Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Warming Wednesdays: many expect government action

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The Public Religion Research Institute has good news and bad news on U.S. citizens' understanding of global warming.
  • Sixty-three percent of us believe weather is more extreme and human activity is the cause.
  • As the chart shows, 91 percent of those who see climate change happening want action to do something about it.
  • Majorities of the religiously unaffiliated and Catholics see climate change as causing weather disasters. So do 50 percent of white evangelical Protestants.
  • More than one third of us think that severe weather events show that we are entering the scriptural End Times. Most of these are Protestant evangelicals, but not nearly all.
  • Significantly,

    A majority (55%) of Americans agree that God gave human beings the task of living responsibly with the animals, plants, and resources of the planet, which are not just for human benefit. Nearly 4-in-10 (38%) Americans disagree, saying that God gave human beings the right to use animals, plans, and all the resources of the planet for human benefit.

  • Fifteen percent of us believe the world will end in accordance with Biblical prophesies in our lifetimes.
  • Unhappily, for the hope of getting anything done, our beliefs about climate change and end times correlate closely with our political divisions.

    Seven-in-ten (70%) Democrats and 65% of independents agree that the severity of recent natural disasters is evidence of global climate change, compared to only 43% of Republicans. A majority (55%) of Republicans disagree.

    If anything is likely to fuel religious strife, that divide can do it.
As is so often the case in these surveys, mainline Protestants and religious congregations in the communities of color get no more than a glancing mention in these statistics. According to the Pew Forum 14 percent of us are mainline Protestants, 5 percent are Latino Catholics, and 16 percent are Black Protestants. The later two groups are increasing as a political force. All these religious segments of the population have been moving strongly toward the Democratic Party -- and, I imagine, toward the consensus Democratic stance of demanding climate action from government.

Despite every other legitimate concern, we cannot ignore that our economic and social system is rapidly making the planet less habitable. So I will be posting "Warming Wednesdays" -- reminders of an inconvenient truth.

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