Climate change is happening. It’s supercharging hurricanes, wildfires, droughts, heat waves, and rain. It’s heating the oceans and melting the giant ice sheets that anchor our poles, increasing coastal flood risk. Wherever we live on this earth, global warming is affecting us—yes, us; climate change doesn’t matter just to future generations or to people in the South Pacific.
I’m a climate scientist, so I know just how unprecedented these realities are. Climate has never changed this fast in human history. I’m also a Christian, and that’s part of why I care about this issue—because even though it impacts us all, it’s the poor, hungry, and vulnerable the world over, the very ones we’re told to love and care for, who are disproportionately harmed by these shifts.
Yet often when we turn on the news, go online, or talk to a family member, we hear doubt: “The climate always fluctuates”or “But it’s so cold today!” or “Those scientists are fudging the data.” Never mind that according to orbital cycles that drive ice ages, we should be cooling, not warming; or that individual cold days don’t disprove decades of warming; or that we scientists really and truly have no good reason to lie.
Why is it so difficult to accept that our climate has been altered and humans are responsible? Because if we don’t accept it, then we don’t have to disrupt our way of life to address it. If only polar bears, distant future generations, and people who live far away will be harmed, why bother going vegan or buying expensive electric cars—solutions we think will be unpleasant at best, painful at worst? It’s easier to say “The problem isn’t real” than to admit “The problem is real, but I don’t want to sacrifice anything to fix it.”
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