On the one hand, we have a UN report telling us that the effects of climate change are only going to get worse. On the other, we have “end times” expert Anne Graham Lotz, Billy’s daughter, blogging that the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight 370, “a small snapshot of what the entire world will experience the day after the rapture of the church.”
The two incidents would seem to have little to do with one another, but serve as an example of how differently those on the religious right interact with our shared reality. The supernatural trumps science each and every time.
Appeal to the supernatural not only insulates the so-called “believer” from the consequences of the uncongenial and unwanted reality of climate change, but if allowed to become policy, this belief removes the barriers between us and the effects of that change.
And this appeal to the supernatural has also shielded believers from the reality of climate change.
The report, “Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability,” by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, warns that “Human interference with the climate system is occurring, and climate change poses risks for human and natural systems.” Bad as things have been, the report says the worst is yet to come.
Ironically, this is exactly what “prophetic” voices on the Religious Right tell us. The Religious Right warns that God is angry and getting angrier, and that this anger poses risks for human and natural systems.
Right Wing Watch reminds us that as recently as 2011, “when a series of tornadoes ripped through several southern states and killed more than 300 people, we were told that this was just “a little taste” of what God’s judgment upon humanity was going to look like.”
No, it was “just a little taste” of what our future is going to look like as a result of anthropogenic global warming, the same global warming believers insist is a liberal hoax.
Obviously, these are two very different problems. To combat the former, we must reduce our impact on the planet and find more sustainable ways of doing business. To combat the latter, we must eliminate sin. Presumably, if extremists have their way, by burning books, returning prayer to public schools, teaching Creationism instead of evolution, stoning gay people, and banning all religions except Christianity.
The UN report tells us that climate risk management will mitigate against the effects of climate change. The Religious Right, on the other hand, touts God’s wrath risk management. They are not worried about the human impact on our climate but about the human impact on God’s temper. Science goes out the window and under the bus. “Don’t you think it’s odd that a volcano erupts in Chile at the same time one erupts all the way across the Pacific Ocean, in Asia?” they ask.
Why no, in fact, I don’t. It’s called the Pacific Ring of Fire, which, as National Geographic informs us, is “a string of volcanoes and sites of seismicactivity, or earthquakes, around the edges of the Pacific Ocean”:
The Ring of Fire isnt quite a circular ring. Its shaped more like a 40,000-kilometer (25,000-mile) horseshoe. A string of 452 volcanoes stretches from the southern tip of South America, up along the coast of North America, across the Bering Strait, down through Japan, and into New Zealand.
Reducing our carbon footprint will reduce the risks associated with global warming but it will, presumably, have little impact on God’s good will. Reducing sin, on the other hand, will not prevent the oceans from rising up above our necks and submerging much of the low-lying regions of the world any more than will prayer return the price of gasoline to $1 a gallon.
The New York Times reports that Michel Jarraud, secretary general of the World Meteorological Association says, “Now we are at the point where there is so much information, so much evidence, that we can no longer plead ignorance.”
But if people can no longer plead ignorance, they can plead religion. They can, like self-proclaimed expert on everything, David Barton, claim that abortion is causing global warming:
If you are like me, you will be chilled when you compare the UN report (or watch the video at Vimeo) and Barton’s video. One presents the facts and what we can do in response to those facts. The other presents belief and what one can do in response to those beliefs. And we cannot simply dismiss Barton, whose claims are repeated by many Republican politicians. The Religious Right insists that their beliefs trump science facts. They want our policies to reflect their belief.
But if abortion were outlawed today, the pace of climate change would not be slowed and folks in Florida will still, one day soon, see their mansions best from boats floating above their rooftops. The problem is that facts won’t change a thing in a believer’s head. Cognitive dissonance will neutralize the glaring difference between expectation and reality.