Jay Richards: what should Christians think about global warming?

Here’s a lecture Jay Richards did for the Acton Institue.

And here is a related article from Boundless.


The big environmental issue nowadays is global warming. Anyone who watches or reads the news even occasionally has been told that humans are causing global warming through all the fossil fuels we’re burning. They’ve also been told that this warming process eventually will prove catastrophic if we don’t reverse course as soon as possible.

As thinking Christians and good stewards, how should we respond?

The short answer is, we should respond thoughtfully. Thoughtless stewards are rarely good stewards.

Notice that my brief summary of the global warming controversy bundled together several distinct claims. To think clearly about this issue, we have to tease apart this bundle of claims and consider each one. For each claim, there is a corresponding question we need to answer. And it’s only after answering these questions that we can be in a position to determine what, if anything, we ought to do about global warming.

Here are the four central questions:

  1. Is the earth warming?
  2. If the earth is warming, is human activity (like carbon dioxide emissions) causing it?
  3. If the earth is warming, and we’re causing it, is that bad overall?
  4. If the earth is warming, we’re causing it, and that’s bad, would any of the proposed “solutions” (e.g., the Kyoto Protocol, legislative restrictions on carbon dioxide emissions) make any difference?

It’s important for us to think carefully about how best to achieve the goals set out by the Bible. And that means undertaking a close study of how the world works and how best to affect change for the good.

5 thoughts on “Jay Richards: what should Christians think about global warming?”

  1. Good article!

    I would add one, too: Even if the answer to all the other questions were Yes (including number 4—the proposed policy change would make a difference), # 5: What would it cost? Any policy should be subject to cost-benefit analysis, including the costs to the economy and liberty.

    Mr. Richards does imply this question in the last part of the article, but I would underscore that even if the answer to all four of the other questions were Yes, it would not necessarily follow that we should enact whatever policy was being proposed.

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