy
Spencer, energy and environmental policy analyst Paul Driessen, and Knox
Theological Seminary professor Calvin Beisner.47 Spencer questioned the
certainty of the scientific evidence linking human activities to climate
change. Indeed, he emphasized that "much faith is required to extrapolate
our current level of clim.ate understanding to predictions of future warn
ing."48 Driessen argued that government regulation of greenhouse gas emis
sions could wreak havoc on the well-being of the poor around the world.49
Beisner counseled prudence in responding to climate change, and he ad
vised Christians to more carefully explore the biblical principles regarding
creation "before we venture to advise the world about environmental
The climate change debate among evangelicals heated up in 2006. The
proponents of responding to climate change struck first. In January 2006,
the newly created Evangelical Climate Initiative (ECI) released a report en
titled Climate Change: An Evangelical Call to Action.51 The report ad
vanced four claims. First, it acknowledged that "[h]uman-induced climate
change is real."52 It next recognized that "[t]he consequences of climate
change will be significant, and will hit the poor the hardest."53 The third
.claim was that "Christian moral convictions demand our response to the
climate change problem."54 The report concluded that "[t]he need to act
now is urgent. Governments, businesses, churches, and individuals all have
. a role to play in addressing climate changes-starting now."55 The eighty
six signatories of the statement included numerous leading pastors such as
Bill Hybels and Rick Warren, the presidents of Wheaton College and Cal
vin College, leaders of parachurch organizations such as World Vision, and
individuals affiliated with the National Association of Evangelicals (NAB),
Christianity Today and the Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN).
The evangelical opponents of prioritizing action to regulate climate
change responded with their own statement. The ISA released an open letter
to the signers of the ECI statement and advocated a strikingly different ap
proach. The open letter questioned "the extent, the significance, and per
haps the existence of the much-touted scientific consensus on catastrophic
human-induced global warming."56 The letter further asserted that "the
harm caused by mandated reductions in energy consumption in the quixotic
quest to reduce global warming will far exceed its benefits."57 It concluded
that human efforts to stop climate change "are largely futile," that scarce
resources could be better allocated to "more beneficial uses," and that adap
tation is a better strategy to climate change than prevention.58 The open
letter was endorsed by another lengthy list of evangelical leaders, including
former Secretary of the Interior Donald Hodel, Family Research Council
President Tony Perkins, Michael Cromartie of the Ethics and Public Policy
Center, Professor D.A. Carson of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and
numerous pastors, professors and parachurch officials.
The debate continued in 2007. The first controversy centered on Rich
ard Cizik, the policy director for the NAB. Cizik had become outspoken
about the perils of climate change, appearing in a host of religious and secu
lar venues to speak about the topic. His efforts earned him the scorn of the
evangelical opponents of climate change regulations, who appealed to the
NAB board to remove him from his position because "he regularly speaks
without authorization for the entire organization and puts forward his own
political opinions as scientific fact."59 The NAB board declined to remove
Cizik,60 but he remains a controversial figure in the debate.
The next significant event occurred in June 2007, when the Senate
Environment and Public Works Committee held a hearing on religious per
spectives on climate change. Four evangelicals were among the witnesses
before the committee: Jim Ball, the head of the EEN, who explained the
conclusions of the ECI and its public policy recommendations; activist and
historian David Barton, who identified the distinctive evangelical ap
proaches to theology, science and prioritizing social issues; James
Tonkowich of the Institute on Religion and Democracy, who emphasized
the positive value of human population and development; and Southern
Baptist Seminary Dean Russell Moore, who explained why Southern Bap
tists were concerned about the popular demand to respond to climate
It is unclear how these discussions have affected the broader commu
nity of evangelicals who are unfamiliar with climate change. A September
58. ld. at 3. The ISA also discouraged the NAE from taking an official position on climate
change issues. Interfaith Stewardship Alliance, A Letter to the National Association of Evangeli
cals on the Issue of Global Warming, http://www.interfaithstewardship.org/pdfINAE-ap
peal%20letter.pdf (last visited Feb. 7, 2008). The ISA contended that "there should be room for
Bible-believing evangelicals to disagree about the cause, severity and solutions to the global
warming issue." ld. The signers of that letter included Prison Fellowship Ministries founder
Charles Colson, Focus on the Family head James Dobson, and several more evangelical pastors
and leaders. ld.
59. Letter from Don Wildmon et al., Chairman, American Family Association, to L. Roy
Taylor, Chairman of the Board, National Association of Evangelicals (Mar. 1, 2007), available at
60. See Laurie Goodstein, Evangelical Group Rebuffs Critics on the Right, N.Y. TIMBS, Mar.
14, 2007, at A15.
61. See Religious Leaders & Climate Change Hearing, supra note 14. The three other relig
ious leaders who testified at the hearing were Katharine Jefferts Schori, the presiding bishop of the
Episcopal Church (and a former scientist); John Carr of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops;
and Rabbi David Saperstein of the Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism.
2007 poll conducted by The Barna Group indicated that evangelicals were
far less concerned about climate change than any other group in American
society. Only thirty-three percent of evangelicals considered climate change
a "major" problem, compared to fifty-nine percent of Catholics and main
line Protestants and sixty-nine percent of atheists and agnostics. Indeed,
evangelicals were "the least concerned segment among more than fifty pop
ulation groups studied."62 By contrast, a poll released by Ellison Research
one month later found that eighty-four percent of evangelicals supported
legislation to reduce global warming.63 Whatever the precise numbers, as of
September 2007, the Wall Street Journal reported that the "split over global
warming widens among evangelicals."64
In sum, evangelicals acknowledge that the earth is warming, but they
are divided about what that means and what to do about it. The ECI and its
supporters want to act now and to act aggressively; the ISA and its support
ers counsel caution and prudence before prioritizing climate change ahead
of other issues. The debate among evangelicals thus mirrors, albeit dimly,
the broader debate about climate change. The congressional committee
hearing featuring Al Gore's testimony warning of a planetary emergency
also included Bjorn Lomborg's reply that "[s]tatements about the strong,
ominous and immediate consequences of global warming are often wildly
exaggerated."65 Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger view climate
change as a serious problem, but they reject the pollution control responses
advocated by most environmentalists and favor encouraging-rather than
discouraging-economic development in order to arrest climate change. 66
Such conflicting opinions have blocked the most ambitious proposals for
new legal tools to respond to climate change. Congressional efforts to enact
sweeping legislation aimed at curbing greenhouse gas emissions remain
stalemated despite the Democratic takeover of Congress after the November
2006 elections. States, local governments and private industry have attacked
the issue more aggressively.67 Litigation relying upon existing laws has
achieved mixed results.68 The climate change issue, in short, has gained
significant public attention but yielded modest legal gains, which is why so
many parties on all sides of the issue are looking to persuade evangelicals to
support their cause.
WHY EVANGELICALS DISAGREE
"Everybody is for stopping global warming," as climate change skep
tic Charles Colson has acknowledged,69 yet the evangelical community re
mains divided concerning climate change. The division has become
national news. What is lacking is an explanation. I will consider three possi
ble answers in this section: understandings of theology and ethics, the role
of science, and views of law and politics. I conclude that little of the divi
sion among evangelicals with respect to climate change is attributable to
theology or ethics, that contrasting understandings of the science of climate
change explains some of the division, and that the most profound differ
ences among evangelicals exist in their perspectives regarding the nature of
law and the political process.
Theological differences would seem to be an unlikely source of disa
greement among evangelical attitudes toward climate change. The popular
perception of evangelicals is that they adhere to a similar theology, almost
by definition. Actually, there are numerous lively theological disputes
within the evangelical community, which attests to the difficulty in identify
ing precisely what qualifies as "evangelical." Few of these points of theo
logical difference color evangelical views of climate change. Indeed, many
of the same biblical principles are cited by both proponents and opponents
of a greater governmental response to climate change. "All sides cite the
67. See Green Mountain Chrysler Plymouth Dodge Jeep v. Crombie, 508 F. Supp. 2d 295 (D.
Vt. 2007) (holding that the Clean Air Act did not preempt Vennont's greenhouse gas emissions
standards for new cars); GLOBAL CLIMA'IE CHANGE AND U.S. LAW (Michael B. Gerrard ed.,
2007); Sarah Krakoff, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Our Common Future, 53 BUFF. L. REv. 925
68. See, e.g., Mass. v. EPA, 127 S. Ct. 1438 (2007) (upholding EPA's authority to regulate
carbon dioxide emissions under the Clean Air Act); Cal. v. General Motors Corp., No.
C0605755,2007 WL 2726871, at *18 (N.D. Cal. Sept. 17,2007) (rejecting the state's public nuisance
claim against the automobile industry); see also Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants;
12-Month Petition Finding and Proposed Rule to List the Polar Bear (Ursus maritimus) as
Threatened Throughout Its Range; Proposed Rule, 72 Fed. Reg. 1064 (Jan. 9, 2007) (to be codi
fied at 50 C.F.R. pt. 17) (proposing to list the polar bear under the Endangered Species Act
because of climate change); J.B. Ruhl, Climate Change and the Endangered Species Act; Building
Bridges to the No-Analog Future, 88 B.U. L. REv. 1 (2008).
69. Charles Colson, Evangelical Activism, BREAKPOINT COMMENTARIES, Feb. 15, 2006,
available at http://www.breakpoint.orgllistingarticle.asp?ID=720.
Bible," to echo Abraham Lincoln.70 There are, however, some subtle differ
ences in theology among the evangelicals who have addressed climate
change issues, and those differences become more pronounced when they
are translated into ethical principles.
The idea animating much recent evangelical writing about environ
mental protection i~ that the Bible commands that we care for God's crea
tion. The Bible teaches that God created the world, that He pronounced the
creation to be good, that He is the owner of all of creation, that He gave
humanity "dominion" over creation, and that He charged humanity with the
responsibility of caring for creation.71 Applying these principles to climate
change, the ECI proclaimed that "Christians must care about climate change
because we love God the Creator and Jesus our Lord, through whom and
for whom the creation was made. This is God's world, and any damage that
we do to God's world is an offense against God Himself."72 The ECI sup
ports that assertion by referencing three biblical texts: the creation story of
Genesis 1, David's proclamation that "the earth is the Lord's" in Psalm 24,
and Paul's reminder in Colossians 1:15 that all things were created by and
The dominion command is what troubled Lynn White in his essay
blaming Christianity forthe environmental crisis, and itsc\precise meaning is
still questioned among evangelicals. But most evangelicals read the first
chapters of Genesis to emphasize the need for stewardship, rather than justi
fying domineering human exploitation of the environment,74 Indeed, the
ECI cited the dominion passage in arguing that "[c]limate change is the
latest evidence of our failure to exercise proper stewardship."75 The Corn
wall Declaration agreed that God commanded humans "to exercise steward
ship over the earth. "76
Evangelicals agree that creation has suffered from human sin. As the
Cornwall Declaration put it, sin "defiled the good creation."77 Biblical sup
port for the effects of human sinfulness is seen most clearly in Paul's letter
to the Romans, which speaks of how "the creation was subjected to frustra
tion" and of creation's "bondage to decay."78
Evangelicals further agree about the duty to care for our neighbors,
especially the poor. Jesus taught his followers to "[l]ove your neighbor as
yourself.,,79 He also evidenced special concern for the plight of the poor. 80
The ECI thus cited its "deep commitment to Jesus Christ and his commands
to love our neighbors" and to "care for 'the least of these'" as motivating its
call to action. 81 The ECI sought "a safe and healthy future for our chil
dren,"82 thus invoking the theme of intergenerational responsibility that is
common in international environmental law. The ECI also included "God's
other creatures" among those who could be affected by climate change. 83
The ISA and other skeptics of climate change regulation concur with the
theological call to help our neighbors, but as I will discuss below, they offer
a strikingly different view of how various policies could affect the poor.
The duty to care for our neighbors fits within the broader evangelical
view of humanity. The Cornwall Declaration proclaimed that God gave
humans "a privileged place among creatures."84 This makes some evangeli
cals leery of environmental concerns that are unrelated to the health and
welfare of humanity. James Dobson, for example, objected that "[a]ny issue
that seems to put plants and animals above humans is one that we cannot
support."85 There is particular concern about suggestions involving the rela
tionship between human overpopulation and environmental conditions.
Beisner is one of many evangelicals to insist that people are a blessing, not
a curse.86 It is not surprising, therefore, that so many evangelicals were
upset with Richard Cizik's remark to the World Bank that "[w]e need to
confront population control and we can."87 Of course, such views are con
troversial in many quarters outside evangelical circles, but evangelicals
generally agree about the biblical account of humanity's place in creation.
The few places where evangelicals evidence some disagreement relate
to their view of the earth's present and its future. Evangelicals acknowledge
78. Romans 8:20-21.
79. Mark 12:31.
80. See, e.g., Matthew 25; Luke 4:18.
81. ECl CALL TO ACTION, supra note 3.
83. Id. at 5.
84. CORNWALL DECLARATION, supra note 42, at 3; see Religious Leaders & Climate Change
Hearing, supra note 14, at 1 (testimony of David Barton) ("In general, conservative people of
faith view the creation in Genesis as moving upward in an ascending spiritual hierarchy, begin
ning with the creation of the lowest (the inanimate) and moving toward highest (the animate), with
the creation of man and woman being the capstone of God's work.").
85. Press Release, Focus on the Family, Focus on the Family Concerned by Global Warming
Theory (Mar. 10,2005) (on file with author); accord Religious Leaders & Climate Change Hear
ing, supra note 14, at 1 (testimony of David Barton) (describing how evangelicals view humans
above the rest of creation in God's hierarchy).
86. See Beisner, Biblical Principles, supra note 50, at 14.
87. Letter from Don Wildmon et al., supra note 59, at 2.
that the earth as created by God is good, but that affirmation yields conflict
ing inferences. For those concerned about climate change, the goodness of
the earth demands that people act to preserve that goodness. For skeptics,
the earth's goodness demonstrates that it is capable of withstanding green
house gases. Thus, Beisner has written that "[i]rreversible, catastrophic
damage is rare to nonexistent in the world's history" because "the wise
Creator has built mUltiple self-protecting and self-correcting layers into His
world.,,88 Moreover, God declared the earth "good" before the fall, and
evangelicals question the effects of that fall on the earth as we experience it
Eschatology-the ultimate future of the world-plays an intriguing
role in debates about how Christian theology relates to current environmen
tal concerns. The Book of Revelation portrays numerous events whose
meaning have long been debated and continue to be debated within the
evangelical community.89 Most of the controversy surrounding Revelation
has involved the precise timing of those events, but questions of when are
less important than questions of what in the environmental context. Revela
tion culminates in "a new heaven and a new earth" after "the first heaven
and the first earth had passed away."90 What is this "new earth," and what
does the passing away of the "first earth" mean? James Tonkowich has
described the Bible as "a story of re-creation," not of "restoration," thereby
contradicting Richard Cizik's suggestion that God is calling us to "restore
Eden."91 There is also a belief that a sovereign God will not allow humans
to completely destroy His creation. God's covenant to Noah to never de
stroy the earth again, writes Beisner, "ought to make Christians inherently
skeptical of claims that this or that human action threatens permanent and
catastrophic damage to the Earth."92
Notably absent from the list of evangelical beliefs is the popular per
ception that Christians do not care about this earth because God will replace
it when Christ returns. This eschatological argument against Christian inter
est in environmental protection is rooted in the belief that the Bible's-and
specifically, the Book of Revelation's-promise of the future destruction of
the current world and the unveiling of a new earth renders care for this
world unnecessary. That is the premise of a few interviews of individual
evangelicals who were asked about their interest in environmental issues.
Notably, though, that argument has not been voiced by any of the evangeli
cals who have been active in addressing the climate change debate. Instead,
the view of evangelicals as hostage to a particular reading of Revelation
appears in a number of critiques of the Bush Administration's environmen
tal policy.93 "Many Christian fundamentalists feel that concern for the fu
ture of our planet is irrelevant," wrote Glenn Scherer in an oft-quoted article
in Grist Magazine, "because it has no future."94 Scherer quoted Secretary of
the Interior James Watt's testimony before Congress in 1981 that "[a]fter
the last tree is felled, Christ will come back."95 In fact, Watt actually told
Congress in that "I do not know how many future generations we can count
on before the Lord returns, whatever it is we have to manage with a skill to
have the resources needed for future generations."96
Actually, evangelicals object to what they describe as the secular view
of the apocalypse presumed by those who are most concerned about climate
change. Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth described the future effects of
climate change as "almost like a nature hike through the book of Revela
tion."97 Nordhaus and Shellenberger described An Inconvenient Truth as
exemplifying the tendency of environmentalists to "preach terrifying stories
of eco-apocalypse."98 Likewise, Steven Hayward observed "the centrality
of the apocalypse to both creeds," both Christian and environmentalist.
According to Hayward: .
The crucial difference is that the Christian apocalypse . . . in
cludes the promise of salvation and redemption for man and na
ture, while the secular ecoapocalypse is barren and hopeless. One
irony of this comparison is the way in which it reveals a greater
anthropocentric conceit on the part of fundamentalist environ
mentalism than fundamentalist Christianity. . . . For .all of the na
ture-worship that comes along with fundamentalist
environmentalism, it is surprising that it has not developed a
lar doctrine of resurrection based on evolution to go along with its
doctrine of the eco-apocalypse.99
Evangelicals possess what Lindsay describes as an "elastic ortho
doxy," which holds core convictions while accepting those with different
understandings of Christian teaching. 100 This elastic orthodoxy, however,
"is not a softening of conviction or a blurring of the lines that make Christi
anity distinctive."l0l Thus, evangelicals are able to accept diverse under
standings of eschatology while rejecting the ideas of "eco-apocalypse"
described above. The evangelical acceptance of an elastic orthodoxy sug
gests that the search for the disagreement about how to apply Christian
teaching to public policy with respect to climate change must look
The impetus for any response to climate change rests upon the scien
tific evidence that the climate is changing. Or, as the ECl put it, "[b]ecause
all religious/moral claims about climate change are relevant only if climate
change is real and is mainly human-induced, everything hinges on the sci
entific data."102 That is a problem. Richard Cizik told an interviewer that
"in the relationship between religion and science, climate change . . . is the
third rail, 'you touch it, you die.' "103 Evangelical attitudes toward climate
change are shaped by the unique relationship of evangelicals to contempo
rary scientific argumentation. Many evangelicals are often more skeptical
than many other individuals about the nature of scientific claims, but again,
it is difficult to explain why some evangelicals accept the popular sCientific
consensus regarding climate change while others do not.
Historically, evangelical Protestants were at the forefront of the scien
tific revolution. 104 That changed over the course of several centuries, partic
ularly when Darwin's theory of evolution was seen to contradict the
teachings of the first chapter of Genesis. lOS Evangelicals are especially
wary of scientific claims they regard as contrary to biblical teaching. This is
particularly obvious in the ongoing dispute between theories of evolution
and creation. Richard Cizik said that "historically, evangelicals have rea
soned like this: Scientists believe in evolution. Scientists are telling us cli
mate change is real. Therefore, I won't believe what scientists are
saying."106 In fact, there is a notable diversity of opinion among evangeli
cals with respect to the precise relationship between biblical teaching about
creation and scientific teaching about evolution, but it is certainly true that
evangelicals are more cautious in approaching evolutionary science than
other segments of the public. That caution affects attitudes toward the sci
entific basis for climate change. "If you don't believe in the evolutionary
sciences," claimed Chip Ward, "chances are you also don't heed or trust the
ecological sciences that underlie environmental law and policy."107
Such distrust appears in contexts apart from the evolution controversy.
Some in the evangelical community see scientists and environmentalists as
worshiping the earth and hostile to Christianity.l08 Recent studies indicating
that scientists are far more likely to be politically liberal and secular than
the general population fuel such concerns.109 Of course, there are many
scientists who seek to integrate their religious beliefs and their scientific
expertiseYo There are also observers who question the use of science in
environmental policy without claiming any religious commitment. 111 But
the conflicts between the languages, claims and authorities used by evangel
ical beliefs and scientific beliefs are especially profound.
Evangelicals share wider concerns about the credibility of scientific
expertise funded by particular sources. That accusation has cut both ways in
the climate change debate. The scientists who are skeptical of climate
change have been criticized for accepting funding from entities-especially
large oil corporations-that have a vested interest in current levels of green
house emissions. As British evangelical scientist Sir John Houghton stated,
"[TJhere are strong vested interests that have spent tens of millions of dol
lars on spreading misinformation about the climate change issue."112 On the
other side, critics have suggested that scientists may be biased by their reli
ance upon continued federal government funding for climate change re
search, for "this support would stop if the research community were to say
that much of the concern about this issue was misplaced."1l3
Evangelicals are also aware that scientists have been wrong in the past.
Richard Land, the head of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of
the Southern Baptist Convention, referred to "the loss of credibility . . . in
my constituency over some of the wild projections of the doomsayers
among the environmentalists."114 David Barton's testimony to Congress
cited 1960s predictions of a "population bomb," exaggerated worries about
DDT, fear about aerosols in the 1970s, and past warnings of a coming ice
agey5 Barton concluded that evangelicals "tend to be comfortable with
theological teachings that have endured millennia but not with science that
often reverses its claims on the' same issue."116
This skepticism toward scientific claims affects evangelical perspec
tives on climate change. First, evangelicals disagree-perhaps more than
others-about the causes and consequences of global warming. No one
doubts that the world's climate is changing and global temperatures are
rising. There is a dispute, however, about the extent of those changes and
whether they are caused by human activity. The signers of the ECI ac
knowledged that "many of us have required considerable convincing before
becoming persuaded that climate change is a real problem and that it ought
to matter to us as Christians."1l7 They now fear that "[mJillions of people
could die in this century because of climate change, most of them our
poorest global neighbors."118 The signers of the ISA still are not convinced.
In February 2007, Jerry Falwell preached a sermon entitled "The Myth of
Global Warming."1l9 The Southern Baptist Convention approved a resolu
tion in June 2007, insisting that "[t]he scientific community is divided re
garding the extent to which humans are responsible for recent global
warming" and that "[m]any scientists reject the idea of catastrophic human
induced global warming."120 Calvin Beisner wrote in September 2007 that
the scientific "consensus" regarding climate change "is fictional."121 The
statement by one leading evangelical pastor that action on climate change is
necessary "regardless of what the science of it is" only fueled the skeptics'
concerns. 122 Evangelicals now debate whether the debate about the science
of climate change is over.123
Evangelicals thus disagree about the scientific evidence concerning
climate change and the ways of responding to it. Indeed, the debate has
become personal; several evangelicals have chastised those with different
perspectives on climate change for resorting to ad hominem arguments to
support their conclusions. 124 But why? Roy Spencer's essay for the ISA
rightly observed that "[s]cience does not have anything to say about the
policy implications of global warming. Science, by itself, has no values or
morals."125 True enough, but evangelicals recognize as well as anyone else
that scientific arguments are the preferred currency of the policy realm. Sci
entific claims presage legal enactments. Most evangelicals are like the vast
majority of the public who have no scientific expertise but who must make
a scientific judgment in order to articulate an informed policy preference. "I
am quick to say that I am not a scientist," preached Jerry Falwell shortly
after Justice Scalia had admitted the same thing. 126
As evangelicals with no prior experience in environmental issues are
faced with apparent competing scientific claims, "[u]nfortunately, the
tom line for many will be, whom do you want to trust?"127 That was
Gordon College Professor Richard T. Wright's conclusion concerning the
role of science in his 1995 survey of the status of environmental beliefs
among evangelicals. Wright advised interested Christians "to search for me
dia with no obvious ties to a political agenda.'>l28 That is a wise prescrip
tion, but it is far easier said than done. Wright scolds Beisner for relying
upon the work of scientists who are "anti-environmentalists," but his rec
ommendation of journals such as Time and Newsweek as reliable sources
of scientific information is unlikely to persuade evangelicals who are suspi
cious of such national media. 129 The temptation is to follow the learning of
Emory law professor and political scientist Michael Kang: individuals rely
upon "heuristic cues" such as the views of individuals and organizations
that they trust to help them decide whether scientific evidence supports a
proposed legal policy.130
Law & Politics
The division among evangelicals concerning climate change is proba
bly best explained by different perspectives on the use of the law. This, too,
may be surprising because most evangelicals agree about the role of relig
ious arguments in the public square. How that is done is the subject of some
debate among evangelicals, as evidenced by Southern Baptist theologian
Russell Moore's congressional testimony that "the biblical text not be used
as a vehicle for a political agenda."131 The difficulty of identifying the pre
cise method of integrating faith and law should not obscure the fact that
evangelicals accept that religious arguments should influence public policy.
Of course, this distinguishes evangelicals from some other religious believ
ers and from many secular positions that object to the injection of religious
beliefs into public policy. But that is not the source of any significant differ
ences among evangelicals considering climate change. This section thus
considers the contrasting perspectives on four interrelated issues: how to
respond to scientific uncertainty in formulating public policy, political strat
egy, the appropriate role of the government and other institutions, and theo~
ries of jurisprudence.
Responding to Scientific Uncertainty
Evangelicals invoke, albeit not in so many words, two familiar and
sometimes competing principles of environmental law. The supporters of
governmental regulation of climate change draw support from the precau
tionary principle. There are many understandings of that principle, but the
general idea is that you should regulate possible environmental harms in the
face of uncertain evidence. 132 The United Nations Framework Convention
on Climate Change (UNFCC) advised that nations "should take precaution
ary measures to anticipate, prevent or minimize the causes of climate
change and mitigate its adverse effects. Where there are threats of serious or
irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty should not be used as a
reason for postponing [regulatory] measures."133 Susan Power Bratton de
scribed the relationship between the precautionary principle and biblical
teaching, especially the Book of Proverbs, suggesting that wisdom demands
prudence when confronting environmental risks.134 Andy Crouch applied
this approach to climate change in his "Environmental Wager" column in
an August 2005 issue of Christianity Today, the leading popular evangelical
journal. 135 Crouch credited unnamed evangelical scientists with likening the
debate over climate change to Pascal's wager, in which Blaise Pascal
claimed that the immeasurable value of belief in God overwhelms the case
for disbelief. 136
The evangelical opponents of climate change regulation respond by
invoking a different form of the precautionary principle. They call for pru
dence in imposing regulation that may have substantial costs. "Which one
of you," asked the ISA, quoting Jesus' words from the Gospel of Luke,
"when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the
132. The principle is rarely cited within the evangelical community's debate about climate
change. Compare Christopher Flavin, A Response, in CREATION AT RISK?, supra note 102, at
59-60 (endorsing the principle), with Martin Durkin (Director) THE GREAT GLOBAL WARMING
SWINDLE (WAGtv 2007) (In the movie, Paul Driessen proclaimed that "the precautionary princi
ple is a very interesting beast. It's basically used to promote a particular agenda and ideology. It's
always used in one direction only. It talks about the risks of using a particular technology, fossil
fuels for example, but never about the risks of not using it. It never talks about the benefits of
having that technology.").
133. United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change art. 3(
), May 9, 1992, 1771
D.N.T.S. 107 [hereinafter U.N. Framework Convention]; see Cass W. Sunstein, Irreversible and
Catastrophic, 91 CORNELL L. REv. 841 (2006); W. David Montgomery & Anne E. Smith, Global
Climate Change and the Precautionary Principle, 6 HUM. & ECOLOGICAL RISK ASSESS. 399,400
134. See Susan Power Bratton, The Precautionary Principle and the Book of Proverbs: To
ward an Ethic of Ecological Prudence in Ocean Management, 7 WORLDVIEWS 253, 267 (2003).
135. See Crouch, supra note 127.
136. See id.; BLAISE PASCAL, PENSEES (1669), available at http://oregonstate.edu/instructlphl
302/texts/pascal/pensees-a.htm1#SECTIONill ("You must wager; it is not optional .... Let us
weigh the gain and the loss in wagering that God is .... If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you
lose nothing. Wager, then, without hesitation, that He is.") (emphasis added).
cost, to see if he has enough money to complete it?"137 The problem of
which risks to avoid-here, those associated with climate change or attrib
uted to government regulations-plagues the broader discussion of the pre
cautionary principle. The UNFCC sought to finesse the problem in its
provision invoking the precautionary principle by adding that "policies and
measures to deal with climate change should be cost-effective so as to en
sure global benefits at the lowest possible COSt."138
The opponents of aggressive governmental action against climate
change voice arguments that sound like costlbenefit analyses. The premise
of costibenefit analyses is that the costs of a given proposed action should
be compared to the benefits in order to determine whether the action should
be taken. 139 Using this approach, evangelical opponents of governmental
regulation insist that the costs of controlling global warming will be huge
and visited upon the poor and developing nations. Recall that the ISA
warned that reducing energy consumption would be far more costly than
any harm resulting from climate change. 140 Global economic production,
they say, will drop by one trillion dollars per year because of reduced en
ergy use; 141 "a fraction of that one trillion dollars per year amount would be
enough to provide clean drinking water and sanitation to all the remaining
areas of the world presently without them."142 On the benefit side of cli
mate change, there is increased plant growth for cultivation, the fertilizing
effect of carbon dioxide, reduced desertification, expanded habitat for some
species, higher real estate values in Buffalo, and South Bend's increased
proximity to Lake Michigan. 143 Evangelical proponents of regulating cli
mate change calculate the costs and benefits differently, but they have not
embraced any of the abundant scholarly critiques of costibenefit analysis as
a policymaking tool.
A related argument insists that there are more important things for
Christians to be worried about. Michael Lindsay's book identified abortion
and sexuality, foreign policy issues such as human trafficking and religious
freedom, and government funding of faith-based charitable organizations as
the primary concerns of evangelical political engagement. 144 An August
2007 poll conducted by the Barna Group indicated that evangelicals were
most concerned about "enhancing the health of Christian churches, upgrad
ing the state of marriage and families, and improving the spiritual condition
of the [United States]," and least concerned about the need for environmen
tal protection. 145 David Barton's congressional testimony cited other polls
indicating that evangelicals are nearly uniform in their views regarding so
cial issues, fighting AIDS and reducing poverty, while also finding "that
Evangelicals are not yet cohesive about the issue of man-caused Global
The more ominous charge fears that the effort to enlist evangelicals to
oppose climate change is actually a calculated attempt to divert them from
their primary mission. Jerry Falwell, forsaking any subtlety, preached that
"[t]he alarmism over global warming ... is Satan's attempt to re-direct the
church's primary fOCUS."147 The Southern Baptist Convention resolved in
2006 that "[e]nvironmentalism is threatening to become a wedge issue to
divide the evangelical community and further distract its members from the
priority of the Great Commission."148 The ECI countered that "we are not a
single-issue movement.,,149 It challenged the premise that evangelical influ
ence will be diluted by addressing additional issues. There is even an argu
ment that the greatest priority for most evangelicals-spreading the
Gospel-will be better served if Christians are perceived as being con
cerned about our environment among a broader range of political issues.
A political argument also exists against associating with groups who
typically take opposing positions on other issues of concern to evangelicals:
Convincing pro-life evangelicals to join forces with secular and
left-leaning environmentalist groups will require overcoming a
deep-rooted prejudice that associates environmentalism with pa
ganism, pantheism and the Counterculture and New Left revolts
of the 1960s-all Godzilla-sized bogeymen in the evangelical
worldview. (It's worth noting here that the distrust is mutual.)150
Richard Cizik explained that "[e]nvironmentalists have a bad reputation
among evangelical Christians" because "they rely on big-government solu
tions," are allied with population-control movements, "keep kooky religious
company," and "tend to prophesies of doom that don't happen."ISI Indeed,
Richard Wright's 1995 study of environmental beliefs among evangelicals
concluded that "Christian anti-environmentalism can be traced directly to
political commitments." The biblical support for that view was offered by a
2006 Southern Baptist Convention resolution that sought to "resist alliances
with extreme environmental groups whose positions contradict biblical
principles," citing the warning in 2 Chronicles 19:2 not to "help the wicked
and love those who hate the Lord."IS2 In response, Richard Cizik noted the
collaboration of evangelicals with Tibetan Buddhists for international relig
ious freedom, feminists against human trafficking, the American Civil Lib
erties Union against prison rape, and gays and lesbians for AIDS relief. 153
More generally, numerous scholars have explored the role of Chris
tians living in a pluralistic democratic society. For example, the cosmopoli
tan evangelicals described by Michael Lindsay are more likely than their
populist evangelical counterparts to work with those holding different be
liefs.ls4 Some cosmopolitan evangelicals identify with conservative econo
mists, while other cosmopolitan evangelicals are more comfortable with
traditional environmentalists. Lindsay, moreover, saw environmental issues
as an area of "significant disagreement" that could help threaten the politi-
cal cohesion evangelicals have enjoyed. 155 The Willingness or unwilling
ness of evangelicals to unite with other constituencies may be key to
identifying the division among evangelicals with respect to climate change.
The Role of Government and Other Institutions
Is climate change a problem for the government or for individual ac
tions? Calvin Beisner offered an excellent summary of the dilemma facing
evangelicals who seek to be faithful stewards of God's creation:
Emphasizing only that the Earth 'is the Lord's-while neglecting
or denying that He has given it to men-tends to lead toward
making decisions at broad, societal levels . . . . However, empha
sizing only that God has given the Earth to men, while neglecting
or denying that it still ultimately belongs to God, tends to lead
toward asserting human autonomy in the use of the Earth and
exalting individual prerogative over the needs of the
All evangelicals seem to recognize the dangers of exclusive reliance upon
either collective action or individual action to respond to climate change.
Indeed, the prescriptions advocated by both sides are more similar than
their rhetoric would suggest. The ECI sees a role for voluntary action as
well as governmental regulation; the ISA recognizes that some governmen
tal regulation may be necessary in addition to its preferred market and vol
untary solutions. Even the ECI agreed that "[w]e should use the least
amount of government power necessary to achieve the objective."157 In so
doing, evangelicals resurrect the sphere sovereignty teaching of Abraham
Kuyper, and they echo the Catholic teaching about subsidiarity.
Evangelicals support a variety of voluntary actions to address climate
change. They sponsor programs for churches to reduce their emissions of
greenhouse gases. For example, Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano,
Texas, was named the "best green church" in the United States thanks to its
reduction of air conditioning, substitution of lights, and turning off of com
puters-even though the church's pastor is not convinced that climate
change is a priority problem. 158 Jim Ball testified that churches should edu
cate their members, pray for our country and its leaders, and model good
behavior. 159 EEN established a "Cooling Creation" program through which
individuals pledge to reduce their home and transportation energy use and
then pay ninety-nine dollars to offset the presumed cost of the remaining
emissions. 16o Earlier, EEN promoted its national "What Would Jesus
Drive?" campaign to encourage driving choices that would reduce air pollu
tion generally. Some evangelical writers have targeted consumerism and
materialism as the true culprits in global warming and other environmental
problems, citing numerous biblical texts in calling for radical changes in
lifestyle. As my colleague Amy Barrett has suggested, perhaps the next
campaign will simply ask, "Would Jesus Drive?" Yet, no one believes that
156. Beisner, Biblical Principles, supra note 50, at 14.
157. THE EVANGELICAL CLIMATE INITIATIVE, PRINCIPLES FOR FEDERAL POLICY ON CLIMATE
CHANGE 1, available at http://pub.christiansandclimate.org/publPrinciplesforFederalPolicyonCli
mateChange.pdf (last visited Apr. 19,2008). The Cornwall Declaration states that "[w]e aspire to
a world in which the relationships between stewardship and private property are fully appreciated,
allowing people's natural incentive to care for their own property to reduce the need for collective
ownership and control of resources and enterprises, and in which collective action, when deemed
necessary, takes place at the most local level possible." CORNWALL DECLARATION, supra note 42,
158. See Higgins, supra note 64, at AI.
159. Religious Leaders & Climate Change Hearing, supra note 14, at 8 (testimony of Jim
160. See EVANGELICAL CLIMATE INITIATIVE, COOLING CREATION, http://www.coolingcreation.
org/ (last visited Dec. 22, 2007). The $99 reflects the estimated cost of removing "an average
American's global warming pollution from the atmosphere through energy efficiency, renewable
energy, and reforestation projects." [d. The money is to be donated to organizations that promote
such projects. [d.
voluntary actions are sufficient. Richard Cizik said in 2004 that "even
George Bush supporters believe you have to offer something more here
than simply voluntary measures."161
Evangelicals are especially likely to support responses to climate
change laws that emphasize private market decisions. Driessen calls for an
embrace of "mankind's creative genius, the promise of technology, and our
amazing ability to adapt to every climate on Earth over the ages."162 The
ECI agreed that we should solve the problem utilizing market forces and by
protecting private property rights. 163 The ECI elaborated that
"[g]overnment policies should be structured to allow the free market to
solve the problem to the greatest extent possible."164
The ECI and other evangelicals moved beyond reliance upon market
forces to call for government regulation of activities that contribute to cli
mate change. Jim Ball's congressional testimony called for "an economy
wide federal policy with mandatory targets and timetables for major sources
of emissions . . . ."165 He acknowledged, though, that the policy "should
allow for maximum freedom for businesses and the states."166 One com
mentator viewed the ECl's call to action as "a highly political statement
that advocated a strong federal regulatory policy to reduce greenhouse gas
emissions."167 Such stringent government environmental regulations are
anathema to some evangelicals. Beisner acknowledged that "laws for envi
ronmental protection are walTanted, at least in principle" because of human
sin, though he questioned "the degree some have gone."168 Chuck Colson
wOlTied that "some of the global warming solutions go too far and do little
The broader argument against governmental regulation advanced by
the ISA posits that such regulation will actually hurt the poor. Paul Dries
sen, for example, argued that putting concepts favoring the poor "into prac
tice can be difficult" if those concepts "are defined too nanowly or their
interpretation fails to identify all the likely consequences of potential policy
decisions.'>17O The essential contention is that the harms visited by reduced
161. Fialka, supra note 12, at A2 (quoting Cizik).
162. Driessen, supra note 49, at 11.
163. THE EVANGELICAL CLIMATE INITIATIVE, supra note 157, at 2.
164. [d. at 1.
165. Religious Leaders & Climate Change Hearing, supra note 14, at 9 (testimony of Jim
167. Smith, supra note 142, at 634.
168. Beisner, Biblical Principles, supra note 50, at 14.
169. Colson, supra note 69.
170. Driessen, supra note 49, at 9; see Hayward, supra note 10, at 4 (suggesting that "evangel
ical concern for climate change would do no favors for the suffering millions in developing na
tions if it blindly endorsed near-term carbon suppression as its policy preference for dealing with
climate change, since it would retard economic growth-and also perpetuate current bad environ
mental practice-in those nations").
energy availability to the poor will be much direr than the uncertain effects
of climate change. The evangelical proponents of action against climate
change have been slow to respond to this critique. Perhaps the best answer
was offered by the EEN's Jim Ball, who told Congress that climate change
"is not primarily an 'environmental' problem. It is the major relief and de
velopment problem of the twenty-first century, because it will make all of
the basic relief and development problems much worse."171 So viewed, cli
mate change should be addressed because otherwise the billions that gov
ernments and private organizations spend to alleviate poverty will go for
Much climate change scholarship presumes that the ultimate solution
to climate change will be found in international law. Evangelicals are less
sure. Ken Touryan of the American Scientific Affiliation is one of the few
evangelicals who has written in support of the Kyoto Protoco1. 172 The ECI
endorsed the "objective" of the Framework Convention on Climate Change,
but it did not say anything about the Kyoto Protoco1. 173 The ISA is scornful
of it. Paul Driessen's study contended that the treaty "could cost 1.3 million
jobs in [United States] Black and Hispanic communities in 2012," and that
"poor countries that depend on exports would lose opportunities and be
forced to close factories, layoff workers, and postpone social, economic,
health, and environmental improvement projects."174 Andrew Lewis of the
Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission
referred to the "multiple flaws, scientific unknowns, and potential economic
problems" of the Kyoto Protocol. 175 More generally, Christianity Today
which has embraced action to address climate change-has editorialized
that "[i]nternational coordination is likely to slow and divert truly effective
The evangelical attitudes toward the Kyoto Protocol are influenced by
broader concerns about the nature and role of international law. Evangeli
cals are skeptical of international organizations in other contexts, usually
because of the perceived substantive biases of those organizations
cially with respect to population control) and because of their preference to .
enact laws at the most local level possible. It is also possible that evangeli
cals see international law as derived from the Catholic view of natural law,
though the increasing interest of some evangelicals in the natural law tradi
tion could change those views. The ECI also called the United States to
"lead by example," though it seems the idea is to support technological
innovations rather than new international laws. 177 In the end, the division
among evangelicals regarding climate change largely disappears with re
spect to the dispute about the Kyoto Protocol and the use of international
law to address climate change.
Uncertainty Regarding the Nature of Jurisprudence
An evangelical response to climate change should be informed by an
evangelical theory of jurisprudence. Alas, there is no such theory, or, rather,
such a theory is only beginning to evolve. This work is particularly timely
because the greatest weakness in much of the recent ecotheology writings
of the last few decades is the simplistic notion that once one knows the
theological and scientific answers, then one simply enacts a law. Of course,
there are innumerable biblical commands that no evangelical (or anyone
else) would want to enact into the statutory law. The climate change debate
thus affords an opportunity to examine not only the role of Christian teach
ing about creation, but also the role of Christian teaching on the law.
The genesis of recent efforts to formulate an evangelical theory of ju
risprudence began with the twenty-eight essays contained in the book
Christian Perspectives on Legal Thought. 178 Four years later, John Witte
and Frank Alexander edited two volumes containing "The Teachings of
Modern Christianity on Law, Politics, and Human Nature."179 Each of these
books contains a wealth of valuable material on a wide variety of topics, but
they do not really seek to develop a general theory of jurisprudence. Some
evangelicals have also turned to the natural law writings of Catholics, not
withstanding the historical evangelical skepticism toward natural law. ISO
The late nineteenth century and early twentieth century writings of Dutch
politician and theologian Abraham Kuyper provide another fruitful source
of legal thinking for evangelicals. ISI
Building on such work, Professors David Skeel and Bill Stuntz have
begun to articulate an evangelical theory of jurisprudence in their recent
177. THE EVANGELICAL CLIMATE INITIATIVE, supra note 157, at 2.
178. See CHRISTIAN PERSPECTIVES ON LEGAL THOUGHT, supra note 71. I contributed the chap
ter on environmental law. See id. at 435-52.
179. See THE TEACHINGS OF MODERN CHRISTIANITY ON LAW, POLITICS, AND HUMAN NATURE
(John Witte, Jr. & Frank S. Alexander eds., 2006).
180. See STEPHEN J. GRABILL, REDISCOVERING THE NATURAL LAW IN REFORMED THEOLOGI
CAL ETHICS (2006); J. BUDZISZEWSKI, WRITTEN ON THE HEART: THE CASE FOR NATURAL LAW
(1997); JOHN FINNIS, NATURAL LAW AND NATURAL RIGHTS (1980).
181. See Skeel, supra note 29, at 31-33 (analyzing Kuyper's thought).
writings. In an article they wrote together, Skeel and Stuntz were concerned
about overreliance upon the civil law to regulate human conduct. 182 They
distinguished between our laws and God's laws: God's laws gladden the
heart, but human laws do not; God's laws are perfect, but human laws are
not. Thus, "[w]hen legal codes try to play the role of moral codes, the result
is that law ceases to function as law."183 Skeel and Stuntz illustrated their
point by reference to a number of criminal law provisions, relating espe
cially to business activities that demonstrate the futility of employing mor
alistic understandings in the civil law to change human behavior. They
added that "mixing God's law and man's law may have other unfortunate
consequences: distorting religious believers' understanding of the divine
law even as it distorts the public's approach to the laws of code books and
In a second article, Skeel critiqued the state of Christian legal scholar
ship and offered some initial thoughts on the development of such norma
tive scholarship. "A properly designed legal system," Skeel explained, must
"playa double game: it should restrain the worst wrongs of the citizenry,
but at the same time not give unbridled discretion to regulators and prosecu
tors."185 Skeel also cautioned against "the perils of symbolic lawmaking,"
warning that "laws need to have consequences" to be compatible with the
rule of law. 186
These insights may assist evangelicals, environmentalists and others
concerned about the appropriate response to climate change. Both sides
within the evangelical debate have been cautious regarding the types of
regulation that should be enacted, at least compared to some of the other
proposals for combating climate change. Most proposed laws target electric
utilities, auto manufacturers and other large businesses whose activities re
sult in more greenhouse gases being emitted into the air. But, as Michael
Vandenbergh has demonstrated so well, much of today's pollution is the
result of the cumulative actions of millions of individuals. 187 Laws that fail
to regulate those individuals-i.e., all of us-may simply be symbolic; laws
that do regulate those individuals may encounter the same difficulties in
changing behavior that Steel and Stuntz warned about. The application of
such principles should be preceded by further study of precisely what quali
fies as a Christian theory of jurisprudence.
182. See David A. Skeel, Jr. & William J. Stuntz, Christianity and the (Modest) Rule ofLaw, 8
U. PA. J. CONST. L. 809 (2006).
183. Id. at 828.
184. Id. at 839.
185. Skeel, supra note 29, at 36.
186. Id. at 38.
187. Michael P. Vandenbergh, From Smokestack to SUV: The Individual as Regulated Entity
in the New Era of Environmental Law, 57 VAND. L. REv. 515, 529-33 (2004).
EVANGEliCAL DEBATE OVER CliMATE CHANGE
LESSONS FOR THE FUTURE
The climate change debate has introduced environmentalists to
evangelicals in a way that previous environmental issues never accom
plished. This new familiarity between the two groups has implications for
each of them. For traditional environmentalist constituencies, it is important
to understand the unique perspective that evangelicals bring to environmen
tal concerns. Some of the questions involving science and law are familiar
to debates about environmental law, but certain aspects of those questions
are affected by the special evangelical experience. Evangelicals also bring
an emphasis upon the moral implications of environmental law that has
been downplayed in recent years in favor of economic and administrative
concerns. Other legal scholars, such as Amy Sinden, have recognized the
moral dimensions of climate change, and the theological insights of
evangelicals can add to those discussions. 188 Evangelicals also have unique
perspectives on the economic and political questions that have long domi
nated environmental law. It is important that there be discussion-a dialog
between environmentalists and evangelicals-rather than a mere strategic
political calculation of how to gain support from other groups for preferred
For many evangelicals, climate change has presented the fIrst occasion
for them to consider the diffIcult questions presented by environmental law.
The debate has crystallized evangelical thinking. It has confIrmed the need
to fulfl11 the biblical commands enjoining care for God's creation. It has
revealed the different theological, scientifIc and jurisprudential perspectives
that exist within the evangelical community. It has, in short, demonstrated
the diffIculty of moving from agreement on biblical teaching to deciding
appropriate public policies.
I promised that this paper would be descriptive rather than normative,
but I do not want to be too coy. My tentative view is that climate change is
not the most pressing environmental problem today. I would rank the need
for clean water supplies in the developing world fIrst, with climate change
bunched with issues such as air pollution in Asia and the global loss of
biodiversity as next in priority. Of course, each of those environmental
problems is related, and climate change could affect them all under some
scenarios of the future. At the same time, it appears that many lives can be
saved in Africa, Asia and elsewhere by targeting such simple solutions as
new domestic water supplies or shifting to less polluting fuels for residen
tial heating and local uses.
Even so, decisive action against the emission of greenhouse gases that
contribute to climate change is appropriate. There are many reasons why air
pollution is bad, and a broad understanding of "pollution," like that
ex188. See Amy Sinden, Climate Change and Human Rights (Social Science Research Network,
Working Paper No. 984266, May 1,2007), available at http://ssm.comlabstract=984266.
plored by the late anthropologist Dame Mary Douglas, holds promise for
environmental law's response to pollution claims of all sortS.189 Gordon
College Professor Richard Wright supported policies to reduce fossil-fuel
use as early as 1995 in part "because other societal benefits would result,
such as reducing pollution and reducing our dependence on Middle East
oil."190 Moreover, the attention given to the relation of human activities to
climate change is a red herring. If climate change is harmful, we should
reduce it regardless of the extent to which we caused it. We have invested
enormous resources to avoid other natural disasters such as floods and
earthquakes, so why not climate change? As one pastor preached, "No mat
ter what has caused the earth's temperature to elevate, the result is hurting
creation and devastating people's lives."191
The ideal nature of that response is beyond the scope of this paper,
save to note that some of the arguments described above should be consid
ered in formulating that response. We need to provide energy to the poor
without causing climate change. That could mean the greater use of solar,
wind, hydro and nuclear power, even though they each present their own
environmental concerns. The market approach, favored by both the ECI and
the ISA, counsels that we should be careful about the government picking
and choosing losers through subsidies, as my own experience researching
new technologies during the last energy crisis also demonstrates. 192 The
ECI and Calvin Beisner also emphasize techniques for adapting to climate
change, rather than only trying to prevent it. 193
Finally, evangelicals champion two ideas that are especially important
in addressing climate change. First, the law cannot solve all of our
problems. Professors Skeel and Stuntz provided a valuable service by be
ginning to sketch how jurisprudence can be informed by Christian teaching,
and further work on that project is essential. The second idea is that legal
disputes should be conducted with humility and civility. As the NAB put it,
"we must practice humility and cooperation to achieve modest and attaina
ble goals for the good of society. We must take care to employ the language
of civility and to avoid denigrating those with whom we disagree."l94 The
climate change debate will be worthwhile if it simply teaches us that.
189. See John Copeland Nagle, The Idea of Pollution (Notre Dame Legal Studies Paper No.
07-05, 2007), available at http://ssrn.comlabstract=969681.
190. CREATION AT RISK?, supra note !O2, at 64 (statement of Richard Wright).
191. Posting of Tri Robinson, A Christian Perspective and a Call to Action, http:!netstendthe
garden.orglessayslgloball.htm (last visited Dec. 22, 2007).
192. See JOHN C. NAGLE ET AL., REGIONAL SOCIOECONOMIC ANALYSIS OF TAR SANDS DEVEL
OPMENT IN UTAH (Argonne Nat'l Lab. Rep. ed., 1983).
193. See THE EVANGELICAL CLIMATE lNmATIVE, supra note 157, at 1 (endorsing "adaptation
and mitigation assistance to least-developed countries" and "research into adaptation and mitiga
tion measures for low-income households in the U.S. and the poor in least-developed countries");
Beisner, Biblical Principles, supra note 50, at 17 (calling for measures to help the poor to adapt to
climate change and other threats, including providing "reliable, affordable energy").
194. NAT'L ASs'N OF EVANGELICALS, supra note 2, at 4.
1. Responding to Scientific Uncertainty. . . . . . . . . . . . . .
2. Political Strategy. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
3. The Role of Government and Other Institutions . . ..
1. See generally GEORGE MARSDEN, FUNDAMENTALISM AND AMERICAN CULTURE (2d ed. 2006 ).
2. NAT'L ASs'N OF EVANGELICALS, FOR THE HEALTH OF THE NATION: AN EVANGELICAL CALL TO CIVIC RESPONSIBILITY 1 ( 2004 ), available at http://www.nae.netlimages/civic_ responsibility2.pdf.
3. EVANGELICAL CLIMATE lNrTIATIVE, CLIMATE CHANGE: AN EVANGELICAL CALL TO ACTION 3 ( 2006 ), available at http://pub.christiansandclimate.org/pub/statement-booklet. pdf [hereinafter ECl CALL TO ACTION].
4. E.O. WILSON , THE CREATION : AN APPEAL TO SAVE LIFE ON EARTH 3 ( 2006 ).
5. KEVIN PHILLIPS , AMERICAN THEOCRACY : THE PERIL AND POLITICS OF RADICAL RELIGION, OIL, AND BORROWED MONEY IN THE 21ST CENTURY ( 2006 ) ; see also Chip Ward, Dumbing Down the Kids with Intelligent Design: How Wannabe Theocrats Wage War on Our Future, CATALYST MAG ., Jan . 2006 .
6. Nicholas Kristof , Hug an Evangelical , N.Y. TIMES , Apr. 24 , 2004 , at AI7.
7. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Summary for Policymakers , in CLIMATE CHANGE 2007 : THE PHYSICAL SCIENCE BASIS 1, 5 (S . Solomon et al. eds., 2007 ), available at http://ipcc-wgI.ucar.edu/wgi/ReportlAR4WG LPrinCSPM.pdf.
24. Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Kyoto Protocol: Negotiating the Protocol , http://unfccc.intlKyoto_protocol/items/2830.php (last visited Jan . 23 , 2008 ).
25. For the history of the American response to climate change, see generally J.B. RUHL , JOHN COPELAND NAGLE & JAMES SALZMAN , THE PRACTICE AND POLICY OF ENVIRONMENTAL LAW 1329-48 ( 2007 ).
26. D. MICHAEL LINDSAY , FAITH IN THE HALLS OF POWER: How EVANGELICALS JOINED THE AMERICAN ELITE 2 ( 2007 ).
42. CORNWALL ALLIANCE FOR THE STEWARDSHIP OF CREATION, THE CORNWALL DECLARATION ON ENVIRONMENTAL STEWARDSHIP 1 ( 2000 ), http://www.comwallalliance.org/docs/the-comwall -dec1aration-on-environmental-stewardship . pdf (last visited Feb. 7 , 2008 ) [hereinafter CORNWALL DECLARATION] .
43. Id .
44. Id .
45. Id .
46. Evangelical Envt!. Network, What Would Jesus Drive?, http://www.whatwouldjesus drive. org!intro.php (last visited Jan . 27 , 2007 ).
47. Roy W. SPENCER ET AL., AN EXAMINATION OF THE SCIENTIFIC, ETllCAL AND THEOLOGICAL IMPLICATIONS OF CLIMATE CHANGE POLICY ( 2005 ), available at http://www.interfaithstewardship. org!pdfIISA_Climate_Change.pdf [hereinafter ISA EXAMINATION].
48. Roy W. Spencer , Global Warming: How Much ofa Threat? , in ISA EXAMINATION, supra note 47 , at 6.
49. Paul Driessen, Global Warming and the Poor , in ISA EXAMINATION, supra note 47 , at 8.
50. E. Calvin Beisner, Biblical Principles for Environmental Stewardship , in ISA EXAMINATION, supra note 47 , at 19 [hereinafter Biblical Principles]; E. CALVIN BEISNER , WHERE GARDEN MEETS WILDERNESS: EVANGELICAL ENTRY INTO THE ENVIRONMENTAL DEBATE ( 1997 ) (exploring in much greater detail the biblical teaching related to environmental issues).
51. ECI CALL TO ACTION, supra note 3. The creation of the ECI was preceded by a November 2000 meeting of evangelical scientists, a 2002 conference in Oxford organized by the John Ray Initiative and the Au Sable Institute of Environmental Studies, the "What Would Jesus Drive?" campaign of 2002, the 2004 Sandy Cove Covenant regarding environmental stewardship, and a statement on civic responsibility issued by the National Assocation of Evangelicals discussing the need for environmental stewardship . See The Evangelical Climate Initiative: A History , http://www.christiansandclimate.org/history (last visited Dec . 22 , 2007 ); NAT'L ASs'N OF EVANGELICALS, FOR THE HEALTH OF THE NATION: AN EVANGELICAL CALL TO CIVIC RESPONSIBILITY 11-12 , http://www.nae.netlimages/civic_responsibility2. pdf (last visited Jan . 27 , 2008 ).
52. ECI CALL TO ACTION , supra note 3, at 4.
53. Id . at 5.
54. Id . at 7.
55. Id . at 8.
56. The Cornwall Alliance, An Open Letter to the Signers of "Climate Change: An Evangelical Call to Action" and Others Concerned About Global Warming, at 2 , http://www.comwall alliance.org/docs/Open_Letter. pdf (last visited Dec . 22 , 2007 ).
57. Id .
62. The Barna Group, Born Again Christians Remain Skeptical, Divided About Global Warming , THE BARNA UPDATE (Sept. 17 , 2007 ), available at http://www.barna.orglFlexPage.aspx ?Page=BarnaUpdate&BarnaUpdateID= 279 .
63. Evangelical Leaders Increase Pressure on Capitol Hill to Enact Prudent Federal Climate Policy: New National Poll Reveals Broad Evangelical Support for Climate Legislation , P.R. NEWSWIRE , Oct. 11 , 2007 (citing the results of the poll); see Religious Leaders & Climate Change Hearing, supra note 14 (testimony of Jim Ball, citing a September 2005 Ellison Research poll concluding that seventy percent of evangelicals thought that climate change would be a serious threat to future generations).
64. Andrew Higgins , Split over Global Warming Widens Among Evangelicals, WALL ST . J., Sept . 28 , 2007 , at AI.
65. Perspectives on Climate Change Hearing, supra note 8 , at l(testimony of Bjorn Lomborg), available at http://democrats.science.house.gov/MediaIFile/Commdocs/hearings/20071 energy/21mar/lomborg_testimony.pdf. Al Gore also testified during this joint hearing in March of 2007.
66. See TED NORDHAUS & MICHAEL SHELLENBERGER, BREAK THROUGH: FROM THE DEATH OF ENVIRONMENTALISM TO THE POLITICS OF POSSIBILITY ( 2007 ).
70. Higgins , supra note 64, at AI ; Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of the United States of America , Second Inaugural Address (Mar. 4 , 1865 ), available at http://www.nps.gov/archive/fothl secinaug. htm ("Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God ....").
71. See , e.g., John Copeland Nagle, Christianity and Environmental Law , in CHRISTIAN PERSPECTIVES ON LEGAL THOUGHT 435 , 438 - 40 ( Michael McConnell et al . eds., 2001 ) (citing biblical texts ).
72. ECI CALL TO ACTION , supra note 3, at 7.
73. Id .
74. See Nagle, supra note 39 , at 987-93 ( describing recent theories of dominion and stewardship). Norman Wirzba favors a "servanthood" model instead of stewardship, citizenship or other understandings of biblical teaching . See WIRZBA, supra note 38 , at 128-45.
75. Eel CALL TO ACTION, supra note 3, at 7.
76. CORNWALL DECLARATION , supra note 42, at 2.
77. Id .
88. Beisner , Biblical Principles, supra note 50 , at 13.
89. See generally MICHAEL WILCOCK, I SAW HEAVEN OPENED: THE MESSAGE OF REVELATION ( 1975 ) (summarizing the Book of Revelation and its interpretive controversies).
90. Revelation 21: 1 .
91. Religious Leaders & Climate Change Hearing, supra note 14, at 2 (testimony of James Tonkowich); see Richard Cizik, 12 Ideas for the Planet , NEWSWEEK, Apr. 16 , 2007 , at 87.
92. Beisner , Biblical Principles, supra note 86 , at 16.
93. See , e.g., STEPHEN BATES , GOD'S OWN COUNTRY: TALES FROM THE BIBLE BELT 314- 17 ( 2007 ) (arguing the evangelical expectation of an apocalypse helps to explain the unwillingness to address climate change); JARED DIAMOND, COLLAPSE: How SOCIETIES CHOOSE TO FAIL OR SUCCEED 462 ( 2005 ) (suggesting that a mining executive who belongs to "a church that teaches that God will soon arrive on Earth" need not worry about land reclamation projects); STEPHENIE HENDRICKS, DNINE DESTRUCTION: WISE USE , DOMINION THEOLOGY , AND THE MAKING OF AMERICAN ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY 46-52 ( 2005 ).
94. Glenn Scherer , The Godly Must Be Crazy: Christian-Right Views Are Swaying Politicians and Threatening the Environment, GRIST MAG ., Oct. 27 , 2004 , available at http:// www.grist.org/news/maindishl2004/1 0/27/scherer-christianlindex. html (emphasis omitted).
95. Id . This partial account of Secretary Watt's testimony has been repeated in numerous sources, including the otherwise excellent WIRZBA , supra note 38 , at 83; and BOUMA-PREDIGER, supra note 38, at 71-72.
96. Briefing by the Secretary of the Interior: Oversight Hearing Before the H . Comm. on Interior and Insular Affairs, 97th Congo 37 ( 1981 ) (statement of James G. Watt, Secretary of the Interior). The Weekly Standard published an article responding to Scherer's inaccurate quotation of Secretary Watt. See John Hinderaker, "Rapture": Republicans, the Environment, and the Second Coming: The Origins of a Liberal Myth, THE WKLY . STANDARD, Feb. 14 , 2005 . Grist Magazine had apologized for Scherer's error . See Scherer, supra note 94.
97. GORE, supra note 20, at 109.
98. NORDHAUS & SHELLENBERGER, supra note 66, at 130-31.
99. Hayward , supra note 10, at 3 (emphasis omitted); see Religious Leaders & Climate Change Hearing, supra note 14 (testimony of Russell D. Moore) (arguing that "we cannot share a radical environmentalist's apocalyptic scenarios of 'earth in the balance"').
100. LINDSAY, supra note 26, at 216.
101. Id . at 217.
102. ECl CALL TO ACTION, supra note 3; see Comments, in CREATION AT RISK?: RELIGION, SCIENCE, AND ENVIRONMENTALISM 71 (Michael Cromartie ed ., 1995 ) (containing a statement of Ron Sider, finding it "distressing that we have not been able to get beyond enormous disagreements on the scientific data so we can deal with the ethical questions" ).
103. Speaking of Faith: The Evolution of American Evangelism (American Public Media broadcast Apr . 12 , 2007 ).
104. See generally EVANGELICALS AND SCIENCE IN HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE (David N. Livingstone , D.G. Hart & Mark A . Noll eds., 1999 ).
105. For excellent overviews of this vast controversy, see EDWARD L. LARSON, EVOLUTION: THE REMARKABLE HISTORY OF ASCIENTIFIC THEORY ( 2004 ) and RONALD J. NUMBERS, THE CREATIONISTS: FROM SCIENTIFIC CREATIONISM TO INTELLIGENT DESIGN (expanded ed . 2006 ).
106. CNN Presents: God's Christian Warriors (CNN broadcast Aug . 23 , 2007 ). Cizik added that such reasoning was "illogical." Id. Calvin Beisner responded that Cizik's statement "riles a lot of us" and challenged Cizik to "offer a single documented instance of a single notable evangelical critic of his views on global warming who has argued in any way remotely like that." E. Calvin Beisner, Global Warming: Why Evangelicals Should Not Be Alarmed, REFORMED PERSP ., Sept . 2007 , at 24.
107. Posting of Chip Ward, Left Behind: Bush's Holy War on Nature, to TomDispatch .com, http://www.tomdispatch. com!postl22312/tomdispatch_chip_ward_bush_s_holy_war_on_nature ( Sept. 15 , 2005 ).
108. See , e.g., Posting of Richard Cizik, E-Correspondence: Can Religion and Environmentalism Find Common Ground in the 21st Century? , to Audobonmagazine.org, http://audubonmagazine.org/eCorrespondence/ecorrespondence090506. html (Sept. 5 , 2006 ) (noting the "tragic stereotype ... that 'science' is a synonym for atheist" ).
109. See , e.g., LINDSAY, supra note 26 , at 109 (citing studies indicating that "only 1.5 percent of elite scientists identify as evangelical, compared to anywhere from 25 to 47 percent of the general population"). Lindsay concludes that "elite scientists are not likely to be evangelical, and most of them present themselves and their work as being in opposition to evangelicalism and its belief system." Id.
110. See , e.g., FRANCIS S. COLLINS, THE LANGUAGE OF GOD: A SCIENTIST PRESENTS EVIDENCE FOR BELIEF ( 2007 ) ; KENNETH R. MILLER , FINDING DARWIN'S GOD: A SCIENTIST'S SEARCH FOR COMMON GROUND BETWEEN GOD AND EVOLUTION ( 2007 ).
111. See , e.g., NORDHAUS & SHELLENBERGER, supra note 66 , at 138-43.
112. John Houghton, Presentation to the National Association of Evangelicals, Climate Change: A Christian Challenge and Opportunity (Mar . 2005 ), available at http://www.creation care. orglfileslhoughton_NAE_briefing.pdf.
113. Patrick J. Michaels , The Climate-Change Debacle: The Perils of Politicizing Science , in CREATION AT RISK?, supra note 102 , at 51.
114. Comments, in CREATION AT RISK?, supra note 102 , at 65 (statement of Richard Land); accord Religious Leaders & Climate Change Hearing, supra note 14 , at 2 (testimony of David Barton) (citing mistaken scientific claims regarding fetal tissue research, overpopulation, DDT and aerosols); id. at 6 (testimony of James Tonkowich) (asserting that "[s]cientific consensus has been wrong before and it will be wrong again" ).
115. See Religious Leaders & Climate Change Hearing, supra note 14, at 2 (testimony of David Barton) .
116. Id . at 3.
117. ECl CALL TO ACTION, supra note 3.
118. Id . at 5.
119. Jerry Falwell , Televangelist and Founder of Thomas Road Baptist Church, The Myth of Global Warming (Feb. 25 , 2007 ), available at http://sermons.trbc.org/ 20070225_11AM.htrnl.
120. S. BAPTIST CONVENTION , REs. No.5 , ON GLOBAL WARMING ( 2007 ), available at http:// www.sbc.netiresolutions/amResolution.asp?ID=1171; accord Spencer , Global Warming: How Much of a Threat?, in ISA EXAMINATION, supra note 47, at 2-7 (presenting the scientific case against the worst climate change scenarios); Press Release, Focus on the Family, Focus on the Family Concerned by Global Warming Theory (Mar . 10, 2005 ), available at http://www.family. org (containing James Dobson's claim that "significant disagreement exists within the scientific community regarding the validity of this theory" of climate change).
121. Beisner , supra note 106, at 24.
122. Mark Bergin , Greener Than Thou: Earth Day 2006 Arrives With Some Evangelicals Making a Controversial Push for Radical Environmental Legislation , WORLD MAG., Apr . 22 , 2006 , available at http://www.worldmag. com!articles/11745 (quoting Florida megachurch pastor Joel Hunter) .
123. See Religious Leaders & Climate Change Hearing, supra note 14, at 5 (testimony of James Tonkowich) .
124. See id.
125. Spencer , Global Warming: How Much of a Threat? , in ISA EXAMINATION, supra note 47 , at 6.
126. Falwell , supra note 119; See Transcript of Oral Argument at *13 , Mass. v. EPA , 127 S. Ct . 1438 ( 2007 ) (Justice Scalia stating during oral argument in a climate change case that he is "not a scientist" ).
127. Richard T. Wright, Tearing Down the Green: Environmental Backlash in the Evangelical Sub-Culture, 47 PERSP . ON SCI. & CHRISTIAN FAITH 80 , 80 - 91 ( June 1995 ), available at http:// www.asa3.org/ASA/PSCF/1995IPSCF6- 95Wright . htm1; accord Andy Crouch, Environmental Wager , CHRISTIANITY TODAY, Aug. 4 , 2005 , at 66 ( insisting that "[alII science is ultimately a matter of trust" because "[tlhe tools, methods, and mathematical skills scientists acquire over years of training are beyond the reach of the rest of us, even of scientists in different fields" ).
128. Wright , supra note 127.
130. See Michael S. Kang , Democratizing Direct Democracy: Restoring Voter Competence Through Heuristic Cues and "Disclosure Plus," 50 UCLA L . REv . 1141 ( 2003 ).
l31. Religious Leaders & Climate Change Hearing, supra note 14 , at 2 (testimony of Russell D. Moore).
137. Beisner , Biblical Principles supra note 50, at 19 (quoting Luke 14 : 28 ).
138. U.N. Framework Convention, supra note 133 , at art. 3 ( 3 ).
139. See generally ANTHONY BOARDMAN, COST BENEFIT ANALYSIS: CONCEPTS AND PRACTICE (3d ed. 2005 ); Matthew D. Adler & Eric A. Posner , Rethinking Cost/Benefit Analysis, 109 YALE L. J. 165 ( 1999 ) ; FRANK ACKERMAN & LISA HEINZERLING, PRICELESS: ON KNOWING THE PRICE OF EVERYTHING AND VALUE OF NOTHING ( 2005 ) (the best critique of cosUbenefit analysis) .
140. The Cornwall Alliance, supra note 56 , at 2.
141. Beisner , Biblical Principles, supra note 50 , at 16.
142. /d.; see Fred L. Smith , Jr. , The Progressive Environmental Gospels Versus Classical Liberalism, 56 CASE W. REs. L. REV . 621 , 636 ( 2006 ) (arguing that "eco-evangelicals would 'help' the poor by closing the doorway out of poverty" ).
143. Okay, no one has spoken on behalf of the latter benefit, but Gregg Easterbrook noted his hometown of Buffalo's potentially improved position . Gregg Easterbrook , Global Warming: Who Loses-And Who Wins?, THE ATLANTIC , Apr . 2007 , at 56.
144. See LINDSAY , supra note 26, at 39-Sl.
14S. Americans Are Most Worried, supra note 29.
146. Religious Leaders & Climate Change Hearing, supra note 14, at 3 (testimony of David Barton) .
147. Falwell , supra note 119.
148. S. BAPTIST CONVENTION , REs . No. 8, ON ENVIRONMENTALISM AND EVANGELICALS ( June 2006 ), available at http://www.sbcannualmeeting.netisbc06/resolutions/sbcresolution-06.asp? ID= 8. The "Great Commission" is found in the parting words of Jesus to his disciples to "go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you . " Matthew 28 : 17 - 20 .
149. ECl CALL TO ACTION, supra note 3, at 3.
ISO. Alexander Zaitchik , Jesus Wore Birkes, N.Y. PRESS, Dec. 17 , 2004 , available at http:// nypress.comlI7/S0/news&colUInns/feature.cfm.
151. Deborah Solomon , Earthly Evangelist: Questions for Richard Cizik, N.Y. TIMES MAG. , Apr. 3 , 2005 , available at http://www.nytimes.com12005/04/03/magazine/03QUESTIONS.html ?_r=l& oref=slogin. Cizik elaborated that the "kooky religious company" referred to "pantheists who believe that creation itself is holy, not the Creator." [d.
152. S. BAPTIST CONVENTION, supra note 148; 2 Chronicles 19 : 2 .
153. Speaking of Faith, supra note 103.
154. See LINDSAY , supra note 26, at 221.
155. [d. at 71.
171. Religious Leaders & Climate Change Hearing, supra note 14, at 6-7 (testimony of Jim Ball) .
172. Kenell J. Touryan, ASA in the 21st Century: Expanding Our Vision for Serving God, the Church , and Society Through Science and Technology, 56 PERSP. ON SCI. AND CHRISTIAN FAITH 82 , 84 ( 2004 ) (arguing that "[f1ull cooperation on an international scale will be required to avoid irreversible damage, such as the Kyoto Protocol" ).
173. THE EVANGELICAL CLIMATE lNrTIATfVE, supra note 157 , at 1.
174. Driessen , supra note 49, at 9-10.
175. Andrew R. Lewis , Policy Statement on Global Warming (Aug. 1 , 2005 ), reprinted in Religious Leaders & Climate Change Hearing, supra note 14 , at app. (testimony of Russell D. Moore).
176. Editorial , Heat Stroke, CHRISTIANrry TODAY , Oct. 1 , 2004 , available at http:// www.harvardir.org/articles/print.php?article= 1258 ( quoting David F. Victor & Joshua C. House , A New Currency : Climate Change and Carbon Credits, HARV . INT'L REv. ( 2004 ), available at http:/ /www.harvardir.org/articles/print.php?artic1e= 1258 ).