Are some religionists blocking action on climate change?


What we’re talking about HERE, folks, is the widespread belief that the so-called End Times can’t be forestalled by any of that fancy scientific stuff:

The United States has failed to take action to mitigate climate change thanks in part to the large number of religious Americans who believe the world has a set expiration date.

Research by David C. Barker of the University of Pittsburgh and David H. Bearce of the University of Colorado uncovered that belief in the biblical end-times was a motivating factor behind resistance to curbing climate change.

“[T]he fact that such an overwhelming percentage of Republican citizens profess a belief in the Second Coming (76 percent in 2006, according to our sample) suggests that governmental attempts to curb greenhouse emissions would encounter stiff resistance even if every Democrat in the country wanted to curb them,” Barker and Bearce wrote in their study, which will be published in the June issue of Political Science Quarterly.

The study, based on data from the 2007 Cooperative Congressional Election Study, uncovered that belief in the “Second Coming” of Jesus reduced the probability of strongly supporting government action on climate change by 12 percent when controlling for a number of demographic and cultural factors. When the effects of party affiliation, political ideology, and media distrust were removed from the analysis, the belief in the “Second Coming” increased this effect by almost 20 percent.

“[I]t stands to reason that most nonbelievers would support preserving the Earth for future generations, but that end-times believers would rationally perceive such efforts to be ultimately futile, and hence ill-advised,” Barker and Bearce explained.

That very sentiment has been expressed by federal legislators. Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL) said in 2010 that he opposed action on climate change because “the Earth will end only when God declares it to be over.” He is the chairman of the Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy.



  1. shawnnews

    Although Republicans may believe in the “end-times” you could also say that global climate change is a part of that scenario and make some Bible verses fit. I learned about global warming and Christian end-times doctrines around the same time in the early to mid 90s. If you read “When Time Shall Be No More” by Paul S. Boyer, he makes the argument that whatever the scientific or cultural changes are, the believers will find some way to interpret their texts around them. Example: There was a guy named Jack Van Impe who could make whatever the news was fit into the ambiguous prophecies in Daniel, Jeremiah and Revelation. He did this for about 20 years. I bet no one kept score but I bet most of his predictions were bogus. Other competing reverends did the same.
    However, even looking back at that commenters from this blog arguing against global warming, the sources they have cited are place like the American Enterprise Institute, the Heartland organization, Ludwig Von Mises sites, Lord Monckton, John Coleman and the regular objections countered by Skeptical Science website.
    More people talk about homosexuality and evolution in biblical terms rather than climate change. I think the authors of your blog subject found a correlation rather than a cause.
    However I remember thinking “The world won’t end the way the science class says because it will end the way the Bible says.” In fact, climate change is about altering the climate and causing a lot of unnecessary damage — but we’ll still be here for better or worse.
    Also, I don’t think Christians in Canada, Australia or Europe doubt climate change science.

  2. Robert

    I think plenty is being done to mitigaet the effects of climate change, not that more wouldn’t be a good thing (but I’ll leave that up to the scientist what it could be). I remember the paper mill across the river from use to put out a really bad smell, but over the past 20 years, they’ve installed scrubbers and now its rare that an odor can be detected. I suspect changes like that have occurred everywhere, not to mention the new city buses that have reduced emissions over the years. Likewise, I think more is being done than is being reported as it fits the news media outlets need to create controversy, so they can have fresh stories to fill those 24/7 airwaves and internet blogs.

    shawnnews, I wonder how many Evangelicals are in Canada, Australia and Europe. That’s the Christian sect that seems to hold so much power in and over our Government here in the USA.

  3. shawnnews

    I’ve always thought evangelicals and Catholics vote Republican because they are pro-life. The anti-global warming stuff is there so they get that with their world view.

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