Climate Change and Christianity: The 2017 Crum Lecture

In the last year, there have been 19 major floods and over 160 natural disasters in the United States. Wet areas are growing wetter and dry areas are becoming drier. An increased percentage of moisture in the air has led to a situation that nationally recognized meteorologist Paul Douglas described as “weather on steroids” during the annual Crum Lecture at Gordon earlier this month.

“These symptoms are going to be harder to dismiss and deny over time,” Douglas said in his talk, “Why Christians Should Care About Climate Change.” In his more than 40 years of experience in the meteorology field as a radio spokesperson and TV weather anchor, he has never seen the weather act as erratically and unpredictably as it has in the last several years.

For Douglas, who has been avid activist for climate change awareness for many years, a major turning point for him came upon viewing a report from The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Extreme Index (CEI), which outlined how approximately 30 percent of the country was currently experiencing “heightened levels of drought or flood.”

While Douglas stressed that he is not a climate scientist, he expressed a strong motivation to do his part in informing Americans about what they can do to help move toward potential solutions. For Douglas, the most promising options are found in the renewable energy industry—which, he says, is in the “midst of an amazing revolution”—and in the idea of stewardship.

Quoting his father, Douglas explained how “We have rights and we have responsibilities,” and that when dealing with climate change, it “ultimately comes down to personal responsibility.”

“If you make a mess, clean up that mess,” Douglas said, urging those in the audience to do their part in stewarding the Earth’s resources well.

The first step is just to start paying attention, he said. Research, seek to understand the science behind climate change, ask questions, have discussions with people who approach this topic from different sides, and, ultimately, use your voice to let people know what is happening in the world around them.

“We are tending what’s left of Eden,” Douglas concluded. “You don’t have to obsess over climate change, but I think we need to pay attention and find solutions that are pragmatic so we can keep God’s creation in better shape.”

The annual Crum Lecture is named in honor of Terrelle B. Crum, who served as dean of faculty for 40 years at Barrington College, which merged with Gordon College in 1985. Hosted by the Center for Faith and Inquiry, the lecture series is free and open to the public.

By Billy Jepma ’18, English language and literaturecommunication arts