Myths and False Narratives about Global Climate Change

Myths and False Narratives about Global Climate Change

The Orthodox Fellowship of the Transfiguration

The Major Objections from Climate Deniers

The Orthodox Church has been warning its members about climate change for over thirty years. Beginning with HAH Patriarch +Dimitrios in 1989, the Church has been concerned about this issue because of the moral, ethical and spiritual principles which mandate taking good care of God’s creation. The Scriptures, the Saints and Church mothers and fathers emphasize this as well. Today human experience shows that storms are becoming stronger, average temperatures are increasing, dreadful forest fires are becoming more numerous, and ocean levels are rising. Climate scientists affirm all of this and provide detailed measurements that document the changes now taking place in the world’s atmosphere and weather systems.

Nevertheless political and economic considerations intervene and deny the seriousness of climate change. This is the primary reason why such a wide variety of opinions and false information exists about climate change. One consequence of this misinformation, sometimes deliberately promoted by institutions whose financial interests are involved, is that a high level of distorted perspectives exist about climate change. This is why discussions in parishes sometimes begin with different assumptions about why climate change is taking place or how serious it is. This then results in a variety of perspectives. Because parishes lack a common grasp of facts, possess differences of perspective, and these opinion differences can cause discussions to spiral out of control.

As Orthodox Christians we strive to discern the truth about God, Jesus Christ and even the conditions that confront the Church and our life in society. Clearly there is a truth about this issue, but what is it? Our film THE FACE OF GOD: THE ORTHODOX CHURCH AND CLIMATE CHANGE begins the journey to an honest and accurate view of climate change. It seeks to define our vocation as protectors of God’s handiwork. As Christians, alternative views are not a valid option or merely some secondary aspect of our Orthodox Christian journey. We must study to understand what is happening and take action to address what is degrading and corrupting God’s good creation. See our introductory film at :

To initiate our journey into an accurate and honest view about climate change, let us eliminate some of the falsehoods that have been perpetuated. Here are a few of the most common myths that deny or obscure climate change and our ancient responsibility to take good care of God’s creation which is also our common home as long as we are in the world.

1. The climate has always changed.

Yes, the climate has changed throughout history, but scientists say the climate change we are now witnessing is happening more rapidly than any previous shift in climate. What makes this change so serious is that it is caused by human beings putting more heat-trapping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. In particular, this means the burning of fossil fuels – coal, gas and oil.

Carbon dioxide, but also methane and several other gases, collectively called “Greenhouse gases,” are implicated in most of the climate changes in Earth’s past.

Whenever those gases have receded, the global climate became colder. Whenever they have increased, the global climate became warmer. When changes were massive and rapid (as they are today), the consequences for life on Earth become dire – in some cases causing mass extinctions. In all of the world’s major climate changes, they took place gradually over long lengths of geological time. The changes happening now are taking place rapidly and inside the lifetime of people now living.

According to climate scientists, global warming occurs when carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases increase in the atmosphere. The nature of carbon dioxide is such that it holds onto heat and retains the warmth that might otherwise radiate out into space. Like a glassed in greenhouse, the warmth of the sun is retained and so the planet warms.

In the United States, the burning of fossil fuels, primarily to produce electricity or for transportation, is the largest source of heat-trapping pollution. Coal-burning power plants are by far the biggest polluters. The country’s second-largest source of carbon pollution is the transportation sector, which generates about 1.7 billion tons of CO2 emissions a year.

Curbing dangerous climate change requires very deep cuts in emissions, plus a transition to the use of alternatives to fossil fuels. The good news is that we’ve started a turnaround: CO2 emissions in the United States actually decreased from 2005 to 2014, thanks in part to new, energy-efficient technology and the use of cleaner fuels. And scientists continue to develop new ways to modernize power plants, generate cleaner electricity, and burn less gasoline while we drive. The challenge is to be sure these solutions are put to use and widely adopted.

The infographic videos below describe how the rise of CO2 in the atmosphere (measured in parts per million) correlates with the Earth’s temperature and climate change.

How Greenhouse gases warm the earth

The Greenhouse Effect and Global Warming

Climate 101: Ozone Depletion | by the National Geographic Society

2. Scientists disagree about the science of the climate crisis.

 Actually, over 97% of genuine climate scientists say that climate change is happening now. If some disagreement, it comes from a tiny fraction of individuals who are not climate scientists.

Real climate scientists who check and verify their findings through published peer reviewed reports are virtually unanimous about the underlying data that supports information about global climate change and its origins by human activity.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in the U.S. publishes the following statement about climate change:

“Multiple studies published in peer-reviewed scientific journals show that 97% or more of actively publishing climate scientists agree: “Climate-warming trends over the past century are extremely likely due to human activities. In addition, most of the leading scientific organizations worldwide have issued public statements endorsing this position.”

View the videos below for a spectrum of more detailed information from top scientists: Dr. James Hansen: “Why I must speak out about climate change”

Dr. Michael E. Mann, “On The Impact Of Climate Change Denial”

Dr. Christiana Figueres, Architect of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, Interview

Dr. Michael E. Mann, “On the Race to Save the World From Climate Change”

3. The average person can’t do anything about such a big problem as global climate change

Climate change is the result of an overemphasis on fossil fuel energy, abuse of the land and forests, and generally on the consumer mentality. As a society we take too much of the world’s resources and the planet cannot sustain our level of consumption.

We are witnessing the effects of a lifestyle that uses too much of the world’s resources, too many fossil fuels, and that forgets to live within the capacity of the world’s biological and ecological systems. As a human civilization, we are collectively creating an exhaust from our lifestyles that is harming and polluting the atmosphere of the planet.

Yes, one person’s actions alone are not going to stop the climate emergency. But one person who repents of harmful actions can change his or her life and, in turn, influence others and the communities in which they live and work. We are all on this planet together and will have to cooperate to correct the errors in our social vision and behavior.

As an op ed in The New York Times reports, “One house with solar panels can lead to others in the neighborhood installing solar panels of their own. Likewise, we tend to conserve our electricity consumption when our utility bills tell us how our usage compares with our neighbors,”

Our present predicament is a call to repentance in how we design our lives. We each have to change how we choose to live. Ordinary people can take the lead in making corrections. Regular citizens can call their elected officials and make sure they’re making decisions about energy and lifestyle in ways that help our world address climate change. Such actions can lead to changing the world much faster than we might think.

From National Geographic:

“Cars replaced horses within 15 years in many places. For thousands of years we got along without plastic, and then in a few decades it was everywhere. Throughout history, we’ve been both ingenious inventors and quick to adopt new technologies. With popular will and the right policies, we’ll have no problem creating new energy and transportation infrastructures, goods made without toxins or carbon emissions, biodegradable plastic substitutes.”

Yes, we can make the changes that are before us. It is simply a matter of priorities and recognition of the problem. These changes take place one person at a time. This is why the individual person is the critical foundation for the changes that are important for our world to make.

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