Climate Change: problem or opportunity?

By Brian Edgar and Mick Pope

Climate change is just one of the many issues which ought to be of interest to Christians. But climate change is also different to most of the others because of the way in which it draws together so many different dimensions of life.

  • This is not merely a scientific issue, it is also a social one.
  • It is not only an ethical issue, but also a deeply theological one.
  • In fact, it is a global, political, ethical, philosophical, theological, social, environmental, spiritual and eschatological issue! Moreover, it requires us to understand the past, it has relevance for today and profound implications for the future!

And God is concerned about all of these things!

  • God is interested in the way that climate change affects poor and developing countries even more than developed countries;
  • God is concerned about the way we use electricity and consume natural resources;
  • God is concerned about our economic systems;
  • God is concerned about the environment;
  • God is concerned about the future of the planet and future generations.

Altogether, climate change is a gospel issue. The gospel of Jesus Christ has something to say about all these areas separately and climate change as a whole. Climate change and our response to it need to be seen as gospel issues.

Mick Pope of the Bureau of Meteorology, Melbourne and fellow Fellow of ISCAST and I wrote Climate change: problem or opportunity? Understanding climate change in the context of the Gospel which was first published in Christian Perspectives on Science and Technology, the ISCAST Online Journal 2009.


Climate change is a social, ethical and theological issue as well as a scientific one. It needs to be understood in the context of God’s purposes for the world. Scientifically, it is important that the world take steps to reduce human induced greenhouse gases, globally, 30 to 60% reductions on 2000 levels by 2050 to stabilise at under 3o. An ecologically sound spirituality of creation will address the issue of human consumption and the use of resources. It will also deal with the nature of our spiritual relationship to Christ and creation. Climate change has the potential to help us enhance our understanding of ‘stewardship as self-control’ and to enhance our ethical thinking by moving beyond tribal understandings of moral responsibility. This has implications for, amongst other things, our understanding of nationalism, politics and the relationship of developed and developing countries. Climate change inevitably locates us within the broad context of the history of the world and civilization and challenges us to take on a moral responsibility for future generations. It raises questions of the purpose and meaning of life, into which a Christian eschatology has the opportunity to speak.

You can download, for free, the full article in a pdf file at the ISCAST Perspectives journal.

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