Recently, ecological issues have been the center of several debates raging within Evangelical Christianity and, among those, “global warming” is the major one. More specifically, the debate concerns the Evangelical Climate Initiative’s (ECI) position on the issue of “global warming,” making it the cornerstone of Evangelical Christianity’s fulfillment of the creation mandate. The superficial issue in this debate is thus whether or not Evangelical Christianity should adopt the so-called consensus on “global warming,” and how it should respond to this contemporary ecological challenge. Within Evangelical Christianity, two parties have emerged. The first one, the ECI, endorses the “consensus” and tries to present thoughtful arguments favoring a practical set of propositions aimed at improving the care of God’s creation and ensuring a proper future for the coming generations. The other party, the Cornwall Alliance, is no less concerned about the care for God’s creation, but does challenge the conclusion of the ECI following other non-Christian international organization mandated to study the “global warming” phenomena, among which the United Nations’s run Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the prominent one. The conclusions of the IPCC have been challenged by other organizations, among which is the Christian Cornwall Alliance (CA), formerly the Interfaith Stewardship Alliance. The situation is such that now when one is asked to take position on this issue, he is expected to side with either the ECI or the CA. Such a bipolarization of the debate is most damaging for it obscures and veils the deeper questions underlying the current issue. Two-sided debates usually turn into two-sided partisan stand-offs, in no way leading to a better understanding of the issue, and rarely leads to a concrete solution or Christian answer. The purpose of this paper is not to give the definite answer on this issue, nor is it to determine who is on the right side. The first goal of this paper is an attempt to clarify the current debate on the Evangelical side, and the second one is to determine the underlying deeper questions.
State of the current debate
An important thing to notice is that the debate here is not, despite the appearances, whether or not Christians should be involved in good stewardship of God’s creation. We pretty much all agree on that. Further, and at first sight, the debate seems to be a scientific one. After all, the two opposing sides of the debate, the ECI and the CA, base their position on pre-established scientific researches and conclusions. However, even if a scientific debate, there are at least two central issues on which we can take position.
The first issue is the very existence of a consensus on the causes and effects of global warming. The report Meeting the Climate Challenge prepared by the International Climate Change Taskforce as a response to the IPCC’s fourth assessment report (Climate Challenge, 2007) clearly affirms the IPCC’s support of such a consensus:
The international consensus of scientific opinion, led by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, is agreed that global temperature is increasing and that the main cause is the accumulation of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere as a result of human activities. Scientific opinion is also agreed that the threat posed will become more severe over coming decades.
This raises the most crucial question of whether or not a consensus actually exists on the complex issue of “global warming.” I will not list here all the conclusions set forth by the ECI, or all the counter-arguments stated by the CA. I believe it will take too much time to summarize them all, and it will contribute little to our evaluation of the current debate.
We could even say that the very possibility of reaching a consensus on “global warming” is highly doubtful.
In saying that, I do not a priori reject the conclusions of the so-called consensus, rather, I merely question the label “consensus.” I think that any serious scholar who has a scientific background would acknowledge that scientific consensuses are rare, especially when it concerns a relatively recent issue such as global warming. This is even more the case when the consensus concerns the past and present causes along with the future consequences of a phenomenon we are still trying to explain. To qualify a specific set of conclusions as being a consensus sounds like imposing an authoritative term upon debatable conclusions. Moreover, despite all the emphasis on the objectivity and neutrality of science, it never seems to actually work in such a way. Scientists, as we see in the case of the “global warming” debate, in their conclusions do not sound true to their own principles, and Christianity does not seem here to lead by example.
The second issue contributing to the stagnation of the debate is the systematic stigmatization of the opponents to the theory of “global warming.” It is striking to see that any opposition to the IPCC’s conclusions on the effects and causes of “global warming” is charged with being unscientific or unsupported. The best example is the recent removal of Dr. Pachauri, formerly head of the IPCC panel, on the basis of scientific disagreement. Pachauri has been criticized for his left-wing position, as if the “official” position of the IPCC (and consequently of the ECI) were politically neutral. This is either a very naïve conclusion or a very deceptive one. In a global world like ours all debates at a national or international level necessarily become, at the same time, both political and economical debates. As a consequence those debates turn into being power games. This does not mean that the scientific research and conclusions are nullified by the intrusion of economics and politics. Rather it requires us to take international economics and politics into serious account when considering our response to the present debate. These requirements also apply to Christian scholars trying to determine the best way to answer the “global warming” phenomena. But few of the Christian parties “deployed” on the frontline of the global warming conflict seem to be aware or willing to address those more global and complex issues. This, then, does not point towards a sane treatment of this issue, which should be the direction to be taken. Rather, the current debate seems to be a heated one in which each side tends to charge the opposing side with scientific anathemas.
The third issue is that the IPCC’s call to proactive change through radical reduction of greenhouse gases emission is largely based on a projection of human activity, past, present and future. Questions have been raised concerning the conclusion that human activity is the main cause of global warming, and even more doubts have been raised against the figures of the IPCC’s projections. The IPCC’s method in its use of economics to predict the growth of human activities through prospective figures of average incomes and national incomes is deemed unsound by some scholars. For example, Cr. Ian Castles of the National Centre for Development Studies wrote in his letter of the August 6th, 2002 a warning against the unsound technical method of the IPCC.  This raises the question of whether or not the IPCC’s projections are really as scientifically absolute that it pretends. The IPCC might be right in its conclusions but in any case, overconfidence should be balanced by a certain dose of humility.
Finally, one can wonder if the set of proposals supposed to give a solution to solve the problem stated by the consensus on “global warming.” Each of the three entities has produced a set of proposal, recommendations or conclusions on the issue of global warming. Unfortunately, there is no room for us to give a precise summary of the proposals.
So far, we can see that the debate over “global warming” is more complex than it is usually assumed to be. I come now to a brief personal evaluation of the propositions mentioned. First, both the ECI and the CA propose a very restrained set of propositions based on a debatable and partial publication of evidences. This might sound surprising at first but they all focus (almost solely) on reduction of greenhouse gas. As I have said, Meeting the Climate Challenge mentions emission trading as one of the ways to deal with the problem of gas emission. The over-focused interest in greenhouse emission and its relation on “global warming” tends to cast a shadow on other issues pertaining to global warming. (as for example, its natural causes) and to ecological concerns as a whole. Other forms of pollution and deforestation are all important fields to explore. Deeper research in ecological economics is also necessary in order to determine which policy is best fitted for our twenty-first century. From my perspective, we still are in need for a distinctively Christian perspective on those issues.
My main concern here, however, is not the very narrow view of these propositions but rather that both the ECI and the CA, even though their stand on global warming is quite different, present “global warming” as the ethico-theological issue of our age. Thus global warming is soon to become the cornerstone of Christianity’s faithfulness to God. It may be feared that concern for the poor will also be absorbed into this ecological concern, especially since the ECI clearly connects these two issues:
Christians must care about climate change because we are called to love our neighbors, to do unto others as we would have them do unto us, and to protect and care for the least of these as though each was Jesus Christ himself.
Such a conclusion is debatable since it is doubtful that the reduction of greenhouse gas is the most efficient way to express God’s love in care for the poorest. Some might see as more “beneficial” for the poorest in the world, and a far more urgent matter, to be involved in reducing and preventing widespread diseases, like yellow fever, malaria, AIDS, etc., which can hardly be connected to the sole problem of “global warming.” Some Evangelical voices have made the claim that hundreds of millions of people will be at increased risk of malaria, dengue fever, yellow fever, encephalitis, and other infectious diseases because of global warming. I would suggest that such an assertion is simply unwarranted at this time. The connection between global warming and these diseases has still to be defended and spreading diseases, like malaria, tends to obscure the fact that there are far more efficient actions to take in order to deal with them. More efficient programs for treating malnutrition or for improving water quality could be mentioned. According to recent report Asia Water Watch 2015, 1.8 million of people die every year from diarrhoeal diseases (including cholera); 90% are children under 5, mostly in developing countries, and 88% of diarrhoeal disease is attributed to unsafe water supply, inadequate sanitation and hygiene. The World Health Organization, in a 2002 report, made dramatic conclusions regarding water supply and sanitation. As one can see, global warming is not the main issue, nor is it the one through which Christian’s love for the neighbor might be best expressed.
Secondly, I have already mentioned the naïve view that some Evangelical Christians entertain regarding the relation between ecological involvement and economic-political issues. As the dismissal of Dr. Pachauri clearly showed, economy and politics are integrated to the scientific aspect of the “global warming” conflict. To side scientifically is to side economically and politically. Therefore, Christians should be aware of that any decision has global economic and politic implications. The issue is then not only, and even not primarily a scientific one. We cannot separate scientific, economic and political action. Both parties should thus recognize their economic interests in the debate, since no position is economically neutral. The point here is a call to economic and political awareness. Once again this points to the necessary awareness of the interaction between the contemporary debates and their political and economical motivations. Being aware that, for example, the debate on global warming can favor a certain branch of global economy (as free-market economy) and certain type of companies is mere realism.
Thirdly, the repeated claims that a transfer of energy is possible, and could happen at low costs, is to be better supported, if it can only be defended. There are forms of green energy that sound promising and that have been developed over the last twenty or thirty years. Some, like wind and solar energies, would deserve further consideration. A brief survey of alternative forms of energy should make us realize that the total dismissal of fossil fuel energy is not as realistic as one may think. Many countries worldwide still crucially need traditional forms of energy, since the obstacles for the implementation of green energies are still too great. Some of the barriers are the extreme climate, problems of infrastructure, of technological proficiency, of energy storage and distribution, as well as the question political instability of too many countries remain the main obstacles to such an implementation. Economic, political, and infrastructural problems are still great challenges to the development of green energies as reliable worldwide forms of energy. Instead it would be better to work towards an energetico-diversity which, on a global scale could provide a nationwide, and possibly an international, auto-complementary and auto-compensatory energetic resource. A report on the interaction of all forms of energies, their interdependence, and their impact on global environment, economy and political relations is necessary if we are to strive for a responsible stewardship of God’s creation.
Under the iceberg: theology
I conclude this evaluation of the present debate on “global warming” with a few theological remarks. I have said previously that the debate is thought to be first a scientific one, and not a theological one. I would propose that it should be the contrary. All that has been said before demonstrates one thing: that Evangelical Christianity is in no way different from the secular scientific community in the debate over global warming. We should both rejoice of this ecological involvement but we also deplore the non-specificity of Evangelical Christianity’s position. We could have expected both parties (ECI and CA) to be clearly theological in their argument, but neither gives a consistent theological foundation. Moreover, their positions rest on assumptions that would need to be either modified or supported by stronger theological argument.
A first assumption is that mankind has the capacity to modify earth’s climate for the better. That the climate and environment are decaying is taken for granted, but such is not the case with the possibility of reversing this direction. The CA assumes, through the voice of Beiser, one of it supporters, that God would not allow his creation to be degraded beyond recovery, because of his grace and faithfulness:
According to Psalm 19:1-6, the heavens and all creation proclaim the wisdom and glory of God. We should, therefore, see the marks of God’s wisdom in the grand design of our environment.
The theory defended by Beisner deems inconceivable that God could allow any serious damage done to his creation. On the other hand, Beisner clearly states the serious and damaging effects of God’s curse on the earth, which is subjected to the “bondage of decay” (Romans 8). The CA, through such insightful thinking as Beisner’s, is theologically much more grounded in biblical exegesis than its ECI counterpart.
One has still to note that there is an ongoing debate concerning the ecological interpretation of Genesis 1-3 and Romans 8, which is polarized in the two following positions: either the earth belongs to God or it is man’s to dominate. Beisner rightly conclude that this is an oversimplification of the matter.
Beisner mentions several times the necessity to take the curse resulting from the fall very seriously when considering ecological involvement. He even points to the absence of such reflection in some Evangelical groups. He also notes that Evangelical theology has contributed to ecological thinking in rightly broadening the scope of redemption and stressing the existing bond between man and nature as is implied in Romans 8.20-21. While agreeing with the necessity of acknowledging the cosmic dimension of redemption, two questions come to mind. The first is concerned with the relation between present healing of creation, and the definitive healing of creation fulfilled at the second and last coming of Christ. More precisely, the relation between humankind’s efforts to heal the earth, and the consummation of the earth’s healing by God alone should be explained further.
I am also concerned with the foundation of the “co-redemption theory” of nature and man that seems to be common in the debate. The question relates to how we relate God’s redemption of humankind, and his redemption of the created world. Several options are available and I can cite only few. The first finds its basis in a strong Reformed interpretation of the covenant and of God’s faithfulness. The second would be based on a kind of principle of causality, paralleling man’s fall and nature’s curse, man’s redemptions and nature’s redemption. The third could be build on the recent developments of Open Theism and could foster a view in which the fall-redemption scheme of both man and nature has God as main actor because of an inherent relationship between the three parties, God, man, and nature.
If one was to adopt a Reformed perspective, one could frame the relationship between present healing and consummated healing on the pattern progressive / definitive sanctification. To use this pattern of course implies that the possibility of partially healing the earth is real. This rejoins Beisner’s theory. However, there is another option. One could also address the non-possibility of healing, that is, the mere preservation of the earth, based on the continuing influence of the curse and of the “bondage of decay.” In this perspective, regenerated humankind is able to give a direction of preservation to God’s’ creation precisely because of the present sanctifying work of the Spirit within each believer and within the Church, as well as the Spirit’s work of common grace. The continuing of God for the restoration of humankind is the basis for our ecological involvement. Let me confess here that I disagree with Beisner’s use of Romans 8. While he takes it to refer to the possibility of a present healing of the earth, I think that this text points toward a complete healing of the earth that is, in a way, simultaneous with the “final revelation of the children of God.” This complete healing will not be accomplished before the time of Christ’s return.  Our ecological concern should be ultimately a hope in God’s final act, not a hope in what we could or should do.
A last question concerns the implication of the “curse” on scientific research, which should also be an object of further consideration. Given the theological, philosophical, and epistemological implication of the curse over creation and over humankind, the question of the possibility of such a century-length projection based on the development of world climate over the last millennia seems legitimate. Because of the curse on the created world, and because of the noetic effects of sin, we must ask the question of the limits of our scientific endeavors and of scientific absolutist conclusions. This does not abrogate God’s requirement to fulfill the creation mandate, but it points towards the hope that God himself will completely restore all creation, and encourages the continuing work of his church until the coming of the renewed heaven and the renewed earth.
In the next few lines, in would like to point towards a second common assumption, that of the existence of a close connection between humankind and the rest of creation. At times it is as if the ECI, or specially the ECI, considers that there is no distinction in kind between humankind and the rest of creation. I am very cautious here since there is no clear indication of this in the ECI’s statement. However this could explain the ECI’s stress on the relationship between humankind and creation. The intrinsic value of ecological involvement would then be that humankind and the rest of creation belong together, as a single unit. Again this is partly true, since humankind is part of God’s creation. However, there is a clear distinction between them, found first in humankind’s creation in God’s image, and in the mandate given over the rest of creation. A clear theological statement on this question could be very beneficial for the clarity and impact of the ECI statement on the ecological debate. This, on the other hand, leads to the question of a potential mutual participation of God and creation within each other. Ecological involvement could be supported by a theological view holding that God, in the act of creation, has established an intrinsic, almost ontological, relationship between himself and his creation. As a consequence, an act against creation is an act against God himself. Such a view could gain acceptance in contemporary theological discussion.
In order to bring some precision to those theological questions I would argue that our ecological involvement should be thought as covenantal, eschatological, and prophetic. Covenantal, because it is centered on God’s faithfulness towards his whole creation. Eschatological, because it is centered on the future fulfillment of a past promise, that of God’s restoration of the vice-regent of creation. Prophetic, because only by being centered on assurance of the fulfillment of God’s faithful speech and deeds, will the Church be able to teach and lead by example.
Thesis 1. Our position on global warming should be theologically grounded, and this theological foundation should be clearly stated.
Thesis 2. We have to acknowledge that our creational / cultural responsibility demands that we be aware and avoid unnecessary pollution of our planet, and that we take actions to prevent it.
Thesis 3. We need to be aware that ecological issues are political and economical issues as well. Our ecological awareness should be broaden to include all aspects of human life.
Thesis 4. The global warming phenomenon is based on a scientific theory that is far from being absolute and it is the object of an ongoing debate.
Thesis 5. Energy transfer might be feasible but will not be an easy task. Moreover, we need to think globally about the use of all forms of energies in order to create an energetico-diversity beneficial not only for wealthy countries but also for developing ones.
Thesis 6. Global warming is not the only ecological issue, and might not even be the most important one. Reducing global warming phenomena is not the most effective way to express our love for the poor.
Thesis 7. Ecological involvement should be directed by covenantal, eschatological, and prophetic categories.
Thesis 8. Above all, we should demonstrate Christian virtues in interacting with those we disagree with.
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Read Sandy Richter (food production, etc.)
 The International Climate Change Taskforce is a different entity than the IPCC, despite the similarity of names.
 Byers, Stephen and Olympia J. Snowe, Meeting the Climate Challenge (London: The Institute for Public Policy Research, 2005), 1.
 The communication element in the global warming awareness cannot be underestimated and should raise the question of the “objectivity” and the “neutrality” of this explanation. For example sociologists have conducted research on the most effective manner of communicating the global warning theory. The Institute for Public Policy Research has published several papers on this issue. Simon Retallack, senior researcher of the Institute for global warming asserts: “Applying this approach to communications on climate change in the United States, the FrameWorks Institute drew several conclusions: (1) it recommended placing the issue in the context of higher-level values, such as responsibility, stewardship, competence, vision and ingenuity, (2) it proposed that action to prevent climate change should be characterized as being about new thinking, new technologies, planning ahead, smartness, forward-thinking, balanced alternatives, efficiency, prudence and caring, (3) conversely, it proposed that opponents of action be charged with the reverse of these values – irresponsibility, old thinking and inefficiency.” Simon Retallack, Ankelohe and beyond: communicating climate change, available online at http://www.ippr.org.uk/articles/index.asp?id=2120. Charging opponents with mere irresponsibility can hardly be conceived as scientific. As a consequence anybody involved in the present debate should be aware that it is not merely a scientific debate but a political and economical one, object of emotional and social manipulation. See also the comment of Ereaut and Segnit: “Using non-rational approaches like metaphor as well as more rationalistic approaches to enable people to engage emotionally and make desired behaviours appear attractive.” Gill Ereaut and Nat Segnit, WarmWords: How are we telling the climate story and can we tell it better? (Institute for Public Policy Research, 2006), 8 available online at http://www.countryguardian.net/warm_words.pdf. Here again the emotional influence on the public can hardly be said to be an argument resting on scientific evidence.
 For example if one had to evaluate Turkey’s involvement in the transfer of energy production to “green” energies, one would point to the hydropower projects pursued by Turkey, notably the Lansat Ataturk or the Ilisu Dam project. But at the same time, one should be aware of the great controversy that arose because of the Ilisu Dam project. Even if it would provide Turkey with an irreplaceable source of (green) energy, it does so at the expense of neighboring countries. See for example the BBC’s article “Turkish dam controversy” available online at http://news.bbc.co.uk
 Available online a http://www.lavoisier.com.au/papers/articles/IPPCissues.html
 For the proposal of the ECI, see Climate Change: An Evangelical Call to Action, accessed online on May 27, 2008 at http://www.christiansandclimate.org (4-8). For the CA, see Cornwall Alliance, An Open Letter to the Signers of “Climate Change: An Evangelical Call to Action” and Others Concerned About Global Warming, available online at http://www.cornwallalliance.org (3).
 I did not include the CA here because of its suspicion, if not rejection, of the global warming hypothesis.
 There is no room in this article for a survey of the different opinions on this topic, but the reader should be aware that the scientific community is much more diverse than these three entities wants to allow. This can be said of all the scientific “proofs” set forth by the ECI. The CA charges it with the three following fallacies: (1) Misreading or misrepresenting the evidence; (2) Overstating the case; (3) Ignoring evidence that doesn’t support its conclusions. Cornwall Alliance, Evangelicals Should be Wary of the Politicization
and Bad Science of Global Warming Alarmism (Cornwall Alliance, 2006), p. 3, available online at http://www.interfaithstewardship.org/pdf/FactSheet.pdf
 I do not imply that the perspectives of the CA and ECI are not Christian perspectives but that they lack distinctiveness.
 Evangelical Call to Action, 7.
 See Kallidaikurichi E. Seetharam et. al. Asian Water Watch 2015: Are Countries in Asia on Track to Meet Target 10 of the Millennium Development Goals? (2005).
 See World Health Organization, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Links to Health. Facts and Figures (November 2004), available online at http://www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/publications
According to the figures given in chapter 2 of Asian Water Watch 2015, between 15 and 20% of the population in Asia did not have access to improved drinking water quality, as of 2002. Asian Development Bank, Asia Water Watch 2015, Are Countries in Asia on Track to Meet Target 10 of the Millennium Development Goals? (Philippines, 2006) available online at http://www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/publications. “As of 2002, one third of Asia and the Pacific lacked access to clean water, but one half of the region had no access to the most basic sanitation facilities.” Asia Water Watch, 17.
 Regarding the use of solar energy, there is here also a debate regarding the objectivity of some reports. The official report by Sargent & Lundy, commissioned by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, has been challenged by the National Research Council. See Sargent & Lundy, Assessment of Parabolic Trough and Power Tower Solar Technology Cost and Performance Forecasts (2003), available online at http://www.osti.gov/bridge and National Research Council, Letter Report: Critique of the Sargent & Lundy Assessment of Cost and Performance Forecasts for Concentrating Solar Power (2002), available online at http://books.nap.edu/
 It should be noted that wind and solar energies are not among the most used forms of “green” energies, the main ones being biomass energy and hydropower. See the figures of the Energy Information Administration, especially table 18, according to which hydropower energy accounts for almost 6.20% of energy production and other forms of “green” energy, for only 0.88%. all charts and tables are available online at http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/iea. However I chose solar and wind energies because they are the most debated and presented as the most promising forms of “green” energies. Other forms of “green energies” are anaerobic digestion, geothermal power, tidal power, or wave-power.
 Here, se should be aware of the economic connection. Developing such projects as wind farms or solar power stations is an incredible source of profit for the companies that would eventually benefit from these contracts. These forms of energies might be “green,” but they are far from being “inexpensive” energies.
 This could help countries for which “green” forms of energy production are rather unpredictable. For example: “The majority of electricity generated in Cameroon comes from hydroelectric power stations, though droughts can often leave the country dealing with electricity shortage.” (EIA available online at http://www.eia.doe.gov/). The complementary development of more “traditional” forms of energy production alongside “green” energies would be, in such a context, a legitimate project, and probably a more responsibly “Christian” way of addressing both economic and ecological crisis.
 E. Calvin Beisner, “Biblical Principles for Environmental Stewardship” in E. Calvin Beisner et. al., An Examination of the Scientific, Ethical and Theological Implications of Climate Change Policy (Interfaith Stewardship Alliance, 2005), 19. Hereafter Theological Implications.
 E. Calvin Beisner, Where Garden Meets Wilderness, Evangelical Entry into the Environmental Debate (Grand Rapids: Action Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty & Eerdmans, 1997), 11 f.
 Where Garden Meets Wilderness, 19.
 I am aware that talking about “negative” stewardship has a pejorative connotation. However, when understood in context, this pejorative connotation is neutralized. The stress is on preservation, not on healing.
 One of the options, to maintain the possibility of complete healing of the earth, based on Romans 8 would be to relate the redemptive development of all humanity with that of the cosmos. In this case one would have to argue for the parallel between the possibility of universal salvation (or universal choice of salvation) therefore opening the possibility of a present sanctification / redemption of the cosmos. Of course, it is an option that demands a high theological price to pay.
 Once again let me stress the “conditionality” of my statements, since the ECI provides no theological reflection on its website.