Re: Climate change and the Christian (was Another Introduction)

Tim Mitchell (
Mon, 24 May 1999 10:34:57 +0100

Dear Jonathan,

Thanks for your kind comments.

>> 2. I don't have the time to make substantial contributions to debates about
>> which I am not particularly knowledgable, so I propose to limit my
>> contributions to climate-related issues, about which I do know a little.
>So, what is your understanding about climate change?
Climate change is something that is inherent to the climate system
(atmosphere, oceans, ice, vegetation). Change occurs on all time and space
scales, all the time, due to both natural variability within the climate
system, and to variability in the "forcing" (the energy that makes the
climate system tick) imposed on the climate system. In recent years
(particularly the last 150 years), humans have had a discernible influence
on global climate.

>To what extent do present changes in climate reflect human as opposed to
>non-human ("natural" influences?
"To what extent" is a difficult question to answer, being the subject of
much scientific research at present. However, there is little doubt in the
scientific community that present changes in climate reflect a mixture of
both human and non-human influences.

>What should be our response and action as Christians to climate change
>especially as Christians in science?
Well, the first point is that the natural climate changes that occur are
part of the beauty and order and complexity with which God endowed His
creation. As such it is it to be admired and studied as a reflection of the
character of God Himself, revealing His beauty, reliability and utter
incomprehensibility to humans.

The second point is that we have been given the abilities to study climate
change to bring benefit to humans. The biggest benefit is probably success
in prediction.

The third point is that humans have been given the earth to steward, and so
we are responsible for the changes we make to the earth. If we are changing
the earth's climate (and we are) then we ought - at the very least - to
understand the changes that we are making. If we are making "harmful"
changes then we have a responsibility to take appropriate action to attempt
to halt the "harm" that we are doing and to rectify it.

I hope that this helps.


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Tim Mitchell
Climatic Research Unit

post: CRU, UEA, Norwich, NR4 7TJ, UK
phone: +44 (0)1603 593161
fax: +44 (0)1603 507784