The Climate Witness Project - Christian Reformed Church in North America

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The nations of the world will be meeting in Paris, France from November 30 to December 11 to develop agreements about how to respond to the dangers of climate change. It is expected that the meeting will result in agreements to significantly reduce the amount of global greenhouse gases.

The Synod of the Christian Reformed Church in North American agreed to a strong statement in 2012 that urged all members of the denomination to work toward individual and public solutions to the challenges posed by climate change. We adopted this position because we understand that Christians are called to work to protect and take care of God’s creation and that a changing climate is harmful to all of creation, and especially to the world’s poor.

As part of its response to this statement, the denomination has developed the Climate Witness Project—a major congregational organizing campaign--which includes steps in two parallel tracks which seek to respond to this meeting of the nations of the world. First, the denomination has named a delegation of four people who will attend the Paris meeting. They will witness during the meeting to the commitment of the Christian Reformed Church to addressing climate change in both Canada and the United States through strong public policy. They will also prepare a daily description of the progress being reached by the nations of the world. These updates will be sent to a list of over 100 CRC members representing at least 30 congregations in the U.S. and Canada.

Second, the CRC began recruiting more than one hundred members of the denomination in at least 30 congregations to do these tasks:

  1. Screen and discuss the video resource Climate Conversion: Kenya in their congregation.
  2. Receive emails daily from and participate in a video conference call with the CRC delegation in Paris regarding the progress being made by the nations of the world.
  3. Participate in meetings with Members of the U.S. Congress or the Canadian Parliament after COP 21 to urge support of the agreements reached in Paris.
  4. Ten CRC members, among those recruited, will be asked to write an op-ed for a local newspaper on the results of the Paris meeting.
  5. Plan for additional study and other activities in their congregations after the first phase of the Climate Witness Project is completed on January 31, 2016.

In order to implement this plan, the Office of Social Justice has hired two co-coordinators, regional organizers in ten regions in Canada and the United States and a communications firm to help place the op-eds in newspapers in the U.S. and Canada. Financial support for this project comes from the CRC and special donations - large and small.

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Among those who believe that the earth is at risk due to excessive man-made green house gasses there is an undeniable consensus that the science backing their perspective is conclusive. Moreover, they are fully prepared to make financial and other sacrifices to attempt to reverse the damage. They are to be commended for their commitment.

There are others who are equally convinced that there is no credible scientific evidence that any economic sacrifice will in any way mitigate whatever climate changes may or may not be taking place in the foreseeable future, and would prefer to use their resources for other worthy causes, not the least among them using the best available technology to feed a growing world population, or using all available resources to raise the standard of living of the world's poorest people by stimulating economic growth wherever possible.

In the mandate of the Climate Witness Project there are several references to the hiring of staff, and/or a communications firm to convince both ourselves and our elected representatives of the truth of what the COP21 has not yet concluded, and may, in fact, not conclude at all, ever. But, as you say, hopefully they will.

I trust you realize that as you proceed to pay these witnesses you will be paying them with moneys contributed to the CRC coffers by what may well be an equal number of Global Warming believers, and those who are either not sure, or convinced that their money would be better spent in other God-glorifying ways.

Are you sure you want to use the money contributed by the latter group to convince them of something they patently do not agree with? Is that sustainable?

My guess is that when people realize that you are engaged in political lobbying AGAINST their deeply held convictions that global warming is at best questionable and at worst a hoax perpetrated on them by liars and thieves, your spigot will quickly dry up, and perhaps rightly so.

As a confessional church, our unity lies in a shared confession, and traditionally CRC'ers have gladly contributed to denomination-wide efforts that did not deviate from our shared confession. To have some of us use some of those resources to convince the rest of us of something that finds no expression in our shared confession seems contrary to the very notion of confessional unity, and as such may be ill-advised.

Community Builder

John,

Thanks for your thoughtful comments. They are an important reminder of the diversity of thought around this issue within the CRC, and I'm grateful for your gracious tone in expressing your concerns.

While there is indeed diversity of thought among individual members of the CRC on the issue of climate change, the position of the denomination is actually quite clear. Synod 2012 affirmed the scientific consensus on this issue--including that it is likely human-induced--and called denominational bodies, congregations, and members to public and private action to do something about it (see Acts of Synod 2012, pp. 803-6). In light of this statement, it made several recommendations to the church for how to respond, including "advocat[ing] for public strategies that reduce carbon emissions and move us toward very low or zero net emissions" (Recommendation 3, pp. 805) and "advocating with our governments to take the necessary actions in an effective global framework to assist populations that are bearing the brunt of the negative effects of climate change while being the least able to cope" (Recommendation 4, pp. 805). The Climate Witness Project--and other OSJ efforts on creation care and climate--proceed directly out of these directives from synod.

Your concern about the stewardship of monetary resources is an important one. The post has been edited to include a link to our fundraising effort. It is our hope that we will actually be able to raise all of the necessary funds for this project from interested CRC members. It is an experiment of sorts in what this type of organizing effort can look like, and if it would be replicable for other issues as well. We have so far raised $22,350--almost half of our hoped-for $50,000.

I hope that's helpful, John. Thanks again for your thoughtful engagement with the project.

The Theology of Global Warming is just another tool employed by those who want to promote their ideological agenda.  They want to divert the church from spreading the truth of the gospel to promoting a humanistic agenda.  Yes, I agree with the view that none of the resources given to the denomination should be used to support this hoax.  I have often thought of writing my CRC Council to express my dismay that some of the funds I contribute go to support OSJ which has a blatant liberal agenga.  One problem is that almost no one in the CRC knows that their contributions are used to support a liberal agenda that they oppose. 

Community Builder

I do not believe the CRCNA has any business showing up at a climate change meeting in Paris. This is a job for organizations like A Roche, David Suzuki Foundation and all the other highly politicized organizations.

These ideas seem to come from within the Bureaucracy of the CRCNA in GR and Burlington. The pronouncements at Synod should be a signal for members to do something via existing organizations rather than have the CRCNA HO folks do their thing.

Climate change has been with us since creation. The politicians, and liberals, are using it as a platform to extract higher taxes and involve themselves in everything.

I often wonder what happened to sphere sovereignty. Certainly the CRCNA seems to get involved in way too many issues that should be done by other who would be more knowledgeable.

The other broader issue is that climate change (and especially its total attribution to human activity) is controversial. So rather than bring the issue inside the walls of the church, let’s leave to NCOs (non-church organizations).

I am not sure what is controversial or political about this issue.

There is a strong consensus in the academic community and politics really has nothing to do with it other than the need for politicians to promulgate policies to adjust our economic systems/ structures/ institutions, to allow them to measure and account for the true costs of our consumptive (extractionist) lifestyle.
Knowing the  cost of extreme weather events that we have seen already with less than 1°C of warming and the degree to which it has impacted people who by and large have not contributed to the problem but who  are bearing the brunt of the consequences it must first and foremost be seen as a moral issue.  I think the Church is clearly within its sphere speaking about the morality of using our military and economic might to run ecological deficits year after year, just so that we can live "in comfort" at the expense of our neighbors and the future generations.
 

I'm not convinced the problem is man-made. In either case, the lowest cost solution is to build hydro dams and cancel the federal flood insurance program. 

Participant

James Hansen, the father of the modern day concerns about global warming and climate change, has repeatedly said that the best "solution" to CO2 emissions is found in nuclear energy, and that neither renewable energy nor conservation strategies can close to solving the problem.  Sadly, most climate change alarmists are willing to follow Hansen when he talks about the danger of CO2 emissions but not when he talks about the solutions.  As to the latter, his crowd grows deafeningly silent.  Hansen is no slouch scientist, including as to nuclear reactors, which he considers extremely safe, given the advancement of nuclear technology.

Consider the % of energy that is produced by nuclear in a number of countries: France 76.9%, Slovakia 56.8%, Hungary 53.6%, Ukraine 49.4%, Belgium 47.5%, Sweden 41.5%, Switzerland 37.9%, Slovenia 37.2%, Czech Republic 35.8%, Finland 34.6%, Bulgaria 31.8%, Armenia 30.7%, South Korea 30.4%.  The United States lags way behind even if it should be in the lead.

Hansen and other climate alarmists have warned that we were reaching the "tipping point" to CO2 disaster quite some time ago.  I disagreed with their conclusions (as have more than a few world class scientists who are experts about the subject matter), and would note that if Hansen and his crowd are correct, we have already past the "tipping point."

Nevertheless, I and many others believe common ground can be found for both sides -- in nuclear energy.

In my view, COP 21 doubles down on a failed strategy, even if one agrees with Hansen's predictions, for the simple reason that its agenda cannot produce a solution, even by Hanson's analysis.  And if COP 21 is successful, the side effects in terms of world poverty will be anything but small.

If the CRCNA must enter the political fray on this topic (although I would argue it shouldn't for lack of expertise, among other reasons), it should have the courage to look for a middle ground that has the promise of being productive.  The CRCNA could do a lot worse than joining hands with James Hansen in proposing much more nuclear energy production.

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