Posted by: Gary Houser | April 13, 2010

[Note: The commentary "Moneychangers in the Temple of Carbon Trading" has been posted below the following overview] 

CHRISTIANITY  AND  THE CLIMATE  CRISIS

God’s Earth a Garden of Eden paradise?

http://www.thinkcamera.com/news/images/TC-landy-05-001.jpg

Or will it become a wasteland ?

http://www.fragilecologies.com/img/drought.jpg

“The earth is defiled by its people; they have disobeyed the laws, violated the statutes,  and broken the everlasting covenant.”    –  Isaiah 24:5

“I am setting before you the way of life
and the way of death.”   – Jeremiah 21:8

The Stupendous Choice Before Humanity

All of us alive right now on earth have been given a remarkable opportunity.  We are present at a tremendous crossroads – a moment in time when the very future of life on this planet is being determined.  The cumulative aspirations of countless human lives which have preceded us in hoping for a betterment of humanity have now been placed in our hands.  For better or for worse, the decisions we make today will either open new doors to a new and harmonious future or place humanity on a path that leads to tragic and unspeakably vast suffering.

Together we can use less!

The history of humankind reveals an ongoing struggle to overcome conflict and strife. Yet the current age of technology presents a challenge that is completely unprecedented. Never before has humanity held the power to inflict grievous harm on the very ability of the earth to sustain life.

Nuclear war is one form in which such desecration could occur.  But that form is generally known and understood.  What is not nearly as well understood is the scale of  destruction which can be caused by climate disruption and how close we are to seeing that devastation unleashed. Geologists have documented an event in earth’s history called “the great extinction” when a drastic climate shift happened with such speed that a full 90 percent of all life forms on the planet were wiped out.

Critically Important Concepts:

“Tipping Points” and “Runaway Train Effect”
Humanity is now standing on the edge of the abyss – much more precariously than the general public comprehends. Scientists are warning that climate de-stabilization will not occur in a steady incremental way. If certain factors are activated, the process will begin to “feed on itself” and quickly escalate out of control in what some call the “runaway train” effect. Once set into motion, the laws of physics will take over and become irreversible.

One compelling example is the release of a vast reservoir of methane gas which before now has been frozen solid in permafrost soil and on the seabed of the Arctic Ocean. Methane is a greenhouse gas 23 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. As warming temperatures now thaw this methane, what scientists call a “self-reinforcing feedback loop” is set into motion. The more gas that is released, the more that warming is accelerated, which then prompts further thawing and release of methane, and the cycle continues feeding on itself. A second example is the loss of reflectivity when ice melts. Rather than reflecting away the heat of the sun, it becomes absorbed by the open water – which unleashes another powerful cycle that continues to expand and feed on itself.

Recent discoveries about the rate at which methane is now venting to the surface from the sea floor of the Siberian continental shelf are causing even normally cautious organizations like the National Science Foundation to sound an urgent warning. From their press release (link to full text included in the appendix): Release of even a fraction of the methane stored in the shelf could trigger abrupt climate warming.”

Permafrost is thawing, glaciers are melting, the reflectivity of Arctic ice is fast disappearing, and other factors that scientists warn can lead to this uncontrollable runaway warming are already starting to line up. There is a prospect for drought and food shortages and societal chaos on a scale never seen before in human history.

The Faustian Bargain



The massive consumption of fossil fuel has indeed conferred a sense of limitless and almost magical “power” to humanity, but the full consequences of this “power”  are only now coming into view.

When Christopher Marlowe wrote The Tragical History of Dr. Faustus in the late 16th century, the industrial transformation of society had not yet taken place. But when his words are read through a contemporary prism, a profoundly disturbing parallel emerges. The devil and Dr. Faustus strike a deal. Faustus is to be allowed a 24 year period in which to “live in all voluptuousness”, but at the conclusion he is to surrender his soul to hell. At the agreed time, the devil appears. Faustus pleads for mercy, but the pact is enforced and he is pulled to hell.

If the definition of an “end time” is that moment when the potential to end life as we know it has arrived, then science is telling us we are there. The consequences of the abuse of this “power” are  now recoiling upon humanity in the form of climate catastrophe. Our addiction to fossil fuels has tragically become a modern day Faustian bargain.

“Smoke rose from it like the smoke from a gigantic furnace.
The sun and sky were darkened by the smoke from the Abyss.”
– Revelation 9:2

Vested Interests Are Blocking the Necessary Shift
At a moment of transcendent emergency on earth, the primary institution which can alter humanity’s course – government – has tragically become captured by the very forces responsible for the crisis. Rampant lobbying by the moneyed interests of the fossil fuel industry has resulted in legislation in the U.S. Congress that is so riddled with loopholes and giveaways that actual reductions in carbon pollution would be delayed for a full 15 to 20 years.  Such an unconscionable delay would essentially guarantee that the tipping points will be crossed.

The two dangerously false solutions proposed in industry-driven legislation are carbon trading and “offsets”. Under carbon trading,  corporations blinded by addiction to fossil fuel profits are pursuing a delusionary claim of “ownership” over that which can never “belong” to human beings. In an act as absurd as it is deadly, they now reach for the sky itself and claim it as a “possession” from which profits can be made in the exchange of “rights” to defile.  Through this process, control over whether the basic life-supporting ecosystems of the earth will survive or collapse will be placed into the same manipulative hands on Wall Street that created the recent financial meltdown.

The dangerously false solution of carbon trading is complemented by the equally dangerous non-solution referred to as so-called “offsets”.  Rather than reduce emissions, U.S. fossil fuel-related corporations would be allowed to “buy their way out” by supporting projects in the developing world – such as forest preservation – that supposedly “pull” carbon out of the atmosphere and store it.  Sounding plausible in theory, “offsets” actually  have many serious and unresolved verification issues and other loopholes such as loggers simply moving elsewhere.

In an eloquent commentary on this topic,  respected elder Christian activist Father Paul Mayer shares this insight:
“Such a bizarre arrangement would seem to violate the most fundamental ethical principle of taking responsibility for one’s own hurtful actions ….. (it) also recalls the sale of indulgences by the Catholic Church in the Middle Ages ….. It allowed the thief, the adulterer, the murderer and the defrauder of the poor to secure forgiveness of his sins by buying his way out.”

The Silence of the Church

As great swaths of Creation stand to be completely wiped out, it is beyond tragic that the Christian church – apart from a small number of individuals – has essentially been silent. It has spoken the words, but it has not engaged the urgency nor has it fulfilled its moral responsibility to name and confront the terrible pact with destructive forces that has led humanity to this precipice.

A Warning from God

In a stunningly remarkable passage, the prophet Isaiah offers himself as a channel through which God appears to be issuing a dire warning about the global threat represented by the oncoming climate emergency.

“For a long time I have been silent,  I have been quiet and held myself back.

But now, like a woman in childbirth, I cry out,  I gasp and pant.

I will lay waste the mountains and hills, and dry up all their vegetation;

I will turn rivers into islands, and dry up the pools.

Those who trust in idols,

Who say to images  ‘You are our gods’,

“Will be turned back in utter shame”.

Isaiah 42: 14-17

How God Calls Us to “Speak Truth to Power”

[ New York Stock Exchange]

“You cannot serve both God and Mammon (Money)”  – Matthew 6:24


“It is no longer acceptable to claim to be ‘church’ while continuing to
perpetuate, or even permit, the abuse of Earth as God’s creation……
Nor is it acceptable for our corporate and political leaders to engage
in ‘business as usual’ as if the very future of life-support systems were
not at stake.”   We must shed our complacency, denial, and fears and
speak God’s truth to power.”

- from God’s Earth is Sacred:   Collective Statement by Clergy and
Theologians,  signed by 15 theological leaders

“To proclaim release to the captives,  and recovery of sight to the blind.”

Luke 4: 18

One of the central ethical teachings offered by Jesus is the choice he presents about whether we will choose to place our ultimate allegiance in God or in Mammon – the system driven by greed and accumulation of worldly wealth. A strong case can be made that the present crisis may constitute the most gravely serious situation humanity has ever encountered in which there is a clear need at the spiritual level to make this choice.


Moneychangers in the Temple
of  Carbon Trading

Carbon traders seek to turn the approaching spectre of drought, famine, governmental collapse, and indescribable suffering into the material for an investment bubble on Wall St.  It is difficult to avoid a comparison to vultures swooping in to feed on the demise and breakdown of human society as we know it.

When Jesus saw that the temple in Jerusalem had been transformed into a gathering place for moneychangers, he overturned their tables. He denounced this as a defiling of a sacred place and turning it into a “den of thieves”. Today, carbon trading presents us with an alarming parallel. If Jesus were to behold a gathering of modern day “moneychangers” plotting to make huge profits from the destruction of God’s Creation, it would not be difficult to imagine him calling this an abomination, disrupting the proceeding, and overturning the tables.  As the traders scattered, one might hear words such as these: “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness.”  [Isaiah 5: 20]




Please Join Other Christians to Take a Stand on the Climate Emergency


If we can learn to live sustainably, share the natural resource gifts that God has given so freely, and be good stewards of the wondrous Creation, then a life of Edenic abundance is possible on this earth. But in order for this paradigm shift to have a chance to manifest, Christians must provide strong leadership in confronting the cataclysm that is approaching.

It is a time that calls out for the moral power of nonviolent civil disobedience. Just as Jesus nonviolently resisted the religious authority of his time, this spiritual power of truth – described by Gandhi with the term “satyagraha” – has historically demonstrated its potential to achieve social change. The most powerful way to break through numbness and denial is to ACT. The moment has come to stand up and witness against the forces of destruction on this earth while there is still time.
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- Eladiah is the founder of this blog and author of “Christianity and the Climate Crisis”.  This site will grow and evolve with more material related to the topic. Feedback and inquiries are warmly invited at: mountainmist8@yahoo.com

He is also helping to start a Christian ecovillage  called “Godsland” in the Hocking Hills of  southern Ohio, which will be based on the ethic of  “holding all things in common”.  This community will be dedicated to activist work related to the climate emergency.  He is an activist with Climate SOS  (  www.climatesos.org )  and recently took part in a major nonviolent civil disobedience (or what he prefers to call “divine obedience”) at the Chicago Climate Exchange, which is the first location to host active carbon trading in the U.S.  It is viewable in the following 5 minute video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FHJOOiyZR_s

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Resource Appendix

A) Article in UK Guardian  “Catastrophic Global Warming in Our Lifetimes”  describes a new report prepared for the British government which factors in reinforcing feedbacks and tipping points – something not incorporated in the earlier IPCC projections. The new projection has a very real possibility of a 4 degree (Celsius) rise by 2060, higher yet in specific localities such as south Africa. It is saying that this “could threaten the water supply of half the world’s population”.
Link: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/sep/28/met-office-study-global-warming

B)  Press release by the National Science Foundation describing the discovery of an increased magnitude of methane venting to the surface from seabeds off the Siberian coast:  http://www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=116532&org=NSF&from=news

C)   A brief report by Friends of the Earth and other groups on how current legislation will allow actual emission reduction to be delayed for a full 20 years.   Link: ( http://www.fcnl.org/energy/pdfs/OffsetFlyer.pdf )

D)  Commentary by Father Paul Mayer entitled “The Carbon Tax: A Moral Issue, April 8, 2009: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/father-paul-mayer

E)  A compilation of several scientific reports on the severity of the climate emegency:   http://timetobebold.wordpress.com/category/why-we-need-to-call-for-a-global-emergency/

F)  A compact, easily forwardable 11 minute video from England that uses creative animation to convey the urgency of the tipping point issue.  Link:     http://wakeupfreakout.org/film/tipping.html

G)  ABC News  “docu-drama” entitled “Earth 2100″, which attempts to make the effects of climate change more tangible and real by following the life of a woman born in 2009 as she encounters the various impacts which occur as the world fails to respond to the crisis.  These impacts – though fictional – are corroborated by expert commentators.  Link to video:

http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=D819078C42E552F5&search_query=Earth+2100

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The image
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MONEYCHANGERS IN THE TEMPLE OF CARBON TRADING:
Moral Abomination Profiteers on the Demise of Earth

http://dangitbill.files.wordpress.com/2007/08/authority-power-jesus.jpg?w=500

“History has seen attempts to commodify land, food, labor,
forests, water, genes, and ideas.  Carbon trading follows in the
footsteps of this history ….. Through this process of creating a
new commodity – carbon –  the earth’s ability and capacity to
support a climate conducive to life and human societies are now
passing into the same corporate hands that are destroying the climate.”
- Durban Declaration on Climate Justice
“So when you see the desolating sacrilege spoken of by Daniel the
prophet standing in the holy place (may the reader understand),
then let those in Judea flee to the mountains.”
-  Jesus  [Matthew 24:15]
Though the vast majority of humanity is unaware – and fossil fuel-related corporations will do everything in their power to retain this lack of awareness – a line is about to be crossed which has colossal implications for the future of life on this planet. Within the last 200 years, corporations have steadily encroached upon the “global commons” while claiming a “right” to privatize that which is the collective legacy of all humankind. The land is being gouged, forests ravaged, and mountains stripped and flattened, all in the name of “corporately owned property rights”.

Now this destructive historical pattern appears to be reaching its apex, as these same corporations reach out to claim “defilement rights”  to the sky itself in a scheme to profit from a trillion dollar market based on the shuffling of “permits” for the continued dumping of pollutants into the atmosphere. While such a “right to pollute the sky” might appear to be groundless and even patently absurd to a moderately inquiring mind, the reality is that this is actually the preferred policy being advanced on Capitol Hill. By what authority such a claim can be made is apparently a question no one is asking.

Through this process, control over whether the basic life-supporting ecosystems of the earth will survive or collapse will be placed into the same manipulative hands on Wall Street that created the recent financial meltdown. The prototype of this system in Europe has already yielded a massive fraud to the tune of 6.75 billion dollars.

The dangerously false solution of carbon trading is complemented by the equally dangerous non-solution referred to as so-called “offsets”. Rather than reduce emissions, U.S. fossil fuel-related corporations would be allowed to “buy their way out” by supporting projects in the developing world – such as forest preservation – that supposedly “pull” carbon out of the atmosphere and store it.  Sounding plausible in theory, “offsets” actually have many serious and unresolved verification issues and other loopholes such as loggers simply moving elsewhere. An even more fundamental failure in this approach is that any form of offsetting should never be looked at as an alternative to reducing emissions.  It should only be seen as an additional action to take.


The scientific community is issuing a somber warning that emission reduction must start immediately and proceed as rapidly as possible in order to avoid the crossing of “tipping points” leading to runaway catastrophe. It is the combination of carbon trading and so-called “offsets” that will create a deadly smokescreen enabling the continuation of emissions instead of complying with this imperative need to drastically reduce. Such a distraction can only squander the precious little time that humanity now has to prevent disaster.

Such is the inordinate power of this industry that it has been able to both intimidate  government officials and seduce representatives of the environmental community to do its will. The strategy has been obvious. Move quickly and overwhelm members of Congress with an army of lobbyists reinforcing the message that carbon trading is “the only viable game in town” for approaching the climate issue. Then fill the coffers of those environmental groups which have “opened their doors to constructive partnerships with corporations”, proclaim them as “the voice of the environmental movement”, and then continue to pour big money in order to drown out and marginalize all the rest of the voices that have refused to sell out.

Up and down the halls of Congress, the gospel of “political expediency” has been preached. Even climate crusader Al Gore – who in his Copenhagen speech reaffirmed his own belief that the carbon fee and dividend approach is superior – refuses to challenge the carbon trading “mantra”. But there is nothing “expedient” in an approach that could well cause the collapse of civilization as we know it. The inexorable laws of physics simply cannot be stopped.

When Jesus saw that the temple in Jerusalem had been transformed into a gathering place for moneychangers, he entered as an uninvited guest and quite disruptively tipped over their tables. He denounced their activity as a defiling of a sacred place and turning it into a “den of thieves”. Today, carbon trading presents us with an alarming parallel – except the magnitude of the defiling is on a scale that would have been inconceivable during the time of Jesus. The “sacred place” is the earth itself, and the “thievery” is aimed at its very ability to sustain life.

There are not adequate words to describe the grossly immoral and disgusting cynicism of carbon traders seeking nothing less than to turn this approaching spectre of drought, famine, governmental collapse, and indescribable suffering into the material for an investment bubble on Wall St. Given the inestimable consequences once tipping points are crossed, it is difficult to avoid a comparison to vultures swooping in to feed on the demise and breakdown of human society as we know it.

It would not be difficult to imagine Jesus disrupting a carbon trade proceeding and overturning their tables.  As the traders scattered, one might hear words such as these: “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness.”  [Isaiah 5: 20]  “You cannot serve both God and Mammon (Money)”  [Matthew 6:24]  “You have made this place into a den of thieves!”  [Matthew 21:13]

When Christopher Marlowe wrote The Tragical History of Dr. Faustus in the late 16th century, the industrial transformation of society had not yet taken place. But when his words are read through a contemporary prism, a profoundly disturbing parallel emerges. The devil and Dr. Faustus strike a deal. Faustus is to be allowed a 24 year period in which to “live in all voluptuousness”, but at the conclusion he is to surrender his soul to hell. At the agreed time, the devil appears. Faustus pleads for mercy, but the pact is enforced and he is pulled to hell.

The massive consumption of fossil fuel has indeed conferred a sense of limitless and almost magical “power” to humanity, but it is a power that has been horribly misused to alter and desecrate the earth. The consequences of this abuse are now recoiling upon humanity in the form of climate catastrophe. Our addiction to fossil fuels has tragically become a modern day Faustian bargain.

Now humanity stands on the edge of the abyss – much closer than the general public comprehends. At a moment of transcendent emergency, the primary institution which can alter humanity’s course – government – has become captured by the very forces responsible for the crisis. As great swaths of Creation stand to be completely wiped out, it is beyond tragic that the Christian church – apart from a small number of individuals – has essentially been silent. It has spoken the words, but it has not engaged the urgency nor has it fulfilled its moral responsibility to name and confront the terrible pact with destructive forces that has led humanity to this precipice.

If the definition of an “end time” is that moment when the potential to end life as we know it has arrived, then science is telling us we are there. The climate movement must turn to the moral power of nonviolent civil disobedience. Just as Jesus nonviolently resisted the religious authority of his time, this spiritual power of truth – described by Gandhi with the term “satyagraha” – has historically demonstrated its potential to achieve social change. For all humans – Christians and non-Christians alike – the most powerful way to break through numbness and denial is to ACT. The moment has come to stand up and witness against the forces of destruction on this earth while there is still time.

by Eladiah
—   —   —   —   —   —   —   —   —   —   —   —   —   —   —   —   —   —   —   —   —   –
Eladiah is a Christian writer seeking to engage the church in a much deeper involvement in the transcendent moral issue of our time. He is an activist with Climate SOS  (www.climatesos.org ), and was a participant in the Nov.30 nonviolent blockade of the Chicago Climate Exchange, which is viewable in the following 5 minute video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FHJOOiyZR_s

He is also the facilitator of a new blog entitled “Christianity and the Climate Crisis” at:  http://christianityandclimatecrisis.wordpress.com/2010/04/13/3/ and can be reached at  mountainmist8@yahoo.com

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Responses

  1. [...] ) seeking to raise awareness within the religious community about the moral issues at stake (http://christianityandclimatecrisis.wordpress.com/2010/04/13/3/ ) and working to create a more empowered climate [...]

  2. Hello

    I was reading Thomas Merton’s book of essays on peace, called “Peace”, and came across the following:

    “…… This brings us face to face with the greatest and most agonising moral issue of our time. This issue is not merely nuclear war, not merely the possible destruction of the human race by a sudden explosion of violence . It is something more subtle and more demonic. If we continue to yield to theoretically irresistible determinism and to vague
    “historic forces” without striving to resist and control them, if we let these forces drive us to demonic activism in the realm of politics and technology, we face something more than the material evil of universal destruction. We face MORAL RESPONSIBILITY FOR GLOBAL SUICIDE. Much more
    than that, we are going to find ourselves gradually moving into a situation in which we are practically compelled by the “logic of circumstances” deliberately to CHOOSE THE COURSE THAT LEADS TO DESTRUCTION……

    The free choice of global suicide, made in desperation by the world’s leaders and ratified by the consent and cooperation of their citizens, would be a moral evil second only to the crucifixion. The fact that such a choice might be made with highest motives and the most urgent purpose
    would do nothing to mitigate it. The fact that it might be made as a gamble, in the hope that some might escape, would never excuse it….

    The most urgent necessity of our time is therefore not merely to prevent the destruction of the human race by nuclear war. Even if it should happen to be no longer possible to prevent the disaster (which God forbid), there is still a greater evil that can and must be prevented. It must be possible for every free man to refuse his consent and deny his cooperation to this greatest of crimes.”

    If you change a few words to reflect the cause leading to the same end it might read something like this:

    “…… This brings us face to face with the greatest and most agonising moral issue of our time. This issue is not merely global warming, not merely the possible destruction of the human race by the gradual breakdown of our global life support systems. It is something more subtle and more demonic. If we continue to yield to theoretically
    irresistible determinism and to “economic forces” without striving to resist and control them, if we let these forces drive us to demonic activism in the realm of politics and technology, we face something more than the material evil of universal destruction. We face MORAL RESPONSIBILITY FOR GLOBAL SUICIDE. Much more than that, we are going to find ourselves gradually moving into a situation in which we are practically compelled by the “logic of circumstances” deliberately to CHOOSE THE COURSE THAT LEADS TO DESTRUCTION……

    The free choice of global suicide, made in desperation by the world’s leaders and ratified by the consent and cooperation of their citizens, would be a moral evil second only to the crucifixion…….
    The fact that it might be made under the pretext of an economic system (given the idolatrous status of immutability) would not only never excuse it but compound the crime….

    The most urgent necessity of our time is therefore not merely to prevent the destruction of the human race by global meltdown. Even if it should happen to be no longer possible to prevent the disaster (which God forbid), there is still a greater evil that can and must be prevented. It must be possible for every free man to refuse his consent and deny
    his cooperation to this greatest of crimes.”

    It’s a sobering reflection.

  3. [...] producer, and activist with Climate SOS seeking to raise awareness within the religious community (here) about the moral issues at stake  and working to create a more empowered climate [...]

  4. [...] producer, and activist with Climate SOS seeking to raise awareness within the religious community (here) about the moral issues at stake and working to create a more empowered climate [...]

  5. [...] producer, and activist with Climate SOS seeking to raise awareness within the religious community (here) about the moral issues at stake and working to create a more empowered climate [...]

  6. Derek Robertson has indeed posted a very sobering reflection. Thank you, Derek, for sharing this.


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